The Building Blocks of Faith

BCFS Health and Human Services, together with a team of compassionate and handy neighbors in Kerrville, Texas, helps a seventy-seven year old single great-grandmother with sole custody of her three young great-grandchildren expand her home to meet CPS licensing standards.

By:  Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
To say Wanna Runyan has a full house is an understatement. The seventy-seven year old single great-grandmother has sole custody of her three young great-grandchildren: six year old twins, Payton and Paige, and their five year old sister, Kodi. Runyan, who also cares for an elderly family member, could no doubt make a happy home for the girls, but she needed another bedroom in her small Kerrville home to comply with Child Protective Services licensing standards.
Photo: Woman and girls
Runyan and her great-granddaughters loved the butterflies, pink paint and other girlie accents that made their new room feel like home.

How would she ever get a room addition? “It would have to be a miracle,” Runyan said.

Neighbors and friends heard about Runyan’s dilemma. One such acquaintance, a volunteer from Christian Assistance Ministry, contacted Partners in Ministry and the ball started rolling.
“It is indescribable how it all came together,” said Jeff Anderson, Executive Director of Partners in Ministry. Anderson began working with a neighbor, Bob Meader, who drew up plans for the project. TJ Moore Lumber Yard, Home Depot and MG Builders all donated supplies or gave discounts to make the room addition come together.
BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Kerrville Transition Center (KTC) was asked to assist with labor. YouthBuild, a program of KTC, helps young adults who dropped out of high school further their education goals while also learning the construction trade. YouthBuild construction manager, Keith Schoonmaker, said his youth put in more than 120 hours of sweat and hard work, learning to give back to their community.
One BCFS HHS YouthBuild student, Eddy, shared his excitement about the project. “To go from nothing to being a room was amazing,” he said. “I loved the experience and learned a lot.”
“When they started building, I cried,” smiled Runyan. “I could not believe it was happening to me. It was like a dream.”
“When you do not have much money, something like this is like winning the lottery,” she continued.
Runyan’s three great-grandchildren became very fond of BCFS HHS’ YouthBuild youth and staff, looking forward each day to their arrival on the construction site. Schoonmaker and his assistant, Russell Wells, even made the three young kids wear safety goggles and a hard hat when they came out to “help.”
Last month, more than thirty-six friends, staff and volunteers from BCFS HHS, Partners in Ministry and Christian Assistance Ministry gathered for the ribbon cutting and the celebration.
When the doors opened to the pink bedroom, six year old Paige was asked, “Who built your new room?”
“Jesus built this room,” she answered.

AmeriCares Partners with BCFS Health and Human Services to Pre-Position Relief Supplies for Texans with Disabilities

Supplies are on-hand for the height of hurricane season

AmeriCares and BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) have pre-positioned equipment and relief supplies for Texans with disabilities displaced by disasters. The equipment can be readily deployed to support resource requests for up to five Texas Disaster District regions. The pre-positioned supplies include nearly $50,000 worth of equipment including wheelchairs, canes, cots, shower chairs and other safety equipment BCFS EMD can rapidly deploy at the request of local and state agencies. The supplies will be stored in San Antonio and distributed to regions across the state after hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other emergencies.

AmeriCares, the global health and disaster relief organization, selected Texas for the preparedness program because it is one of the most disaster-prone states. BCFS EMD provides critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments, as well as private businesses and institutions, before, during and after disasters. In Texas, BCFS EMD is a top partner for operating and supplying shelters for residents displaced by storms and other emergencies.

“AmeriCares is dedicated to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable disaster survivors,” said AmeriCares Vice President of Emergency Response Garrett Ingoglia. “By pre-positioning equipment and supplies with our partner BCFS, we are ensuring emergency shelters across Texas will have the medical equipment and supplies elderly and disabled survivors most frequently need.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has designated September National Disaster Preparedness Month to encourage Americans to prepare for all type of emergencies, from natural disasters and major storms to terrorist attacks.

“Pre-staging emergency assets and having partnerships in place prior to an incident are best practices that ensure jurisdictions have the tools necessary to save lives when disaster strikes,” said Kari Tatro, BCFS Executive Vice President of Emergency Management. “With help from AmeriCares, we are creating a national model for preparedness that can – and should – be replicated in states and regions across the country.”

