Project Cinderella to help youth attend prom in style

Project Cinderella helps youth from foster care attend prom in style

Youth to don dresses and formalwear donated by community

Photo: Last year’s collection of donated dresses & accessories. BCFS calls on the community to donate to this year’s stock

TYLER, TX –Francine and Shelby, two young women from foster care, reminisce fondly about the days leading up to prom last year, and how Project Cinderella gave them an unforgettable experience. When they came to pick out their prom dresses from BCFS Health and Human Services, the girls moved excitedly through the garment racks, running their hands across all the glittery ball gowns and elegant dresses, searching for the perfect one.

“I can choose any dress?” asked Shelby. “This is so amazing and fantastic – and fun! I love BCFS!”  Francine, too, was ecstatic about her prom look. “I didn’t think I could look this beautiful for a prom I didn’t think I was going to have,” she said.

Project Cinderella is an initiative of BCFS Health and Human Services that helps youth from foster care attend prom in style by providing new or gently used formal attire for the young men and women, as well as professional hair and makeup sessions for the ladies. Every year, people from across Tyler donate gently used dresses, shoes, jewelry, and tuxedos, or make a monetary contribution so a student can shop for their own prom attire.

Donations are currently being accepted and can be dropped off at the BCFS Health and Human Services Transition Center at 1012 Meadow Lane in Tyler, or at the Administrative Offices of Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) at 302 E. Reich Road. To make a donation online, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/Tyler.

In Tyler, most youth in foster care (like Francine and Shelby) are in nontraditional environments like group homes, charter schools, or GED programs where prom isn’t typically on the agenda. So every spring, BCFS hosts a prom for youth from foster care, in partnership with DFPS, so these young men and women don’t miss out on the “exciting, coming-of-age, American tradition of prom,” according to BCFS Director Carla McCalope.

“Project Cinderella and the prom event make a significant impact on the way our youth feel about themselves,” says McCalope. “Most of them have experienced abuse or neglect in the past, so we take every opportunity to show them they are loved, and boost their self-confidence. The community has stepped in to help our youth the past four years, and we hope this will be our biggest year yet!”

BCFS Health and Human Services helps Tyler youth from the foster care system, as well as other young adults facing homelessness, poverty, and other challenges. The center is a “one-stop shop” that provides counseling, case management, and assistance with education, employment, housing location and medical care.

For more information or to make a monetary donation to Project Cinderella, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Tyler or call (903) 526-0882.

# # #

BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.

 

 

 

Meet the Campbells: A Family Meant To Be

Photo: Campbell Family

By Leonard Favela
Featured in BCFS’ annual together magazine

“It’s pretty simple,” begins the Campbell family patriarch, Mark. “You look in James, Chapter 1, and we are commanded to take care of the orphans and children and widows of the world. It’s not an option. God says, ‘this is what I want you to do.’”

With this scripture as their guiding principle, the Campbell family was made whole. Although the divine command sounds simple enough, working through the earthly challenges proved trying for the Campbells, their two biological children, and their adopted daughter, Desiree. Mark and Kathy Campbell already had two small children when they decided to become foster parents through BCFS Health and Human Services.

“We were foster parents for about an hour before we got the call that there was a baby that needed a place to stay,” says Mark. That’s when the Campbells met a sweet little toddler, Desiree.

Desiree was born to a 15-year-old girl, unprepared for the rigors of motherhood and still just a child herself. Less than a year later, Desiree was removed from her mother’s care by the state. During the next few years, Desiree bounced back and forth between her mother and the Campbell household. In an attempt to break the cycle, they tried something new. Desiree’s mother moved into the Campbell home with her daughter. This only lasted a few months, as Desiree’s mom struggled to abide by the house rules intended to keep the home peaceful and stable. After this failed, the “foster home shuffle” resumed for another year.

“The goal is always to reunite the child with the biological parent,” says Mark, “and we agreed that was the best thing to do. But, Desiree just kind of disappeared. We didn’t know where she was, and we found out that she ended up in another foster home.”

