BVT Celebrates Breckenridge Men’s Breakfast for 10th Year

Written by Beverly Flynn

Dale Cummings, The "C", performs live
Dale Cummings, The “C”, performs live

The rain may have poured but it did not dampen the spirits of the over 330 individuals who attended this year’s 10th Annual Robert L. Breckenridge Men’s Breakfast at the beautiful KE Bushman’s Celebration Center in Bullard, Texas. Some classic car owners braved the rainy conditions and brought their memorable vehicles to the car show despite the inclement weather. Meanwhile, the guests who stayed indoors enjoyed hot coffee while listening to classic songs performed by East Texas’ own, Dale Cummings, otherwise known as The “C”.

KTBB Radio personality, Bill Coates, began the program with stories of his days broadcasting high school and college ball games. He then had the privilege of introducing Elijah McCown, Luke McCown’s eleven-year-old son, to lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. Dr. Tony Black followed the pledge by singing the National Anthem.

Luke McCown with two of his six children
Luke McCown shown with two of his six children

Throughout the event, attendees lined up to bid on the wide variety of wonderful silent auction items provided by local businesses and individuals. After bids were placed, the guests took their seat at football-themed tables to enjoy a delicious breakfast provided by The Diner and served by the BVT staff and Ladies Auxiliary. The room was filled with men – both young and old – enjoying friendship and fellowship with one another.

Bob Holsomback showcases his rocking chair
Bob Holsomback showcases his rocking chair

As the meal started to wind down, an exciting and animated live auction began. This year’s live auction item was a craftsman-style rocking chair built by Bob Holsomback – longtime friend, donor, and supporter of BVT. The stunning chair was made from walnut wood and featured a calf-skin cushion. It took Bob over 200 hours of work to complete. The starting bid was $1,000 but the price quickly grew as men sparred over the coveted, custom-made rocking chair. To the cheers of everyone in the audience, the exquisite piece sold for a final bid of $6,000!

 

Volunteers helped serve breakfast
Volunteers helped serve breakfast

Once the bidding came to a close, Luke McCown, an East Texas native and former NFL quarterback, shared stories from his football career. In his 13 years of experience across seven NFL teams, Luke’s path did not always go the way he planned. However, he knew from his life verse in Proverbs 16:9 that “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (NKJV). Luke passionately encouraged his audience to “stand up and be men” who are firm in their faith, strong in their leadership, present and caring in their homes, and honest in their relationship with God. Luke continued, “Men should be the spiritual wind that blows in the sails of our families.” When Luke concluded his message, the audience gave a standing ovation in appreciation for his message of encouragement and wisdom. 

Special thanks goes to the Kiepersol family for their faithful support of Breckenridge Village and their generosity in offering the beautiful KE Bushman venue for this event. BVT is also very appreciative of Luke and his family, Bill Coates, The “C” Dale Cummings, the many businesses and individual table sponsors, the auction donors, the BVT Staff, the Ladies Auxiliary and the employees of The Diner. The day was a spectacular one all in benefit of the special individuals at Breckenridge Village.

To learn more about BVT, click here.

 

Brad Ezell Promoted to Director of Facilities

Brad Ezell joined Breckenridge Village of Tyler (BVT) in the Spring of 2014 as the Maintenance Supervisor, servicing the maintenance and grounds of the entire campus. Under Brad’s leadership, the 12 buildings, 75 acres, three irrigation ponds, and pool that make up the campus not only look phenomenal, but are also up to par with all safety and regulatory codes.
Photo: Blue Prints
When Brad began his tenure at BVT, he brought with him expertise and experience that made him the right fit for the job. What wasn’t obvious at the time was Brad’s depth of experience in building homes, and why that experience might matter.

In 2016, when BVT began a mission to expand their campus with three new homes (to be completed soon), Brad extended himself as the Project Manager for the construction project. It was a moment of divine intervention for BVT, one of many in the organization’s history of Christ-inspired service.

