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Growing up With AGAPE

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Growing Up With AGAPE | Dr. Jamie Burton

Good Morning, I am Jamie Burton, son of Tom and Chris Burton. Over a month ago Chandler asked me if I would be willing to speak at this morning’s breakfast in honor of the Tom Burton Society. His sales pitch included that these are people who loved my dad, and they are the strongest AGAPE supporters. He also said these are people who would not want to see a bunch of money spent for a speaker. So, now you see what that gets you. I imagine Chandler, you will gain approval from the group for next year to go ahead and pay for a speaker.

As I look through the audience today, I see many familiar faces. Many of whom have shown their love and support for AGAPE and my parents for the entire time they served the organization. For that, I want to formally thank you. It is this love and support that continued to keep them both encouraged in this work for over 30 years. I feel like you all knew my parents very well. Chandler asked me to just share with you about Tom and Chris, and what it was like growing up as their children, and around AGAPE. So, I realize some of what I will say this morning you already know and we can enjoy reminiscing together. I hope you leave this morning honored to have partnered in The Tom Burton Society, and even more passionate about AGAPE.

Dad grew up in Whites Creek, TN. The house was small, only two bedrooms and one bathroom and sat on a small farm. Dad had one younger brother, Johnny Lynn. The two were very close. John and his wife are actually here this morning. There are countless stories of the two boys growing up in the country. Of course, like all boys growing up in the country, there were lots of chores to do. My grandmother was very particular, and probably quite unreasonable with her standards for cleaning. This would be a much kinder and more politically correct description than my dad or uncle would offer. Growing up, I was often reminded how my dad had to clean the grout between the tile and the baseboards by scrubbing with a toothbrush.

My dad and uncle embraced the outdoors. My grandfather loved to hunt and fish, and passed this passion to his sons. I loved spending time fishing and hunting with my dad and granddad alike, and today greatly enjoy the time spent on the water or in the woods with my two sons. Dad was definitely blessed living in a loving Christian home. He learned the importance of marital commitment and faithfulness from the example of his parents, and also how to be a great father. The role of a loving and nurturing parent, and this loyalty served him well as he directed the work at AGAPE.

Through all of his life, dad appreciated and used humor. He loved to laugh. Even while enduring the most difficult phases of his life, he continued to find humor during challenge. He often used his personal experiences and stories as life lessons for us. He was an excellent listener and counselor. He always had great advice. There did not seem to be anything we could face, that he could not help by talking to us. Most of the time he changed our worry or frustration to laughter as he told stories of his past.

Shortly after I was born, my dad accepted a position at the Children’s Home of Lubbock, Texas.

Interestingly, about 10 years later, a good friend of Tom’s from college named Morris Reed, was serving on AGAPE’s Board of Directors. AGAPE was searching for a new Executive Director. Morris recommended his friend, Tom, for the job. We had lived in Lubbock for 9 years. My sister, Emily, was born there. We had great friends, belonged to a wonderful church, and had a loving community. However, moving back to Nashville, and the job at AGAPE was an opportunity that thrilled my dad. He had known Howard Justiss for over 10 years, and truly respected Mr. Justiss. Plus, Nashville was home. Almost all of our family lived there. Fast forward a dozen years and I had fallen in love with and married Lauren Reed, Morris’ daughter. So, yes, it is true I had an arranged marriage.

During these early years, AGAPE was located in an old house in Melrose. A couple of funny stories of that time: Dad always loved a good deal. The McDonald’s in Melrose satisfied two of his joys: the opportunity for a joke, and a good deal. On Sundays, sundaes were $0.29. I can’t tell you how many jokes were attempted interchanging the day of the week Sunday, and the ice cream treat, sundae, led to many Sunday afternoon trips to the Golden Arches on the way to the AGAPE building. Then, Monday nights the small hamburgers were $0.25 each. For $2 our family of 4 could get 8 of those burgers. In those days, many Agape newsletters and other mailers were brought home. Our family of four would often fold newsletters and stuff envelopes to prepare for mailing. My mom and dad did everything possible to help the ministry save money.

I share those stories and that background, not just because they are funny, but somehow those carried with dad from childhood to help form the man he was. A quality I am very proud of and appreciate greatly is the fact that all the people who knew my dad, knew the same man. Tom was of course very involved with AGAPE. He was also an elder at Harpeth Hills Church of Christ for over 20 years. He was past president and active member of the Brentwood Rotary. He was very involved and well known in the Brentwood community. Whether someone knew Tom as a family member, through AGAPE, church, Rotary, or the community, they knew the same man. He did not act differently in any of these groups.

Dad loved sports. He greatly enjoyed watching all kinds of sports. He used to ask me as we watched games together, who I was for. When I would ask him who he wanted to win, he was always for the underdog. I used to ask him why, you know they can’t possibly win. He loved seeing a team that beat the odds, proving others wrong. I think this is another reason he was so passionate about AGAPE. He loved the success stories about former foster kids and children that AGAPE helped place for adoption. Nothing gave him more joy than to hear how these children succeeded in academics, athletics, art, music, professionally or as leaders in the community. My dad clearly understood the obstacles and challenges so many children face. Society does not give everyone the same opportunities or provide the same chances. Some kids seem to face insurmountable odds. He always picked the individual to beat those odds.

Tom Burton with a brick from the 1992 Justiss-Kirby Center capital campaign.

I mentioned how Tom loved good deals. Saving money was a thrill. This obviously served him well in non-profit work. I remember how excited he was when AGAPE moved to the bigger building on Nolensville Rd. But, over the years he realized the need and the benefit AGAPE would see owning a building rather than paying rent. He led a strong campaign to raise the funds not only to purchase land and build a building, but avoid any debt associated with a building. Some of his proudest achievements he would tell you would be – No Debt for AGAPE, Substantial Endowment fund for AGAPE; The Bone Marrow Drive thru Rotary, and Grandchildren. He was great at thinking of new ideas to raise money.

Many of you remember AGAPE’s Derby Day. Think about that for a fundraising event. A fundraiser to be held at the Nashville Speedway. Of course, one of the main sponsors for the event was Purity Dairies. Dad bonded with Miles Ezell at the very beginning of his time at AGAPE. But, besides Purity, the 7-Up Bottling Company served as a sponsor. So, he decided to combine his passion for running as a part of the fundraiser and hold various fun runs. There was a mile, a 5K, and a 7K. He was so proud of that idea – no one was doing a 7K – and how appropriate with 7-Up as a sponsor. And, no one was running a foot race on the Speedway. The whole day had a great festive feel. During these years were also when Purity lovers will remember our Good Buddy Jim Varney, Ernest and those commercials. “Know What I Mean, Vern?” Of course with Dad’s humor, he loved Ernest. Guess who came to sign autographs.

He was constantly using these original ideas to further programs at AGAPE, increase donations, and grow the agency to allow for more services to be provided and more children and families to be helped.

Growing up, my parents were constantly loving us and reassuring us with their praise and affirmation. They were very involved, serving in countless volunteer roles as Room Mother in school, coaches for all sorts of teams, chaperones, PTA members. Mom was a stickler to confirm our homework was always finished. She wanted us to be well- rounded. She was musically talented. She had a beautiful voice, loved to play piano. We took piano lessons for several years, but never really enjoyed it.

Tom and Chris Burton in 2013.

Despite all of these activities, she still managed to cook dinner just about every night. Dinner was always the four of us sitting at the table together. Lots of sharing and laughs together took place at that wooden table. I remember one evening when Emily and I were being unappreciative teenagers. That night during dinner we were overly critical of the meal. Really wasn’t anything too big, just a few comments like, “The potatoes taste different, did you cook them a different way?” “Why are we having lima beans? You know we don’t like lima beans.” Mom told us that was fine, and we could just start cooking our own dinners starting the next evening. Our punishment was for each of us to plan and prepare a dinner over the next few nights. Emily and I went first. We really worked hard, the meals turned out decent. Then, it became Dad’s turn the third night. He went to the Army surplus store, and came home with some MREs. The night was more about him telling us about the meals, how these were much better than what was offered when he was in Vietnam. He compared them to various camping and backpacking meal options. I remember he actually liked the meals. Fortunately for us, mom believed we learned a lesson, forgave the punishment and resumed cooking the next night.

After dinner, we often played games together. He loved playing board games with us, but his favorite was Backgammon. He also loved to play ping pong, but was even more a fan of Foosball. Dad loved the nightly tradition of a ping pong tournament after dinner. If I were not in the mood, somehow dad would continue to plead by relentlessly saying, “I challenge you.” Until I accepted. If it were Backgammon, he would rattle the dice in the holder while he said, “I challenge you.” If he wanted to play ping pong, he walked thru the house with the two paddles, stating, “I challenge you.” I don’t know how that worked, but somehow it did. No matter what we were playing, if I won the first game, he instantly prepared for a second game saying, “Everyone knows it’s best two out of three.” If I won two games, somehow that changed to “best out of 5.” For him, it was not as much about the game as it was just a way to spend additional time with one another.

Camping was definitely one of Tom’s favorite activities. He loved backpacking. He and his buddy from the Children’s Home in Lubbock, Lynn Harms, continued to backpack together for many years even after we moved from Lubbock to Nashville. Dad never could get my mom interested in backpacking. Growing up, Emily and I made various backpacking trips. I remember a backpack he bought for mom, but I only remember one backpacking trip the 4 of us made together. There were several camping trips we made together as a family.

Anyone who camps understands that there is always an adventure involved. Things never seem to go perfectly smooth. When I was 4, we went on a tent camping trip with our family and my aunt and uncle. West Texas and New Mexico are full of cactuses. I fell into one and had those needles all over my back, legs, and arms. They laid me in the tent and worked awhile plucking those needles out. Emily still has a scar on her chin from a fall on one of her father-daughter backpacking trips when she was 6. I have a scar on a knee from a fall on a backpacking trip. That was also my dad’s first attempt at placing sutures. The first aid kit just happened to include some medical sutures, but no anesthetic!

I remember one camping trip at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas. We were tent camping, and that night, torrential rain and flash flooding came. Dad stayed out in the rain working his camp stove in the dark to cook our dinner. We all waited in the car. While we were eating our dinner in the car, the park ranger came and told us we had to leave, that the park was being closed due to the flash flooding in the area. Lucky for us, because inside our tent already looked like a small river there was so much water running through it. I don’t know what dad’s plan was if that ranger had not asked us to leave. I do remember he continued to laugh and make jokes through the evening, and from then on any, which was every camping trip when it rained, he said, “You remember that time in Devil’s Den?” He was never one to give up.

He was an avid runner, and he and his best friend, and running partner, Ken Neil, ran 5 miles a day. They logged in over 15,000 miles. They always had each other’s back They held each other accountable, and knew whatever the circumstance, whatever the need, they were there for each other. This loyalty Tom had was also a loyalty others recognized in him. The AGAPE family knew how loyal Tom was. I believe there are many similarities in the discipline of a distance runner, and the discipline evident in the way he lived his life. He knew life was not a sprint to a quick finish.

As I think about his passion for running, hiking, camping, backpacking, and movies I am reminded how passionate he was about people. He valued relationships with the people he knew. He was always looking for ways to connect with folks. I think he found someone he was related to or had some connection from the past on every airline flight he ever made. Emily and I remember so many times in conversation when he would interrupt to ask, “Who was that? What was the last name? Who are his or her parents?” We would usually say, “Don’t worry about it, you don’t know them,” only to be proven wrong when he finally discovered the connection and was able to tell us exactly how he knew the person, or the parents, or some other way they were connected.

He was always the servant. He was never too busy for us as kids. I cannot remember a single time when I asked him to do anything when he replied with anything other than a yes. I never heard him say, not right now. We often saw that accommodating response when he was dealing with other people too. I remember when in high school, every year students would ask to interview him about his service in Vietnam for a school project. One year in particular, I remember a student who had waited until the last minute. Dad had been very busy working on some things himself, but when the student called, he agreed to the interview right away. I asked him later knowing the student had procrastinated, why he agreed to help. He could have easily said he didn’t have time then. He answered, “Because I was asked to help.”

He was a great father to a daughter also. I was often embarrassed for him at the things he said yes to. After all, what are the favorite things for little girls to play? That list would include, dress up, painting fingernails, doing hair and make up. Emily liked to play like she was working in a salon and he was her client. He would let Emily paint his fingernails and toenails. He would want her to give him a massage. She would fix his hair. Which she could really only do one style, and we nicknamed it the Bozo Look. You may remember Bozo the clown, with his bright red hair, except he had the same pattern of baldness I inherited from my dad. So, Emily would tease his hair by brushing it upside down, so it fanned way out, almost 90 degrees from his head all the way around the sides and back.

