by Rob Morris
Apr 05, 2012
Jerry Rappé/Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children
It was a life-changing moment for Jerry Rappé. He and his wife had participated in a family reunion at the Oklahoma Baptist Boys Ranch Town. Rappé, a former youth minister, was moved by the mission of the organization to the point where he felt called to participate. However, he didn’t want to pursue anything unless his wife felt the same way. So he prayed that if God was calling him to work with the group, his wife would share his vision.
Rappe´ remembers what happened vividly.
“We didn’t say a whole lot to each other at the time,” Rappé said. “Then, this one day we were sitting in our bedroom looking at each other and both of us said at the same time, ‘What do you think about that Boys Ranch thing?’”
From that point on, the couple has been involved, first as house parents for a small group of children who lived under their care. Today Rappé continues to live out his lifelong passion for helping children in difficult life circumstances as the development representative for the OBHC.
MM: What exactly does the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children do?
Rappé: Our goal is to help children become capable, caring, Christian adults. We do that by taking care of children who, for one reason or another, just can’t be at home. We do that by offering family-style living in a cottage with house parents who help make that place a safe and comfortable place for them to live. Right now we have numerous locations throughout the state—the Oklahoma City campus here on South Western; another campus in Owasso; the Boys Ranch Town up in Edmond; and the Baptist Home for Girls in Madill.
MM: What is the environment like for them, living there?
Rappé: We take children from age two through eighteen who live in these family-style cottages where they are cared for by the house parents. Those children go to local public schools and are involved in various Baptist churches in other activities. Some are there for a short time, but they can stay until they are 18 years old. Actually they can choose to continue with the program after they’re 18. We have some transitional cottages that, if the kids are progressing and going to college and still need help, they can move into a small, single bedroom with a kitchenette where they can stay until they finish college if they like.
MM: You have a relatively new effort called “Children’s Hope Program.” How does that program work?
Rappé: It’s a wonderful program that we’ve had some great results with. Basically in some of our cottages, we have room for four families. For example, single mothers in crisis who need a place to live. They have to meet certain criteria to get into and remain in the program. Basically we’re just giving them a place where they and their children can have a roof over the heads and some guidance. We started with one cottage five years ago. We now have four and we’re getting ready to add a fifth.
MM: Tell us about your big event coming up in June. It’s something that’s becoming quite a tradition for your organization.
Rappé: This year’s Miles 4 Smiles Bike Ride will be held on Saturday, April 16th at 7 a.m. It’s the 12th year we’ve done a bike ride. It started out as just an opportunity for folks to get a look at our campus and see what we do here, but over the years we’ve realized that it’s a much bigger opportunity for folks who just like to ride. So this last year, we’ve expanded it into a fundraising event. It’s not huge yet, but God willing, it will be someday.
Editor’s Note: The Miles 4 Smiles Bike Ride will feature 10.5-, 27-, 44- and 56-mile courses. You can register for the event at www.miles4smilesokc.com. For more information you can call 405-691-7781, email email@example.com or just check out the Miles 4 Smiles ad elsewhere in this issue of the Moore Monthly.