Debra, President and founder of The McKenzie Home Project, and her husband, Al, are the parents of six grown children and grandparents to nine. They were foster parents for over 140 children and are adoptive parents. Debra was a single mom for a time.
Through the years, Debra has loved to be involved with the needs of her community. She served on a number of boards, such as Prison Fellowship, Youth for Christ, Make-a-Wish, Child Evangelism Fellowship, and Mercer Family Resource Center. She has served as a lay jail chaplain in her community since the mid-1990s.
During a five-year transfer to Arizona, Debra served as an officer for the Sheriff’s Department in Arizona for the Maricopa County jail system. She has led mission teams to Honduras and holds a certificate in Christian Miniseries from Gateway Seminary.
Debra is an author and motivational speaker, enjoys leading church small groups, and loves to study and learn new things. She is a "total book fanatic," reading as many books as she can find time for.
Debra says, "The idea of a safe home for single moms and their children has been on my heart for decades. Moms want to be the best for their kids. They also want to give their children the best they can. For those of us whom God has blessed, we have the opportunity to share those blessings with others. Where much is given, much is required. I want to be a part of the blessing to others!"
Neva lives in Casper, Wyoming and is a retired Registered Nurse of 50 years. She has served as the Development and Marketing Department Head of two healthcare facilities and helped to conduct a capital campaign for one of them. She served as Vice President on the Wyoming Adult &Teen Challenge board as well. She is currently Vice President of Art on the Go and serves on the leadership team of Casper Writers and Kingdom Creatives literary and visual arts groups.
Neva is an author and artist and has written and published a number of books for children as well as a devotional and inspirational western for adults.
For 15 years of her nursing career, Neva worked in Behavioral Health and noted many single mothers who found themselves in unhealthy situations, not having a place to live or the support and training needed to live a healthy lifestyle. For those who made it without support, it was a profound struggle. She loves people and helping children to grow up mentally and spiritually healthy, with good values learned through their mothers.
Neva loves camping and driving across our beautiful Wyoming. She serves as Vice President of the McKenzie Home board.
Neva has known many single moms who would love to learn job and parenting skills in a safe and loving place built by people who care about them. The McKenzie Home will be that place.
Al, husband to Debra, founder of The McKenzie Home, is the father of six grown children, grandfather to nine, an adoptive parent, and has been a foster parent to over 140 foster children. Al has a B.S. degree in general business and is a graduate of Louisiana State University.
Though born in California, Al lived in Kansas and Louisiana for most of his growing up. During summer breaks, Al, his brother, mom, and dad vacationed in Green River, Wyoming, where Al's parents and relatives were raised. Al always loved Wyoming and wanted to live there. In 1981, he and his wife made the decision to move to Casper and raise their children there.
He has held positions in food service management for over 42 years—from restaurants to banquets at huge event centers, concerts to catering, and sports centers to fine dining. Now retired, Al enjoys bowling, joins his wife in leading small church groups, and serves as Treasurer on The McKenzie Home board.
Through all the years of foster parenting, Al developed a heart for the children becoming wards of the state who were being raised by single parents. After years of seeing the need, Al knows The McKenzie Home is vital for Wyoming.
Jonna was born in Lebanon, Oregon but has lived in Wyoming for 27 years. She is, and has been, a dental assistant for most of those years. She became a single mother at a very early age and was blessed with a beautiful daughter who is now grown with children of her own and is expecting her fourth child.
Jonna has a heart for single moms and understands many of their struggles. She is passionate about what The McKenzie Home will offer moms and their kids. She and her husband, Josh, enjoy camping, fishing, and spending time with family and are actively involved in their church small group. Jonna serves as Secretary on The McKenzie Home Board.
Jonna wants to give back and show single moms that there is hope and that they can become something more.
Josh and his two brothers, raised by a single mom in Wyoming, know how hard it is for the single mom as well as the children. His heart is to help single mothers and their children be the best they can be in a tough world.
With a background in construction, working in the oil field, and as a Specialist in Thermography, he knows the meaning of hard work. He and his wife, Jonna, have a now-grown daughter. His heart is to be a part of something big, like The McKenzie Home, that will give the help and resources single moms and their kids need.
Josh enjoys the Wyoming outdoors and always looks forward to hunting season. Josh is a classic car fanatic and has a great collection started.
Josh wants to serve The McKenzie Home so he can be a part of helping single moms get the resources that would have possibly helped his mom.
