Message from the President: Kevin C. Dinnin

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Together… the title of this magazine, and yet so much more. BCFS, an international system of nonprofit organizations together provides life-changing programs across the globe and in historically underserved populations throughout the country. Together with the support of you, our stakeholders and donors, we respond to the needs of millions of children, adults, families and communities faced with severe circumstances and seemingly insurmountable challenges. BCFS is there, often when no other organization is. And we do it together!

2016 marks my 30th anniversary with BCFS, and not a day has gone by when I do not reflect on the vision and mission of this organization and how we have positively affected the millions of lives we touch. When I was called to serve as president, BCFS employed just 30 staff and had an annual budget that was a fraction of what it is today. Our team has grown exponentially to now include more than 3,000 dedicated BCFS personnel and the countless individuals that join our emergency response and critical-tasking endeavors.

Although many things have changed through the years, and the organization has experienced vast growth and expansion, what has not changed are our values, guiding principles, accountability for the funds for which we are stewards, and most of all, the love and compassion for those entrusted to our care. Our Community Services Division and Residential Services Division continue to bring hope and healing to children, youth and families across the U.S… Our overseas branch, Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI), recently celebrated 15 years of changing lives, providing safety and security to vulnerable children beckoned by human traffickers with a promise of money and food… At our residential campus, Breckenridge Village of Tyler, residents with a range of intellectual disabilities are thriving in a loving environment where their health and wellbeing are paramount.

Another important branch of the BCFS system is our Emergency Management Division (EMD). EMD is a nationally recognized leader in emergency management, incident management, disaster response, public health and planning for vulnerable populations. When record-breaking floods devastated the Houston-area, the federal government called on EMD to help thousands of victims recover, standing up an Immediate Disaster Case Management (IDCM) operation to serve 14 counties, ultimately impacting over 36,000 people who registered with FEMA as disaster survivors.

EMD is also highly sought-after to share life-saving emergency management expertise, providing trainings to first-responders and emergency managers on mass care and whole community planning; mass fatality management; evacuation planning; medical sheltering; healthcare management of events involving weapons of mass destruction; and more. Ready with robust emergency resources and supplies, EMD is set to deploy and respond at a moment’s notice – no matter how big or small the mission tasking. Thank you for being part of our journey, together. I invite you to see and read the heartfelt, memorable and meaningful stories of those we serve unfold in the pages before you. I know they will fill your heart as they have mine.

Mensaje del Presidente: Kevin C. Dinnin

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Together (Juntos)… el título de esta revista, pero aún mucho más que eso. BCFS, un sistema internacional de organizaciones sin fines de lucro proporciona programas que cambian vidas en todo el mundo y en las poblaciones históricamente más marginadas de este país. Juntos, con el apoyo de usted, nuestros depositarios y donantes, respondemos a las necesidades de millones de niños, adultos, familias y comunidades que se encuentran en circunstancias severas y enfrentando dificultades insuperables. BCFS asume esta responsabilidad, cuando ninguna otra organización lo hace. ¡Y lo hacemos juntos!

El 2016 marca mi trigésimo aniversario con BCFS, y no ha pasado ni un día en que no refleje sobre la visión y misión de esta organización, y cómo hemos ayudado a las millones de vidas que hemos tocado. Cuando fui llamado para servir como presidente, BCFS tenía solamente 30 miembros sirviendo como personal de toda la agencia, y contábamos con un presupuesto anual equivalente a sólo una fracción de lo que es hoy. Nuestro equipo ha crecido de manera exponencial, a tal grado de ahora incluir a más de 3,000 individuos dedicados, aunados a los innumerables individuos que se unen a nuestros esfuerzos de emergencia y tareas críticas.

Aunque muchas cosas han cambiado a través de los años, y a pesar de la amplia expansión y crecimiento que ha tenido la organización, lo que no ha cambiado son nuestros valores, nuestros principios fundamentales, y nuestra responsabilidad en el manejo de los fondos que han sido puestos a nuestro cuidado, y por sobre todas las cosas, el amor y compasión hacia los que han sido puestos a nuestro cuidado. Nuestra División de Servicios a la Comunidad y División de Servicios Residenciales continúan trayendo esperanza y sanación a los niños, jóvenes y familias de los Estados Unidos… Nuestra sede internacional, Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI), recientemente celebró 15 años de cambiar vidas, proporcionando protección y seguridad a niños vulnerables engañados por traficantes de personas bajo una falsa promesa de dinero o comida… En nuestro recinto residencial, Breckenridge Village de Tyler, residentes con un rango de discapacidades intelectuales prosperan en un ambiente de amor donde su salud y bienestar son lo más importante.

