A New Beginning

April 13, 2017

The founding of the Methodist Children’s Home of the Southern Illinois Conference began in the heart of an orphan boy, Dan W. Hopkins, who later became a Methodist preacher and served as a supply pastor. He was orphaned at the age of 10 and grew up with a desire to do something for children who were underprivileged as he had been. The home was officially opened on the first of February, 1913. The methods in child care have undergone a great many changes since the home first came into being. There was a time when it was considered that the more children who could be crowded into an institution, the greater the service of that institution. We now know much more about the needs of care.

So from 1913 to today there have been many changes, added services, huge growth, and caring for and toward the communities served by United Methodist Children’s Home which is no longer totally an orphans home. But today, big things are happening, although the same faith based organization offers the same services with plans for serving hundreds more in 2017. In 2016 United Methodist Children’s Home served 1,000 people — children, families and adolescents.

But today as Dr. John Shadowens, President and CEO said so appropriately in his opening speech on Thursday, March 30 at the Drury Inn in Mt. Vernon when the announcement was made, with all new beginnings comes name change.

The board recently met and voted unanimously to change the name to Spero Family Services, Hope • Help • Healing. As said by Spero Board Member Tony Wielt, “It is so much more than a children’s home yet for many of us in Southern Illinois when we hear the name United Methodist Children’s Home that’s what we think. Frankly, the name was not descriptive enough of the body of work that we do.”

The new brand is a name that is rooted in God’s love and promise of an abundant life. “Spero” is the Latin word for “I hope” from the phrase “While I yet breathe, I have hope.” The new name, pronounced like “sparrow,” speaks to the agency’s core value of providing hope, help and healing to those longing for a better life.

The new agency logo, a stylized anchor, is rich in imagery and meaning. The top of the anchor is a cross; at the bottom a sparrow’s head –its wings intertwined with the anchor. This represents the very heart of agency’s mission and values. The rising anchor is a symbol for Hope. – “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19. When a ship’s anchor weighs, or is raised up, it signals the beginning of a new voyage, a new adventure. The stylized image of the bird reminds us of the value God places on us in Matthew 10:29-31. “This was a historic day in the United Methodist Children’s Home’s history, and with this new name, we are poised to grow and help even more individuals, youth, and families – which we could not do without the support of our donors, church partners, and businesses in the communities we serve,” says John Shadowens, President & CEO of Spero Family Services.

Although the name has changed, the mission and vision remain the same. The strong and enduring tradition and affiliation with the United Methodist Church also remains the same. This new name opens more doors for support, and allows the people throughout Southern Illinois to become more aware of the full array of services available in addition to the youth homes in Mt. Vernon and Murphysboro. Those other services include outpatient counseling services with locations in 6 counties throughout the region; a Foster Care program, a Youthbuild program to help teens get their HSE/GED and learn a trade, parenting support, an on campus school, a nurse-family partnership program that helps first-time mothers, transitional living, and Bright Start, a faith-based childcare center in Mt. Vernon. Learn more by visiting sperofs.org. Spero Family Services welcomes volunteers (groups and individuals), mentors and potential new foster parents.

Pictured are Josh Scarborough, Sandy Sinnett, Rev. Deb Pollex, John Shadowens – CEO, Ranee Kujawa, Sarah Usery, Michelle Moreno, Monica Akes, Joe Bernard.

Pictured are Dr. Steven Scott, Carol Hamerski, Tony Wielt, Cheryl Settle, Brett Hall, Julie Webb, Dick Deitz, Jeannie Mitchell, John Shadowens – CEOs, Mark Minor.