Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev

Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed with Tammy Hogan

April 24, 2023 Kosta Yepifantsev Season 2 Episode 66
Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed with Tammy Hogan
Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev
More Info
Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev
Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed with Tammy Hogan
Apr 24, 2023 Season 2 Episode 66
Kosta Yepifantsev

Join Kosta and his guest: Tammy Hogan, Executive Director of Mustard Seed Ranch: a community-supported, interdenominational Christian ministry designed to take children out of unsafe environments and place them into loving, nurturing homes.

In this episode: Mustard Seed Ranch maintains a totally debt-free operation. How is the program ensuring continued success and the ability to help more kids? It’s hard for most of us to truly understand what it’s like to be a child in this kind of situation. How do children normally get to the ranch? What does their stay typically look like? How can listeners get involved in supporting this growth and helping more children in need?

Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a product of Morgan Franklin Media and recorded in Cookeville, TN.

Find Out More About Mustard Seed Ranch:
https://www.mustardseedranchtn.org/

Find out more about Kosta and all the ways we're better together:
http://kostayepifantsev.com/

Show Notes Transcript

Join Kosta and his guest: Tammy Hogan, Executive Director of Mustard Seed Ranch: a community-supported, interdenominational Christian ministry designed to take children out of unsafe environments and place them into loving, nurturing homes.

In this episode: Mustard Seed Ranch maintains a totally debt-free operation. How is the program ensuring continued success and the ability to help more kids? It’s hard for most of us to truly understand what it’s like to be a child in this kind of situation. How do children normally get to the ranch? What does their stay typically look like? How can listeners get involved in supporting this growth and helping more children in need?

Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a product of Morgan Franklin Media and recorded in Cookeville, TN.

Find Out More About Mustard Seed Ranch:
https://www.mustardseedranchtn.org/

Find out more about Kosta and all the ways we're better together:
http://kostayepifantsev.com/

Tammy Hogan:

What I love about Mustard Seed Ranch is that we don't pressure our children because they've already been backed into a corner too many times in their lives. It's really just giving them the chance to be a kid for the first time in their life. I mean, so many of them come to the ranch experiencing these adult situations that are not fair. So how can we give them the chance to kind of just be a kid?

Morgan Franklin:

Welcome to Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev, a podcast on parenting business and living life intentionally. We're here every week to bring you thoughtful conversation, making your own path to success, challenging the status quo, and finding all the ways we're better together. Here's your host, Kosta Yepifantsev.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Hey, y'all. This is Kosta and today I'm here with my guest. Tammy Hogan, Executive Director of Mustard Seed Ranch, a community supported interdenominational Christian ministry designed to take children out of unsafe environments and placed in into loving nurturing homes. Tammy, before we get into the episode, I want to congratulate mustardseed ranch on celebrating its 40th anniversary. Our audience might not know this, but less than 5% of similar programs survive to or past their fourth year. So tell us a bit about the creation of mustard seed ranch.

Tammy Hogan:

Well, first of all, thank you so much, because I'm here today. I'm so excited to be here and spread the news about mustard seed. It's just this is a passion of my heart. So I'm just very grateful to be here. Thank you. You're welcome. So Mustard Seed ranch. It's interesting how it started. We actually our founders were watching ESPN one day, Rex and Julian Buckner, they had this episode on about this guy named John Croyle, who was the founder of another home like mustard seed called big oak Ranch, which is in Alabama, and he played for the Alabama Crimson Tide for Bear Bryant, the guy had it made, I mean, he had scouts looking at him, he was gonna go to the pros, that God just put something else in his path and something on his heart. And it was about, you know, really building a home for boys that truly needed the parents that could really help them and, and nurture them and show them the love of God so that they can become who they were meant to become after, you know, trauma and crisis. So they went down there, and they just met with him. And they started talking to him, and they fell in love with the whole concept of big oak ranch. And so it was on their hearts, they quit their jobs, they literally stepped out boldly and faith and just started from there. And long story short, they did this extreme build. Back in the day when extreme build was a big thing. I'm probably dating myself now as well. But they did this huge fundraiser where the intention was to raise enough money to build one home. But guys, literally, at the end of the night, they raised almost a million dollars. And they were able to start building two homes. And then the next step was to try to find the property, they found the property, but it was just way out of their league in regard to because they really wanted to start out with, you know, fiduciary responsibility is, you know, debt free as much as possible. Well, some, you know, anonymous Foundation found out that they were looking at this property and immediately purchased the property and donated it to the ranch free and clear with a lease that would just say just a restriction for the rest of the time that the mustard seed ranch would be open, that they would be a private placement, which is just been wonderful. And that it would be a Christian home for children. Because you know, here's the thing and mustard seed, we really tout the fact that we are a family of God, and showing our love to the children is just perfect. And so we've seen tremendous strides in the children as a result of that. So that's just kind of where we got started. And, and it was amazing, because it really gave a great solid foundation for like, oh, here get ready, well, then the community rallied rallied behind the ranch. And so as a result of that, so many in kind donations came in to support the building of the homes, which then gave us the the funds to continue sustainability for quite some time until I stepped on board, which was three and a half years later. And it kind of really gave me a wonderful start to kind of step into that next phase of mustardseed Ranch, which was just awesome. And you

