Diane Tesch, A Royal Mom
May 1st, 2012 | By Nancie Carmichael | Category: Caregiving, Relationships
By Nancie Carmichael –
“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my
bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car
I drove, but the world may be different because I was important
in the life of a child…” –Forest Witcraft
May is here, which means Mother’s Day. But May is also National Foster Care Awareness Month, and I can’t think of anyone who personifies what it means to be a Mom better than my friend Diane Tesch. I first met Diane when their daughter, Renee was in college with our sons. Wayne and Diane lived near the campus in southern California and we soon realized their home was open to everyone—their hospitality included us, our own kids, and countless others. Their home was not only open, but so were their hearts.
Their open hearts have led them to creating camps through Royal Family KIDS—now an international outreach—which gives children in foster care, ages 6 to 12, a week of positive memories in a Christian camping environment, playing games, swimming, sports, hobbies, or fishing. A church in a local area is responsible for each Royal Family KIDS camp and only two children are assigned to each counselor. Royal Family offers training and support for the counselors, as there are strict boundaries for the safety of the children.
It all began when Diane and her husband, Wayne, were on staff of a church in Orange County in 1985, and due to Wayne’s enthusiasm for kids, he began doing camps for their church. A foster mom in their congregation asked, “What is the church doing for foster families?” Diane recalls that Wayne replied, “Well, if you think the county will let a church have kids, then we’ll try it.”
Try it they did. They presented a proposal to the county, and were astounded to have it accepted. They did their first camp with 37 campers, and their passion for the “throwaway” kids of our society launched Royal Family KIDS. The statistics are staggering: Reported cases of abuse nationally is approximately 3.6 million cases of child abuse or neglect due to children being in a terrible situation and removed because of abuse or some other trauma in his or her family.
By 1990, Diane and Wayne’s church helped launch them fulltime into this ministry nationwide. Overnight, Wayne began a travel schedule taking him away from home 150 to 200 nights a year. Diane managed the ministry from the back bedroom of their home. Prior to this, Diane had helped develop a franchise model for the start-up of fast-food franchises, as well as helping a commercial real estate developer design a B & B. She could see that it would take necessary training and an operations manual to successfully develop a company. Wayne and Diane were only two people, and even though their first camp was a success, Diane saw that if they could develop the training and operations manual, Royal Family KIDS could be duplicated nationally. That is what she did. It is amazing to see now what has happened in the last 27 years through Royal Family. To date, Royal Family KIDS as the organization has served over 70,000 children. This year 9,000 volunteers will service nearly 7,000 foster children and it’s still growing.
I asked Diane, “How did this dream begin for you?”
Diane laughed, “Well, for one thing, I married a visionary! Wayne definitely is an extrovert and loves kids, and felt called to work with them from the time he was 12.” But then Diane answered thoughtfully, “I analyzed this, and I think it goes back to when I was a third grader in a brick building, and I met a little boy named Johnny Clark. I know that little boy was abused. He smelled badly, had horrible breath, rotting teeth and on the playground, nobody would pick him. Sometimes all he had to eat was a ketchup sandwich. And my heart broke for him. I used to wonder why my teacher always put me next to him, but I’d help him, I felt so badly for him. My teacher, Grace Hamilton, saw something in me that was compassionate, and she encouraged it. I think God put that situation in my life to grow love and compassion…and when the time was right, that began my mission, my calling.”
I said to Diane. “A lot of women in this range who are 50+ are just going for it, but how do we pace our lives at this place? We have a certain amount of energy, but we can’t do everything. How do we prioritize?”
Diane said, “I have worked my entire life, because when you’re involved in something meaningful, you just keep going. As soon as I start to let up, I hear one more story. But, I have fought Lupus for 12 years, and I have to go at a different pace because my immune system broke down. Learning to pace myself and live my life differently every day has become an ongoing challenge—not easy for a ‘type A personality’ in a ministry the magnitude of Royal Family KIDS. I must seek God’s wisdom to know my limits and trust Him when I have reached them. More than ever, talking with God has become the focus of my life. I ask Him for wisdom to reduce my stress. I have created a restful place in my home where quiet worship music brings a healing salve for my distressed body…Even a strong-willed personality can change. To make the long distance-run, I must pace myself. A wild sprint, sustained and unbroken, will destroy even the best runner! We have two granddaughters, McKenzie (15); Katie (13). And we are expecting our third granddaughter by adoption, Abby Faith (4) from China, hopefully to join her two big sisters, by August. I do want to spend more time with my grandchildren.”
To relax, Diane enjoys gardening in her atrium. She says, “I love my roses.”
Diane travels across America with her husband Wayne and occasionally around the world on behalf of Royal Family KIDS, seeking to mobilize churches that will commit one week each summer to launch camps for abused, abandoned, and neglected children in the local church community. Their goal is to offer Royal Family KIDS to 100,000 children in the foster system in the US by 2030. Diane has been a two-time nominee by the Red Cross as a Clara Barton Award Recipient in Orange County, California; and has co-authored several books with her husband. She has also been a contributor to women’s devotional books.
The median age of RFK 9,000 volunteers is 49 years old. Ways to help:
- Through your church, considering sponsoring a Royal Family KIDS camp
- Give a week to volunteer as a counselor
- Consider becoming a Royal Family KIDS Mentor or Club volunteer (Clubs are formed following second year Camps)
- Support RFK financially (Monthly support especially needed)
Royal Family KIDS, Inc.,
3000 W. MacArthur, Suite 412
Santa Ana, CA 92704
- Royal Family KIDS Clubs and Mentors
- (Same address as above)
Nancie Carmichael is a speaker and author of several books, including, “Lord, Bless My Child” (with her husband, Bill), “Selah—Time to Stop, Think, and Step into Your Future”, “Surviving One Bad Year—Seven Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning”. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her website, nanciecarmichael.com.