Guadalupe Street Coffee Receives $50,000 from Rapier Foundation

“Growing up in a rough neighborhood shouldn’t sentence any child to a life of crime, poverty, poor health or other struggles,” said Catarina Velasquez, BCFS HHS Program Director for Guadalupe Street Coffee. “Thanks to investments made by organizations like the Rapier Foundation, Guadalupe Street Coffee will continue be a force on the West Side that increases school retention and enhances teens’ likelihood of graduation and future success.”

The Rapier Foundation announced a $50,000 investment into BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) West Side community development project, Guadalupe Street Coffee.

Located in the heart of San Antonio’s West Side, the coffee shop provides a safe environment that fosters continued learning and educational opportunities for local students. Most students who come into the coffee shop attend school in the San Antonio Independent School District (SA ISD), which only has a 4 year on-time graduation rate of 60.5 percent. Only 56 percent of local residents older than 25 years of age graduated from high school or achieved a higher level of schooling, and 57.7 percent do not have a high school diploma.

“Growing up in a rough neighborhood shouldn’t sentence any child to a life of crime, poverty, poor health or other struggles,” said Catarina Velasquez, BCFS HHS Program Director for Guadalupe Street Coffee. “Thanks to investments made by organizations like the Rapier Foundation, Guadalupe Street Coffee will continue be a force on the West Side that increases school retention and enhances teens’ likelihood of graduation and future success.”

Guadalupe Street Coffee provides job training to teens and leads educational activities that promote healthy – and affordable – nutrition and daily living for local families. According to SA ISD, per capita income on the West Side in 2007 was $9,925. Within a 2 mile radius of Guadalupe Street Coffee, more than 52 percent of residents live below the poverty level.

Guadalupe Street Coffee has also become a hot spot for the West Side’s cultural scene, hosting poetry nights, movies and dance shows that introduced students to the arts and encouraged positive outlets for self-expression.

In six years, the project has served 10,000 school-age children and provided close to 9,000 hours of free services to at-risk youth, such as homework and financial aid assistance, job training, and lessons on nutritional eating and healthy living.

“We understand the importance of education and see BCFS’ Guadalupe Street Coffee as a viable way to mold the young generation of today toward prosperous futures tomorrow,” said Dr. George and Kym Rapier.

The Rapier Family Foundation was founded in 2006. The Rapier Family Foundation donated more than $1 million annually to various causes, including stay-in-school and youth initiatives, animals in need, seniors and children’s health programs from 2006 until 2010. Beginning in 2011, the Rapier Family Foundation has pledged nearly $30 million to San Antonio-area non-profit organizations. The Trust is named after Dr. Rapier’s late son, Blake.

BCFS’ YouthBuild Program Helps a New Class of Young Adults Gain Experience and Educational Success

Twenty-seven young adults have joined the current class for BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) YouthBuild project. The full-time program helps young adults earn their GED or high school diploma while getting hands-on training to enter the workplace, start a career in construction, or begin college. The seventeen boys and ten girls in the current program hail from Ingram, Kerrville, Bandera, and surrounding communities.

“Dropping out of school is never a good idea. But making this choice – either because a teenager is rebelling or feels like they need to start working – should not be an irreversible decision that sentences them to struggling for the rest of their lives,” said Terri Hipps, executive director of BCFS HHS’ Community Services Division. “YouthBuild is a second chance for young adults who want to work hard and get back on track toward building a brighter, more prosperous future.”

In just a month’s time, participants have already received their OSHA 10, First Aid and CPR certifications. By the time they graduate in August, youth will also be certified in another valuable knowledge and vocational base: construction. BCFS HHS is working with Partners in Ministry’s Home Rehab program, providing home repairs for low-income families.

BCFS HHS’ YouthBuild program is part of the organization’s multifaceted Kerrville Transition Center offerings. The center, currently located at 1105 East Main, was founded in Kerrville five years ago as a “one stop” facility that offers counseling, case management, medical care, and emergency housing. The center also helps with life skills training, literacy training, educational support, and employment connections to former foster youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, high school drop outs and homeless young adults.

