Fashionably Inspired

BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio held the Inspire Fashion Show at Granberry Hills in San Antonio, Texas. The event emphasized the professional and creative inspirations of youth served by nonprofit BCFS-San Antonio while giving local supporters, partners and guardians a chance to encourage the biggest and best aspirations of those youth.

As each participant walked the runway, Chaunice Holley, International Dream Model 2019 and a dedicated volunteer with BCFS-San Antonio, shared with the crowd a brief description of where each youth saw themselves in a few years’ time. A game designer, social educator, marine biologist and music therapist were among the future careers that the contestants saw themselves pursuing.

One of the contestants even shared a poem he had written, titled “A Job.” Before delivering his poem, the youth said that “not everything is done and I’m not [anywhere] near where I want to be… but hopefully I can get there.” He said that the poem represented not the achievement of some great goal but rather “the process and the gray area between what you need to get to [that] final destination [when] you don’t know where it is at.”

This year’s fashion show featured 12 youth who each participated in two rounds of fashion: professional and formal. The importance of this and other BCFS-San Antonio events was the fun yet formative nature; youth received well deserved encouragement in their personal style and life goals, and were able to share their future plans with a community that supports and  believes in the visions they each hold.

Learn more about BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio.

Thanks to the sponsors of the Inspire Fashion Show:

  • Alamo City Barber College
  • Avant Salon and Spa
  • Bealls
  • The Body Shop
  • Granberry Hills
  • H-E-B
  • Institute of Makeup Artistry
  • The Lifestyle Hair Studio
  • Oaks Crossing Catering
  • Oh Yeah Cakes
  • Pretty Petal Florist
  • Rex Formal Wear
  • Ross
  • San Antonio Threads
  • Target
  • Tiff’s Treats
  • Vanity Boutique
  • Versona
  • NYX

Special thanks to Chaunice Holley and DJ Xavier Salinas

11th Annual ‘Night To Remember’ Keeps Things Classic

Breckenridge Village of Tyler (BVT) hosted another unforgettable night for its residents at KE Bushman’s Celebration Center in Bullard, Texas. “A Night To Remember: Decades in Review,” sponsored by the de Wet family of Kiepersol and Chick-fil-A of Tyler, was held on Friday, February 28.

The showcase of talent explored decades gone by with music, decorations and dress from as early as the 1920s and as recently as the ‘90s. At least 11 organizations united to make the night as special as it was for BVT’s growing number of residents, which has nearly doubled since the completion of three new homes last Spring.

While the night was special, it is only one of many ways that BVT, a residential facility for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, instills and shares their values in the lives of their residents and the broader community of Tyler, Texas.

Learn more about BVT in their highlight video from last fall.

“Hit me with your best shot”

Del Rio Learns Self Defense

BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio sponsored a Women’s Self Defense Workshop last month in collaboration with Cotrina Ventanilla de Salud.

Attendees learned a variety of self-defense techniques as well as the importance of only using them as a last resort, when avoidance or flight is not an option. The event was open to the public for all women ages 10 and up and was taught by Hector Cruz Jr., a martial arts instructor at Amistad Eagles Gym in Del Rio.

Claudia Lopez, a family violence specialist with BCFS-Del Rio, said the annual event was a success with 40 women in attendance. The workshop has grown in popularity each year, she said, and there is a possibility that they may start having them more often. It was originally intended as a workshop for teenagers, but they soon found that it attracted interest from women of all ages.

Click here for a video

EVP Joins Port San Antonio Board

Marilu Reyna, Executive Vice President – Public Affairs and Communications of the BCFS System, has been appointed to serve on the board of directors for Port San Antonio.

The former Kelly Air Force Base is a leading example of base redevelopment and was named the Base Redevelopment Community of the Year by the Association of Defense Communities in 2010. Most recently, it was named Business of the Year by the San Antonio Business Journal.

The 1,900-acre facility, situated just southwest of downtown San Antonio, is home to more than 80 tenants including leading global industries employing more than 13,000 people in the fields of aerospace, defense, energy, manufacturing and cyber security. It also serves as the headquarters for the U.S. Air Force Cyber Command.

This unique property is served by air, railway and highway transportation networks and generates over $5.6 billion in annual economic activity in the region.

Marilu was appointed to the post by City Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran for a two-year term.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to serve the community,” Marilu said. “Port San Antonio is a key part of our city’s economic infrastructure providing job growth and opportunities for business expansion.”

Our House for Young Women Breaks Ground

Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams joined BCFS System President and CEO Kevin C. Dinnin in breaking ground on Friday, February 14, for the construction of BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene’s Our House for Young Women. The groundbreaking took place at the site of construction in Abilene, Texas.

