Laura Regan does a lot of things most parents do for their children. She attends sports activities, school conferences, and shuttles kids around on dates, trying not to talk much so she doesn’t encroach on the youngsters’ sense of privacy.
But the children Regan spends so much time with aren’t her own. Regan, 45, is program director of the Henry & William Evans Home for Children in Winchester.
The Evans Home is an accredited, nonprofit home for abused, neglected, or homeless children who are not in foster care. Regan recently received the Virginia Association of Children’s Homes’ Distinguished Service to Children Award for 2003. She was nominated by Marc Jaccard, executive director of the Evans Home. Jaccard said he nominated Regan because of her tremendous dedication to her work. “She’s just amazing. This is a labor of love for her and she takes it home with her,” he said.
A typical workday for Regan begins around 8 a.m. and ends between 4 and 6 p.m., but Jaccard said Regan spends a great deal of time after hours doing activities that support the children who live at the Evans Home. She goes to PTO meetings, athletic events, and has even acted as a chauffeur during prom and Homecoming seasons. Like many employees of the Evans Home, Regan spends her holidays at the home. On Christmas morning, when the children open their presents, she’s there.
“I go to Laura about everything,” said Lori, an 18-year-old Shenandoah University student who has lived in the Evans Home for three years. “I take her input on things.” Regan has taken Lori to the hospital, and she helped her apply to college. “She’s got a good heart,” Lori said. “She does a lot of stuff for the kids.”
Regan said one of the biggest challenges for children who come to the Evans Home is to start thinking positively about the future. Many new residents say they have no dreams, that their lives are terrible, and they don’t anticipate things changing for the better.
By exposing the children to new opportunities and encouraging them to volunteer their time, apply themselves in school and plan for the future, Regan and other Evans Home staffers help the children realize their own potential.
For Regan, letting go can be one of the biggest challenges of her job. “It has its emotional ups and downs. When a kid leaves, you miss them because they become a part of who you are,” she said. At the same time, helping the children she works with achieve their goals and become successful is the job’s greatest reward, she said.
Regan joined the Evans Home four years ago, but she has worked in human services for 24 years. She grew up in New York City, graduating from Hofstra University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and psychology. She worked at Grafton for 11 years and at Shalom et Benedictus — an organization that closed its residential drug treatment program in Stephenson in 1999 — for nine years before joining the staff at the Evans Home.
Fifteen children ages 10 to 18 live at the Evans Home. Jaccard said Regan’s habits of going above and beyond the call of her job are typical of the nine people who work at the Evans Home. “I’ve got an awesome staff. Every single one of the people here really buys into the idea that we need to honor and treasure this time in the lives of the children we have here,” he said.