Because other non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community partners are working at the center with BCFS HHS, services are more easily accessed by youth and existing resources are not wastefully duplicated elsewhere. This methodology also boosts innovation through shared talents and stretches financial resources to support many missions.

Since opening, BCFS HHS’ Kerrville Transition Center has helped thousands of homeless and struggling youth find the resources they need to get their lives on track and grow into self-sufficient, law-abiding and employed adults. This year, the center is set to help more than 4,000 struggling young adults in our area.

One formidable achievement of the center is its ability to reduce and prevent crime. Among the youth served by BCFS HHS’ transition center who have gotten in trouble for gateway activities like truancy, or those who have actually served time, 87 percent did not reoffend at least one year after receiving help from BCFS HHS.

Due to an exponential increase in demand for services and growth of program offerings, the center’s operations now spill out into different locations – negating the effectiveness of the “one stop” model. This is one reason why the Cailloux Foundation put forward a $500,000 challenge grant to build a new 16,000 square foot center. To complete the project, BCFS HHS is leading a $1.9 million capital campaign, titled Step Up for Youth.

The organization has already surpassed the $1 million fundraising mark. Once complete, the center will house other non-profits like Art to Heart, Families in Literacy, and Partners in Ministry Vision Youth. This new center, which is located on a non-profit campus managed by the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country, will create a dynamic synergism among the agencies, increase their effectiveness, as well as cut down costs for all nonprofits. Ultimately, the center will be the most robust site for care and compassion for Hill Country youth.

BCFS Case Manager Named Statewide Healthy Start “Distinguished Practitioner of the Year”

The Texas Healthy Start Alliance has named BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Laura Echeverria “Distinguished Practitioner of the Year.” This honor recognizes individuals with exceptional professional achievement and leadership in maternal and child health, and who make selfless contributions to their community with the aim of improving the health of women, children and families.

“Laura approaches her work with such selflessness and compassion,” said Cindi Garcia, executive director of BCFS HHS’ Community-based Services Division. “Her own experience as an immigrant to this country allows her to make very special connections with our mothers, earning their trust so they allow us to provide them with critical medical care that ensures their babies are born healthy and strong.”

“We are proud of Laura and congratulate her on this award,” she continued.

Echeverria began her career as a registered nurse and certified promotora in Mexico. Thirty years ago she immigrated to the United States, yet found that her credentials would not be recognized. She therefore worked in hotel housekeeping for 18 years while she learned English and obtained the experience and credentials she needed to return to her life’s work. She has served with BCFS Health and Human Services for 12 years, and is presently a case manager for the organization’s Healthy Start Laredo program. During this time, Echeverria is credited with the healthy pregnancy and successful delivery of thousands of healthy new babies.

BCFS HHS’ Healthy Start Laredo program was established in 2001 in 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 Laredo 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

“One Shop” Approach Touches the Lives of Thousands of Struggling Youth

By Kathleen Maxwell

No eighteen year old has it all together (or nineteen or twenty year old either for that matter). Navigating the confusing web of first time apartment leases, financial aid forms, and the spice aisle at the grocery store is enough to make any young adult’s head spin. Now, compound this overwhelming feeling onto aging out of foster care without a parent, grandparent, or other positive role model to bestow tips and tools. How are these youth supposed to make it on their own?