BCFS EMD is part of a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations operated by BCFS. BCFS EMD partners with FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and various states and municipalities across the nation. The organization is a nationally recognized leader in serving vulnerable populations during disasters, and developed the guidance document and curriculum for FEMA’s national Guidance for the Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters.

AmeriCares has been aiding survivors of natural disasters, political conflict and extreme poverty around the world for more than 30 years, saving lives and restoring health and hope. AmeriCares Emergency Response program helps communities and health care facilities worldwide prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. The organization delivers medicines and relief supplies, awards funding to local organizations assisting the recovery and helps health care providers prepare for future emergencies. AmeriCares emergency response experts responded to the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, and most recently, Hurricane Sandy in the northeast.

AmeriCares and BCFS EMD first partnered in 2011 when AmeriCares awarded the agency a grant to develop protocols and procedures for medical shelters, build capacity for alternate care sites, and develop and deliver disaster medical training courses.


About AmeriCares

AmeriCares is a nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization that delivers medicines, medical supplies and aid to people in need around the world and across the United States. Since it was established in 1982, AmeriCares has distributed more than $11 billion in humanitarian aid to 164 countries. For more information, visit americares.org

About BCFS EMD

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) provides all hazards preparedness consultation, incident management and full-scale emergency response support to local, state and federal agencies throughout the U.S. BCFS began its work in emergency management during the 1993 Branch Davidian incident in Waco, Texas, providing emergency sheltering for the children caught in the crossfire. Its Incident Management Team members have responded to every major critical incident in the U.S. in the past 12 years, including 9/11, the H1N1 flu pandemic, and countless hurricanes, tornados, fires, floods, hazardous material spills and earthquakes. For more information, visit www.BCFSEMD.org. Or for emergency response services 24-hours a day, call 1 (800) 337-0373.

BCFS Health and Human Services Awarded Grant to Strengthen Families throughout Texas

BCFS Health and Human Services is launching a new dynamic, community-based parenting program aimed at reconnecting, strengthening and empowering families to create positive environments for their children.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services awarded BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS) a five-year contract to lead a dynamic, community-based parenting program aimed at reconnecting, strengthening and empowering families to create positive environments for their children. The program, called Texas Families: Together and Safe (TFTS), will serve more than 2,100 families annually in Bexar, Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces and Kerr counties.

“Being a responsible parent involves making decisions in the best interest of your child. It also means learning from mistakes and making better choices in the future to ensure children feel safe and loved, no matter what,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS HHS executive director of the Community Services Division. “Strengthening communication and learning more about the perspectives of all members of a household are proven ways to mitigate abuse and build an unbreakable bond within a family.”

Families with children ages 3 to17, who do not have an open CPS case or a previously substantiated case of abuse or neglect, are eligible to participate in the program. TFTS’ lessons and tools are beneficial to any parent interested in learning how to bond with their children, while still guiding, supervising and disciplining them when necessary. Classes are especially suited for families with added stressors, like overworked parents, single parents, divorced couples, and foster parents – or anyone interested in learning how to create a healthier home for their child. Parents who participate in the ten-week course will receive wraparound support services, including referrals to other community providers and assistance meeting their basic needs.

The TFTS curriculum focuses on how to best:

  • Reduce conflict and improve family communication
  • Improve behavior problems in children
  • Deal with complicated, strong emotions
  • Validate a parent’s strengths
  • Deal with complex issues like aggression, alcohol and violence

Families interested in participating may visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/TFTS to learn more.

Flores Named New Healthy Start Program Director

Photo: Araceli Flores

BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS) has named Araceli M. Flores as the new program director for its Healthy Start program, which has played a major role in ensuring thousands of healthy babies were born from families living in Webb County colonias.

“Araceli brings a ‘get it done’ leadership attitude, combined with the caring nature of a nurse,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS HHS Executive Director of the Community Services Division. “No doubt these traits, combined with her many years old experience in health care, is going to make her a great leader of our Laredo operations.”

