Our Stories

Our Stories

Monroe Harding is devoted to changing the lives of young people every day. Many of our residents, staff, and friends want to share their stories of hope. Please view the stories below to experience their journeys. If you are a former resident and want to tell us your story, contact Mark via our Contact Us page.



These are the stories that fill our ❤️….

Three-year-old Abigail recently moved into the home of one our foster families. Our wonderful foster parents, Jason and Liz, knew that Abigail was confused, shy and unsure, but were heartened to see how much she enjoyed being with their little girls, all around Abigail’s age. Jason happened to be taking his girls to a father-daughter dance in the community, so he asked if Abigail’s father might be able to attend with them. With that not being possible, Jason gladly brought Abigail along to the dance with his oldest two girls, the day after she moved into their home.

When we visited their home the following week, we asked about the dance. Abigail proudly said she got to dance, wear a pretty dress, eat yummy food and have fun with the family.

Jason, Liz and their family provided Abigail with an experience usually reserved for daddies and daughters who have known each other for longer than a day. And when it was time to take a picture, that hangs proudly in their home, there was no question that Abigail would get to be a part of that experience, too. We are so grateful for all our foster families do to make the children in their care feel loved and welcome!


We celebrate the Gordon family, who became richer in love three times over today. Natalie, Deacon and David (in the front row of the picture by their sister Sadie) were adopted today. The joy in their hearts was evident and it was wonderful to watch the brothers and sisters play together, laugh together and support each other. The Gordons were joined by some very proud grandparents, and many family and friends, all there to share in the beginning of a new chapter for this very special family. To John, Ashley, John Jr., Natalie, Sam, Sadie, Deacon and David – congratulations on this wonderful day, and you will forever be a part of our Monroe Harding family!


Marla and George McKnight welcomed a brother and a sister into their hearts three years ago and today the judge made it official. Kaydee, is 3 years old, beautiful and full of spunk. Her older brother asked if he could change his first name, so we’re proud to congratulate eight-year-old A.J. on his very special day. Everyday, the McKnights show these children – their children – the power of love through nurturing and security in always being there for them. The journey was long, but the family is now whole.

“Everywhere in nature we are taught the lessons of patience and waiting. We want things a long time before we get them, and the fact that we want them are all the more precious when they come.” – Joseph F. Smith-


Recently, one of our youth was discharged from Monroe Harding and moved in with his mentor and extended family. That mentor was once a Monroe Harding youth himself!

As he was packing up his belongings into the car, he said, “It doesn’t even feel like I lived here anymore, it’s like a transition place.”

❤️ Exactly! We are a home, but also a place of transition. ❤️

As we said goodbye to him, it struck us that we now had two former Monroe Harding residents driving off this campus. What a beautiful moment!

Thank you to everyone who support these youth throughout their time with us and to this incredible family for welcoming an amazing young man into their lives!


I would like to write this to all the staff at Monroe Harding for allowing me into this program and helping me in my time of need. I have learned a lot from this program: life skills, career planning, study skills, express yourself, all about me, and character counts groups has taught me to better myself and apply for jobs. I just all around appreciate what this program has done for me. I have helped out my friend who needed help by talking to him and explaining to him that he didn’t want to end up like I was. He had an alcohol problem really bad and I told him he really wouldn’t know what he had till it was gone. That has been over a month ago, and he hasn’t drunk a drop since. Because he said he never looked at life in the way he could have it. I am glad I have turned my life around and I am able to help other in need. I hope one day I could come and tell my life story and how I changed my life around to the youth here. Words can’t even begin to describe how thankful I am for all of the staff here that has helped out in this time. I would also like to thank you all for the outings and being able to go to public school. I have enjoyed being here and having respectable stuff.


“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

This rings true for Dalton, a youth who graced Monroe Harding’s campus. He approached one of our staff and asked, “Do you think it’s possible for me to withdraw money from my account and give to the Saigon Children’s Charity?” We were shocked as this was the first time a youth inquired about giving personal dollars to such a cause. Dalton was advised to submit a savings withdrawal form with a short statement about his desire to give.