Cautiously Optimistic

The Campbells fostered a pair of sisters during the span of two years without Desiree. After a chance encounter between Kathy and Desiree’s caseworker, the caseworker asked if the Campbells were interested in adopting Desiree. The Campbells began to prepare for the possibility that Desiree could join their family for good – with cautious optimism. But questions remained.

“Would she stay a year? Was that possible?” Kathy wondered. “Because for our kids, it felt like a death in the family with Desiree coming in and out of the house.”

They went to court and presented their home as the safest, most stable place for Desiree. But after an error in court proceedings and documentation, Desiree was deemed unavailable for adoption and would remain in state custody. The Campbells continued to fight for custody of Desiree, and another chance encounter (plus a lot of gusto from Mr. Campbell) caused a breakthrough in the case!

Mark was a member of his local Rotary club, as were all the judges that preside over foster care cases in the county. The judges led a presentation during a Rotary meeting, and when the presentation ended, Mark rose and told the crowd, in no uncertain terms, that the courts were threatening the unity of his family. His rousing, impromptu speech earned a standing ovation from his fellow Rotary members, and caught the attention of the judges.

During this time, Desiree’s mom had visitation rights but rarely came to see her daughter. She missed several scheduled visits – all the while, she vowed that she’d fight for custody as long as it would take. When a trial date was set, nerves set in and Desiree’s mom did not want to appear before the judge. She told her attorney she wanted to meet with the Campbells.

Mark’s voice quivers as he recalls that meeting. “Desiree’s mom said, ‘it’s best for you guys to take her, because I can’t do it.’” Another emotional breakthrough – but more roadblocks stood in their way. In the final phase of the legal proceedings, the family’s lawyer attempted to double his fees to complete the adoption. Outraged and out of options, Mark called BCFS President Kevin Dinnin, who immediately assigned BCFS’ lawyers to their case.

The adoption was finalized in court two weeks later, February 2, 2005. Desiree was officially a Campbell!

In Her Own Words

Desiree, now 16, sits comfortably beside her mom and dad in their living room, where Christian artwork and scriptures adorn the walls.

“I don’t know where I’d be without them,” Desiree says of her mom and dad. “They’re a big part of my life, they’re always there, and I’ll always have somewhere to go.”

Photo: Campbell Sisters

The family calendar is full – weekend getaways, family game nights, soccer, swimming and golf. Desiree now has her driver’s license. By the time she graduates high school, she’ll have her cosmetology license, but in the meantime (license or not) she is the “go-to” hair and makeup stylist for her sister and friends.

She traveled to Central America on a church mission trip to disciple youth in a Guatemalan orphanage. “Last year, I brought someone to Christ,” Desiree says. “They wanted me to sign their Bible. It was a really cool experience.”

What Now?

In every adoptive family, the parents must decide how best to communicate with the child about their history, their biological parents, and the future of the parent-child relationship. The Campbells decided early on they never wanted Desiree to look back and feel as if she had been “stolen from her mother.” So they determined two things would be key – gratitude and honesty. Kathy and Mark reminded Desiree to be grateful to her mother for helping her have a bright future.

“It would’ve been easier for a 14-year-old girl to make a very poor choice about her pregnancy,” says Mark. “So she did two things for Desiree; she gave her life and then she said, ‘I can’t take care of her and I don’t want her to go down the same path that I have, so here’s another option for Desiree.’ I can’t think of two greater gifts of love that you can give another person.”

Desiree and her biological mother haven’t spoken since the adoption was finalized more than 10 years ago. Desiree is uncertain about the future of their relationship.

“So many things run through my mind, like if I were to find her, would she ever want to meet me back? Maybe her mind has changed and she wants to meet me,” wonders Desiree. “Or, what if I meet her and I’m not what she expected…I definitely, probably would, in the future, want to meet her.”

“The fact that my parents are open with me about my adoption and that they’ve allowed me to ask questions really helped me trust them and grow up and be okay with the fact that I was different, and I didn’t look like them…and they don’t go a day without telling me they love me.”

Desiree dreams of one day adopting a child of her own. With her courageous parents by her side, she’s bound to follow in their footsteps gracefully and prove her father right when he says, “God’s always got a way of working these things out. There’s always a good place for a child.”

