Cathy Tidwell

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My first day at the Florida Baptist Children’s Home is one I’ll always remember.  My brothers, sister, and I got there and the building was so nice, with a yard.  We met our house parents and the first thing they did was ask us if we were hungry.  I’ll never forget that first meal of hotdogs and chocolate milk.

We couldn’t remember having such a wonderful meal, especially in the middle of the day.  My parents were not your typical parents, and after the death of my father 9 months earlier, my mother just wasn’t able to cope.  My grandmother heard about the Children’s Homes through her pastor and sent us there.  Our mother died three years later.

I can now see God’s hand in it, but at the time all I knew was that I was safe, well fed, and cared for by my house parents.  You may not realize how important that is to a child, but I promise you, feeling safe, and knowing that someone cares about you and won’t hurt you is a gift from God.

Christmas at the Children’s Home could have been a very lonely and uneventful time, if not for my house parents and sponsors. Because of them, even though we had no parents, we always had Christmas.  We would have good meals, and there were always presents under the tree for us. My house parents did what they could to make it special and I will never forget them for that.

The Children’s Homes is where I learned about Christ. We had never been to church, so this was all new to us.  I learned that there was a Father who loved me, wouldn’t hurt me and wouldn’t leave me. I learned that I could always count on Him, no matter what may come my way.  It was a lesson that is with me today and one that I have passed down to my children.

Because of the Children’s Homes, my children have grown up never knowing abuse, hunger, or loneliness. They love the Lord and are great adults who have both graduated from College, the first in my family.  My daughter went on to New Orleans Baptist Seminary and is now a children’s minister and my son is a teacher at a middle school.

I have been married 34 years to a wonderful man and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that without the Children’s Homes, their love, support and teaching me about Christ, my life would have been very different.

Your gift, whatever it might be, makes a huge difference in the life of a child. Believe me, I know firsthand.  Please consider that this Christmas season, think about those children who don’t have a family and won’t have Christmas without someone like you making it happen.  People like you can make a difference in the life of a child.  That’s what God calls us all to do, make a difference, one life at a time.    

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story. I also want to say thank you to all those who supported the Children’s Homes when I was a child. I am alive and blessed beyond all measure, because you cared.  Merry Christmas!

In Christ,

Cathy Tidwell
Former Resident of the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes
Lakeland Campus

Cathy Tidwell today wtih her family. Clockwise from top left: Toby (Cathy's husband, Cathy, Amber (Cathy's daughter), and Austin (Cathy's son).