“God gave me a mind for accounting and business, and He gave me a heart for children,” Steve Shiflet believes. “What better place to combine those two things than Connie Maxwell?
“I love my work; I enjoy business; I enjoy numbers. Some people think that’s strange, but I do,” said Shiflet, vice president for finance and business operations. “But my heart is the children, and the opportunities I have to work with children at Connie Maxwell have been so wonderful.”
Connie Maxwell President Danny Nicholson praised Shiflet for his long-standing commitment to South Carolina Baptists’ childcare agency.
“Steve Shiflet has simply spent his entire life sacrificially serving children and families in Jesus’ name,” Nicholson said. “Steve has served as a houseparent, adopted and fostered children, managed recreational activities, crisis care, independent living, and acted as a deacon for many years at Connie Maxwell Baptist Church. Steve has been a steady source of strong leadership — a rock — to everyone who has served with him for 37 years.”
Shiflet started at Connie Maxwell Children’s Home in 1984 as an accountant, fresh out of college. Through the years, he’s been a part of many changes as it has grown into Connie Maxwell Children’s Ministries. The main campus is still in Greenwood, where it has been located since 1892, but today, there are campuses in Florence, Mauldin, Chesterfield, and Orangeburg.
This past year — even in the midst of the pandemic — Connie Maxwell provided services for approximately 150 children and families through residential care. Its family care program provided services to 10 families consisting of 10 single parents and 22 children, and its foster care services now has 31 homes licensed, with about 26 homes in the process of being licensed.
While working in the business office, Shiflet has had the opportunity to serve in various roles with the children in Connie Maxwell’s care. Early in his career, he worked with its independent living program for older children. Then he met Renee, a former student at Connie Maxwell, and they married at Connie Maxwell Baptist Church.
He has been a member of Connie Maxwell Baptist Church for approximately 35 years, and has served as a deacon, taught Sunday school and helped with the sound system, among other roles. “Connie Maxwell Baptist Church has been a big part of my life,” Shiflet said. “I was married there, and all of my children were baptized there. So, it’s very important to me.”
Together, he and Renee served as cottage parents for six years serving teenage girls. They also had a biological son, Christopher, in 1996.
“During his early years, he (Christopher) grew up at Connie Maxwell with eight sisters,” Shiflet said. “He loved that, and we always enjoyed working with the girls.”
When his wife went back to school for nursing, they decided to become licensed by the state as foster parents. After having several foster children in their home, two young girls, Tiffany and Brittany, came to Connie Maxwell in 2007. The girls were 9 and 13 when the Shiflets adopted them in 2008. “I wouldn’t trade that for anything,” he said.
Shiflet’s wife passed away in May 2020 after battling cancer for three years. “We were able to serve a lot through the years in different areas of childcare, adoption and foster care, and it has been so rewarding to be able to do those things,” he said.
Shiflet said he considers his employment at Connie Maxwell to have been a “God thing,” adding that “He worked out the circumstances for me to hear about the job, apply for it, and ultimately get it.”
Children are different now than when he first started, he observed. “They have so many more challenges that they’re up against. So their situations, their problems, tend to be a little more severe than they used to be,” he said.
“We’ve carried on our residential tradition, but we also have added to it through the years” to address some of these needs, Shiflet added. He pointed to family care, which helps women and their children who are going through a rough stretch get back on their feet, and foster care, which assists potential families with licensing, training and support.
“We’re also looking at expanding into healing, trying to figure out how we can help those children who have so many problems that they have had to deal with in their lives,” he added.
For South Carolina Baptist couples and churches wanting to volunteer with Connie Maxwell’s ministry, Shiflet said, “There are a lot of opportunities listed on its website (www.conniemaxwell.com) that people can look at and see what they can do.” Or, they can call the main office at 1-800-868-2624.
Shiflet is certain they will be as blessed as he has been by being part of its ongoing ministries to children.
“I’m as happy here today as I was the day I started 37 years ago,” Shiflet said. “I don’t call it a job; I call it a ministry, and I’m privileged and blessed to be able to serve at Connie Maxwell,” he added. “We do some wonderful things for children and adults, families — and it just doesn’t get any better than that, in my book.”