Kosta Yepifantsev:

started in March of 2012. What was the range like in 2012? And what's been the biggest change over the past decade?

Tammy Hogan:

Oh, my gosh, I could just talk to you about this forever. It was so awesome. Because when I stepped on board, we had two existing homes, and those were the two homes they built. And at that time, we were very close to being full. And we kept getting phone call after phone call for children who really needed that help. And so our board of directors when I stepped on board said why don't you just you know, move into the founders home. And I said no for two reasons respectfully because I've worked in other facilities before where the CEO weren't lived on campus and you just you burn out real quick and so I knew that that was probably not the option. Plus I have a farm in Buffalo valley that this is our family farm that I built a house on so it's awesome. And so the other thing is a sitter board Hey, We've got another children's home right here, let's convert this into our girls home. And then make the two homes that we currently have our Boys Ranch,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

how many people are per home, like how many kids are per home.

Tammy Hogan:

So basically at that time, we had eight children per home. And now as we've gone along here, and we've talked to our house parents, because you know, you're there for a while, and that's a tough job, of course. So eventually, you know, they move on. And so we do exit interviews to really talk to them about what can we do to improve our program, what we can do to be the very best at what we do. And they said, Well, to be house parents, you mean you're devoting your time efforts, but you really want to make sure that you're have that time to individually meet every child's needs be emotionally available. And so to have eight children is really hard to do that. So they said, six would be a perfect number, because you really have the opportunity to really pour into each and every single one of them. And so we listen to him. We're like, Yeah, that's what we're doing. So from now, what we do is we are licensed first of all, we're licensed for eight children per home, but we moved it to six children per home based on you know, our customers. Yeah,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

and it's better outcome.

Tammy Hogan:

Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

And where are you guys located?

Tammy Hogan:

We are located three miles north of Tennessee Tech. And it's just tucked away. Aren't these beautiful? Rolling Hills ranch? I mean, I'm telling you guys, when

Kosta Yepifantsev:

you started blank 12. Right. Yeah. So you've got two houses about to open up a third house. And at the time, you guys only had boys? And then you develop that girls home? When did you guys start just rolling? Where you're like, Okay, well, let's open up another house. Let's open up another house. And then the community's like, hey, yeah, I want to work there. This is great. You know, and because from everything that I've heard, people that were living on mustardseed ranch come back, and they work for Mustard Seed ranch. When did that start happening? When did you know you did something special?

Tammy Hogan:

Well, you know, we, I had been on board for a little bit, knowing that I needed to really focus on the core of our staff. Because when you have a switch from founders, to a new director, that's a tough thing, you know, so you really want to just nurture your team. So it really spent the first basically a year kind of focusing on that piece of it. You know, the first two homes, one was our girls home, and one was our boys home, but we knew that having them side by side was really not the best situation. And so that's when we just, you know, decided we need to open this other home and make this the girls ranch. So it just really kind of started rolling from that point. And then in about 2014, because we kept getting phone calls and the need for that kind of support for children that were really hurting. We knew we needed to build more. I mean, it's just, I felt like the Lord was really working inside me saying, look, it's time, it's time. So pressure aboard, and I said, we really need to start a capital campaign to build an additional home. And at that time, you know, our board of directors like well, basically sharing with me that it was cheaper to build two homes at one time than it would be to build one. So we just kind of evolved from that point, we did probably about six months of research to knit to really find out, you know, because when you present a capital campaign to funders, you definitely want to know your stuff. You know, you want to be able to say, here's the outcome, here's what we provide. And then here are the outcomes that we see with children as they continue to heal at the ranch. And then they move on to either post secondary or trade or, you know, whatever to transitional living. So we really did our stuff. And we found this was really cool, because we found that for every one child, the state of Tennessee supports we were able to support for and yeah, and it's honestly because of our community. I tell you, I mean, our community just envelops the mustard seed ranch are so blessed. I mean, they envelop every nonprofit in this town. I'm not kidding you guys. We have a phenomenal town. I agree phenomenal community of people who really care about what's happening to hurting folks in our community.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So I think this goes without saying but Mustard Seed Ranch is a special place with special people that are welcoming special children into their lives. It's hard for most of us to truly understand what it's like to be a child in this kind of situation. How do children normally get to the ranch? And what does their state typically look like?

