Celeste Garcia Named Executive Director – Community Services Division

Photo: Celeste Garcia

BCFS Health and Human Services has named Celeste Garcia as Executive Director of its Community Services Division. In this role, Garcia will oversee BCFS’ community-based operations, which offer services in every Texas county ranging from case management and counseling, to life skills trainings, parenting classes, college and vocational tuition vouchers for youth in foster care, shelter for young adults struggling with homelessness, and more. Garcia will assume this role on November 1.

Garcia currently serves as Associate Executive Director of BCFS’ Residential Services Division where she oversees foster care, adoption, post release and home study programs, with annual budgets totaling $16.5 million. Garcia also serves as a key liaison between BCFS and its government partners at the federal, state and local level, ensuring compliance, quality assurance, and positive program outcomes for the children, youth and families served.

Under Garcia’s leadership, BCFS’ regional offices across the country continually receive high rankings from federal partners and third party advocacy groups that laud the organization for consistently delivering critical services for children and families in need with exceptional speed, scalability, and quality.

“Celeste is a dynamic leader who invigorates her team and delivers top notch programming,” said Asennet Segura, BCFS Chief Operating Officer. “I know she will not only strengthen our current programs, but also be key in leveraging BCFS locations in other states across the nation to expand our agency’s reach to more children and families in need.”

When she served as National Program Director of BCFS’ Post Release and Home Study Services, Garcia spearheaded the opening of regional offices strategically located around the nation to serve children and families reunited after a separation that sometimes spanned years. Garcia has worked closely with the U.S. departments of Justice, Homeland Security and key international diplomats to ensure BCFS’ operations filled gaps for unmet needs, and exceeded contract requirements.

“Throughout her tenure at BCFS, Celeste has maintained a laser focus on a singular, critical mission: ensuring the best quality placements and environments for children and youth in our care,” said Kevin Dinnin, BCFS President.

Garcia has 14 years of experience advocating for children and families. She earned her Masters of Science in Social Administration at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Community Services Division operates centers across Texas that serve youth from the foster care system, teens struggling with homelessness, poverty or a history of abuse, youth in the juvenile justice system, and families. At BCFS centers, youth receive case management, counseling, and assistance with education, employment and housing. Parent support groups and parenting education programs educate families on how to improve communication, resolve conflict, and create a stable, safe home environment for their families.

“One Stop” Community Center Opens for Children and Families on the Westside

Senator Leticia Van de Putte and Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales were joined by children and families, business leaders and community supporters for the grand opening of BCFS Health and Human Services’ new Westside Community Center.
For more than seven years, BCFS Health and Human Services has led programs on the Westside aimed at getting children and students off the streets and away from gangs, while also boosting their success in school and connecting them with positive extracurricular activities. For many years, that outlet doubled as a hip, local coffee shop known as Guadalupe Street Coffee. Now, thanks to the availability of a larger space across the street and a restaurant partner that was able to take over café operations, BCFS Health and Human Services has reopened its doors as a comprehensive, “one stop” community center.
The organization’s move allows it to expand its programming and collaboration with several community partners, including Youth for Christ, Life Restored, Urban Connection, Roll Models, Lanier High School, Rhodes Technology Media Charter School, City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health, The Texas Hunger Project, and more. The center will now be a “one stop shop” for local children and families, providing everything from parenting classes and mentoring, to community garden activities! It will also offer space to community organizations and businesses – at no charge – so they can hold meetings, team building exercises, and other activities that support business success and growth on the Westside.
“For seven years, BCFS Health and Human Services has been proud to be part of the heartbeat of the revitalization of the Westside,” said Krista Piferrer, Executive Vice President of External Affairs. “Together with our many partners and neighbors, we are making the Westside a safer, healthier and more prosperous place for families to live, work and raise their families.”

Guadalupe Street Coffee Receives $50,000 from Rapier Foundation

“Growing up in a rough neighborhood shouldn’t sentence any child to a life of crime, poverty, poor health or other struggles,” said Catarina Velasquez, BCFS HHS Program Director for Guadalupe Street Coffee. “Thanks to investments made by organizations like the Rapier Foundation, Guadalupe Street Coffee will continue be a force on the West Side that increases school retention and enhances teens’ likelihood of graduation and future success.”

The Rapier Foundation announced a $50,000 investment into BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) West Side community development project, Guadalupe Street Coffee.

Located in the heart of San Antonio’s West Side, the coffee shop provides a safe environment that fosters continued learning and educational opportunities for local students. Most students who come into the coffee shop attend school in the San Antonio Independent School District (SA ISD), which only has a 4 year on-time graduation rate of 60.5 percent. Only 56 percent of local residents older than 25 years of age graduated from high school or achieved a higher level of schooling, and 57.7 percent do not have a high school diploma.

“Growing up in a rough neighborhood shouldn’t sentence any child to a life of crime, poverty, poor health or other struggles,” said Catarina Velasquez, BCFS HHS Program Director for Guadalupe Street Coffee. “Thanks to investments made by organizations like the Rapier Foundation, Guadalupe Street Coffee will continue be a force on the West Side that increases school retention and enhances teens’ likelihood of graduation and future success.”

Guadalupe Street Coffee provides job training to teens and leads educational activities that promote healthy – and affordable – nutrition and daily living for local families. According to SA ISD, per capita income on the West Side in 2007 was $9,925. Within a 2 mile radius of Guadalupe Street Coffee, more than 52 percent of residents live below the poverty level.

Guadalupe Street Coffee has also become a hot spot for the West Side’s cultural scene, hosting poetry nights, movies and dance shows that introduced students to the arts and encouraged positive outlets for self-expression.

In six years, the project has served 10,000 school-age children and provided close to 9,000 hours of free services to at-risk youth, such as homework and financial aid assistance, job training, and lessons on nutritional eating and healthy living.

“We understand the importance of education and see BCFS’ Guadalupe Street Coffee as a viable way to mold the young generation of today toward prosperous futures tomorrow,” said Dr. George and Kym Rapier.

The Rapier Family Foundation was founded in 2006. The Rapier Family Foundation donated more than $1 million annually to various causes, including stay-in-school and youth initiatives, animals in need, seniors and children’s health programs from 2006 until 2010. Beginning in 2011, the Rapier Family Foundation has pledged nearly $30 million to San Antonio-area non-profit organizations. The Trust is named after Dr. Rapier’s late son, Blake.