Our goal at Murphy-Harpst is to prepare kids for success after they leave our care. That success can take many forms. For some children, it’s to experience their first time doing something that many people take for granted. For others, it’s transitioning from a restricted environment to living independently as a young adult. And for many, success is taking their “last chance” at Murphy-Harpst and turning it into new opportunities.
Licensed clinical professionals on staff
High school graduations and GEDs
Hours of individual therapy
“Success comes in all shapes and sizes at Murphy-Harpst. Success could be a great day at school, a home visit with your family, leading your first group or activity.”
Director of Corporate and Community Engagement
A Place for Firsts
Many of the simple things in life that are taken for granted, from a trip to the beach or just having your own bed, kids experience for the first time at Murphy-Harpst.
One summer, our Transitional Living Program took a trip to the beach. One resident told his mentor that it was his dream to see the ocean. When he finally saw it, he said, “I have only ever been to Rome, Decatur, and Cedartown. When I saw the ocean, it was so crazy. I just looked at it; I didn’t even know what to do, it was so big.”
Another summer, Denzel Darden, Director of Spiritual Life at Murphy-Harpst, witnessed the transformation that “firsts” can produce in a child during a week at Camp Evergreen. “Seeing their faces when they were challenged to do things they’d never done before—rock climbing, water sliding, horseback riding, camping in the woods…it was an experience,” he said. “Kids you didn’t see smile much, it brought a glow and smile to their face that I remember to this day.”
“It’s ugly,” Maddie said when a passing child complimented the watercolor painting she’d been working intently on in a corner by herself. “My brother is the real artist in the family. I miss him.”
Another boy chimed in saying, “I have a sister and I miss her too.” Soon, all eight children surrounded each other, telling stories about their families and encouraging each other. This moment inspired hope in Maddie and her new friends, showing them that they were now a part of a community that cares for them.
Like Maddie, many children come to Murphy-Harpst from homes riddled with abuse and neglect. But here, they’re able to build valuable relationships with their mentors and peers. From our staff and donors who make sure that every kid gets a visit from Santa for Christmas to our foster families who surround them with stability and support, we want every child to learn that they are worthy of love.
“Our foster kids had never experienced a Christmas with several gifts before,” said foster parents, the Steward family. “Thanks to Murphy-Harpst, our kids experienced Christmas full of joy and excitement they so deserve. Seeing the smiles on their faces was priceless given the trauma and unfortunate circumstances they come from.”
When 16-year-old J.P. came to Murphy-Harpst after suffering from neglect and physical and emotional trauma, he was scared and angry. He didn’t trust adults and was behind in school. But in a matter of months, we saw J.P. turn into a leader and regain his self-confidence. He joined our intramural basketball team, worked in our greenhouse, and started working toward a goal of completing his GED and moving into our Transitional Living Program. “I knew Murphy-Harpst was my last chance,” he shared. “I knew I had to make the most of it, and I’m so grateful for the people here that love and care for me.”
One young man who was on the verge of going back to a Department of Juvenile Justice facility is now a success story. Our core and clinical staff worked with him and empowered him to see more in himself. He changed his outlook and moved up to our Transitional Living Program, where he will learn the skills he needs to be a successful member of society.
Through a combination of therapies and the mentorship of our staff, children learn to cope with the trauma that brought them to us and begin to trust again.
Jessica McWilliams, our Recreation Manager, was helping the kids work on “mindfulness” one day and encouraging them to mirror their horse’s calm demeanors. She noticed that one young man, who was typically hyper and occasionally disruptive, laying down next to his horse, Noelle. He made himself open to the therapeutic process and mimicked the horse’s breathing. Eventually, the horse relaxed and laid down in the ring with him. He had experienced a change and learned that by slowing down and being mindful, he could experience calm just like the horse.
“I decided to stay close with Ms. Jessica and Murphy-Harpst because they had a big impact on my life. This is probably the best placement that I was in to help me grow as a person and help me develop into the person that I want to be in the future.” –Taylor S., Murphy-Harpst Alumna
One of the many ways we define success at Murphy-Harpst is when a child realizes that, regardless of their past, there is no limit to who they can become. Our goal is to prepare young adults to one day live independently by exposing them to new people, places, and experiences.
During his two years of treatment and growth at Murphy-Harpst, our staff noticed that DJ was a creative kid with a passion for designing shoes and clothes. After he went to live with a great foster family and finish high school, a friend of Murphy-Harpst gave him the opportunity to visit her shoe store, meet designers, and learn about the business.
He began working in a shoe store after graduation and was quickly promoted to management. He entered a leadership training program and the company has relocated him to help build successful stores across the Southeast. “Murphy-Harpst helped me with my coping skills, my life skills, and helped me handle stuff as a mature adult,” DJ explained. “I don’t know what I would do without Murphy-Harpst.”