Tammy Hogan:

Because we're a private placement people hear about us by word of mouth. The majority of the children that come to mustard seed grants are from Tennessee, but we have had children from North Carolina, Michigan, and Alabama. Also, you know, it just depends. And so it's usually someone that's either connected that lives in Cookeville and then knows about mustard seed and what we do, and that we're really good alternative to your normal residential treatment center. I mean, mustard seed is not like that. I mean, we don't even charge a penny for the children to live here. And literally I serve on another board for the state and they were telling me the other day that placements like mustardseed will charge between 105 50 to $650 per day based on the psychological need of the child. But we truly believe that the Lord will provide as he has from the beginning, and we've remained debt free since the beginning. Yeah, it's crazy.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

All through donations. Yes. Because you don't I mean, he I don't bill for any of your services. Right

Tammy Hogan:

now. 100% of our funds come from Community Foundation's individuals, businesses or churches. That's incredible. Yeah. And truly, it is just glory to God for it, because we would not be where we are today without, first of all, our faith in Him knowing that he's going to provide, but we also have a great business mindset in regard to how our strategic plan, business plan and how we're going to continue to grow. But people see that they see I think it's important for people to see our children and how they're growing and, and their testimonies, oh, man, we have a girl there is she's one of those girls that just she's suffered so much. And literally at the, at the age of seven, she lost her parents, both within four days of one another, for instance, her father died of stage four cancer, and then her mother died of an overdose. And I have permission to share that story. So it's like, but it's important, because she said, You know, I want my story to affect other girls that are boys that have been through the same thing I have. And to know that, you know, we're family, but love makes us family. When you

Kosta Yepifantsev:

have a child that comes to the mustard seed Ranch, is it drugs? Is it like what type of issues are they trying to overcome? And how do you guys accomplish? You know, getting them back to you know, being a normal human being? I guess?

Tammy Hogan:

That's a great question. So our guardians, what we do is we want to partner with them. Okay. And the guardians of the children are typically the secondary guardians and either grandparents adopted, and I'd say secondary, I mean, primaries off, obviously adoptive parents as well, but are single mothers. And so what they do is they partner with us, we join families, if you will, we joined forces to really help them because more and more that stats are showing that children are starting to show puberty coming at the age of early eight of 999. Go Yeah, and so we're seeing these behaviors starting to come out between nine and 1314. And I mean, kids just horrific behaviors. And people who have adopted these children when they were like maybe two, four years old, you know, these are wonderful, giving people who really want to provide that love. So they're thinking, we're providing this love what's happening, we don't understand. Well, it's neurological. It's a neurological issue. It's it's based on the chemistry of the child and what they experience. It could be trauma, abuse, it could be drugs and alcohol, which to kind of go hand in hand, right? And so they begin to feel guilty about having to place the child there. And we're like, Well, no, join us do this with us, and you'll see improvements. But you have to understand that you have to you literally have to do this with us. Because the form of discipline, let's say that you might be using is not going to work with a child who's experienced this kind of trauma. So if you join us, we're going to give you those tools, we're going to show you how you can do this at home and emulate what we're doing at the ranch to really see improvement in the child.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I mean, you have to have very experienced people that are able to do these things. I mean, where do you find these people?

Tammy Hogan:

Well, you know what, here's, here's the other side of that. You have to have experienced parents who really know their stuff, you know what I'm saying? That's good. And we've lived and learned, I tell you, we really want people to come in, then what we do is pour that training into them. Yeah, because you got a willing heart. I'm telling you, you can move mountains, because they really want to help these children. They also come with a strong faith base as well. So it's you've got those two components, there's nothing that can stop them. But as we have grown, we have definitely seen the need to then also grow our program. And I can talk to you about that as well.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

We're gonna talk about that at the end. But right now, if you could pick one memory that embodies the heart and soul of how this program is impacting our community, what would it be?

