Introducing Interim President / CEO

by Gary Lemmon

Interim President / CEO


     In late March, as a result of Clete Winkelmann resigning to accept the position of CEO at Children’s Home Association of Illinois in Peoria, the UMCH Governing Board of Directors appointed me as Interim President/CEO.  Clete had been in leadership positions at UMCH since August 2000 and in the position of President/CEO for the past six years.   Under Clete’s leadership, UMCH experienced significant growth both in quality and in quantity of services.

     My own affiliation with UMCH dates to the mid 1990s when I served on the UMCH Governing Board of Directors.  I must say that I am greatly impressed and very pleased at the marked improvements within the organization since that time.  The quality and professionalism of the staff and the programming are superb.  The environment is positive and upbeat with a “can do” attitude.

    I am not a newcomer to child welfare and human services having served in supervisory positions at Carmi Baptist Children’s Home, Psychiatric Institute of Southeastern Illinois, Alaska Baptist Family Service Center, and Southeastern Illinois Community Mental Health Centers.  For the past 21 years I have been the owner and director of Gary L. Lemmon & Associates, Inc., a private outpatient mental health agency.           

    I am honored to be asked to serve at such a great agency as UMCH and humbled to follow in the footsteps of such a fine leader as Clete Winkelmann.  I am committed to working with the dedicated staff of UMCH to provide the best services possible to the children and young adults in our area. 

    UMCH was founded upon the belief that God calls His people to minister to those who are troubled and needy.  In the beginning, orphaned children were identified as the most vulnerable and needy in our society.  Today, UMCH ministers to children and youth who are in need of the most basic protection, nurturance, and permanency, along with treatment and education.  We have also expanded our services to reach out to young people in our communities who have various emotional afflictions and/or who have not been given the opportunity to succeed.  That is where UMCH “stands in the gap” and continues the legacy chartered so many years ago by our founders.

    This spring we have had several events recognizing the achievements and talents of youth at UMCH.  On May 6, the Quest School drama class presented an excellently performed drama entitled Holka Polka.  On May 11, our YouthBuild program held its graduation ceremony for 16 program graduates (complete with caps & gowns, speeches, refreshments, etc.), and on May 30 during our Spring Celebration many youth received awards for academic achievements and other accomplishments.  Several youth also performed during a talent show.

     It is often difficult to realize how important activities such as these are to troubled children.  Many of them have never been applauded or celebrated in any way.  Their outlook on life has been distorted by never having felt valued or loved.  And they feel like they are a failure at everything they attempt.  I wish you could have seen their eyes shine when their names were called and everyone applauded them.  Many were positively beaming!  It is a wonderful thing to help a wounded child heal.

    I want to personally assure you that the work being done at UMCH meets the highest standards established by the child welfare profession.  UMCH is indeed your ministry.  It would not exist without your prayers and contributions.  On behalf of the youth, thank you!

    Please feel free to contact me at any time.  I can be reached at my office 618-242-1070 ext. 232 or by my cell phone 618-242-9381.  My e-mail address is

In His grace & mercy,

Gary Lemmon

Interim President/CEO