Otro sector importante de nuestro sistema BCFS es nuestra División de Manejo de Emergencias (EMD por sus siglas en inglés). EMD es un líder reconocido a nivel nacional por su labor de manejo de emergencia, manejo de incidentes, respuesta durante desastres, salud pública y planificación para las poblaciones vulnerables. Cuando las inundaciones sin precedentes devastaron el área de Houston, el gobierno federal solicitó la ayuda de EMD para ayudar a las miles de víctimas en su recuperación, desplegando una operación de Manejo de Caso de Desastres Inmediata (IDCM, por sus siglas en inglés) para servir a 14 condados, impactando a las más de 36,000 personas que se registraron con FEMA como sobrevivientes de un desastre.

EMD también es un equipo muy solicitado por su competencia para su manejo de emergencias que salva vidas, ofreciendo entrenamientos a los primeros intervinientes y a los administradores de emergencias de cuidado masivo y planificación para la comunidad entera; el manejo masivo de víctimas fatales, planificación para evacuaciones, alojamiento médico, manejo del cuidado médico durante los eventos de armas de destrucción masiva, y más. Listo con recursos y suministros comprensivos, EMD está preparado para desplegar y responder en cualquier momento — sin tener en cuenta que tan grande o pequeña sea la labor.

Gracias por ser parte de esta jornada y recorrer este viaje, Together (juntos). Los invito a ver y leer las historias sinceras, memorables y significativas de aquellos a los que servimos, las cuales se revelan en las siguientes páginas. Sé que tocarán su corazón de la misma manera que han tocado el mío.

The Measure Of A Man

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East Texas was never the same once Pierre de Wet arrived and put his heart and soul into the community. Little did we know, when Pierre made Tyler his home, with his larger-than-life personality and heart big enough for Texas, he would bless the community of Breckenridge Village of Tyler (BVT) with his overwhelming generosity and loving spirit.

As an immigrant, Pierre came to the United States from South Africa in 1984 bringing with him two young daughters, ages two and four. He grew up on a farm where he learned at a young age the value of hard work. The experience, without a doubt, cultivated a man of many talents and embedded in him an undeniable strength to prevail – a trait that would become his trademark.

Starting out in California as a tractor driver in a rice operation, Pierre worked in a variety of laborious jobs until he made his way to Texas in 1990, where he put down roots in the rose capitol of the world, Tyler, Texas.

Pierre was a visionary and an entrepreneur to the core. He founded several local companies including Agtoprof, a national farm management company, and Kiepersol Enterprises, a vineyard and winery destination south of Tyler.

Although Pierre had left South Africa to work and build a life in the U.S., members of his family remained abroad, including his father and sister, Suzanne. It was in 1997 Pierre received word his father had passed away. Amid the grief of this sudden loss, Pierre wondered, what would this mean for Suzanne?

Suzanne was the first born, Pierre’s older sister. She was a happy, healthy child, whose baby jabbering quickly turned into words as she grew. However, one night, Suzanne developed an uncontrollable, dangerously high fever. Malaria. The walls of their one-room home closed in on them as they desperately sought God throughout the night, rashly promising anything for the chance their daughter might survive.

She did live, but things were never the same again. Suzanne didn’t speak as much after that night. She was joyous and beautiful, but the fever had burned away something within the child that never returned. Over the years, her father diligently made sure she had the care she needed at special schools and convents for those with developmental disabilities.

At age 46, Suzanne was alone in South Africa with no support system after her father’s death. Pierre brought Suzanne to live with him in Tyler, nearly ten thousand miles away. Shortly after Suzanne arrived, Breckenridge Village of Tyler opened, a residential community for adults with disabilities. A whole new “home” became available.

Showing compassion to people close to home, in his own community, was important to Pierre. Breckenridge Village is a place built on hope and freedom, and that was right up Pierre’s alley. His core beliefs were built on freedom and living the American dream. However, the kind-hearted folks at Breckenridge Village and many people with developmental disabilities must find a different path to that American dream.

Part of our freedom includes the honored responsibility that we must share the dream with those who need help to pursue it. Sharing that dream builds hope. And in Pierre’s words, you should “make every seed positive, and positive will grow.”

Pierre de Wet passed away in January of 2016, but his compassion lives on in the lives he touched at Breckenridge Village, across East Texas, and beyond.