Flores is a registered nurse with 17 years of experience delivering and directing efforts to bring compassionate care to children and families in Laredo.  She previously served as a board member for the Salvation Army, participated in Leadership Laredo and was a Laredo Medical Center Healthy Woman Advisory Council Member. She attended Laredo Community College and earned a certification in forensic nursing from Kaplan University before earning a BSN from Texas A&M International University.

BCFS HHS’ Healthy Start program was established in Laredo in 2001 as an effort to decrease disparities in access to maternal and child healthcare. Since transportation is limited or nonexistent for many families served by BCFS HHS, Healthy Start travels to clients, providing mobile medical care, case management, and other comprehensive services to Colonia residents along the U.S. border with Mexico. Thanks to the program, more women in Laredo now receive prenatal care than ever before.

Women who are pregnant or have a child/children younger than 2 years of age are eligible for free services. Services provided by BCFS HHS include:

  • Prenatal and postpartum care via mobile unit
  • Health education and parenting education
  • Pediatric services
  • Laboratory services
  • Pharmacy services
  • Mental health services
  • Outpatient case management services to address the medical, social, financial, educational, legal, housing, parenting and employment areas of the served families

Hal and Charlie Peterson Foundation Invest in Youth Transition Center

The Hal and Charlie Peterson Foundation Invests $125,000 in Building Kerrville’s New Youth Transition Center

The Hal and Charlie Peterson Foundation has awarded BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS) $125,000 toward the construction of a new Kerrville Transition Center that serves youth in foster care and those facing other struggles, such as homelessness, substance abuse, poverty, unplanned pregnancies and more. The project has received significant support from many community leaders, organizations and philanthropists passionate about filling an unmet need for youth of the Hill Country.

“Since we opened Kerrville’s original transition center six years ago, demand for services has exploded,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS HHS Executive Director of the Community Services Division. “We are grateful to the Peterson Foundation and all those who have and will invest in the expansion of transitional care services, so we may continue to provide comprehensive, coordinated, and, importantly, non-duplicated care to youth making the transition into independence and adulthood.”

Transition centers bring together under one roof services such as counseling, case management, access to medical care, emergency housing assistance, life skills training, literacy training, educational support, and connections to employment and educational opportunities. The new transition center will continue to be operated by BCFS HHS, while also housing four other non-profits: Art 2 Heart; Families & Literacy; and Partners In Ministry-Vision Youth. In addition, it will provide space on an as-needed basis for other community partners to directly offer services to youth.

The capital campaign was fueled by a $500,000 challenge grant from The Cailloux Foundation to build a new “one stop” transition center on the non-profit block managed by the Community Foundation. The new 16,000 square foot Kerrville Transition Center will provide a robust place where compassion and help will be available to serve more than 4,000 individuals in need each year. Christian Women’s Job Corps and Big Brothers Big Sisters will remain on the campus and offer coordinated services as well.

“We support the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country and BCFS HHS in this capital project and urge others to support it as well,” said Sandy Cailloux Executive Director of the Cailloux Foundation. “Helping at-risk youth and young adults become more responsible and self-sufficient gives them a much better start in life and strengthens our entire community.”

All gifts to the new Kerrville Transition Center are tax deductible. Checks may be made out to BCFS and mailed to 550 Earl Garret Suite 114 in Kerrville or at www.DiscoverBCFS.net/StepUp

BCFS Education Services to Lead New Head Start Locations

BCFS Education Services will lead the Head Start program in Atascosa, Karnes and Wilson counties beginning this school year. The program aims to propel children ages 3 to 5 from disadvantaged backgrounds toward academic success and prosperity through the provision of educational, health, nutritional and social services.