Williams and Dinnin were joined by local donors, BCFS System leadership and the staff at BCFS-Abilene, all of whom worked diligently and gave much to make the project possible. A $400,000 challenge grant from the BCFS System, the parent company of BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene, began a capital campaign that has reached $1.1 million to date and continues to grow.

This most recent development of Our House expands one of the many programs overseen by BCFS-Abilene that provides for young people without a home who struggle to secure independent living and are at a statistical disadvantage to find the level of success of which they know they are capable.

Our House in Abilene was first opened in December 2012, and at the time served male residents exclusively. For seven years, Our House has offered the space and tools necessary for young men to transcend out of youth and into lives of independence as adults. 

Shortly after opening the transitional living service in Abilene, Dinnin said that “we are investing in the Our House program because we believe in its effectiveness and its ability to make Abilene a better place for everyone who calls this city their home.” Seven years later, Dinnin and BCFS-Abilene maintain their faith in the success of the program, now expanding BCFS-Abilene’s offerings to include the same quality of housing and care to young women in the area.

“We are thrilled to soon be able to serve our most vulnerable neighbors – young women of this community facing sometimes incomprehensible circumstances in their lives – right here at Our House for Young Women,” said Alana Jeter, regional director of North Texas for BCFS Health and Human Services, in remarks at the event.

Construction of Our House for Young Women will begin in March and is expected to complete this December.

Learn more about Our House, operated by BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene.

Red ribbons wave on the morning of Valentine's Day shortly before the groundbreaking begins.
Staff from BCFS-Abilene and other locations of BCFS Health and Human Services celebrate the end of a successful event.
Alana Jeter shares what Our House has meant and will mean to her community while two current residents from Our House listen in the crowd.
From left: Twig Capra, Nancy Capra, Asennet Segura, Dr. Jay Capra, Mayor Anthony Williams, Alana Jeter, Celeste Garcia, Michelle Parrish, Kevin Dinnin
Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams shares his hope for what Our House for Young Women will provide to his city and its citizens.

Will Meiron Awarded as Member of Abilene’s ‘20 Under 40’

Will Meiron, program director at BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene, was selected as one of the annual “20 Under 40” winners in Abilene, Texas. The award is presented by Abilene Young Professionals – a program of the city’s chamber of commerce – in partnership with the Abilene Reporter News. Will received the award for his work both with BCFS-Abilene and Sockdolager Brewing Company.

Will Meiron
Photo credit: Abilene Young Professionals

“Every day we encounter people right where they are,” Will said in an email. “It could be a crisis, it could be a celebration, it could be just a normal day. However, in our work in this community we must do what is right. There is no middle ground.”

In addition to his position as program director at BCFS-Abilene, Will is the chair of Key Connections, a program that mentors at-risk young adults. He is also a member of eight local boards or organizations.

“Communities are built generation to generation,” said Greg Jaklewicz, editor and news director of the Abilene Reporter News. “The next generation must be given support and encouragement to succeed, not just to fill shoes but to lead a city on new paths…. In his way, [Will] is encouraging his peers to stay in Abilene and find their place. In turn, that will encourage the following generation.”

Will received his official recognition at a ceremony last night held at 201 Mesquite Event Center in downtown Abilene. While he expressed deep appreciation for the award, Will is already focused on what’s to come for the city.

“Our next step in doing what is right for BCFS-Abilene is the groundbreaking of Our House for Women,” said Will. “It is one more way that our BCFS community can do even more to support my Abilene community.”

Read Will’s full interview with Abilene Young Professionals here.

Will (top left) pictured with the other members of this year’s “20 Under 40” class.

San Antonio Visits the Capital

Kevin C. Dinnin, president and CEO of the BCFS System, attended the annual SA to DC trip to the nation’s capital this past week to take part in the Welcome Breakfast, sponsored by the BCFS System. Peter T. Gaynor, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), was the invited guest and keynote speaker of the event.

Kevin introduced Administrator Gaynor and presented him with a thank you gift, a Texas flag that was flown over the Alamo in the administrator’s honor.

Gaynor was confirmed to be the new head of FEMA on January 14, 2020. He has more than 11 years of experience in emergency management, having previously served as the director of Rhode Island’s Emergency Management Agency in 2015.

For the past 42 years, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has led an annual trip to Washington, D.C., where key leaders in San Antonio’s businesses and community meet with members of Congress and other key federal agencies. The goal of the trip is to advocate for some of the most pressing issues that directly affect our community.

Proclamation Delivered Against Trafficking

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz proclaimed January 2020 to be National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month in Laredo, Texas.

Common Thread, a project of BCFS Health and Human Services, helped draft the proclamation and was invited to take part in the announcement ceremony. Irasema Resendez, national partnerships manager with Common Thread, represented the organization at the ceremony and spoke about efforts to help victims of trafficking in the community.

