By Carol Mowdy Bond
Kathy and Eugene Boeckman own House of Healing, Inc., in El Reno. Located on 25 acres, Kathy Boeckman created the ministry in 2006 for teenage girls who have experienced a difficult past, and for those girls who are facing challenging circumstances. The nonprofit provides care, mentoring, and love so the girls can learn to make better decisions in life.
Kathy Boeckman said, “We all carry wounds. And at House of Healing, we hold the hands of these teenage girls. We accept any teenage girl who wants to come. I don’t turn anyone away. If we’re not the right place for the girl, we try to find the resources they need. And we work with their parents too, to help with communication between them and their teens.. Because of COVID, we’re not operating in groups right now. But instead, we’re operating one on one.”
Teen girls at House of Healing come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are home-educated girls from good homes who need some space, and want to be around horses. But others are facing serious challenges in their lives.
Although the numbers aren’t the same this year due to COVID-19, an average of 80 to 100 girls usually go through the various House of Healing programs in any given year. And they usually have 15 to 20 girls on a weekly basis.
Kathy said, “We have a partnership with a local school where they bring kids from their alternative program, and we also have a partnership with a treatment center where they bring their girls to our program. Those partnerships are why our numbers are so high.”
Using a fishing pond, nine horses, and adult mentors, the staff and volunteers work with girls using three programs. The Tools for Change Program involves parents and girls together, learning and building communication skills with each other. The goals include more communication, and trying to lessen volatile situations at home. Sometimes the families create construction projects together. Volunteers, who know woodworking, lead the families through the projects together. They might make a picture frame. Then they place a picture of their family in the frame, to remind them of the fun they had together completing the project.
“I want to fight for other families. To say you don’t have to keep going this way. It’s okay to say we’re broken and we need help,” Kathy Boeckman said.
The Authentic Goal Mentoring Program is another House of Healing program. “We match each girl with an adult woman who is Biblically strong and Christ centered,” Kathy said. “The woman mentors the girl for a year. But normally the relationship goes past a year. The mentor is a safe person for the girl. She’s someone the girl can call and meet for a Coke. Or the girl can meet the mentor here and come be with our horses. And the parents can also call the mentor.”
The third program is the Equine Experience Program. “We are certified under the Spur Model, which is a program from the Tulsa Boys Home,” said Kathy. “Some of this program involves equine riding skills. Some of the program is on the ground without the horse.” Games are included, which help families learn to face an obstacle and get past it. “It’s all about communication,” Kathy said.
The Boeckmans hope to expand in 2021 by offering a residential aspect to what they do.
Born and raised in El Reno, Kathy endured serious issues in her childhood and teen years. As a result, she kept spiraling down. “It’s been a long process of healing the brokenness of my life,” Kathy said. “Christ filled a lot of my brokenness. God healed me from a broken past.” She went on to earn a degree in criminal justice from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva. Then she worked in law enforcement, in the sheriff’s office in Garfield County, where she saw the same families cycling in and out of the sheriff’s department all the time.
“House of Healing came about because I designed a program called ‘Learn, Serve, and Lead,’ for the principal at an alternative school, Western Heights Academy,” Kathy said. “I taught the program there for several years.”
One thing led to another, and Kathy and Eugene purchased the 25 acres. “So, House of Healing grew from the ‘Learn, Serve, and Lead’ program,” said Kathy.”I wanted to help kids make better decisions than I did. I share my testimony with the kids. I’m somebody who understands the pain of being a teen and in a hard spot.”
House of Healing is always debt free. Kathy and Eugene do all the maintenance from fence building, to mowing and weed eating. “We want all funding to go to the program,” Kathy said. And although Eugene works full time in the oil fields, Kathy said he also works full time at House of Healing.
They have sponsors who help fund their program, but they need more. The ministry also has an annual gala, where most of their funding comes from. But they canceled this year’s gala due to COVID-19.
As well, the ministry hosts an annual Easter marathon. Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany sponsors the Family Fun Day aspect of this event, which includes an Easter egg hunt, and inflatables.
Volunteers help with teaching the girls. And the Boeckmans need volunteers, who know horses really well, to help with the horses including grooming, and mucking the stalls. Volunteers also help with fundraising events.
Their web site http://www.house-of-healing.org offers a lot of helpful information, and includes a volunteer page where people may apply to help. There is also a donate page, that will soon include a PayPal link.
And the ministry is always looking for more people to serve on their board of directors.
Families interested in the program for their teen girls may call (405) 434-3723. Or, there’s a place on the web site to send an email and connect with Kathy.