Enter: BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Kerrville Transition Center.
The youth center was founded in Kerrville five years ago, a “one stop” facility that offers counseling, case management, medical care, and emergency housing. The center also helps with life skills training, literacy training, educational support, and employment connections to former foster youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, high school drop outs and homeless young adults.
Because other non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community partners are housed and work at the center with BCFS HHS, services are more easily accessed by youth and existing resources are not wastefully duplicated elsewhere. This methodology also boosts innovation through shared talents and stretches financial resources to support many missions.
Since opening, BCFS HHS’ Kerrville Transition Center has helped thousands of homeless and struggling youth find the resources they need to get their lives on track and grow into self-sufficient, law-abiding and employed adults. This year, the center is set to help more than 4,000 struggling young adults in our area.
 “The benefits of the transition center reach beyond just the teens and youth we serve. It impacts the community through the prevention of crime, unemployment, teen pregnancy, homelessness, and drug and substance abuse,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS Executive Director for Teen & Youth Services. “When we leverage our talent, space, and resources in a smart and shared way, the results are lives that are more promising and a community that is more prosperous.”
Today, the demand for services has increased exponentially, causing the center’s programs to now spill out into different locations – negating the effectiveness of the “one stop” model. This is one reason why Sandy Cailloux and the Cailloux Foundation put forward a $500,000 challenge grant to build a new 16,000 square foot center.
To complete the project, BCFS HHS is leading a $1.9 million capital campaign, titled “Step Up for Youth.” Once complete, the center will house other non-profits like Art to Heart, Families in Literacy, and Partners in Ministry Vision Youth. This new center will create a dynamic synergism among the agencies, increase their effectiveness as well as cut down costs for all nonprofits. Ultimately, making the center will be the most robust site for care and compassion for Hill Country youth.
“BCFS is unique and invaluable to our community because [the organization] provides kids with no prospects ‘one-stop shopping’ that will give them an array of opportunities,” said Stacie Keeble, attorney and City Councilman. “At the new BCFS campus, kids will be able to finish high school or earn a GED, learn a trade, obtain a job, find encouragement, and even find a home.”
BCFS’ Kerrville Transition Center is presently located at 1105 East Main. To donate to the “Step Up for Youth” campaign, please visit www.BCFS.net or mail your tax deductible donation to: “BCFS – Step Up for Youth Campaign,” 550 Earl Garrett Suite 114, Kerrville, Texas 78028. For questions, contact Kathleen Maxwell at 830.928.9387 or at Kathleen.Maxwell@BCFS.net.

BCFS Names John Linstrom as National Deputy Director of Mitigation and Preparedness Services

BCFS Health and Human Services has named longtime and lauded first responder, John Linstrom, as National Deputy Director of Mitigation and Preparedness Services. Linstrom will establish and execute key partnerships with federal and state governments focused on bolstering emergency response readiness and capacity across the nation. Linstrom has more than 30 years of experience in emergency management.

Photo Above: John Linstrom leading a briefing during BCFS EMD’s response to Hurricane Alex. Linstrom is shown on the right wearing glasses

As published on Fire Engineering

SAN ANTONIO – BCFS Health and Human Services has named longtime and lauded first responder, John Linstrom, as National Deputy Director of Mitigation and Preparedness Services. In this role, Linstrom will establish and execute key partnerships with federal and state governments focused on bolstering emergency response readiness and capacity across the nation.

“John is a well-respected and extremely experienced emergency manager known for his knowledge, experience, instincts and poise under pressure,” said BCFS Executive Vice President of Emergency Management Kari Tatro. “He is a great fit for this position and we are glad to have him on our team.”

Linstrom has more than 30 years of experience in emergency management and has responded to thousands of  emergencies, including the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, Hurricane Katrina, Rita, Dolly, Ike and Gustav, the F5 tornado that struck Oklahoma City, and the Haiti Earthquake. A former fire fighter, paramedic and Task Force Leader for Texas Task Force 1, Linstrom has led national response teams for incident management, forensic mass fatality recovery, and urban search and rescue for nearly 15 years.

He has been a part of BCFS’ Emergency Management Division team since 2008 and will continue to serve as the federal Disaster Mortuary Response Team Commander for California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. Linstrom holds the highest level of National Board Certification in Homeland Security, is a Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers, the International Association of Emergency Managers, as well as the International Association of Arson Investigators.

For more information on BCFS’ work in emergency management, please visit www.BCFS.net/EMD.

BCFS’ Emergency Management Division Contracted by FEMA to Develop National “Whole Community” Disaster Training Program

 

As published by CNBC

SAN ANTONIO, Nov 15, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — As the Northeast struggles to recover from the massive damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, state leaders across the country are witnessing the importance of having an emergency management plan in place that specifically accounts for the unique needs of communities and their residents. Recognizing that all disasters begin locally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded a contract to BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) to deliver a multi-tiered national training program that provides specific, realistic tools to enable states to develop inclusive emergency plans for the “whole community.” “Whole community planning” positions officials to analyze and develop targeted operational plans that serve the various needs of all residents and communities in their jurisdiction.

