Our mission of helping people find their way Home extends way beyond our customers. At the core of this mission and the "Why" behind what we do everyday is our company ministry branch, JH Reach. Bobby Parks, Chief Ministry Officer for the JH Family of Companies, and Megan Gaither, Program Assistant for JH Reach, join us today to talk about this ministry branch and how it helps extend our company mission to our employees, our business partners, the communities we're in, and to other communities and people groups around the world.
S2 Ep15_How JH Reach is Helping People Find Their Way Home (Bobby Parks & Megan Gaither)-.mp3
Intro: [00:00:03] Welcome Home, a podcast brought to you by John Houston Homes. Join hosts, Chelsi Frazier and Whitney Pryor, as they walk you through the exciting adventure of your home buying and building journey.
Whitney Pryor: [00:00:18] Hello listeners, thank you for joining us on another episode of the Welcome Home Podcast. Today, we've got some awesome guests. I'm excited to do this podcast today. We always bring in great content about how to build a home, how to work with a sales manager, how to search for products and design your home. Today, we're bringing it back in and we're talking a little bit more about our company as a whole and what our purpose is. Chelsi, why don't you tell us who we've got on today and give us a little bit more scope of what we're talking about.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:00:54] Today we're talking to Bobby Parks. He's the Chief Ministry Officer for the JH Family of Companies. We also have on the show Megan Gaither. She's a program assistant for JH Reach. A couple episodes ago, we talked about the JH Family of Companies, who all that is and and what that's all about. These two people work really closely together and with a really great team of people who support our company, our culture, our employees, local and global organizations. There's so many things that we're going to dive into. We just wanted to talk to them today because it's part of who we are as a Family of Companies and as John Houston Homes. Like you said, we talk about building houses and all the specifics in the products all the time. It's nice to just take a break and talk about who we are and why we do what we do. That's what we're talking about today, so welcome to the show Bobby and Megan.
Bobby Parks: [00:01:57] Hey, we're glad to be here. You guys are always incredible. We're excited to talk about JH Reach, ways that our employees reach out to the community and also the deeper purpose of our company is about as well.
Megan Gaither: [00:02:11] Yeah, thanks for having us. I'm really excited for this.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:02:14] Bobby, you've been on the show before, so I should have said welcome back!
Bobby Parks: [00:02:17] Hey, not my first rodeo, but I will see if I can stay on for more than eight seconds this time.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:02:24] Great, let's just start with like, what is JH Reach? Bobby, if you want to take that one and explain to the listeners what JH Reach is.
Bobby Parks: [00:02:34] You know, the listeners that have chimed in here, obviously, they know that we're not just a home building company. We hear that from our founder, John, all the time. He even says, "we're not in the homebuilding business, we're in the people business." That's so true for every one of our employees. We're reminded of that all the time, that our number one job is to be a hope-filled, joyful, loving guide, to help people on their journey, not just to purchase a home, but in their life journey. We're encouraged and empowered to serve people and to love people. Our number one core value is Generous Love. We want to see that played out in every interaction, every touchpoint from a customer, trades and our business partners. We also believe deeply in the ways that we show Generous Love to our employees in the workplace, the ways that plays out in our local community where we work and serve and where many of our employees live. We also try to do that with our global partners all around the world. JH Reach is just our ministry arm of the family of Companies of how do we love our employees well, how do we love our community well and then how do we also partner with some amazing organizations that are serving people, even all around the world, in over 100+ countries?
Chelsi Frazier: [00:03:52] That's amazing. I think just as employees, Whitney and I can both speak into what impact that's had on our personal journeys here. I've never worked for a company that had a ministry arm. At first, I was like, "what is this? What what do we do? Explain it to me?" Whitney, what did you think when you first came on board?
Whitney Pryor: [00:04:12] Oh, yeah, I've never worked for a company that has poured more into not only the community and global outreach, but also to their employees. You work for companies, large corporations that, have a charity arm. They give money, give funds, but you never as an employee get to see that impact. Usually, it's more of a marketing message, "hey, we give to this company", vs. what you actually do as an employee, as a company and who you are as a person. To come to a company that not only does that, but also involves their employees, sends them on mission trips, organizes life teams, financial wellness courses and pours into their employees so they can go out and do things for their community, is just amazing. I've never worked for a company or heard of a company that even does that. I can go on and on and on!