BCFS Education Services to Lead Head Start Program in Atascosa, Karnes and Wilson Counties

Program Promotes Academic Achievement and School Readiness for Children Ages 3-5

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded BCFS Education Services the competitive grant to lead the Head Start program in Atascosa, Karnes and Wilson counties beginning this school year. The program, which expands BCFS Education Services’ current Head Start work in Texas, aims to propel children ages 3 to 5 from disadvantaged backgrounds toward academic success and prosperity through the provision of educational, health, nutritional and social services.
“Thanks to the support and partnership of our community partners and public leaders, we are excited to expand our Head Start program to Atascosa, Karnes and Wilson counties,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS Education Services Executive Director. “Together, we will ensure children acquire the skills and confidence they need to be prepared for success in kindergarten and throughout their academic career.”
The program will continue to serve 360 children (the same as in recent years) throughout the three counties. BCFS Education Services is partnering with the Charlotte, Jourdanton, Kenedy, Pleasanton, Poteet and Stockdale independent school districts to provide services at school-based locations. Eligible families may pick-up a Pre-K application at their local elementary school or download an application from BCFS Education Services’ website. Eligibility criteria are also available on BCFS Education Services’ site. Enrollment begins August 1 and classes commence in accordance with the local ISD calendar. Applications are accepted year-round.
The organization will also operate non-school-based sites in Floresville and Karnes City. These sites will begin enrollment on August 15 and applications can be dropped off at the centers. Classes will commence October 1.
Each BCFS Education Services Head Start classroom focuses on individualized teaching and comprehensive support services, complete with field trips, meals and snacks, parent trainings, mental wellness, health services, dental exams, disability services and even free bus transportation.
BCFS Education Services is part of the global BCFS system of health and human service non-profit organizations.

BCFS Trains St. Louis Regional Responders on Mass Fatality Response

St. Louis-Area Regional Response System Contracts with BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division for Mass Fatality Trainings

The St. Louis Regional Response System (STARRS), through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, contracted with BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) to train local officials and emergency managers in Missouri and Illinois on best practices for mass fatality operations during disasters. The curriculum was designed around the area’s unique needs and existing processes to ensure a customized, practical response capability was established.
The STARRS is comprised of emergency response leaders from the bi-state St. Louis area, which encompasses the City of St. Louis; Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis counties in Missouri; and Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties in Illinois.
“The New Madrid Fault poses one of the greatest catastrophic threats to our nation. On the line are lives, infrastructure, and the economy,” said Kari Tatro, BCFS Executive Vice President of Emergency Management. “Without comprehensive and effective planning for mass fatalities, the devastation could be too much to recover from.”
BCFS EMD’s trainings for STARRS focused on site field and recovery; disaster morgue services; and victim identification. In addition to being designed around the unique needs of the STARRS, specific exercises and practical application activities were based on guidance from the Department of Homeland Security’s “Exercise Evaluation Guide for the Fatality Management Target Capability.” The three specific training courses lasted two days, and each included a practical, hands-on exercise that applied learning concepts presented in the classroom.
One participant said he most enjoyed the “instructor’s ability to relate real world events to training concepts and interaction with peers/partners.”
“This series of classes was exceptional; amongst the best training I have attended. Very knowledgeable and well qualified instructors,” he continued.
BCFS EMD is a national leader in medical and general population sheltering, incident management, and caring for individuals with disabilities during emergencies. The organization is a top emergency management partner for FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and numerous states across the nation. Most recently, BCFS EMD embedded in the City of Los Angeles’ emergency management department to assist in strengthening and ensuring its program integrated planning for people with disabilities. BCFS EMD is also developing FEMA’s national “Whole Community” Disaster Training Program.
For more information about BCFS EMD, please visit www.BCFS.net/EMD.

BCFS HHS Providing Foster Youth with a Full “Hope Chest”

Each year, BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Lubbock Transition Center holds the “Hope Chest” luncheon to celebrate local foster youth who are graduating from high school and college, and equip them for their next steps toward adulthood and independence. Each college student receives a $1,000 Target gift card and high school graduates receive $550 in store credit to stock up on necessities like household items, bedding, towels and kitchenware.

