Crafting the News

BCFS HHS-Kerrville Director, Dennis Ferguson visits with Hill Country Caring Crafter to provide some update on programs offered within the community. 

BCFS Health and Human Services-Kerrville Director-Community Services Dennis Ferguson visited with the Hill Country Caring Crafters to give an update on some of BCFS-Kerrville’s programs.

The Hill Country Caring Crafters are a group of artists and crafters who meet weekly to work on their art. Some paint, some quilt, some create ceramics, and others handcraft everything from greeting cards to flower arrangements. The group in turn then sells the creations to raise funds for various Kerr County nonprofit organizations. BCFS Health and Human Services’ Our House-Kerrville is one of the organizations the crafters have chosen to help.

“We do what our heart leads us to do,” says crafter Jeanette Ruark.

At Our House-Kerrville, a transitional home for youth who have aged out of foster care and are working toward establishing their lives as adults, the crafters have “adopted” two residents with the intention of helping them outfit their apartments with home accessories.

“We make their place homey with things like towels, dishes, pots and pans, and cleaning supplies,” says Jeanette. “It’s a lot like the things you might purchase when you send your child off to college.”

Our House-Kerrville residents arrive in search of a safe place to sleep at night, often in the midst of working to overcome obstacles like poverty, homelessness, and joblessness, in addition to repairing long-term damage from experiencing abuse or neglect as a child. The Hill Country Crafters are helping a pair of youth at Our House-Kerrville get some of the homemaking items that youth would otherwise likely do without.  

In addition to helping BCFS-Kerrville’s Our House, the Hill Country Caring Crafters support of a variety of organizations such as Hill Country Youth Ranch, The Order of the Elks, and Junction House all focusing on helping youth.

The crafters were excited to hear Dennis’s update on the Our House-Kerrville residents they support, and learn a bit more about some of the other life-changing programs impacting youth that BCFS-Kerrville administers in the Texas Hill Country.  

Inhale Confidence. Exhale Doubt.

Youth from foster care in BCFS-McAllen’s Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program joined youth from a variety of boot camp programs to hear Aida Rodriguez’s hopeful message.

On January 15, 2018, BCFS Health and Human Services-McAllen held the inspiring “Inhale Confidence. Exhale Doubt.” event at the Amador R. Rodriguez Juvenile Boot Camp and Educational Center in San Benito, Texas. The event’s theme—“You Set the Stage for Your Own Success”—was reinforced for the 56 youth in attendance with a keynote address from nationally renowned comedian, actress, writer, and activist Aida Rodriguez.

Youth from foster care in BCFS-McAllen’s Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program joined youth from a variety of boot camp programs to hear Rodriguez’s hopeful message. Her talk resonated with her audience as she spoke about overcoming the stigma of being labeled “bad kids,” and how their futures are based upon the decisions they make each day. Afterward, she visited with each youth to listen and talk with them about their own stories.

Aida Rodriguez is best known for her top 10 finish on NBC’s eighth season of Last Comic Standing. She has toured the United States as both actor and comedian, has a growing list of acting credits, released her 2017 comedy album, I’ll Say It for You, and hosts her weekly Truth Serum podcast, where she presents each episode as a platform to support up-and-coming entertainers and the issues of the entertainment industry. 

As a keepsake, youth at the event were gifted personal journals with uplifting, motivational quotes on which they could reflect and write their thoughts and feelings from the inspiring day.

The event culminated with an emotionally powerful balloon release where youth were asked to write with a marker on a helium balloon the one thing they wanted to let go of in their life and then release it to the sky as a symbolic gesture of letting go!

BCFS-San Antonio PAL Program Receives Royal Treatment

Ms. Black Texas Supports BCFS-San Antonio’s PAL Program

BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio will get some royal treatment when Ms. Black San Antonio Chaunice Holley is crowned Ms. Black Texas on February 25, 2018, at the Walking Resiliently Fashion Show and Coronation at the Carver Community Cultural Center on San Antonio’s historic east side.

Chaunice volunteers with BCFS-San Antonio’s Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program for youth from the foster care system. When pageant organizers asked her which organization she would like to help through her philanthropic efforts as Ms. Black Texas, she identified BCFS-San Antonio after seeing how the outstanding work that BCFS-San Antonio performs helps prepare youth for a stable, well-rounded adulthood. Proceeds from the ticket sales to the February 25 coronation will benefit BCFS-San Antonio, where Chaunice will speak to those in attendance and invite them to donate to BCFS-San Antonio’s PAL program. Youth from PAL will participate in the fashion show portion of the event, modeling formalwear and casual attire.

Chaunice is a licensed vocational nurse instructor pursuing a nursing degree at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is the eldest of six children and served in the United States Air Force as a cardiac and labor & delivery nurse. She was raised by a single mother in what Chaunice describes as “an addicted home,” experiencing poverty, homelessness, and struggle; some of the same challenges through which youth in foster care work to overcome.