Inside Out: Calvin’s Story

By Stephanie Pelech & Yvonne Paris Rhodes, Featured in BCFS annual magazine, together

How childhood learning is impacted by what happens IN and OUT of the classroom

Calvin is a bright, friendly 4-year-old boy. He excels academically and socially in the BCFS Education Services Head Start classroom he attends. But that wasn’t always the case. When Calvin first joined Head Start, he struggled to get along with his classmates. He was often reprimanded for hitting other students, and was suspended from riding the bus for repeatedly disruptive behavior. Calvin’s mom, Nichole, asked for help from BCFS Family Specialist Stephanie Pelech. Stephanie advised Nichole on healthy family routines to adopt at home, and gave the weary mom some much-needed support and encouragement.

During a home visit, the BCFS Family Specialist Stephanie asked Nichole about her son’s playtime habits. Turns out, Calvin was watching about 4 hours of television each day, including some violent shows and cartoons. It was also revealed that Calvin had witnessed violence in the home between his parents.

Stephanie explained that if Calvin continued to witness violence in the home and on TV, he’d be more likely to replicate violent behaviors. Calvin’s mom committed to regulating her son’s TV habits. More importantly, she asked Calvin’s father to leave the home to create a peaceful environment for their son. “It was crucial that she recognize that was unhealthy,” says Stephanie. “She was willing to accept our help and advice.”

Calvin’s eating habits were also a concern. He refused to eat anything except fried chicken, French fries, and macaroni and cheese. Chocolate milk and sweet tea, both chock full of sugar and caffeine, were his go-to drinks. The BCFS team educated Calvin’s mom about how the food and drinks children consume impact their health and behavior, and she agreed to meet with a nutritionist. Nichole was determined to improve her son’s diet, but she admitted she had a bad habit of giving in to his dinnertime tantrums too often – a pain MANY parents can relate to.

“I encouraged her to continue to be a good role model to him,” Stephanie explains. “Eat healthy foods and get Calvin as much exercise as possible. These habits would promote better behavior in school and better outcomes overall. Even if he gets mad about his meals, she knows she is doing the right thing giving him healthy food.”

As the year progressed, Calvin’s literacy and math skills improved. His behavior on the bus improved, as well. Their hard work was paying off – Calvin was demonstrating he could compromise, share and problem-solve. He showed early signs of emergent reading and writing skills, composing short consonant-vowel-consonant words. Sometimes, he’d get so excited about his writing that he’d wave the paper in the air and proudly ask to show the teacher or office staff his work.

Calvin’s transformation amazed his mother, the BCFS team and the school district. At another home visit, Nichole expressed her gratitude and excitement about Calvin’s development.

“It was such a good feeling,” Nichole said, “to leave him at Sunday school class and know he wouldn’t hurt another student.”

Even his dinnertime habits have improved. There are more veggies Calvin likes to eat, and he’s happy to wash them down with white milk instead of chocolate. Calvin’s healthier habits and improved behavior freed up Nichole to work full-time and accomplish more in her own personal life.

Kassandra Ventura

Kassandra Ventura:  Babies & Mothers Get A Healthy Start

By Araceli Flores                                                                                                  Featured in BCFS’ annual magazine, together

A group of women with plaquesKassandra lives in the colonias along the Texas-Mexico border. Spanish is her first language, and although she struggled to learn English when she started school, against all odds, she passed her classes and made it to high school.
Kassandra married her high school sweetheart, and soon after she was expecting her first child. Elated by the news, Kassandra and her husband welcomed their baby boy nine months later. With a newborn bundle of joy at home —and all the questions and uncertainty of a first-time mom — she joined the BCFS Health and Human Services Healthy Start Laredo (HSL) program.
Healthy Start is a nationally recognized program of BCFS Health and Human Services that provides medical care and case management for women who are pregnant or raising a child under the age of two for the purpose of reducing infant mortality, preventing child abuse and assisting families in meeting basic health needs (nutrition, housing and psychosocial support).
“There was a time when I felt like just staying at home with my baby, and school was not a priority. Healthy Start helped me determine what was important for my future and family. Thanks to my BCFS case manager, Erika Garcia, I have come to realize that even though life is not easy, I am able to overcome the challenges and be a successful mother, wife, student, and a future nurse!” —KASSANDRA
BCFS conducted home visits with Kassandra to provide one-on-one parenting classes facilitated by a case manager, including lessons on how to properly nurture infants and care for them as they grow into toddlers and preschoolers. In addition, BCFS connected Kassandra to group parenting classes and community services for medical care, housing, and food assistance. Through counseling, parenting education and the guidance of her case manager, Kassandra set short-term and long-term goals for the health and stability of her growing family.

