In spring 2018, Davetta McIntosh deeded her large house on South 581 Road to be used as a children’s home, and The McIntosh Home Foundation was born.
For over a year, board members, house parents, and community volunteers have worked to renovate the house so a family and foster children can live in it. The building was open to the public Friday for a ribbon cutting and celebration.
McIntosh said the seeds for this project were sown two years ago, but members of the McIntosh board had already been looking for a home for two years.
“God works miracles. At first, I said that when I passed away, I would give it to the children. That’s stupid; God may let me live 20 years," said McIntosh. "And me by myself in here? I can see the rewards of the children coming through. My mother took care of 230-something foster children, so this is like full circle.”
A photo of McIntosh hangs on one wall in the foyer, and arranged around it will be photos of all the foster children who stay at the home.
Robyn and Andrew Taylor will be the house parents. They have been fostering children for a decade and currently have foster kids ages 10, 12, and 14.
“We treat every kid that comes in as our own,” said Robyn.
There are three things her and her husband hope to instill in the children: a sense of worth, a sense of belonging, and a sense of competence.
“We want them to feel they are wanted and cherished. We want to make a difference in each child that comes in this home,” said Robyn. “We will have family meals, family outings, and family conversations. They will be a part of that, just like our own children.”
Nikki Baker-Limore, executive director of Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare, attended the open house and spoke to the crowd.
Cherokee children make up 75 percent of the children in foster care in Cherokee County, and 90 percent of them in Adair County, according to Baker-Limore. She said that with Taylor preferring teenagers, it will help so many older children who are often overlooked or unwanted.
“As an agency full of social workers, we are overjoyed,” said Baker-Limore.
One point she made about a home such as this was that the children will have a large lawn to play in, a pool to swim in, and house parents to take them to events.
“At a group home, they may have monthly activities, but they don’t get to go do things at the drop of a hat,” she said. “They are the least of the least; they don’t have many options. This can save them from being in that environment.”
Krista Baird, board president, said they hope to have the family move in by the end of June. At first, it will be the Taylors and the three foster children they currently have in their care.
“We will start with the three kids, but there are quite a few in the heads of Indian Child Welfare. We will start slowly,” said Baird. “We are super-excited about finally being here.”
“S.V.” is a 12-year-old foster child currently living with the Taylors.
“It’s pretty cool here. I’m surprised we’re moving in,” said S.V. “The Taylors are really awesome. They’re trying to help and to teach us to behave.”
McIntosh will be invited to Sunday dinners and special occasions, and the Taylors and foundation board plan to have monthly lawn parties for the community, starting with Fourth of July.
“We had a great turnout today. We’re really pleased,” said Baird. “We’ve had a lot of support from the community, both Adair and Cherokee counties. We couldn’t have done it without not just the donations, but the legwork and the work on the renovations.”
Some rooms still need to be renovated or have final touches added. The kitchen, pantry, laundry room, downstairs bathroom, and living room are complete, with the large living room having multiple couches, a TV area, and a gaming area.
The large master bathroom will be split in two, with one left for the master bedroom and the other for children. A girls’ bathroom upstairs just needs the shower tiled. Another old bathroom will be turned into a craft room. When renovations are completed, there will be four bedrooms and four bathrooms. All the bedrooms will have bunk beds to accommodate more children.
People may donate enough money to finish a room, and their names will be put on plaques outside of those rooms. Two already have plaques near the doors.
“The dining room will have a very long table for family dinners, and it has a library area in the corner,” said Baird. “The kitchen was expanded and it is all new, except for some appliances. To accommodate a large family, it has an island and a bar so they can hang out and be together.”
The pantry has an additional refrigerator, an ice maker, and a freezer. The laundry room features two washers and two dryers.
Other buildings on the property include a garage and a barn. They plan to renovate the garage so it will have an apartment upstairs and a visitation room downstairs. The barn needs a new floor so it can be turned into a game and event area.
The house needs additional items, but these will be for the children and family: bedding, board and lawn games, movies, books, and cleaning supplies. No internet will be installed in the house for at least a few months, so the house parents need ways to occupy the kids.
“Personal hygiene items are a huge need. Every foster child that comes in needs a toothbrush, soap, deodorant,” said Taylor.
A full list of items is available on The McIntosh Home Foundation’s Facebook page.
The foundation is still accepting volunteers, especially those needing community service hours.
“Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent and wants to talk with someone who has done it can talk with Robyn,” said Baird. “The home is part of the foundation. We would love to have more homes and families under the foundation.”
For more information about The McIntosh Home, visit www.themcintoshhomefoundation.com or call 918-575-0066.