Bobby Parks: [00:05:14] I know for us it's a joy that we get to do that in a marketplace setting. I know myself, I came from a more traditional ministry setting and worked for a missions organization. To get to do that in a marketplace where it's not just a side thing, but it's who we are and every employee has an opportunity to get involved. We pray and hope and I love hearing that Whitney, that you feel it. You feel involved, you feel that love that is our heart. We're also excited that so many of our employees, Whitney and Chelsi, you guys do this, get to serve and give back to the community. You get to be a part of even what some of our global partners are doing in other countries around the world. For us, that excites us, that, even here in this marketplace setting, we don't have to separate ministry, serving others or giving back to others, or maybe what some would say is relegated to Sunday morning. We could live our whole lives here at work. We don't force anyone to have that faith or that belief. Everyone's accepted, everyone's loved, but we want to invite people into a deeper journey that you don't have to compartmentalize your work life, your church life, or even your purpose and why you feel like you're here on the Earth. You get to live that out here at the church family company. We love that we get to be a part of that and help employees do that as well.
Whitney Pryor: [00:06:45] Yeah, we definitely feel that. You spend so much time at work, 40 hours a week, you give up a huge amount of your time.
Bobby Parks: [00:06:51] If you're only working 40... Most people spend, I think the average is 8.5 hours a day in a work week. Some studies show even 50 hours a week that most people are spending in the workplace. That's a big chunk of their time.
Whitney Pryor: [00:07:09] Huge, so if we can incorporate the two and not just have outreach and giving as something you do on the weekends, but also just a part of who you are throughout the week, that's amazing.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:07:20] Lets talk about some of those things specifically that we get to do for employees, like life teams, counseling, financial help, marriage retreat, Right Now Media and company events, just to name a few. What kinds of opportunities do we have for our employees to get involved?
Megan Gaither: [00:07:39] Yeah, ee partner with 15 to 20 local organizations just around the DFW area. One of those organizations we absolutely love is Mentors Care. Last year, 14 of our employees volunteered to be a mentor. Mentors Care serves at-risk students in the high schools around Ellis County. They really encourage adults to get out and just spend one hour a week with those students, encouraging them in their daily lives and just being there for them. That is an organization that we love to partner with. One of our own employees, Wes Dorough, this year, was awarded Mentor's Care of the Year, which is the first award that they gave out. That's just another example of how amazing our employees are. At JH Reach, we get to help and just encourage our employees, but it's really amazing to work with all of y'all. Y'all are the ones that make JH Reach possible. We would not be here without y'all. That's just another organization that we work with. We also partner with Bridges. They help single moms and families kind of just get back on their feet. We partner with organizations that really want to encourage and to lift up the next generation, but also those that are kind of structured on biblical values. Those are two of our main focuses when we reach out to organizations.
Bobby Parks: [00:09:12] Yeah, there are a lot of opportunities for employees to jump in, serve and get involved. As Megan mentioned, Mentors Care, we love them and the incredible work that they do. Our company is actually helping to partner with a couple of organizations out in Fort Worth to build what we call a Hope Field, which is a multi-purpose, synthetic turf field that at risk youth can play sports on soccer flag football. It's reaching a primarily refugee youth community out there in Fort Worth. They do incredible work. They're teaching English as a second language, World Relief Does for them. They're helping them pull them off the streets and give them better choices than some of the peer pressure challenges that are out there for them. By building this Field of Hope, it's giving youth hope for a brighter future. It's showing them that they don't have to go the same path that you know others around them have. Here's an opportunity for you and do it through your passion, do it through sports. That's a way to kind of bring them in, but then it's also teaching them biblically based leadership and values to show them how they can walk in that hope and how they can have a brighter future. There are incredible opportunities for our employees to serve and get involved locally, but we live in a beautiful place. We have amazing organizations here in Ellis County. We feel honored that we get to serve these great organizations that are reaching out and doing so much work. As Megan mentioned, so many of our employees, a reason why they work here is they didn't want just another job. They could go work at any other organization, but they chose here. They said, "I want to be a part of something bigger than myself. I want to work at a place where I can give back and I can make a difference." That's our secret sauce here at the JH Family of Companies, we have some of the best employees with the greatest hearts, as well.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:11:01] I love that. It's so true, you can work anywhere. I think most people want to feel like they're making a difference in their job and in what they do. I know just coming and doing marketing every day or sales or building houses, you're like, "well, what difference about making?" Overall, if the company supports things like this, what we do every day, it feels like we're supporting that because we're helping make a profit, encouraging each other and volunteering our time. I think it's great because there's so many ways. If you don't have the time, you can donate, you can join a Life Team over lunch with your coworkers and learn how to be better organized and have a more family time. There are so many things that you can do. I think as employees, that you hit the nail on the head talking about wanting to feel like you're being a part of something bigger, because I definitely feel that, for sure.
