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Boys-Town-Texas-Hosts-7th-Annual-Race-to-Prevent-Child-AbuseBoys Town Texas Hosts 7th Annual Race to Prevent Child AbuseTexas
Monday, May 22, 2017

​Boys Town Texas supporters laced up their running shoes and celebrated the beginning of summer by making a difference in their community. For the 7th year in a row, Boys Town Texas hosted their Run to Prevent Child Abuse in order to raise money and awareness for their cause.

This family-friendly race began at Valero Energy Corporation and went through Leon Creek Greenway before ending back at Valero. Awards were given to the top finishers in each age category, gender and overall race winners. As a special treat, young runners between the ages of 4-12 were given medals for finishing the race. When all was said and done, the race raised over $110,000 for Boys Town Texas and had over 800 people running and walking.

Bexar County, Texas ranks 4th out of all the counties in Texas with the most confirmed cases of child abuse. This event not only serves to raise funds for Boys Town Texas, but also serves to inform and spread awareness about child abuse and neglect in the area.

This event was one that was able to thrive thanks to the community that got involved. Twenty-three women from the Reagan A Capella Group kicked off the event with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem before Sheriff Javier Salazar officially signaled for the race to start. KENS 5 sportscaster Vinnie Vinzetta emceed the event, Boys Town's Romeo Cruz DJ'd the event and John Garza and Michael Chartier volunteered to be event photographers. These people, along with more than 75 volunteers, made the race a success.

"Each year the race gets better and better," said Joyce Horner, Boys Town Texas Development Director. "We have so many runners and walkers that come back to support us, which means we are doing something right! I am blessed to work with such an amazing Development Committee and Board of Directors."

A special thank you to those at the Valero Energy Corporation and Leon Creek Greenway for providing a beautiful venue, those in the community that donated food for the event, Gold's Gym for a free Zumba lesson before the race, the volunteers who gave their time and, of course, the runners and walkers for coming together to help save children and heal families with Boys Town Texas at their annual Race for Prevention of Child Abuse.

stock-show-and-rodeo-donationStock Show & Rodeo Donation Creates Memories for Boys Town Texas YouthTexas
Brianna, Jayse and Aubrielle smile for the camera and pose with their wooden helicopters and toolbox.
Friday, Apr 7, 2017

This year, Boys Town Texas youth and families were able to attend the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo thanks to the event's generous donation of 100 tickets to Boys Town Texas.

"So many of our families live in the city and don't have the opportunity to see cows, pigs and horses," said Joyce Horner, Boys Town Texas Development Director. "At the Stock Show, they have a petting zoo, play areas with child-size farm implements and areas to learn to rope animals, saddle horses and so much more. We were blessed to be given so many tickets! Our families had an amazing time."

The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo has grown to be one of the largest, most prestigious single events in the city. With over two million visitors entering the grounds each year, this event has donated more than $171.4 million to the youth of Texas through scholarships, grants, endowments, junior livestock auctions, youth western art auctions, calf scramble programs and show premiums.

Donations from outstanding community partners like the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo help create lifelong memories for our youth and families every day, and for that we are eternally grateful.

Boys-Town-Texas-Provides-Battle-Buddies-for-Military-FamiliesBoys Town Texas Provides ‘Battle Buddies’ for Military FamiliesTexas
Boys Town Texas Provides ‘Battle Buddies’ for Military Families
Thursday, Apr 6, 2017

​When military veteran Joseph B. approached Andres Guzman, a fellow veteran and a Family Consultant at Boys Town Texas, he was embarrassed to admit the problems he was having at home.

"We don't ask for help," Joseph said with sadness in his voice. "We are the help."

Andres immediately knew what he had to do; he had to become Joseph's "Battle Buddy." But this battle was different from those Joseph had known while on active duty in the military. This one was going on between Joseph and his 15-year-old son. Joseph had missed most of his son's life during his time away defending our country. Now he was trying to be a father to a teen who had been "the man of the house" for many years.

Working through Boys Town Texas' "Mission: Possible" program, Andres helped Joseph and his son reconnect and develop the father-son relationship both wanted so badly. In the program, Family Consultants offer effective strategies to military parents in one-on-one and group sessions, free of charge.

Today, Joseph and his son enjoy watching sports together, going camping and visiting colleges in anticipation of the teen's high school graduation. "I almost let my pride come between me and my family," Joseph said. "Andy was always available to me, day or night. I'm grateful for the help he gave me."

To learn more about the "Mission: Possible" program, please call 210-271-1010.

first-year-foster-parentsYoung Couple Reflects on First Year as Foster Parents Texas
The Bueker Family
Thursday, Apr 6, 2017

When Kelli and Kevin Bueker, a young married couple, decided to say "Yes" to becoming foster parents a little over a year ago, they had no idea of the transformation they'd witness and the changes they'd experience.

The first involved a boy in their care who had suffered from significant healthy issues throughout his young life. When he was placed with the Buekers, he was in the 99th percentile for weight for his age, which affected him socially and physically. He was easily bullied, struggled to make friends, had a hard time paying attention in school and was unable to do basic childhood things, such as riding a bike or playing basketball.

