Del Rio Community Comes Together in the Spirit of Giving

With some quick help from the community, BCFS Health and Human Services was able to make spirits a little brighter for more than 120 children and youth in the Del Rio area this Christmas. A gift distribution was being organized for the families enrolled in BCFS’ STAR program, but when the initial plans fell through just days before the gifts were to be delivered, staff reached out to the community to help make these children’s Christmas wishes come true. In just two days, BCFS collected over $1,500 for the gifts, thanks to the help and generosity of private donors and local businesses and organizations.

Del Rio Community Comes Together in the Spirit of Giving

More than 47 families in need received Christmas gifts

Photo: Allie Whitaker and Sarah MorenoDEL RIO – With some quick help from the community, BCFS Health and Human Services was able to make spirits a little brighter for more than 120 children and youth in the Del Rio area this Christmas.

A gift distribution was being organized for the families enrolled in BCFS’ STAR program, but when the initial plans fell through just days before the gifts were to be delivered, staff reached out to the community to help make these children’s Christmas wishes come true. In just two days, BCFS collected over $1,500 for the gifts, thanks to the help and generosity of private donors and local businesses and organizations, including Brown Automotive, San Felipe Ex-Student Memorial Center,  Inc., the Del Rio Chapter of the American G.I. Forum and the San Felipe Lions Club.

When staff at Dr. Lonnie Green Elementary School learned of BCFS’ plans, they organized a last minute two-day toy drive to help out as well. Everyone’s hard work paid off, and BCFS staff began delivering presents to local families on December 16. More than 47 families received Christmas gifts.

“Our staff gave out more than 129 gifts. We are so thankful that the community came together so quickly to make this happen for these families. We couldn’t have done this without them,” said Delia Ramos, Interim Director for BCFS Health and Human Services.

BCFS’ Services to At-Risk Youth (STAR) program helps Del Rio families create stable, loving home environments by providing free counseling, training for youth and parents, and help reducing family conflict and delinquent behaviors in youth, like truancy. The STAR program serves families with youth 17 years old and younger.

For more information about the STAR program or to request free counseling, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/STAR or call (830) 768-2755.

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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. 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; early education; 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.

 

 

Turkey Giveaway in Del Rio

Del Rio Families Receive Free Thanksgiving Meal from BCFS Health and Human Services’ family program, STAR

Photo: A family recieving a free Thanksgiving meal

DEL RIO – More than 100 Del Rio families received a free Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings this week. As they gather around their tables Thursday, they have more to celebrate than just the good food and fellowship – each family received the meal to congratulate them for completing the STAR program operated by BCFS Health and Human Services, which provides counseling, trainings and other services to unify and strengthen families.

Last month, BCFS Health and Human Services announced the organization would provide Thanksgiving meals to families who completed three STAR sessions before the holiday. As a result, BCFS Health and Human Services helped 160 children and youth in November, and gave out 133 Thanksgiving meals.

Services To At Risk Youth (STAR) helps Del Rio families create stable, loving home environments by providing free counseling, training for youth and parents, and help reducing family conflict and delinquent behaviors in youth, like truancy and running away from home. The STAR program serves families with youth 17 years old and younger.

Interim Director Delia Ramos says BCFS Health and Human Services will be there to serve Del Rio families in times of celebration and crisis.

“Many of the families we serve live paycheck to paycheck, or are struggling with unemployment, so putting a full Thanksgiving spread on the table is a burden, or completely out of reach,” says Ramos. “We wanted to help families enjoy a holiday meal with loved ones, but also leave a more lasting mark on their lives through the STAR program.”

For more information about BCFS Health and Human Services’ work in Del Rio, call (830) 768-2755, visit 519 Bedell Avenue, or go online to www.DiscoverBCFS.net/DelRio.


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. 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; early education; 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.

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.

The Whole Community is Needed for Mental Health Recovery

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. 

