Breckenridge Village of Tyler (BVT) will celebrate the grand opening of three new residences on its campus on May 17, 2019, offering a long-term home to additional adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
This phase of the BVT campus construction, which began in
2017, is the culmination of work from
diligent BVT staff, support from generous donors, and help from countless
volunteers – including contractors, builders, and suppliers – coming together
to create something that will last for generations of residents to come. A
notable and stable source of assistance throughout the building process was the
Texas Baptist Men (TBM), led by Bill Pigott, who was a member of the TBM 22
years ago, when they built the first homes and the Robert M. Rogers Chapel in
1997. One of the new residences at BVT is named in Bill’s honor.
At the celebration guests will witness the official dedication
of the homes, which includes a ribbon cutting at each residence, tours of the
new homes, lunch for all in attendance, and a symbolic butterfly release.
Les O’Ferrell, BCFS Board of Trustees Chairman; Dr. David
Dykes, Pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church; Steven Campbell and Linda Taylor,
BVT leadership; and Tammy, a resident of BVT, will all take part in the grand
On May 1 and 2, the BCFS System hosted breakfast events honoring the National Day of Prayer across five regions of Texas: Kerrville, Del Rio, Abilene, Corpus Christi, and the Rio Grande Valley. At each event, local leaders and prominent members of the community joined together in prayer, offering gratitude, hope for the future, and requests for guidance in matters ranging from local to international importance.
More than 1,000 people attended the events in total, where at least 80 community leaders, law enforcement officials, government representatives, members of the military, pastors, business leaders, educators, and administrators offered prayer specific to their home town.
In Kerrville, attendants gathered in the fellowship hall of First United Methodist Church early in the morning, coffee in hand, while a six-man band played acoustic jazz. Small conversations gave the room a friendly Hill Country ambiance before the morning’s festivities began in full with the posting of the colors by the Tivy High School Air Force Junior ROTC.
Joshua Rodriguez, a young resident from Our House operated by BCFS Health and Human Services-Kerrville, offered a prayer for the nation’s youth. Through tears, Joshua asked for a spirit of repentance for himself and his generation, a transition out of rebellion and into growth, and a willingness to come to God and depend on Him alone.
Many others offered prayer with the uniting factor of each being a hopeful spirit of humility and a desire for togetherness.
BCFS Health and Human Services-McAllen and BCFS Health and Human Services-Harlingen teamed up to host the event in the Rio Grande Valley, where over 300 guests enjoyed a plentiful breakfast that included baskets of pan dulce at each table.
Corpus Christ hosted their event at a waterfront venue, First United Methodist Church, where attendees were blessed with a view of the sunrise on the gulf coast and treated to the sounds of classical guitar as played by Zachary Muñoz. This event, the first prayer breakfast for Corpus Christi, included prayers from members of the United States Navy based in the port city, and a distinguished list of local officials.
In Del Rio, the mayor pro tem, Liz Elizalde de Calderon, offered prayer for her city in the presence of more than 100 community members while Asennet Segura, the BCFS System’s EVP/COO of Community, International and Residential Services, offered the welcome prayer.
The annual National Day of Prayer events are underwritten by the BCFS System under the direction of Kevin Dinnin, the organization’s President and CEO. The events offer a brief reprieve from the demands of everyday life and a focus on matters of eternity, uniting all with a common cause of unity and fellowship.
In Kerrville, Kevin explained the personal significance of
the annual services before he offered his closing prayer: “Since our inaugural prayer
breakfasts launched in 2017, I have maintained how important these events are
and how they truly have the power to bring communities together,” Kevin said. “I
promise, for as long as I am president of this organization, we will continue
to hold this event every year.”
Helping children find families to call their own is what Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) does best. However, the barriers to giving orphaned children from around the world the services and resources that they need are not always the obstacles that are the most obvious. Sometimes, solving the little things can make a big difference in the overall outcomes for children.