Planning for the whole community may range from identifying populations that predominantly speak a language other than English, to ensuring access to alternate care facilities for health care centers that are not able to handle a significant medical surge. BCFS EMD’s training will also emphasize the importance of engaging individual community members as well as private sector businesses – ranging from grocery chains to energy companies – to ensure efficient and sufficient mass care efforts.
“Even as additional resources are requested from state or federal governments, the responsibility to answer the immediate initial needs of communities impacted by an emergency will typically always fall on the local community,” said BCFS President and CEO Kevin Dinnin.

“Plans on paper don’t mean anything if they aren’t realistic in what a jurisdiction can do and who they are going to serve,” he continued. “That’s why BCFS EMD’s national trainings will be based on best practices in real world operational responses and experience.” Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas and with offices from coast-to-coast and on four continents, BCFS EMD is one of the top emergency management partners for FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and various states across the nation. The organization is a nationally recognized leader in serving vulnerable populations during disasters, and in 2010, wrote FEMA’s national Guidance for the Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters.

BCFS’ EMD division provides critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments, as well as private businesses and institutions, before, during and after disasters. The organization has responded to many of the major disasters that have taken place in the last decade in the U.S., as well as some international emergencies, like the earthquake in Haiti.

“Emergency management officials recognize the need for comprehensive local planning. That’s where disasters begin, and local governments become the initial lifeblood of survival,” said Kari Tatro, BCFS Executive Vice President of Emergency Management. “The more preparedness efforts zero in on specifics in their plans – hearing directly from community members and businesses, identifying gaps in services, and locking in contingency plans with vendors – the more resilient they will be for any type of incident.” BCFS EMD’s whole community planning trainings will be rolled out in five phases, spanning over three years. It will be consistent with federal regulations, policies and guidance. By 2015, the entire training program will encompass Train-the-Trainer courses, national webinar presentations, speaker presentations at national and state level conferences, and online independent study courses featured by the FEMA Emergency Management Institute.

BCFS EMD will also produce a pilot curriculum template for inclusion in FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness at its Noble Training Center located in Anniston, Alabama.

For emergency response services 24 hours a day, call 1-800-337-0373

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. In addition to FEMA’s whole community planning contract, BCFS EMD is also currently working with the City of Los Angeles to enhance their emergency management program to account for the whole community. This expertise is bolstered by the agency’s position as a national leader in medical sheltering and – having developed FEMA’s Guidance for the Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters – is the foremost expert in writing and implementing equitable emergency operations programs that serve the whole community.
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.

In recent years, BCFS has been part of many of the most high profile incidences experienced in the U.S. During hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Dolly, Gustav, Ike and Alex, BCFS sheltered thousands of survivors of varying ages whose pre-storm conditions ranged from no disabilities to high medical acuities. In 2008, BCFS led incident command for the Texas Department of State Health Services as part of Texas Task Force Ike – the largest mobilization of response resources in history. BCFS has also responded in sheltering and IMT capacities for other hazards, such as widespread wildfires, the outbreak of the H1N1 Flu, and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound incident.

Abroad, BCFS was called upon by the Sri Lankan government to provide emergency support after the devastating 2004 tsunami killed more than 225,000 people. The agency was also made available as a U.S. resource following the recent earthquake in Haiti, eventually deploying to gain command and control of one of the only operating hospitals near Port au Prince.

Members of BCFS EMD’s Incident Management Team (IMT) 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. Our team consists of medical and mental health experts, disability policy and rights advocates, former fire and police leaders, national emergency planning and training experts, legal professionals, academicians, research and policy professionals, and public health veterans. It also includes former department leaders from FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to response, BCFS has developed the largest Alternate Care Facility (ACF) capacity in the nation outside of the U.S. military. These sites serve as a medical surge capacity for local hospitals, medical shelters, primary triage points, designated community-focused care clinics, or points of distribution for medications or vaccinations during a public health emergency. Building ACF capacity prevents local healthcare systems from being overwhelmed with demand for services during disaster, thereby enhancing states’ ability to respond.

BCFS speaks and conducts trainings regularly at state and national conferences, and serves as a consultant to jurisdictions throughout the nation regarding shelter operations, emergency preparedness and community capacity building.

