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.

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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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BCFS Hill Country Resource Center: Where Collaboration Meets Compassion

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For someone who needs help in the Texas Hill Country – whether it’s counseling, crisis intervention, or education and employment assistance – traveling to multiple nonprofit offices around town to meet basic needs can be difficult, especially without transportation or the flexibility to miss work.

That’s why BCFS gathered local nonprofits under one roof at the BCFS Hill Country Resource Center Model is an innovative way to connect several nonprofit organizations and maximize their combined talents and resources. For the community, this means that those who are struggling have easy convenient access to a wide array of programs, services, and resources in one central location.

Services Available:

  • Counseling
  • Case Management
  • Emergency shelter placement
  • Literacy programs and educational support
  • Job training and job placement
  • Parenting support groups
  • Help for military veterans
  • Creative art therapy
  • Computer lab access

Kugasaruthy & Satheeska: Two young girls and the transformational power of CERI’s Food Security Program

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In 2009, the Batticaloa District of Sri Lanka finally witnessed an end to the devastating 30-year civil war that decimated the region and its people. Batticaloa is the fourth most impoverished district in Sri Lanka, and home to the CERI office and the epicenter of CERI programs in the area. Nearly 20 percent of its inhabitants live at or below the poverty line, earning the equivalent of $25.50 per month.

According to UNICEF, nearly one of every five children in Sri Lanka is born with low birth weight and approximately 29 percent of children under five years old are considered underweight. To address this epidemic, Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) launched the Food Security Program (FSP).

In 2016, CERI Sri Lanka implemented the Food Security Program in Parathy Kiramam, Kiran Division, one of the poorest areas in Batticaloa, and the sixth village to be touched by the program since its inception. CERI’s initial goal of serving a group of 12 to 15 children quickly changed, however, when 34 underweight children showed up to the program. Two of these young children were Kugasaruthy, age 7, and Satheeska, age 5, both of whom weighed only 27 pounds.

Although they are young, Kugasaruthy and Satheeska know firsthand the ravages of civil war, which had left their father disabled. He was attacked by an elephant while seeking shelter during a shooting. As he ran for safety, he was shot three times. Barely alive, he was rescued and taken to the hospital for emergency surgery. Unfortunately, during surgery, a medical mistake resulted in a severed nerve, rendering the young father’s left arm useless. Unable to work with the use of both hands, it was incredibly difficult to find work and provide for his family.

The girls’ mother, Jeyanthini, 27, also suffered in the aftermath of these tragedies. The couple experienced feelings of inferiority due to their extreme poverty, causing them to withdraw from the outside world. Jeyanthini prohibited her daughters from playing with the other children in the village, kept them from attending school and confined them to their small home.

In spring 2016, Jeyanthini and her family were selected to participate in CERI’s Food Security Program, an opportunity she initially rejected. However, after learning more about the services, she accepted the offer, her heart filled with the hope of helping her family.

During the 12-day program, Jeyanthini learned to cook simple, healthy meals while her children participated in activities at the Children’s Club. After living in sheltered isolation, Kugasaruthy and Satheeska made friends and learned how to play with other children. With each passing day in the program, their energy and enthusiasm increased.

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Before long, Jeyanthini started to flourish as well. She began to share stories about her life during the cooking sessions, talking excitedly with the other mothers about the positive differences she witnessed in her children’s behavior as a result of their participation in the program.

“My girls are very happy to take part in the sessions,” she said. “They eat more while they are with other children than they eat at home when they’re alone. I feel an invisible love that surrounds my children, and peace and happiness cover our family daily as the girls return home after the session.”

Jeyanthini began allowing her daughters to play with the other children in the village, as well as attend school.

Participation in the program has also improved the sisters’ health. Kugasaruthy and Satheeska have both gained weight, expanded their social skills and boosted their self-esteem, and overall, enhanced their quality of life. Playing with their peers offered new experiences and opportunities for exploration, learning and development. New toys, new friends and organized games stimulated their growth and capacity, and CERI staff used game times to teach children how to play well together, model positive behavior, and show the love of God through respect for one another and good sportsmanship.

