On Thursday, November 12, BCFS Health and Human Services brought Kerrville men (and women) together at the third annual Men’s Breakfast, featuring a classic car show, pro-football player, live music and steak and eggs – all to benefit Hill Country youth and families in need.
Tyrone Smith, former NFL defensive back for the San Francisco 49ers and former Baylor University Cornerback and Team Captain, led the keynote address entitled Know Your Purpose. The Tivy High School varsity football team was among the 220 guests. The George Eychner Quintet performed while guests perused a classic car show at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. A hearty steak and eggs feast was on the menu as well, catered by Rails.
Several youth from foster care and the juvenile justice system who are in BCFS Health and Human Services’ programs attended the breakfast to personally thank donors and sponsors for their support.
The breakfast raised more than $30,000 to benefit Kerrville youth and families served by BCFS Health and Human Services. Major sponsors for the breakfast included Trade Mark-Carrier, JM Lowe, Kerrville Public Utility Board, Family Practice Associates and Camp Mystic.
“When we provide young men and women with educational and economic opportunity, and serve as a stabilizing force in their tumultuous lives, it’s good for our entire community,” said Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie, development director for BCFS Health and Human Services. “The men and women who enjoyed breakfast with us are part of that stabilizing force for the next generation in the Hill Country.”
BCFS Health and Human Services helps youth from the foster care and juvenile justice systems; families with young children and teens; and young adults struggling with homelessness, poverty, substance abuse and unemployment. The organization provides counseling, education and housing assistance, mentorships, case management, parent support groups, child abuse prevention programs, and life skills trainings.
“We are so proud to be part of a town that sees value and potential in each and every life. It’s wonderful to see time-and-time again how invested our community members are in making sure we reach out our hands to help everyone who wants to work hard to reach their dreams – regardless of the challenge,” said Brenda Thompson, BCFS Health and Human Services’ local director.
For more information about BCFS’ work in the Hill Country, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Kerrville or call (830) 896-0993.
May is “National Mental Health Awareness Month”
Jessica was ten years old when she realized her mother was in danger. Whether across the dinner table, down the hallway, or in her parents’ bedroom, she would watch in stunned silence as her father launched into verbal and, oftentimes, physical attacks on her mom. Then, she’d run into her little brother’s room where she could lock the door and hold her hands over his ears to try to muffle the screams. When the police finally came to arrest her father, she ran again; this time away from the social worker sent to retrieve Jessica and her brother, and place them in a new home.
Traumatic events affect people differently. For children especially, encounters with abuse or neglect can have a profound influence that, if unchecked, can adversely affect their mental health and relationships with others for the rest of their lives. In fact, according to Child Advocates of San Antonio, children in foster care experience mental illness at a rate of almost 30 percent greater than the average population of children. Additionally, youth in foster care are less likely to receive adequate treatment and services to address their mental health issues.
Counselors and caseworkers are not only the triage team, but also part of the recovery. These professionals play a crucial role in going beyond meeting children’s basic needs, delving into complex issues that can range from violent learned behavior, to substance abuse or even severe psychiatric issues, like post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression.
Trauma-informed care is today’s gold standard for working with youth in foster care. This methodology helps youth identify and articulate how past and present issues are affecting them. A safe environment, trusting rapport and careful listening helps counselors and caseworkers recognize mental illness and take quick action to address feelings that could prevent a youth from achieving success in school or at work, or trauma that could lead a youth to harm themselves.
Of course there’s no magic blueprint for identifying and overcoming mental illness. While counselors and caseworkers are the triage team, the entire community needs to be part of the recovery.
As May marks both “National Foster Care Month” and “National Mental Health Awareness Month,” BCFS Health and Human Services encourages all those in our community to be more attentive and sensitive to children whose misbehavior or strange actions may in fact be outcries from trauma. Connect children and families to organizations where they can get professional mental health support.
Together, we can improve the wellness of our entire community and prevent more innocent children like Jessica from suffering from mental health issues.
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BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. At BCFS transition centers, local youth in and aging out of foster care and those at risk of homelessness, poverty or other challenges have ”one-stop” access to case management, counseling, mentoring, educational opportunities, employment connections, housing location and legal service – all free of charge.
Formal programs focus on equipping young adults with “real life” knowledge and skills, such as interviewing for a job, balancing a checkbook, healthy decision making, choosing a career path, teen pregnancy prevention and the consequences of being sexually active.
The BCFS Lubbock Transition Center hosted its 9th annual Christmas Dreams celebration this week for youth formerly in foster care and their children. At the party held Wednesday December 17th, the youth and their guests enjoyed a Christmas meal, a visit from Santa, and over 200 donated gifts were distributed to young people in need.
“There are many youth in Lubbock who aged out of the foster care system at 18 years old to find themselves alone and discouraged without a traditional family support system,” said Kami Jackson, program director for the BCFS Lubbock Transition Center. “For these kids, Christmas can be an unwelcome reminder that they don’t have family to turn to – but we believe every child should be able to open a gift on Christmas and be surrounded by folks that love them.”
At the Christmas Dreams party, 51 youth who are clients of the transition center received gifts, as well as 25 of those young adults’ children. A total of 228 gifts were distributed, donated by First Christian Church, Betenbough Homes, Superior Healthcare, Covenant Children’s Hospital, Cynthia Shrader, the BCFS Lubbock Transition Center Advisory Council, and other generous donors from the Lubbock community.
Every year, clients at the transition center create a wishlist of three gifts they’d like to receive, including one household item, one personal item like shoes or jeans, and a restaurant gift card. If the youth has a child of their own (as is common among young people who spent time in foster care), their children also receive three gifts each.
BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center is a one-stop-shop for youth in or aging out of foster care, those in the juvenile justice system, and others in need of a helping hand to make the transition into adulthood. The center provides case management, counseling, life skills training, and education and employment assistance. For more information about BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/Lubbock.