Through Breckenridge Village, Pierre had contact with so many of the residents and came to appreciate their live-in-the-moment view of the world. Seeing how they helped each other and filled in the gaps for their friends’ abilities inspired him to write:

“We cannot all be the same and will never be the same. Each of us knows what is wrong and right. We know what’s good and evil and we know our talents. All we need to know beyond that is we all are parts of the body of Christ. Some of us are the ears that need to hear all of the other parts. Some of us are the eyes that see the need of the other parts. Some of us are the lips and need to speak positively and show kindness to the other parts. And some of us might be the fist that has to fight the physical battle for all the parts. Thy neighbor is the one that you can feel and touch. Love them so that circle can grow. There’s no growth in loving people so far away that you cannot hold hands.”

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Precious Minds, New Connections

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A Poem By Elizabeth Guajardo Walsh Inspired by the author’s experience in BCFS Health and Human Services’ parenting education program,

Precious Minds, New Connections Un poema por Elizabeth Guajardo Walsh Inspirado por su experiencia en el programa de educación para padres Precious Minds, New Connections de BCFS Health and Human Services

From stressed-out and controlling,

To flexible and understanding,

Today I praise independence

By practicing empathy and patience.

 

It sounds fun and easy,

But parenting takes a toll.

Now memories of my childhood

Empower my new role.

 

I’ve learned that communication

Provides the connections

Between high expectations,

And our own situation.

 

A new way to play by the rules,

This course just gave me the tools.

My children are one of a kind,

In my hands lays each precious mind.

Del “¡Ten cuidado!” a un “Te amo…”,

De “¡Más te vale!” al “¡Así se hace!”,

De la impaciencia a la convivencia,

De gritar y controlar a interactuar y acariciar

 

Suena fácil—no lo es.

Pero HOY veo las conexiones

Entre mi estilo de crianza Y los recuerdos de mi niñez.

 

Todo es tan lógico,

Debí de haber sabido.

Con el perfecto ejemplo de mis padres

Debí de haber tenido.

Sin embargo, cada situación es diferente.

Y gracias a este curso, ahora tengo presente

Ser cada día más flexible y tolerante,

¡Porque la mente de mis hijos es brillante!

Our House Helps Local Youth Realize Their Full Potential

x_keshawna%20and%20kathleen%20at%20keshawnas%20graduationOur House Helps Local Youth Realize Their Full Potential | BCFS Programs

For a time, Keshawna McDonald was unsure how to improve her life. She was trying to work through some tough circumstances and needed some guidance.

Just before her 25th birthday, she signed up for job training at the Kerrville’s Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC). When she told the staff of her tenuous living situation, they encouraged her to visit BCFS Health and Human Services-Kerrville, a nonprofit that operates the Our House transitional living apartments.

BCFS-Kerrville’s Our House offers transitional housing for young adults in a drug- and alcohol-free environment. The complex is for youth transitioning into self-sufficiency and those battling homelessness. While in Our House, tenants receive counseling, case management, financial literacy training, and employment and educational services. Keshawna was accepted into Our House and moved in right away.

As a housewarming gift, members of the BCFS-Kerrville Auxiliary, a contingent of volunteers, stocked Keshawna’s kitchen and provided some other household goods. Three weeks after moving in to her new apartment, Keshawna celebrated another milestone; graduation from CWJC’s job readiness program. Empowered by her new workforce training, she will start job hunting for a fulfilling career.

“She was so thankful to the Auxiliary and to BCFS-Kerrville,” says BCFS-Kerrville interim director Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie of Keshawna’s big move. “We’re excited that we can help a young person return to a path of realizing their dreams.”

Keshawna says Our House helped her immensely, simply by providing “somewhere stable to lay my head.” She plans to go to college, and has her eye on a job in the banking industry.

“I want to find a better job, save money and get on my feet,” Keshawna says.

With a little stability, knowledge and drive to improve herself, Keshawna is ready for the next chapter in her life. With BCFS-Kerrville as her ally, Keshawna’s bright future awaits.

For more information about BCFS-Kerrville and Our House transitional living apartments, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Kerrville.

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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. 

Thanksgiving meals provided by BCFS-McAllen

Thanksgiving meals provided by BCFS-McAllen | BCFS Programs
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MCALLEN –— Thirty McAllen families received a free Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings thanks to BCFS Health and Human Services-McAllen and the LIBRE Initiative. The families participate in BCFS-McAllen’s parenting education program and transitional services for youth aging out of foster care.

Texas Families Together and Safe (TFTS) is a parenting education program operated by BCFS-McAllen that helps families resolve conflict and improve communication, address children’s behavioral problems and deal with issues like strong emotions, alcohol and violence. Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) provides services to youth aging out of the foster care system that expand their skills and knowledge, strengthen their self-confidence and learn positive self-guidance.