“My plan of action is to partner with BCFS Health and Human Services…to create programs and policy to generate awareness through educating the community and the power of the media.” – Chaunice Holley, Ms. Black Texas 2018.

Sixth Annual Project Cinderella

Project Cinderella Helps Youth Achieve Prom Elegance

Project Cinderella invites the Tyler community to support the sixth annual campaign to gather formal wear to help youth in foster care attend the 2018 prom organized by BCFS Health and Human Services-Tyler. Project Cinderella seeks donations of evening gowns, shoes, jewelry, or monetary donations to help with tuxedo rentals or the purchase of shoes and accessories.

Project Cinderella is an annual effort by BCFS-Tyler that helps youth from foster care and those who have experienced abuse or neglect enjoy the tradition of a high school prom. Tyler community partners Brides and Belles and The Men’s Wearhouse are again helping youth in foster care obtain evening gowns, tuxedos, and fashion accessories to ensure youth look their absolute best for prom. To complete the formal looks, Project Cinderella is reaching out to the Tyler community for help. A gift of $25 can provide a tuxedo rental or enable a youth to shop for his or her own accessories or shoes to celebrate prom exquisitely dressed. Gently used ladies’ shoes and jewelry are also on the wish list.

“Project Cinderella and the prom event make a lasting impression on our youth,” explains BCFS Director Carla McCalope. “Many of them have grown up facing very challenging obstacles, so we work to reinforce positive self-image, strong self-confidence, and to let them know that they are loved. The Tyler community has fiercely supported our past prom events, and we hope this year will be no exception.”

BCFS-Tyler provides youth from foster care and those struggling to transition to adulthood with a support system they can count on, and the tools to become self-sufficient, positive contributors to the community. Often, youth in our care have dropped out of high school, but through our services pursue alternative means to education, including charter schools, GED classes, or online coursework. Unfortunately, these labor-intensive endeavors, while rewarding, come without the social opportunities of a traditional high school experience—no basketball games, no homecoming, and certainly no prom.

“Though these youth have grown up in very unique circumstances,” says McCalope, “we work to provide them with some of the same experiences as other youth their age. Prom is a once-in-a-lifetime, coming-of-age tradition and we don’t want them to miss out.”

The Project Cinderella campaign will last from January 2 through February 28 with the goal to raise $5,000 in monetary donations. The luau-themed prom is set for March 3, 2018.

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

Make a donation to Project Cinderella. Or, find out more about the special event by visiting DiscoverBCFS.net/ProjectCinderella

Common Thread Grows Its Advocacy in Houston, Texas

With office in Waco, Killeen, and San Antonio, Texas, Common Thread adds Houston to their list! With a multi-disciplary team to advocate for individuals who have been exposed to human trafficking.

BCFS Health and Human Services Residential Services Division’s (RSD) newest program, Common Thread, is expanding! In the first week of 2018, Common Thread has been named the advocacy agency to work alongside partner organizations in Houston, Texas, in working to help survivors recover from experience with human trafficking.

In late 2017 in central and south Texas, Common Thread began administering programs, services, and advocacy in response to the alarming and unfortunately underreported crime of child sex trafficking. Common Thread provides immediate, flexible, and relationship-focused services 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for domestic and foreign survivors of child sex trafficking under the age of 25. The program helps survivors by offering immediate in-field response when victims are identified, intensive case management, and long-term mentorship.

Offices began operating in Waco, Killeen, and San Antonio, Texas, and—after an invitation from the Office of the Governor to present Common Thread’s unique spectrum of services and staff—will soon be operating in tandem with the Houston-area’s Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) to advocate for individuals who have been exposed to the scourge of human trafficking.

“Our Common Thread team, led by RSD’s National Director Susan Rosas, presented to 15 stakeholders to explain what Common Thread’s services would resemble in Houston,” explains Sonya Thompson, Executive Director for BCFS Health and Human Services’ Residential Services Division.

“After lots of discussion and a final vote,” she says, “the MDT voted for Common Thread to be their Houston advocacy program. The vote of confidence is a true testament to the extraordinary work this team is doing in our Texas communities.”

Currently, Common Thread collaborates with other agencies in a 26-county area in central Texas to build a proactive and mobile team that works toward becoming an ally for children and youth who have been through some of the darkest recesses of human trafficking. Common Thread employs a mobile approach to its advocacy to help a survivor build critical trusting relationships with their advocate, even if the survivor continuously relocates as part of his or her recovery.