As great as mom and dad were at so many things, they were even better as grandparents. They were excellent grandparents. Our kids have been so blessed to have 4 wonderful grandparents. Each set lived just a few miles from us, and were able to be very involved in our children’s lives. Basically, at every event for one of our children, we had all 4 grandparents. Including, the first time one was injured and had to visit the ER. Reed had a fall which resulted in a laceration above his eye. He would need stitches. On the way to the hospital, Lauren called her mom, who is a nurse. Of course, she felt the need to inform the other 3 grandparents who all stopped whatever they were doing and raced to the hospital. Tom didn’t even worry with looking for a parking place. An emergency involving one of his grandchildren justified parking his car under the portico for the ambulance entrance. He raced out of the car and into the hospital and at some point realized he didn’t have his keys. Then learned he had locked his keys in the car with the engine still running, and the car was blocking the ambulance entrance.

As I think about the career my dad had at AGAPE, all the years of service, all the children helped, so many of these character traits and life markers led to his success in his career. From an early age he knew the importance of a Christian home, a stable home, a home where parents showed their children how much they loved them. From a modest upbringing, he was taught the importance of being content. He learned to appreciate relationships with others, and the value of a community. He was taught how to serve. He understood the value of hard work, and discipline. He knew how to be loyal and faithful.

Ironically, Chandler actually met with me in the early spring of 2015 about some ideas he had to honor my parents. He was concerned because he knew my mom really would not want any recognition. He was torn on an appropriate way to honor, show appreciation, yet not cause either of them to feel uncomfortable. We never dreamed in only a few months, we would lose my mother and then 7 months later, lose my dad too. Last summer, Chandler spoke to my sister and me about honoring our parents. He had several different ideas, but the one he thought was the most appropriate, and we agreed, was not a room, monument, or building, but this fund. You understand, Tom and Chris spent their entire lives serving others. They worked tirelessly to provide for others. They loved taking care of people and helping meet the needs of people who simply could not meet basic needs on their own. What better way to pay tribute than a fund that exists to provide, to care for, and to eliminate the worry of others.

You should also know how much prayer and thought were offered over many years by my mom and dad in finding a successor for Tom. Chandler is truly an answer to prayer. Many candidates were interviewed that they and the Board alike felt just did not qualify to carry the vision for AGAPE. Chandler is the right one for the job. I have been greatly impressed with the vision Chandler has and the changes he is making to adjust to changing needs in a much different world and culture. The additional services and methods of support are constantly being updated to more effectively minister to the people in the community.

I want to leave you this morning with three challenges in your support of AGAPE. First, continue to pray for AGAPE: for the wisdom of those leading and directing, for AGAPE’s finances, for the staff, and for those needing AGAPE’s services. Second, a concern Tom had over the last several years he was director was that the supporters of AGAPE are getting older. He recognized the need to gain support of younger couples to help carry this organization the next 50 years. So, please look for some new people you could introduce to AGAPE. Third, become a foster parent. There is such a need for Christian couples to serve as foster parents in our area. We cannot rely on our government to care for these children. At the state level, foster care is a badly broken system. Prayerfully consider becoming a foster parent.

Once again, I thank you for your support of AGAPE and for making the choice and commitment to be Inaugural members of The Tom Burton Society. Our family greatly appreciates the way you have chosen to honor my mom and dad. They would be greatly honored and very humbled by this tribute.

The Tom Burton Society was created in 2016 to honor the
life and legacy of Tom Burton.

Members of The Tom Burton Society donate $2,500 or more annually to AGAPE.

To become a member today, make your gift online by clicking on the link below:


You can also mail your gift to:
AGAPE
The Tom Burton Society
4555 Trousdale Drive
Nashville, TN 37204

For additional information, contact Chandler Means at 615-781-3000.

 

The Mission of AGAPE Counseling

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By: Jason Cooper, Ph.D, Licensed Psychologist, Director of Counseling and Related Services

For several decades, counseling services have been an important part of AGAPE’s mission to strengthen children and families of Middle Tennessee with the healing love of Christ.  Even today, as I work alongside the professional counselors and therapists of AGAPE, their commitment to providing excellent care for others is evident.

During the first quarter of this year, we have been blessed to serve 241 new clients who have accessed AGAPE counseling.  Overall, 1,465 clients were assisted over the course of 2,684 counseling sessions.  However, we believe that God can do more through us in our community.

How we are endeavoring to help:

• Reaching out to the Spanish-speaking community with grant-funded counseling services

• Assisting those experiencing financial hardship with grant-funded counseling services

• Supporting our foster and adoptive families with counseling and education

• Extending our services to additional communities through our affiliate office locations

• Training new counselors to provide Christian counseling for the future

Whether the concern is depression, anxiety, a relationship problem, or a difficult life situation, our counselors and therapists are eager to offer their professional support.  Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that counseling often costs more than what our clients can afford.  In fact, without the blessings of donor support, grant funding, and the dedication of our staff, it would be tough to serve the number of clients that request our assistance.

If you would like to learn more about AGAPE counseling services or the ways that you could help, please contact me at jcooper@agapenashville.org or 615-781-3000.

The Harvey Family Adoption

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Congratulations to Josh and Kristen Harvey on the adoptive placement of their daughter, Nora Grace.

Kristen Harvey recently shared her thoughts about their experience with AGAPE.

“The adoptive parents training class was really helpful in the beginning stages of the process. Most importantly, AGAPE employs some truly amazing people. Alisa Pearson, our caseworker, has been so encouraging and helpful throughout the whole process, always listening and answering any questions we have. Lovette Gaston is also amazing, and she and Alisa have worked so hard for us, as well as for Nora and her birth mother. That’s a lot of different people and interests to take into account, but they do it so well. We have no doubt in our minds that God had His hand in our story from the beginning, and that Nora was the sweet child we were waiting for this whole time. The way everything has come together has felt nothing short of a miracle — meant to be all along, we just didn’t know it. God answered our prayers and the prayers of our family and friends in the best way possible, and we are forever thankful.”

Josh, Kristen and Nora attend Kingwood Church of Christ in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The Social Tornado of Foster Care

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What comes to mind when you look at this photo taken in the aftermath of a tornado-ravaged community in Oklahoma?  Rescue?  Tenderness? Compassion? Safety? Love? I think we can agree that it co

nveys how we would hope to be, our best in the worst of times.

Now, imagine another tornado, only this one is ripping through the state of Tennessee creating a massive and devastating disaster.  Thousands of children in the state will be impacted by this tornado and it will leave them in need of temporary homes and families, food and clothes, love and protection, and even new families to call their own.   

How do you think the church, the body of Christ, would respond to such a disaster?  We would show up big time, just like we did for the Nashville flood, the Gatlinburg fires, Hurricane Katrina and other such calamities.  We would rally to care for these children, to protect them, to keep and make them safe, to love them and their families.

This isn’t a scenario you have to imagine!  It’s real! It has happened and it is reality right now.  No, it’s not a funnel cloud that has torn through these kid’s lives, but rather a social tornado of neglect and abuse and an emotional storm of being removed from their families.  As a result it has left more than 8,200 kids in Tennessee in need of temporary or permanent families.  These kids are in the foster care system today. We, the church, are their best hope.

Will you join us in this great ministry of foster care?  If you would like to know more about how you can personally become involved or engage your local church in a foster care ministry, please contact me at 615-781-3000 or email me at cmeans@agapenashville.org.

Not everyone can or should foster or adopt but everyone can do something!  We thank you for your support.  Because of so many faithful supporters like you, AGAPE has been able to place thousands of children in loving foster and adoptive homes with the healing love of Christ.  Together we can do so much more.

God’s Perfect Timing For The Webster Family Sibling Adoption

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On March 31, 2017, the lives of Michael and Abbey Webster and baby daughter Maggie would change forever. The Webster family of three became a family of seven overnight with the adoption of four brothers, Tyrone (age 8), Dylen (age 6), Ali (age 5), and Joseph (age 3).

“AGAPE helped us learn and understand what it would mean to be a foster parent. We were provided the support we needed to go into the fostering process knowing some of the children that might be placed with us might not be our forever children. While that was a hard reality to face, AGAPE showed us how we could touch so many lives by fostering children and their families. In this, AGAPE gave us the courage and strength to start and continue the sometimes difficult path of fostering that led us to our four amazing little boys! I knew I’d always adopt some day… When we started to look into our adoptive options there was something about the fostering to adopt option that really spoke to our hearts. And while we had plans to adopt in more than one way, we knew fostering to adopt was something we had to be a part of.  I believe this was what God had planned for Michael and me all along. I learned that all things are in His time and I feel incredibly blessed that He picked us to raise our five wonderful children.” – Abbey Webster

The Websters attend Rural Hill Church of Christ in Nashville, TN.

PREPARE/ENRICH Builds Strong Marriages!

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img_6788Ministry and counseling friends, if you do any kind of premarital or marital counseling, please take note: AGAPE counselor, Danny Camp, D.Min, MMFT, conducts a training session to certify facilitators for PREPARE/ENRICH here at our main offices in Nashville.

This training is a powerful tool that can help take your pastoral or clinical counseling to a higher level, and can lead couples into a stronger relationship. The training is $175 and will be offered a September 22, 2017.

To sign up for the next training or to learn more contact Danny Camp,

at 615-781-3000 or dcamp@agapenashville.org

AGAPE 50th Annual Dinner a Golden Success

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On Thursday, November 10, 2016 a special group of 700 guests, friends and supporters gathered at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs for AGAPE’s 50th Annual Dinner. We are grateful and pleased to share that $130,000 was raised as a result of the dinner, the most since Barbara Bush spoke at the Opryland Hotel in 1997.

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AGAPE Announces The Tom Burton Society

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“I am very optimistic in the future of this agency. My hope is that AGAPE will grow beyond what we have ever experienced or dreamed.” –Tom Burton, 2012

It is our great honor to announce, as a part of The AGAPE Annual Fund, The Tom Burton Society.

As AGAPE’s Executive Director for 30 years, Tom Burton’s vision and leadership will be remembered and recognized for years to come through The Tom Burton Society.

Through Tom’s leadership, AGAPE grew from a small parachurch nonprofit with an annual budget of $400k to become one of the most respected and well-known charitable ministries to children and families throughout Middle Tennessee. Today, with an annual budget of $2.5 million, AGAPE humbly serves hundreds through its social services and counseling programs each year.

Tom’s experience and vision led AGAPE to unprecedented growth through the decade of the 1990’s and 2000’s. Our commitment to providing quality services with agape love resulted in a financially beneficial state contract, an increase in professional counseling services and a healthy and generous growth in individual, corporate and foundation support.

Tom’s commitment to operational sustainability placed AGAPE in a position to do what many nonprofits were unable to do … survive the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Even with significant reductions in donations and loss of contracts, AGAPE survived the crisis by the grace of God and His faithfulness to sustain this ministry, and through the provision of Tom’s leadership, and that of the Board of Directors. Thankfully, our need to establish an annual fund is not because of economic crisis but to ensure yearly provision for our ongoing operational needs.

During the 2017 fiscal year, which began July 2016, all those who can make gifts of $2,500 or more throughout the year will be recognized as members of The Inaugural Tom Burton Society. Many have already committed to this level of leadership giving. We hope many more will join. For all gifts, no matter the amount, we thank you, as they are critical to reaching The AGAPE Annual Fund goal of $1,250,000 that we may continue to provide the services to children and families with the healing love of Christ.

“Tom Burton built AGAPE into something extraordinary. He has created a legacy that is going to last for a long, long time.”  Ellie Vermillion, Former Board Member

Through this program of honoring Tom Burton, we will continue to speak the legacy of 2013-tom-and-chris-burtonTom’s leadership at AGAPE and that of his wife Chris who was by his side for those 30 years, working together, growing AGAPE to serve children and families. Through The Tom Burton Society of The AGAPE Annual Fund, their legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of AGAPE’s supporters, clients, staff and Board of Directors “for a long, long time.”

From the Desk of Chandler Means: Pressing On Toward the Goal

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Another AGAPE Annual Dinner is in the books … not just any Annual Dinner, but the Golden Anniversary, a very special labor of love for all of us at AGAPE and the 50th Anniversary Committee.

While the evening was a celebration of AGAPE’s past, we spent a few moments announcing AGAPE’s new strategic plan for 2017-2020, Press On Toward the Goal. Specifically, two objectives were introduced: The AGAPE Annual Fund and The Tom Burton Society as the leadership-level giving circle within the annual fund.

The strategic planning process is often as enlightening as it is arduous. As the strategic planning committee surveyed board members, donors, staff and volunteers, something exciting began to develop. Further input, prayer, and discussion led the committee to appreciate that the founding passions and vision, outlined in the original 1966 AGAPE charter, still serves as the catalyst for renewed passions and vision to lead us into the future.

The Press On Toward the Goal 2017-2020 Strategic Plan outlined below along with our repurposed mission statement, reflects the mission and ministry of the past 50 years while informing the vision, plans and goals of AGAPE’s future.

Certainly, a lot has changed for AGAPE and our community since 1966. However, one thing remains painfully consistent; we live in a broken world where people, children and families need help, hope and healing. For 50 years, by God’s grace, provision and blessing, AGAPE has served more than 20,000 children, families and adults. Let the courage and faith of our founders encourage us toward growth and innovation as we boldly stretch toward our new goals. Join us as we Press On!