The FSP helped Kugasaruthy and Satheeska grow physically and emotionally in a very visible and profound way. Still, the girls remain underweight in comparison to their American counterparts. While the average weight of an American seven-year old is 49 pounds, Kugasaruthy is approximately 30 lbs. and little Satheeska at age four weighed in after the program at 27.5 pounds. Nevertheless, the sisters are on their way to healing, inside and out.

Bonita Nirmala Samuel, the CERI Sri Lanka Interim National Program Director describes her team’s feelings about the Food Security Program implementation in Parathy Kiramam.

“We thank God for this wonderful opportunity to serve others,” she says, “and to have successfully reached these families most in need.”

Sadly, more than 53 percent of children in Sri Lanka under 5 years old are classified as underweight (calculated as weight-to-age ratio), and nearly 72 percent of local households do not have adequate sanitation or water facilities. Each year, local divisions of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health in Batticaloa ask CERI to address the nutritional needs of area children through the Food Security Program.

The FSP addresses the acute needs in these villages for healthy food, nutrition education, intentional cooking skills, and information on the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation. The FSP offers Sri Lankan moms the tools needed to confront child malnutrition and common, yet life-threatening health conditions like diarrhea, intestinal worms and infections.

Between 2013 and 2015, CERI’s Food Security Program served more than 400 underweight children and their families. Each year the program has been in operation, a growing proportion of participating children are on track for healthy weight gain. This year, CERI Sri Lanka is serving 135 children and their families in six impoverished villages across the Batticaloa district.

Through the FSP, CERI hopes to reach even more families like Kugasaruthy’s and Satheeka’s, and one day, see Sri Lanka rise above the hunger, poverty and despair through the power of God’s love. Together, with open, loving hearts and a mission to nourish the body and the spirit, CERI staff and the Sri Lankan people transform and rebuild families and communities.

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Adoption Days Are The Best Days

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BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio Foster Care and Adoption Program Call (210) 208-5629 or visit DiscoverBCFS.net to learn how you can build your “forever family”

BCFS Health and Human Services has celebrated hundreds of joyful Adoption Days, building loving families across Bexar County.

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ADA Celebrates 25th Anniversary

There have been many things to celebrate in the history of our nation. Not the least of these is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), established in 1990. Celebrations around the country marked the 25th anniversary of the ADA and the changes it brought to the lives of community members from all walks of life. Behind ADA construction accessibility rules that changed sidewalk curbs and restroom stalls, lies the bigger picture Americans are celebrating a transition towards a new way of thinking, and defining ourselves not by our limitations, but by our abilities and potential.

In few places is this more obvious than in the nation’s approach to emergencies and emergency planning, where radical changes have begun a ripple effect of accessible emergency shelters. Emergency responders are becoming more educated about the diverse members of their communities, and people nationwide are taking increased responsibility for their own personal preparedness.

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As a result of what began 25 years ago with one piece of legislation, individuals with disabilities all over the country are among those who are learning the importance of personal preparedness, self- reliance and taking charge of their own safety.

For many people, both with and without disabilities, following the steps to personal preparedness becomes an empowering experience that they want to share with others. They also realize that we all have something to contribute to a sustainable and resilient community, both in daily life and in emergency situations. This understanding exemplifies the perspective of the ADA and puts it into real life action.

Even those who are advocates for personal preparedness can struggle to find an avenue to contribute their expertise and knowledge to an emergency response scenario. BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (EMD) knows that subject matter expertise can come from members of every community – so BCFS EMD created an interactive, online course designed to train volunteers on how to serve during a disaster response.

Hundreds of people across the country – with and without disabilities – have taken the course to learn the basics of how to be effectively involved in an emergency and what to expect as a disaster volunteer. The course was built to be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities, and includes narrated lessons and text-only versions.

After completing the training, participants can register as a disaster volunteer and post their areas of expertise. Allowing individuals the opportunity to become prepared by personally experiencing training in their own way and at their own pace, and then allowing them to share that knowledge, facilitates people being included and involved as a valuable contributor to their community. This is the true spirit of the ADA.

People with and without disabilities, responders and volunteers, working together for a better community in daily life and emergencies. This is the true spirit of the ADA, and this is cause for celebration!

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life – to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. The ADA is an “equal opportunity” law for people with disabilities.

Source: ADA.gov

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Complete an interactive, one-hour online course to be registered as a BCFS EMD disaster volunteer!

The course will introduce you to some of the skills that may be asked of you as a disaster volunteer serving in the aftermath of a natural disaster or other emergency.