“The holidays can be stressful for families struggling to make ends meet,” said BCFS-McAllen PAL case manager Deyanira Garcia. “We love helping our families enjoy a good meal with their loved ones – one they might not have been able to afford without help.”

BCFS-McAllen staff donated side dishes and desserts for the families. HEB contributed the turkeys in collaboration with BCFS-McAllen partner the LIBRE Initiative, a non-profit grassroots organization focused on the principles and values of economic freedom to empower the U.S. Hispanic community.

Parent facilitators drew names through a raffle to select the winning families from the TFTS parenting education program, and PAL case managers chose youth from the foster care program who needed the meal most or lived on their own.

For more information about BCFS Health and Human Services-McAllen or to join the TFTS parenting education program, call (956) 630-0010, visit 211 N. 15th Street, or go online to DiscoverBCFS.net/McAllen.

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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.

Del Rio Families Receive Thanksgiving Meal

Del Rio Families Receive Thanksgiving Meal | BCFS Programs
Families Receive Free Thanksgiving Meal from BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio

DEL RIO —  A total of 86 Del Rio families will receive a turkey and all the trimmings in preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday. Families will receive the meal as congratulations for completing the STAR program operated by BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio. The Services to At Risk Youth (STAR) program provides counseling, trainings and other services to help unify and strengthen families.

Last month, BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio announced the meal giveaway as part of a registration drive for STAR. The meals would be available to families who completed three STAR sessions before Thanksgiving. For its efforts, STAR enrolled more than 100 new clients and gave out 86 Thanksgiving meals. Some meals have already been delivered, and by Tuesday before Thanksgiving all eligible families will have received their meals.

BCFS-Del Rio Director Delia Ramos was elated about the community response to the STAR registration drive, and the opportunity to help local families.

“For many families we serve, it’s hard or just impossible to put a full Thanksgiving dinner on the table,” says Ramos. “With the meal giveaway, we wanted to help families enjoy the holiday, but also give them some longer-lasting knowledge and information through STAR.”

STAR helps families build stable, loving home environments by providing free counseling, training for youth and parents, and help reducing family conflict and delinquent behaviors in youth, like truancy and running away from home. STAR serves families with youth 17 years old and younger.

For more information about BCFS Health and Human Services-Del Rio, call (830) 768-2755, visit 712 E. Gibbs Street, Suite 200, or go online to DiscoverBCFS.net/DelRio.

PMNC Families Visit the Pumpkin Patch

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PMNC Families Visit the Pumpkin Patch | BCFS Programs
Precious Minds New Connections Families Visit the Pumpkin Patch

The parenting education program operated by BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio, Precious Minds New Connections (PMNC), sponsored a trip to the Owl Creek Farm pumpkin patch on Saturday, October 29, for families in the PMNC program.

Sixty-nine PMNC parents and their 78 children, most of them adorned in creative Halloween costumes, visited the pumpkin patch for an afternoon of free, family fun. The children and families enjoyed pony rides, hayrides, face-painting, feeding the animals in the petting zoo, and picking out pumpkins for decorating.

Browse photos from PMNC’s day at the pumpkin patch on Facebook

“PMNC encourages parents to interact and have fun with their kids,” said Patty Heredia, BCFS-San Antonio Case Manager. “We’ve had such a great time playing with the kiddos and families at the pumpkin patch this year. It was the perfect way to help them enjoy a day of family bonding and making memories… Whether we’re helping families overcome disruptive issues in the home, or just helping them celebrate happy times with one another, BCFS-San Antonio is here to support our PMNC families, every step of the way!”

PMNC helps parents of young children up to 4 years old navigate the challenges of raising their children in today’s hectic world, and how to maintain a loving and nurturing atmosphere in the home. The program teaches parents how to properly care for their children, encourage growth, engage in effective communication and resolve conflicts in a firm but gentle manner. PMNC is free to participants and works to support parents as they help their children reach their full potential.

For information on BCFS Health and Human Services’ parenting programs, call 210-678-2008 or visit DiscoverBCFS.net.imagejpeg_001

Firefighters, Police and First Responders Visit BCFS Education Services

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Firefighters, Police and First Responders Visit BCFS Education Services | BCFS Programs

Firefighters, Police and First Responders Visit BCFS Education Services

BCFS Education Services Head Start programs celebrated Fire Prevention Week earlier this month with visits from area fire departments and first responders. Firefighters talked to Head Start students and staff about the importance of fire safety, gave firetruck tours, demonstrated how to put on a fireman’s suit, and described each piece of equipment they use while responding to a fire.