Brad came to us with home-building experience before we even knew that we would be building more homes,” notes Steven Campbell, Executive Director at BVT. “He has been instrumental in ensuring these homes are built not only with quality craftmanship, but also in accordance with plans and building safety codes.

The BVT construction crew and volunteer workers who have helped in the campus expansion plans will be responsible for building three 7,000 square foot homes in a year, despite numerous weather setbacks during construction. Brad has been a substantial part of that expansion.

Photo: Brad EzelleEven before campus expansion was such a significant part of Brad’s contribution to the BVT culture, Brad prioritized parts of BVT’s mission of service and care in ways that were unique to his perspective. Throughout his years at BVT, Brad has maintained quality relationships with the local Fire Marshall and Life Safety Inspectors, offering an approach that understands the value of community resources.

Brad has been paramount in leading or encouraging many projects over the years. His contributions to the campus have varied greatly in scope and consequence, but they have always managed to make an impact that benefits the health and quality of BVT’s facilities. Brad’s alterations to the Tyler campus may go unnoticed to those who don’t see BVT very often, but for the staff, residents, and their families who interact with the campus on a regular basis, it is clear to see the many accomplishments that Brad has introduced to the community at Breckenridge. In light of what he has offered to the campus over the years, through service and experience, the BVT leadership has awarded Brad with a new position in the BVT family.

“As of September 1, we are promoting Brad to Director of Facilities,” says Steven. “We feel like a promotion is well-deserved for not only his proven track record and service at Breckenridge, but also because of catapulting BVT to a new level through his work during expansion – he has proven to be a leader and fully capable of that role.”

In many ways, Steven admits, Brad’s title is finally catching up to the numerous aspects at BVT that he’s overseen. In other ways, Brad’s new position as Director of Facilities is a sign of what is to come for the life and legacy of BVT. “With increased growth comes increased responsibility,” Steven says.

When asked about what he looks forward to in his new role, Brad notes his expectations for the current expansion project as well as his hopes for the future construction of a new day habilitation facility. In each new project, a simple guideline illustrates the quality of what Brad strives to create. “I look for ways to make the campus safer while still keeping the feel of a forever home.”

For more information about BVT, please visit www.BreckenridgeVillage.com.

Healthy Start Laredo Contributes to Binational Health Conference

LAREDO, Texas – BCFS Health and Human Services’ Healthy Start Laredo presented its findings and analysis about prenatal health care at the sixth annual U.S.-Mexico Regional Binational Health Conference at the UT Health RGV campus. The conference gathers health experts from various medical fields to present research, information, and outcomes relevant to community health along the U.S.-Mexico border. BCFS Health and Human Services-Laredo Associate Executive Director Araceli Flores addressed the conference contingent about HSL’s critical work with expectant mothers in South Texas.

Flores’s presentation contemplated the barriers to accessing prenatal care among Latina women in the region, and discussed the results from prenatal care initiation studies performed by the Healthy Start Border Alliance, a collaboration of five Healthy Start projects along the U.S.-Mexico Border seeking measurable positive influence on women’s health and family resilience in underserved border communities.
Photo: Araceli Award Presentation

“The goal of the conference was to inform stakeholders from both sides of the border on binational perspectives in public health with respect to the demographics in the Texas-Mexico border region,” said HSL Outreach Coordinator Monica Calderon, who attended the conference. “We’ve learned that a lot of healthcare professionals on both sides of the border encounter many of the same issues on the way to their goal of administering health care within our respective communities.

“This conference fosters ongoing bi-national collaboration that, ultimately, benefits public health along the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Flores contributed HSL’s research and outcomes regarding prenatal health while other experts at the conference offered their own findings with regard to public health topics like the Zika virus, cancer prevention, mental health and youth mental health, first aid, and human trafficking.

Since 2001, HSL has worked to decrease disparities in access to maternal and child healthcare by providing community-based medical care and case management services to residents living in unincorporated colonias along the U.S.-Mexico border. Due in large part to HSL’s efforts, more women in Webb County are receiving critical prenatal care than ever before.

