High School Grads from Foster Care Honored at Annual Ceremony Hosted by BCFS Health and Human Services-Tyler
BCFS Health and Human Services-Tyler partnered with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to celebrate youth in foster care who graduated high school this spring. Twenty-two youth from BCFS-Tyler’s foster care program were honored at the ceremony Wednesday, May 17 at The Grove Kitchen & Gardens.
With a wide variety of career paths among them, several graduates are already headed to local colleges, like Tyler Junior College or Kilgore College, empowered with the life skills they acquired from their mentors at BCFS-Tyler.
Pastor William Spearman of Mt. Zion CME Church in Ben Wheeler, Texas delivered a keynote address to the graduates, and Kevin King, Executive Director of Breckenridge Village of Tyler (an organization in the BCFS System), provided the benediction and closing remarks. Celeste Garcia, BCFS Health and Human Services’ Community Services Division Executive Director, and Judy Bowman, DFPS Regional Director, presented each of the graduates with a certificate of graduation from the desk of Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, as well as an acknowledgement from Texas state senator Bryan Hughes.
“All the graduates were very appreciative for the chance to take part in the ceremony,” said BCFS-Tyler Director Carla McCalope. “It made them feel truly special. Many of these youth came from unstable, sometimes traumatic, home environments, but throughout their high school years they still needed to stay focused on their education and graduate. Through their hard work and dedication, they earned a high school diploma and deserve recognition for this momentous occasion.”
It is common for youth from the foster care system to pursue their education through nontraditional means, including charter schools, GED classes or online coursework. Unfortunately, formal graduation events are seldom included when youth earn a diploma outside of the traditional high school environment. To ensure these youth still enjoy the celebration the academic milestone deserves, BCFS-Tyler and DFPS host an annual graduation ceremony.
The event included dinner for graduates and their guests, courtesy of Tyler’s The Grove Kitchen & Gardens, and gift presentations, courtesy of Kohl’s, Dillard’s and Belk department stores. The retailers generously donated luggage sets, hygiene products and other household items essential for independent living. Florists Novedades Luly and The Flower Box donated decorations and floral arrangements for the graduation ceremony and dinner. The Gamma Omicron Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority donated $300 in restaurant gift cards that were distributed to the graduates.
BCFS-Tyler serves youth from the foster care system, as well as other young adults facing challenges like homelessness, poverty, or those recovering from physical and emotional abuse. BCFS-Tyler provides counseling, case management, and assistance with education, employment, housing location and medical care. To learn more about BCFS-Tyler, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/Tyler.