“We already know that children are at a heightened risk to be trafficked, or re-victimized, when they have had a history of broken relationships,” said Rosas in 2017. “Common Thread aims to support survivor recovery by building long-term positive adult relationships, modeled first by Common Thread advocates, and then replicated for each child in his or her community. Evidence shows that survivors often have a complex and transient recovery, and we are honored to operate the first program in Texas that can flex with them. We’re with our clients, no matter what.”

Common Thread’s teamwork model includes trainings and action plans for agencies to ensure consistent quality improvement of service delivery.

Common Thread welcomes volunteers and interns. If you are interested in volunteering for this program, please email commonthread@bcfs.net. To refer someone 21 years old or younger who may have been the victim of human trafficking—to include sexual exploitation, survival sex, and other forms of commercial sex—in the United States, call the 24/7 Common Thread hotline at 1-888-8THREAD. For information, visit www.commonthread.net.

 
Common Thread is overseen by Asennet Segura, BCFS Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer–Community, International & Residential Operations, and BCFS Health and Human Services Residential Services Division personnel, including Sonya Thompson, Executive Director; Susan Rosas, National Director; Graciela Gomez, National Operations Manager; Irasema Resendez, National Partnerships Manager; and Eyra Montemayor, Program Director

BCFS CSD in the Community

BCFS Community Service Division attend a continuing education event at the UT Health San Antonio to help others understand the services provided by BCFS CSD for victims of human trafficking.

BCFS Community Services Division (CSD) participated in a continuing education event the Human Trafficking: The Role of Healthcare Providers in Recognizing and Effectively Intervening held on Friday, November 3. The event was hosted by UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing’s Department of Lifelong Learning and the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Department of Social Work with the goals of recognizing potential victims of human trafficking and learning prevention strategies based on social and economic circumstances.

BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio’s Tracia Westley, a case coordinator for BCFS-San Antonio’s new Resiliency Through Healing program for survivors of child abuse, and Sandy Bar-Yadin, a counselor for the STAR (Services to At Risk Youth) program staffed an information table offering a variety of material about some of BCFS-San Antonio’s programs and services that strengthen children and families.

Featured speakers at the event included international human trafficking expert Dr. Donna Sabella, the founder and director of Project Phoenix, an outreach program for trafficked and prostituted women in Philadelphia; Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project for Texas Coordinator Dixie Hairston; and Lt. Bill Grayson of the San Antonio Police Department, who discussed the role of law enforcement in human trafficking investigations.

Abilene’s Trunk-or-Treat

Homecoming, Harvest Mingle at BCFS-Health and Human Services’ Fall Celebration

BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene organized an energetic fall festival, hosting nearly 100 Big Country community children and families dressed in costumes and gathering candy and treats in the Halloween tradition. When Abilene awoke Friday morning, October 27, to freezing temperatures and sleet, BCFS-Abilene Program Director Stacy Lee re-organized the late afternoon festivities to take place indoors.

“The weather can’t ruin our fun!” smiled Lee.

BCFS-Abilene planned the Trunk-or-Treat event in tandem with the Abilene community’s celebration of the Wylie High School Bulldogs homecoming football game against the Snyder High School Tigers. The original parking lot event at the BCFS-Abilene office featured cars decorated in fall or movie-themed décor, where children and families would go from car to car, in a mixing of tailgating and trick-or-treating customs.

“Football is a huge deal in Abilene, and with this week being homecoming, we thought we would join in the festivities,” explained Lee. “Think of it as a healthy, family-friendly pre-party for the football game.”

Trunk or Treat was open to BCFS-Abilene’s clients enrolled in any of several programs and services offered by the agency to fortify children and families, and to Big Country community members looking for wholesome fun on an early fall Friday afternoon.

“It’s a safe and fun trick-or-treating environment for families,” Lee said.

Wylie defeated Snyder 27-7. For more photos, visit the BCFS-Abilene Facebook page.

BCFS-Abilene provides case management and assistance with education, employment and housing to youth from the foster care system and youth struggling with other challenges. Additionally, BCFS-Abilene provides parenting education programs that foster loving, stable home environments for community families. For information, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Abilene or call (325) 692-0033.

BCFS-Del Rio Hosts Interagency Luncheon

BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio Grabs Reins for Del Rio’s Interagency Luncheon

BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio has assumed organizational responsibilities for the Del Rio community’s Interagency Luncheon, an ongoing meeting on the third Thursday of every month for social services agencies to discuss the most effective ways to achieve a safer, healthier and smarter Del Rio.

BCFS-Del Rio hosted the October installment of the luncheon, where BCFS-Del Rio Family Advocate Wayne Richardson briefed the luncheon contingent on the agency’s spectrum of family-centric services before mentioning that BCFS-Del Rio would be the point of contact for 2018 Interagency Luncheon planning.

“Each of us plays in an important and unique role in servicing the needs in our community, Richardson said. “The Interagency meeting provides a monthly forum for learning about resources and discussing issues in the community.”