The Basics:

  • Examples of volunteer duties include, but are not limited to: serving food, unpacking supplies, setting up temporary shelters, helping disaster survivors complete paperwork, and/or providing helpful information or services related to the volunteer’s area of expertise
  • Each volunteer’s tasks are determined by their background, experience and capabilities
  • Anyone in the U.S. at least 16 years old may register as a volunteer • Registering does not obligate you to serve during a disaster

Visit BCFSEMD.org/DVT

Meet Maria, Key Volunteer at BCFS Health and Human Services Transition Center in San Antonio

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In San Antonio, BCFS Health and Human Services operates a transition center which provides teens and young adults, between the ages of 16 and 25, services that promote healthy development including workforce assistance, dropout prevention activities, self-esteem and leadership activities, and more. Here, a team of social workers, case managers, counselors and invaluable volunteers help program participants reach their full potential by providing services that promote their transition into adulthood.

Additional free services offered at the transition center to families in the community include parenting education and counseling services.

For two years, Maria Dobson has served as one of these vital volunteers to the BCFS Health and Human Services Transition Center. Twice per week, Maria handles phone calls and greets visitors to the building with a smile. Both humble and generous, Maria acts as a welcoming gatekeeper to the center, connecting struggling youth with the services they need to succeed.

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It’s volunteers like Maria that help make BCFS what it is to so many — a stable resource for young people that have no other place to go. “Maria is dependable, always smiling and welcoming to all visitors who enter our building,” says Miriam Attra, Director – Community Services in San Antonio. “She has stayed late on occasion to help our youth, families and staff – without hesitation.” Her commitment to the BCFS mission is evident in her daily work.

“I always wanted to do something,” Maria says of her decision to search for volunteer opportunities several years ago, which brought her to BCFS Health and Human Services. “It sounded like a good idea — healing youth, and giving them something to smile about here and there.”

As a receptionist, she bridges the gap between inquisitive visitors, youth, and callers, and the people that can assist them. “It’s like a puzzle figuring out how best to direct them,” Maria says.

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“They need help, and you try to get them to someone that can help them. Being in social services, [BCFS staff] know how to talk to people and get the info they need to help them.”

Though a Texan at heart, Maria has also traveled frequently throughout the U.S. as part of her  husband’s occupation. This has shaped her views greatly on people and the world.

“You always think that people are just like you,” she says. “But everybody has different experiences, values and rules.”

Her own values have been ingrained in her by her parents: her mother, originally from Brazil, and father from Pittsburgh. Maria tears up and jokes about forgetting Kleenex while recalling her childhood. “My parents taught me to work real hard to get what I want,” she says. “They said that I was the best thing in their lives. I feel sad when other people don’t have that. ‘Cause it really helps.”

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The youth that make their way in and out of the Transition Center often lack the type of support Marie describes, which is one reason volunteering resonates with her. “They don’t have a good family base,” she explains. “They don’t have anyone on their side cheering them along. They got dealt a tough hand.”

This is why Maria believes BCFS’ mission is so important, especially the organization’s services for at-risk youth. “BCFS is there — they’re a constant. When someone needs them, there’s always someone around. In an emergency, it’s important to be available.”

Like BCFS, Maria has been a constant for many youth, on the phone or at the door, sharing her warmth — along with the occasional joke or word of wisdom. A little goes a long way, and her contribution has been greatly appreciated by BCFS Health and Human Services for the help it’s been every step of the way.

Legacy of Service: Retirees At Work

By Yvonne Paris Rhodes

“When you retire from your regular 40-hour-a- week job, you can’t just sit around and do nothing,” says Marjorie Lee, a cheerful, gracious woman who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Marjorie shares this advice as she recalls happy memories of years spent in “retirement” with her late husband Frank Lee.

“Frank was doing that to begin with…and wearing out the carpet between the recliner and fridge. You’ve got to do something,” Marjorie says. “When you give to the Lord, you get back more than you give. You get the blessing, too.”

Their desire to stay active long into their golden years inspired Marjorie and Frank to take the path less traveled and join the Texas Baptist Men (TBM), serving in volunteer projects across the country. Frank and Marjorie joined their first TBM work crew in January of 1990.