Meenojan: Triumph Over Tragedy

*Featured in BCFS’ annual together magazine

By Anita Ramesh

Photo: Meenojan

Looking sharp in his black suit, it’s hard to tell Meenojan’s successful demeanor masks the tragic experiences he suffered as a child. When he was just four years old, his mother died of cancer. Shortly after, his father abandoned the family. In an instant, his whole life changed.

I wish to share with everyone that being successful does not depend on your background,” Meenojan says. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to CERI who helped me overcome challenges in my life. I extend my deepest gratitude and appreciation to CERI. At the same time, I will never forget my roots and where I came from.

At 13, he entered the foster care program operated by Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) – the overseas arm of BCFS – in Sri Lanka, a small island nation off the southern coast of India. CERI’s foster care program serves children and youth like Meenojan in need of family placement, providing case management and a stable home environment, as well as support for food, clothing and education.

Photo: Meenojan

Meenojan’s CERI case worker tried to help him pursue higher education, but Meenojan was unsuccessful in qualifying for school. Desperate to earn some money, he searched for any opportunity to work odd jobs and became a laborer in a local temple.

In his spare time, Meenojan continued his attempts to get into school or a vocational training program. Three months later, with help from CERI, Meenojan was admitted to a vocational school to learn hotel management, where he was recognized as an outstanding student for his hard work and dedication to his studies.

Today, Meenojan is an 18-year-old young man working in one of Sri Lanka’s premier hotels, making a good living to support himself.


CERI is the international arm of the BCFS system of health and human service non-profit organizations

Community Foundation of Abilene Awards BCFS Grant to Expand Reach

Community Foundation of Abilene Awards $24,000 Grant to
BCFS Health and Human Services to Expand its Reach

Photo Caption: April Young and Chelsea Bankes (BCFS’ Social Work Interns from Abilene Christian University) serve youth from foster care, local fathers, homeless young men, juvenile justice youth, and at-risk teens & youth

ABILENE –  The Community Foundation of Abilene has awarded BCFS Health and Human Services a $24,000 grant to hire an additional Youth Support Case Manager to serve local youth struggling with homelessness, poverty, unemployment or an unstable home life. The Youth Support Case Manager will help youth from troubled backgrounds achieve stability and self-sufficiency by providing guidance, support and connections to local resources.

After completing a comprehensive needs-assessment of each youth, the case manager will help them identify their personal, educational and professional goals and develop a transition plan.

The case manager will provide ongoing support necessary to help the youth achieve their goals – which may include help securing housing; employment support like resume-building and work skills training; and educational support including tutoring or help submitting college or financial aid applications.

“We are grateful for the continued partnership of The Community Foundation of Abilene in serving local young men and women in need,” said Emily Cole, BCFS Health and Human Services Regional Director. “This grant enables us to fill gaps between other funding sources and ensure that all the youth that walk in our doors can receive the help they need.”

The new case manager will serve youth from the BCFS Health and Human Services center, as well as BCFS’ Our House. The BCFS center provides case management, counseling, and  assistance with education, employment and housing to teens and youth. Many of the youth served at the center have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect and spent time in foster care, or have been involved in the juvenile justice system. The center is open to any youth who need a quiet study spot, a home away from home, or a chat with a counselor or mentor. BCFS Health and Human Services also provides parenting education courses for fathers to learn healthy communication and parent-child bonding tips.

BCFS’ Our House is a transitional living home that provides temporary shelter to young men in Abilene who are struggling with homelessness. Residents at BCFS’ Our House connect to programs at the BCFS Health and Human Services center for help furthering their education, securing employment, and learning life skills to prepare to move out on their own.

