BCFS’ YouthBuild Program Helps a New Class of Young Adults Gain Experience and Educational Success

Twenty-seven young adults have joined the current class for BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) YouthBuild project. The full-time program helps young adults earn their GED or high school diploma while getting hands-on training to enter the workplace, start a career in construction, or begin college. The seventeen boys and ten girls in the current program hail from Ingram, Kerrville, Bandera, and surrounding communities.

“Dropping out of school is never a good idea. But making this choice – either because a teenager is rebelling or feels like they need to start working – should not be an irreversible decision that sentences them to struggling for the rest of their lives,” said Terri Hipps, executive director of BCFS HHS’ Community Services Division. “YouthBuild is a second chance for young adults who want to work hard and get back on track toward building a brighter, more prosperous future.”

In just a month’s time, participants have already received their OSHA 10, First Aid and CPR certifications. By the time they graduate in August, youth will also be certified in another valuable knowledge and vocational base: construction. BCFS HHS is working with Partners in Ministry’s Home Rehab program, providing home repairs for low-income families.

BCFS HHS’ YouthBuild program is part of the organization’s multifaceted Kerrville Transition Center offerings. The center, currently located at 1105 East Main, was founded in Kerrville five years ago as a “one stop” facility that offers counseling, case management, medical care, and emergency housing. The center also helps with life skills training, literacy training, educational support, and employment connections to former foster youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, high school drop outs and homeless young adults.

Because other non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community partners are working at the center with BCFS HHS, services are more easily accessed by youth and existing resources are not wastefully duplicated elsewhere. This methodology also boosts innovation through shared talents and stretches financial resources to support many missions.

Since opening, BCFS HHS’ Kerrville Transition Center has helped thousands of homeless and struggling youth find the resources they need to get their lives on track and grow into self-sufficient, law-abiding and employed adults. This year, the center is set to help more than 4,000 struggling young adults in our area.

One formidable achievement of the center is its ability to reduce and prevent crime. Among the youth served by BCFS HHS’ transition center who have gotten in trouble for gateway activities like truancy, or those who have actually served time, 87 percent did not reoffend at least one year after receiving help from BCFS HHS.

Due to an exponential increase in demand for services and growth of program offerings, the center’s operations now spill out into different locations – negating the effectiveness of the “one stop” model. This is one reason why the Cailloux Foundation put forward a $500,000 challenge grant to build a new 16,000 square foot center. To complete the project, BCFS HHS is leading a $1.9 million capital campaign, titled Step Up for Youth.

The organization has already surpassed the $1 million fundraising mark. Once complete, the center will house other non-profits like Art to Heart, Families in Literacy, and Partners in Ministry Vision Youth. This new center, which is located on a non-profit campus managed by the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country, will create a dynamic synergism among the agencies, increase their effectiveness, as well as cut down costs for all nonprofits. Ultimately, the center will be the most robust site for care and compassion for Hill Country youth.

BCFS Health & Human Services celebrates the opening of Our House

BCFS Health and Human Services today celebrated the opening of its new “Our House” program. BCFS’ Our House is a transitional living home for homeless males between the ages of 18-23, located at 202 Vine Street. The vision for Our House was sparked years ago by the Christian Community Development Coalition (CCDC)….

ABILENE – BCFS Health and Human Services today celebrated the opening of its new “Our House” program. BCFS’ Our House is a transitional living home for homeless males between the ages of 18-23, located at 202 Vine Street.

The vision for Our House was sparked years ago by the Christian Community Development Coalition (CCDC), whose board members included passionate community members like Randy Perkins and Nancy Capra. At CCDC’s request, BCFS took on the project of bringing Our House from a dream to reality.

“It’s hard to chase your dreams when you’re worried about where you’re going to sleep at night or get your next meal,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS Executive Director of Teen and Youth Services.

“Homelessness impacts much more than the individual, it has a compounding effect on the health and prosperity of the whole community,” she continued. “BCFS is proud to have had the strong support of community leaders like Mayor Norm Archibald and the City of Abilene, as well as partner agencies, as we worked to build and open Our House and begin answering this vital need.”

Thanks to funding from numerous private foundations, individual donors, and a community development block grant through the City of Abilene, BCFS’ Our House represents a nearly $345,000 investment in serving struggling Abilene youth. Prior to opening, BCFS ensured that it secured enough revenue to cover Our House’s operating expenses for at least the first year. This tactic was a powerful statement of BCFS’ commitment to be a sustainable, long-term resource for youth and the community.

Youth may stay at Our House for as long as needed, which may range from a few months to a year. The key strength of the project will be its connection with BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center, which opened in 2011 and provides counseling, case management, and education, housing assistance and employment connections to more than 400 youth each year.

Those assisted by the transition center include former foster youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, high school drop outs and homeless young adults. According to the Abilene Independent School District, an estimated 743 students in were homeless at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. Foster youth are especially vulnerable to homelessness. Within 18 months of aging out of the state foster care system, 50 percent of youth struggle to put a roof over their heads. BCFS’ transition center and Our House project address these issues head-on, providing an easily-accessible and comprehensive network that makes getting help simple for youth.

“We are thankful to the community leaders, the City of Abilene, and our sister agencies, Hendrick Medical Center  and Hardin-Simmons University, for their partnership and support,” said BCFS President and CEO Kevin C. Dinnin.

For more information about BCFS’ work with teen and youth around the world, please visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net.