His words were simple yet touching. “The reason I wanted to give money to the Saigon Children’s Charity is because I want to give the Saigon children the same and equal opportunity to go to school as we do. The reason there is a charity for the Saigon children is because a lot of the families don’t have the money to send their kids to school. So my U.S. History teacher sells food to help raise money for them. So I thought that I could help them out just a little bit.”

Dalton passed all his classes at Hillsboro High School through placement at Monroe Harding. It is such a great feeling when our youth not only value their education but also want to be a part of affording one to children in need. Dalton went on to continue serving others as a United States Marine.

“You all gave me hope when I felt I had none and y’all gave me a positive outlook on life that I have never experience before. I want to thank each and every one of you that showed me that you all cared about the boy that you hardly knew. I am so grateful that you all seen the good in me when others didn’t.”


“I would just like to say thank you for the many opportunities that you all have made available for me. I know that if I never came to Monroe that I would never get to experience the many things that I did. I really appreciate it. I truly do and I want you to know that the staff at Monroe has really impacted my life. You all gave me hope when I felt I had none and y’all gave me a positive outlook on life that I have never experienced before. I want to thank each and every one of you that showed me that you all cared about the boy that you hardly knew. It truly meant a lot to know that God has blessed me to be placed in a place with people who care more about the kids than their paycheck. It means a lot. I am so grateful that you all seen the good in me when others didn’t. For everything keep me in your prayers because you all will be in mine. Thank you.”


J. P. entered the program on the verge of being a senior in high school; however, he was lacking necessary credits. From the first day he set foot in Hillsboro High School, he let us know on multiple occasions, he did not like school and liked to skip class. J.P. held true to his word and made poor grades, skipped class and was often seen on campus completing work hours while suspended from school.

He stayed at Monroe Harding throughout the summer, maturing before our eyes. But we knew that his behavior and actions at school would be indicative of the progress he made while at Monroe Harding. J.P. only passed 3 of 8 classes on his final report card the year before.

His first progress report of the next year indicated that not only was he passing all of his classes, he was getting straight “A’s.”
It is often easy to get discouraged when we do not see progress right away. But real and lasting change takes time. We spent a great deal of time planting seeds of wisdom within him. Eventually, they took root and grew.


The recent story of two foster children suffering at the hands of a foster parent is heart wrenching and sad on many levels. For all of us, youth symbolizes unlimited potential. And so to see a young person deprived of the opportunities of a life our culture and our country naturally should afford is a tragedy and shame we are all drawn to correct. As a staff member at an agency that provides foster care services, be assured that stories like that in yesterday’s paper are rare; the foster parents I have encountered are loving, caring, supportive and would never endanger any child.

In Tennessee alone, we have over 7,500 children in state custody and another 15,500 who are at risk of coming into custody. Research shows that children in the foster care system across the US suffer from PTSD at a rate higher than our veterans. And every year as youth age out of the system they are faced with the challenge of becoming self-sufficient virtually on their own. Those who age out without family face homelessness, incarceration, school dropout, unemployment, unwanted pregnancy and lack of health care.

These outcomes are preventable! The TN Department of Children’s Services and agencies across the state work diligently every day to ensure safe permanent homes for our most vulnerable children and youth. Monroe Harding, Inc. and other local agencies recruit and train foster families, provide group homes and transitional housing, and have community based resource centers offering education advancement, job skills, internships, and financial literacy.

It really does take a village to raise a child and we CAN give these young people a chance for a better life. Organizations dedicated to helping children and youth in State’s custody need volunteer mentors, tutors, foster families, gift cards for the children’s needs, and donations. Help us declare Every Youth: A Chance for a Better Life!

Mary N. Baker President & CEO Monroe Harding, Inc
As published in the Tennessean, December 2011.

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