Simple Blessings

The Official Blog of Coyote Hill

And He took them in His arms and blessed them... Mark 10:16


Vacation to N’awlins (AKA: New Orleans)

The Zimmer Home recently traveled to Grand Isle, Lousiana, near New Orleans, for a final summer outing before school starts. Home Parents Al and Rachel Howell share about the highlights of the trip:

We had a blast!!!  All ten of us (seven kids, summer missionary Paige Brokaw, and Al & Rachel) stayed at a church on Grand Isle and were able to go to the beach four out of the five days that we were there.  The kids were amazed as we were getting into the water and saw dolphins swimming just past the wave breaks!  At one point, they all got within ten feet of one.  Our 8-year-old saw the dolphins and was convinced they were sharks.  He refused to get into the ocean the entire first morning we were there.  The kids found out pretty quickly that the Gulf was home to thousands of hermit crabs. They caught many of them each day and made hermit crab zoos, then we’d turn them loose.  They built sand castles and buried each other in the sand.  They practiced synchronized swimming and played something called the Color Game.  There was a gym at the church where we stayed, so the kids had a blast playing there in the evenings.  We played kickball and “Steal the Bacon” as a family.   Read the rest of this entry »


Inside Out – Helping Our Children with Emotions

It’s not our job to promote movies, but when one comes along that so creatively depicts a child’s emotions and how the child’s memories are impacted by those emotions, then it’s hard for us not to notice.

Disney/Pixar’s new Inside Out movie does a fantastic job of taking us inside the mind of an eleven year old girl named Riley. Riley is a happy child, living a normal, care-free life until her family makes a drastic, life-changing move.

The emotions that she feels during all of the pressures, stress and unknowns of this unsettling time in life are the theme of the movie. Rarely does a movie address childhood emotions in such a way. Sure – the occasional movie will feature a traumatic event in a child’s life, yet it often concludes with “just get past it and then it will be ‘happily ever after.’”

Helping a child deal with emotions and memories is a large part of our ministry at Coyote Hill.

Inside Out takes a different approach. That “happily ever after” is what Joy, the girl’s primary emotion, assumes should be Riley’s destiny each and every day of her life. Joy does her best every day to not allow sadness, anger, disgust or fear have any control of Riley’s emotions. Yet in the end, we all learn that life’s memories can be made richer and more fulfilling if we accept the sadness that will inevitably be a part of life and learn how the loving support of family and friends during those sad moments is truly what makes life memorable and rich. Learning to cope, in spite of the inevitable sad and fearful moments in life, and coming out the better for it. Read the rest of this entry »


Dad with a Mission

We have such servant-minded Home Parent Dads at Coyote Hill. One of those recently did an incredible thing for two young ladies in his home – he took them to Jamaica on a mission trip. Home Parent Dad in The Zimmer Home, Al Howell, tells us about their life-changing week:

“Mindy* and Katie* had never flown before, so they were both nervous. Katie was literally turning blue as we waited at the airport! I laughingly asked her, ‘Do you realize you are changing colors?’ She did great though, and now she’s ready to fly in a bi-plane and do barrel rolls and all that stuff…it’s no big deal to her anymore.

Besides bringing our own clothes and stuff for the week, each team member was asked to bring two checked bags – holding 50 lbs. of clothing donations. Our team LITERALLY took a ton of stuff – 2,000 lbs. of clothes and supplies. Those were then taken to Won by One’s thrift store – which employs a few of the local people and sells the items very cheaply in order to not make the locals dependent upon “hand outs” while also giving them the dignity and responsibility of purchasing clothing for their families. Read the rest of this entry »


ReMoved Films – Our Response

“My past, my story is not my fault. And it doesn’t have to define my future.”

Last month our staff got together to watch ReMoved part 1 and 2. In an effort to celebrate Foster Care Month and brainstorm ideas of how to shine more light into our system, we discussed our thoughts and reactions to the powerful short films.

