Methodist Family Health Pursues Pen and Prayer Pals for Arkansas Children, Teenagers

Methodist Family Health Pursues Pen and Prayer Pals for Arkansas Children, Teenagers

Little Rock, AR (June 29, 2020) – After almost four months of social distancing and sheltering in place, the children, teenagers and families in our care at Methodist Family Health are in need of encouragement and human connection. If you or your kids are looking for a meaningful way to help others during this pandemic, you can make a connection with a child or teenager who is struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional or spiritual issues and become a pen and prayer pal.

Here’s how it works:

– Click on this link: then:

– Choose someone you would like to write. We have included in this Google form the initials, ages and genders of our participating clients to help you choose.

– Write the person a letter. Your letter can include things like encouragement, good news you have heard, a small story you thought was funny and would like to share, or a simple prayer filled with kindness. A little positivity can go a long way, and there are examples in the Google form if you are looking for inspiration.

– You can submit your letter using the Google form at this link – – or write a note and mail it to:

Prayer Pals
3505 Clearwell Road
Conway, AR 72034

Methodist Family Health is a statewide continuum of care serving Arkansas children and families struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues. Our mission is to provide the best possible care to those who may need our help, and with the help of Arkansas’s children and families looking for a simple project to do during the summer, we will be able to fulfil this mission by providing our clients the support they need.

For more information, contact Amy Shores, director of pastoral care, at

John Gill leaves permanent imprint on Arkansas ministry to children

John Gill leaves permanent imprint on Arkansas ministry to children

John Gill, Photo by Dwain Hebda

By Dwain Hebda

Featured Contributor

When your father and your maternal grandfather are both named after a Methodist bishop – and the same one at that, Bishop John Christian Keener – you can’t really get much more bona fide in the Church. But John Gill’s faith runs much deeper than mere surface identification.

Gill — senior attorney/shareholder and director with Gill Ragon Owen, P.A. in Little Rock, Arkansas — has also devoted decades of time and expertise to Methodist Family Health. In so doing, he’s helped the organization navigate the shifting needs and regulatory tides of serving Arkansas’s children and families in need.

“Well, my wife, Marjem was a social worker out there, we didn’t have any children at that point,” Gill said of his origins with the organization. “Edwin Keith was the superintendent then; he had been an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church of Little Rock at one point. Anyway, he had some legal issues come up and either he knew I was a lawyer or he asked Marjem or Marjem said, ‘We’ll get John to answer that for you.’ And that’s how it happened.”

Gill began his work with Methodist Family Health in the early 1960s at a time when the organization, like the nation itself, was undergoing radical change. Founded in 1899 as Arkansas Methodist Orphanage, the organization had recently changed the delivery of services from the classic orphanage model to family-style living. These units operated under the updated name of Methodist Children’s Homes and featured smaller numbers of children per living unit.

“The house parent-child relationship is the basis upon which the organization prospered for decades,” he said. “Each cottage, as they are called, all of them nice brick homes, had a house parent, almost always a husband and wife and a certain number of kids, maybe five or six, not a huge number.”

As the organization refined this model, it turned its eye to expanding the number of units to reach more children and all of the challenges that entailed. The payment model for the ministry also changed, as it went from directly funded by the United Methodist Church to being compensated through state and federal programs, each of which brought its own set of guidelines and requirements.

Gill helped guide the organization through all of this as legal counsel and as a member of the board. He also provided a steady hand of leadership as the organization broadened its scope yet again in 2001 with the establishment of the Methodist Behavioral Hospital in Maumelle, Arkansas. Today, the facility is one of the only service providers of its kind in the state.

“Children needing care and getting help by way of Methodist receive treatment that has changed enormously. House parents are still there to some degree, but nothing like the majority of the children,” he said.

“With the acquisition of the Methodist Behavioral Hospital came what was called the parent teaching model which changed the method by which you were teaching the child. Not a house mother necessarily, but a group of teachers almost in a school environment teaching the child.”

Today, Gill looks at what has been accomplished with great pride. As his service to the board of directors winds down, he leaves knowing despite the continued pace of change in this sector of human services, the organization remains in good hands, doing good work.

“What they’re doing is being done well,” he said. “The success stories are just enormous and to get to be a part of something like that is pretty special.”

Press, Shake, Run and Pour Blessings During Lent

Press, Shake, Run and Pour Blessings During Lent

By Kelli Reep

Methodist Family Health

The Lenten season is one in which we can strip away what keeps us from fully appreciating our relationship with God and realizing just how full of abundance our lives are. Rather than fast from something like chocolate or sodas, Methodist Family Health has a way for Arkansas’s United Methodists to press down on what we truly value so we can pour it out on those who need so much.

The 11th Annual Get Up & Give collection project asks Arkansans to contribute necessities to the children and families in our care – those who are abandoned, abused, neglected and managing psychiatric, emotional, behavioral and spiritual issues. Get Up & Give is during the entire 40 days of Lent – Wednesday, Feb. 26 through Thursday, April 9 – and both children and adults can participate by donating personal hygiene items, clothes, shoes, school supplies, bedding, funds and other necessities to the Methodist Counseling Clinic in their community.

“We care for children, youth and their families who have significant psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues,” said Kelli Reep, director of communications at Methodist Family Health. “Some of the kids in our care are in the foster care system or have families with few monetary resources. By providing them things like new underwear, deodorant, their own school supplies – even books and toys – our community demonstrates to them that there are people who care about them and their well-being.”

