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A Houseparents’ Love at Milton Hershey School

By Lisa Scullin, MHS Vice President of Communications

For any parent, the first 18 years of your child’s life are filled with milestones and challenges—something I had to learn quickly when I became a parent. Being a parent has by far been my favorite journey in life, but it didn’t come without worry and an intense feeling of responsibility. What struck me when I came to work at Milton Hershey School was the love that houseparents and parents/sponsors have for our students. They aren’t afraid of parenting—they embrace it. Through loving their students as their own and making the tough decision to send their child to MHS, houseparents and parents/sponsors are truly the greatest asset to our small community in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Recently, MHS hosted its fourth and final installment of our Poverty Talks series, where we focused on the important role of houseparenting. I was joined by several members of our Home Life team as we explored this unique and rewarding career.

“A typical day for us is like any other family—except we have a lot more children,” shared George Gore, MHS Houseparent. “We help our girls do their chores, complete their homework, and make sure they’re at their activities during the week. We try to make it a home away from home—we really are a family.”

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Houseparents at MHS are not a replacement for our students’ families—they are an extension of their support system. MHS houseparents and Home Life staff work diligently to partner with parents/sponsors to develop a team of advocates and cheerleaders that support our students in everything they do.

“Housparents are given a huge opportunity to make an impact on the students that they work with. But, as a houseparent, you also must realize that you might not see the outcome of that impact in the time that the students are living in your student home,” shared Karen Brown, MHS Houseparent Trainer. “Your students will grow up and experience real-life outside of MHS and the seeds that you planted as their houseparent, start to bloom. Often, the students will come back and will want to tell you that you made a difference in their life, sharing things that you said and did while they lived with you that might not even remember.”

During the 10 years I’ve spent at MHS, I have seen the impact that houseparents have on our students. It is not a role for the faint of heart, but it is worth every minute. If you’re interested in this life-changing opportunity or if you’re not sure if it’s a good fit, but want to learn more, check out the resources and materials we have on our website and social media channels—I promise you’ll be inspired.

As we wrapped up this final Poverty Talks conversation, I was reminded once again of the importance of parenting and developing the next generation of leaders. No matter if you’re a houseparent, a biological parent, an adoptive parent, a grandparent, a caretaker, or someone who loves a child as if they were your own, I—and everyone at MHS—celebrate you.

The Impact of Houseparenting

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Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.