Tammy Hogan:

I can't help but think of the children who have moved on from the ranch and how it's impacted their lives. For instance, we had a young boy who came to us when we first opened our doors, he was one of our first kiddos and he was just this munchkin. But he was hurt and so bad, and he didn't talk very much. He'd been through some pretty horrific things. And so we just started just, you know, we really like to give them the opportunity to just in their terms chill, you know, or just acclimate to the program without feeling forced to do anything you just acclimate? Because think about it, their norm is crisis and many of them come to us where they've experienced not having their own bedroom or they've experienced like severe abuse and then coming to the ranch where they've got their own bedroom and that's not their norm so they don't know how to live in that and they feel overwhelmed at first so happens. Well, at first there's a bit of a honeymoon period where they're just kind of trying to figure it out. And then some things start showing a little bit. And it just depends. It's it's based on each individual. Many times you see behaviors starting to come out. And then other there are other children like this one in particular, where you didn't see the behaviors. He was really more reserved, like he really didn't talk very much. He was just he was one of those kids that you just what's going on there? Yeah. Well as time kept trends, just transpiring. And you could see the house parents falling more and more in love with him, they actually adopted this kiddo as their own. Oh, wow. And he started flourishing. And then at that point in time, we had a school on campus where we're doing homeschool with the children. He successfully graduated from that program, and then got to go into public school. And so he eventually played football at Cookeville high school and became one of the most popular guys on the team love it. And it was interesting, because you could see the love of God and what He was being taught through his house parents, that connection is so critical when he knows that he's loved when he knows that he's he's accepted for who he is, man, he started flourishing, like blossoming. And he would actually when he wasn't able to play for string, didn't matter him, kiddo goes and he starts getting bottles of water, I'm sitting there in the stands watching him and he's getting bottles of water for the guys on the team and going out and praying with them. And like that's not forced, that's taught that's a learned behavior.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

You know, what I'm curious about is, you know, I have a lot, quite a bit of experience with DCS. And a lot of times when they're trying to problem solve, especially individuals who and kids that may have behaviors, they turn to some form of medication. And I'm curious, like, do you guys use any type of medication? Or do you try to wean them off of many psychoactive medication to try to get them back to baseline?

Tammy Hogan:

Yes, this I mean, we have another boy too. And I'll finish that other story in a minute. That's good one, but we had another boy come from Michigan, and he was lethargic. Like, there, he was a walking zombie. And it was because of all of the medications he was on. I don't even know how to explain it, it was just really sad. But you have to be careful about that, too. Because if they're on that kind of medication for some time, especially psychotropic medications, it just you have to be you have to wean them off slowly. And so that's what we did with this kiddo. And then we started seeing who you truly was. And it was just beautiful. He was just this little guy who really had so much in him that he didn't even know he had himself. And now it's interesting to note that our assistant director, who is also a case manager, there currently fell in love with him as well. And she adopted him as well. And so it was just, it's just beautiful how families can act with our children. And and they connect with us and become a part of it.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Can I ask you kind of an overarching question? I mean, you've been doing this for a very long time. And you haven't always been with mustardseed range. So you are familiar with the foster care, children's services industry, right profit or nonprofit? How are we doing? As a society Mustard Seed range is doing great, you are doing great, but from an overarching perspective, are we doing a good job taking care of kids who need our help?

Tammy Hogan:

That's really a great question. You know, here's the thing. I know many folks who are so dedicated in DCs, they're like we are I mean, you could definitely compare the two the hearts of those folks. They're overwhelmed. And the problem is, is that you continue to see domestic violence rates increased significantly, especially since COVID. Hit right during COVID. They tripled to the point that DCS offices were I mean, they are so overwhelmed with caseload right now, because there's so much of that happening right now. And it's it's terribly sad. It's not necessarily what they're doing wrong. It's just that they're so overloaded. Yeah, it is an extremely difficult situation. And it isn't just in Tennessee. I also worked in Colorado for many years. And it's happening in Colorado as well. It's happening across the United States. Unfortunately, a resource problem it is it is but you have homes like mustard seed ranch that are popping up all over the United States, because people see the need for that in and not only that, but then when you're a private placement, you don't have to succumb to Now granted, I will tell you that we are licensed by the state of Tennessee as a residential childcare facility. And we want that accountability. There's no doubt because it's our responsibility, but it is a problem. And here's the way I look at it. I want mustard seed ranch to be on the forefront of that. Yeah, like I want us to partner with DCS. I want us to say look okay, here we are the step before foster care. Those kids in those situations that have maybe a family that really has the does desire to work on it and the desire to learn the tool. But you know, they may need someone else to kind of help with the behaviors in the in the interim. That's where Mustard Seed rants comes in. It's like, let's work together to really kind of close those gaps. Because it is that critical. Right? Have

Kosta Yepifantsev:

you tried talking to DCs about that?