“[The] Common Thread program has two key elements: immediate response and long-term advocacy,” Irasema said. “Advocates maintain a critically important relationship with the survivor, providing intensive case management and working to build protective networks for them.”

Also speaking at the event were representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Laredo Independent School District, the Webb County District Attorney’s office and the Mexican consulate.

The proclamation grew out of the efforts of Marilyn Bautista, a Laredo community activist who now serves as an advocate for Common Thread. Miranda Calhoun Burke, community advocate supervisor for Common Thread, spoke about how the city’s proclamation came to fruition:

“As a member of the Laredo community, Marilyn Bautista was shocked to learn that so many resources are available to those in need specifically those who have endured abuse and violence at the hands of others. When she learned of these resources’ existence, the desire to ensure that every one of her neighbors has access to information about available help became a driving motivation in her life. Since that time, she has worked tirelessly to bring awareness in her community to the realities of abuse, domestic violence and violence towards women. In this pursuit, she has become a trainer, an event-coordinator and a public voice. In these various advocacy roles, she made important connections with influencers in her community to ensure further awareness. One of the individuals she connected with and advocated alongside (through local holidays and proclamations) was Mayor Pete Saenz.

“When Marilyn heard that BCFS was opening a program focused on supporting victims of sex trafficking, her first thought was, “Our community needs this! No one else is doing this!” and she quickly applied for the role of representing our agency in the Laredo Community. She began eagerly researching human trafficking and sharing what she learned with anyone who would listen. Marilyn is a powerful voice in her community, she stands on the side of those oppressed, and she’s the current megaphone for Common Thread and our efforts in the community! Mayor Saenz is one of the community’s influencers that Marilyn has connected with in efforts to increase public knowledge regarding human trafficking, and the ones who are there to support survivors.”

Marilyn has also been working with the Laredo police department, fire department and EMS to train them on how to best handle situations when they first come across victims of human trafficking.

Read more about this proclamation at the Laredo Morning Times.

Christmas in San Antonio

Youth from BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio attended the annual Christmas Dinner at the Sunset Station in downtown San Antonio, Texas. The formal event hosted youth from the various programs that BCFS-San Antonio offers to youth and young adults from foster care.

Salad, dinner and dessert were served by the RK Group, a long-time partner of the BCFS System and an important collaborator in many of BCFS-San Antonio’s special events. The Brackenridge High School Choir sang Christmas songs, followed by a comedy show from Symply Courtney.

After dinner, guests were treated to a candy-and-cookie bar before hitting the dance floor with music compliments of DJ Xavier Salinas. At the party, guests also enjoyed taking pictures at a photo booth with friends, chatting with Santa Claus and sipping on hot chocolate. Before the night was over, several guests received gifts from BCFS-San Antonio staff.

Throughout the year, BCFS Health and Human Services hosts events during the holidays for their clients and communities. It is as important as much of the work that they do, providing an opportunity to celebrate the time together.

Learn more about BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio.

The Brackenridge High School Choir performs.
The annual Christmas Dinner was held at the Sunset Station in downtown San Antonio.
Symply Courtney needed a volunteer.
BCFS-San Antonio staff celebrate the end of another Christmas Dinner.

Christmas in Abilene

Children, youth and families from two programs of BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene celebrated Christmas over the past week.

At the PAL party, guests play a holiday-themed game.

Youth from the Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program enjoyed gift-giving, games and a traditional Christmas meal on December 13. Representatives from both the U.S. Army and Job Corps presented to the youth in attendance about what their organizations could offer. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services presented each of the youth with gift-filled stockings, and Wylie Christian Church, a local donor and partner of BCFS-Abilene for many years, brought gifts for the youth as well as the young adults in the program with children. Several members of the church even came to celebrate with BCFS-Abilene and the youth from PAL.

At the HOPES party, Santa Claus holds one of the younger members of the program with care.

Another celebration took place on the evening of December 18, where parents and children from the Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES) program had their own party with a “Pancakes and Pajamas” theme. Local new station KTAB worked with BCFS-Abilene to give the families in the HOPES programs gifts for Christmas, holding a toy drive that Abilene residents donated to. In addition, private donations were made to BCFS-Abilene to give children winter coats and clothing. In total, each of the 46 children in the HOPES program received multiple Christmas gifts and a new winter outfit.

Throughout the year, BCFS Health and Human Services hosts events during the holidays for their clients and communities. It is as important as much of the work that they do, providing an opportunity to celebrate the time together.

“A lot of our youth don’t have the nuclear family anymore,” said Will Meiron, program director with BCFS-Abilene. “They don’t have anywhere to go for Christmas. They’re young adults or young parents on their own. So to give them a chance to celebrate with peers in their same age range and from a similar life path can be really special. What we offer is a family environment with food, fellowship and a good time.”

Learn more about BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene.