Transitions, additions and a wealth of blessings adorned the 2013 agenda for Marian Hope Center.
The year began with the decision to dissolve my for-profit company (Outreach Therapies & Consulting, Inc.) and transfer all staff and assets to Marian Hope Center for Children’s Therapy. I had felt called to this for several years, but the personal sacrifices I would have to take outweighed God’s call (shame on me). However, when I finally put my faith and love for the Lord ahead of my fear, He blessed my obedience. We went from a stable organization that seemed to have plateaued to one that was experiencing the opening of floodgates with new families sprouting up from all walks of life, enhanced donor support and community recognition. And while the heart of Marian Hope has always been faith-based, we have now declared in our by-laws that Marian Hope is a faith-based organization. Our growing organization is actively changing the lives of many children and families… for God’s glory, not our own.
We officially established a Nutritional Program with the hiring of an amazing dietician, Blakely Page. She understands the “whole” child approach and how important God-grown nourishment is for the developing brain. She provides education/training, consultative visits, diet planning for families and community organizations. We partner with YES! Youth Fitness, Nature’s Pantry, John Hicks, M.D., and New Life Chiropractic. Our collective organizations hope to bring more nutrition conferences to our community in 2014.
Soon after the dissolution of Outreach Therapies, I asked the board to approve the opening of a Christian school. Following much deliberation and deciding basically on faith alone, the board approved the Marian Hope Academy (MHA), Christian School for Creative Learning as an arm under Marian Hope. This God-directed journey to the establishment of MHA was probably one of the most spiritually transforming journeys of my life. When God set upon my heart to start a school, I knew I would struggle with convincing our MHC board of directors (especially when I told them I wanted to start this school within six months, fall 2013). I didn’t have answers to reasonable questions like: Location? Students? Funding? Teachers?
My answer: we started MHC on a $0 budget with a small handful of parents who had faith in the skills of our therapists (Outreach Therapies at that time). We didn’t have answers then except: our community needs more, our families need more, our children need more. How we were going to survive then, we did not know. God did, though, and he grew our organization from 1 small therapy class with 3 to 4 students in my basement to over 20 classes and 400 children being served within all of our programs. So, my answer now as to why start a school: our community needs more, our families need more, our children need more….but most, importantly, God is calling us to do this. Basically, same song, different verse.
Within two weeks after the board approved Marian Hope Academy, God began His work:
- Oakwood Baptist Church opened an entire wing of their building at no charge for us to house the school.
- A family gave us $26,000 to go toward materials.
- Several thousand dollars of curriculum was donated to us.
- God pieced together a brilliant staff of creative and knowledgeable educators.
- No advertising for students was needed; we had to cut off at 22 enrolled students as our goal was to stay small the first year.
If God would have revealed all those answers before our board deliberation meeting, the board would have approved based on facts and not faith. That is how God stretches us! He wants us to put our source of confidence in HIM, not in man, not in riches, not in facts, but in HIM alone.
Marian Hope Academy just closed the books on our first semester. Did all go perfectly?? Of course, not. However, with each trial came many of God’s great blessings. This academy is an integrated school for children of all abilities. Some students are above grade level in some areas; some learn differently and require adapted curriculum. We keep our teacher/student ratio low so we can implement a personalized education for each child.
Our philosophy: every child is a gift from God and gifted through God. Every child deserves the chance of a rich education full of learning experiences and opportunities to be original and creative. We desire to nurture the strengths of each child and build up competent, confident children who put their boast in our heavenly Father who created them. We want them to know that if they allow God to lead them in all they do, their efforts will not be defeated. We want every child to know, despite any challenges they have, that they have great purpose and value to our community and to our world. It is my hope to raise a generation of children (not segregated by age, ability or differences) who know how to unite with others and bridge Christ-like communities together in order to bring God’s kingdom to our earth.
May each child we serve be a reflection of Christ in all that say and do…and may they pass the torch.
We are now known as Marian Hope with 4 arms of blessings: Marian Hope Center for Children’s Therapy, Marian Hope Outreach Services, Marian Hope Family Health and Nutrition Services and Marian Hope Academy.
~Angie Knight, Co-Founder and CEO of Marian Hope