Tammy Hogan:

Oh, yes, we I have friends over there. We're connection? Oh, very much. So. Oh, yeah, they see the need as well. No, but here they are. It's two different entities serving the same populations. But as being, you know, private as opposed to right, you know, public. Yeah. So that's your that's the difference.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Maybe the ideologies might be somewhat different on the macro scale. So not telling you for

Tammy Hogan:

faith based really is also important as well. And certainly, again, what I love about Mustard Seed Ranch is that we don't pressure our children. That's not who because they've already been backed in a corner too many times in their lives. It's really just giving them the chance to be a kid for the first time in their life. I mean, so many of them come to the ranch experiencing these adult situations that are not fair. And it's not a situation that should ever be put in, but they were. So how can we give them the chance to kind of just be a kid?

Kosta Yepifantsev:

How many kids are in foster care in our area?

Tammy Hogan:

Right now. From what I heard the other day, we have 190 children, just in Putnam County alone. Wow. And then in the upper Cumberland, I heard that we are nearing 800 kids right now

Kosta Yepifantsev:

that are in need of foster care, that are in foster care and foster care that are in

Tammy Hogan:

foster care. Yes. And those numbers increase weekly. Yeah.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Do you say it's exponentially increase since the pandemic? Yes. And so we don't know. There could be 1000s of kids that may need a safe and stable environment. In the upper Cumberland?

Tammy Hogan:

Yes. Wow. Now with mustard seed Ranch, we're building two new homes. We're building a new boys home and a new girls home. And we're at the latter end of that process. So how many homes is that? So currently, we have three homes, and then we'll have so we'll have three boys homes and two girls homes when it's all said and done. And when we're at capacity, we'll be able to serve 30 children at one time 3030 children.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Now is the goal to be able to get to a point to where you can serve all 190 kids that are in foster care.

Tammy Hogan:

I mean, that would be wonderful. I tell you, I probably would age significantly because these two homes, it's been a process because we started building literally, like COVID. Okay, and so it's been crazy. But yes, I mean, it would be wonderful. I mean, what I would love to see, I'm a visionary. And I would love nothing more than to see the opportunity to spread our wings and spread the mustard seed ranch into maybe some more property kind of like big oak where they have, they have one ranch where it's 430 acres of for girls ranch and the other is 520 acres for Boys Ranch. And then they have like their own private school where people from the community send their children because it's faith based. And that would be super to be that but you just take one step at a time. You know, and I'll tell you, I mean, it's so exciting because we are growing and right now we're like, we just established him an executive administration team, because we see the need as we're growing, we're gonna we need to grow our team. And as a result of that, we're bringing on a director of development, a financial director, who will join myself and our assistant director. And we're also going to be be able to, for the first time in the history of the ranch, oh, it makes me want to cry, you guys.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I'm sorry, no, it's okay, we're gonna

Tammy Hogan:

be able to have a clinical team that will not only consist of three case managers, but we'll also have a licensed professional counselor on our staff that will be able to not only because we've been able to really help our children, and we see them increasing and improving and improving, improving, but our guardians really struggle because we don't have the ability to provide for them as well. And our board, I'm just so proud of them, we, you know, I approached him and I said, Look, this is truly what we need. And they agreed for that to happen. And so we're going to be able to provide for our families as well. And we're going to be able to give them the therapy they need to be able to work with because kids that like I said earlier, kids that have had trauma. As a guardian, you've got to know how to work with them, you got to be able to know how to help them. And no wonder there's this constant is cyclical. If they don't know how to work with them, the child improves to the point that they're ready to go home. And then kid goes home and things start going south. Again, it's because the Guardians don't have the tools that they need. And it's our responsibility to give that to him. But we just haven't had the resources to do that. And so I just approached the board and I was like, Look, the money will come, the money will come because we're going to be able to be the top notch ministering home for children that we've always said we are by being able to provide this for them. And not only that, but our licensed professional counselor in our case managers are going to be able to do training, professional training that will be basically unilateral between our staff at the ranch and guardian, so they're all getting the same kind of

Kosta Yepifantsev:

support, do you think you'll be able to stay debt free?