Darla was raised on a small farm an hour outside Fargo, North Dakota. She married young, at the age of 19, and had two children. After 13 years of marriage, she found herself divorced with two preschoolers to raise. She didn't know how she was going to make it as a single mom, but her determination to care for her children helped her to do whatever she could to make sure they had a home, food, and love. She knows what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck while holding down a job and raising two kids on her own.
She has worked in customer service for over 30 years in banking and software customer service as well as in Business Process Analysis and Systems Analysis. Darla has lived and worked in North Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, Utah, and Nevada. She is now remarried to a wonderful guy, Richard, and lives in Wyoming. She has recently retired, and she and her husband enjoy camping, hiking, and kayaking.
Over the years, Darla has volunteered with the United Way, Boy Scouts of America, and local food banks. She has also been a volunteer at local shelters. It was while serving at the shelters that Darla saw the great needs of single moms and their kids. She saw stressed mothers seeking employment while their children had a lack of structure and routine.
Darla and her husband, now both retired, are active in their church and enjoy traveling and hobbies when time allows. She has a love for moms and their children and is excited to serve them through The McKenzie Home.
She sees The McKenzie Home as a stepping stone for struggling single which will offer them a brighter future for themselves and their children.
Raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Todd met and married his sweet wife, Gina. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Northern Illinois University. He then served as an active-duty Platoon Leader and Company Executives Officer in the U.S. Army for four years.
Todd is an outdoors guy and loves hiking and cycling all over Wyoming with his wife, Gina. After only a few years of living in our wonderful state, Todd and Gina are learning how to live with the weather in the Rockies.
.When Todd finished his years of service in the Army, he spent the next thirty years in a career with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in California, Texas, and Reno, where he retired as a Department Head. During his years with the prison system in corrections, he had the opportunity to work at a women's prison. He saw many single moms incarcerated for a variety of reasons. Todd has two children of his own, and he has a heart for the children left behind while their mothers served time.
He strongly desires to help single mothers and their children, as he knows that many find themselves in dire and unfortunate circumstances. He believes in giving people a hand up, not just a handout. He also believes The McKenzie Home will be a place where single mothers can receive the assistance they need to get back on their feet and become self-sufficient and productive members of society.
Gina grew up in the Chicago area, as did her husband, Todd. After high school, she attended Northern Illinois University, where she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Community Health. She went on to the University of Arkansas for Medical Science, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She also earned a secondary education in biology at Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Gina and Todd raised two children during their careers. They share a love of the outdoors and enjoy hiking and cycling together. These activities allowed them to have a breather and a healthy retreat from the stress they encountered from their jobs and they continue them today.
Gina has worked in hospitals, home care medical services, and as a school nurse during her career. She also worked at a women’s prison and in Federal Corrections. While working in the prison system, she realized that many women who are in prison come from a violent/abusive situation with their spouse/boyfriend, which usually involves substance abuse. Many single moms and/or pregnant women wish to escape such relationships.
Now retired, Gina wants to be a part of helping women who feel alone and afraid find a safe place, full of love and support. She feels The McKenzie Home is that place.
Dr. Eugene Podrazik
Eugene raised two daughters on his own. He knows the struggles single dads experience and has compassion for single moms. Eugene served in the Navy for nine years, then after attaining a Chemical Engineer degree, decided to go into medicine and has been an ear, nose, and throat surgeon for the past 33 years. He enjoys skiing and spending time with his daughters.
As a single parent, Eugene knows the challenges of working, being available to his girls for sports events, school activities, and when one is home sick. Depending on others to fill in the blanks where a second parent would be available is not an easy task.
Even though Eugene grew up in Chicago, he enjoyed raising his children in the beautiful wide-open spaces of Wyoming. Now that his daughters are grown, he can remember some of the hardships he faced as a single parent and wants to help single moms accomplish great things for their children.
and raise them to be successful adults.
Carrie currently serves as the Executive Director of Seton House in Casper, Wyoming. Seton House is a self-sufficiency program for single-parent families providing resources, personal and professional development, and transitional housing.
Carrie has a heart for serving and believes all people are valuable, that we rise by lifting others, and that everyone deserves an another chance. Carrie earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, and is a recent graduate of the Sewanee: University of South: Education for Ministry 4-year program. Carrie is also a graduate of Leadership Casper, and is active in ministry through her church.
As a person who desires to help others succeed, Carrie also writes grants privately for various non-profit organizations.
Carrie enjoys spending time with her three sons, and along with her husband, Brad, they enjoy traveling, kayaking, and spending time with their dog. She is an avid reader and loves to relax with a good book.