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 purposes of reducing infant mortality, preventing child abuse, and assisting families in meeting basic health needs (nutrition, housing and psychosocial support).

For information, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/HealthyStart.

Independence Day Conferences Prepare Youth

A primary goal for BCFS Health and Human Services is working daily with youth in foster care to help prepare them for success and stability as they progress toward adulthood. Through an extensive catalog of programs, services, and resources focused on education, career, and life skills, BCFS Health and Human Services partners with like-minded organizations interested in helping cultivate communities through the individuals and families who live there.

Recently, BCFS Health and Human Services’ Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) programs in McAllen and Corpus Christi collaborated with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) for the 18th Annual Preparation for Adult Living Independence Day Conference for youth with experience in the foster care system. The conference is geared for youth from the foster care system between the ages of 16 and 18.

“Youth were very interested to learn about university degree plans, and in the financial assistance that ETV (Education Training Voucher program) provides,” said Melissa Gonzalez, Program Director for BCFS Health and Human Services-McAllen. “Our Foster Youth Panel had representatives from various careers paths—military members, people who have earned two-year certificates, and four-year college degrees—and youth in attendance listened closely to learn more about the different paths that were available to them.”
Photo: Independence Day Conference

More than 50 youth from the foster care system attended the conference at UTRGV, learning about their eligibility for the various programs and services available to them. Conference goers were enlightened by personal testimonies and success stories from young adults and current college students with experience in the foster care system, and listened to a keynote address delivered by American Ninja Warrior and Rio Grande Valley native Abel Gonzalez who spoke to his audience about overcoming obstacles and maintaining personal control in life.

Leroy Berrones Soto, a UTRGV student with experience in the foster care system who also received services from BCFS-McAllen, delivered his message to youth in foster care from his seat on the “Defining Your Own Success” foster care alumni panel.

My message to youth is to never give up,” Leroy said. “To show that despite the life obstacles we’ve experienced, we can still survive in the real world. What matters most is that we accomplish what we dream of.

BCFS-San Antonio’s PAL program held its own Independence Day Conference on July 27, in collaboration with Texas A&M-San Antonio. Motivational speaker and current candidate for U.S. Congress Dr. Tim Westley delivered the keynote address to the conference room full of youth from foster care in attendance from across the San Antonio area.

Dr. Westley drew some similarities between his background and the backgrounds of some of the youth at the conference,” explained BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio Program Director Deyanira Garcia, who helped organize the conference. “He talked about struggling and persevering to overcome obstacles, and reassuring the youth that there are people who can help when morale is low.

Bexar County District Judge Renee Yanta also spoke to the youth. Since 2015, Yanta has headed the one-of-a-kind PEARLS program, a program that helps girls from the foster care system avoid the risks and pitfalls that result in the girls becoming ensnared in the juvenile justice system.

Judge Yanta inspired this group of kids,” Garcia said, who brought to the conference a group of youth with whom she works daily directing BCFS-San Antonio’s PAL Program. “She had them get out of their seats and try empowering poses! She energized the room with her message of self-worth. The kids responded well.

At the event, attendants discussed their educational and employment opportunities with on-site case managers, financial aid advisors, and other specialists. Additionally, participants enjoyed a number of recreational and team-building activities including hover ball archery and archery tag.

“The conference exposes the youth we serve to many of the benefits available to them as youth in the foster care system,” Garcia adds. “Aftercare benefits include access to an education specialist and a case manager on campus, assistance with college tuition, financial aid, and job training and employment assistance.

The Independence Day Conference has always been about showing the youth the success that they can have, and how they can achieve it,” says Garcia. “We have the event on campus so that youth are aware of everything the school has to offer, and to have the youth become familiar with the college experience. We bring staff in and other students to talk about how it is to come to college, so that youth can see that it is attainable.

The 2018 PAL Independence Day conferences were held in conjunction with BCFS Health and Human Services, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, UTRGV, and Texas A&M-San Antonio.