Tammy Hogan:

Absolutely. There's no doubt in my mind, not one doubt, because people are going to hear about it. And they're going to want to get involved. Because it's that important. Yeah.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Do you think maybe it's time for you guys to like, apply for some grants? Or maybe see if state will give you some appropriation funding? You know, yeah,

Tammy Hogan:

it definitely, because we haven't had the resources to do that for so long. It's been just a few of us running the ranch. And so you, you got all these plates spinning? Yeah. But now that we've got these four executive administrators, we're spreading it out. And one of them is going to be able to really dive into the grant process and what that looks like, and how we can find more funders that are willing to kind of step out in faith. And you know, what's wonderful is almost a perfect time such as this, like it says in the Bible, because truly, I think we're celebrating 14 years, we can show what works and why it times it didn't work. And now that we're doing something to change, what didn't work to make it better. Nothing is gonna stop us.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Do you guys ever get any controversy?

Tammy Hogan:

Oh, yeah. Controversy In the sense that,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

like, Do you get any negative feedback because I don't see how you could possibly get negative feedback given that, you know, you're literally taking kids, while not taking them out of foster care, but you're supporting them so that they can be more successful in their lives. Yeah. And you have a strong commitment to being successful in there's a lot of nonprofits that I work with, and not say that they're bad or anything like that. But there's a lot of nonprofits who I think put growth in front of quality. Yes, and you guys aren't doing that?

Tammy Hogan:

No, I first of all, I trial and error is like, I think with any business with any nonprofit, obviously, you're gonna find your your ebbs and flows, right. I mean, and I, for one, I'm, I am the Executive Director and the buck stops right here, truly hold myself to that level of excellence as well as our team. And I will say that we have had moments of learning moments, teachable moments where we're like, ah, you know, that doesn't work. Or, you know, you've got your house parents, there's two things that I can tell you that one is house parents that come to the ranch, they're giving their lives, most of them sell their homes, they literally step out in faith, to come to the ranch to to make a difference in the lives of these children, right. I mean, it's that serious. They're the most selfless people you ever meet. It's amazing. So it's hard. It's a tough job. It's tough. It's so tough. So because we didn't have like, love what we're getting ready to bring onto our team, a licensed professional counselor, who will also be able to pour into our house parents to give them that type one, and we do professional training, but it's going to raise the bar. Yeah, awesome. Raise the bar. So yeah, in that area, I feel like, you know, we want to support and give them everything they need. But I feel like, you know, where do we need to improve? We did a SWOT analysis with our team. And we really realized for sure that this is the area in which we have to give them because I think it will also help with retention of houseparents. Because on the average, our retention of houseparents, for any place like ours is about three years.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

That's still really, really good.

Tammy Hogan:

Yeah, it is. But you know why we've also had house parents there for 10 years, six years, five years. So I think it's all in, first of all, making sure that they have everything they need, but also giving them all the tools that they need to work with our children. So you're

Kosta Yepifantsev:

not having like staffing issues, and a terrible building costs just going through the roof, like are you experiencing the same things? Okay. You're just you're

Tammy Hogan:

in jail? Yeah, it is. And like I said, I as the executive director, I mean, I want to hold myself accountable. Sure, you learn through the process. And it's also just like, where do you as a ministry know that you have got to improve, and certainly our guardian relationships too, because, you know, our guardians, they're, they're hurting people too. And when that when they're an adoptive family, for instance, and they've already adopted their child from that kind of environment. And now they're saying, well, we need help, and we're gonna have to place this child again, that's a really hard thing to do. And it's so vulnerable, and you just want to be there to nurture them and say, Look, we're here to help you through this process. And so I think that because we didn't have the resources to help them and nurture them and elevate them, like we are getting ready to, that's really where we have to work. And I think that that will also help with the relationships between our house parents and our guardians, because the Guardians, they already feel like they're, they're letting their kids down by placing them outside of their home. And then also they see that the children, their children, connect with our house parents, and that begins to also feel like well, wait, I'm losing them. No, you're not. Here's the thing. They have gone through a traumatic experience. You are the closest thing to that, you know that that anyone you got them out of that memory, but it's a separate entity altogether. So let's work together as a child care team and surround them and then work together to unilaterally help give each of them so this is how I see it. That Child, the house parent that guardians they work together with a therapist and training to then come together to eventually reunify with their family.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Is there any place in Tennessee that does something like this, there are

