REETOWN — A piano silently awaits a youngster’s spirited, keyboard touch. Orchids adorning the kitchen countertop add their soft, beautifying touch, waiting to be sniffed. A sewing machine resting at the kitchen’s edge seems poised for creativity.
Such is the scene in southeastern Brown County inside one of the three 5,000-square-foot homes for New Song Mission, the Christian ministry for abused and neglected children. The readiness for occupants is as good a sign as any that the outreach, one supported by as many as 20 Columbus area churches besides other Columbus volunteers, is nearing completion of its original, first-phase $2.1 million construction effort — funded completely by private donations.
About $48,000 still is needed to finish plumbing, electrical and other work at the third house.
“I already can see that this will be a home full of fun, energy and a lot of love,” said Columbus’ Bob Schloss, the nonprofit New Song’s cofounder and executive director, sitting at the kitchen table of one of the structures near a sizable playground.
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Outside the structure, Schloss can already envision the pine trees surrounding the structure decorated with Christmas lights — next Christmas because houseparents and children probably won’t arrive until spring. The ministry first hired one set of houseparents two years ago, but they stayed only briefly.
Currently, hiring at least two sets of trained houseparents is the next step to New Song’s hands-on work with children in Grades K through 6 — children expected to stay at the homes probably until they complete high school or enter trade school, college or a career.
New Song will receive children whose parents are unable to care for them due to the parents’ death, abandonment, incarceration, drug or alcohol addictions, psychological problems or other debilitative issues.
“The Lord’s timing always is best,” Schloss said of the youngsters’ arrival from social service referrals from a variety of Indiana locations. “We’re learning all the time. And we trust that when the time is right to fully operate and to thrive, God will provide.”
Ideally, Schloss mentioned that the best houseparent candidates are those with children already in school or older. Fully licensed teacher Kyla Ramirez will instruct at least some of the children in the homes’ downstairs classroom space on the 100-acre campus, now with a completed park, a stocked, two-acre pond and other amenities.
New Song leaders are consider hiring a second teacher so children possibly can be split into two groups: K through 6 and older students.
“I’ll have the freedom to teach in a lot of fun ways that also will give me time for a lot of individual attention,” said Ramirez, New Song’s coordinating lead teacher.
The piano inside the door of one of the homes will be part of the inspiration offered youngsters, Schloss said.
“We feel like music is always a big part of education,” he said.
The Rev. Mike Malinsky, St. Peter’s Lutheran missions pastor in Columbus, mentioned that his church has supported New Song both with volunteer crews for a range of tasks and also through special financial collections over the past few years.
“Anybody who has driven out to New Song can plainly see what a beautiful place it is,” Malinsky said. “It will be an incredible place for young people needing a stable, Christian home environment. For churches, it’s a beautiful missions opportunity.”
He said those at St. Peter’s “will rejoice to see the fulfillment of New Song’s vision” by next year. Schloss feels the same way.
“One of the most significant things to me is that you can see the faithfulness of a loving God through all this (process),” Schloss said. “That’s really the thing that’s overriding to me.”
Where: Keith Donaldson Road in southeastern Brown County.
Why: To bring healing and hope to children abandoned, abused and neglected.
Who: Will minister primarily to children in grades K-6, plus some older ones. Referrals will come from the social service system throughout Indiana.
Two current goals: To finish $48,000 of work on the third family home on the property and to hire at least two sets of houseparents.
Campus: 100 wooded acres that includes a park and a two-acre, fully stocked fishing pond.
Information: 812-372-1004 or newsongmission.org.
New Song Mission needs more people willing to be monthly donors to support the three homes that will support children sent there until they finish high school and enter a trade school, college, or a career.
The ministry needs about 146 more people averaging about $60 per month in giving to cover monthly expenses such as utilities, groceries and such.
To give: newsongmission.org.