Whitney Pryor: [00:11:59] Absolutely.
Bobby Parks: [00:11:59] I think coming back to our employees, Chelsi, you mentioned some of these initiatives that we offer for our employees. It's Life Teams which is kind of like small groups in the workplace. It's a way for employees to grow together in community and they can grow in their faith. We have courses on family, on marriage, on parenting and even on financial wellness. Our heart behind that is if we're just trying to squeeze work out of our employees all the time or just asking them to serve and give, and then we're not pouring back into them, they don't feel that generous love. They don't know that they're valued and cared for, that your job here is not just to serve everyone else. You work at a place where we see you and we care about you. We know that you have difficult things going on at home and your finances. Someone might be sick or sometimes you just need to know that there's others out there with you, that there is a place that you can call home. When you leave here, we believe God, Family then Work in that order, that we need to give people time to spend with their families. Coming back to spending so much time at work, it's so sad that so many people, they come to a place at work and they just sit at their desk all day long. They feel alone and feel isolated. They don't have community there, so we're trying to be intentional in the ways that we even help our employees find their way home. That's our brand vision for our company, is that We Want to Help People Find Their Way Home. We do that in very practical ways by helping our customers find beautiful dream homes. We have some of that we can offer, but there's a deeper Home that we're talking about, as well. For our employees, part of that is making them feel at home, a place that they belong, a place that they feel, a place that they feel seen, and then a place that they're cared for. When you're a young kid, you come home, you know you can come to the table and your parents are going to feed you. You're going to have things provided for you there, so we want to do the same with JH Reach. We want our employees to know that you're cared for. You're taking care of here. We want to invite them on a journey, how they can find their eternal home and how they can help others do the same. That's really what JH Reach is all about.
Whitney Pryor: [00:14:02] A side track, my daughter is turning eight on Friday. She's having a birthday party on Saturday at our community pool. We live in one of the communities in Buffalo Ridge where we build at. Every person that we've invited to the party is one of my friends from work and my daughter is friends with all of their children. You foster a sense of community, you help people find friends and family at work. Anywhere else I've worked, I never would have mingled with people outside of work. It's go there, leave and then I have my my friends outside of work, but at this company it's different. Everyone is my family here. To have my daughter's birthday party, every single person invited is someone I work with and my daughter loves all of their kids. They go to gymnastics together. They do things on the weekends together. It just feels great, especially not being from here. I don't have a lot of family here, so it's great to work for a company that has helped me basically create my family. It's been great.
Bobby Parks: [00:15:13] I love hearing that. I think there are two truths you can find in any culture anywhere in the world. I've traveled to over 40 nations of the world, then coming here to this, The John Houston Family of Companies, this principle is so true anywhere. Everyone wants a place where they can belong and they can believe. In that belief, some people have different beliefs, of course, but they want to believe that there's something greater. They want to believe in a brighter future. They want to have a hope. I think that we do that for a lot of other people outside. To do that for our employees, that they have a place where they belong and they can believe, that's what makes this place feel like home for so many people, as well, that we're helping people find their way home. You can belong, you can believe here.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:15:59] We have many, many awesome things for our employees, but let's talk about what we do globally, too, because it's reaching all the people and every ear. What are some things that we do globally?