BCFS Health & Human Services celebrates the opening of Our House

BCFS Health and Human Services today celebrated the opening of its new “Our House” program. BCFS’ Our House is a transitional living home for homeless males between the ages of 18-23, located at 202 Vine Street. The vision for Our House was sparked years ago by the Christian Community Development Coalition (CCDC)….

ABILENE – BCFS Health and Human Services today celebrated the opening of its new “Our House” program. BCFS’ Our House is a transitional living home for homeless males between the ages of 18-23, located at 202 Vine Street.

The vision for Our House was sparked years ago by the Christian Community Development Coalition (CCDC), whose board members included passionate community members like Randy Perkins and Nancy Capra. At CCDC’s request, BCFS took on the project of bringing Our House from a dream to reality.

“It’s hard to chase your dreams when you’re worried about where you’re going to sleep at night or get your next meal,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS Executive Director of Teen and Youth Services.

“Homelessness impacts much more than the individual, it has a compounding effect on the health and prosperity of the whole community,” she continued. “BCFS is proud to have had the strong support of community leaders like Mayor Norm Archibald and the City of Abilene, as well as partner agencies, as we worked to build and open Our House and begin answering this vital need.”

Thanks to funding from numerous private foundations, individual donors, and a community development block grant through the City of Abilene, BCFS’ Our House represents a nearly $345,000 investment in serving struggling Abilene youth. Prior to opening, BCFS ensured that it secured enough revenue to cover Our House’s operating expenses for at least the first year. This tactic was a powerful statement of BCFS’ commitment to be a sustainable, long-term resource for youth and the community.

Youth may stay at Our House for as long as needed, which may range from a few months to a year. The key strength of the project will be its connection with BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center, which opened in 2011 and provides counseling, case management, and education, housing assistance and employment connections to more than 400 youth each year.

Those assisted by the transition center include former foster youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, high school drop outs and homeless young adults. According to the Abilene Independent School District, an estimated 743 students in were homeless at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. Foster youth are especially vulnerable to homelessness. Within 18 months of aging out of the state foster care system, 50 percent of youth struggle to put a roof over their heads. BCFS’ transition center and Our House project address these issues head-on, providing an easily-accessible and comprehensive network that makes getting help simple for youth.

“We are thankful to the community leaders, the City of Abilene, and our sister agencies, Hendrick Medical Center  and Hardin-Simmons University, for their partnership and support,” said BCFS President and CEO Kevin C. Dinnin.

For more information about BCFS’ work with teen and youth around the world, please visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net.

 

Art Given From the Heart in Kerrville

Generous donation of artwork will be showcased in BCFS’ new transition center

Photo: Pictured left to right: Lynda Ables, 
Marilynn Branham, Betty Vernon, Kathleen Maxwell and Paul UrbanImage: Approximately 25 people, including Lynda Ables and Betty Vernon, attended an art reception hosted by BCFS honoring Branham. Pictured left to right: Lynda Ables, Marilynn Branham, Betty Vernon, Kathleen Maxwell and Paul Urban.

Local artist, Marilynn Branham, has donated 21 original paintings to BCFS Health and Human Services’ Kerrville Transition Center. The center, which is currently located at 1105 East Main, is leading a capital campaign to build a larger facility for local at-risk youth to access a myriad of services aimed at helping them transition into independent adults. Once complete, the 14,000 sq. ft. facility will proudly display Branham’s works of art for youth and all in the community to enjoy.

Five years ago, BCFS established the Kerrville Transition Center as a “one stop shop” for counseling, case management, medical care, emergency housing, life skills training, literacy training, educational support, and employment connections. Those served by the center include former foster youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, high school drop outs and homeless young adults.

Over the years, a 167% increase in demand for the center’s services and significant program expansion by BCFS has caused the center to spill out into different locations – negating the effectiveness of the “one stop” model. In order to bring resources back under one roof, BCFS has launched a $1.9 million capital campaign, titled “Step Up for Youth,” to build a larger transition center.

The Cailloux Foundation has already provided BCFS with a generous $500,000 challenge grant to build the new facility. Now, BCFS is looking toward area businesses, private foundations and individuals to also make an investment in this proven project by November 30th.

