Grace Children’s Home has been an integral part of the Henderson community for over 70 years. After many dedicated years of guidance under Chuck Patrie, there was a search for a new director to carry on this ministry. Based on his passion, experience, and education, Dr. Mark Danielson was found to be a great match for the position. He moved to Henderson in July along with his wife, Cindy, and daughter, Cheyenne, who is a 7th grader at Heartland.
Mark has a pertinent background that includes law enforcement, pastoring, and foster care. It was while he was a deputy sheriff and a pastor in Mullen, Nebraska, that he and his wife could no longer ignore the needs they saw and decided to become foster parents in the early 2000s. They continued to be involved in foster care when they moved to work at a church in Montana. In fact, he and his wife even helped with legislative reform there for foster care children. The most significant highlight of their journey, however, has been adopting their daughter out of the system! As advocacy continued to be an increasing burden in their hearts, he came across an ad online for the Grace Children’s Home Director job and realized it would be a great fit.
Group homes in Nebraska have been through significant changes in recent years due to legislation. Laws were put in place for the priority of the placement of children to be in foster care households instead of the group model. This made it nearly impossible for group homes to meet regulations and have placements. After this change has been implemented for a few years, it has also been recognized that there is still a need for group homes. Therefore, Grace is going through the relicensing process. They have also hired Elizabeth Goertzen as the Program Manager with the aim to launch in the spring.
Along with serving as a child-placing agency and group home, they hope to be a hub for foster care parents. This will including recruiting, providing training, and supporting them through the entire process. In fact, they will start a foster care training class on November 27. There is no cost to attend and no formal commitment has to be made. If you’ve ever considered being a foster parent, it would be a great opportunity to explore the possibility.
“We love small towns and are excited to be part of the community,” Mark commented. His family has been attending church at Bethesda and have already jumped into school and community events. Along with his work at Grace, he is also an adjunct professor online at Capital Seminary–where he earned his PhD in Human Development and Leadership from. In his spare time, he and Cheyenne enjoy riding horses. Mark and Cindy also have three grown children and five grandchildren that they love to see.
As the new direction of GCH continues to evolve, be on the lookout for more information including things like an attachment and trauma ministry, staff hirings, and volunteer opportunities. And when you see Mark or his wife around town, be sure to introduce yourself and welcome them to the community!
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