Why I Volunteer: Ann Walden

Ann Walden
Farmer’s Branch, Texas

Ann Walden

Ann Walden

How did you first hear about Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services (PCHAS)?

When I was Vice-President of the Presbyterian Women’s Group at Faith United Presbyterian Church in Farmer’s Branch, we invited Tom Anthony, a PCHAS Development Officer in our region, to speak at our annual PW Retreat. We had made some prayer blankets for the children in Itasca. That was really the first time I heard about the work that PCHAS was doing. I had no idea that Presbyterians were so involved in helping so many children and families in need. I thought at the time that this is truly the best-kept secret in our denomination. After Tom’s presentation, I went up to talk with him about how our church could get more involved.

How long have you been serving this ministry and in what capacity?

I’ve been an Ambassador for PCHAS for three years. As an Ambassador, I do a variety of things to help spread the word about PCHAS. I’ve done “minute for missions” and I created a PCHAS display in a prominent place in our church. I try to keep the display supplied with up-to-date information about PCHAS. I’m the kind of person who likes to think outside the box, so I looked for ways our church could help the children in PCHAS’ care. One need that I saw was for the children to be prayed for individually, something that our church could definitely do. So I started a prayer partner ministry for the children on PCHAS’ Waxahachie campus. My original goal was to get enough church members to be prayer partners for one Waxahachie campus house of eight children. Our church is not very big, so that seemed reasonable to me. But the first Sunday I had so many people sign up to be prayer partners that we were able to work with three houses. Each prayer partner received the name of one child, and for nine months, she corresponded with the child she was matched with — much like having a pen-pal back in the days before social media took over. At the end of the nine months, we invited the children to our church to worship and to meet their prayer partners and eat lunch with us. We also gave each child a Bible with the child’s name embossed on the cover. This was such a success we did it again the following year and were able to include the entire campus!

When a new Group Home, the Bradley Home, was built on PCHAS’ Itasca campus in 2013, our PW group wanted to do something to help out, so we organized a “bath shower” for the new home. We got a list of needs from PCHAS and our ladies spent six months collecting items for the shower from the congregation. Then we invited the children and their Home Parents to our church to receive the items and take them back to their new home. Lunch was an indoor picnic!

I organized a “Mary Kay Day,” and invited a Mary Kay representative to come to the Waxahachie campus on a Saturday afternoon to share beauty tips with the girls on both the Waxahachie and Itasca campuses. Now I’m trying to figure out what I can do for the boys that would be comparable to that workshop.

What makes you passionate about PCHAS?

I grew up in a loving family. Life taught me that not everyone knows this kind of love. Then I found PCHAS, and learned more about children who are ignored and abused — beaten (inside and out). I want to be part of the positive impact PCHAS is making on young lives.

Of other charities that you’re associated with, is there anything about PCHAS that sets it apart or holds a special place in your heart?

Helping children to be successful and to feel good about themselves has been my life’s work (I am a retired teacher). What sets PCHAS apart from other organizations is, for me, first and foremost, the children that PCHAS is helping recover from their heartbreaking life experiences.

As  I’ve gotten more involved I realize that the people who work for PCHAS are really dedicated and committed to their work. Every one of them, from the Cottage Parents to the Development Officers, care deeply about the children and seem to see their work not just as another job but as a ministry that they’ve been called to. I’m very impressed that PCHAS sees the need to serve children in a variety of different ways:  residential care, foster care, adoptions, helping single moms get to a point where they can take care of their children on their own, helping families stay together, providing educational opportunities that the kids may not have had if they hadn’t have come to PCHAS.

Do you have any additional comments?

It’s a real honor to be part of a Christian organization, and to be able to help PCHAS make a difference in young peoples’ lives. All but for the Grace of God, I could have been one of these children.

Learn about becoming a PCHAS Ambassador