Since CERI began services in the locations they operate
today – Moldova, India, and Sri Lanka – infrastructure has consistently shown
up high on the list of underappreciated barriers when serving kids without
“If one of our case workers takes public transportation,
they’re going to leave at 9 a.m., make one home visit, and barely get back to
the office by the end of the work day,” said Connie Belciug, Executive Director
of CERI. “But if they use a car, they can make three or four home visits in a
Knowing that better transportation can mean greater service
to children in need, President and CEO of the BCFS System, Kevin C. Dinnin, contributed
a non-refundable grant for the purchase and implementation of two new vehicles,
one in Sri Lanka and the other in Moldova.
The vehicles will not only help staff to more readily
respond to the needs of their service population, they will also help transport
clients to local service projects, deliver groceries, and even take families to
their medical appointments on time.
With each of CERI’s international case managers responsible
for roughly 35 children, getting CERI staff where they need to be in a timely
and reliable way is very important to ensuring that more children can take
advantage of the quality programs which the nonprofit has to offer.
“We have very intense requirements for [our case managers]
to meet, and we wouldn’t be able to increase their case load unless we
decreased those requirements for contact,” said Connie. With these new safe and
dependable vehicles adding to or replacing others that are 10 years old or
more, CERI can be sure that its capabilities grow in a healthy direction,
serving more children more effectively.
Learn more about how CERI helps orphans and other children facing troubled circumstances in locations around the world.
For nearly a decade, William Davenport – better known as Daffy – has taken part in the rapid expansion and increased capability of BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (EMD).
Daffy was born on the south side of San Antonio, Texas, in
the Highland Park area. He graduated from Highlands High School before joining
the San Antonio Fire Department (SAFD), where he served for 35 years.
Daffy’s career path demanded a broad range of expertise
and an appetite for variety. Daffy’s work with the fire department led him to
video production with SAFD, where he would haul a video camera inside burning
buildings to film San Antonio’s first responders at work. The video he captured
would then be used to train new recruits or to instruct current department
members on what to do differently.
Daffy’s next adventure would be with San Antonio’s channel 4 news, WOAI-TV (which between 1974 and 2002 had the KMOL-TV call sign). Daffy was behind the camera during some important moments for the city. “I was a live truck operator, I did spot news at night, I did live shots and city hall; I covered the Pope,” said Daffy, referring to Pope John Paul II’s 1987 visit to San Antonio.
The sum of Daffy’s work put him at an intersection
somewhere between emergency management, communication, video, and pure gadgetry.
Kevin Dinnin, President and CEO of the BCFS System, often refers to Daffy as the
real-life MacGyver, the fictional character known for diffusing bombs with
little more than a paper clip and a rubber band. Daffy never had to diffuse any
actual bombs during his time with EMD (with rubber bands or otherwise), but when
it came to making sure all equipment was in top notch and ready to deploy at a
moment’s notice, he held an outstanding, never-quit attitude!
Joining EMD in 2010, Daffy remembers the smaller size of
the team and the limited resources they had to work with at the time, recalling
a fleet of fewer than 10 vehicles and a handful of communication devices like
radios, phones, and repeaters. Today, EMD’s logistics section has grown to
include fire trucks, ambulances, tractor trailers, generators, RV trailers,
mobile command platforms, box trucks, trailers for laundry and bathing, field
hospitals, and many more vital pieces of equipment. With his guidance and
vision the EMD section has and is still growing in all areas. In addition to
specialized vehicles there are Field Hospitals, Mobile Radio repeater trailers.
Now, as Daffy begins his transition to retirement and works
with EMD as a PRN (pro re nata)
personnel, he sees the growth that has taken place over the course of his
tenure. EMD currently has a fleet of more than 100 vehicles, many of them highly
specialized, and the organization has hundreds of communication devices
designed to increase collaboration and decrease response times. The staff has
grown from a humble team of six to more than 2,000 personnel.
In retirement, Daffy plans to spend his free time at his
house in North Padre Island on the bay side, enjoying the view from his water
front property where he says it’s always 5 o’clock!
Learn more about how EMD works to better the lives of those in the wake of disaster.
Youth from BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio’s Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program took part in a fashion show promoting personal style and professionalism at the Granberry Hills Event Facility on the northeast side of San Antonio, Texas.