Tammy Hogan:

a few. But typically what they do is they solely work with the children. And then they say, you can come for supervised visits. But here's how I see it. There's nothing wrong with that. But here's the other component. They're always going to have their family in their life. So what do we need to do? It's our responsibility in the Bible. Matthew 516, literally says, it is our responsibility to do our good works, and show this to other people and to be the light. And so we are here to be the light to the Guardians, as well. And what we want to do is, that's what we want, because eventually, no matter what they're gonna go home, and when they go home, we want that to be a solid relationship. And not only that, but we want to stop those cyclical generational cycles of abuse. And how do you do that? It starts at home, just like it always says, it starts with a family.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

What a phenomenal model. So we talked about your new expansion, and you guys are opening up to homes and you're going to be welcoming 16 More children? how can listeners get involved in supporting this growth and helping more children in need?

Tammy Hogan:

Great question. Right now, you know, COVID hit. And so we had to stop bringing in children for a little while, you know, for obvious reasons. So we brought in children slowly after that. And so right now, in this moment, we have lower number of children than we've had in a while. And the reason for that is I feel like it's just a perfect time, because we're bringing on eventually, we don't currently we have nine staff members, we're going to have 23 staff members that we're hiring within the next year. Oh, wow. And so we're doing this in phases. And so you say how do you know how do you spread the word about this? So to me if I'm a donor, or somebody wants to get involved, and I say, Well, okay, you've got this many children, well, you've got all these homes, yes, but we're hiring four sets of houseparents. Amazing, we're going to be hiring three case managers, because we're changing our program we're growing. And we want to be fully prepared, so that when we bring in those children, all of those staff members are in place in in phases, of course. And so as the homes are ready to open, you know, and we have one current home that we're filling for house parents,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

so do you need kind of word of mouth in terms of getting people to apply to be a house parent for interviews? Do I need donations? Do you need, you know, manual labor? Do you need all of the above?

Tammy Hogan:

Right? Well, okay, so here's the deal. Each home costs 110 $220,000, depending upon how large the home is, and how many kids you have in it. And so people will say, Well, why is it so much when you think about a family of four, okay, and how much it costs for a family for when you look at Mustard Seed ranch, and you've got a set of house, parents and intern and then you have six children. That's pretty darn good. When you think of it like that. That means everything to include salary, all of it, because it's all encompassing. Our administrative percentage rate right now is 7%. And then our fundraising rate is 11%. Oh, wow, our direct program cost is 78%. Right now, I mean, that's going to be what it's going to be at full capacity as well. So that's a really tough question, because you want people to get involved in give to support, because when it's all said and done, we're going to be $1.2 million ministry, when it's all said and done amazing annually after these houses open after they land at capacity of 30 children. And that's a lot. But you know, here's the thing, no matter what the Lord Will Provide, if you were able to see a movie of where that child came from, to compare to what the life that they have in rent, for instance, we had a boy come to us when he was nine years old, he was punching holes in the wall, he was angry at the world he was he was just hurting so badly, because he came from that abuse. He received the trauma therapy, the therapist was working with the family, the family, the house, parents, we're working with him. And instead of punching holes in the wall, literally, I get to sit in my office and watch this kid walk down to the pond with his fishing pole in his tackle box to get his anger out on the fish and no one else, we're teaching them how to literally change and transform from the inside out. And that's just because we're vessels from the Lord. And so that's happening. But it takes something to make that happen. Plus, we've got 113 acres where we have to maintain that we have to maintain all these homes. So you know, it's critical. It's a monumental effort. It is. And people say, Well, you know, we want to see you bring in more kids. Well, it is our responsibility, fiduciary really speaking, but also do our due diligence to be sure that we have the players in place to make it that experience so that we don't see children removed from the program too soon. And that's what we've been seeing sometimes where children get to kind of they get it they're really good at manipulating. So children kind of removed from the program too soon. And then you've got your house parents who are like pouring into these kids and all of a sudden they're gone. So I think that with what I told you about earlier when we were looking at our organization and growing and improving it, I think that these gaps that we're filling are going to care for the fact that we're going to have a retention rate that is going to be solid.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

You're building a strategic network. Yes, yes.