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AGAPE celebrates the life of founder Miles Ezell, Jr.

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Newly appointed board chair Miles Ezell, Jr. (2nd from left) with vice-chair Will T Vance, newly appointed board member Jane Shaub and Executive Director Howard Justiss, in 1973

AGAPE is celebrating the life this week of longtime supporter and co-founder, Miles Ezell, Jr. who passed away Thursday, September 15, at age 89 after a brief illness. Miles was the chairman of Purity Dairies and was one of Nashville’s most respected businessmen.

Along with Charlie Brandon, Doyle Gaw, Larry Wilson, and his father Miles Ezell, Sr., he signed AGAPE’s charter in 1966. He served for many years on the AGAPE Board of Directors, including several terms as chair.

In addition to AGAPE he was active with several non-profit organizations throughout the years including Lipscomb University, Youth Encouragement Services, the Washington Foundation, the Charlotte Fanning Foundation, The Nature Conservancy-Tennessee Chapter and the American Red Cross; and was an elder at Una Church of Christ for several decades.

“I remember the first time I sat down with Mr. Ezell not long after I came to AGAPE as the new director,” said Executive Director Chandler Means. “He was so encouraging to me even though he barely knew me. We spoke of the early days of the dairy and AGAPE. He was so gracious and encouraging and yet his presence was one of a humble confidence. That humility and confidence impressed on me that all that I heard about Mr. Ezell as a businessman, philanthropist and leader must be true.”

Visitation will be held on Sunday, September 18, from 1-8 p.m. and on Monday, September 19, from 10-11 a.m. followed by the funeral at 11 a.m. at Una Church of Christ, located at 1917 Old Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville.

In lieu of gifts, memorial gifts may be made to to AGAPE, Lipscomb University, and the Una Church of Christ Missions Fund.

 

To make a gift in honor of Miles Ezell, Jr, Click Here.

 

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Miles Ezell with former Executive Director Tom Burton and long time supporter, adoptive-parent and board member David Heffington in 1983.

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Miles Ezell with current Executive Director Chandler Means, in 2013.

 

From the Desk of Chandler Means: A Grand Experiment

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“A Grand Experiment,” that’s what Howard Justiss wrote in 1969 referring to AGAPE. Just three years earlier, a small committee from Otter Creek Church of Christ, working with other churches of Christ in Middle Tennessee, launched this grand experiment “marshaling the talents within congregations.” Fifty years ago, the first AGAPE Dinner was conceived and began the legacy of AGAPE Annual Dinners of the future to raise funds to provide “homes for children without homes.”

If you have attended dinners in the past, we so hope you will join us again for the 50th Anniversary Dinner as we honor the memory and service of so many through the years as well as tell the poignant stories that their faithfulness provided.

If you have never been to an AGAPE dinner, please join us and consider being a part of the future of AGAPE and hear the inspiring stories of the past that will become the motivational stories of the future.

The 50th Anniversary Dinner will be an occasion of celebration! But how do you celebrate 50 years of Love? How do you mark 50 years of placing more than 3,000 children in Christian homes where they grow in love and learn to love? How do you commemorate a 50-year journey of an agency that leads by example showing the greatest gift of love, Christ Jesus; a journey of providing counseling services to more than 15,000 clients? How? Our staff and Anniversary Committee are working on that, and we believe it will be a night you will not want to miss if you love AGAPE!

In preparing for this night we are wading through thousands of pictures, every single AGAPE in Action ever produced, footage from other Anniversary Dinners of the past and pages and pages of Board Minutes, Committee notes and personal interviews. One thing is very clear about the grand experiment, as Mr. Justiss declared in 1969, “It has worked, and it is working.” Now fifty years later, we celebrate and honor 50 Years of Love!

AGAPE counseling partnership with Watkins College

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angela-scruggs-head-shot1 watkins-college-of-art-design-and-film-vertical1-1Through a renewed and enhanced agreement with Watkins College of Art, Design & Film here in Nashville, AGAPE counselor, Angela Scruggs, MAMFC, LPC/MHSP is now available on campus two days each week to provide free, convenient and professional counseling services for Watkins students.

“Thank you for our partnership. We are happy to support our students in such a vital way. We greatly value our

partnership with AGAPE and appreciate the work that you and Angela have done to positively contribute to the lives of our students” – Kristina Krau Waymire, Watkins College Director of Student Life

AGAPE welcomes two new graduate counseling interns

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2016-interns-charity-kelsey-gracie-mullinsCharity Kelsey (pictured left) is pursuing her Master’s degree in Professional

Counseling at Grand Canyon University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Patten University and previously spent time working in the corporate world.   

Gracie Mullins (pictured right) is pursuing her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Lipscomb University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Samford University and previ­ously spent time with various organizations

working with children.

“Training the next generation of Christian counselors is one way we strive to

ensure that professional services will be accessible to those that need it. We are very excited to welcome Charity and Gracie to the AGAPE team.”
– Jim Frost M.A., LSPE/HSP

Melanie Campbell Joins Lawrenceburg Counseling Office

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melanie-campbell-june-2016-aAGAPE is pleased to announce the hiring of Melanie Campbell, M.S. as an Independent Contract Counselor to work in our Lawrenceburg office, which is a partnership with the

Pulaski Street Church of Christ. Melanie is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health Services Provider (LPC-MHSP) who earned her Masters of Science degree in

counseling from Freed Hardeman University. She has experience working in both outpatient and inpatient settings and is capable of helping clients address a wide range of problems.  Appointments with Melanie can be made by contacting 931-762-8502.

Happy 50th Birthday AGAPE

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The honor of your presence would be “Golden”! AGAPE’s year-long golden anniversary

celebration will culminate on Thursday, November 10 at the  Franklin Marriott Cool Springs at AGAPE’s 50th Annual Dinner.

As you can see we have a theme going here:

• Commemorate the past 50 years

• Dream about the next 50 years

• Tickets are just $50; children 12 and under are free.

Several sponsorship opportunities are still available.  For tickets and sponsorship

information, visit www.agapenashville.org/annualdinner or call 615-781-3000.

AGAPE’s founders signed the agency charter on February 23, 1966, and tasked the

organization with a simple mission –  to provide unconditional hope and love to chidren and families in need. AGAPE has continued to honor the vision of those leaders and the legacy of helping thousands of children throughout the greater Nashville area and across Middle

Tennessee.

“We could not be more proud of what we have accomplished as we look forward to

helping thousands more in the years to come.  Thank you for supporting this ministry, and we hope our faithful friends new and old will celebrate with us this November”

– Chandler Means, Executive Director, AGAPE.

JOIN US FOR THIS GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY!

AGAPE mourns the passage of Charles Brandon

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Mr. Charles Winston Brandon, one of the founders of AGAPE and AGAPE first Board Chairman in 1967 passed from this life Friday, August 26 2016. Mr. Brandon was 90 years old.
He is survived by his loving wife Martha Dillon Brandon, two daughters, Martha Lynn Brandon and Julie Ann (Johnny) Barnes and one son, Charles Winston (Wendy) Brandon, III, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Mr. Brandon was a long time member of Otter Creek Church of Christ serving as a Deacon, Elder, Adult Sunday School Teacher and active in starting AGAPE (Association for Guidance, Aid, Placement and Empathy) in 1967.

A celebration of his life will be held at the Otter Creek Church 409 Franklin Rd., Nashville, Tenn, on Monday, August 29, 2015 with visitation from 4-6 pm, and a service to follow at 6:30 PM. Private burial at Riverside Cemetery in Woodbury, TN.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to AGAPE, 4555 Trousdale Drive, Nashville, Tenn 37204 or to Alive Hospice. Contact Smith Funeral Home for details. Memories and condolences may be shared at www.smithfuneralhomewoodbury.net Smith Funeral Home, (615)563-5337

To make a gift in memory of Mr. Brandon, click here.

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Pictured left to right: AGAPE former Executive Director Howard Justiss, Social Worker Myrtle Qualls and first Board Chairman Charles Brandon.

Don Thompson: The Heart of AGAPE

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IMG_1733During the 16th Annual AGAPE Kids Classic our friend, Don Thompson was presented with the Chris Keen Heart of AGAPE Award.  He was recognized for his selfless spirit and many years of service to AGAPE, volunteering his unique and greatly needed skills. We’re proud to call Don our official handyman!

AGAPE Executive Director, Chandler Means fondly tells Don’s story:

When the plumbing breaks or a toilet overflows in one of the bathrooms, Don shows up.  When a light fixture in the building goes out, Don shows up.  When our heating or air conditioning stops working Don shows up to fix it or cheerfully offers advice on a course of action. If door locks need to be changed or a door knob breaks, if the ice machine is leaking, if __________ happens at the AGAPE office and it is outside the scope of our ability to repair it, Don shows up. Always.

I don’t know for sure how long Don has been doing this for AGAPE … my guess is 10 years and possibly longer. In the three and a half years I have been at AGAPE, Don has saved this agency thousands of dollars in repair and maintenance costs.  Beyond the expertise and peace of mind we enjoy through his friendship to AGAPE, Don will sometimes purchase parts with his own money and quietly “forget” to submit a receipt for reimbursement.

Don embodies what the Chris Keen award is all about; a person whose daily life exhibits the spirit of compassion, humility and hard work in support of AGAPE’s ministry.  Don is a member of the Otter Creek Church of Christ and as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary, it seems appropriate and fitting that a volunteer from Otter Creek be honored in such a very special way!

The award was established in 2011 to honor the late Chris Keen, who passed away that same year. He was a generous donor, volunteer, and former member of the AGAPE Kids Classic Leadership Committee. Past honorees include, Butch and Angela Stinson, Tim and Angie Partlow, Troy Feltner and Don Campbell.

Jean Moore reflects on 36 years Of Service at AGAPE

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Celebrating 50 years is so exciting, especially since I have had the privilege to work for AGAPE 36 of those years.

Reflecting to May of 1980, when I first learned of the opportunity to come to work for this agency, I didn’t think it would actually happen, but it did!  I’m so grateful for that opportunity to have met and worked with some amazing people. Folks like Howard Justiss, Myrtle Qualls, RonCullison, Dot Reasonover, Jewell Hearn, Phil Heffington, Tom Slaughter and Diana Crawford made an impact on my life and made my decision to stay at AGAPE an easy one.

I knew God had placed me here for a reason.  I felt I would at least stay here five years, but five turned into ten and so on until wow, I’m still here and enjoying each day.  I also got to work with Tom Burton, director of the agency until he retired two years ago, and now enjoying working under the leadership of Chandler Means.

It has been a “fun ride” and I just feel fortunate to be a part of this rewarding work.  I enjoy talking to people and helping those that come to the agency for counseling, adoption, maternity services or foster care and knowing I’m usually the first person they talk to.  I have always felt that no matter what the circumstances just listen, be kind and patient while they are trying to tell you what they are calling about.  It takes a lot for some folks to make that initial call, and I just want to be helpful and make sure they feel at ease and comfortable coming here.

I don’t know what the next few years hold for me, but I have enjoyed these 36 years and have many great memories to carry with me when I retire.  I have enjoyed meeting so many folks. Working for a Christian agency has been a rewarding experience for me.

“I too believe that God placed Jean at AGAPE for a reason.  Through four decades, Jean Moore has been the voice and often the face of AGAPE for thousands of clients seeking help and healing. There is probably no other person in our organization’s history who has been a part of as many of our clients’ journeys as Jean. We can celebrate 50 Years of Love in 2016 largely because of the dedication of staff like Jean Moore who exemplifies the ideals of AGAPE every day.  Thank you, Jean, YOU HAVE MADE SUCH A DIFFERENCE.”

–Executive Director Chandler Means

From the Desk of Chandler Means: Summer 2016

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The last several months have brought a bit of transition to AGAPE: retirements, changing career paths, and the addition of new leadership bringing new ideas to build toward the future. No doubt, this has been an exciting and challenging season for AGAPE and, quite frankly, the executive director. I remember confronting my father once with a difficult situation in my early career and he reminded, “Son, just remember, be faithful.”   

A few years ago, while teaching the book of Hebrews in a Sunday school class, I found a simple verse that helped me understand faithfulness as it relates to God’s people in a way I had never thought of before: “All those people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them from a distance” (Hebrews 11:13).

After verse 13, the writer then takes us through the hall of fame of faithful people: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, you are familiar with the list. At the end of chapter 11, the writer reminds us again, “[N]one of them received what was promised. God had planned something better …”

I’ve been at AGAPE for almost four years. I walk the halls of the Justiss-Kirby Center each day. My office is the Harpeth Hills Church Executive Office. Our board meetings and foster parent trainings are held in the Estelle Ezell Conference Room. Each office is used to provide Christian counseling, social services, and administrative support to children and families. Every room is named in memory or honor of a person, family, congregation, foundation or company that has made a significant contribution to the lives of those AGAPE serves. Daily, I review and pray over those who support the AGAPE mission with their generous gifts, and I remember the faithfulness demonstrated in Hebrews 11.

