Two years ago, Christ Haven opened its doors to teenage mothers and their babies, the logical evolution for the Keller institution that houses at-risk or orphaned children.
And 2013 was also the year that Hanover Properties purchased nearly 100 acres from Christ Haven to build Stedman Farms, named in honor of the family that founded the nonprofit in 1954.
Those two decisions intersected as Hanover and several of the builders of Stedman Farms have offered to donate their materials and labor to build a new home on Christ Haven’s property.
The 2,400-square-foot home valued at $300,000 will be for Derek Kester, director of Children’s Services for Christ Haven. He’s required by law to live on-site 24 hours a day. The home is expected to be finished by the spring.
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Once he and his family move into the new home, Kester’s current home will be renovated into a new space for teen moms and infants.
"It will enable us to do a better job providing services for our teen moms and their children," said Dwight Robarts, executive director for Christ Haven. "That’s a new program for us. We’re growing the program and we’re growing our capacity."
Christ Haven currently houses more than 40 children ranging in age from two months to their early 20s in six cottages, each with its own married couple to serve as house parents. There’s also a community enrichment center, a gymnasium and a chapel on-site.
"It takes a person who views this as a mission to which they are completely and fully dedicated," Robarts said. "They are basically becoming parents for other people’s children. People who come from very different backgrounds who may have suffered a lot of trauma."
Over the years, Christ Haven has helped more than 5,000 children. Homer and Lilian Stedman originally bought 210 acres in Keller in 1956 and moved the facility from Fort Worth in 1958. Over the years, the majority of the acreage got sold to home builders. Christ Haven currently has about 58 acres.
Home builders contributing to the new Christ Haven house include First Texas Homes, Rendition Homes, Bloomfield Homes and Gehan Homes.
Dick LeBlanc, president of Hanover Property company, said they learned about Christ Haven’s mission when they bought the property and realized what their needs were. The home builders struggled during the recession but are prospering in the current housing boom, LeBlanc said.
"They wanted to give back to the overall community," he said. "I’m so proud of them that they want to contribute and give back in that way. (Christ Haven’s) nurturing these young people back to social and emotional health that we seek for ourselves. It’s not easy work. I would characterize that they are the hand and feet of God."