BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene Bets the Farm This Halloween

 

The entire BCFS Health & Human Services’ Community Services Division (CSD)-Abilene office got in the Halloween spirit this year. The staff decorated doors and dressed up in costumes in a fun, lighthearted farm theme. BCFS-Abilene invited the families served through the Healthy Outcomes Through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES) program and the youth served through Preparation for Adult Living (PAL), Texas Workforce Commission, and Our House to take part in the event.

This year’s party gave families and youth the opportunity to trick-or-treat in a safe, fun environment on a rainy day. Among the families who celebrated with BCFS HHS-Abilenewasa farmer, a chef, a honey-bee, a pig, and even a corn stalk.

CSD-Abilene has more events lined up for the holiday season, including a Christmas Breakfast for youth, and a Polar Express-themed party for those in the HOPES program to include a special guest appearance by Santa himself.

 

A bumblebee buzzes by.

 

Read more about the BCFS HHS programs in Abilene.

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.”

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BCFS HHS-Abilene thanks this year’s sponsors :

Platinum

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

Gold

  • 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

Silver

  • 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.

Marissa Cano Speaks at Community Events

BCFS-McAllen’s Marissa Cano Shares Insight with Rio Grande Valley Community

Photo: Marissa Cano

BCFS South Texas Regional Director Marissa Cano was recently invited to deliver the keynote address at the Family Crisis Center of the Rio Grande Valley’s sixth annual Champagne Brunch. The event is held annually to advance the center’s mission to empower adults and children experiencing domestic violence and/or sexual assault, increase awareness and responsiveness in the community through prevention, education, outreach and advocacy.

At the event, Marissa discussed the adverse effects of domestic violence and her firsthand experience with the brutality that affects one in three women (and one in four men) in the United States. In a candid engagement, Marissa talked about living with — and overcoming — abuse, and how her personal history informs her career as the director of a social services agency and a passionate advocate.

Also this month, Marissa spoke at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley as part of the Delta Tau Lambda sorority’s fourth annual Salute to Latinas: Fuerza de la Mujer Latina, where she addressed human trafficking, its telltale signs, and our collective responsibility to say something if we see something. She also talked about some of the work being done in the Rio Grande Valley to undermine the horrific crime.

Marissa joined BCFS Health and Human Services-McAllen in 2012. In 2016, she was named South Texas Regional Director, expanding her leadership vision of the BCFS Community Services Division efforts to include Harlingen and Corpus Christi.

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.

Men’s Breakfast Speaker Hits It Out of the Ballpark!

Jimmy “The Rookie” Morris has lived a life of inspiration; which made him the perfect speakers for BCFS Health and Human Services’ annual Men’s Breakfast hosted in Kerrville.

The sky was dark and the air was crisp in Kerrville. The thoroughfares seemed empty, but the community turned out in a show of early morning support for BCFS Health and Human Services’ Kerrville Men’s Breakfast. The event, which raised funds to help complete the organization’s new Texas Hill Country Resource Center for children, youth and families, featured uplifting words from former Major League Baseball pitcher Jimmy Morris.
Morris was a high school baseball coach who preached to his team to always follow their dreams, and to be undeterred by naysayers.
There are two types of people: those that want to see you fail, and those that want to see you succeed. The people at BCFS want you to succeed,” he said to nearly 200 community and business leaders, supporters and youth as day broke in the Texas Hill Country.
Morris coached baseball at Reagan County High School in the 1990s in Big Lake, Texas, a west-Texas oil drilling community. When his team challenged him to follow his own message of never giving up on your dreams, they made a friendly wager: If his team won district, he would try out for the majors again, reigniting a dream extinguished ten years prior due to injury.
Believing in his own hard work and his grandfather’s encouraging words, Coach Morris gave the big leagues another shot and, at age 35, made his rookie debut as a starting pitcher with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999. While his major league career only lasted a few years due to persistent tendonitis, , Morris became a living testament for having a can-do attitude and following your dreams. His memoir, The Oldest Rookie, led to yet another first – his Hollywood debut – inspiring the 2002 feature film “The Rookie,” starring Dennis Quaid.
Having fulfilled his dream of playing major league baseball, Morris returned to his passion of working with youth and inspiring others to live out their dreams. Thanks to Morris’ support, more than $31,000 was raised for the new BCFS center, which will impact the lives of thousands each year.

BCFS Names Martinez Director of Quality Assurance and Compliance

BCFS has named Ivette Martinez its new Director of Quality Assurance and Compliance, focused on programs led within the agency’s Community Services Division and Education Services entity. In this role, Martinez will develop, apply, measure and maintain quality standards and best practices for local, state and federal programs that serve children, families and communities across Texas.