“It would be impossible to fully understand the life and emotions of a child going through the foster care system, but this short narrative film portrays that saga in a poetic light, with brushes of fear, anger, sadness, and a tiny bit of hope.” -Santa Barbara Independent review

In each film there is a message of hope. There is hope in telling a child their identity is not found in their past. We believe this is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child. If you can have hope in their future; if you can believe that no child or situation is hopeless, you can change lives. At Coyote Hill this hope is found in Christ. We know our limitations as Home Parents, Therapists, Case Managers, and Support Staff.

But we have faith in a limitless God. Every child in foster care, or in crisis, longs for permanency and stability. We can offer stable homes, with loving Home Parents, but we can’t snap our fingers and give kids permanency with biological or an adoptive family. What we can offer is a picture of Jesus. A man who was willing to give his life for us so that we could have eteranl, permanent life with him. We can show them how love originated. We can show our kids that permanent, unconditional love is possible.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. We love because he first loved us. – 1 John 4: 9, 19

We encourage you to share these films with friends and family. As more and more families come to see the depth of the needs of children in foster care, the more needs will be met. We hope you will join us in the fight to give children hope.

ReMoved from HESCHLE on Vimeo.

ReMoved follows the emotional story through the eyes of a young girl taken from her home and placed into foster care.

Remember My Story – ReMoved Part 2 from HESCHLE on Vimeo.

Stuck in the abyss of the foster care system, Zoe’s life finally begins to move forward until unexpectedly what she holds dearest is taken away from her yet again and she is left to pick up the pieces of her tender heart.



A Tale of Adventure and No Media Mondays

*name changed for sake of confidentiality

“This is a tale of adventure, mystery, and despair,” begins Home Parent Dad, Al Howell.

Perhaps we should back up before finishing this adventure and explain that the following “tale” took place because of No Media Monday in The Zimmer Home. Our Harrisburg schools are not in session on Mondays. Thus, a typical Monday used to look like kids doing chores, breakfast, homework, lunch…and then time with electronics. It wasn’t long before the Howells decided it was time to do away with those on Mondays. Read the rest of this entry »


You’ve Got a Friend in Me

*name changed for sake of confidentiality

God made children amazing, in so many ways. One of those ways involves their ability to adapt and cope, in spite of difficult circumstances.

One of our young boys latched onto a rather unique, but effective and fun way of coping and processing. After arriving at Coyote Hill, he collected a variety of stuffed bears and monkeys. He gave them all names – some of them named after family members, others named after new friends he made at The Hill. Read the rest of this entry »


A Transformed Life

A young lady in The Zimmer Home was baptized recently at her church by her Home Parents, Al and Rachel Howell. Her life is being dramatically changed by Christ’s love, and the love, acceptance and direction of her Coyote Hill family. Home Parent Rachel Howell explains:

*name changed for sake of confidentiality

“Karissa* is the reason we believe in Coyote Hill.  We work with and love on all sorts of kids, and many times it’s difficult to see fruit.  With Karissa, the fruit is becoming very evident.  She has chosen to take control of her life (or rather, give control to God) instead of letting anger take control of her.  Read the rest of this entry »


Loving and Letting Go

Letting go is never easy.

Each year, Coyote Hill serves close to 50 children. Our homes provide long term stability for children and sibling groups until children can find permanent placements, either through reunification with their biological parents or adoption.

Reunification is the ideal goal if it is possible. Sometimes it might take years, but it is always worth it. This past Christmas, we had two sisters who were able to return home after being in foster care with us since 2011. Read the rest of this entry »


Prepared for the Future

Jahrona in the spring of 2012, before he graduated high school.

Jahrona Banks was a young man who spent several years at Coyote Hill – even though there were times when he didn’t want to be here. Yet now, looking back, he realizes that those years were shaping and preparing him to succeed as an adult. Read the rest of this entry »


The Way Back Home

*name changed for sake of confidentiality

At Coyote Hill, we are blessed with AMAZING moms that love and nurture the children in their homes as a whole and individually. With many varied schedules and lots of kids, it makes one-on-one time with the children very difficult. However, the Home Parents do make time for those moments, and in honor of Mother’s Day, we’d like to share a bit about one such moment with a mom and one of her “tweenagers.”

Everyone knows that transitioning from being a child to a teenager can be a very trying time in the life of a child. Add in the other challenges that our children deal with, and it can become overwhelming. Read the rest of this entry »