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.

BBQ With CERI & Friends Offers Reflection

 

Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) and a humble group of its partners joined together for a night of sweet celebration and barbecue at the home of Jim and Vera Clark in Kingwood, Texas.

The BBQ with CERI Friends annual event was established as a way to say thank you to CERI’s friends and partners and provide an update on the accomplishments of the year. The party began late in the afternoon in the Clarks’ backyard, decorated appropriately for the occasion. Dearing Garner, Director of Pastoral Care, commenced the evening’s festivities with a blessing.

Once the sun set and things cooled down, the event hit its stride as guests settled around the pool where Connie Belciug, Executive Director of CERI, introduced Eileen Purkeypile as CERI’s new Director of Development and Marketing.

Connie then addressed the crowd with a message of appreciation, compassion, and encouragement. “God has built multiple layers of protection and provision around children, so that they would be truly safe and so that their needs would be met,” said Connie. “He created the family to surround children with love, He wrapped a community around the family to provide support, and He situated the community within a nation to uphold the rights of its children and families.”

At the conclusion of the event, Connie thanked all in attendance, as well as the many contributors worldwide who have supported CERI since its inception in 1999. “These are the best gifts you can give an orphan: a path to family here on earth and a path to family in Christ,” said Connie.

CERI and the BCFS System thank Jim and Vera Clark for opening their home for this event, and for their heartfelt hospitality.

 

To learn more about Children’s Emergency Relief International, visit cerikids.org

Domestic Violence Awareness in Del Rio


Each October, BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio joins organizations nationwide in support of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In a country where intimate partner violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime, and where one in four women have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their life, BCFS-Del Rio works diligently to engage the community and share knowledge to identify and prevent domestic abuse.

As part of the month-long movement, a Candlelight Vigil was held October 16 at the Paul Poag Theatre. BCFS-Del Rio joined in honor of those whose lives had been altered or lost to domestic violence. “136 victims passed away in 2017 due to domestic violence,” said Delia Ramos, Director of Community Based Services at BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio, in an interview. “We want to show our community that love shouldn’t hurt – to show how important it is to walk away from a violent situation, and that although it is often very difficult, it’s ok to ask for help.”

Bruno R. Lozano, Mayor of Del Rio, presented a proclamation against domestic violence. In its eighth year, Delia said the Candlelight Vigil remains an effective tool at spreading a message that can prevent harm in the Del Rio community, creating knowledgeable warriors for a worthy cause.

Later in October, a few days after the Candlelight Vigil, local representatives gathered for an interagency meeting. More than 50 individuals from over 11 organizations met to discuss how domestic abuse could most effectively be averted.

“It’s a great time to get to know names and faces of our community organizations,” said Delia, noting that the annual meeting is an important avenue for understanding how entities throughout the Del Rio community can work together to reach common goals.

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BCFS HHS-Del Rio recognizes and thanks the organizations and government representatives who attended this year’s interagency meeting (which include but are not limited to) :

  • Laughlin Air Force Base
  • Office of U.S. Congressman Will Hurd
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
  • Val Verde Sherriff’s Department
  • Val Verde Regional Medical Center
  • Consulado de Mexico
  • Consulado de Guatemala
  • Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)
  • Serving Children and Adults in Need (SCAN)
  • San Felipe Del Rio Independent Consolidated School District
  • Del Rio Police Department

Read more about how BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio is working to end violence in their community.

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.

Williams Tapped as Regional Director for Southeast Texas

BCFS Health and Human Services-Baytown Program Director Kenneth Williams has been tapped to BCFS Health and Human Services Regional Director-Southeast Texas. In his new role, Kenneth will oversee the well-being of the individuals we serve, ensure compliance with all federal and state policies regarding the all-around good health of those entrusted to our care, and will promote industry-competitive practices.

As Program Director since 2016, Kenneth has built relationships with local and federal partners, facilitated innovative programming, and conducted hiring and training of new staff while guiding a team of 275 employees charged with fulfilling the physical, social, emotional, and educational needs of each child in care. In 2016, BCFS-Baytown was awarded the U.S. Department of Defense’s Patriot Award for Kenneth’s focus on hiring veterans and active reservists of the military.

Kenneth Williams

“Kenneth’s passion and drive have energized the Baytown campus,” says BCFS Health and Human Services Deputy Director for Residential Services Drew Carter. “He has an excellent track record, and we are excited for his innovations as Regional Director.”

Kenneth earned a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration/Long-Term Care from the University of Phoenix. In 2016, he graduated from Ashford University in San Diego, CA with a Master of Arts in Organizational Management/Healthcare Administration. Kenneth holds credentials in Texas as a Licensed Child Care Administrator and a Certified Assisted Living Administrator.