LUBBOCK – Each year, BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Lubbock Transition Center holds the “Hope Chest” luncheon to celebrate local foster youth who are graduating from high school and college, and equip them for their next steps toward adulthood and independence. Each college student receives a $1,000 Target gift card and high school graduates receive $550 in store credit to stock up on necessities like household items, bedding, towels and kitchenware. After the luncheon, the high school grads descend on Target with their shopping list of essentials and a staff member or volunteer to guide them on their ultimate shopping spree.
“Graduating high school and college is a tremendous achievement for any young adult, especially one who has faced instability and uncertainty in the foster care system,” explained Kami Jackson, director of the BCFS HHS Lubbock Transition Center. “Our Hope Chest event is a time when the whole community can come together and show these youth how proud of them we are.”
For teens aging out of foster care, BCFS HHS youth transition centers offer more than “one stop” ease to accessing resources and assistance. The case managers, counselors, college advisors and other community resources housed in the centers instill accountability, encouragement and direction to teens making the transition into adulthood. Similar to the role of a parent or other adult mentor, transition centers teach youth basic life skills, like how to manage a bank account or rent an apartment. They also offer career training and connections, educational assistance, literacy-boosting programs, and more.
Each youth is given a budget and a list of items they can buy. Youth do not have enough money to purchase everything on the list or buy all name-brand items, so they must decide what essentials they need and how much they are willing to pay. Target also provides a 10% discount, which youth must calculate before heading to the register.
“One of the coolest things about our Hope Chest shopping experience is that it teaches youth the importance of money management,” said Jackson. “It’s important for us to create these parameters and give our youth a list to stick to for a couple of reasons. For one, most 18 year olds don’t automatically think of needing to buy sponges or dish detergent. And two, if we didn’t put guidelines in place, I bet every youth would walk out of Target with a big screen TV instead of a shower curtain. The former is obviously not an essential.”
BCFS HHS’ transition centers are making a real difference in the lives of foster and at-risk youth – removing barriers to success and equipping them with the resources they need to become independent, successful and law-abiding adults. Every penny given to the Hope Chest benefit goes directly toward gift cards for graduating youth.
To learn more about the organization’s work with youth and young adults or to donate to the Hope Chest, please visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Lubbock.

Graduation Ceremony Honors Boerne Head Start Students

Program Promotes Academic Achievement and School Readiness or Children Ages 3-5

Photo: Child graduation

Nearly 50 preschoolers, excited and giggly, donned white caps and gowns and contagious smiles for the graduation ceremony of the Head Start program operated by BCFS Education Services. Proud parents and family members had their camcorders and phones at the ready to capture the sweet memories and they cheered on the little graduates.

The BCFS Education Services Head Start program in Kendall County aims to propel students from disadvantaged backgrounds toward academic success and prosperity through the provision of educational, health, nutritional and social services. Head Start is a national program funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that promotes school readiness in children ages 3 to 5.

“Graduation is such an important milestone for Head Start students and their families,” said Rebecca Goodwyn, BCFS Education Services Program Director of Kendall County Head Start. “Children leave the program having acquired skills and confidence that set them up for success in kindergarten and hopefully throughout their academic career. We focus on building a strong foundation for future learning and growth.”

Each BCFS Education Services Head Start classroom focuses on individualized teaching and comprehensive support services, complete with field trips, meals and snacks, parent trainings, mental wellness, health services, dental exams, disability services and even free bus transportation. To learn more about BCFS Education Services Head Start program, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/HeadStart.

Dimas Named BCFS Health and Human Services’ Associate Executive Director

BCFS names Kenia Dimas associate executive director for the agency’s South Texas community-based operations. As associate executive director, she will be responsible for overseeing the growth and success of community-based programs that touch the lives of thousands.

BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS), a global non-profit organization headquartered in Texas with locations from coast-to-coast and on four continents, has named Kenia Dimas, of Corpus Christi, as associate executive director for the agency’s South Texas community-based operations.

“During a time when many organizations and business have struggled, BCFS HHS continues to grow thanks to strategic development and a strong commitment to always deliver what we promise,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS HHS Executive Director of the Community Services Division.

“Kenia has a track record of meeting challenging and sometimes unchartered programmatic and financial goals, while never wavering to put what is right for the youth we serve first. This commitment to getting the job done – and done right – is why I know that she will be a great asset for BCFS HHS as we continue to build our reach across the state.”

Dimas has been with BCFS HHS since 2008 and has more than 11 years of experience working with at-risk children and youth. As associate executive director, she will be responsible for overseeing the growth and success of community-based programs that touch the lives of thousands.