“We were helping churches get new buildings nor additions, and other construction jobs. Doing that work helped us ‘old people’ too, because if we had to sit in our easy chairs and twiddle our thumbs the rest of our lives, it wouldn’t have helped and it wouldn’t have been as much fun. We got the benefit as much as the churches did. It was a two-way street,” says Marjorie.

For seven years, Frank and Marjorie joined every project they could with the Texas Baptist Men.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 2.18.09 PM“Frank just loved it! We both loved it. I was still working as a nurse at the time, so he would go to job sites close to home so I could join him on the weekend. It was like a family reunion every month, and we all loved the experience and felt so blessed. The group came from all over the state, between 100 and 200 people. They ran three jobs each month and you’d choose which you wanted to do. About 30 people worked each job, and you never knew which people you’d run into,” Marjorie recalls.

In October of 1997, Frank and Marjorie and dozens of other volunteers drove a caravan of RVs into an open field in a small, east Texas town called Tyler. With the help of these selfless volunteers, lots of hard work, and of course divine intervention, this empty field would soon transform into Breckenridge Village of Tyler (BVT), a residential community where adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities receive loving care and support that helps them develop physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

“When we arrived in our campers and RVs, it was nothing but a huge empty pasture. There wasn’t a tree, bush or building,” says Marjorie.

“We were making our own road and set up our RVs all in a row. We had water and electricity. Then shortly after we arrived, they put up a huge circus tent with picnic tables where we ate our meals, worshipped on Sunday and had fellowship through the week.”

Frank and his crew were assigned Cottage #1 – the very first structure at the Village. While Frank worked hard on his cottage, Marjorie and the other women served meals and ran the first-aid tent.

“Frank was up in the rafters, helping set trusses and climbing on scaffolding, doing the tape and float on the drywall – loving every minute of it. We had a ball doing those things. By the time we left that job, the cottages were put together enough so we could see how it was going to be setup. The whole group was excited about it.”

Over the next several weeks, the crew erected six cottages, which now house adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. While Frank worked diligently, neither Frank nor Marjorie knew his health was rapidly deteriorating.

Sadly, Frank Lee passed away from cancer a few days after Christmas, with Marjorie and their three daughters by his side.

The very first cottage at Breckenridge Village had been Frank’s final project, after seven years of faithful service and countless lives touched working alongside his loving wife and the Texas Baptist Men.

For the years that followed, Marjorie felt drawn back to Breckenridge Village of Tyler and recognized it was a special place not only for her family, but for adults with disabilities and their families.

“We sensed right from the beginning what a marvelous concept BVT was,” says Marjorie. “And being in nursing myself, I knew there was nothing like this out there and I sometimes pondered, what do families do when they are getting too old and the caretakers won’t be around a long time?”

On a blustery spring day in 2015, Marjorie, her three daughters and other family members all gathered at Breckenridge Village for an interment ceremony honoring Mr. Frank Lee. A tree was planted in Frank’s honor and a plaque lovingly placed where Frank’s ashes were interred.

“I always wanted Frank to go to the Village and be interred there,” Marjorie says. “When BVT said they’d be pleased to do that, it just thrilled me. I’ve put this off for almost 18 years since he died.”

Today, Marjorie is still busy at work for the Lord. Occasionally she goes on short-term mission trips to use her nursing skills, but there are plenty of volunteer opportunities close to home in Colorado Springs. She created several libraries in churches across Texas and Colorado, including the church she now attends. She established a library in a facility for people with physical handicaps in central Texas, and she helps manage the library in the local county jail. Some of the groups she serves have affectionately dubbed her “the book lady.”

The Lee Family’s Legacy of Service:

Ever since Cottage #1 was erected by Frank and his crew in 1997, many adults with disabilities have called it home. Since then, BVT has expanded into a thriving, 70-acre campus complete with six homes, a chapel, a greenhouse, a vocational center, a pool, a health center, fishing pond, an activities pavilion, and a prayer garden.

BVT is a part of the global system of BCFS health and human service non-profit organizations

About Texas Baptist Men: The mission of Texas Baptist Men is to assist Texas Baptist Churches as they lead men into a “Love” relationship with Jesus Christ that will thrust them and their families into a lifestyle of missions and ministry that fulfills the Great Commission. Texas Baptist Men is a 501-c3 non-profit organization.