Although BCFS programs span the globe – from remote villages in Africa to gypsy camps of Romania – San Antonio, Texas, where the agency is headquartered, is home to community development projects that are near and dear to the hearts of those in the BCFS family.
San Antonio is one of the nation’s fastest growing cities, and although it ranks among the most economically prosperous cities in America, Westside San Antonio is home to thousands of families living in generational cycles of poverty with limited opportunities and resources. But BCFS’ “neighbors-helping-neighbors” mentality and commitment to serving locally as well as abroad has provided countless families on the Westside with free services and programs that are making a lasting impact.
In 2009, BCFS launched a coffee shop on the Westside that served as an after-school safe haven for youth with a focus on school retention and community development. Guadalupe Street Coffee, as it was known, offered job training services, youth mentorships, healthy cooking workshops, community gatherings, study groups, art shows and more. But when additional space opened up across the street, and a locally-owned catering company expressed interested in running the restaurant side of the facility, BCFS was able to expand its services by moving to the new location and re-opening as BCFS’ Westside Community Center.
The newly-renovated, colorful facility which opened in the spring of 2014 includes a state-of-the-art computer lab, common area for trainings and workshops, and a private suite for free counseling sessions.
Today, the BCFS Westside Community Center offers free counseling, parenting classes, Christian youth groups, mentoring programs, community gatherings, family events, computer classes, resume building, job fairs and more. The programs are aimed at unifying families, preventing child abuse, connecting job-seekers to local opportunities, equipping those underemployed with new skills, developing healthy mentoring relationships, and helping youth grow to become successful, independent adults.
BCFS partners with local social service agencies to bring unduplicated and comprehensive services under one roof for residents’ ease-of-access. The center serves local schools by providing space for teachers, students and families to meet. Advocates and local leaders in health and wellness, job acquisition, and ministry for faith-building opportunities also utilize the facility to better the community.
Although the Westside has its challenges, this much-loved community is home to people who are resilient, proud and vibrant. Here, there is a strong emphasis on “familia,” and family includes a wide group of blood relatives and neighbors alike. Streets and buildings are painted with colorful murals and mosaics, and frequent community festivals fill the air with the smell of good Mexican food and mariachi music. This tight-knit Westside community values faith, hospitality, honor and relationships – so BCFS is privileged to have a long-lasting relationship with the Westside, in its hometown of San Antonio where it has faithfully served for more than 70 years.
Westside San Antonio
- Large Hispanic, bilingual or Spanish-speaking population
- High rates of dropping out of school
- Low educational achievement
- Cycles of generational poverty
- High unemployment
- Domestic violence
- Single-parent households, commonly without a
- father present
- Gang activity and violence
- High rate of teen pregnancies
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease
Free Services at the Westside Community Center
- After-school safe haven and study spot
- Resume-building and job fairs
- Individual, group and family counseling
- Parenting and family communication classes
- Youth mentorship programs
- Preparation for Adult Living (Helps youth in foster care prepare for independence and adulthood)
- Christian youth groups
- Community gatherings and family events
- Family center and game nights
- Referrals for other social services as-needed