Photo: Independence Day ConferencePAL provides services to youth aging out of the foster care system that expands their skills and knowledge, strengthen their self-confidence, create healthy community relationships; and ultimately learn self-guidance. PAL provides transition services to youth from foster care from ages 15 1/2 to 21 in order to better prepare them for emancipation from the system.

For information about PAL, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/PAL.

Del Rio Youth Learn Life Skills

DEL RIO, TX — A group of Del Rio youth committed to self-improvement, like skills, and a little fun finished the four-week Summer Groups program as part of BCFS-Health and Human Services-Del Rio’s Services to At Risk Youth (STAR) program. In the annual program specifically designed for community youth between the ages of 10-17, BCFS-Del Rio Family Support Specialists create learning environments where youth explore various techniques for effective communication, shared their thoughts about healthy self-esteem, learned coping skills and anger management, and discussed recognizing—and removing themselves from—potentially harmful or dangerous situations.

“The main goal of Summer Groups is to keep the youth engaged even though they are out of school,” said BCFS-Del Rio Program Director Delia Ramos. “Hopefully, they take what they have learned in Summer Groups and apply it in the new school year.”

Each session featured a team-building exercise incorporated into the discussion.

“The self-esteem group,” explains Ramos, “uses an activity where each student passes around a lunch bag, and on the outside of the bag, everyone in their class writes what they think of that person. The person puts their own descriptors inside the bag, the things that people wouldn’t know about them unless they talked with that individual.

“The exercise is a fun way to help kids realize their inherent worth. By the end of the exercise, everyone in the class learns something new about their classmates.

“For the anger management session, the youth form teams with the goal of balancing ten metal nails on one more nail,” Ramos says. “They have to work together while keeping their emotions in check.”

BCFS-Del Rio incentivized participation in Summer Groups with raffles associated with each session.

“For each session attended, youth earned another chance in a raffle for prizes that included a movie gift basket and a flat screen TV,” she says.

“We’ve received good feedback about each session,” says Ramos. “The kids are very engaged, they are committed to the program, and excited to come to class.”

BCFS-Del Rio operates the STAR program in an effort to reduce family conflict and prevent delinquent behaviors, runaways, truancy and child abuse by helping youths and their families learn to resolve crises and develop coping and parenting skills. STAR Services include free counseling in a home or office setting, crisis intervention, training for parents and youth, and emergency residential placements. STAR serves youth 17 years or younger and their families in Val Verde County.

BCFS-Del Rio also operates the Del Rio Domestic Violence program for DVDR provides safety, support and resources to victims of domestic violence. DVDR promotes violence-free relationships and community awareness through collaboration, public information, education and advocacy. Services provided to victims include face-to-face support, legal assistance, referrals to access community resources, emergency medical care, and safety planning. DVDR’s community outreach involves classroom instruction on healthy relationships, collaboration with law enforcement, self-defense education, and the establishment of “Safe Homes” in the community.

For more information about BCFS-Del Rio’s work in the Val Verde County community, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/DelRio.

Williams Tapped as Regional Director for Southeast Texas

BCFS Health and Human Services-Baytown Program Director Kenneth Williams has been tapped to BCFS Health and Human Services Regional Director-Southeast Texas. In his new role, Kenneth will oversee the well-being of the individuals we serve, ensure compliance with all federal and state policies regarding the all-around good health of those entrusted to our care, and will promote industry-competitive practices.

As Program Director since 2016, Kenneth has built relationships with local and federal partners, facilitated innovative programming, and conducted hiring and training of new staff while guiding a team of 275 employees charged with fulfilling the physical, social, emotional, and educational needs of each child in care. In 2016, BCFS-Baytown was awarded the U.S. Department of Defense’s Patriot Award for Kenneth’s focus on hiring veterans and active reservists of the military.

Kenneth Williams

“Kenneth’s passion and drive have energized the Baytown campus,” says BCFS Health and Human Services Deputy Director for Residential Services Drew Carter. “He has an excellent track record, and we are excited for his innovations as Regional Director.”