Project HOPES hosts literacy event to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday

Mayor Pro Tem Esmeralda Lozano read a Dr. Seuss book to the childrenLA FERIA – The BCFS Harlingen Family Services Center’s Project HOPES program hosted a literacy event for local children and families at La Feria Public Library to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s 111th birthday. Over 50 children attended, and each took home a Dr. Seuss book courtesy of the BCFS Harlingen Family Services Center.

The event, held March 28th in conjunction with the National Education Association’s Read Across America initiative, featured readings from several Dr. Seuss books in Spanish and English, plus a Truffula Tree-making class, face-painting, and gift bags for kids and parents.

Leaders from across the city attended the event in support of Project HOPES. La Feria Mayor Pro Tem Esmeralda Lozano read a book to the children, and Tabitha Outlaw, Special Event Coordinator for the City of La Feria, volunteered to help children make bookmarks. Commissioner Julian Guevara Jr. and Commissioner Olga Maldonado were also in attendance.

Photo: Children were given Dr. Seuss books and gift bags

“When a parent reads a book to their child, they’re not only helping them reach critical educational milestones, they’re strengthening the parent-child bond,” says BCFS Senior Program Director Jeff Wolpers. “Since the goal of Project HOPES is to help build healthy, stable families, we wanted to use the event to remind parents of creative, fun ways to build that bond, and also inspire a love of reading in children.”

Project HOPES is a community-based program for families with children five years old and younger that provides parenting education, support groups and counseling to help families overcome challenges. The program serves families in Cameron County and is funded by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

“We are grateful for the support of city leaders and the La Feria Public Library,” says Wolpers. “The whole community has embraced the BCFS Harlingen Family Services Center and been so welcoming to us. We are here to serve this community and touch as many lives as possible, so we treasure these opportunities to bring some light-hearted fun to families.”

Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Seuss Geisel on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts. His wildly imaginative stories have captivated young readers for decades, teaching values like responsibility, caring for the environment, and positive thinking. Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and Horton Hears a Who are among his most popular works.

For more information about Project HOPES and the BCFS Harlingen Family Services Center, call (956) 230-3849 or visit DiscoverBCFS.net/HOPES.

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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. 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; early education; 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.

 

 

 

BCFS Health and Human Services Awarded Grant to Strengthen Families throughout Texas

BCFS Health and Human Services is launching a new dynamic, community-based parenting program aimed at reconnecting, strengthening and empowering families to create positive environments for their children.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services awarded BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS) a five-year contract to lead a dynamic, community-based parenting program aimed at reconnecting, strengthening and empowering families to create positive environments for their children. The program, called Texas Families: Together and Safe (TFTS), will serve more than 2,100 families annually in Bexar, Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces and Kerr counties.

“Being a responsible parent involves making decisions in the best interest of your child. It also means learning from mistakes and making better choices in the future to ensure children feel safe and loved, no matter what,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS HHS executive director of the Community Services Division. “Strengthening communication and learning more about the perspectives of all members of a household are proven ways to mitigate abuse and build an unbreakable bond within a family.”

Families with children ages 3 to17, who do not have an open CPS case or a previously substantiated case of abuse or neglect, are eligible to participate in the program. TFTS’ lessons and tools are beneficial to any parent interested in learning how to bond with their children, while still guiding, supervising and disciplining them when necessary. Classes are especially suited for families with added stressors, like overworked parents, single parents, divorced couples, and foster parents – or anyone interested in learning how to create a healthier home for their child. Parents who participate in the ten-week course will receive wraparound support services, including referrals to other community providers and assistance meeting their basic needs.

The TFTS curriculum focuses on how to best:

  • Reduce conflict and improve family communication
  • Improve behavior problems in children
  • Deal with complicated, strong emotions
  • Validate a parent’s strengths
  • Deal with complex issues like aggression, alcohol and violence

Families interested in participating may visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/TFTS to learn more.