ROle: Buck Stops Here!
Story Synopsis: Hailing from Leaksville (now Eden), NC, William Michael Walker (Mike) has lived in twelve states and three countries through his service as an Air Force chaplain and work with children's homes. outside of work Mike enjoys spending time with his bride of 45 years, Gwen, and visiting antiques stores to remember the simplicity of times gone by.
His passion for helping hurting children began just after his retirement from the Air Force in 1997. At that time he began a new career path as a counselor at Smoky Mountain Children's Home in Sevierville, TN where he also served as Assistant Director and Director. In 2008 Mike became the Director at Our Home (Church of God Children's Home of North Carolina). His driving Force in working with children and young adults is the ability to influence the Future: "If you Can lead a child or young adult to Christ and give them the tools to impact their future, you can change generations to come."
Inspiration: "That my merciful, loving God gives me a new day to serve him and attempt to do it right each and every day! The mercy shows up the many times I fall Short!"
Looks Up to: His father, Rev. William D. Walker for showing him how to serve God, serve others, and be a good husband and father.
Quirky Character Trait: Sitting in the dark to meditate
You May not Know: "I really enjoy watching old westerns."
If He could be any character in a children's book, Mike would be Snoopy because he is a World War I flying Ace!
"Curse You Red Baron!"
Role: The voice and face of Our Home
Story Synopsis: House Parent, Supply Manager, Clothing Closet Coordinator, Secretary/Treasurer, Jo Ann Schwendenmann Lucas has done it all at Our Home! In 1998 she and her husband, John, came to Our Home and over the next 5 years took on several roles. For a Few years Jo Ann and John's ministry turned to pastoring, and in 2008 they returned to Our Home. Loving to give back to others and working with children in a variety of capacities helped steer Jo Ann towards her work here. While her children were still at home she felt led towards work at a group home but wanted to wait until they were independent before making the move, as being a house parent requires a lot of focus and attention for the residents.
A native of Cincinnati, Oh, Jo Ann has also made her home in two other states before landing permanently in North Carolina. Travelling, spending time with her family, and remodeling her home fill up Jo ann's spare time.
Quirky Fact: Her Comfort Food is green peas mixed with mashed potatoes. Don't knock it until you've tried it!
Inspiration: Admiring the fingerprints of god through the beauty of nature; seeing a job completed
Looks up to: "Jesus because He is the only one that is always there for you and can supply all your needs. He is my strength, Redeemer, and soon coming King."
You May not know: Jo Ann was an only child for eleven years. She still hasn't gotten over her siblings taking all the attention away from her!
If she could be any character in a children's book, Jo Ann would be the Little Blue Engine in The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper because she was willing to try and not give up.
Role: aiding young mothers on the road to independence
Story Synopsis: When Stephanie Lucas Brewton was little she used to say she wanted to either be a teacher or work at an orphanage. Having now done both, she can Retire! Not yet though, because her heart is still drawn toward children, especially those who desperately need someone in their corner. In 2015 Stephanie came to Our Home while she had been spending time as a stay at home mom after dedicating twelve years to public education. Working with teen mothers is fulfilling and challenging, and she wouldn't have it any other way!
Reading, cooking, being outside, and spending time with her two children fill Stephanie's time outside of work. Born in Norfolk, VA, but has lived in ten cities, four states, nineteen different homes, and attended nine different schools. Needless to say, one of the things she dislikes most is moving!
Quirky Fact: "I hate to wear shoes. I would often go barefoot in my classroom when I taught...i'd go barefoot all the time if i could!"
Most People Don't Know: "I almost ran off and joined the circus! I applied for a teaching job with Ringling Brothers circus, but unfortunately it didn't pan out."
Inspiration: Being a part of the "Aha!" moment, that moment someone makes a profound discovery or suddenly understands a concept that has alluded them, especially when that epiphany is life-altering.
Looks up to: C.s. Lewis, who had thought provoking yet simple truths to share on logic, literature, life, and faith. One can find insight on just about every aspect of life from Lewis' writings. His thoughts on faith and perseverance in the face of grief are uplifting and most of his work creates introspection that often leads to change. "Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success." C. S. Lewis
If Stephanie could be any character in a children's book, she would be Anne of Green Gables in the series by L.M. Montgomery because Anne loves great literature, is a dreamer, believes you are drawn toward people in life who are your "kindred spirits," and is prone to let her imagination run away with her (which sometimes leads to trouble, and sometimes leads to brilliance!).
Role: Assists in placement of children and monitors progress of residents
Story Synopsis: John Victor Lucas, who is originally from Norfolk, VA (by way of his mother), moved to North Carolina in 1986 after visiting frequently and loving the area. Prior to coming to the home in 1998, John worked as a printer for twenty years and then served as a pastor. John, like his wife Jo Ann, has also worn many hats during his time at Our Home, from House Parent, Maintenance Manager, and finally as Case Manager.
John keeps busy with numerous home renovation and building projects, having built a garage, barn/shed, replaced flooring in nearly all the rooms in his home, remodeled his kitchen and bathroom, and also builds swings, Adirondack chairs, and various other woodwork items. He also enjoys reading and travelling.
Inspiration: "Witnessing at risk children turn their lives around by embracing instructions, encouragement, and discipline from staff and church leaders and becoming successful in attaining their goals."
Looks Up to: his dad, John Lucas, Sr., who knew the value of working hard for things important to him. Through hard work and perseverance he retired after 30 years at the age of 55.
You May not know: His first job was at Kentucky Fried chicken and he knows the Colonel's secret recipe (sort of!).
If John could be any character in a children's book he would be Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh by A.A. milne because he is adventurous, compassionate, and although a child, much wiser than the other characters, often helping them out of sticky situations.
Roles: Hostest with the Mostest
Story Synopsis: Elizabeth (Libby) Richardson has worn many hats, but the hat that fits her best is working with children and youth. Although her first career was with a pathology lab, Libby has always enjoyed working with young people, whether through teaching Sunday School or volunteering with the youth group. Over the years, Libby felt the calling to do more with children's ministry. Through a pastor friend, she was introduced to the Smoky Mountain Children's Home where she and her husband Larry began their work in residential group homes. Libby and Larry have also worked at Palmer Home in Mississippi. They finally landed here in 2008, which is where they felt they were supposed to be. And we agree!
Most People Don't Know: She could have been in a double mint commercial because she has a twin. Double the fun!
Inspiration: Watching young people come to Christ on a personal basis and attaining goals they thought were impossible.
Enjoys: Sitting outside, especially during warm weather, to read. But if you find her out in the early morning, let her be, because she loves some alone time in the A.M.!
If Libby could be any character in a children's book, she would be the little girl in the book Corduroy by Don Freeman because she looked past Corduroy's missing button and saw something beautiful that she could help mend.