The husband and wife duo that helped to round out the support services and grow the Mountain States Children’s Home are planning to retire next month.
Randy Schow, executive director, and Janice Schow, director of education, have a combined 52 years in serving the nonprofit.
“A lot of things have changed over the years,” Randy Schow said. “(It’s) more than providing food, shelter and clothing. It’s providing emotional support, helping them work through academic support, spiritual support and physical.”
Randy Schow began working for the children’s home as a counselor in 1992 and became the executive director the following year. Janice Schow started the school on the nonprofit’s campus in January 1998.
Since then, they’ve seen the nonprofit grow its space and be able to accommodate more children. They’ve also helped to oversee the addition of support services such as counseling as well as a Transitional Living Program to help teens have the resources for self sufficiency after they graduate high school.
Now, as they prepare to retire in early June, Randy and Janice Schow reflected on the teamwork that led to those positive changes.
“Our (Longmont) community has been so generous and compassionate,” Janice Schow said.
The couple said local churches, individuals and businesses have rallied around the nonprofit to provide donations and in-kind services. The Mountain States Children’s Home gets 80% of its support from individuals. The rest comes from local church support as well as funds raised through the Mountain States Children’s Home Thrift Store that is located at 818 Coffman St. in Longmont.
Randy Schow said the nonprofit’s model is the only one of its kind in the state. Children staying there have typically faced abuse, neglect and abandonment or their families may be lacking in financial and emotional support.
The campus includes five cottages, with a sixth house in the works. Once that additional home is complete, the children’s home will be able to house up to 30 kids on its 155 acres at 14780 N. 107th St. Each cottage houses six children, who are overseen by a set of house parents. Here, children can also have access to counseling, group counseling and work to be reunited with their family, with resources like family counseling.
“We want to mend the relationship,” he said. “Kids need their parents.”
The on-campus school has helped children who have fallen behind in school, increasing their academic achievement by an average of 3.7 grade levels in a year, Randy Schow said. Janice Schow added that for those who stay with the nonprofit through their high school graduation, 100% have gone on to graduate on time with their peers.
Janice Schow said teachers work to help students fill in academic gaps, while teaching them life skills about dedicating time to school work outside class.
“We’re very structured and have high expectations,” she said, “but, there’s a lot of love and care and patience in that process, too.”
A child’s success in the school also comes from the work of others at Mountain States Children’s Home. This includes the house parents and therapists who are there to support them.
“I think everyone is here for the right reasons,” she said.
Randy Schow said when he first began working for the home, the nonprofit was struggling financially. He said he helped oversee programs to bring in additional donations, while working to make the work of the nonprofit better known to the Longmont community. And while the children’s home could always use donations, today it is stable financially, he said.
Darla Geiger, office manager, has worked for the children’s home for 30 years. She said she will miss the close relationship she has developed with the Schows.
“They have become family,” Geiger wrote in an email. “(They’re) always so supportive and encouraging! But also I will miss the passion and zeal that they have for the Children’s Home. Randy is always reminding us that this is not just a job but a mission work. Randy and Janice have always exemplified this in their dedication to the children at (Mountain States Children’s Home).”
Another husband and wife duo is poised to continue leadership of the children’s home. Nick Mears, the nonprofit’s assistant director will take over the executive director role. Abby Mears, a teacher at Mountain States Children’s Home, who has also worked for the nonprofit for 10 years, is set to be the new director of education.
Nick Mears has worked at the children’s home for the past 10 years. Mears said he will miss Randy Schow’s “steadfast loyalty and leadership” and Janice Schow’s “unwavering advocacy for students and their academic development.”
“I am looking forward to continuing the incredible culture that Randy has established within the organization and carrying out the vision that he and the board have set to best serve wounded children and their families,” he wrote in an email.
Looking back on the years, Randy Schow said, he’s left with a feeling of gratitude and sense of the future ahead. I see the home continuing to grow to meet the needs of the kids,” he said.