Meet the Sanders family. Dave and Julienne Sanders are house parents to the boys of Creek Cottage. Both being from in and around the Oaks community, Dave and Julienne have served as house parents since February 2012. Dave and Julienne have been together for 20 years and have four children and seven grandchildren. Their family life, love for the community and their heart for the Mission are just some of the things that make their calling one that is not taken for granted. For Julienne, in particular, her roots to the Mission run deep, having come from a family of both Moravians and Lutherans. Her ancestors were a part of the community, church and school in Springplace and Oothcaloga before forced removal. Julienne’s family, the Fields’, were one of the first families that formed the backbone of Eben Ezer Lutheran Church here in Oaks. It would seem fairly obvious why this remarkable couple are endeared by colleagues and children; they bring enthusiasm, an excitement for an opportunity to celebrate legacies and culture and to proclaim Christ and His love for the children. Dave says, “To me, being around young kids, it makes me feel younger. It makes me feel good—laughing and joking and playing…”
Meet the McCarts. Rusty and Amanda come to us, with their two young children, to care for and love the girls of Cherokee Cottage. Amanda, a stay-at-home mom, and Rusty, who has done everything from work as a mail carrier to work on oil fields and wind farms, prayerfully considered taking a “leap of faith” in becoming house parents. Coming to Oaks has helped make sure their family shares day-to-day memories together, but also, they have the opportunity to share their lives and wisdom with the children here at Oaks. After hearing about Oaks from a family member, the McCarts inquired about being house parents and within a month, they sold the majority of their belongings, rented out their home, and moved three hours to be here! “We prayed a lot!” said Amanda. Now that they are here and the school year has started, one would think they have been here for more than just a few months. “Our hope for our girls is that we can help instill a love for God, confidence, discipline, a sense of family, and the ability to thrive and be successful adults,” said the McCarts.
Meet the Harps. Arlin “Buddy” and Comella Harp are caring for the boys of Vammen Cottage. They have two sons. Having been here since November 2015, they are fitting in nicely with everyone here at Oaks, especially the older boys they care for. Buddy, a factory worker for the last 10 years and Comella, a stay-at-home mom, bring hard work and dedication to their new place as house parents. Having been actively involved with their church, the family of four believe that what they’ve experienced in their own lives will help them along the way. “With lots of prayer, we both felt that the mission trips and the outreach program and working with our youth at our old church was God’s way of preparing us to be house parents,” said Buddy. In addition, walking this new journey, the Harps are really enjoying their time with the kids and taking to their new roles with open hearts and minds. “The kids’ spiritual growth is much like their physical growth, from day-to-day there are no drastic changes. Over time, you can look back and notice how they have grown spiritually through decisions they make, interactions with others and how they carry themselves as young people,” said Buddy. “Being given the opportunity to impact their lives, hopefully for the better, is truly an honor.”