I only mentioned a few of the engraved names throughout the halls of AGAPE’s offices. There are too many to list, and many have gone on to “something better”. Through 50 years of serving children and families, their faithfulness has led to more than 5550 children served, including more than 1050 adopted into Christian homes. Each year dozens of marriages are strengthened, hundreds of family relationships mended, and many suffering from abuse and brokenness begin healing.

Those who support the ministry of AGAPE, much like the faithful in Hebrews 11, are demonstrating their faith in God’s work through AGAPE. Many will never know the face of the child, or see the family their support rescued, or meet the men and women who experience healing from their abusive past. But their faithful support and yours will continue to change lives through agape love. Thank you for your faithfulness to the ministry and mission of AGAPE.  Please continue your support for the work of AGAPE!

AGAPE welcomes return of Traci King

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King_TraciWe are excited to announce that Traci King is rejoining the AGAPE staff as Director of Business Operations after a brief interlude to complete her Master’s in Business Administration and lend her leadership and administrative skills to the new Lipscomb Family Therapy Center. Traci brings with her an enthusiasm for helping others as well as operations, financial management, communication and organizational skills. Traci earned a B.S. in Marketing and recently an M.B.A. from Lipscomb University. She has 15+ years combined business experience in entrepreneurship, operations management, non-profit leadership, financial reporting and strategic planning. Outside of work, Traci has a passion for encouraging women, hospitality, creative writing, and conversations with friends that linger over pie and coffee.

“Coming back feels like coming home. I am thankful every morning as I drive in to work, “said King. “I am reminded of the blessing that AGAPE is to so many, and I am thrilled to be a part of a team that makes a difference.”

“Traci is a multi-talented person.  AGAPE is very blessed that she chose to return to be a part of this important and life changing ministry.  Her operational and business strengths along with her unique gifts of communication and creativity, are exactly what we had hoped to find in this position but knew would be a rare combination.  When Traci showed interest in returning to AGAPE, I hoped she would consider and feel her decision to do so was indeed an answer to months of prayer.  I speak on behalf of the staff and the Board of Directors when I say, we are thrilled by her return.”

–Executive Director Chandler Means

You can contact her at 615.781.3000 x255

AGAPE Welcomes Dr. Jason Cooper as new Director of Counseling and Related Services

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AGAPE is pleased to welcome Jason Cooper as Director of Counseling and Related Services. Dr. Cooper holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Trevecca Nazarene University and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Akron.  He is a Licensed Psychologist.

Jason, his wife Martha and his son Ryan will be moving to Nashville from Crestview, Florida, where he practiced counseling psychology for several organizations along with a private practice. Prior to that, he served as a clinical psychologist for seven years in the United States Air Force.

“The invitation to join the work at AGAPE was both humbling and exhilarating.  AGAPE’s rich heritage of Christ-centered service to the communities of Middle Tennessee made the offer to become directly involved in its mission very appealing to me,” said Dr. Cooper.  “To become associated with a staff consisting of such highly skilled practitioners from a variety of professional backgrounds and personal experiences is an exciting and rare opportunity.”

“A humbling and joyful answer to prayer is how I would describe the email I received from Dr. Jason Cooper on a Monday morning. After reviewing his resume, cover letter and subsequently a phone conversation, I felt certain the Lord had provided the right person to lead as Clinical Director.. During the interview process, our counseling team confirmed my first impression. We are thankful that Dr. Cooper will be leading AGAPE’s already successful and highly regarded program.”

Executive Director Chandler Means

-Executive Director Chandler MeansJason Cooper

AGAPE foster care director takes in kids himself

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The following article appeared in the Tennessean on Monday, May 16, 2016.  To read the full article on the Tennessean site, click here

Chandler Means had a sick feeling when he pulled up to the trailer park.

Means, a foster dad, had been caring for a sweet 18-month-old named Eban. After only a week, authorities told Means to return the boy to his birth parents.

“You knock on the door and you have a little boy in your arms, and you don’t wanna give him up,” Means said. “It doesn’t take but a few moments to fall in love with a kid.”

The sick feeling turned to dread when the door opened.

The birth father was passed out on the couch. He smelled of alcohol. The boy’s uncle also was in the trailer home, but Means hesitated before leaving the boy with those two men.

“I was really uncomfortable, very uncomfortable. I said, ‘Lord I don’t know what to do here; you gotta help me with this.’”

Means, 56, the director of Nashville’s Christian-based AGAPE foster care/adoption agency, practices what he preaches. He and his wife have been foster parents for dozens of kids for more than a decade.

It has been rewarding. It has been painful.

The journey started in 1999 when Means joined the AGAPE board in Atlanta, where he was a health care executive.

One night while tucking in his children, Means realized he needed to help other children in a more direct way than serving on a board.

“My child sits here in this bed, cozy, warm, fed, peaceful. I’m singing a little song to them, reading them a Bible story every night. All of a sudden it hit me; there are kids who don’t get this.”

Means and his wife went through 30 hours of foster parent training.

They first met Eban in November 2007, the night Means was set to coach his first basketball game at Greater Atlanta Christian School. The Georgia AGAPE agency worker met Means in the school lobby just before tipoff.

The boy, 18 months old, had long blond hair and stud earrings in both ears. He looked malnourished and pale.

Means hit the court while his wife took the toddler into the stands, where parents and students alike cooed and smiled and played with Eban.

They found out Eban’s birth parents, Rob Skor and Tosha Gwynn, were from Oregon and had moved to Georgia for work. But both ended up in trouble with the law, both for substance abuse related charges.

Means and his wife, Sheri, eventually would support Skor and Gwynn too.

Means sometimes sent money for rent or bills, encouraged them through substance abuse treatment and helped them to get connected to a church.

“People make bad decisions and others throw them away. You know what? We’ve all made bad decisions. I’ve had parents, church, family who’d bail me out,” Means said.

The Skors eventually found a church, found friends in recovery, found good jobs and got married.

In 2013, Eban returned to his birth parents, seemingly for good. They decided to go back to the West Coast. The Means continue to stay in touch and to help Eban and his parents financially from time to time.

“I asked Rob one time, ‘What is it that you think allowed you to make it through this time?’ He said, ‘Y’all loved us unconditionally,’” Means said.

Reach Brad Schmitt at 615-259-8384 or on Twitter @bradschmitt.

AGAPE at a glance

What: A Christian-based agency helping homeless children, orphans and parents through foster care, adoption and counseling.

Last year: Cared for 38 children in foster care, facilitated 11 adoptions and provided 12,806 counseling sessions.

Contact: www.agapenashville.org

AGAPE celebrates 50 years of service

May 23AGAPE Kids Classic golf tournament at Vanderbilt Legends Club. Open to the public.

June 11 — Invitation-only family reunion for families and staff past and present.

Nov. 10 — 50th anniversary dinner at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs. Open to the public.

 

To Make a Donation to AGAPE click here.

 

Carol Stroud and Stephen Bridges To Join Board of Directors

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Stroud Carol R (2)CAROL STROUD has worked in healthcare IT for over 20 years and is currently Project Director at HCA. A Nashville native, Carol lived most of her adult life in the Atlanta area, moving back to Nashville in 2011 to accept a position at HCA.  She and her husband Greg have two children, Wilson and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was adopted from China in May 2000. Wilson is a freshman in college; Elizabeth is a sophomore at Donelson Christian Academy. The Strouds serve and worship with Donelson Church of Christ.


FullSizeRenderSTEPHEN BRIDGES brings leadership, mentor, and fund raising experience as a multi-industry entrepreneur, business executive and community engagement facilitator. His wide range of entrepreneur and business leadership includes real estate management categories such as office, industrial, apartment, restaurant franchises, and golf course facilities. He currently serves as managing partner for Huntland Properties, a land company specializing in the agriculture and timber markets, and is also the owner/operator of the Family Golf Center in Antioch. Stephen is heavily involved in the community serving as elder at the Antioch Church of Christ where he and his wife Lori attend. Stephen and Lori have three grown children, Spencer, Kate and Heath.

AGAPE Welcomes Three New Counselors

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a2ccda71170d5b571075efde1bfbfa1dDANNY CAMP has a passion for working with couples as well as individuals who are struggling with spiritual issues or encountering season-of-life issues. Danny joined AGAPE in December 2015. Prior to this, he served as a youth minister and marriage and family minister for over 25 years.

He holds a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Trevecca Nazarene University, and a Doctorate of Ministry (D.Min.) degree with emphasis in marriage relationships from Abilene Christian University.  Danny is currently pursing licensure as a Marital and Family Therapist.


1-2014-Oct-03 23h38m41s SeayFall2014-357HOPE SEAY’s approach to practicing therapy is holistic in nature because she understands the importance of treating a person’s body, mind, and spirit throughout her sessions. She carefully balances compassion with empowering her clients to make the changes they seek.

Hope received a master’s degree from Carson-Newman University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mental Health Services Provider.

Hope is also available to teach at retreats, conferences, workshops and seminars.


Pennington-A.jpegALAN PENNINGTON began working with AGAPE in January 2016 after earning his master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Trevecca Nazarene University. He is currently pursuing his license in Tennessee as a Marital and Family Therapist. Alan works with individuals, couples and families.

Alan uses EMDR, Internal Family Systems, Experiential Therapy and Solution-Focused Therapy to assist clients dealing with conflict, trauma, anxiety, self-esteem and a number of other issues.

The Hayes Family Welcomes Little Brother Beau

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Hayes photo 1Jeremy and Leanne Hayes adopted their son, Jett, through AGAPE in December 2012.  Jett’s wish was to have a little brother so the Hayes returned to AGAPE.  Now their family is “growing and going” with the recent adoption placement of Beau.

“We feel like the luckiest people in the world to be the parents of our two precious boys! They are each a dream come true. We are in awe of all the ways God worked in so many people’s lives to bring them to us. We are so thankful for their birth mothers and their choice of adoption, Agape, and the foster family that gave our boys a loving home before they came to us.” – Leanne & Jeremy Hayes

The Hayes attend West End Church of Christ here in Nashville.

To learn more about adoption and foster care services provided by AGAPE, please contact Jeff Fox at

615-781-3000 x251 or visit www.agapenashville.org.

AGAPE Celebrates First Adoption of 2016

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Just like all expecting couples, David and Kristi have prayed and planned and dreamed for the day they would meet their baby girl, Aleah.  This most recent adoption was a dream come true for David and Kristi and AGAPE. While some parents meet their babies in the hospital, these proud parents met their new daughter in our main offices in Nashville.  We were privileged to share in the joy of a new family coming together for the first time.  Big brother Isaiah may have the biggest grin of all! “When Isaiah shared that we had been chosen to adopt a new daughter with his classmates at a school assembly, the entire grade level cheered,” offered Kristi and David.

“God worked through the wonderful people at AGAPE to answer our prayers so that we might welcome another child into our home. We are thankful for the birth parents and the loving decision they made. We are also grateful for our AGAPE adoption counselor, Lovette Gaston. She provided thoughtful guidance and support throughout the process. The foster parents did a great job caring for and nurturing our new daughter and facilitated an easy transition.”

Remembering Tom Burton

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IMG_1677IMG_0345 (1)Our brother, friend, mentor and AGAPE’s Executive Director for 30 years, Tom Burton passed from this life on Friday, February 26, 2016.

Born in Whites Creek, Tennessee in 1946 to Jim and Elizabeth Burton, Tom earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from Lipscomb University in 1968 and a master’s degree from the University of Tennessee School of Social Work in 1972. From 1969-1970 he proudly served his country in Vietnam as part of the 101st Airborne Division’s Army Artillery Battalion.

After graduating in 1972, Tom began his career working with mentally disabled adults as Director of The House of Friendship – a project at the time of the Nashville Mental Health Association. It was during this period that Tom met the late Howard Justiss who planted the seed of Christian childcare in Tom’s heart.

In 1974, based on the recommendation of Mr. Justiss, Floyd Stumbo, of the Children’s Home of Lubbock, hired Tom as a social worker. During his time in Texas, Tom realized his true passion was for the love and care of children.

Impressed with his leadership and organizational skills, AGAPE’s board of directors invited Tom to return to Nashville and serve as executive director. In 1982, Tom, his wife Chris, and their two children, Jamie and Emily returned to begin serving the children and families of Middle Tennessee.

From a donated space on Westwood Drive in Nashville, he began his work at AGAPE. In June, 1982, there were 14 children in foster care, three maternity clients, and a new counseling program that already served 72 families during the first six months of that year. Under Tom’s direction, AGAPE outgrew its offices, resulting in two subsequent moves to larger facilities.

In 1992, with Tom’s vision and leadership, over two million dollars was raised to build the then state-of-the-art Justiss-Kirby Center where the agency’s home offices are now located. Tom was very proud that AGAPE did not have to borrow any money to build the new facility, and it remains debt free to this date.

