A Day in the Life of a Goshen Valley House Parent

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a house parent? It’s something a lot of people who support Goshen Valley are curious about, but often times, they don’t want to offend anyone by asking…

While culture and society may paint a picture that a day in the life of a foster parent includes a life solely devoted to cooking and cleaning, the reality is completely different. Just like traditional parenting, being a house parent can be the most challenging job in the world, but it is also the most rewarding. Our house parents get to experience the thrill of seeing young men grow and develop into young adults ready to embark on their own.

A Day in the Life of a Goshen Valley House Parent

Andy & Susan Forde have served as house parents for just over 3 years. The way they love our young men and help guide them through such a crucial stage in their life is incredibly inspirational. Today, Andy shares what a typical “day in the life” of a house parent at Goshen Valley is like:

“If you’ve ever considered going into mission’s work of some sort, you owe it to yourself to consider House-parenting. Who knew? You get a chance to work with some pretty great kids, change lives forever, build relationships that will last many, many years and go to bed at night knowing you’ve made a difference. That’s what Susan and I do on a daily basis….

Not that it’s all a bed of roses but like life itself, it is what you make of it. There are days on end that you’re faced with disappointment after disappointment. Just when you’re about to make a break-through, some kid will do something that makes you want to throw in the towel and give up. Then when you sit down to discuss the situation with the child, he or she tells you a story, a story from their past. A story that you never dreamed any child should have to tell. It’s those times that you realize why it is that you do what you do.

So many times it’s not what you say that counts. It’s just that you care enough to listen. We’re called to carry one another’s burdens. It’s what we do, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

One of the things we always say around the Ranch is that Goshen Valley is only as strong as the community that surrounds it… But that statement is especially true of the incredible men and women who have devoted their lives to being house parents. These couples stand on the front lines of the fight to help our young men change their stories from a life of burden to a life of blessing. They work long and hard, navigating a path that is often filled with obstacles that would stop a less determined person. It is the nature of their jobs and the character that marks their personalities.


Thank you to all the incredible house parents who serve our young men so well at Goshen Valley:

  • Chuck & Cindy Russell

  • Andy & Susan Forde

  • Chad & Morgan Kirk

  • Don & Karen Baines

  • Joshua & Julie Voyles


And our respite house parents:

  • Edd & Nancy Frizzell

  • Merrill & Elaine Morris

  • Bill & Olga Lesko

Principal Debra Murdock Receives Community Spirit Award

At its Annual Meeting held on March 22, Goshen Valley announced Cherokee High School Principal Debra Murdock as the recipient of the inaugural Goshen Valley Community Service Award. The award was established to honor individuals who have given unreservedly of themselves, their time, and their talents to support the youth of Goshen Valley.

“Mrs. Murdock has taken the time to get to know Goshen Valley, catching the vision and then taking the message to the community,” said Goshen Valley executive director, John Blend. “Debra has brought groups of students to the Ranch as part of her leadership initiative and she advocates for Goshen Valley in the Cherokee county school system and the community.”

The Georgia Association of Secondary Schools recently named Murdock, Georgia’s High School Principal of the Year. As principal of Cherokee High School, Debra has led the school with care and compassion while fostering continuous improvement, focused on personalization, collaboration, and a strong effort in instruction.

“Debra is constantly sharing the message that there is a place for Georgia’s children that is making a difference,” adds Bend. “That place is Goshen Valley.”



Will’s story: “It wasn’t just another group home”

Goshen_FeaturedBlogImage_5_1Every young man that comes to Goshen arrives with more “baggage” than just the luggage that carries their clothes and belongings. For most, the burdens they carry stem from biological relationships. Still for some who have spent much of their lives in foster care, the journey to find stability can be an equal struggle.

It’s always interesting for us to watch how a young man reacts when he arrives at Goshen for the first time. Most arrive thinking it’s “just another group home…” One of the biggest blessings we experience is watching how their mentality changes when they realize that Goshen is more than just a group home… it’s a family where they can belong.

Will is just one of our young men who experienced the difference that our house parents make. Today, he wanted to share his story from instability to Goshen, from neglect to love, from burden to blessing…

Will’s Story:

I was born into a very dysfunctional family. There was a lot of drug abuse and violence. Because of this, I was in and out of DFCS all my life. In 2007, my mother’s parental rights were terminated and I was officially “state property.” I found myself at Goshen about 9 months ago. I was pretty unhappy about coming here. I thought it was just going to be another group home. I soon learned that I was wrong.

I realized that Goshen Valley was set up to be a family environment. I didn’t have to live with “staff people” who came and went. I am able to live with a set of house parents. This gave me a whole new perspective on Goshen.

Since I have been at Goshen, I have been involved in football, wrestling, and now track. I am also very involved at Cowboy Church. Goshen has really supported me in sports and horse riding. Goshen is a good place for me. They support me in my athletics and give me religious support.

I am almost finished in my junior year of high school. I had a meeting recently and learned that I am going to be able to go to college and get financial aid. Goshen has been a great place and they have supported me since I’ve been here, and are helping me to have a good future.

Want to read more stories like Will’s? Goshen_FeaturedBlogImage_5_2

Will’s story is just one example of the life change we see happening in a short amount of time once our young men realize that they are loved and their life has a purpose.

Want to read more testimonies from young men who arrived at Goshen Valley uncertain about their future that grew and developed to do incredible things? Here are a few of our favorite burden to blessing stories.