Students were intrigued by the fire truck and wowed at how high the ladder can reach. Firefighters discussed some of the basic rules regarding fire safety, and encouraged Head Start staff and parents to check fire alarms at least once a year to keep them fully functional.

Fire Prevention Week is an annual campaign spearheaded by the National Fire Protection Association. This year’s campaign, “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” is part of a three-year effort to inform the public about basic, critical components to smoke alarm safety.

At Head Start classrooms in Atascosa, the Pleasanton Fire Department was joined by the U.S. Border Patrol, Department of Public Safety Officers, emergency medical technicians and Floresville Police Department Officers. Each department explained how they communicate and work together to help ensure the safety of the community.

The Head Start classes in Fredericksburg and Johnson City were honored with a special visit from the Fredericksburg Fire Department. The firefighters told each student what to do in an emergency situation, and even gave each child an “Honorary Firefighter” helmet.

The George West Fire Department along with the Beeville Police Department visited the Head Start location at Skidmore. The students sat attentively while police officers and firefighters answered the student’s questions concerning what to do in the event of a fire.

 

 

About BCFS Education Services Head Start:

Head Start is a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children by providing educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families. BCFS Education Services operates Head Start in twelve counties across Texas.

Families Graduate TFTS Program

Families Graduate TFTS Program | BCFS Programs

Kerr County Families Celebrate Parenting Class Success

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KERRVILLE — Eight local families recently celebrated their graduation from the parenting education program Texas Families Together and Safe (TFTS), operated by BCFS Health and Human Services-Kerrville. Each parent received a certificate and graduation gift at an informal, private celebration last week, hosted by BCFS-Kerrville.

TFTS provides free parenting classes to support parents in developing a stable, nurturing home for their children. Parents learn conflict resolution strategies, tips for improving communication between family members, and how to address behavioral problems in their children – both at home and in school.
Local mother of five, Athena Blevins, says the classes have built her confidence in her parenting skills.
“I have seen myself as a parent become better, more patient and loving raising my kids,” Blevins says. “We all have our challenges in parenthood, but because of this course, I look forward to putting my new skills into practice… It’s not about what you are doing wrong as a parent, but how you can be better.”
Another TFTS graduate, mom Amanda Chmylak, says she also learned helpful parenting tips.
“I was a little apprehensive about this class at first, but I thought ‘what the heck?” Chmylak says. “The steps I learned in this class definitely are helping in my family.”
“Parenting is incredibly hard work, and the choices we make when we interact with our children have a profound impact on them,” said BCFS-Kerrville Interim Director Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie. “Our children watch us to see how we react when we’re stressed or overwhelmed, and they pay attention to the ways we encourage or discipline them. Every parent, regardless of their background or family circumstances, could benefit from learning some extra parenting tips.”
New parenting classes will begin mid-October in the Kerr County towns of Center Point, Hunt, and Kerrville, Texas. All classes are free and participants receive wraparound support, meals and referrals to other community resources to help meet the family’s basic needs. Attendance incentives, like helpful household items, are awarded to parents at each class; plus a graduation gift is provided upon completion, which for this recent group of graduates included slow cookers, toasters and first-aid kits.
For start dates and to register for classes, call (830) 890-8690 or email Parent Educator Shane Williamson at PW0316@BCFS.net.
Any Kerr County parent with a child or children aged 3 to 17 is encouraged to enroll in TFTS. Families with no open or substantiated case with Child Protective Services (CPS) are eligible. 
According to Maxwell-Rambie, the classes provide practical advice for many different types of parents: overworked or single parents, divorced couples, and any parent interested in learning how to make a healthy, happy home for their child.

The TFTS Parenting Wisely curriculum helps families:

 Strengthen the parent-child bond
 Validate the strengths of a parent
 Resolve conflict and improve communication within the family
 Improve children’s behavioral problems
 Discipline children in healthy, effective ways
 Deal with difficult issues like strong emotions, aggression, alcohol and violence
The primary goal of TFTS is to prevent child abuse. The program is funded by the Prevention and Early Intervention Division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. For more information, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/TFTS or call 830-896-0993.
BCFS Health and Human Services-Kerrville, a nonprofit located in the BCFS Hill Country Resource Center, helps local families, youth from the foster care and juvenile justice systems, homeless youth, and young adults struggling with unemployment, past abuse or neglect, poverty and other challenges. Visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Kerrville to learn more.