Carrie became involved in The McKenzie Home project because the need to provide hope for single mothers far exceeds the work being done in Casper. The work begins with an awareness of single mothers struggling all over the state and the opportunities to provide resources and stability, which in turn strengthens communities and changes lives.
GREEN RIVER EXTENSION.
Green River Chair
Mother to nine children, and wife to fellow board member, Rob, Carrie is a retired police detective, foster parent, adoptive parent, former single mom, and childhood abuse survivor. She is Chair Person of the Green River Extension Board.
Carrie says, "God's plan for me had been difficult to understand at times but never seems to lack clear intention. My own experiences, combined with the experiences of others I have been so blessed to work with over the past 27 years, has made one thing adamantly clear to me: regardless of what intensely difficult circumstances might bring to each of us, each and everyone of us is capable of overcoming and finding peace in our hearts and in our lives. My caveat to this is knowing we will need the right support to do so.
There are so many supports the McKenzie Home will offer, but none more important as when we take a single mom by the hand and confidently tell her, 'You can do this; we will help.'"
Extension Board Member
Val has lived in Green River, Wyoming for 15 years and worked for the Sweetwater County Treasurer's office for 12 years. She was raised by a resilient single mother whom Val feels was a great example and guide in her own journey as a single mom. She adopted her son at birth, and considers him her greatest accomplishment.
Val holds a degree from Utah State University in Family and Human Development, with a minor in Social Work. She has had experience working with birth mothers while setting up support groups and presentations for a family service organization. She also worked for CAPSA (Citizens Against Physical and Sexual Abuse) and Sweetwater County Family Resource Center, providing support group counseling, outreach resourcing, and supervised visitation and exchanges.
Camping in the mountains, four-wheeling, skiing, boating, going to concerts, and watching her now-grown son play soccer are her favorite past times, along with enjoying and laughing with family and friends.
Passionate about the McKenzie Home, Val says she loves "being proactive rather than reactive for the needs of single mother and their children." She is a cheerleader for others to succeed, and strongly desires to see single mothers be successful for themselves and their children,
Extension Board Member
McKenzi and her husband were born and raised in Green River, Wyoming and recently gave birth to their first child. McKenzi holds a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Colorado Mesa University and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Walden University. She is employed at the Lincoln Middle School in Green River as a Provisional Clinical Social Worker. She loves fishing, outdoor hiking, boating, hunting, and exploring God's creation.
She is passionate about advocating for oppressed populations, which is why she is invested in The McKenzie Home Project. McKenzi says "Social work is not just my job title, it's who I am."
When she first learned of The McKenzie Home vision, she was instantly interested in being a part of it. Working with adolescents in the school setting, daily she saw the need for stability and guidance for the well-being of each child. McKenzi recognized that children thrive on consistency and stability, but some single mothers don't have the means to provide that for their child.
"The McKenzie Home will offer that for the mother and child," she says. "I feel honored to help make that a reality by serving on the board."
Extension Board Member
Margene and her husband live and have raised four children in Green River, Wyoming. She is now retired from her position as Supervisor of the Outpatient Substance Abuse Recovery Program at the local mental health agency, where she had also worked in residential substance abuse treatment and corrective thinking.
Attaining her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Wyoming, she was licensed as an Addiction Therapist and Professional Counselor. During her career, she held positions in supervision, program development, and management. She worked with a diverse population addressing addiction an substance abuse, mental health, criminal activity and trauma. She guided individuals toward attaining coping and life skills and achieving personal goals.
She is involved in various community endeavors, including Golden Hour Senior Center, Sweetwater County Treatment Court, University of Wyoming HealthyU, and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Margene strongly believes "The McKenzie Home will make a positive difference in the lives of many individuals. This includes the lives of the mother, their children, society, as well as us, the volunteers. The McKenzie Home can make a positive impact on this and future generations."
Extension Board Member
Born and raised in Chicago, Lynn also lived in California and Minnesota. She has a Bachelor of Arts, in Organizational Leadership from Benedictine University, a Master’s degree in teaching, and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in the Educational Leadership Program from National-Louis University. Her early career was in Human Resources Management for several nonprofit organizations in Chicago, Illinois, where she saw first-hand the issues facing single mothers and their children. In 2005, she left Human Resources to begin a career in education, teaching immigrant students with little or no English language skills. She also taught graduate-level classes to teachers working toward their certification in teaching English language learners.
Throughout her 25-year marriage to the love of her life, John, Lynn relied on his unwavering support to help her achieve her career goals. Losing him to brain cancer in 2012 was a devastating blow. Even so, she is filled with gratitude for all that he contributed to the family. “Without John to keep our family thriving, I would not have been able to accomplish as much as I did. I see the McKenzie Home as a vital support system for mothers wanting to improve their lives and the lives of their children. At the McKenzie Home, single moms will get the housing, education, practical skills, and training needed as they work toward reaching their potential and becoming contributing members of society."
