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Seven Personalities, One Home

By Sarah Donaher, an MHS houseparent

We have seven boys in our student home right now, and we have a wide range of personalities. We have kids who are loud and energetic and always the leader of the room. We have others who are a little quieter and follow the pack. We have kids who are funny and like to tell jokes. Overall, they’re a great group of boys.

All of our students are brand new this year, so they are learning the routine. New things happen every day, and little things can throw off the morning or change things. So, we try to be as flexible as possible. The boys do a great job and they’re excited to start each day.

Our home is a place where everyone feels accepted, everyone feels welcomed, and everyone feels loved. That’s really what we try to do for our boys. We talk about how they have their family at home and their Milton Hershey School family. Those two things are obviously different, but they are really lucky to have both. We really try to build that here with them.

We also build on that foundation with our students even after they move on to middle school. We still keep in touch with the first group of boys that were in our student home when we started as houseparents. They call us. They’ll sometimes walk home from school with us. We plan events with them to invite them back to our student home. It’s really neat to see how our current students begin to look up to them. They think of them as the best big brothers ever. It’s really awesome.

We want our students to see that even after they leave us to go to middle school, the relationship doesn’t end. Family doesn’t end. They are always welcomed and loved, and we’ll always want to hear how they’re doing.

Sarah Donaher and her husband Terry are houseparents in the Elementary Division. They also have two children.

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