From resident to president
During a recent visit to the Baptist Children’s Home in Monticello, Stephanie Rodgers, president of ABCHomes Board of Trustees, introduced herself to a young resident. While very polite, the lad initially did not make eye contact with Rodgers and seemed to be very intimidated. Rodgers didn’t mind. She understands such behavior all to well.
“When I looked again at the boy and asked, ‘Did you know that I grew up at the Children’s Home, right here where you live?’” said Rodgers. “In less than a second, his big, brown beautiful eyes looked me straight in the eye and he said, ‘Really, you lived here?’ When I told him I did, the rest of our visit was so personal. He wanted me to sit right beside him and talk.”
It’s moments like these, Rodgers says, that warms her heart. “It means so much to me that I am the board president and an ‘ABCHomie,’” shared Rodgers.
Rodgers is the first-ever ABCHomes alumni to serve as ABCHomes Board of Trustees president. What’s even more ironic, Rodgers’ former housemother, Karen Reynolds, and ABCHomes foster mother, Vicki Wickliff, are also current trustees.
“I’m very honored to serve with these wonderful women who impacted my life,” Rodgers recently said.
David Perry, ABCHomes executive director, said Rodgers is an asset to ABCHomes Board of Trustees. “The fact that we have an alumna as president of the Board of Trustees is of great historical significance, but having Stephanie Rodgers as that person is extraordinary,” he said. “Stephanie’s energy, love for this ministry, and especially her focus on seeking God’s direction for all we do at ABCHomes is the perfect formula for leading our outstanding Board of Trustees.”
Path to president
Rodgers, 38, suffered abuse and neglect in her home from a very early age. She was placed in a foster home at age 5, and by age 10 was in the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes.
She says the Children’s Homes provided her opportunities in education and recreation common to children raised with their birth parents, but that she never would have known if she had remained with a mother who was unable to care for her.
When Rodgers was 11 her mother thought she was ready to take her back. Rodgers returned with reservations that proved accurate. After six months the abuse started again and she was “very, very happy” to return to the Children’s Home.
While her clothes were “dirty and provocative” because she wasn’t well cared for at home, Children’s Home staff “let me know just because I came in with dirty clothes did not mean I was a dirty person,” she said.
ABCHomes was “a positive, supportive environment, with workers who are called to what they do” Rodgers declared. “They (staff) were always there to help me.”
Recalling her time at ABCHomes, Rodgers said, “There are things we go through in life that seem so impossible at the time. It is so easier said than done to endure but, we must trust God. He is working in our favor for His glory.”
Today, Rodgers is a mom of three daughters and one son, a full-time banker, PTA president, Godly wife and leader in her church.
As Trustee president, Rodgers hopes to leave a legacy of change. “When God saved me, He changed the course of my life and the life of my family and what a way to leave a legacy! I want to do the same.”
Rodgers prays that ABCHomes will remain “a fortress for the weary.” Noting text from Isaiah 40, Rodgers said, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”