Tom was a member of Harpeth Hills Church of Christ where he served as a deacon and an elder.
He was also a member of numerous local, regional, and national child and family services organizations, including the Tennessee Association for Childcare, the Christian Child and Family Services Association, the Christian Adoption Resource Exchange, The National Association of Social Workers and the Child Welfare League of America.

In 2010, Tom received Lipscomb University’s annual Mary Morris Award recognizing those who demonstrate a high level of service to community and church and who expand, embrace and share Christian principles in unconventional ways.

Tom’s commitment to serving other people fueled the growth and services of AGAPE. His high standards and quest for excellence, supported by a dedicated board of directors has resulted in unprecedented growth while building a highly skilled professional team of social workers, psychologists, counselors, development, and support staff.

Tom retired at the end of 2012 after serving more than 30 years as Executive Director for AGAPE. His wife Chris who served by his side for almost his entire career retired in 2013. Chris passed away in summer, 2015.

To make a gift in memory of Tom,
CLICK HERE.

 

From the Desk of Chandler Means–March, 2016

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ChanMeans (2)It was April 2012 as I recall.  Sheri and I had been invited to attend the opening banquet for the Christian Child and Family Services Association Conference by our good friend and Georgia Agape Executive Director Doug Meade.  At the time, we had been foster parents for that agency for about eight years.  That evening, Sheri and I met Tom and Chris Burton for the first time.

That first meeting was a “hello, nice to meet you, Doug has told me so much about you” conversation.  Little did I know or could I have imagined that less than year later I would be asked by Tom and AGAPE’s Board of Directors to serve as AGAPE’s Executive Director upon Tom Burton’s retirement after nearly 31 years as AGAPE’s leader.

There have been so many emotions these past few weeks as I reflect back over the past three-plus years since first meeting Tom in Atlanta.  While my attention and focus has been on AGAPE’s future, my thoughts have turned toward those, like Tom, who have served this agency so faithfully in the past.

This year is AGAPE’s 50th Anniversary of providing services for the strengthening of children and families throughout Middle Tennessee.  We are in the midst of remembering and celebrating all God has accomplished through His servants over the past 50 years.  This is also the year we mourn the passing of AGAPE’s beloved Tom Burton and celebrate his life as a “faithful servant” in God’s Kingdom.

My heritage and upbringing in the churches of Christ taught me to search the scriptures. So in these times of both celebrating and remembering, my search led me to a few of Jesus’ words in those final days of His ministry on earth as He taught and encouraged His disciples to carry on the life and message of the Good News.

Well done good and faithful servant! I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these you did for me! Trust in God; trust also in Me. I am the way the truth and life. No one comes to the Father but by Me. If you love Me you will obey what I command. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.

To all those who have served and supported AGAPE’s ministry for the past 50 years – Well done good and faithful servants! To those of us whom God has appointed to continue AGAPE’s ministry into the next 50 years, Trust in God and in Christ Jesus and continue AGAPE’s legacy of bearing fruit – fruit that will last for eternity.

AGAPE Celebrates 50 Years of Providing Unconditional Love

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Nashville, Tenn. (Feb. 16, 2016) – In 1966, several members of Otter Creek Church of Christ decided to band together and help the homeless children and orphans of the city of Nashville who had no families and little future. That courageous coming together of faith and compassion evolved into AGAPE, a Christ-centered adoption, foster care and counseling agency which this month marks its 50th anniversary of serving the Middle Tennessee community.

AGAPE’s founding members signed the charter on Feb. 23, 1966 and tasked the organization with a simple mission — to provide unconditional hope and love to children and families in need. This year AGAPE is honoring the vision of those leaders, the organization they founded and the legacy of helping thousands of children and families throughout the greater Nashville area.

“It is awesome to imagine the compassion and resolve of our founders who saw a need in our community and determined to find supportive and nuturing Christian homes for homeless and orphaned children,” said Chandler Means, executive director, AGAPE. “For five decades, AGAPE has worked tirelessly to keep our mission alive and has remained committed to the promise we made in 1966 to provide unconditional love in our community. We are grateful to our former directors, Howard Justiss and Tom Burton, our avid supporter, Miles Ezell, and all those who have helped us build this legacy that has brought together so many children and families over the years.”

Today, AGAPE continues its work of connecting children to “forever families” for both newborn babies and older children in foster care who are unable to return to their birth parents. The organization also provides voluntary crisis foster care services for those whose parents face homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction or incaraceration. Ultimately, the organization hopes to reunite these families and prevent children from entering into state custody.

In addition to its adoption and foster care services, AGAPE offers faith-based counseling and psychological services to comfort and heal those of all ages. It also provides free maternity care counseling for those who may have an unplanned pregnancy and need a safe place to receive support.

Driven by compassion and the love of Christ, AGAPE has helped change the lives of thousands through its services. In 2015 alone, the organization:

*Cared for 38 children in foster care for a total of 7,328 days;
*Completed 11 familes through adoption; and
* Provided 12,806 professional counseling sessions to more than 1,600 individuals.

“We could not be more proud of what we have accomplished,” said Means. “We look forward to helping thousands more in the years to come.”

AGAPE will hold a series of events throughout 2016 to mark its 50th anniverary. On Saturday, June 11, the organization will hold a family reunion picnic at Edwin Warner Park and is inviting all foster and adoptive families, and current and former staff and board members to attend. AGAPE also will hold its 50th Anniversary Annual Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016 at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs.

For more information about these events or about AGAPE and its services, please call 615 781-3000 or visit http://agapenashville.org/.

About AGAPE:

AGAPE exists to serve the needs of families, children and adults in Middle Tennessee with an unconditional agape love through professional counseling and psychological services, adoption services, crisis foster care and maternity counseling.

Media Contact:
Paige Hutchens
DVL Seigenthaler
615-610-0315
paige.hutchens@dvlseigenthaler.com

 

50 Years Social Media Square 4

Hear Tokens show sponsored by AGAPE and Noble Vision Music

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rymanbalcony-with-Tokens-logoLast Sunday night, AGAPE, along with Noble Vision Music was pleased to sponsor Token’s Show, Thanksgiving at the Ryman.  It was a great evening, featuring: Mike Farris, Secret Sisters, Andrew Peterson,Music City Strings, Lipscomb Academy Concert Chorus,
and other special guests.

If you were unable to make the show, you can hear it on the radio.

Tune into 650 WSM on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26, for two encore presentations of Tokens, Thanksgiving at the Ryman at 12:00 Noon and 7:00 PM

You can listen online at www.wsmonline.com

Judy Rister to retire as Director of Social Services

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Judy Rister has announced her retirement as AGAPE’s Director of Social Services after 21 years in that role and 40+ years serving children and families.

In 1971, Judy began her work with children and adolescents at Monroe Harding Children’s Home. During the course of her time at Monroe Harding, she worked as a houseparent, office manager, assistant director, interim director, director of group care and associate director.

She joined the staff at AGAPE in 1994. As Director of Social Services, she is responsible for oversight of all aspects of the foster care, family preservation services, maternity care and adoption programs operated by AGAPE in the Middle Tennessee region. Judy holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from David Lipscomb College and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Tennessee, Nashville.

She obtained standing as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 1988. Judy is a member of the Brentwood Hills Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn.

“It is hard to even grasp the influence and impact that Judy Rister’s 40 plus year career in social work has had on children and the social work profession in Middle Tennessee,” says AGAPE Executive Director Chandler Means. “Judy embodies the phrase ‘servant leader’ and will be remembered for her selfless service to AGAPE, her profession and those her profession serves.”

Jeff Fox to assume Director of Social Services role

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DSC_0154AGAPE is pleased to announce that Jeff Fox, LMSW will assume the role of Director of Social Services, after the first of the year, following the retirement of Judy Rister who spent more than 21 years in that role.

Jeff holds a BBA from Harding University and a MSSW from the University of Tennessee, and has served as a Case Manager and Foster Care Support Manager at AGAPE since 1995. Jeff and his wife Donna Jo, attend Otter Creek Church of Christ and have two adult sons, Jeremy and Michael

Meet AGAPE’s newest social services case manager, Carissa Tripp

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IMG_2524AGAPE is pleased to welcome Carissa Tripp, LMSW as our newest Case Manager. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Harding University and a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Her prior experience includes work at Searcy Children’s Home and multiple roles at White County Medical Center, all in her hometown of Searcy, Ark. She married her best friend, Sam Tripp in May, 2015. Sam works as a technical consultant at InfoWorks.

Carissa has been passionate about adoption and foster care since she was a child. Her parents still serve as foster parents for Searcy Children’s Home! She is thrilled to have the opportunity to honor God through serving foster children, their parents, and foster families.

 

AGAPE Counselor Training Institute to offer CEU training sessions

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This fall, the AGAPE Counselor Training Institute will again offer training sessions for counselors.

These sessions, to be held at AGAPE’s main office at the Justiss Kirby Center will offer CEU credits through Lipscomb University’s Department of Graduate Counseling (a NBCC-approved provider of continuing education).

Each session costs $15 with CEU credit or $10 without CEU credit.

Check back at later dates for additional sessions.

To register for any session click here. 

If you have questions about any CTI session, contact Patti Fite at pfite@agapenashville.org.

Shop Bella Vintage Marketplace–Support AGAPE!

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Bella Vintage Marketplace logo 250px wideUnder new management and branding, Bella Vintage Marketplace is set for August 28, 29 & 30 at the historic Harlinsdale Farm, a few minutes from downtown Franklin, Tenn.  Created in 2011 as a vintage merchandise and antique marketplace, the event has been a successful fundraising tool for the children and families served by AGAPE.  

Bella Vintage Marketplace will provide an extraordinary shopping experience from top vendors, featuring vintage and antique home décor, handmade jewelry and artisan goods, alongside live music and some of Nashville’s best food trucks!  

Again this year, a portion of the proceeds from the event will be used to support children and families served by the ministry of AGAPE.  

Early Bird Passes and Weekend Passes are $25.  General Admission Passes are $10.

The marketplace will be open for Early Bird Pass holders on Friday, August 28th from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM. 

Gates will open for General Admission Pass holders on Friday, August 28th from 11:00 AM till 5:00 PM, Saturday, August 29th from 9:00 AM till 5:00 PM and on Sunday, August 30th from 11:00 AM till 4:00 PM

Harlinsdale Farm is located at 239 Franklin Road, Franklin, Tenn., just across the from the Factory at Franklin.   

For more information about Bella Vintage Marketplace, visit www.bellavintage.org.

AGAPE mourns loss of Chris Burton

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Chris Burton
AGAPE was saddened this week to learn of the passing of our dear friend, mentor and former coworker, Chris Burton.
For more than 30 years Chris served the children and families of AGAPE with her gracious and gentle spirit.  Not one for the spotlight, she spent countless hours behind the scenes to establish and implement many of the systems and processes that have allowed AGAPE to grow as it has over the years.  She served AGAPE’s ministry alongside her husband Tom for 30 years before his retirement as Executive Director in the fall of 2012.   Chris retired in the spring of 2013.
Visitation will take place at Harpeth Hills Church of Christ, Brentwood, TN on Monday, July 20, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and again on Tuesday, July 21, from 11:00 to 1:00 until the hour of service at 1:00 p.m., with Minister Chris Smith officiating. Interment will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery.
All current and former AGAPE board members and staff will serve as honorary pallbearers along with the Harpeth Hills elders and their wives.  
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to AGAPE or the Touch a Life Foundation.
 

Calling All Volunteers: Bella Vintage Marketplace to take place August 28th-30th!

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Bella Save the DateCalling All Volunteers!!!

The Bella Vintage Marketplace will take place August 28th-30th, 2015!

Would you like to help make this event a success?

AGAPE needs volunteers in a variety of roles.
Volunteering at the Bella VIntage Marketplace is a great opportunity for individuals, families, churches and groups of all types and sizes to make a difference for AGAPE’s mission.
A portion of the proceeds will help fund programs that support children and families served through  AGAPE.

Click here to sign up!

AGAPE to offer Brene Brown Connections Group

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“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. … Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” -Brené Brown

AGAPE’s counseling services is offering a group devoted to embracing all parts of ourselves and developing courage and resiliency so that we might fully experience

CONNECTION * AUTHENTICITY * WHOLEHEARTEDNESS

Group members will work through Brené Brown’s book I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) while utilizing the group experience to explore shame resiliency. Pre-registration is required Deadline for registering is Friday, August 7, 2015

Cost: $40 per session paid in two installments

*If all group fees are paid for up-front, a discount of $50 will be given, cutting the total cost down to $430 for all 12 group sessions

Duration: 12 weeks

Time: Thursdays, 6:30 to 8:00 pm Beginning: August 27, 2015

Location: AGAPE, 4555 Trousdale Dr., Nashville, TN 37204

All participants will also need to obtain a copy of Dr. Brown’s book I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t). Cost of the book is not included in group attendance fee.

