By Victoria G. Molinar
March 12, 2014
A look at the past, present and future of Lee & Beulah Moor Children’s Home
By: Victoria G. Molinar
A lot is to be said about the legacy of Lee Moor and his wife Beulah, who moved to El Paso in 1903 after Mr. Moor recovered from tuberculosis. They were financially well off since they sold their livestock in Orogrande, NM and even more so when Mrs. Moor established a Sunset Heights boarding house while Mr. Moor started a contracting company, building many streets and houses in El Paso.
While more successful businesses of Moor’s followed, many will agree that the Moors would be most proud of the Lee & Beulah Moor Children’s Home, which will celebrate its 55th anniversary this year. Unable to have children of their own, the Moors not only decided to adopt a child, but aspired to create a place that would be a home to the many children without parents. A facility that offers residential, adoption, pregnancy counseling and foster care services, both Lee and Beulah Moor created a trust for the home in 1949 and passed away before its establishment ten years later.
“[Lee Moor’s] wish was that they did not lay the foundation for [the children’s home] until after his death,” said Lee & Beulah Moor Children’s Home CEO Renee Tanner. “He was not about establishing any kind of name for himself.”
Paul Whittler & CEO Rene Tanner
Providing stability for future generations
What started off as a children’s home evolved into a lot more after the inception of the adoption program in the 1960s. The residential care is a prime example of the magnitude of outreach that the non-profit does.
The children who stay at the home do so on a voluntary basis with the consent of their parents or guardians, who can visit the children regularly. Children can stay as long as they need to and on average stay for 22 months, said Tanner.
Children come to the home for a variety of reasons, from an unstable home environment to the parent or guardian’s inability to provide adequate supervision. More often than not, poverty is the main reason children stay at the home, said Tanner. The goal of the program is to reunite the children with their parents once their situations become more stable.
“We look the children and their family when they come in and instead of looking at what’s wrong and what needs to be better, we look at what’s already working and build from there,” said Tanner.
Parents are also offered support through counseling referrals and services such as free GED classes with the help of social workers at the Children’s Home.
Transitional living programs are offered to teenagers who stay at the home until graduation. These programs help them develop life skills and learn how to manage money and live on their own.
How the children live
Today, the facility is home to 48 children ages 5-18 who are cared for by what are known as cottage parents. A 24/7 occupation, cottage parents live with and take care of the children. Some of the parents include long-time married couples and retirees.
The children are provided meals from the commissary during the week while the cottage parents prepare food during the weekends. Vans are also provided for the parents, who take the children to school and extracurricular activities.
“Our goal is to expose them to different recreational programs,” said Tanner. “We had kids involved in city leagues in soccer and baseball and basketball. We have one who’s not really into sports, but he’s a member of the El Paso Youth Symphony Orchestra.”
The residential facility also has a library, learning center and gym, which includes a weight room, climbing wall and game room where the children have movie nights.
Three Rivers, NM is the home to a 100-acre recreational camp that is also a part of the Children’s Home. There, they stay in cabins and participate in trust and confidence exercises and other activities such as zip lining and hiking.
Looking at what Lee & Beulah Children’s Home has to offer, it is evident that one of the goals is to ensure that the children feel as special as possible. Birthday cakes, clothing, school supplies and other items are provided for the children through fund-raisers such as the annual walk/run for families in crisis and Operation Pumpkin, in which local physicians and surgeons donate their time to carve pumpkins and auction them off. The home even throws an annual prom that involves children of all ages.
“That’s why what we do here is so important; because we want to instill in these children’s lives a sense of stability and a sense of belonging,” said community relations and development coordinator Paul Whittler. “We want to give them basic values that will carry them through their adulthood and give them a strong foundation to stand on.”
Growing up at the children’s home for 11 years, alumnus Mike Navarrette decided to return to the home about 14 years ago as a cottage parent.
“I felt that I needed to come back because I understand where these kids are at and what they’re going through,” said Navarrette. “I just want them to be prepared so when they go out in the real world, they can face all of the challenges that they’re going to come across.”
Mike & Mrs. Navarrette
Some of Navarrette’s family also live at the cottage home, including his daughter and his wife, who also donates her time to foster children. The vice president of the El Paso Foster Parent Association, Mrs. Navarrette helps organize an annual quinceañera for both boys and girls who are turning the ages of 14-16
Although there is much community involvement, Whittler says Lee & Beulah Children’s home is always looking for more donations, whether its for the children’s provisions or for entertainment, such as tickets to local sporting events and performances. The home is also raising money to build and maintain cottages that will accommodate 16 more children, which will also lead to a search for more cottage parents.
Other services offered
Lee & Beaulah Moor’s Children’s Home has also been commended for their foster care, adoption and pregnancy counseling services. Licensed by the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services, the program is El Paso’s only private adoption agency. The organization currently monitors families who are fostering 15 children outside of the children’s home. Training is also provided; covering topics such as CPR, first aid care and alternatives to managing aggression.
“As for women who face unplanned pregnancies, the counseling services provided to them are unbiased,” said Tanner. “We’re here to help them process what their options are. We don’t ever tell them what their option needs to be,” continued Tanner. “If they choose adoption, we’re here to make that happen. But it’s very often that we work with birth moms all the way through their pregnancies and their plan was to place the baby for adoption, but at the last minute they change their mind. Well, we’ll celebrate that with them as well and help them to the best of our abilities.”