United Methodist Children's Home undergoes rebranding, name change


MT. VERNON – The United Methodist Children’s Home (UMCH) formally announced its new name March 30 at the ‘Breakfast with a View’ event.

The agency will now be known as Spero Family Services. For more than 100 years this agency has operated children’s homes. However, in recent years, the organization has expanded to include nine other programs in 10 counties, serving 1,000 people annually.

“It is so much more than a children's home yet for many of us in Southern Illinois, when we hear the name United Methodist Children's Home that's what we think,” said Spero board member Tony Wielt. “Frankly, the name was not descriptive enough of the body of work that we do,” Wielt added.

The new brand is a name that is rooted in God’s love and promise of an abundant life. Spero is the Latin word for “I hope” from the phrase “While I yet breathe, I have hope.” The new name, pronounced like “sparrow,” speaks to the agency’s core value of providing hope, help and healing to those longing for a better life. The new agency logo, a stylized anchor, is rich in imagery and meaning. The top of the anchor is a cross; at the bottom a sparrow’s head –its wings intertwined with the anchor. This represents the very heart of agency’s mission and values. The rising anchor is a symbol for Hope.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19. When a ship’s anchor weighs, or is raised up, it signals the beginning of a new voyage, a new adventure. The stylized image of the bird reminds us of the value God places on us in Matthew 10:29-31.

“This was a historic day in the United Methodist Children’s Home’s history, and with this new name, we are poised to grow and help even more individuals, youth, and families – which we could not do without the support of our donors, church partners, and businesses in the communities we serve,” says John Shadowens, President and CEO of Spero Family Services.

The organization had considered a name change before, but it wasn’t until this year that the Board made a unanimous decision to undertake a rebranding initiative. The decision was made upon hearing survey results gathered from a professional marketing firm. The firm interviewed individuals, businesses, and other churches in the area and found that some had never heard of the agency, others knew of them only as a children’s home, and still others still thought it was an orphanage.

Although the name has changed, the mission and vision remain the same. The strong and enduring tradition and affiliation with The United Methodist Church also remains the same. This new name opens more doors for support, and allows the people throughout Southern Illinois to become more aware of the full array of services available in addition to the youth homes in Mt. Vernon and Murphysboro. Those other services include: outpatient counseling services with locations in 6 counties throughout the region; a Foster Care program, a Youthbuild program to help teens get their HSE/GED and learn a trade; parenting support, an on-campus school, a nurse-family partnership program that helps first-time mothers, transitional living, and Bright Start; and a faith-based childcare center in Mt. Vernon.

Learn more by visiting www.sperofs.org. Spero Family Services welcomes volunteers (groups and individuals), mentors and potential new foster parents.