"It's been incredible to see him, within one year, lose 40 pounds to become 'like everyone else,' as he puts it," said Kevin.

In addition to the weight loss, the boy now has a healthy diet and lifestyle. A year ago, he would refuse to go outside and play, but now he can't wait to do that with his friends. He also used to struggle in class, but now is trending toward the honor roll and is genuinely excited about learning.

The Buekers also foster two teenage girls. Kevin and Kelli want to instill in them what healthy adults do and what healthy relationships look like.

"It is very sad to realize that teenage children have never seen a healthy marriage or parents that go to work each day, or an engaged family that enjoys spending time learning and playing together," said Kevin. "They've never experienced what it means to be loved. Even though so much of what we model has been foreign to them, it's been awesome to see our girls gravitate toward healthier relationships with people, learn how to protect themselves online and expand their goals beyond what they could have ever previously imagined."

One of the girls has been accepted to college and will be the first one in her family to attend. Kevin said, "She is no longer content to live life like the people she had previously been surrounded by; she wants to excel beyond what anyone had previously expected from her."

Being a foster parent has not come without challenges. Caring for children who have faced tremendous trauma is not an easy task, but it has led the Buekers to become more compassionate and less judgmental. This commitment has really strengthened their marriage by providing the opportunity for them to learn to communicate with each other more effectively and improving their ability to be teammates. Along with strengthening themselves and their marriage, the Buekers also have strengthened their relationship with God. It is hard for them to see hurting children and not be "rife with anger," but they rely on prayer and counsel to address many of their issues.

The Boys Town staff also plays a huge role in making fostering easier for this family, providing training and being available 24/7 for support. 

Things that weren't possible a year ago for the children in the Buekers' care are now a reality. The couple has changed the trajectories of these kids' lives and unleashed their potential. The children have experienced such positive growth and love, and that all stems from two amazing foster parents who answered their call to respond to hurting children.

There are many reasons to say "No" to foster parenting. But Kelli and Kevin want everyone to focus on the reasons to say "Yes."  Saying "Yes" to fostering is saying "Yes" to personal growth, to a strengthened marriage and to saving a child's life.

better-parents-now-and-reunited-with-childrenBetter Parents Now, and Reunited with ChildrenTexas
Izabellah Allen hugs a stuffed toy she received at the Boys Town Texas offices before the Reunification Recognition Celebration.
Monday, Jan 9, 2017

​​Parents honored for work to get kids back from state

This article is written by Elizabeth Zavala. It was posted on on December 29, 2016.

Adrian Alvarado kept a keen eye on his six children as he and his wife, Monique Gonzalez, herded them into Boys Town Texas on Thursday to celebrate a special event: reuniting them all.

He and his wife were among 11 families — with 31 children in all — who attended a reception at the nonprofit organization that serves at-risk families with support and education. The Reunification Recognition Celebration lauded their hard work and efforts that helped the parents get their children back from state custody after circumstances that warranted their removal by Child Protective Services.

Alvarado, 31, and Gonzalez, 32, lost their children for a year when one of them was hospitalized with bruising. They had been living in a motel and weren't able to pay bills.

"They couldn't figure out where (the bruising) came from, so they took them away for a year," Alvarado said, adding that parental visits were limited and difficult. "We saw our kids 24 times in a year."

The couple attended parenting classes and went through counseling while their children were in foster care. Today, Alvarado is a business owner, he and Gonzalez have a place to live and they have been able to spend more time with their children, who were returned to them nearly a year ago.

When agency investigators determine that children need to be removed from their parents, the separation can last for up to a year while the adults get counseling, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and instructions in parenting, said state District Judge Peter Sakai, who heads Bexar County Children's Court Division and Programs.

The families were recognized with certificates and gift baskets, and each ​had the opportunity to pose for a family portrait as a keepsake.

"We have families who work h​ard, they go through a lot," Sakai said. "The key is to have the families step up. They did (the work) on their own. I'm proud of these families. "​​

boys-town-a-beacon-of-hope-for-troubled-youthBoys Town: A Beacon of Hope for Troubled YouthTexas
Thursday, Dec 29, 2016

​​​​​​​​​This story aired on CBS Sunday Morning and was posted on on December 25, 2016.

"There's no place like home." Rarely is that truer than this time of year. Our Christmas Cover Story is all about a very special home for some very needy children, as reported by Tony Dokoupil:​

Right near the midpoint of America, ten miles outside of Omaha, Nebraska, there's a town that sits between childhood and whatever comes after.

"These young people are about to become citizens of the most famous village in the world," said Father Stephen Boes at a swearing-in ceremony.

In this town, almost every kid is at a crossroads -- and the goal of all the grown-ups here is to help kids leave Boys Town behind.

"I do solemnly promise … that I will be a good citizen."

Eighteen-year-old Chase Pruss, from Dodge, Neb., was sworn in here six months ago --  arriving, like a lot of the kids, straight from jail.

