“No limits” for Texas youth in the Colorado Rockies

BCFS organizes retreat for youth from foster care system:“The Leader in YOU: No Limits”

Youth leadership retreat participants in a team building excersice

NATHROP, CO – After being removed from their biological parents due to abuse, neglect or other family difficulties, youth in the foster care system often spend years – sometimes an entire lifetime – wrestling to overcome their experiences. Statistically, youth in foster care are less likely to graduate college, and are more likely to experience teen pregnancies, unemployment and generational cycles of poverty.

But, when 34 Texas youth primarily from foster care gathered around a Colorado campfire this summer, roasting s’mores, stargazing, and challenging themselves in leadership-building sessions, it was their unique skills and abilities that were front and center, not their limitations. The goal was simple but profound at the camp entitled “The Leader in YOU: No Limits” – inspire the youth to seek and find the strong leader inside them all.

BCFS Health and Human Services organized and fully underwrote a weeklong camp at BCFS’ Silver Cliff Ranch in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, gathering 32 youth from the Texas foster care system and several youth that overcame difficult family histories.

“Many of them had never been out of the state, much less in the mountains of Colorado,” says Stacy Lee, BCFS Program Director of Youth Services. “They were empowered being out of their element. I saw a definite rise in their self-confidence in just one week.”

A convoy of buses picked up youth from BCFS centers across Texas, traveling to McAllen, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Abilene, and Lubbock before finally heading into the Colorado Rocky Mountains loaded with teens and youth, plus staff from BCFS and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

“At the beginning of the camp, we asked the youth to name leaders. We got names like Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Oprah,” said Lee. “By the end of camp, they understood there are different types of leaders, like a quiet leader or a supportive leader. They realized they could be leaders too, and it’s not just for popular, powerful or out-of-reach people.”

The 34 youth were selected from thousands BCFS serves monthly across Texas as a reward for maintaining high grades in school, successfully completing life skills courses, and staying focused on their goals under the guidance of their BCFS case manager.

Campers scurried into the woods and across the campsite on a leadership scavenger hunt, gathering items symbolizing the core values of a leader: communication, confidence, a positive attitude, inspiration, creativity and being a team player.

Between candid and emotional group discussions, the campers played team games, hiked in the woods surrounding their log cabins, and completed a ropes course which one young camper called his favorite camp activity because it gave him “a chance to help everybody.”

“Interacting with the other campers was my favorite part,” said the teen. “I learned that nothing is impossible. There’s always something you can do.”

Former Major League baseball pitcher Jimmy “The Rookie” Morris, whose story inspired the Disney movie “The Rookie,” led exercises that helped the youth recognize their individual leadership style. Morris distributed awards to the campers, who were eager to snap photos with the ex-pro and get autographed baseballs. Morris serves as BCFS’ Motivational Specialist for children, youth and families throughout the BCFS system of health and human service nonprofits.

“Jimmy asked some of the staff to get in front of everyone and share their personal trials and triumphs to show the youth that everyone goes through hard times,” says Director of BCFS Community Based Services Miriam Attra.

On the last day of camp, the youth were encouraged to show off their hidden talents in a talent show. Attra says she witnessed several young men and women who were initially shy transform into enthusiastic particpants.

“One of our youth opted to share the testimony of her life,” says Attra. “She said the whole camp experience allowed her to open up for the first time, and now she feels more comfortable bringing her guard down and trusting people more.”

“This trip helped me look at things from a different perspective, like the way I think of myself,” said another teen camper. “My teammates and my leaders were very encouraging and they pushed me to do things that I never thought I could do.”

Another young woman says her camp experience inspired her to share what she learned with her peers back home: “I did things that were out of my comfort zone . . . things that I thought I couldn’t do. I hope to one day help other people grow the way I grew.”

BCFS Health and Human Services operates centers across Texas providing case management, counseling, and education and employment assistance to youth in foster care and other youth struggling with poverty, abuse, homelessness or an unstable home life. For more information about BCFS Health and Human Services, visit DiscoverBCFS.net.