For more information about BCFS Health and Human Services’ work in Abilene, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Abilene or call (325) 692-0033.

# # #

BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.

 

 

 

BCFS Names Svajian Director of Talent Acquisition

As BCFS’ Director of Talent Acquisition, Svajian will institute policies and procedures to enhance recruiting effectiveness, streamline the recruitment-to-hire process, and improve the overall candidate experience. His new role will also entail the development of a flexible and adaptive recruiting team that can quickly respond to the diverse needs of the BCFS system.

BCFS Names Aram Svajian Director of Talent Acquisition

Photo: Aram Svajian Director of Talent AcquisitionSAN ANTONIO – BCFS, a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations, has named Aram Svajian Director of Talent Acquisition. In this role, Svajian will oversee and manage the full life cycle of the company’s talent identification and recruitment processes.

Svajian comes to BCFS with a 20-plus year career in human resources, recruitment and staffing. At Randstad Healthcare and ProCare One Heathcare Staffing, he honed his skills in recruiting strategies, market diversification, training and development, customer service, improving retention rates, building high performance teams, and strengthening operational effectiveness.  He earned his B.A. in human resources from the University of Central Oklahoma and an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University.

As BCFS’ Director of Talent Acquisition, Svajian will institute policies and procedures to enhance recruiting effectiveness, streamline the recruitment-to-hire process, and improve the overall candidate experience. His new role will also entail the development of a flexible and adaptive recruiting team that can quickly respond to the diverse needs of the BCFS system.

“With his education and extensive experience, I know Aram will bring high-performance outcomes to the BCFS Human Resources team,” said Karen Thaxton, EVP – Human Resources. “He is a hands-on leader with a breadth of cross-functional expertise in customer service and the applicant experience, with sharp instincts for capitalizing on industry trends. Aram will continue to build BCFS’ best-in-class approach to attracting, sourcing and hiring.”

For more information about BCFS, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net.

# # #

BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.

 

Del Rio Community Comes Together in the Spirit of Giving

With some quick help from the community, BCFS Health and Human Services was able to make spirits a little brighter for more than 120 children and youth in the Del Rio area this Christmas. A gift distribution was being organized for the families enrolled in BCFS’ STAR program, but when the initial plans fell through just days before the gifts were to be delivered, staff reached out to the community to help make these children’s Christmas wishes come true. In just two days, BCFS collected over $1,500 for the gifts, thanks to the help and generosity of private donors and local businesses and organizations.

Del Rio Community Comes Together in the Spirit of Giving

More than 47 families in need received Christmas gifts

Photo: Allie Whitaker and Sarah MorenoDEL RIO – With some quick help from the community, BCFS Health and Human Services was able to make spirits a little brighter for more than 120 children and youth in the Del Rio area this Christmas.

A gift distribution was being organized for the families enrolled in BCFS’ STAR program, but when the initial plans fell through just days before the gifts were to be delivered, staff reached out to the community to help make these children’s Christmas wishes come true. In just two days, BCFS collected over $1,500 for the gifts, thanks to the help and generosity of private donors and local businesses and organizations, including Brown Automotive, San Felipe Ex-Student Memorial Center,  Inc., the Del Rio Chapter of the American G.I. Forum and the San Felipe Lions Club.

When staff at Dr. Lonnie Green Elementary School learned of BCFS’ plans, they organized a last minute two-day toy drive to help out as well. Everyone’s hard work paid off, and BCFS staff began delivering presents to local families on December 16. More than 47 families received Christmas gifts.

“Our staff gave out more than 129 gifts. We are so thankful that the community came together so quickly to make this happen for these families. We couldn’t have done this without them,” said Delia Ramos, Interim Director for BCFS Health and Human Services.

BCFS’ Services to At-Risk Youth (STAR) program helps Del Rio families create stable, loving home environments by providing free counseling, training for youth and parents, and help reducing family conflict and delinquent behaviors in youth, like truancy. The STAR program serves families with youth 17 years old and younger.

For more information about the STAR program or to request free counseling, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/STAR or call (830) 768-2755.

# # #

BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.

