Hidden Houston: DePelchin Children's Center

"There isn't a day that goes by that we don't actually talk about Kezia and some of the things that she's stood for and all the things that she's done in her life."

The Kezia that DePelchin's Ronald McDaniel is talking about is Kezia DePelchin, who in 18-92 worked at the Bayland Home, an orphanage for young children. DePelchin was concerned for three baby boys who were too young for Bayland to accept so she took a room at a home on Washington Avenue and opened The Faith Home.

"She called it The Faith Home because she had faith that it could be supported by the people of Houston."

Kezia DePelchin died within months of the home's opening, but so compelling was her faith that supporters kept the home open. It grew and moved to other locations over the years, and in 1939 finally settled near what is now the intersection of Shepherd Avenue and Memorial Drive. It has grown to offer more programs for children and families than any other organization in the area. Among the many services DePelchin provides is foster care.

"We are the largest private provider of foster care in the Houston area and that's basically what's taken over the orphanage concept. We currently have about 580 children in our foster care program. We also have another 60 that we are taking care of in our residential programs."

Judy Earls has been a DePelchin's foster parent for almost 15 years. She has opened her home to teenage boys and helped many of them graduate from high school. What makes a good foster parent?

"You have to be patient, you have to be prayerful and instill in them that they are somebody and that they do have a purpose in life."

Judy Earls says she tells her children that in her home Jesus comes first and then her. But while she lets them know who is in charge she also allows kids to be kids.

"I come from the old school. My grandmother and my grandfather used to say all the time, and my mom, you may act up at home, but when you get out in the streets or at school or whatever, you act like you've got some sense."

Ronald McDaniel says the DePelchin Children's Center is always looking for foster parents.

"We've done some advertising, we done some billboards to try to raise the awareness that people can be foster parents and try to dispel the myths that people might have. We've got some wonderful people out there who are single who are foster parents."

And McDaniel says there is a need for adoptive parents.

"In the Houston area alone we have 15-hundred children who are in the foster care system that have the ability to be adopted today and trying to find homes for them is just very, very difficult."

Kezia DePelchin's faith that Houstonians would support her efforts has not been in vain. To find out about the full array of services that support has yielded, you'll find a link at kuhf.org.

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