Megan Gaither: [00:16:10] Yeah, usually every year we'll send at least four teams on Mission Trips. Last year we had to take off due to COVID, but we did get to go to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to build a Hope Field. That was amazing. We had about 11 employees go, lay down the turf and build the fence. During that time, it felt like we were doing more during COVID then without, because we did campaigns and we partnered with a lot of organizations while also doing giving campaigns. One of our big partners is One Hope. They really believe that they want to reach every child with the word of God. We go on a lot of Mission Trips with One Hope as well, and we also partner with Enlace. We've sent our employees on Mission Trips to El Salvador. That's kind of a soft place for us because we partner with them every year. They're very biblical based, but they they want to transform communities. They really believe in strong relationships. We love that about them.
Bobby Parks: [00:17:24] We have incredible global partners. We could tell you guys stories of many other partners, whether they're finding homes for orphans that we've had to flee their country that we're stuck on the border and without parents and without food. Now, they're literally finding a home. They're being fed, being clothed and also being taught the word of God. We could tell you stories about girls that have been rescued out of trafficking. Now they're being restored and finally finding hope through partners like Venture that we work with, as well. Chelsi, you said something. You said, "it helps me know, yeah, there's opportunities for me to get plugged in, to get poured into here at H Reach or there's ways I can go serve my local community." You've also been on Mission Trips with us. To know that every day you could be helping a young girl that was rescued out of trafficking or a young kid who was orphaned find a home, that just by doing what you do every day, doing it with excellence, going the second mile in your work, knowing that you're also making an impact for young kids around the world in a country you may never go to, but yet your impact is reaching that. That's part of that greater purpose that we can tell our employees, our customers and those that partner with us, you're part of something bigger. This isn't just buying a house. This isn't just a job. We're part of something bigger and so much of that is to impact on the next generation. With God's word, we give them hope, but then also we help them very practical ways.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:18:55] It's powerful.
Whitney Pryor: [00:18:56] Megan mentioned that we weren't able to go and do Mission Trips during COVID and that kind of threw everyone for a loop. It threw JH Reach for a loop, too, as far as our outreach and being able to be with people. Amidst all of that, you managed to start a new mission. Tell us more about this new adventure.
Bobby Parks: [00:19:18] Yeah with COVID, obviously the whole world was thrown for a spin and it affected every person in every industry, but particularly, those in missions and outreach work. A lot of our global partners, their work was shut down and stopped, but then there was these other problems that came up. There were food shortages and kids that you couldn't reach in the same way. Of course, we had to innovate, pivot and say, "how how can we find new ways to help them?" Then we started looking in our local community. If you remember, it wasn't just the COVID pandemic. We had these racial tensions that were hitting everywhere. It wasn't just streets in other cities, but it was kids. It was kids in schools that they were home and and looking to social media news to try to make sense of this. We all know you're not going to find a lot of truth that way. A really great outreach partner and friend of ours, Bishop Aaron Blake, he and I were invited to speak to a couple of football teams. We were doing kind of like "in zone" locker room talks with them, and this is on the heels of George Floyd's death. They've got questions and challenges. They just lived through the first global pandemic. Everyone's wearing masks. They're trying to figure out and how to navigate this season. It seems like everyone's divided and where's their hope and truth. Bishop and I talked to Megan and our whole team. We decided they need more than a pep talk. They need more than just a locker room inspiration. We said what they need is they need leadership and they need values that they can hold on to that are true. In the midst of confusion in a world divided and chaos all around, what can you hold on that is true? We started what we call the Varsity Leadership Academy. That is for top Junior and Senior level students that the coach, club director, chess team, the band, football or soccer and they say, "I see these students. They may not be the best on the field, but they have the best potential to be a leader and to use their influence to impact others. We want to pick them, select them and we want to invest in you." You're a part of this Leadership Academy. They go through ten, now they're biblically based values, but there's no faith mentioned in the curriculum. We can get into the schools, encourage the youth with incredible content, show them what it means to be a leader, what it means to live with those values and then at the end, we also help them to do an outreach in the community. Now we're showing them, here's values that you can base your leadership on no matter what is happening in the world around you. Here's some things you can build your life on, but then here's what a leader does. A leader sees need around them and they use their influence to impact and serve others. We had a lot of these these macho High School football players going with us to shop with a cop with us. They were shopping with other at risk youth, young kids around Target and Wal-Mart buying Christmas presents with them. It was a beautiful, beautiful opportunity.