 

 

Governor’s Office Awards Grant For Domestic Violence Survivors

DEL RIO – The Criminal Justice Division of the Texas Governor’s Office has awarded BCFS Health and Human Services $54,000 to expand its current services to victims of domestic violence in Val Verde County with the PAST program, or Peers Achieving Success Together. The PAST program provides crisis intervention, victim advocacy services, and peer support groups to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking crimes in Val Verde County.

“Over the next year, we expect to serve at least 100 victims of abuse through PAST, providing direct crisis intervention services,” says Delia Ramos, interim director for BCFS Health and Human Services in Del Rio. “This grant reaffirms Texas’ view, from the highest level, that abuse, in any form, is unacceptable, and there is no place for it in our society.”

Last year in Texas, more than 23,000 adults and children sought shelter from an abusive environment, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. One in three women in Texas is affected by abuse at the hands of a boyfriend, spouse or intimate partner.

Family Violence Specialists with the PAST program provide individualized needs assessments, crisis counseling, transportation services, safety planning and referrals to other community organizations for additional support as-needed. PAST also provides peer support groups, where program staff and abuse survivors utilize the Duluth Model curriculum, Tácticas de control: La visión de la mujer. The curriculum includes the first-person accounts of six Latinas who have survived abuse, and how the experience has affected their children, their relationships and themselves.

“Del Rio has a large Hispanic population, and we are mindful of the cultural nuances within our community,” adds Ramos. “Through the stories of these Latina survivors, Tácticas de control offers insight into an abuser’s mindset and how a relationship can evole into something unhealthy and dangerous.”

The Duluth Model, named after the small Minnesota town where it was developed, is a framework of ideas and information about domestic violence that asserts involvement from the entire community is critical to ending domestic abuse for good.

BCFS Health and Human Services has operated the Domestic Violence Del Rio (DVDR) program for five years, providing safety, support and resources to victims of abuse. BCFS also operates the Services To At Risk Youth program, known as STAR, which aims to reduce family conflict and prevent delinquent behaviors, running away, and child abuse by helping youth and their families learn to resolve crises and develop coping and parenting skills.

To learn more about BCFS Health and Human Services, or to support BCFS’ work in Del Rio visit DiscoverBCFS.net/DelRio.

# # #

BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.

 

 

 

Westside San Antonio Families Receive Christmas Surprise

BCFS Westside Community Center Gives Back to Local Families

Photo: A family standing in front of houseSAN ANTONIO – BCFS Health and Human Services brought some Christmas cheer on Wednesday to 22 people living on San Antonio’s West Side. Staff from the BCFS Westside Community Center surprised three families with an assortment of presents and fresh baked pies, hand-delivered to their homes. The bed of the delivery truck was piled high with gift bags full of a variety of wrapped presents that included diapers, baby bonnets, clothes, toy cars, sports equipment, dolls, and other toys for the younger children as well as gift cards for the parents and teenagers. Parents also received special gifts, something comfy and the means to do something nice for themselves.

The families would “truly not have had Christmas without the BCFS Westside Community Center and its partners,” according to Michelle Shilling, Program Director at the BCFS Westside Community Center.

“The story of each family is powerful and unique – from a family that recently lost a loved one, to a partner who earns minimum wage supporting a family of seven,” said Shilling. “These families give so much to the community, no matter what they receive in return.”

Photo: Pickup truck filled with presentsBut Michelle wanted to make sure they knew how much BCFS appreciated their efforts and was not alone in giving thanks. First Baptist Church helped the families with the means for a Christmas meal, providing them with food and gift certificates for ham and turkeys, and was joined by community leaders, Rotary Club of San Antonio, and Air Force Federal Credit Union, who donated the gifts to make this surprise possible. BCFS added bags of coffee, lemonade and holiday sweets and treats to round out this outpouring of amazing blessings.

BCFS has worked with local partners for nearly a decade to serve the West Side. Most recently, BCFS opened the Westside Community Center in 2014 as a hub for area children and families to access free services and resources. Much of the center’s success over the past year is due in large part to the collaborative efforts of local residents.

To learn more about the BCFS Westside Community Center and the services available, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Westside or call (210) 208-5681.

# # #

BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.

 

 

 

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