“We have held this event for several years now and think
it’s very important for the professional development of the young people we
serve. The students always show a lot of confidence, and it is such a joy
watching them blossom and taking ownership when it comes to their future
success.,” said Celeste Garcia, Executive Director of BCFS Health and Human
Services’ Community Services Division.
Sofia Gayou, a Learning Development Professional and the
speaker for the evening, offered tips on first impressions and professionalism
in action. “When I walked up here, it only took you seven seconds to make a
judgement about me,” said Sofia. Her advice was aimed at making an impact on a future
employer that would last well after the interview was done.
Sofia reminded attendants that the vast majority of
communication is nonverbal. Just as dressing professionally is important for
making a great impression, equally important are your tone, posture, and
Sofia then asked youth to write down a list of attributes
they felt described them – the attributes that they wanted to define their
professional lives – and challenged the youth to put energy into making that
list a real representation of who they are and how they present themselves.
After hours of getting dressed, made up, and running
through dress rehearsal, it was time to begin the show. Outside, the sun passed
behind the horizon. The lights in the main hall dimmed down and the music hit a
rhythm worth walking to. A pair of spotlights centered on the small, curtained
entrance at the back end of the room. The walkway in the center was waxed, flanked
by the audience on both sides; ready for the night’s participants to display
their best professional attire.
The youth went through two rounds of showcase, the first casual
and the second formal wear. Between the two rounds, a few local celebrities
made guest appearances on the runway, including Miss San Antonio, Miss Black
Texas, and Toddler Miss BRP USA.
At the end of the show, each of the youth were handed a
bouquet of red roses. Several of the dresses and suits worn by the youth were
donated to them to take home, adding to the box of professional tools from
which they can fashion their future.
Learn more about BCFS-San Antonio’s work with youth in foster care, or stay up to date with BCFS Health and Human Services on Facebook.
For the donation of their time, finances, resources, knowledge, and encouragement, BCFS-San Antonio thanks the following sponsors:
Since 1984, the PEAKS (Physical and Environmental Activities for Knowledge and Skills) camp has offered an outdoor adventure focused on life skills, relationship building, and relaxation to youth from foster care working to overcome extraordinary circumstances in their lives.
In 2018, when Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) discovered that funding for PEAKS camp would not be available for the following year, the BCFS System awarded TNOYS a $25,000 grant to help reach the funding necessary to ensure the camp continued to provide this unique opportunity to deserving youth.
“We recognize the importance of a program like TNOYS and make
a concerted effort to give back to causes we know are worth the investment in
our community,” said Kevin Dinnin, President and CEO of the BCFS System.
Combined with additional donations from the Rothell Charitable Foundation and the Supreme Court of the Texas Children’s Commission, as well as internal funds TNOYS was able to allocate to the camp, PEAKS 2019 went from an uncertainty to a reality.
For four days in March, 50 youth from foster care and 25 adult sponsors enjoyed life outdoors while engaging in activities focused on team building, social skills, and leadership – each venture peppered with a dash of innovative fun.
Shannon Bloesch, Camp Director for the PEAKS program, expressed
how the financial and logistic hurdles of setting aside multiple days and
potentially hundreds of dollars for a camp similar to PEAKS can turn an
enjoyable experience into a near impossibility for youth in foster care. TNOYS
is able to help ease or erase some of those disadvantages with the PEAKS
“When kids are forced to grow up so fast, they don’t have time to be kids,” said Shannon. “When you have to pay your own bills as a teenager or step in as the parent for your younger siblings, there isn’t always the chance to do something like this.”
While at camp, the youth take part in various courses ranging from low ropes to rock walls, from archery to canoeing. They have nights set aside for special events including a talent show, yoga, and a campfire. However, the most significant part of the camp that youth take with them is the relationship-building that happens with peers and, importantly, with trustworthy adults. Good role models serve as partners in communication and shareholders in success.
Youth in foster care between the ages of 15 and 19 can learn more about participating in the PEAKS program by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out how BCFS Health and Human Services is making differences for youth facing extraordinary circumstances, click here.
