Prince left an encouraging legacy of innovation
Updated: Dec 22, 2019
I'm finally to the part of "The Connie Maxwell Story" that I actually lived through. I worked at Connie Maxwell Children's Home as the communications director from 1987-1993 and served under two of the presidents mentioned in the "Change and Loss" segment of the documentary -- Heyward Prince and Joe Weber. Both men were friends and mentors to me and I will be forever grateful for the guidance they gave me as a young professional.
One of the things that stands out so strongly for me about Dr. Prince is that he was such a strong encourager. Beginning on my first day on the job and continuing just about every day I saw him afterward, he would tell me that he was glad to have me as part of the team. The fact that he did this so often almost became comical to me but looking back now, I can see how that ongoing consistent encouragement drove me to give my best to the job of sharing the story of Connie Maxwell's children. Although Prince's encouragement was not what motivated me, it was certainly one of the little things that made working in the ministry a joy.
Dr. Prince was also always thinking about how to innovate to make children's ministry better. On my very first visit to campus, he wanted to show me the ropes course and talk about how Adventure Based Counseling was being used to help children from difficult backgrounds learn to trust others and be a part of a team. He was also proud of the "Re-ed" or reeducation program, that had been started to provide a school on campus for 7th and 8th-grade students identified as being at risk of not finishing school. He was seeking to take the ministry to where the children were through group homes and crisis care homes in other parts of the state. He loved computers and was an early-adopter in applying the latest technological tools to our work.
One of the darkest days of my career came in February 1992 when I got the call that Dr. Prince had been in a terrible auto accident. It was a Saturday, but as was quite normal for him, he had been in the office that morning working. He was on his way home when an approaching car crossed the center line.
I remember being at the hospital that day and sitting with the family. It was touch and go for a while but he did survive those initial critical hours. He was never able to overcome the injuries, though, and died in early 1993. His loss was a difficult one for both his immediate family and his Connie Maxwell family.
Prince's legacy lives on in the many children he helped and in the ministry he loved. His biggest contribution may be that he helped Connie Maxwell transition from the traditional campus residential model to one that embraces varied approaches to match better the services with the needs of the children. It was fun for me to attend alumni reunions in recent years and see the children of the Prince era all grown up, many with families of their own. Dr. Prince made a difference in their lives that is continuing through the generations.