Dorothy Rogers, or “Nana” as she is known, has witnessed quite a few changes and has seen hundreds of people - both children and staff - come and go during the past 41 years she has been employed by the Texas Baptist Home for Children.
“My job here at the home has been to take the kids where they need to go - like to the doctor, dentist and the stores shopping for clothes and other needs,” she said. “I really enjoy talking to them and taking time for them. During our shopping trips, we always try to make a stop for a Coke or ice cream.”
Regarding her relationships with the children at the Texas Baptist Home, Rogers said, “I love them all, and I treat every one of them exactly like I treat my own grandchildren, no matter what problems they may have or what race they are.”
Rogers said she has seen children come to the home under sad circumstances.
“I always think about this one family of children who came to the home years ago,” she said. “Their mom died of cancer and their youngest sister went to live with their grandmother. One day when one of the older children and I were in the store together, she suddenly pointed up and said, ‘My mother is up there.’ ”
She also told of an incident when she had to rush one of the children to the emergency room at Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie.
“One of our youngest girls, Jessica, got a piece of gravel in her ear, and Dr. Compton asked her, ‘How in the world am I going to get this piece of gravel out of your ear?’ and Jessica said, ‘Don’t worry, God’s got some of them long, invisible fingers!’
“I’m always taking kids to the doctor,” she said. “Just a couple of weeks ago I had to take a girl to the doctor who broke her foot.”
Through the years, Rogers has worked with some of her own family members at the Texas Baptist Home, including her husband, Roland, who served as internal manager and maintenance director for 30 years. Her son-in-law, Randy Odom, has been employed by the home for almost 20 years as executive vice president and chief financial officer, and her son, Alan, was president of the home for five years.
“I have been here through five presidents,” Rogers said. “Bro. C.B. Stanley was president when I came here in January of 1966; he had been here for around 30 years.
“Then his son, Ted Stanley followed him, and was president until his health failed in 1986 and then Ted Johnson became president until 1999 and then Alan followed him,” she said. “And Bro. Eddie (Marsh) has been president since 2004.”
Asked about the changes she has seen in the past 41 years, Rogers said, “When I first came here, the only buildings we had were Old Main, which was a dormitory-style, two-story building, located right here where the chapel building is now and the nursery building was behind it on Richmond Lane.
“It has recently been torn down,” she said. “The gym and administration building was built soon after I came here, and the children have always enjoyed the gym.”
She commented on the changes in operation of the home since she was first employed.
“We now have the different cottages with up to eight children and cottage parents in each one. They get to choose what they want to eat. It’s more family-style and it’s been just wonderful,” Rogers said.
“I think one of the best things that has ever been added was the swimming pool - the children have really enjoyed that,” Rogers said. “And the newest building, the Daniel (Educational) Building has really been a blessing to us. That’s where our Family Connections program is held.”
Rogers also takes the children on occasional pleasure trips out of town.
“We’ve been camping at Lake Whitney and we’ve been to Sandy Lake up in North Dallas,” Rogers said. “I’ve taken them to circuses and to Six Flags.
“One time, Jane Simpson, another worker at the home, and I took a group of children to Six Flags and one of the boys named Raymond insisted that we ride in the old-timey cars,” she said. “Raymond was driving the car, and Jane and I were in the back seat, when all of a sudden, the car jumped the track. We didn’t know those things would jump the tracks - and we were in a run-away car for a minute and almost plowed into a tree.
“All Raymond could say was, ‘I just don’t know how that ‘thing-a-ma-doochie’ did that!”
Some of the children go through hard times and become discouraged but Rogers said she tells them, “Never say you can’t.”
“Then I always quote (the scripture) to them which says, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” she said.
She enjoys sharing her passion for her work.
“I just want to be a blessing to these children. If I can’t be a blessing then I’d just rather the Lord take me on home,” she said. “You have to love kids to do this kind of work. I’ve taught 4- and 5-year-old children in Sunday school at Farley Street (Baptist Church) for 51 years and I worked in the nursery before that.
“Children are my life,” she said.
E-mail Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org