Please call AGAPE’s main office or email Paula Wiemers if you are interested in becoming a part of this group or if you would like more information. 615-781-3000 or pwiemers@agapenashville.org

Group facilitators: Paula Wiemers, MS, LPC/MHSP

Want to find out more about Brené Brown’s research? Watch her TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html or visit: www.brenebrown.com For information regarding AGAPE’s counseling services, go to www.agapenashville.org/counseling

Let AGAPE Provide the Speaker for Your Next Event

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Let AGAPE Provide the Speaker for Your Next Event

Speakers and examples of topics available through AGAPE’s Counseling and Related Services are below. Many more topics are possible (see bottom).

Danny Camp, D.Min.

  • Reclaiming Marriage training for church leaders/marriage ministry leaders to create/renew a church’s marriage ministry without overwhelming existing ministries (4 to 6 hour training that can be adapted to a church’s schedule/needs). Marriage enrichment retreats or seminars (length will vary based on topics/format needed).
  • Marriage enrichment classes, retreats, or seminars (length will vary based on topics/format needed).
  • Prepare/Enrich Facilitator Training for use in premarital and marital pastoral counseling as well as professional counseling (6 hour workshop)

Rosa Chavez, M.A., LPC/MHSP (Spanish-speaking)

  • A variety of topics are possible

Allison Clanton, MSSW, LCSW

  • Nurturing Secure Attachments (can be a 2-hour to 4-hour professional training)
  • Assess and Intervene Through Play (a 4-hour to 6-hour professional experiential training)
  • Other
Diana Crawford, MSSW, LCSW

  • Building resiliency: Preventing burnout and compassion fatigue
  • Intentional parenting
  • Child sexual abuse (prevention, recognition, reporting requirements)
  • Step-Parenting
  • Finding happiness during stressful times
  • Battling Depression

Jim Frost, MS, LSPE

  • Anger management (1 hour)
  • Stress Management (1 hour)
  • Dealing with Change (1 hour)
  • Understanding depression and other mood disorders (1 hour)

Tracy Hall, Ph.D., LMFT

  • A variety of marriage and related issues.

Water Surdacki, D.Min. (Available through special arrangement.)

  • A GPS Faith:  Helping adolescents navigate technology successfully

This program explores how technology impacts adolescents’ social world and world view.  It will provide valuable information about the internet, social media, and other forms of technology regularly consumed by today’s teens.

Paula Wiemers, LPC/MHSP

  • Grief
  • Boundaries

You may also go to http://agapenashville.org/counseling-and-psychological-services/counseling-and-psychological-services-staff/ for more information on our entire clinical staff including the speakers above.

Other speakers and topics are available, as well. Please contact us if there’s a particular topic you have in mind or have questions.

What is professional Christian Counseling?

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by Jim Frost, M.A. LSPE/HSP 

Counseling ArtworkThe idea of Christian counseling is subject to a number of misconceptions. People sometimes assume that a Christian counselor will give advice that is either simplistic (e.g., “Just pray about it,”) or rigid and directive (e.g., telling them what the Bible says they must do about their problems). Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions is that to seek Christian counseling is to settle for something less than professional counseling.

The counseling services offered at AGAPE, however, are both professional and Christian. All AGAPE counselors are licensed by the state or are practicing under supervision while on a path to adhere to the same standards and laws as all professional providers of mental health care. The counseling services available through AGAPE are provided by Christian professionals who are motivated by the example of Christ to ease the pain and suffering in the world.

Christian counseling brings a deep appreciation for the power of prayer and the wisdom of scripture. Yet it would be a mistake to think that clients are told to, “Just pray about it,” or that scripture is quoted to tell them what to do. In fact, many people are surprised to find that counseling involves much less advice giving than they expected. Counselors work best as collaborators, not directors or problem solvers.

Christian counseling blends a scientific understanding of human nature and the problems that people commonly encounter, with the conviction that human beings are created in the image of a loving God. Christian counselors share the faith of their Christian clients, but also recognize that life is often difficult and holding on to and living out that faith in the midst of their problems can be a challenge. They understand how the best psychotherapeutic techniques help bring about behavioral change, but also know there are spiritual principles and disciplines to be respected and followed if deeper change is to be achieved.

Those needing assistance in dealing with emotional problems, relationship conflicts, or adjusting to difficult life circumstances can feel confident that there are counselors available who are able to blend professional competence with Christian compassion.

 

Jim FrostJim Frost, M.A. LSPE/HSP came to AGAPE in 1999 after being a long-time Clinical Supervisor for Cumberland Mental Health Services in Lebanon, Tennessee. He earned his master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University and holds a Tennessee license as a Senior Psychological Examiner. He works with children, adolescents, and adults across a broad span of clinical problems.  Jim also serves as AGAPE’s Assistant Clinical Director. 

Here I am, send me!

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From the desk of Chandler Means
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Who shall I send and who will go for us?” And I said, “here I am Lord, send me.” Isaiah 6:8

May was National Foster Care Month across the U.S., so it seems appropriate to hone in on a message about foster care. Foster care has long been an important ministry at AGAPE, serving nearly 2,000 children in foster care since 1967. Already this year, 29 children have been cared for in safe, loving Christian homes through AGAPE’s Crisis Foster Care program. I recently attended the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) Summit in Nashville where Christian, faith based nonprofits from across the U.S. came together to learn, share and advocate for the orphan in the United States and worldwide. Wonderful experience! Orphan ministry is a pretty hot topic among the evangelic community these days. After all, Isaiah 1:17 and James 1:27 are pretty clear. (By the way, how’s your congregation doing with that?) I must have visited 100 displays, but one in particular caught my attention; THE FORGOTTEN INITIATIVE. The Initiative was referring to children in foster care.

That phrase really bothered me, in part because there is truth in it. I recently read an article on Twitter from the Huffington Post about the sex trafficking crisis in the U.S. The article stated that in 2013, 60 percent of the child sex trafficking victims recovered were children from foster care or group homes. The article gave as one of the reasons … these children had been forgotten and no one was looking for them. Did you know there are 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S. including 8,000 in Tennessee alone?

Isaiah was asked by God in a vision to do something very difficult, something that very few if any would choose to do. Isaiah raised his hand and said “Here I am send me.” My experience, both personally and professionally, suggests that the reason foster children are oft forgotten is due to the lack of Christian families who will answer this difficult call to mirror God’s love to children. Thus, often leaving children to be cared for in … well, let’s just say, homes that mirror the current culture and not necessarily God’s love.

AGAPE trains and certifies families to be foster parents, or I think the politically correct term is “resource homes.” I have the privilege of speaking to each new P.A.T.H. group before their training begins. I remind them of the significant commitment and ministry they are about to undertake. My wife and I know personally the difficult task ahead and we know the joy, heartache, love and hardship these families are about to experience. We also know the emotional, spiritual and physical blessing they are about to have for children. So, I thank these special families on behalf of the children; children who will experience the love of Jesus, many for the first time, because these families answered the call to foster … here I am LORD send me!

AGAPE is blessed and honored beyond words for the 29 families who are approved or in the process of being approved, to serve in the ministry of foster care. To all families serving foster children in any way, AGAPE salutes you!

Daniel’s Adoption

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DaDanielniel was three years old when we first met him. His mother left him two months after his birth – his father was in prison. He had been in the care of his stepmother and grandparents during that time. When his father was released and returned home, none of them were able to care for this little boy. Having grown up in a dysfunctional home himself, Daniel’s dad wanted something better for his son. His desire was for Daniel to be adopted into a Christian home, so he called AGAPE.

An AGAPE social worker met with Daniel’s family in their home to set up a pre-placement family interview, but they never showed up for the placement. They later called to say they simply couldn’t go through with it. After eight months of silence, Daniel’s father called back, sure this time that he wanted his son to be adopted. But for a second time, he couldn’t bring himself to give up his son. Knowing he was about to face a 15- year prison sentence, Daniel’s father picked up the phone a few weeks later and called AGAPE for a third time. His wife had left him, he had no support, and he recognized he was at the end of the line. He finally met with AGAPE and granted us custody of Daniel, knowing it was best decision for his child.

Daniel was placed with a loving, pre-adoptive couple who didn’t have children of their own. He adjusted very well. He entered kindergarten at the school where his adoptive mother taught and he began to connect with children at their church. Within two months of foster care, his father surrendered his parental rights and by December of 2014, the adoption was finalized. Daniel is a wonderfully fun, affectionate child. He loves trains, dressing up like superheroes, beach vacations and trips to the zoo. AGAPE is honored to have helped this father find a safe home for his son, help a couple become parents, and help a little boy have a forever family. Love works!

AGAPE Kids Classic Raises $205,422 for children and families served by AGAPE

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PRIMARY KidsClassiclogoFor fifteen years the AGAPE Kids Classic has been raising funds for children and families served by AGAPE.

The 2015 event, held on Monday, May 18th at the Richland Country Club was another success!  Participants in the 15th Annual AGAPE Kids Classic raised $205,422 in gifts and pledges surpassing the goal of $200,000.  Including this year’s total, the AGAPE Kids Classic has raised more than $2.76 million to help provide food, clothing, school supplies, birthday gifts, case management support and much more to children and families.

The 16th Annual AGAPE Kids Classic will take place Monday, May 23, 2016 at the Vanderbilt Legends Club, host to the 2016 NCAA Regional Championship.  We hope you’ll join us.

The 2015 AGAPE Kids Classic is made possible in part by the generous support of the following corporate sponsors

tu3red

 

chunt benchmark

Pancoast Benefits, Manheim Automotive, Wilson Staff, Andrews Cadillac, Solomon Builders

Tennessee Basketball Academy, Goodyear Tire, Corey Jackson, DDS, F& M Bank, McPherson Cleaners, Bite Dentistry, Whitt’s BBQ, Electric Service Credit Union, Gateway Tire, Luna Custom Homes, Professional Golf Events, Tomlinson House Cleaning, Nashville Vision Associates, Frank Batson Homes, Wilson Bank and Trust, Bentley’s Air Conditioning, Red Arrow Express, Mapco/Delek Fund For Hope, Hunts Computer Solutions, Allergy and ENT of Middle Tennessee, Leah and Gary Martin, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Whitefield Dentistry, Carter Realty Group, The Chrichton Group, The Trust Company, Forrester Benefits Solutions, Ameritas, Mutual of Omaha, Fraiser, Dean and Howard, Burger Dentistry, SunLife Financial, Publix Supermarket Charities, Old Hickory Country Club, & Hermitage Golf Course

Don Campbell receives Chris Keen Heart of AGAPE Award

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At the Pancoast Benefits Celebration Dinner following the 15th Annual AGAPE Kids Classic, Don Campbell was honored as the recipient of the Chris Keen Heart of AGAPE Award.

Established in 2011 to recognize an AGAPE supporter or volunteer who exemplifies the characteristics of compassion, humility, and hard work toward AGAPE’s mission, the award is named after the late Chris Keen. Keen was a generous donor, volunteer and member of AGAPE’s Kids Classic Leadership Committee who passed away in a boating accident in 2011.  Most people begin to take things easy when they retire. Campbell saw it as an opportunity to continue to serve. Connected to AGAPE through his adopted grandson, Clint Brumit, he has been an advocate and supporter of AGAPE for over 30 years.

As a regular attendee at AGAPE events, Campbell has played in every AGAPE Kids Classic Golf Tournament since the first one in 2001. (He has also been on the Leadership Committee since 2001.) Raising money and awareness for the life changing ministry of AGAPE has almost become a full time job for him. He has single-handedly raised more than $120,000 and recruited numerous other golfers and team captains who have raised more than $250,0 00 through the AGAPE Kids Classic. He and his wife June are members at Donelson Church of Christ.

“Don Campbell is one of the most energetic people to proclaim AGAPE’s mission,” said Butch Stinson who nominated him for the award. He and I have played in every tournament since 2001 and he is relentless in his effort to raise money for the children and families  of AGAPE.”

Don Campbell truly embodies a heart of compassion, humility, and hard work in support of our ministry and we are proud to recognize him as the 2015 Chris Keen Heart of AGAPE Award recipient.

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Campbell with Chris Keen’s family: parents, Chris and Linda Keen, wife Vickie Keen and son Tucker Keen

Campbell with AGAPE Executive Director Chandler Means and AGAPE Kids Classic Leadership Comitttee Member, Butch Stinson.

Campbell with AGAPE Executive Director Chandler Means and AGAPE Kids Classic Leadership Committee Member, Butch Stinson.

 

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Fifteenth annual AGAPE Kids Classic to take place Monday, May 18th 2015.

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PRIMARY KidsClassiclogoThe 2015 AGAPE Kids Classic presented by Trades Unlimited is set to take place on Monday, May 18th, 2015 at the Richland Country Club.  In it’s fifteenth year, the annual golf tournament is not only one of AGAPE’s biggest fundraisers but has been recognized as one of the best fundraising golf tournaments in Middle Tennessee.

