The Building Blocks of Faith

BCFS Health and Human Services, together with a team of compassionate and handy neighbors in Kerrville, Texas, helps a seventy-seven year old single great-grandmother with sole custody of her three young great-grandchildren expand her home to meet CPS licensing standards.

By:  Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
To say Wanna Runyan has a full house is an understatement. The seventy-seven year old single great-grandmother has sole custody of her three young great-grandchildren: six year old twins, Payton and Paige, and their five year old sister, Kodi. Runyan, who also cares for an elderly family member, could no doubt make a happy home for the girls, but she needed another bedroom in her small Kerrville home to comply with Child Protective Services licensing standards.
Photo: Woman and girls
Runyan and her great-granddaughters loved the butterflies, pink paint and other girlie accents that made their new room feel like home.

How would she ever get a room addition? “It would have to be a miracle,” Runyan said.

Neighbors and friends heard about Runyan’s dilemma. One such acquaintance, a volunteer from Christian Assistance Ministry, contacted Partners in Ministry and the ball started rolling.
“It is indescribable how it all came together,” said Jeff Anderson, Executive Director of Partners in Ministry. Anderson began working with a neighbor, Bob Meader, who drew up plans for the project. TJ Moore Lumber Yard, Home Depot and MG Builders all donated supplies or gave discounts to make the room addition come together.
BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Kerrville Transition Center (KTC) was asked to assist with labor. YouthBuild, a program of KTC, helps young adults who dropped out of high school further their education goals while also learning the construction trade. YouthBuild construction manager, Keith Schoonmaker, said his youth put in more than 120 hours of sweat and hard work, learning to give back to their community.
One BCFS HHS YouthBuild student, Eddy, shared his excitement about the project. “To go from nothing to being a room was amazing,” he said. “I loved the experience and learned a lot.”
“When they started building, I cried,” smiled Runyan. “I could not believe it was happening to me. It was like a dream.”
“When you do not have much money, something like this is like winning the lottery,” she continued.
Runyan’s three great-grandchildren became very fond of BCFS HHS’ YouthBuild youth and staff, looking forward each day to their arrival on the construction site. Schoonmaker and his assistant, Russell Wells, even made the three young kids wear safety goggles and a hard hat when they came out to “help.”
Last month, more than thirty-six friends, staff and volunteers from BCFS HHS, Partners in Ministry and Christian Assistance Ministry gathered for the ribbon cutting and the celebration.
When the doors opened to the pink bedroom, six year old Paige was asked, “Who built your new room?”
“Jesus built this room,” she answered.

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.