If you’ve ever come across a tiny little girl with springy blonde curls bouncing around outside on campus, she would probably be the daughter of Resident Director Sarah Hammond, who recently introduced herself and her family to Remschel Hall. She has since had her second child, a 7-month-old boy named Eli.
Although many people would be afraid to raise small children on a college campus, Hammond was up for the challenge. Hammond moved into Remschel Hall with her then 10-month-old daughter without the slightest hesitation.
“I wasn’t nervous. I was excited about it because I felt like it would be a good place to raise my kids, and I felt like they would be around a lot of different people,” she said.
Hammond had no worries about her daughter. She was certain she would be able to adapt to the new environment quickly.
“Knowing my daughter, I knew she had the personality that would flourish with a lot of people around. I thought it would be great for my family,” she said.
The women of Remschel Hall have blossomed into a tight-knit group because of the warm surroundings. Hammond is thrilled the students have been able to bond with her children so quickly.
“They love my kids, and obviously my kids love them. There’s something about girls and babies. Girls love babies, and Emeline is so cute. How can you not love her? It’s nice to have a family in the dorm. It’s nice for the girls. Having little kids around kind of makes it feel a little more like home,” she said.
Hammond’s commitment to her job and the love she shows for her family have certainly made a lasting impression on the residents of Remschel.
Junior Christian ministries major and Remschel resident Kaitlin Burks thinks the children make a huge difference in the dorm room experience.
“It’s been wonderful to watch the residents brighten up and play with Emmie, or ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over the baby. I have had girls who just gush over them and heard them talk about how they help them get over being homesick for their own little siblings. I can’t imagine living here without Sarah and her family,” she said.
Resident director Wendi Fitzwater has been living in McLane for 12½ years with her family. She has three children. Jacob is a 16-year-old junior at Belton High School who plays the tenors for Belton Drumline. Drew is 13 and both boys are avid swimmers and are active in their church youth groups.
After dealing with medical complications during and after her second pregnancy, she and her husband adopted a baby girl named Bethany who is now a fun-spirited 9-year-old.
Fitzwater said, “Bethany is in 4th grade and loves all things girly. She spends a lot of time drawing, writing stories and singing. She is taking gymnastics, dance lessons and recently started piano, hoping to eventually play the harp.”
Having lived in a campus dormitory for so many years, the Fitzwaters and the residents in Mc
Lane Hall have grown accustomed to seeing each other on a daily basis. The Fitzwater boys were just 4 and 1 when they first moved into McLane, and Bethany has no problem showing her neighborly side to the residents.
“Bethany tends to interact more now because her schedule has her in the building more during the day. She teases the guys and holds her own,” Fitzwater said.
Resident director of Gettys Hall Phillip Jones and his wife Jenny have been married for almost 14 years. The Jones family is working toward an international adoption in China and is currently in the application process.
The Joneses have endured their share of ups and downs throughout the adoption process, but with a strong support system behind them, Phillip and Jenny keep moving forward.
“You have to pursue what you feel deep in your heart that God is calling you to do. You have to set aside all the boundaries that seem to be there, and know that God is bigger than that, and I think that’s where we’re at,” Jenny said.
The couple has collaborated with an organization called Show Hope and Chinese Children Adoption International, which is an organization located in Colorado. Depending on the situation, the adoption process can take up to 18 months. Unsure if they were making the right decision to bring a child into such a different environment, the couple relies on the ongoing support from close friends and family.
“We’ve had some encouragement from students in our life group last year. They were really close to our hearts. They were really encouraging, and were our first row of cheerleaders,” Phillip said. “In a lot of ways, you end up with a load of big brothers and big sisters. I think that’s the cool thing about being on a campus like UMHB.”
Phillip and Jenny Jones have created a Facebook page (Bringing Home Jonesy), along with a blog (http://www.bringinghomejonesy.blogspot.com/) to share their journey of adoption with others.
They have also developed a fundraising website (http://www.adoptionbug.com/bringinghomejonesy/) for those who would like to help support them financially.
The Joneses are eager to share their journey of adoption with the students on campus.
“We’re excited about (having) our story of adoption unfolding before students. There’s nothing that we want to hide about it. To see that story unfold we think it’s a great community for that to happen in,” Jenny said.
Even though raising a family in such small quarters proves to be difficult at times, Fitzwater enjoys sharing her family with the students.
“Some come from broken homes and this may be their first exposure to see a Christian family up close. Kids remind the college students of home,” she said.
Whether a couple is starting their journey toward parenthood like the Joneses, or already in the process of bringing up a family like the Hammonds and Fitzwaters, UMHB is the perfect place to experience the joys of having a home away from home.
Fitzwater said, “Some (students) are missing siblings, cousins or family friends they left at home. Our campus kids give them a little taste of what they are missing.”