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’ Lubbock Transition Center Receives Nearly $9,000 from Local Organizations

Community Partners of Lubbock, the Lubbock Area Foundation and the Junior League of Lubbock have together awarded nearly $9,000 to BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center for special programs that celebrate academic achievement and positive decision making by youth and young adults served at the center.Community Partners of Lubbock has pledged $4,750 in support of the center’s annual “Hope Chest” event, which honors local youth in foster care who are graduating from high school and college. After a celebratory luncheon, graduates receive Target gift cards and head out with transition center staff and volunteers for a shopping trip where youth purchase household items for their new dorm rooms or apartments.

The Lubbock Area Foundation granted the center $2,950 for emergency funds as well as support for the “Court Improvement Project,” a partnership with Judge Kevin Hart, Judge Kara Darnell and the South Plains Foster Care Court that boosts youth attendance and participation in their foster care court hearings. Through the project, court hearings are held in the less-intimidating, more-relaxed atmosphere of the transition center. Since the program started, attendance and participation has increased significantly, and youth report being more satisfied with the outcomes and creative collaboration with case workers and family members.

This is the second grant from the Foundation in support of the Court Improvement Project.

The Junior League of Lubbock awarded $1,200 to BCFS to support its monthly “Alumni Nights” at the Lubbock Transition Center. Alumni nights invite young adults who have aged out of foster care to the center for dinner, fellowship and an opportunity to share big news, such as new jobs, graduation or the birth of a child.

“We are extremely honored and thankful to receive these grant awards,” said Kami Jackson, BCFS Lubbock Transition Center director. “Community Partners of Lubbock, the Lubbock Area Foundation and Junior League all work to invest in the future of our community, and their recognition of the center shows that they believe in the good work we do for Lubbock’s youth.”

BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center provides services for youth in, and aging out of, the foster care system and those at risk of homelessness and other challenges. The center provides youth with case management, counseling, and assistance with education, employment and housing. Many of the youth served by the center spent time in foster care or the juvenile justice system. Other young adults make the center their “home away from home” to have a safe place to study after school, and mentors to keep them on the right path.

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.

BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center receives grant for Court Improvement Project

LUBBOCK – The BCFS Health and Human Services’ Lubbock Transition Center has received a $4,800 grant from the Lubbock Area Foundation (LAF) to fund the Court Improvement Project which changed the way local youth in foster care participate in hearings that impact services they receive and their quality of life.

BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center is a safe-haven for local youth, helping youth in foster care, those aging out of care and those at risk of homelessness, poverty or other challenges transition successfully into adulthood and independence. The center – which serves approximately 600 youth each year – provides case management, counseling, mentorships, and assistance with education, employment and housing location.

When BCFS began partnering with Judge Kevin Hart to hold youth hearings at the transition center rather than the intimidating environment of the courthouse, they saw a positive increase in youth’s active participation in hearings, the youth’s satisfaction with the outcomes, and creative collaboration between participants like case workers and family members.

The Lubbock Area Foundation grant will be used to support the Court Improvement Project and pay for things like technology costs for hearings held remotely, transportation costs to ensure youth attend, food and snacks, and other efforts to keep the hearing environments comfortable and inclusive to better serve the youth.

Lubbock Area Foundation is the community foundation for the entire South Plains area and exists to help people who care about the Lubbock area to invest – at any level – in its future. The Foundation provides an easy and effective way for generous people to create permanent charitable endowments for the benefits of this area. Grants are awarded from endowments based on the interest of the donor or through an open competitive process that is responsive to the changing needs of our community.

BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center is hosting their annual Hope Chest luncheon Wednesday June 18th to honor youth in foster care who recently graduated high school and college, and equip them for their next steps toward independence with Target store credit or a shopping spree for necessities like bedding, towels and hygiene supplies.

For more information about BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Lubbock. 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.