Kenneth earned a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration/Long-Term Care from the University of Phoenix. In 2016, he graduated from Ashford University in San Diego, CA with a Master of Arts in Organizational Management/Healthcare Administration. Kenneth holds credentials in Texas as a Licensed Child Care Administrator and a Certified Assisted Living Administrator.

BVT, Chick-Fil-A Celebrate Cow Appreciation Day

TYLER, TX —Wednesday, July 18, was a moooootastic day at Breckenridge Village of Tyler (BVT) when Chick-Fil-A franchise owners Jeff and Debra Johnston delivered Cow Appreciation Day to the residents and day-program participants!

For the day, BVT was festively adorned in Chick-Fil-A’s familiar black-white-and-red palette, complete with cow balloons, a large, free-standing cardboard cow, and billboards reading Chick-Fil-A’s “Eat Mor Chikin” slogan and “BVT loves Chick-Fil-A,” setting the backdrop for fun photos with BVT residents and staff. Lunch was provided and BVT residents and staff interacted with the Chick-Fil-A cow mascot.
Photo:Cow Appreciation Day
For the past four years, as part of their ardent support for BVT, the Johnstons have made it a point to visit the campus to celebrate this unique “holiday” with the residents.

The relationship between Chick-Fil-A and BVT began years ago with Ed and Sandy King,” says Associate Executive Director of Advancement at BVT Linda Taylor. “The Kings were the original owners of Chick-Fil-A in Tyler and had championed the BVT cause for more than 15 years, and have financially supported and promoted BVT within the East Texas community.

Taylor says that after Ed King passed away, Jeff and Debra purchased the South Broadway Chick-Fil-A.

“The Johnstons chose to pick up the BVT torch that the Kings started,” says Linda, “and carried on the BVT/Chick-Fil-A relationship.

“Sandy (King) is still faithfully involved at BVT,” she adds, “never missing a Cow Appreciation Day at the Village.” 

Chick-Fil-A has helped sponsor BVT’s annual events A Night to Remember and the Men’s Breakfast.

Photo:BVT Celebrates Cow Appreciation DayBreckenridge Village of Tyler is a caring residential community for adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. BVT programs and activities are designed to help residents develop the skills they need to achieve their God-given potential.

For more pictures of Cow Appreciation Day at BVT, visit BVT’s Facebook page. For information about BVT’s work in Tyler, visit BreckenridgeVillage.com.

Houghton Named Director of Property and Risk Management

The BCFS System has named Christina D. Houghton its Director of Property and Risk Management. As Director, Houghton will oversee the agency’s purchase of and enrollment in insurance programs, identify risk exposures, and recommend solutions.
Photo: Christina Houghton headshot
Houghton joined the BCFS System in 2015 as Executive Assistant to the BCFS System’s Office of the Executive Vice President of Community, International & Residential Operations. Soon after, she began supporting the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications, the Executive Vice President of Labor and Employment Law, and the Executive Director of Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI).

“Christina has been a great asset to our agency,” said BCFS System Executive Vice President Kari Tatro. “Her promotion as a director will give her the opportunity to utilize more of her professional skill set and business expertise. We look forward to her continued contribution to our team and mission.”

Houghton earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio and is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. A native of Dallas, Texas, she enjoys travel and spending time with her partner, Rudy, and their two-year-old daughter, Sofia.

The BCFS System is a global system of health and human services non-profit organizations with locations throughout the United States, in Europe, Latin America, South Asia, and Africa with the goal of charting innovative paths to address critical unmet needs of communities affected by disaster and underprivileged individuals and families.

For information, visit BCFS.net.

CERI Names Director of Marketing and Development

 

Eileen Purkeypile Named CERI Director of Marketing & Development 

Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) has named Eileen Neave Purkeypile as the new Director of Marketing and Development. In her position, Eileen will develop and implement all aspects of CERI’s annual development plan to augment revenue for child sponsorships, devise creative marketing strategies that promote CERI’s sponsorships and overall mission, and generate both internal- and external facing content to create meaningful connections for the agency.

