By Malley Scarbrough
Full Circle—Homeless to Houseparent
French Camp Academy graduate, Angela Fillinger Morgan was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to unwed parents who were drug addicts. She and her siblings went in and out of foster care for years. Their parents would get clean and the kids would go with them, then old habits flared and they would bounce back to foster care. It seemed like a never-ending cycle.
At one point, when she and her family were homeless in Memphis living out of their car, she auditioned for a dance troupe. Angela said, “Even though it was the worst audition, she [the teacher] still accepted me.” After joining the dance troupe, she was featured in a story in The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis published for their Beat the Odds program. From the story, a reader offered help and an opportunity to visit, and later, attend French Camp.
Initially at French Camp, Angela struggled with her identity as a daughter of drug addicts. What she didn’t know then was that—by being at French Camp—she would find a new identity, one in Christ. She was welcomed in the home of houseparents, Russ and Carolyn Akers. Carolyn guided Angela and helped her to see that she did not have to follow the same path as her parents and their path did not define hers. This drastically changed Angela’s life!
God started working on Angela as she progressed through her daily routine. She began to settle into her home, school, church, and other activities enjoying the loving environment and the relationships she was forming. She explained, “If I was at school, the teachers were loving and reassuring, and if I was at home there was a lot of love and reassurance. I think slowly that built a trust I had never had in adults.”
Angela found stability through FCA’s volunteer and paid work opportunities. She felt blessed to participate in FCA’s work programs, in particular the horse crew. She fulfilled a dream she thought would never happen through her work with horses. She also worked at the WFCA radio station. At the time not many students were allowed to actually be on the radio, but she was given that opportunity, creating a sense of accomplishment and responsibility. French Camp gave her opportunities to explore different work environments which she had never imagined before.
Angela acknowledges, “French Camp is important because kids need stability and our society lacks that. They need to see the biblical model of a wife and a husband working together supporting their children. And that’s not something most children are experiencing in the world today. And so that model is what God gave for a reason. I think he gave it to point back to himself.”
French Camp continued to have an impact on Angela’s life even after she graduated. She met her husband Matt at French Camp’s Camp of the Rising Son summer camp for kids. They began dating and got married in 2001. She talks about how her children, Emmaline, Brett, and Eleanor, are so far removed from the cycle she went through as a child. They listen but they don’t really understand the severity because their lives have been so dramatically different.
Angela’s French Camp story has now come full circle. The houseparents she had during her time there made a lasting impact on her life. So this past fall she and her husband became the houseparents for His Way/WFCA home. Now they are investing in and changing the lives of a house full of girls. Angela’s homeless-to-houseparent story is so inspiring and shows that during the good times and bad times God has a bigger plan for our lives.
To see Angela’s full story, along with other information about French Camp, visit www.frenchcamp.org.
Malley Scarbrough is the social media/production manager and Liquid Creative in Jackson, MS. She can be reached at email@example.com or 601.982.9194.