“BCFS is honored to have been chosen as the location where Marilynn’s beautiful artwork will be shared with the community,” said BCFS Development Officer Kathleen Maxwell. “We are grateful to her and all others who share our passion for inspiring young adults to follow their dreams.”

BVT Partners with Boys & Girls Club of East Texas

Each week, the residents of BVT attend a variety of activities at the Boys & Girls Club of East Texas. The residents are offered an assortment of recreational and educational activities that promote social skills, life skills, and even vocational skills. Most recently, the Boys & Girls Club of East Texas partnered with Aquaponics and Earth, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping make orphanages and children’s homes self-sustaining in underdeveloped or poverty stricken communities and countries.

The Tyler Rotary Club also partnered with the organizations to provide monetary support to build a small version of the Aquaponics system at the Boys & Girls Main Club facility in Tyler. The system is used as a pilot project and has caught the eye of several local and regional groups interested in building a system of their own.

The system is designed with various tanks full of tilapia; the waste from the tilapia serves as a rich fertilizer for plants, vegetables, crops, etc. The system carries water from the fish tanks, up to the garden for irrigation, and eventually drains back into the water tank. Rather than soil, the plants are grown in small pebbles making the system virtually maintenance-free. If desired, the plants can be pulled out of the system and planted elsewhere to provide additional growth and space for even more vegetation. The system produces plants at an accelerated rate, due to the rich fertilizer produced by the fish.

Mitch Erwin, Executive Director of Camp in the City at the Boys & Girls Club of East Texas, was thrilled to have the Aquaponics System at their facility. Several people from around the area have come to visit this ‘one of a kind’ system. Erwin said that he hopes one day to expand the system to a whole new level and possibly even develop a “mini-market” in which BVT residents could become involved in. Mr. Erwin stated that it was his intention for the BVT residents to take an active role in the system and to assist in the development and management of the growing and selling of crops.

For additional information regarding the Aquaponics System, you may contact Mitch at the Boys & Girls Club of East Texas.

BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center Celebrates with One Year Birthday Party

Hendrick Medical Center presents check for $8,935 to support the center’s work with at-risk youth

Joined by a large group of friends and community partners, BCFS Health and Human Services’ Abilene Transition Center threw a one year “birthday party” filled with hot dogs, games and – of course – birthday cake. Since opening last year, BCFS’ transition center has helped more than 200 former foster youth and other at-risk young adults apply for college and financial aid, secure safe and affordable housing, develop resumes, land jobs and navigate other resources that lead to independence and success. The organization expects to serve more than 300 youth in its second year.

“For too long, foster youth and other young people who were struggling here in the Big Country were told that they would have to find a way to get to a larger city, like San Antonio or Dallas, to access resources like case management and housing stipends. That was an impossible feat for youth who had little to no support network,” said Johnny Nguyen, BCFS Program Director who oversees the transition center. “Now, thanks to the transition center and the extraordinary partners who operate out of it, young adults are able to benefit from a comprehensive and coordinated system of services that will make them more independent and successful as they begin life on their own.”

BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center is a “one stop shop” that provides easy and efficient access to counseling, educational and employment assistance, life skills training and more. In addition to BCFS, the center houses other non-profits, government agencies, and advisors from local colleges and universities. This inclusive model of service delivery ensures comprehensive – yet non-duplicated – access to resources for youth. Ultimately, the center aims to lessen at-risk youth’s likelihood of dependence on government programs in the future.

During the celebration, Hendrick Medical Center presented BCFS with a check for $8,935, raised through their April “Walk for Our Youth” 5K. In addition, Hendrick has also supported BCFS’ youth by developing an intensive 8-week training curriculum for those seeking to work in the medical field as phlebotomists and certified nursing assistants. Since April, five young adults have been hired by Hendrick in the fields of clinical care, environmental services, admissions and information technology.

Within 18 months of aging out of the state foster care system, 50 percent of youth become homeless. Similarly, more than half the young adults returning home from juvenile justice institutions suffer from a mental health issue or substance abuse. BCFS’ transition center addresses these issues head-on, providing an easily-accessible and comprehensive network that makes getting help simple for at-risk youth.