Domestic Violence Awareness in Del Rio

Each October, BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio joins organizations nationwide in support of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In a country where intimate partner violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime, and where one in four women have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their life, BCFS-Del Rio works diligently to engage the community and share knowledge to identify and prevent domestic abuse.

As part of the month-long movement, a Candlelight Vigil was held October 16 at the Paul Poag Theatre. BCFS-Del Rio joined in honor of those whose lives had been altered or lost to domestic violence. “136 victims passed away in 2017 due to domestic violence,” said Delia Ramos, Director of Community Based Services at BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio, in an interview. “We want to show our community that love shouldn’t hurt – to show how important it is to walk away from a violent situation, and that although it is often very difficult, it’s ok to ask for help.”

Bruno R. Lozano, Mayor of Del Rio, presented a proclamation against domestic violence. In its eighth year, Delia said the Candlelight Vigil remains an effective tool at spreading a message that can prevent harm in the Del Rio community, creating knowledgeable warriors for a worthy cause.

Later in October, a few days after the Candlelight Vigil, local representatives gathered for an interagency meeting. More than 50 individuals from over 11 organizations met to discuss how domestic abuse could most effectively be averted.

“It’s a great time to get to know names and faces of our community organizations,” said Delia, noting that the annual meeting is an important avenue for understanding how entities throughout the Del Rio community can work together to reach common goals.


BCFS HHS-Del Rio recognizes and thanks the organizations and government representatives who attended this year’s interagency meeting (which include but are not limited to) :

  • Laughlin Air Force Base
  • Office of U.S. Congressman Will Hurd
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
  • Val Verde Sherriff’s Department
  • Val Verde Regional Medical Center
  • Consulado de Mexico
  • Consulado de Guatemala
  • Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)
  • Serving Children and Adults in Need (SCAN)
  • San Felipe Del Rio Independent Consolidated School District
  • Del Rio Police Department

Read more about how BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio is working to end violence in their community.

Benefit Hunt Indicates Growth, New Activities for Youth


In only its second year, the BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene’s Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt brought an increased turnout, with this year’s event hosting seven boys and two girls. The hunt provides youth from foster care an experience that ties them to the culture, tradition, and community in which they live.

“Here in Abilene, deer hunting is a bragging right,” said Alana Jeter, Regional Director of North Texas for BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene. “We try to give youth some of the opportunities they might have if they weren’t in foster care” said Alana, who attended Saturday’s hunt as part of the Community Services Division leadership who made the day and its events possible.

Every young adult who attended the hunt went through a selection process that required a thorough and thoughtful assessment from foster parents and the Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS). The selected youth were given Hunter Education Certification in the weeks before the event, which gave the participants safety training and a hunting license.

Bright and early on Saturday, October 27, nine youth ages 15-18 ventured out into the 10,000-acre lease provided by Double Barrel Outfitters. Each of the young hunters was accompanied by a hunting guide who stayed with them throughout the day, providing supervision, assistance, and direction when needed. Will Meiron, BCFS Program Director at BCFS-Abilene served as one such guide.

Will remembers when the Children’s Benefit Hunt was merely an idea, and can appreciate what it has grown to become. “Finding the hunting guides – that was easy,” said Will, “but finding people to actually back the event was difficult.”

Kevin C. Dinnin, President and CEO of the BCFS System, had the infrastructure to make the event possible. “Kevin provided medics, insurance, and an ambulance,” said Will “He said, whatever you need, we can make it happen.”

Throughout the day’s hunt, BCFS-Abilene staff, local law enforcement, emergency medical technicians, and the sheriff’s department all encouraged a stellar experience by serving as a friend and support to the youth who attended. Taylor County even provided one of their own ambulances at the site for the day.

The Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt has not only provided something special to youth in the Abilene area, but has also helped other individuals and agencies understand the benefits of activities meant to give youth from foster care a unique yet unifying experience. Two similar outdoor events have been planned based on the example set by the Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt.

“I really hope that this is an opportunity for some of these kids to feel like a kid again,” said Will, explaining that the youth BCFS serves deserve a chance to break from the definition and stigma foster care can bring. “One boy got made fun of at school because his family didn’t have enough money to hunt, but last year he brought home three deer. He got to go back to school and tell his friends that he put meat in the freezer; that he got to feed his family and provide for them.”

Alana said, “I know [the youth] have an appreciation for all the people who came out and volunteered their time Saturday to spend all day with them. So often these kids don’t have anyone in their corner. The support itself is so important.”


BCFS HHS-Abilene thanks this year’s sponsors :


  • Double Barrel Outfitters
  • Stephens Wild Game Processing
  • Walmart #535
  • Cabela’s


  • Lawrence Hall Abilene
  • Karon Bingaman Hall and Harley Hall
  • Chris and Leonard Glasgow
  • Abilene Police Officers’ Association
  • Taylor County Child Welfare Board
  • Fire and Ice Heating and Cooling
  • Hall & Associates Service Group LLC


  • Your Ideas Inc.
  • Sorensen Photography
  • Trophy Case Taxidermy


To learn more about the services BCFS provides to youth in foster care, click here.

PAL and Friends Gather for Spooktacular Event


BCFS Health and Human Services’ Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) held a Halloween party for its service population and friends. The party was held at the BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio Transition Center, where more than 70 attendants came together.

The event featured a diverse group that represented the support groups surrounding the people PAL serves. Kimberley Rodriguez, Regional Director of BCFS HHS Community Services Division (CSD) for Central Texas, said that although the PAL program works specifically with young adults in their late teens and early 20s, expanding the guest list allowed the siblings, children, friends, and relatives of those in the PAL program to participate and get involved.