A suspension bridge leads to a small tree-house overlooking Cypress Creek.
Longtime PEAKS coordinator Frank Eckles (left) leads one of the mid-morning breakout groups.
Archery lessons take place on the north end of the camp grounds.
The low ropes course challenges participants to come together in order to solve problems.
A group activity emphasizes leadership, communication, and improvisation.
Breckenridge Village of Tyler (BVT) had a busy start to the month, with two days of athletic events in a row taking over the weekend schedule of the BVT sports team, the Eagles.
On Friday, March 1, the BVT Eagles visited The Brook Hill
School in Bullard, Texas, for an afternoon basketball game against the school’s
team. Brook Hill students filled the bleachers while the drumline played
spirited music, rivaled only by the volume and energy of the crowd.
“I really enjoyed all the cheerleaders and students
cheering us on. I had fun trying to make baskets. This was my first year to
participate on the team, and it was a challenge but fun,” said Laci, a BVT
Although they were the visiting team, BVT’s Eagles were
the clear crowd favorite throughout the game. Once the ball was in play, BVT
wasted no time taking Brook Hill to task. Eagles’ Jonathan took a pause in his
first possession, tucking the ball underneath his left arm and waving his free
hand with pure showmanship, causing the crowd to stand to their feet and reach
a renewed level of excitement.
Things moved quick during the game, with Eagles’ player Tammy putting up big points for the team. The Eagles finished the game with a 29-8 victory and a center-court celebration, followed by a photo shoot with students and supporters. This was BVT’s first basketball game with Brook Hill, and their second sports event with the school.
“I’ve had the privilege to coach our residents in various
sports for a little over a year now, and this game with Brook Hill has set the
bar high for all special Olympic competitions,” said Rachel Parker, Recreation
Coordinator at BVT. “As a coach, you not only want your team to win, you want
them to have time of their life while they are playing.”
The basketball game was only part one of a two-part
weekend. Residents of BVT woke up early the next morning to attend FRESH 15, a race
hosted by a well-known food and pharmacy company in the East Texas area.
The BVT crew – including residents, staff, and family
members – began their 1-kilometer race at 9:30 a.m. Although the time to finish
the race varied between runners, what remained consistent was the support
residents found throughout the race, especially at the finish line.
“This was my first year to compete in the FRESH 1K race
with the BVT group. I did really good. It was a fun experience to run with my
friends and getting a medal,” said Tanner, a resident at BVT.
Breckenridge Village of Tyler has been invited to FRESH 15 for the past four years to participate in the 1K race. As a charity partner of the event, BVT received $25,000 in donations from the 2017 and 2018 races combined, and will be blessed to receive proceeds from this year’s event as well.
To see more of the BVT Eagles in action, click here. And learn more about how Breckenridge Village of Tyler offers residence, fellowship, and community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in East Texas.
“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” — Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
Silver Cliff Ranch is pleased to introduce a new member to the team as Jordan Euler joins Silver Cliff in the role of Assistant Camp Director. Working alongside Eric and Leta Dahlberg – the dedicated duo who have operated the site for 37 years and counting – Jordan will focus on creating new opportunities for the many guests the Ranch hosts and the many more they hope to reach.
Jordan has a storied career in outdoor education and adventure, serving for 15 years across four states in a variety of senior positions. The majority of his work has been with high schools and universities, leveraging the outdoors as a learning tool for students. Jordan holds a bachelor’s degree from Covenant College, and will soon receive his Master of Education from The University of Arizona, allowing him to grow on his established experience in secondary education and his work with youth.
Eric Dahlberg, Camp Director at Silver Cliff Ranch,
anticipates Jordan’s fresh perspective of the facility, extensive knowledge of
the outdoors, and familiarity with new and emerging technology and marketing tools
will make him an invaluable asset to the small team at the top of the Rockies.