Tammy Hogan:

But it takes a minute to do that takes what a perfect time to do that, you know, your numbers are lower. So it gives us a chance to hire, it gives us a chance to build and we're doing it in phases. So that when it's all said and done, y'all get ready.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So what's one, two and three? What's the first thing you guys need?

Tammy Hogan:

First thing that we are doing is building our executive team, which we've just done, we've just hired him all we're getting,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

so you need money to pay for that, number one, we

Tammy Hogan:

need money to pay for it. But I'll tell you this, we have saved. And so we have a nest egg. And so we're fine financially right now to be able to provide for that, but we're looking to the future, knowing what it's going to cost to get there. And so, yes, always need that. And then second, you know, prayers. You know, to me, that's probably first more than anything truly, because answer to prayer is happening right now. I mean, God has just opened this awesome door of opportunity for the ranch. And it's as if, you know, it's a euphoric state, if that makes any sense. You know, even though there's a lot to be done. But the strategy of the hiring that we have going on right now is awesome. And so we're going to be hiring case managers here very soon, we're actually having an interview next week. So there'll be two full time case managers in one part time case manager to suit the need of five homes. But it's also listen, we need house parents, and we need people that just want to, you know, come to the ranch and just soak in it, you know, like saturate themselves into the ministering to their our children. Yeah, what they get out of it is more than they'll ever, ever put into it. And I hear that constantly. I also hear that it's hard job to you know what I mean? And so we want to give them everything, so they don't hurt for anything. They don't have to pay for anything, they have no utility costs. So literally what they come with, you know, they get a salary, they get the best insurance, they we even pour into them as far as retirement where we match a certain amount for them. And it's that important.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So we always like to end the show on a high note, who is someone that makes you better when you're together?

Tammy Hogan:

Ah, well, there's so many. I thought about it from a kid's perspective, there was a young lady who came to the ranch. And when she came to the ranch, she was really angry, she was hurting, we weren't sure she was gonna be one of those kids that would really make it because she, she just was hurting so badly. And as time went by, it progressively got worse. And she made a poor decision. And as a result of that, we had to find a different placement for her, but I remained in her life. And this is thank you for asking that question. She just was one of those kids, you know, and I hadn't heard from her for a few years. And then all of a sudden, she reached back out to me, and she said, Let's go have lunch sometime. And I said, Yeah, let's do it. She's guys. She's in college right now. She is working as a general manager at the place that she's working at right now. And in this in Cookeville. And she is so motivated, just individually motivated. But she even said to me, she said I'm so sorry for the choices that I made. She said I when I look back on it, I think of how wonderful this was because her parents died. And you know, her father died at a young age when she was just a little girl toddler. And then her mother we found out she had cancer. So I flew back with her and her sister that to New Jersey, so she could actually be with her mom, she hadn't seen her since she was a toddler and spend time with her. And then she passed literally about three months later. And then it just she kept making poor choices because of the pain and the loss and all that. So anyway, long story short, we met again and I just I'm so proud of her but she said those seeds that you planted in me are. She said I'm bearing fruit. And she said I love the Lord and what he has done in my life. But what he has done is shown me the solid foundation that you provided for me and my sister while we were at the ranch and even though I treated you really in a bad way and you know just really kind of attacking you in different ways. Emotionally. She said, I'm so sorry for that. I said come on girl is that that's not what this is about. This is what this is about the fruit, you're bearing fruit. You are a perfect example of how this happens in every time I'm with her I am filled with the Spirit. I am filled with, like on days where like literally that was a day where you know, those lies that come into you that say you're not going to be able to do this, you're not going to be able to do this when I'm with her. She is the perfect example of you are meant to be where you're meant to be. And don't you dare listen to those lies because they're lies from the enemy because what's happening in her is truly you had a piece in that and it's not I'm not saying it's about me that's not what this is about. It is about God's men. History and it's about what we are able to truly do in the lives of our children as a result of the love that's poured into them, and whether they get it in the beginning or not. It's truly about if you have faith as small as mustard seed, truly nothing, nothing is impossible. Nothing.

Morgan Franklin:

Thank you for joining us on this episode of Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev. If you've enjoyed listening and you want to hear more, make sure you subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. Leave us a review or better yet, share this episode with a friend. Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a Kosta Yepifantsev Production. Today's episode was written and produced by Morgan Franklin post production mixing and editing by Mike Franklin. Want to know more about Kosta visit us at kostayepifantsev.com We're better together.