Del Rio’s Community Health Improvement Coalition (CHIC) began the Interagency Luncheon several years ago, steadily growing its list of participating agencies. According to BCFS-Del Rio Director of Community Services Delia Ramos, when the luncheon’s primary organizer left her position at CHIC, BCFS-Del Rio stepped up to lead subsequent organizing efforts.

“When Mr. Wayne heard that she was no longer going to be able to help,” she says, “he brought the idea of BCFS-Del Rio doing it, we talked about the commitment, and ultimately decided to go forward.”

“The luncheon is an opportunity for all the agencies in the area to touch base,” Ramos says. “It can be about new initiatives, updates on current plans, or staff changes. We are happy to be able to continue planning the event for all the agencies in the Del Rio area.”

Thirty to forty social services agencies regularly attend the monthly luncheon, and one agency presents its array of services at each event. The Interagency Luncheon calendar for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018 is filling up. Agencies in the Del Rio area wishing to participate in the next Interagency Luncheon can call BCFS-Del Rio at (830) 768-2755.

Thank You, Babs!

Early last week, the Baptist News Global hosted an elegant reception in honor of Babs Baugh and her steadfast philanthropy. Babs Baugh continues to be a long serving trustee of BCFS. 

A nationwide contingent of Baptist faithful converged on San Antonio, Texas’s elegant Pearl Stables on October 23 to celebrate the steadfast philanthropy of Babs Baugh and the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation.

The Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation is the family legacy of a devoted Baptist couple. Through the years, the Baugh family has been a generous benefactor to Baptist institutions and causes. The legacy of John and Eula Mae Baugh has been carried on by their only child, Babs Baugh, and her two daughters.

The night’s itinerary consisted of a dinner, musical entertainment, an award ceremony, and video tribute thanking Babs for her charitable contributions to Baptist institutions across the country. BCFS President & CEO Kevin C. Dinnin appeared in the video to thank Babs and the Baugh Family’s foundation for their friendship to the BCFS System. Kevin attended the event with his wife, Becky, BCFS Trustee Carl Register and his wife, Joaan and members of the BCFS Executive Leadership team.

 

See Video

Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt

Agencies, Community Sponsors Join to Educate Youth about the Outdoors

BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene collaborated with the Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt on an outdoor hunting expedition that will provide an educational opportunity for youth to learn about the responsibilities of firearm safety, hunting safety, and basic outdoor survival training. Youth were nominated by Child Protective Services (CPS) staff based on each youth’s case file and consultations with each youth’s case manager, foster family, and experienced hunters from within CPS and the community.

BCFS-Abilene volunteer Marshall Davidson, an experienced outdoorsman who lives by the values, trainings, ethics, and ideals of hunting, believes teens should be exposed to wildlife and nature, and the seriousness of firearm safety as they enter adulthood.

“I’ve worked with kids for a long time, and I feel like hunting, fishing, gaming…is not really something that a lot of them are exposed to, especially for youth who have not had a steady parent figure,” says Davidson. “We really want to teach them about the importance of firearm safety, wildlife, and being outdoors.”

After a rigorous vetting process, in order to go on the hunt, the selected six boys and one girl attended a daylong hunting certification education training approved by Texas Parks and Wildlife, and administered by Davidson, a certified Hunter Education Instructor. Youth learned the details of firearm and hunting safety, hunting ethics, and wildlife conservation, earning hunter certifications and licenses to hunt in the state of Texas. The young lady in the group claimed a gift card as the winner of a shooting competition during the training.

On the hunt, each youth will be paired with an experienced hunting guide, and accompanied by volunteers who will help ensure a safe environment. Everyone on the hunt will wear daylight fluorescent orange vests while engaged in hunting activities.

Several community sponsors help make the hunting experience possible. Special thanks to:

  • Karon Bingaman Hall & Harley Hall
  • Taylor County Child Welfare Board
  • Stephens Wild Game Processing
  • Double Barrel Outfitters
  • Trophy Case Taxidermy
  • Walmart #535
  • Market Street/United Supermarket
  • Vagabond Pizza
  • Rodeway Inn
  • Glasgow
  • Cabela’s
  • Keith & Propst Law Firm
  • Clayton’s Monogramming
  • Thompson Graphics
  • McDuffee Media
  • Lawrence Hall Abilene

The Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt (BCCBH) is a hunting club conceived to take youth in DFPS Conservatorship and others on outdoors experiences to include hunting, fishing and camping. BCCBH is not part of nor sponsored by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Marshall Davidson has brought the BCCBH under the BCFS Health and Human Services label in Abilene. No youth involved in BCFS Health and Human Services’ programs have participated in BCCBH.


For information about the Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt, contact Marshall Davidson at (325) 232-4047. To learn more about BCFS programs and services in Abilene, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/youthcenters/abilene.