By Jordan Bridges
LATEXO – Four years ago Serenity Place, a Houston-based nonprofit agency that provides care and treatment to youth with mental and emotional health issues, established residency in Crockett at the old State School facility. The Crockett facility became home to many children that were transferred from the original Houston site.
Darryl Bennett, owner of White Horse Enterprises and Pastor of Eastgate Family Church, became familiar with the location after speaking with a member from his church who was employed by the organization and wanted to introduce Bennet to the staff and children.
After the introduction and connection was made, Bennett was asked to become their volunteer campus pastor. This allowed for Bennett’s church to meet on site every Wednesday and Sunday night to have fellowship with the students. It was during this time that Bennett met Matthew, a young man that Bennett would eventually call son.
“Matthew was 12-years old when we first met. You could tell how much he loved church. He would come to worship, sing, and even wanted to preach,” Bennett said.
“The first day we met Matthew, he immediately hugged me and asked when he could come home with us to be our son,” Bennett chuckled. “We just smiled and loved on him. As time went every Sunday we would bring snacks with refreshments and Matthew always wanted to come home with us.”
Matthew was included in a group of children and staff members that requested to be baptized by Bennett after meeting with him. Soon after that, Bennett also helped establish an equestrian program for the children as a means of therapy. Matthew was one of the first participants in this equestrian program, which only strengthened his bond with Bennett.
In 2017, Serenity Place closed its doors in Crockett and relocated the children back to their Houston site. This event caused a separation between Bennett and Matthew, but in effort to keep in touch, Bennett provided his contact information to Matthew. As time passed by, Bennett did not hear from Matthew.
“I lost his number and was unable to reach him,” Matthew said, “but I looked him up online and tracked him down.”
“I was very impressed that he was able to go online and track me down. Matthew would call me and every time he would ask; when are you coming to get me, when are you going to adopt me?” Bennett said, “I let him know that we would pray about and if it was God’s will then it would be so.”
After three-years of communication between Matthew and Bennett their prayers were answered. In December of 2019 the Bennett family was granted the ability to foster Matthew for nine days during the Christmas holiday. At the end of Matthew’s stay he returned back to Houston, but not for long.
On Thursday, March 12 Matthew was escorted back to Bennett’s home by CPS and was thrown a ‘Welcome to the Family” celebration at Moosehead Cafe on the following evening. The event consisted of family and friends in the community who provided new attire and gifts to accommodate his new country life style.
“Matthew has adapted very well to our family. He will be enrolled in Latexo ISD where he will attend the tenth grade,” Bennett said. “He loves to fish, hog hunt, and do all things outdoors. Needless to say, he’s had a very busy three-weeks and we couldn’t be happier to have him here with us.”
Jordan Bridges may be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.