“We’ll split up some of the responsibilities for managing the camp, but he’s
also going to help do some promotion work and work on a new system for bookings,”
said Eric. “I’m excited to have him join us and looking forward to getting some
For Jordan, the move to Silver Cliff is a new adventure as
much as it is a homecoming. Buena Vista, Colorado, which is only a 15-minute
drive from Silver Cliff Ranch, is where Jordan and his family spent years of
their lives before moving to Northern Idaho. Jordan always hoped that one day
they would return to Buena Vista. “It’s definitely the place that I want to
call home and raise my kids,” said Jordan.
Jordan will be on site soon but is already building on his
vision for Silver Cliff while working remotely. “Something I’m excited about is
revealing and highlighting what the camp has to offer, through outreach and
specifically targeting different audiences,” said Jordan.
“We are thrilled to have Jordan on board at Silver Cliff and look forward to seeing how his unique experiences, subject matter expertise, and education help heighten the experience for our staff and our guests,” said Asennet Segura, EVP/COO of Community, International and Residential Services.
Read more about Jordan’s story in his own words, or learn about what Silver Cliff Ranch has to offer in the scenic state of Colorado by clicking here.
The fourth annual BCFS Employee Giving Campaign took place in the final two weeks of February 2019, reaching employees across all programs in the BCFS System.
During the campaign, 508 employees made their first financial contributions, either through a one-time donation (61 percent) or through the commitment of a recurring donation (39 percent), while 31 current BCFS System donors increased their payroll-deducted donations to CERI for an annual total of $8,027.28 in addition to what they were already contributing.
CERI gained 27 new child sponsors through this year’s campaign. Sponsorships like these are instrumental to the work CERI does, as they offer a direct financial impact and long-term investment into the lives of individual children in Moldova, Sri Lanka, or India.
Focused on engaging and uniting employees of the BCFS System around a common cause, the BCFS Employee Giving Campaign is meant to inform or remind those who work throughout the BCFS System about a particular division’s efforts – in this case, CERI – to bring meaningful and lasting change into the lives of others.
“These gifts support CERI’s growth and ensure that more children will have a chance to grow up in a loving family and more families will have a chance to stay together,” said Connie Belciug, Executive Director of CERI.
As an international interest of the BCFS System, and as
the agency’s only entity that receives 100 percent of its funding through
charitable donations, Children’s Emergency Relief International seeks help from
individuals who have the means to give but may not necessarily understand why
even a small but consistent donation can make such a big difference for
children so far away.
“One thing we really try to emphasize ishow much we can stretch a dollarin the regions CERI serves overseas. Donations big and small make a tremendous impact,” said Connie.
Learn moreabout how CERI works at both individual and systematic levels to provide relief to children around the world, ordonate today.
BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (EMD) has selected Dakota Duncan for the position as Executive Director for the division.
Dakota brings a diverse set of skills to the EMD team,
having worked previously as a Firefighter and Paramedic in three states, a
State Emergency Management Director for the Indiana National Guard, and an
Incident Command Subject Matter Expert for the U.S. Department of Defense. He
has earned multiple degrees in higher education, including a master’s degree in
public health (MPH) from the American Military University. Dakota’s MPH and
focus on public health lends the division another important piece in forming a
well-rounded, multidisciplinary approach to emergency management.
Dakota served in the United States Navy for eight years and
as a U.S. Army Civilian for two years. He has taught and trained in various
capacities throughout his tenure in emergency management and in the armed
Kari Tatro, EVP/COO of Administration, Education and Emergency Operations, is confident Dakota will be “a very capable member of the team who can keep current operations stable while also giving us room to grow.”
The Emergency Management Division responds to crises with
incredible speed on an incredible scale, and although the task is demanding, EMD’s
track record proves it is also manageable. As the division’s needs grew and
adapted around the constituencies they served, the benefits of employing a
dedicated position for more specific and specialized roles became obvious. Lauren
Maher, Chief of Staff for EMD, explained: “this position is vital to the
development of the EMD team and will allow leadership to designate our growing responsibilities
to more people; the right people.”
“BCFS [Health and
Human Services] has one of the most highly respected teams in the world. Our
people are absolutely phenomenal at what they do, and it is an honor to lead
such an amazing team,” said Dakota.
Learn more about how EMD lessens the burden for
populations facing disaster in places close to home and around the globe.