Eileen joins CERI after serving as the agency’s part-time consultant, working to strengthen and expand CERI’s programs and services to youth and families in need around the world. Before joining CERI, Eileen contributed her expertise as Director of Global Child Development Operations for Feed the Children, an effort to provide nourishing meals to more than 260,000 children around the world.Photo: Eileen Purkeypile

Eileen’s passion for children and families was ignited in refugee camps in Yemen, where she met women and children fleeing conflict in the Horn of Africa. Their hope and determination motivated her to begin a career in service to humanity worldwide. Throughout her career, her work in children’s advocacy has taken her across borders to serve in Ukraine, the Philippines, and Honduras. She counts her work in Bolivia toward the protection and well-being of children through a child development program in suburban neighborhoods as a formative experience in her career.

Eileen has carved out a successful career dedicated to serving children and families,” says CERI Executive Director Connie Belciug “She has a proven track record as a leader with emphasis on developing infrastructure, strategies, and implementation. We are excited for her continued involvement.

A native of Eagle Pass, Texas, Eileen is fluent in English and Spanish, and holds a Master of  Public Administration in Nonprofit Management degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the culinary arts and spending time with her husband, Jarrod, and their two children, Noel and Amelia.

“I am excited to join such a passionate team and look forward to contributing toward the advocacy for children and families around the world.”

CERI is dedicated to serving the orphaned, oppressed, impoverished and abused children around the world who are disproportionately affected by poverty, war, famine, natural disasters, human trafficking, and other injustices. CERI’s work focuses on meeting the needs of the child, the empowerment of the family, the development of community, and creating a world where children are safe, well taken care of, and prepared for a successful adulthood.

For information on CERI’s work around the world, visit CERIkids.org.

The Youth Prepare for Success at Education and Career Fair

 

SAN ANTONIO, TX — Nearly 50 San Antonio-area youth attended BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio’s Mind At Work Education and Career Fair. The event, hosted by BCFS-San Antonio’s Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program in collaboration with the BCFS-San Antonio’s Texas Workforce Commission onsite liaison, invited area agencies to educate youth from the foster care system of the resources available for a stable and successful adulthood.

“The goal was to have everyone walk away with their college paperwork done,” says BCFS-San Antonio’s Program Director Deyanira Garcia.

“From their financial aid and college entrance applications to their education and training vouchers, we wanted them prepared for the next step in their journey.”

Representatives from the Alamo Community College District, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas A&M-San Antonio, Gary Job Corps, Texas Workforce Solutions, and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services engaged with youth to explain the broad range of curricula, career paths, and financial aid available.

Jessica Lee Cawthorn, who aged out after six years in the foster care system, spoke to the youth in attendance about staying the education course and seeing the process through to graduation. Cawthorn recently graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in University Studies. On her graduation announcement, she asked family and friends, in lieu of gifts, to provide backpacks and other school supplies that she then donated to the youth at the Mind At Work Fair.

Her message to the youth was one of perseverance toward graduation.

Education defeats the cycle that a lot of kids in foster care find themselves in,” she says, “which is homelessness. Statistics show that many of the youth who age out often end up homeless, or they end up having kids that also end up in the foster care system.

 

Education (and getting a degree) helps to end those cycles,” she continues. “It helps get kids out of multigenerational issues. That’s what education does, it opens doors for youth.

Cawthorn also reminded youth in attendance to be sure to access the resources available for youth in foster care, specifically the Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program, which offers youth in foster care various means of aid to pursue higher education or vocational training.

“Each year, we see a decline around this time when youth are not as engaged as other times of the year,” Garcia adds. “The fair worked to re-engage youth and encourage them to apply for their educational and vocational training benefits.”

For information about BCFS-San Antonio’s PAL program, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/PAL, and visit DiscoverBCFS.net/TexasETV for information about the Education and Training Voucher program.

Click here for photos from the Mind at Work Education and Career Fair.