Lynn loves to attend the theater, read, travel, and play card and board games. Besides serving on The McKenzie Home board, she is an active board member of the Women's Club of Sweetwater County. She lives in Green River, just a short distance from her daughter, Kait, her son-in-law, Erick, and two young grandchildren, who have brought much joy into her life.
Extension Board Member
Raised in Opal, Wyoming, Diana has been married to her high-school sweetheart for 49 years, and together they raised four sons. Now retired, she enjoys her church activities and spending time with family, which includes 15 grandchildren and one great grandchild. She has lived in Green River for 48 years, working for the school district as a swim instructor for eight years and for a local Orthodontist for 23 years.
While attending one of the first presentations for The McKenzie Home, she felt an overwhelming desire to help. Diana was learning how to support a young single mom in her own family at the time.
She believes single moms need the opportunity to be able to provide for themselves and their children.
Diana says she is excited to help build a program that will give single moms a second chance.
Extension Board Member
Norma, born and raised in Sweetwater County, Wyoming, has been married 28 years to her "soul mate" and has two stepchildren and five grandchildren. She received an Associate of Arts degree from Western Wyoming Community College and an Associate of Science degree (Recreation & Park Administration) from Northwest College. She is now retired from Sweetwater School District Number One as an administrative secretary at the secondary level, a position she held for the past 15 years. Previously, Norma worked at the Rock Springs Police Department as secretary for the Detective/Evidence Division for nine years, stepping down as her husband finished his 27 years in law enforcement. She feels her former positions have made her very aware of the limited support for young women who find themselves in a desperate situation.
She enjoys card making and crafting, backpacking, fishing, hunting, boating, camping, and traveling abroad with her husband.
Norma shares: "Over the course of 30 years, I've held positions on a variety of boards and been a member on a number of committees within the community. I feel I can contribute my experience and knowledge to bring The McKenzie Home to fruition."
Extension Board Member
Jodi and her husband have lived in Wyoming for the past twelve years and have five children. They are adoptive and foster parents. Finding herself "expecting" whenever she thought of going back to school, she decided God was telling her to be a stay-at-home mom. She had an in-home daycare and worked at a Christian school, and now works for the Sweetwater County Child Developmental Center.
Crafting and playing volleyball, or taking any chance she has to read, help Jodi unwind. She says, "My family and I are pretty low key and just like to spend time with each other, usually watching a show or playing some kind of games."
Jodi and her siblings were raised in Illinois by a single mom. "The McKenzie Home made me think of my mom," she says. "I remember some of the hardships she went through. She was an amazing example of what a hard-working mother was. Having seen her work through it, I want to give the women hope that they too can do hard things, and they can face their giants with confidence!"
Extension Board Member
Rob Fischer, born in Iowa, has lived in Green River, Wyoming since 1985. He and wife, Carrie, have nine children and two grandchildren. He has worked for the Green River Police Department for 23 years and is currently a Detective Sergeant. On his off time he is an avid sports fan and enjoys spending time with his family and traveling with his kids to various sporting events.
Rob and Carrie were foster parents for over 12 years and had the pleasure of adopting six children out of the foster care program.
Throughout his career, he has had the opportunity to interact with single mothers and has seen how difficult it can be for them to succeed when there are so many stresses going on in their lives. A quote he remembers says, "When you're surviving, you can't dream."
Rob feels The McKenzie Home will be a "great opportunity for these single moms to get out of the survival mindset and dream of better opportunities for themselves and their children."
Extension Board Member
John is a Learning, Development, and Human Resources Professional with more than 20 years of business leadership experience. John's personal mission is to help individuals and teams achieve their divine potential through intentional and strategic growth. John holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management from Utah Valley University and a Masters's Degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Mary's University of Minnesota.
John and his wife have six beautiful children and one of their favorite things to do is travel together and see new sights. John's spare time is spent enjoying his children, training horses, and leading pack trips into the mountains.
John states that, "Single mothers work tirelessly to give their children a loving home. These mothers have an innate desire to nurture, guide, and protect their children; however, many do not have access to basic needs and essential resources."
He says, "I support The McKenzie Home, because together, we can provide housing, education, nourishment, and guidance to mothers who are in need. We will give single mothers hope for a bright and successful future, and the confidence and skills they need to channel their hope into a reality."