Foundation and Cookeville facility employees reach out to local children’s home

Mustard Seed Ranch Group

In 2006, Rex and Julianne Buckner of Cookeville, Tenn., decided they wanted to create a home for children who were growing up in difficult circumstances. By 2009, they had received enough support and donations to build two homes and welcome the first children, calling it the Mustard Seed Ranch. The name comes from their mission to “sow the seeds of hope” into the lives of children who have had difficult beginnings.    

Through a faith-based approach, education, and community, the Ranch aims to bring God into the lives of children who have faced abuse and neglect at home. Currently, the Ranch has two boys’ homes and one girls’ home where shelter and education are provided to 18 children between the ages of five and 17. In November 2015, the Ranch will be launching a capital campaign to raise money for two new homes.  

“What we do is provide a home environment for these children. We lead by example instead of forcing beliefs on them,” said Executive Director Tammy Depperschmidt.     

In December 2010, A. O. Smith employees at the Cookeville facility discussed wanting to give back to the community and were looking for a good cause to support. Led by Wayne Key, operations manager, employees chose the Mustard Seed Ranch. Christmas gifts were sent to the Ranch in the winters of 2010 and 2011 consecutively.  

“The employees over at Cookeville are just amazing,” said Depperschmidt, “we’re so fortunate to have this partnership.”   

In 2012, Roger Smith, director of the A. O. Smith Foundation, suggested that Cookeville employees select a charity for the Foundation to support in their area.     

“We had been supporting Mustard Seed Ranch for a few years and decided to choose them for the Foundation,” said Key “with such a great organization right in our community, it was an easy choice.”  Since then, the Foundation has been supporting the Mustard Seed Ranch annually.