Since 2001, the event has raised more than $2.5 million for children and families served by AGAPE.   The goal for this year is to raise another $200,000 to help provide food, clothing, school supplies, birthday gifts, case management support and much more to to those children and families.   Most of this money is raised by the golfers who solicit donations from from friends and family.  If you would like to make a donation to a friend or family member who’s playing, please visit www.agapekidsclassic.com

The schedule for the day of the tournament is as follows:

11:00 AM Driving Range Open/Cameron Hunt Realty Tee-off Lunch
1:00 PM Shot Gun Start
6:00 PM Pancoast Benefits Celebration DinnerHermH

There are still a few spots left to play in the AGAPE Kids Classic.  If you are interested in playing contact Clint Brumit at clintbrumit@agapenashville.org or 615-620-3894.

The 2015 AGAPE Kids Classic is made possible in part by the generous support of the following corporate sponsors

tu3red

chunt benchmark

Pancoast Benefits, Manheim Automotive, Wilson Staff, Andrews Cadillac

Tenenssee Basketball Academy, Goodyear,Corey Jackson, DDS, F&M Bank, McPherson Cleaners, Bite Dentistry, Whitts BBQ, Electric Servcie Credit Union, Gateway Tire, Luna Custom Homes, Professional Golf Events, Tomlinson House Cleaning, Nashville Vision Associates, Frank Batson Homes, Wilson Bank, Bentley’s Air Conditioning, Red Arrow Express, Mapco, Hunt’s Computer Solutions, Allergy and ENT Associates of Middle Tennessee, Pinnacle Bank, Carter Realty, Frasier Dean and Howard, The Chrichton Group, Forrester Benefits Services, The Trust Company, AMeritas, Mutual of Omaha, Dixon Burger Denstistry Old Hickory Country Club, Five Oaks Golf and Country Club, Kings Creek Golf Course, Hermitage Golf Course

 

AGAPE to participate in The BigPayback

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middletennessee-1422502380.4025-bigpayback_2015The Big Payback is coming May 5, 2015, and AGAPE is excited to take part in this monumental event! The Big Payback, hosted by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, is a community-wide online giving day that’s a special occasion to celebrate Middle Tennessee’s spirit of generosity and support the work of nonprofits.

This 24-hour online event will help organizations, like this one, raise much-needed unrestricted dollars and bring awareness to pressing needs in our communities.

Plus, your gifts made during The Big Payback will be increased by incentives and awards for participating nonprofits, which may help us qualify for special prizes and bonuses. For more information, contact us or visit www.TheBigPayback.org.

Counselor Danny Camp to raise awareness and money for AGAPE by running in Country Music Marathon

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26.2 For AGAPEThis year, Danny Camp will be running the Country Music Marathon to raise awareness and money for AGAPE.
AGAPE exists to serve the needs of families
and children in Middle Tennessee through
adoption, foster care, unplanned pregnancy
support services, and faith based counseling
and psychological services for individuals of
all ages, couples, and families—and all services are available with an unconditional
agape love. To learn more about AGAPE’s
services please go to www.agapenashville.org.

Although any amount would be appreciated, Danny wants to have a some fun with the
marathon idea this year, so he is asking supporters to help by
making a donation of “26.2” in some way or another. Whether it is…

$2.62
$26.20
$262.00
$2,620.00
or even $26,200.00 or more

…please know that your tax deductible contribution will make a significant impact on
families right here in Middle Tennessee.
Donations can be given directly to Danny or mailed to:
AGAPE Nashville, Attn: Danny Camp, 4555 Trousdale Drive, Nashville, TN 37204
Checks should be made out to AGAPE, and please write “Marathon donation” in the
“for” blank on your check.

To make an online donation Click Here!

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. “ ~James 1:27~

Empowered to Connect Conference to take Place April 10-11

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Capture

 

 

The simulcast will take place on April 10-11 at the Refuge Church
102 Front Street
Smyrna, Tenn.

Registration $25

To register visit www.onelessministries.org

 

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

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Pinwheels

AGAPE is planning to plant a “Pinwheels for Prevention®” garden on our lawn to bring awareness to April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Other activities will be planned to alert consumers of the need to keep children safe.

For 30 years, Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee (PCAT) has worked with communities and local partners to support parents in raising happy, healthy children. Their programs, provided in collaboration with community partners, strengthen families and reduce the risks of child abuse and neglect. PCAT’s continuum of services for families includes many different access points for families depending on their level of need.

For more, visit http://www.pinwheelsforprevention.org

AGAPE presents Tokens: Thanksgiving at the Ryman

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Latest edit to feature image


AGAPE PRESENTS TOKENS!

Home, Children and Family Slated as Theme for

Thanksgiving at the Ryman.

Tickets available at tokensshow.com
AGAPE 4555 Trousdale Drive | Nashville, TN 37204 US

 

AGAPE Awarded CARF Accreditation

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AGAPE AWARDED THREE-YEAR CARF ACCREDITATION

Nashville, Tenn.11/13/2014 — CARF International announced that AGAPE, founded here in 1967, has been accredited for a period of three years for its Adoption and Foster Care services and organization Governance.

This accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded to an organization and shows the organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards.  An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process and has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit that its programs and services are of the highest quality, measurable, and accountable.

AGAPE (Association for Guidance, Aid, Placement and Empathy) is a non-profit organization with offices at 4555 Trousdale Drive, Nashville, TN 37204 that provides Adoption, Foster Care, Maternity Crisis Care and Psychological Counseling services throughout Middle Tennessee.

CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process that centers on enhancing the lives of the persons served. Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and now known as CARF, the accrediting body establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services.

For additional information, contact Chandler Means at (615) 781-3000 or cmeans@agapenashville.org.

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AGAPE is honored to be the recipient of the highest award accreditation CARF offers for Adoption (Children and Adolescence), Foster Family and Kinship Care (Children and Adolescence) and Governance Standards Applied.

Orphan Sunday

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I AM LOVED from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

November 2 is Orphan Sunday across the U.S.

Help AGAPE provide for neglected, abused and forgotten children right here in Middle Tennessee.

Orphan Sunday: I want to help AGAPE provide for neglected, abused and forgotten children.

DivorceCare classes starting again September 8

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You don't have to go through it alone

 Most people will tell you that separation and divorce are the most painful and stressful experiences they’ve ever faced. It’s a confusing time when you feel isolated and have lots of questions about issues you’ve never encountered before.

 

AGAPE divorce support groups are led by people who understand what you are going through and want to help. You will learn how to heal from the deep hurt of divorce and discover hope for your future. Our support groups will meet weekly to help you and your children face these challenges and move toward rebuilding your lives.  Join us at Woodmont Hills Church of Christ in the Teen Center directly across from the AGAPE Counseling Center on the lower level. Groups begin September 8 and will meet every Monday through December 2 from 6pm to 7:30pm.Groups being offered this fall:
 Divorce Care (Adult group)
Single and Parenting (Adult group)
The Big D (adolescent group ages 13-17)
Divorce Care 4 Kids (DC4K-children’s group ages 5-12)

Adult groups are $20 per person. This one-time fee includes a 13 week program work book.  Kids’ groups are $30 per person. This one-time fee includes a 13 week program workbook, activity materials and snacks. (Childcare is provided for children that do not meet the criteria for groups and who are toilet trained.)

 For more information, contact Sloan Mankin at 615-269-6220. 

AGAPE soliciting responses for CARF accreditation survey

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A survey team from CARF International will be visiting on:

September 11 and 12, 2014

We invited the surveyors to evaluate how well we meet international standards for quality. The survey will tell us what we are doing well and ways we might improve. As a result of this survey, we may earn or continue accreditation.

As part of the survey, the surveyors will interview people who receive services, their families, our staff, and others. Some questions the survey team members might ask people are:

  • Do we provide a clean and safe setting?
  • Do you receive the services you need and want?
  • Are you treated with respect?
  • Do you take part in planning your services?
  • Are you told what you need to know about your services?
  • Are your questions answered in a way you understand?
  • Do you know where to go with questions or concerns?

If you would like to talk with one of the survey team members or want to learn more about CARF International, please let one of our staff members know. You may also contact CARF International directly.

  • Internet: www.carf.org/contact-us
  • E-mail: feedback@carf.org
  • Mail: CARF International, 6951 East Southpoint Road, Tucson, AZ 85756, USA
  • Telephone: (520) 495-7001
  • Fax: (520) 318-1129


*CARF International is an independent, not-for-profit family of organizations (including CARF, CARF Canada, and CARF-CCAC) that provides accreditation in the field of human services

AGAPE Collecting School Supplies for Foster Children

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School-Bus-Back-It’s time for AGAPE’s annual school supply drive for our foster children. Would you be willing to purchase and fill a backpack with some or all of the supplies listed below? It is a great project for a Sunday school class, small group, or youth group. If so, please contact Clint Brumit at clintbrumit@agapenashville.org. Thanks in advance for your kind support!

Flash Drives . 3-ring binders . colored pencils . colored markers #2 pencils . erasers . glue sticks . graph paper . hand sanitizer highlighters . organizers/planners . scissors . paper clips . pens pocket folders . index cards . spiral notebooks . staplers . tissues small calculators . printer paper . notebook paper

Supplies are needed in the office by August 5.

Mother, daughter honor deceased father with unexpected gift to AGAPE

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Natalie Nix

Click on the picture above for video.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A mother and daughter honored a family member they lost in a special way after they received an unexpected gift from News 2.

The idea is simple. News 2 gives a total stranger $500. The recipient then has 60 minutes to improve someone’s life.

Natalie Nix was out with her mother when they were offered the gift. They quickly decided to give the money to a cause close to their heart.

“There’s a place called Agape here in Nashville. They take in children and they find Christian homes for them to belong to,” explained Natalie.

They chose this organization because of her father, Mike Nix, who passed away three years ago. Natalie said he had a difficult childhood so places like Agape were special to him.

“My dad, he grew up in like 13 different homes, you know, and that sort of thing. And he was in foster care and he could have really benefited from a place like Agape and so adoption is really close to our hearts,” Natalie told News 2.

The Nix family called AGAPE who sent to representatives over to receive the gift.

“Well, this is a blessing. I gotta tell you, I was just praying last night about some things regarding finances, and I get this phone call today. So that’s really special,” said Chandler Means from AGAPE.

To view the original story on WRKN, click here. 

Counseling and Youth Ministry: AGAPE counselors featured on national youth ministry podcast.

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Two of our counselors, Jim Frost and Jennifer Lackey, recently sat down with David Rubio, the youth minister at Otter Creek Church of Christ, in Nashville, Tenn., who produces a weekly podcast about youth ministry topics called “The Digital Side-Hug.”

In two 45 minutes sessions, they discussed several topics related to counseling and adolescents .  You can listen to both of them by clicking on the links below.

Digital Side Hug: Part 1: General principals and eating disorders

Digital Side Hug: Part 2: Suicide, cutting and sexual acting out.  

Jim Frost, is AGAPE’s Assistant Clinical director and holds a masters degree in Clinical Psychology from Middle Tennnessee State University and a Tennessee license as a Senior Psychological Examiner. He works with children, adolescents, and adults across a broad span of clinical problems.

Jennifer Couch Lackey, holds  a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University and is licensed as a Senior Psychological Examiner. She works primarily with children, adolescents and their families.

David Rubio is a veteran in youth ministry having served in three different congregations since 1995 and has been at Otter Creek since January 2003. As youth minister, David’s mission is to partner with parents in the process of raising their kids to a living faith in the Living God.

David produces “The Digital Side-Hug” podcast each week on various topics in youth ministry.  For more of his podcasts follow @digitalsidehug on Twitter or by going to to the following website:

http://ottercreek.org/ministries/youth-group/ocyg-podcast/

If you are in ministry or are church leader and want to learn more about counseling and ministry, we invite you to attend the Caring Connections Conference on May 16, at Lipscomb University.  Go to www.caringconnectionsconference.org for more information.

 

AGAPE appoints Kyle Frederick to Development Post

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Kyle Head Shot for AGAPE
NASHVILLE, Tenn.– AGAPE is pleased to announce the appointment of Kyle Frederick as the agency’s new Director of Development.  Frederick has over twenty-five years of experience in the music business covering virtually every aspect of the industry.   His most recent position was Executive Director of Band Against MS, a Nashville based not-for-profit created by country music star Clay Walker to fund research and raise awareness for multiple sclerosis. Previously Frederick was personal manager for multiplatinum recording artists SHeDaisy and Walker.

Frederick brings to AGAPE a significant level of experience as a hands-on leader, administrator, visionary and relationship builder. He offers a heart for adoption as his wife Claire was one of the first children adopted through AGAPE in 1970 by Wayne and Joyce Davidson.

“We are very excited that Kyle is now a part of the AGAPE family.  Kyle brings a rich background of experiences, relationships and creative talent to the AGAPE leadership team,” said Executive Director Chandler Means. “I was deeply impressed by Kyle’s commitment to the mission of AGAPE and his personal understanding of how AGAPE can change the lives of children and families in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.”

