BRIDGETON – Bob Kenison, president of Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH), is always a presence at trustees’ meetings, but at the Oct. 9 meeting at MBCH’s main campus, he was more than just a presence; He was a focus.
Specifically, his 35-year tenure. The 80-year-old Kenison has been at the Children’s Home since 1977 when he came on board as interim administrator. Thirty-five years later, he is still as dedicated to serving Missouri’s hurting children as day one.
“There’s not as many ‘orphans’ in the world today,” he told trustees. “Things have changed a lot.”
Trustees presented Kenison with a resolution from the Missouri Senate commemorating his service, as well as honored the 35-year tenures of executive vice president Russell Martin and vice president for public relations, Bobby Springate, with diamond pins.
Martin joined the MBCH staff in June of 1977 as business manager. Springate was elected as a member of the MBCH Board of Trustees in October of 1978 and Kenison was hired as a development officer in December of 1977. Together they have provided 105 years of service to the Children’s Home.
Under their leadership, MBCH has grown significantly. The statistical report of MBCH in 1977 lists a total of 98 children served that year – 43 in residential care, 8 in group homes and 47 in foster/adoptive homes. The agency’s budget topped $1 million for the first time that year.
In 2011 (the last full year prior to the 35-year anniversaries), a total of 306 children, youth and families were served through residential programs and 1,767 children, youth and families were served through community-based programs. This includes 117 children in therapeutic family foster care and 396 youth in family foster care. Total revenue exceeded $13.5 million.
“We could brag about these three guys all day,” said G. Dale Norfolk, a former MBCH staffer who led the devotion for the Oct. 9 meeting. “But the most important thing about them is they love the Lord and want to do what He wants them to do. The Lord said ‘I have kids that are unwanted. I have children that are neglected. I have boys and girls that are abused. I have young women that are facing an untimely pregnancy. Who will help them? Bob Kenison, Russell Martin and Bobby Springate all said ‘Here am I, send me.’’ They still have that excitement and enthusiasm to help kids.”
In other board action, trustees:
• Approved the 2013 budget for MBCH, totaling $3.29 million, one percent lower than last year’s 3.33 million.
• Heard progress about MBCH’s partnership with International Crisis Aid, a St. Louis-based group focused on providing care to women and girls rescued from human trafficking.
• Received a report about Light House, a crisis pregnancy center in Kansas City MBCH recently took over.
• Received a statistical report for MBCH Children and Family Ministries (CFM). To date in 2012, they have fielded 1,035 requests for service, worked with 205 children in therapeutic group homes and counseled 147 expectant mothers. MBCH CFM currently maintains 276 foster/adoptive homes, and 68 relative/kinship homes. Twenty-one children have accepted Christ as savior.