If this is something you, your family, Sunday School, small group or church would like to take on as a mission during Lent, you will be demonstrating Christian love for the least of these. Methodist Family Health asks that all items contributed through Get Up & Give are new, and monetary donations also can be contributed so specific items can be purchased to meet the needs of the Arkansas children and families in our care. Contributions can be delivered to the following locations, including:

Alma: 1209 Hwy 71N, Suite B, Alma, AR 72921; phone 479.632.1022
Batesville: 500 E. Main St, Suite 310, Batesville, AR 72501; phone 870.569.4890
Fayetteville: 74 W. Sunbridge Dr, Fayetteville, AR 72703; phone 479.582.5565
Heber Springs: 515 N. Main St, Heber Springs, AR 72543; phone 501.365.3022
Hot Springs: 100 Ridgeway, Suite 5, Hot Springs, AR 71901; phone 501.318.6066
Jonesboro: 2239 S. Caraway, Suite M, Jonesboro, AR 72401; phone 870.910.3757
Little Rock: 1600 Aldersgate Road, Suite 100B, Little Rock, AR 72205; phone 501.537.3991
Magnolia: 621 E. North St, Magnolia, AR 71753; phone 870.234.0739
The Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, 601 Wellington Village Rd, Little Rock, AR 72211; phone 501.664.8632

For a shopping list, flyer or more information, visit or call 501-906-4201.

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

By Kelli Reep

Methodist Family Health

If you have breath in your lungs, you have the ability to grieve. While that may seem like a thickheaded statement, many think children don’t or can’t grieve like older kids or adults do.

However, children feel grief with the same degree of intensity they do happiness, anger, sadness. But, without knowing how to express what they are feeling, grief can overwhelm and isolate them, and the toll it can take on their developing hearts, minds and spirits can take years to heal.

More than 1 million children nationwide will lose a parent by age 15. Research shows that the death of a parent may be the most traumatic single event to affect the well-being and health of a developing child. Adult depression, schizophrenia, drug problems and alcohol use may be linked to childhood bereavement. Many more will lose siblings, other relatives, caregivers and close friends. These profound losses affect daily lives, academic and social functioning, and growth toward adulthood.

To address this sooner rather than later, there is a program in Arkansas specifically for helping children and their families who have experienced the loss of a loved one cope with their grief and learn to find joy again. The Kaleidoscope Grief Center, a program of Methodist Family Health, promotes the process of healing through education, therapeutic and recreational services, grief support programs and traditional counseling.

One of Kaleidoscope’s initiatives is Camp Healing Hearts, which is a FREE, overnight, family-oriented grief camp for children ages 5-18 and their families. Camp Healing Hearts provides a safe environment where children and their families can develop coping skills — both individually and within a community of others – and in 2020, Camp Healing Hearts will be at Camp Aldersgate in Little Rock from Friday, May 15 to Sunday, May 17.

Every year, Kaleidoscope Grief Center seeks adult volunteers to assist in making Camp Healing Hearts a joyful, restorative experience. Anyone with a heart for those who grieve, including Stephens ministers, youth group leaders and pastors, can create a space at Camp Healing Hearts for restoration and peace. Whether it’s swimming, basketball, cookouts, crafts or prayer.

If you or someone in your church can help for as little as two hours at this free grief camp, please contact Tracee Paulson 501-906-4246 or Or, visit the Camp Healing Hearts page under the News & Events tab on

And, if you know a child and his or her family who could benefit by attending the free camp in May, please contact Dao Ward at 501-537-3991 or

Sowing the Fruit of the Spirit

Sowing the Fruit of the Spirit

By Kelli Reep

Methodist Family Health

Can you imagine what your life would be like if your mother was addicted to drugs, your father was abusive to you before leaving your family altogether, and you were never certain if you would eat that day or the next?

Can you imagine how you would behave?

While not all the children and teenagers in our continuum of care at Methodist Family Health come from situations like this, many do, and all have some sort of a traumatic experience in their lives. Abuse, abandonment, neglect or a combination of these coupled with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional or spiritual issues produce a child who desperately needs someone to show her or him the way to a stable life.

It can be overwhelming to think about teaching and guiding children who have experienced so much crisis in their lives. How can you understand where a child has been or why she or he acts out in a way that’s harmful when you, as an adult, haven’t experienced trauma yourself? To be sure, it takes a lot of grit and determination, but to reach anyone – child, adolescent, adult or senior – on her or his level is to start with love.

Love is what everyone seeks, and from love stems everything else: acceptance, confidence, value, peace. When you don’t trust you are lovable just as you are, everything about you changes. Behavior, then, becomes our soul’s way of screaming for help.

At Methodist Family Health, we utilize a complete continuum of care to address both positive and negative behaviors so the children and families in our care understand they are loved. From this, our children and families learn how to develop healthy and positive social, relational and interpersonal skills. Whether it’s talking with a therapist one-on-one or participating in group counseling, creating an art project to communicate what cannot be said, building trust in the adult caregivers who provide three meals a day, every day, in a secure and stable home, or reading a new Bible provided by an Arkansas United Methodist, we at Methodist Family Health use every resource available to make the children in our care know they are loved – by us, by their communities and by you, Arkansas’s United Methodists.

Recently, we finished our Christmas appeal, Share the Light, in which we asked Arkansans to contribute funds to Methodist Family Health to support our work. It can seem like contributing money or toys or prayer may not help much with a child who is hurting so badly as to think of killing her or himself. It also can seem like the amount of care to help a teenager who is so angry and hurt is insurmountable. But the truth is it takes one person providing one kindness to sow seeds of hope. How powerful it is to know someone thinks enough of you to keep you in prayer! How compelling it is to know someone thought enough of you as a person to make sure you receive the care and necessities to get better. How awesome it is to know you are loved by people you have never or will ever meet who want the best for you. It’s the fruit of your spirit that sows the tender shoots of the fruit of others. For this, and so much more, we at Methodist Family Health are grateful to you.