Each child enrolled in the SMCYH is welcomed into one of the 10 homes across Missouri, including Barnett in the Lake of the Ozarks area, and lives with a blended family of other SMYCH children and a set of married houseparents that have undergone training to help kids in crisis.

What began as a generous donation of a mobile home and 28 acres of land has become an amazing effort put together by generous and selfless volunteers and staff to support, inspire and shape youths.

Founded on family, faith and a community of support, the Show-Me Christian Youth Home (SMCYH), originated in La Monte, has been a vital resource for families and youths for 50 years and is eagerly planning for many more to come.

SMCYH can be described as an option before state intervention. When parents or guardians simply cannot care for their children on their own, the SMCYH can come in to help care for these children and change their lives for the better.

“We are compelled by Christ to rescue and restore young lives and provide Christ-centered support to vulnerable children," SMCYH spokesman Chris Ruhnke said. "With programs developed to go beyond the limits of traditional foster care, we intend to help children 'age-into' healthy adults. Children are enrolled voluntarily by their parent or legal guardian and find a safe, stable, loving home and family with layers of support from a Christian worldview geared toward their current and future successes.”

Each child enrolled in the SMCYH is welcomed into one of the 10 homes across Missouri, including Barnett in the Lake of the Ozarks area, and lives with a blended family of other SMYCH children and a set of married houseparents that have undergone training to help kids in crisis.

With a household set up on a system of constant love and support, the children learn about family structures and undertake various responsibilities while having fun and receiving security from their families. SMCYH also teaches enrolled children in grades 1-12 using the Accelerated Christian Education program. With a student to teacher ratio of 8:1, children receive equal and quality education while participating in enrichment activities and courses like art, music, 4-H and athletics.

SMCYH also offers programs called Leadership U and Path to Purpose. As a part of Leadership U, participants are responsible for an animal and “have unique on-the-job learning opportunities to become the leader and caregiver to their animal,” according to Ruhnke, all while growing in their faith.

The program sets specific individual goals based on four fundamental principles of service, knowledge, confidence, and wisdom. In Path to Purpose, children learn skills and knowledge that will help them transition into adulthood.

SMCYH teaches the students life skills, provides job coaching and hands-on applications in addition to their formal education and provides them “with the support, encouragement and necessary resources available to assist them,” whether that be with high school graduation, military basic training, or future careers, said Ruhnke.

The SMCYH youth aren’t the only ones who benefit from the home; these youth have put in countless hours to help others. This past April, high school students at the SMCYH Christian School traveled to Chicago during their spring break to serve at the Pacific Garden Mission (PGM), a ministry serving homeless citizens in the downtown Chicago area.

For many students, this was their first mission trip, but for all, they were faced with the question: “Can I make a difference in such a big and broken world?” Throughout the week, the students served by making nearly 600 beds and serving dinner to over 600 of the shelter’s guests.

Students also had the opportunity to work with men and women of PGM’s New Life Program, “a year-long intensive program that teaches life skills, an understanding of the Bible, leadership, and other foundational tools to rebuild their lives,” according to the SMCYH website.

During the trip, the students were able to relate the PGM member’s struggles with their own and realize that through God’s use of their abilities, they truly can make a difference in such a big and broken world. SMCYH says that they hope to provide similar opportunities in the future.

Just because you may not be directly affiliated with SMCYH does not mean that you can’t help out the cause – SMCYH is always looking for volunteers. Though its main campus is located in La Monte, SMCYH has homes in various other Missouri locations and has recently broken ground on another house - called the Reed Home - at their Drysdale Unit in Barnett.

Upon its completion, scheduled for next fall, the Reed Home will expand the Drysdale Unit and begin to achieve the non-profit model set by the main campus. To help achieve and expand upon this model, SMCYH needs ready and dedicated volunteers – the resource backbone of the home.

Because SMCYH is a non-profit and receives absolutely no government funding, it relies on generous volunteers who are willing to give their time, abilities and money; SMCYH simply cannot do all that it does without these volunteers. By volunteering, SMCYH believes that you will be teaching the students “the importance of developing a servant’s heart and a deeper love for Christ,” according to their website.

Individual volunteers and volunteer groups alike are always welcome, and the service will be tailored to fit the individual’s or group’s abilities.

Volunteers of all ages and group sizes are welcome to serve year-round.

What could you do? You’ll complete jobs of all types and skill levels, including but not limited to cleaning, painting, organizing donations, helping assist office staff, construction projects, and landscaping.

What will our accommodations be like? Sleep accommodations will vary depending on group size and length of visit; you could be hosted by an SMCYH family in their home or in the SMCYH gym (see website for packing list). All meals are provided – tell the volunteer coordinators if your group will consist of more than 30 people.

Does it cost to volunteer? The only cost is your travel to and from SMCYH. However, SMCYH figures the cost for one volunteer for one day at $15, so donations of this amount or more are always accepted, though not required to serve.

Visit www.showmehelpingkids.com/volunteer for more info and to register to volunteer.

Contact SMCYH’s volunteer coordinators to see what you could do. Email volunteer@showmekids.org or call (660) 347-5982.