Megan Gaither: [00:22:14] Yeah, it's amazing when you give a High School student encouragement and just speak life into them. They really step up. I've had the opportunity just to hear a couple of those cops and those students say, "hey, I'm still in contact with my kid from shop with a cop." Everybody, like you said, wants to believe, they want to belong and they want community. I would just encourage all of the listeners, if you live in Ellis County, if you consider yourself a leader or not, there's a strong desire that High School students have. They long for a leader to look up to. Even if you're not a leader at work, just giving the students a voice and say, "hey, I was where you were at one time and look where I am now." Giving them potential to see just who they can be, even if you didn't play sports, chess or were in choir, we really want to reach the whole school. We want to show that every kid belongs and they have the potential to be the best that they can be.
Bobby Parks: [00:23:21] Yeah, if you want to tell a young student that you believe in them, we've got the curriculum and we've got everything to make it really, really easy. You don't have to know what to say. You just have to show up and tell a student that you believe in them. If you want more info, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll get you all the info and what it means to be a Varsity Leadership Academy Facilitator.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:23:43] Let's shift back a little bit. What are we doing in the marketplace, business to business?
Bobby Parks: [00:23:49] You guys mentioned you haven't seen other businesses that do all that we do. Sometimes even for us, when we came in, there wasn't a manual that we could go to and say, "okay, how do we do ministry in a marketplace for our employees? How do we engage people in community and beyond and reach the world through through a marketplace?" However, what we have found, is there are some incredible organizations that are doing that. We actually have friends just in West Texas, Beaten Bow Homes. They're doing incredible work for their employees and their local community. They send their employees on Mission Trips, as well. We have our friends Interstate Battery right up the road from us and they've got incredible programs. We have a passion for other business owners and business leaders. It doesn't even just have to be in business. It could be Engineers or Lawyers. They don't know how to use their sphere of influence, what they do every day, not only to make an impact, but how they can live out their faith in the workplace. Sometimes I feel like we have this wall of separation of church and state that was written in a letter by Thomas Jefferson. Somehow we think that means that no one could ever live out their faith and what they do, that's just not true. I remember when I first even started working this job, I met with Chad Miles, our our CFO, and said, "Chad, I think we need to talk to employment lawyer. Can we say this?" What we found out is that you can live out your faith in the workplace. The issue is, will you accept and accommodate for everyone? Our answer to that is always absolutely, yes. We want everyone to feel love, so it would be wrong of us to force our faith on anyone. That's not our heart and that's not what we do, but yet that doesn't limit us. We can share our faith, we can give people hope and we can give people opportunities, if they want to. If they want to go that way, then why would we not share the thing that we think is most important, the thing that we think can really help people truly find their way home and find a place that they belong in, something that they can believe in that won't let them down. For us, we're very passionate about how can we help empower, equip and inspire other people in the marketplace? We could say, "we don't have it all figured out, but here's some things that we do and here's a strategy that we use." John Houston recently wrote a book. He's starting to speak and share more of that story. You guys know, John, he doesn't always like to do that, but we're encouraging him. People need to hear this story. We're living in a day and age where we see hurt and we see confusion. We see so many negative things out there. If we could inspire people that the workplace could be a place that people find hope, encouragement and purpose. That you could use your role in the workplace to make a positive impact through the people that you work with and also your community, we need more of that. We're passionate about we teach, train and inspire others to multiply that work. We can't reach our whole community by ourselves, as one, six or seven companies, or however many we have right now, however, if we can encourage others to link arms with us and do their job as well, we really believe we can be a part of seeing our community transform.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:27:02] You mentioned our brand vision again, Helping People Find Their Way Home. Why do you feel like that's so important for employees in the business and in the marketplace? Can you explain that a little bit more?