BCFS has named Ivette Martinez its new Director of Quality Assurance and Compliance, focused on programs led within the agency’s Community Services Division and Education Services entity. In this role, Martinez will develop, apply, measure and maintain quality standards and best practices for local, state and federal programs that serve children, families and communities across Texas.
“BCFS is committed to operating with the highest level of integrity and reliability,” said Ben Delgado, BCFS Executive Vice President – Community and International Operations. “With fifteen years at BCFS, Ivette knows what right looks like and demonstrates a keen awareness for the most effective methods to achieve successful outcomes. As our organization continues on a robust path of growth, her expertise will ensure BCFS delivers top quality services that meet – and exceed – our contractual responsibilities and, most importantly, the needs of those we serve.”
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, Southeast Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected, assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities, mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services, medical services, transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system, residential camping and retreats for children and families, and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.
Martinez has excelled during her 15-year career in the BCFS system, leading a diverse portfolio of programs focused on strengthening and rebuilding families that are struggling. She holds a master’s degree in Adult Education from Texas State University and is pursuing her PhD in Adult Education.

Lubbock Men’s “Steak n’ Eggs” Breakfast Raises $70,000 for Local Youth

The inaugural Men’s “Field of Dreams” Steak and Eggs Benefit Breakfast raised $70,000 toward much-needed services for local teens and young adults provided at BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center.

Local community and business leaders – including Representative John Frullo, County Judge Tom Head, Judge Kevin Hart, Judge Kara Darnell, and Juvenile Justice Chief William Carter – gathered for the Men’s “Field of Dreams” Steak and Eggs Benefit Breakfast, hosted by BCFS Health and Human Services. The event raised $70,000, which includes a dollar-for-dollar match by the organization’s parent agency, BCFS, a system of health and human services organizations with locations and programs from coast-to-coast and around the world. The funds raised will be put toward much-needed services for local teens and young adults provided at BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center.
Guest speaker Jimmy “The Rookie” Morris, whose life inspired the book and movie “The Rookie,” attended the breakfast to share inspirational words about not giving up on your dreams. Approximately 125 guests enjoyed a steak and eggs breakfast, live music and a viewing of classic cars at the Mckenzie-Merket Alumni Center. Title sponsor, Reagor-Dykes Auto, and  ASCO Equipment Company – who was also a sponsor – helped make the inaugural benefit a great success.
“BCFS is proud to come alongside several private foundations, businesses and individual philanthropists that have invested in the life-changing work happening at our transition center,” said BCFS CEO Kevin Dinnin, surprising the crowd by announcing a match of every dollar raised during the breakfast. “Without question, this center makes a profound impact in the lives of children and young adults who are struggling. In turn, we raise the tide for the community as a whole, making Lubbock and surrounding areas a safer and more prosperous place to call home.”
The BCFS Lubbock Transition Center is a safe-haven for local youth, many of whom are at-risk of homelessness, poverty or other challenges that could inhibit a successful transition into adulthood and independence. The center serves youth in foster care, those in the juvenile justice system, and other young adults who are struggling by providing case management, counseling, mentorships, assistance with education, employment and housing location.
“BCFS is proud to be part of a community that is so in tune with the needs of its youth,” said Kami Jackson, director of the BCFS center. “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 the entire Lubbock community. The men that enjoyed breakfast with us are part of that stabilizing force for the next generation in Lubbock.”
Morris shared his story – brought to the big screen starring actor Dennis Quaid – recalling how he dreamed of playing major league baseball growing up, but injuries and life got in the way. Ten years after he walked away from the minor leagues, became a father and a high school baseball coach, he told his team if they won their local championship he would try out again for the big leagues. When he kept his word and tried out, he finally achieved his Big League, childhood dreams at the age of 35.
“Many of the youth we serve have suffered some kind of abuse or neglect in their past,” said Jackson. “So Jimmy’s advice to never give up really resonates with our youth. This event will go a long way towards helping us continue our work with young people who are struggling.”
For more information about BCFS Lubbock Transition Center services, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Lubbock or call (806) 792-0526.
To support the work of the transition center by donating, contact Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie at (806) 792-0526, give securely online, or send checks to 125 Chicago Avenue, Lubbock, Texas 79416.

“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.”

Dimas Named BCFS Health and Human Services’ Associate Executive Director

BCFS names Kenia Dimas associate executive director for the agency’s South Texas community-based operations. As associate executive director, she will be responsible for overseeing the growth and success of community-based programs that touch the lives of thousands.

BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS), a global non-profit organization headquartered in Texas with locations from coast-to-coast and on four continents, has named Kenia Dimas, of Corpus Christi, as associate executive director for the agency’s South Texas community-based operations.

“During a time when many organizations and business have struggled, BCFS HHS continues to grow thanks to strategic development and a strong commitment to always deliver what we promise,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS HHS Executive Director of the Community Services Division.

“Kenia has a track record of meeting challenging and sometimes unchartered programmatic and financial goals, while never wavering to put what is right for the youth we serve first. This commitment to getting the job done – and done right – is why I know that she will be a great asset for BCFS HHS as we continue to build our reach across the state.”

Dimas has been with BCFS HHS since 2008 and has more than 11 years of experience working with at-risk children and youth. As associate executive director, she will be responsible for overseeing the growth and success of community-based programs that touch the lives of thousands.