Milton Hershey School Houseparent Support System is Strong
By Josh Pearson, MHS Home Life Hiring Manager and Former Houseparent
When Milton Hershey School called us to inform us we were hired to be houseparents, my wife Sarah and I shared an overwhelming sense of excitement. We also knew the journey was just beginning. We are thankful for the strong houseparent support system that helped us be positive influences in the lives of so many students.
As we prepared ourselves mentally and emotionally, the journey started with the realization that we would now have to pack up our home, leave friends and family and take a step of faith by moving our family across the state. Moving away from your support system is not a small endeavor. Not long into our preparations, an MHS staff member called us to help plan our big move. In that moment, Sarah and I took a collective sigh of relief. We realized we would not be doing this alone. Even before we ever stepped foot on campus, the support we would receive from the amazing MHS community was obvious.
As I think back today, I recall a few things that will most likely be true of anyone’s journey to become an MHS houseparent.
Houseparents support each other
First, a staff member will greet you not long after you step foot on campus. A current houseparent will deliver a welcome gift. Second, the first day will arrive and you once again will be feeling many things…a mix of excitement and trepidation about starting this life-changing role, but the fears and anxieties go away the moment you meet Home Life Development Supervisor Katherine Adame and her amazing team of trainers. This team walks with you throughout the entire onboarding process. They do it not out of duty, but out of genuine care for you as a human being and as a new houseparent.
During your initial weeks on campus, you will start to shadow seasoned houseparents in student homes. You may be struck by the level of sincerity and care that flows so freely from these houseparents. That sincerity and care are evident as you watch them interact with their students, but even more so when you realize how much they care about you and look for ways to support you.
Seasoned houseparents listened to us and took us out for meals. They even planned a playdate so our kids could run around and enjoy their new friends. Houseparents support each other at Bible studies and weekly soccer games. Some housedads even go out for wings and watch a game to relax. Houseparents also work out carpools to pick up and drop off their kids at school. So many of these “doing life together” moments are engraved in my heart and mind.
We knew we were surrounded by a community that loved and cared for us! The houseparent support system and the entire MHS community cemented our love for this school. Sarah and I made a positive impact on the lives of our students. The added bonus of building strong friendships and a community that loved us made all the difference.
Houseparenting is challenging and the responsibility is weighty. The honor and privilege to love and care for our students in a supportive environment far outweighed those challenges.