Bobby Parks: [00:27:14] We've wrestled in our company for a while of, we have this greater purpose. Our purpose statement is, Reach People for Christ and Give to The Kingdom, and that's why John and Tracey started the company so many years ago. They've never strayed away from that and even our employees know, that's our greater purpose. That's why we do what we do. How do we help people that maybe don't share that faith, maybe they don't understand what that means or even how do we communicate something like that to customers having a vision statement like Helping People Find Their Way Home? We just knew that was something that was going to help widen the funnel, so to speak, meaning that there'd be more people that would jump in with that, could buy into that and could get excited around that. The language I know for you ladies, it's helping your teams to know how do we communicate such a beautiful purpose? How do we do that in a way that it makes sense as a home builder and for people that work here. For us, we're really excited that we have language that no matter where you are in your faith journey or where you are, even in your journey in our company, if you don't know about Life Teams or you've never been on a Mission Trip with us, you can find your place and help people find their way home. This is where it gets personal to us. Our heart and our goal is not just that people know how to sell a home really well or build a home really well. Our heart and purpose is that people truly know that they belong, that they're part of a family, that they're loved, that they're valued, that they have worth, that we believe that every person was created in the image of God and that they have a purpose and a destiny. We want them to find that. We want them to know that. We believe the only way people can truly find their real way home is when they have a personal relationship with Jesus. When they get to see Jesus for who he is, in the ways that he sees them, loves them and what he did to show them that love, we believe that there's not anyone in the world that wouldn't want to meet this Jesus and to know that Jesus. If they really could see the ways that he loved them. If they could really see the lengths that he went to bring them back home. I would just even say, I want to encourage anyone that's listening here. You might have been listening to our organization about ways that we serve and love our employees, ways that we give back to our local community or partner with people in another country that you may never go to and say, "what does this have to do with me?" Maybe you're listening today and maybe you feel far from home. Maybe you don't feel like you belong or that your belief has strayed away. I just want to encourage you. It's never too late to come back home. It's never too late. You're never too far gone. You've never done enough that God doesn't say that he loves you. He wants you to return. I really believe that when we know the Father's heart, our Heavenly Father and I know for many of us, when we talk about our earthly Fathers, that can bring up some pain and even some distance sometimes, not everyone. I know for some people that's a reason why they haven't come to God because there's pain and hurt. When you know your Heavenly Father sees you, loves you and know what he's done to say, "I want you to come back home and I want you running into my arms. I've forgiven you, if you'll just come to me." I don't know that there's any better homecoming, any better reunion or any greater sense of fulfillment of love, of belonging than when we come back home to God. He is our creator, the one who loved us, the one who sees us, the one that we can find purpose in, no matter what your role or title is. If you're listening and you're an educator, you're a stay at home mom or a business owner, there's no greater place then to come back home to be with the Lord and being a community that also celebrates that as well.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:31:07] I love it! There's no place like home.
Whitney Pryor: [00:31:09] No, there is not.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:31:11] Thank you both so much for sharing today. I think this was really great to talk about. It is different than what we normally talk about on the podcast, but it's very much a part of who we are. We just appreciate your time. Megan and Bobby, thank you so much.
Whitney Pryor: [00:31:25] Yes, thank you so much for coming.
Bobby Parks and Megan Gaither: [00:31:27] Thanks for having us.
Whitney Pryor: [00:31:29] If you listened in today and heard some of the great opportunities that we provide, not only for local ministry, but also for our global outreach and our employees, and you would like to learn more and get involved, we would love to see you do that. You can find out more information at jhreach.org. They have a list of the different outreaches that that they do. You can get involved there. If you're looking for more information about our company, feel free to visit our website at jhoustonhomes.com or you can give us a call at 866.298.1416. You can reach us by email at email@example.com. Thank you so much for listening in today.
Chelsi Frazier and Whitney Pryor: [00:32:19] Welcome Home.