Kyle, a native of Bowling Green, Ky., currently lives in Mt. Juliet, Tenn. with his wife Claire and daughters Rhea and Edie. They are members of Woodmont Hills Church of Christ where Claire serves as the Children’s and Family Minister.

Frederick Family Photo

We have the coolest jobs in the world!

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By Jennifer Lackey, MA, LSPE, HSP

My time with AGAPE really began in 1976 when Doug and Evelyn Couch adopted me after my birth.  As I got older, my concept of AGAPE changed to become a little more realistic and my path towards working there became a little more defined. It would be impossible to say that my adoption and my experiences with my adoption throughout my childhood and adolescence did not play a part in making me want to become a therapist.  It obviously did play a part.  It was only when I entered my graduate work that I became aware of the depth and scope of the psychological and counseling services that AGAPE offered.

So I applied there for my internship and begged to become an employee after I finished my graduate work.  I have now been at AGAPE for 9 years providing counseling and psychological testing services to children, adolescents, and adults.

The very foundation of what we do is centered on confidentiality which makes sharing quite difficult.  I can’t really tell you about a client I had one morning that was dealing with surviving childhood sexual abuse and his/her struggle with relationships.  But what we realized we could tell you about was us, the counselors, and specifically our heart and how it comes through in what we do.

If you asked me to describe my job, the best way I could put it was to say that I am a wreckage remover.  I think of the landslide that closed down a section of I-40 east a few years back.  Tons of rock and earth had to be removed before people could travel in that area again.  That is the essence of what we do with our counseling clients.  We don’t design the highway.  We don’t determine the direction of travel.  We try to help heal the damage that is present and thwarting our clients from their journey. The damage takes a lot of different forms.

Girl talking to therapist

We see a lot of people dealing with abuse histories; loss or death; mental illness; betrayal and affairs; addictions and fears.  The damage we see can be as simple and as destructive as a belief system full of lies that a person has been led to believe about who they are, their self worth, or what their purpose is in life. We try to help our clients remove the gunk that is hurting them, deceiving them, or keeping them captive in some way.  If it is something that cannot be removed, then we try to create a new path, a detour that allows them to move again in spite of that road block.

Most of the counselors that I have had this conversation with would agree that what we do is sacred.  Most of us agree that we have a front row seat to watching some of the most incredible moments of people’s lives.  It is hard to describe how powerful it can be to watch someone embrace the idea of their true worth for the first time in their life and how that changes the direction of their life.

As counselors we get to witness the beginning of forgiveness and redemption and freedom from all these things that hold people hostage.  We get to help people understand and learn how to cope with mental illness within their family—improving life in general because now they know what it is and what it’s not and how to better deal with it.  As an agency our counselors conduct over 1,200 client sessions per month, so you can imagine the number of moments we are able to witness and actually watch God at work.

We believe that God’s hands are all over the work that we do because there is no way that these things could happen without God being at the heart of it.  We see people at their most vulnerable, their most hurt, having faith that God is going to use us as He sees fit.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much you are a part of this process. Because of your help we are able to enter into this sacred space with people from all walks of life.  Because of your help and support we are able to offer a sliding scale that makes our services accessible to people of all incomes.  It would be impossible for us to reach so many people without you and what you have done for AGAPE.

Please know how much we thank you, how grateful we are for giving us a chance to do this work.  We have the coolest jobs in the world, getting to witness healing and redemption knowing full well that God is all over it.  

47th Annual Dinner Raises $63,000 for children and families served by AGAPE

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a dinnerFor all who attended the AGAPE’s 47th Annual Dinner on November 5th at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs, it was an inspiring evening.

A full ballroom was on hand to hear foster parents Tim and Angie Partlow, adoptee Claire Davidson Frederick, and AGAPE counselor Jennifer Lackey share stories about what it means to be a part of the ministry of AGAPE.

Entertainment before and the dinner was provided by the Kearney and Griffith families and after the dinner by Cheyenne and Priscilla Medder.

The event helped AGAPE to raise $63,675 which will be used to provide funding for crisis care, adoption and professional counseling.

For a gallery of photos taken at this year’s event.  Click Here

With 8,000 children in DCS fostercare, AGAPE to care for 20 additional children

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With 8,000 children in DCS fostercare, AGAPE to care for 20 additional children

Last month the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services announced that it is currently caring for over 8,000 children in foster care.  This is a staggering number of children in crisis. AGAPE recently signed an agreement with Omni Visions to assist in foster care placement of some of these children.  Because you are so vital to the work we do we want to update you on what we are doing to prepare for this new role.

Case manager, Jeff Fox, is currently working with existing foster homes to ensure that each one meets the requirements of the state and Omni Visions protocol.

In order to prepare for the additional case loads, the agency is currently seeking to hire a new foster care case manager.  The preference is to identify someone who has a Master’s Degree in Social Work or a related field as well as experience in case management.  Speaking a second language is an added skill that would be welcomed. (Click here for a complete job description and application instructions.)

Through this new agreement, AGAPE has the opportunity to provide Christian homes to children in foster care for up to an additional twenty children.  Currently, AGAPE provides services to approximately twenty children through our social services programs. 

If you would like to know more about how you can help make a difference in the lives of these children and families or how you can become foster parent.  Please contact Judy Rister, LCSW, Director of Social Services at 615-761-3000, extension 232 or at jrister@agapenashville.org.

Bella Rustica Vintage Marketplace to raise funds for AGAPE

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NASHVILLE, Tenn—If you come to Bella Rustica this weekend you will find a broad assortment of vintage junk and antiques but you will also find a broad assortment of people who want to make a difference in the lives of the children and families served by AGAPE.
In its third year, the Bella Rustica Vintage Marketplace will take place this Friday and Saturday, August 23-24th at Legacy Farms, outside of Lebanon, Tenn.  The event features an open-air market set on twenty-two acres of lush countryside surrounding the historic nineteenth century cabin and manor house.

Over seventy vendors are have created lavish displays of vintage antiques, handmade decorations, women’s apparel accessories and art from across the southeast. Market goers can relax and enjoy live music and great food throughout the day.  All of the vendors are participating because they believe in the mission of AGAPE and want to make a difference in the lives of the children and families served by AGAPE.

The funds raised by the event will be used to provide AGAPE’s children and families with school supplies; fall and winter clothing; beds and furniture when they go home to birth parents; and the opportunity to experience a real family while they are in our care.

The Bella Rustica Vintage Marketplace will take place Friday, August 23 and Saturday August 24 at Legacy Farms.  The market will be open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM each day.

 

Click here for directions and a map.

 

 

 

AGAPE collecting school supplies for foster children

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AGAPE is collecting school supplies to provide for foster children.

Would you be willing to purchase and fill a backpack with the some or all of the following school supplies:

Flash drive
3-ring binders
Colored pencils
Colored pens
#2 Pencils
Eraser
Glue stick
Graph paper
Hand sanitizer
Highlighters
Markers
Organizer/planner
Paper clips
Pens/pencils
Pocket folders
Scissors
Index cards
Spiral notebook
Stapler
Tissues
Printer paper
Anything you think a student needs.

If you would like to provide these for a child in foster care, please contact Clint Brumit 
clintbrumit@agapenashville.org to inform him of your intent.

Backpacks are due in AGAPE’s offices no later than August 15.
Thank you in advance for helping to support our foster kids!

To adopt a child is to follow the lead of God

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Brian and Rita Richardson were both raised in a small community in Middle Tennessee and met through mutual friends.  They are currently members at the Bakerton Church of Christ.  Brian and Rita tried for many years to conceive children on their own but after much prayer, family discussions and a time of healing, they decided to pursue adoption.

The Richardsons came to AGAPE in the later part of 2011 to begin the steps toward adoption.   They completed their training and home study and within just a few months of their completed home study, they were chosen by Tyler’s birth mother, Sarah, to be his adoptive parents for her baby boy.  Sarah felt she was not in a position to care for Tyler and the birth father, Scott, also made the difficult decision that he too, was not able to care for Tyler and provide a stable home for him. Sarah and Scott chose life for Tyler!

Since 1973 more than 56 million babies have been aborted in America.  This year alone, approximately 1.2 million babies will be aborted in this country.  That’s more than 3000 every day!  But not baby Tyler! His mom and dad chose life for him and chose AGAPE to find a loving, stable home for him to grow up.  Tyler was nurtured by one of AGAPE’s Cradle Care families prior to being placed with his adoptive parents.

Tyler’s birth mom and dad, Sarah and Scott are no longer together but, by the grace of God, they both chose the Richardson’s to be Tyler’s forever mom and dad.   Sarah chose Brian and Rita because she felt they were a warm and loving couple who put God and family first.  Sarah and Scott both liked the idea that they enjoyed the outdoors and that they were from a small town in Tennessee.   It was important for them that the child be raised by a married couple who had close family support.   The Richardson’s agreed to an open adoption plan with Sarah.  They have continued to communicate through pictures, letters and an occasional visit.  Sara stated after the first visit that she is happy with her decision in choosing Brian and Rita as the adoptive parents. It gave her a sense of comfort in seeing them with Tyler in a safe and stable environment.  Sarah has since served on our panel for prospective adoptive parents sharing her experience in making the difficult and unselfish decision in placing her baby for adoption.

Tyler’s adoption into the Richardson family was finalized on June 7, 2013.  Brian and Rita were surrounded by a host of family and friends who came to celebrate with them at the AGAPE office on June 28th.   Tyler’s adoptive grandparents, uncles, cousins, mom and dad joined with AGAPE staff to celebrate this joyful and holy occasion.

Tyler is 10 months old now.  He is a busy little guy who loves being outdoors and being pulled around in his wagon.  His dad, granddads and cousins can’t wait to teach him to hunt and fish, throw a ball, read a book or whatever his gifts may be … and one day, to know his Heavenly Father.

 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

Donate to AGAPE today!  Every gift to AGAPE is a gift that helps children like Tyler, birth moms like Sarah, Christian families like the Richardsons.  Seven children have been adopted into loving Christian homes already in 2013 through AGAPE.

AGAPE to add Christian life coaching

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Have you ever felt stuck in a rut, without direction in your life, yet you didn’t really feel like you needed counseling? Have you wanted to clarify your goals and create a vision for

your future? Have you known that you wanted to take charge of your life and run it, rather than letting it run you?

Consider for a minute, the story of Amy. Amy has a degree in education from a prestigious university. She taught school for eight years before she and her husband, Steve, had the first of their three children. After becoming a mother, Amy decided to stay home to raise her children. She and her family live in a nice neighborhood, are active participants in their local church and have positive relationships with their friends and family. When her children reached school age, Amy’s former boss asked her to come back to teaching and included a nice raise for her. From the outside looking in, life appears great for Amy. Why would she need a life coach?

Life coaching could benefit Amy to help her sort through feelings of confusion and doubt. She knows that she used to love teaching, but now that her kids have grown, she wonders where else God might be calling her.  Amy also admits that she is sometimes unhappy at home. While she loves her family, she feels like she is juggling so many balls in the air that she never has time to breathe. Amy believes that her relationship with Steve is strained due to their over-scheduled life, even though she loves him dearly. She feels frustrated that her simple and stable life has disappeared into today’s fast-paced, impersonal and constantly changing reality. She finds herself wishing for a little bit of time to reflect on God’s direction for her life and to be able live life with more of a sense of personal purpose.
Amy could really use the assistance of a life coach. Working with a professional coach would enable her to begin creating a clear vision for her future. Coaching could help Amy get from where she is to where she wants to be. Christian coaches can offer another layer of direction and guidance by coaching clients from a God-centered perspective. In the Christian coaching relationship, coaches operate from a personal understanding of how God touches every aspect of a client’s life and therefore utilizes Christian principles as a foundation for goal-setting, problem solving, creating motivation and reinforcing core values.

Christian Coaching can help individuals to:  
• Deepen their relationships
• Grow closer to God
• Navigate career changes
• Develop their life’s purpose
• Clarify their vision for the future
• Understand their needs and values
• Increase communication skills
• Embrace a change or transition
• Enhance their careers
• Recognize their unique abilities
• Overcome limiting thoughts

When considering professional coaching, it is important to understand that coaching is not counseling. Counseling focuses on helping clients address mental health issues including trauma, loss, grief, abuse, depression and anxiety, to name a few. Coaching is not about treating a clinical mental health issue, it is about creating new strategies to enhance life.

AGAPE is excited to announce that we have officially launched our Professional Christian Life Coaching services!  Our Certified Professional Coaches will be working with clients interested in utilizing coaching to address topics including, life balance; life purpose; health & wellness; retirement; business; leadership; relationships and transitions in Life

AGAPE offers a free 30-minute informational call to individuals interested in learning more about whether coaching could be a good fit for them. Call AGAPE to schedule an Informational Call with one of our Professional Christian Coaches and begin moving toward your life goals today!