Gateway Woods Family Services is a residential care facility for troubled teens, teens with drug and alcohol related issues and pregnant teens/teen moms. Gateway takes a therapeutic houseparent approach to working with the children over the coarse of their stay! Typically this is 6 months to a year. The children work their way through 5 phases while at Gateway and once they have completed all of them they have completed the program and move on from Gateway. To move up from each phase you have to get a certain amount of phase points. These points are given daily based on behavior as well as counseling and schooling which also take place on the Gateway campus and multiple other things that happen during each day. Hopefully this makes a little bit of sense as I myself am still learning all of this so I may not have it 100% accurate either :)
The Gateway campus has an office building where the counselors for the children work and all the paperwork type things take place as well as some meetings etc, there is a school where most of the Gateway residents attend, there is a barn with animals and there are 5 houses on the where residents live. Three of the houses are co-ed, one is for pregnant teens and teen moms, and the other one is an all girls house. Each house has a lead houseparent couple, and alternate houseparent couple (this is what we are), and an assistant houseparent, which is a single woman who works along side the lead and alternate houseparents helping with meals and supervision and all sort of other daily things within the home. The lead houseparents have the most responsibility and are on duty 24 hours a day for all but 9 days out of the month! The nine days they have off is when we, the alternate houseparents come into the house and run the house for those days. Schedules are made a month in advance and the nine days are scheduled out however the lead and alternate couples decide works best. The assistant houseparent also works all but 9 days out the month that she chooses, from after school until 9 or 10pm.
The houses on campus are very large and have a main living area, kitchen, laundry room, loft, wreck room, and office. They also have a boys wing and a girls wing. Attached to this house is a full apartment with 3 bedrooms and bathroom, kitchen and living area that the lead houseparents live in all the time. When they are on duty they are usually out in the main house except to sleep. The door and windows have alarms so the lead houseparents would hear if anything was wrong. The main house also has a smaller alternate apartment attached to it where we stay when we come in to be on duty those nine days out of each month. This apartment has two bedrooms and a bathroom. When we are on duty the lead houseparents go back into their apartment and shut the door and live their normal life like you all do on your days off work! During the school year the lead houseparent or whoever is on duty has "family time" from after the kids go to school until early afternoon or whenever the kids get home from school. Kind of like normal jobs having evenings off, we just get mornings off! During the summer though it is a 24 hours a day job :) (The kids do attend summer school for maybe 2 hours each day in the afternoon so that gives a little free time.)
So as alternates we are on duty 9 days out of each month. We also get 9 days off each month that we do nothing Gateway related. The rest of the days each month are called maintenance days. On these days we are expected to work a normal 8 hour day doing whatever things need done. This could be helping the lead houseparents with the kids during the summer, running appointments with the kids, mowing grass, doing any maintenance on our home or Gateway campus, classes or meetings we attend for Gateway, or material we read or watch as part of training hours we are required to get each year and whatever else we find to do for Gateway. Either Jesse or I are required to work and the other one of us is home with Wren on these days. We have our own normal ranch style home that is provided by Gateway that is off campus in a small town called Grabill. It is about a mile from the Gateway campus. We live here everyday except the 9 days that we are on duty when we live in the alternate apartment on campus!
Hopefully I hit on the basics of how Gateway is set up and what takes place here! If you have questions put them in the comments and I can try to answer them in future posts! I hope this makes sense to you a little bit :)
So now that you know a little about what we do here I will put a few pictures and tell you about the move and what we have been doing these past 3-4 weeks!
We moved on Thursday, April 30th! We started early in the morning and had our parents and some of our sibling come and help load everything into trailers that we were able to borrow from some very generous people! Thanks so much for that! Thankfully I have some great friends who helped me pack up my house the 3 weeks prior to moving and also get those boxes in the trailers the few days before so most of our house was packed already and we mainly just had to get all the big things like dressers, beds, couches, etc packed into the trailers. Loading went really quick and smoothly! We enjoyed some donuts and then were ready to hit the road! Unfortunately we got to about Gilman and one of the the wheels one the trailer had the bearings go out!! We had some handy dandy dads and brothers who got the bearings fixed and after a slight delay were on the way again! It takes about 4 hours to get to Leo from Forrest.
Once there we began unpacking which continued for the next three weeks and is still happening today :) We are seeing the light at the end if the tunnel though and are just about done unpacking and getting things settled! My parents stayed the first night with us and Jesses parents and my two brothers who also drove to Leo with us hauling boxes and trailers helped unpack and then headed home. My parents left Friday evening and my sister and brother in law came that evening and stayed for the weekend. We did lots of maintenance in the house since no one had lived there for past six months (short staffed!) and did painting, unboxing an organizing! It was overwhelming but nice to finally be able to get some things organized after living in chaos for the three weeks prior when we were packing everything up at our old house.
We started work that Monday. The first day was orientation around the campus and how everything is run. Then the following 4 days were classroom training from 8am to 2:30 pm. The training made for some long days between learning so much info that we would need to apply when working with kids, having Wren at a sitter most of the day and then trying to get unpacked and organized including switching everything like insurance, addresses, doctors, banks, license and on and on. Moving to another State isn't exactly fun on the paperwork end :) Gateway is great though about helping with all this stuff and giving recommendations on services.
We have had visitors each weekend since we have been here so we aren't forgetting about home :) The first weekend was my mom and dad and my sister an bro- in law, then Jesses parents and sister and brothers came, the we had some more of both our brothers and few of their friends the third weekend and then this past weekend we had our friends Clint and LeAnne and their kids. We got to meet their new baby Jade which was really exciting!! So obviously it has been a pretty crazy few weeks but we are thankful for visitors but also thankful for days off when we can keep getting things organized and set up.
After the first week of training we spent the next 2 weeks in the Cypress house, this is the name of the house we will be working in, with the lead houseparents learning/shadowing from them! We also did a few more classes. Last Thursday we did our first evening alone with the kids. The lead houseparents went back into their apartment and let us cover the house for one evening just to get an feel for what it would be like when we are on duty for the first time. Speaking of this, we go on-duty for the first time by ourselves TONIGHT!! We have changeover, which is where we have a meeting with the lead houseparents/assistant houseparent about anything that has been happening while they were on duty, at 9pm then we will stay the night in our alternate apartment and cover the house until Saturday evening when we will have changeover again at 9pm! So if you think of it please pray for us as we take this big step and begin working with kids and covering the house duties!! We have gotten to know the kids at Cypress pretty well over the last two weeks so we are excited to get to start being on duty but also nervous to be in charge!
This has definitely just been a snapshot of what all has been going on here the past few weeks but hopefully it'll help you get a better understanding of what we have been up to! Let us know if you have any questions! We really really appreciate everyones love and support and prayers as we are making this transition. I told Jesse the other day that I think the only reason we have been able to make this move and really feel peaceful about it and not be freaking out that we moved to another state is because of all the prayers that have been said on our behalf! So thanks so much!!
Our little helper! Always willing to help pack or more like unpack our
boxes before we moved!
Also loves to help daddy take apart furniture :)
Loading up the trailers on moving day!!
Donut break before hitting the road!
Spending some quality time with grandma!
One minor setback :(
Finally at the new place getting everything unpacked and organized!
Thankful for my mom who helped get the new kitchen set up!
And my other mom (Jesse's mom) who helped watch Wren!
A few before and after pictures of the paint job in the living room/ kitchen!
We went form blue and gray to burnt red and taupe!
Let's not forget about our little helper who we discovered also loves to paint!!
As well as unpack boxes and play with the newspaper :)