A booth was set up by BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio’s Resiliency Through Healing, where PAL party guests could learn about the counseling and support services available for young adults. The night’s activities included a pumpkin decorating contest, a mystery game, and two raffle-prize drawings. Dinner and snacks were available for all who attended.

CSD plans to continue curating engaging events that attract attendance while providing services they can showcase in the midst of all the fun.


Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
Pumpkin decorating contest finalists
The usually easy-going BCFS staff came dressed as their most serious selves.
A face painter was on site to give everyone the look they wanted
This young pumpkin decorator shows off her latest creation
A mystery game keeps people guessing


To discover more about the Preparation for Adult Living program, click here.

BCFS System Commits to $25K for PEAKS Camp

For more than 30 years, Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) has hosted PEAKS camp – a therapeutic, experiential camp for youth in foster care. PEAKS is one of TNOYS’ longest-running and most successful programs, where licensed professionals regularly take paid time off to volunteer with and enrich the lives of the youth who attend.

The week-long camp experience helps youth learn important life skills, build resiliency, and enhance their feelings of self-worth, all of which are critical for putting them on a path to a successful adulthood. For most of the youth who attend this program, PEAKS offers the only chance to get a traditional camp experience.

Yet, for all the benefits PEAKS camp has offered over the years, TNOYS learned that this year, due to budget cuts from their traditional funding streams, they would need to raise their own funds if they had a chance at keeping this important program alive.

With a shared interest in the goal PEAKS camp strives every year to meet, the BCFS System is proud to pledge a gift of $25,000 to serve as a catalyst for the donorship that the organization believes can support this unique, critical program.

“We are truly honored to be able to assist TNOYS raise the funds to continue this important program. It is the right thing to do. It changes lives,” says Kevin C. Dinnin, President & CEO of the BCFS System.

Celeste Garcia, Executive Director of BCFS Health and Human Services’ Community Services Division, presented the check on behalf of the BCFS System to Christine Gendron, Executive Director of TNOYS, at the 2018 Judicial Summit on Mental Health in Houston, co-hosted by the Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission.

To read more about the good PEAKS camp has done and hopes to continue, click here.

Mario Guerra Retires as Director of Response and Recovery

In 2010, Mario Guerra joined the BCFS System family as a member of the Emergency Management Division (EMD) after 35 years of service in the San Antonio Fire Department – a career that began with one water hose and two singed eyebrows.

Upon hearing about his retirement, Kevin Dinnin, President & CEO of the BCFS System, asked if Mario might be interested in further aiding people and communities in need, explaining plans for a new Emergency Management Division (EMD), and how someone with his applied experience would be an asset to build and grow the EMD team. Mario was intrigued by the position and the chance to be a part of something meaningful and lasting. Before he had even officially left his role at SAFD, Mario began his service full time under BCFS Health and Human Services’ EMD.

When Mario first came on, the EMD branch was composed of five people, Mario included. Today, BCFS’s EMD employs more than 3,500 personnel, each providing critical emergency support in moments of human need on an international scale.

In his eight years of service and experience with EMD, Mario responded to wildfires, hurricanes, and other disasters. He has written and recorded procedures of service and care that span hundreds of pages, each full of information that can instruct future response teams on the lessons learned from his own team’s history in working through some of the most dire moments of human need.

Mario’s efforts were not only about working through people’s worst moments by meeting physical needs, it was also about providing emotional support to those who felt hopeless. In his role with EMD, Mario had the opportunity to serve as a Shelter Manager at some of the sites that provided emergency shelter to children who had made their way to this country alone, without their parents. In many cases, Mario was the first smiling face some of the children had seen in a long time. His positive demeanor gained him a reputation among those he served.

“How are y’all doing?” Mario would ask the children when they came to the site.

“Fine,” they would respond.

“You guys hungry?”


“Are you tired?”


“Am I ugly?”


“What do you mean I’m ugly,” Mario would say, mockingly wounded from the insult he had brought upon himself, the kids laughing boisterously. “You just met me and you’re already telling me I’m ugly!”

Mario wasn’t only the first smiling face the kids would see, he was also often the one to see them off when they went on to their next destination. Before they left the shelter, Mario would hop on the bus with the children and give a heartfelt rendition of “Las Mañanitas,” a traditional Spanish song often sung in celebration.

Looking Back, Moving Ahead

As Mario’s full-time status as EMD’s Director of Response and Recovery comes to an end, he has agreed to serve in a pro re nata (as needed) role with the organization, making for 43 years and counting in a career of service to others. Mario leaves behind a record of policy and instruction that will have a lasting impact, and that will help future EMD professionals better respond in the heat of emergency situations.

“It’s about legacy,” Mario says. “It’s about creating a system for the next person.”

As he plans for the future, Mario is excited to invest more deeply in his family. He was the fifth sibling in a family of six children, and he was the first to get a high school diploma and a college degree. Today, he has a family full of college graduates, with his wife and all their children holding bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Mario hopes his seven grandchildren can continue to build on the success his family has discovered so far.

In addition to loving his family, Mario hopes to catch up on books and documentaries (about the Roosevelts among other things) now that he will have the time to do so. He also wants to do a bit of woodworking and take a few vacations with his wife, like their upcoming trip to Canada and Iceland, filled with baseball games along the way. His wife, Mario proudly states, has been incredibly supportive and patient with him throughout his career of emergency response.

“I’ve been fortunate enough – blessed – to have seen how things kind of tie together, bringing people back full circle to where they were before disaster hit,” Mario says.

“Everything we do is to help people. This whole agency is meant to do that.”


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

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

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

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