"I took the school safe," he said.  "Just for money. For Beer money. And gas money. And buy cigarettes."

Two more break-ins followed, and Pruss ended up arrested in front of his bewildered parents. "My mom was crying, my dad was crying," he said.

He had run through four different schools, stolen and lied.

And he faced 80 years in prison, ​until a judge helped get him into Boys Town. "I ​​had that mindset of, "I never want to ever ​put myself in the position where I could land myself back in an orange jumpsuit," Pruss said. "I never ​wanted my ​jail ID ​number to say ​who I was."

Andre Harris (right) in class at Boys Town. CBS News

Seventeen-year-old Andre Harris came to Boys Town the same way.  Nearly three years ago, back in Amarillo, Texas, he stole a car, and ended up in juvenile detention.

"I didn't feel like I was gonna amount to anything after that," he told Dokoupil.  

Frankly, he didn't think he'd amount to much before jail, either. College seemed out of reach. He can't remember hearing someone say they were proud of him.

Dokoupil said of Boys Town, "More felons per capita here than any town in Nebraska."

"Probably!" Harris laughed. "But we're all doing our best to change."

Almost every week here at Boys Town, new boys (and since 1979, new girls, too) are sent by social workers, judges and desperate parents. Most of the kids have been unable to live anywhere else without getting in trouble.

And Boys Town is their last chance.

"A lot of people would say they're bad kids," Dokoupil said. "Is that how they see themselves when they get here?"

"Some of our kids do," replied Tony Jones, one of Boys Town's "family teachers." "They see themselves as, you know, on the bottom of the totem pole."

And how do they change that mindset? "You show them that this is your decision. This is your life."

Jones and his wife, Simone, run one of 55 homes on campus. Eight Boys Town children live there like a family, alongside the Jones' three biological kids.

"Every single young man that has come through my home has now become a part of my family," Jones said.

This is a large part of what makes Boys Town so powerful; all 360 kids living here have paid Boys Town parents like Tony and Simone.

"It's a professional, full-time Dad, brother, uncle, cousin -- whatever my boys may need me to be at that particular time in their life, that, then, is who I become for them," Jones said.

Tony Jones and his wife, Simone, and three children share their home with eight Boys Town students. CBS News​

He began at Boys Town as a boy himself. He was born to a shattered family in Detroit. "I can recall my brother and I standing at a bus stop, and it was in the dead of winter. And we only had one pair of socks to share between the two us," Jones laughed.

But then a priest gave the Jones brothers a chance to change their lives at Boys Town. "It was a total transformation," he said.

Dokoupil asked, "Where do you think you would be if you had said no to Boys Town?"

"Oh, two places: I would either be incarcerated, or I would be dead."

Father Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town. CBS News

The Jones story is typical of a hundred years of stories at Boys Town, which began in 1917 as Father Flanagan's Home for Boys. The most beloved clergyman in America, he created arguably the most famous reform school in the world.

Of his charges, Father Flanagan said, "His bruised and tortured heart and mind must be nursed back to normal health through kindness."

You may remember a 1938-Oscar winning movie about the place starring Spencer Tracy. But what you probably don't know is it's a real town, with a real post office and police department.

At about $65,000 per student per year, Boys Town is comparable to a top private college -- and it's mostly taxpayers footing the bill.

But taxpayers pay for prisons, too -- more than $39 billion a year nationally. Boys Town says it can help keep those prison cells empty, while nearly doubling the chance that these students will graduate from high school.

Dokoupil asked Jones, "How do you avoid coming in and being just another person telling them all the things they're doing wrong?"

"By telling them all the things they're doing right," Jones replied. "That's how you help kids change. It's being able to say, 'Hey, young man, you did a good job this morning getting up.'"

"It almost sounds like a joke."

"Well, you know something? That little praise goes a long way."

That little praise goes all the way back to Father Flanagan's ​founding idea: "There are no bad boys."

And if that all sounds too pat to be successful … well, the results say otherwise.

When asked where he would be without Boys Town, Chase Pruss replied, "I'd be in lockup." As did another.

And if that all sounds too pat to be successful, just listen to the results. Tesharr said, "I've been here for a short amount of time. But since my first day I didn't feel like I was in a place where I couldn't leave. I felt like I was home."

Of course, the Boys Town way does not work for every child who comes here; there are failures. But for Chase's parents, Dan and Trish, it's been nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

Dokoupil asked them, "Who was Chase before Boys Town and who is he today?"

"He was dishonest, disrespectful, a thief," said his mother. "And now he is the Chase that I always wanted him to be."

For Andre Harris, the change has been no less dramatic since stealing that car. "It's not even the same person," he said.

And how is he different? "My actions, the way I speak. I've grown up. I've become a young man."

He's a school leader now … a star on the track team … and he's just found out he's headed to college next year.

But first, he's headed to Amarillo for the holidays … a place he hasn't seen in nearly three years. It's a place that Boys Town has been preparing him for since the very day he made his grand theft exit:

It's home.

"This is my Christmas gift," Robert Harris told Dokoupil. "This is all I wanted!"

Andre Harris is welcomed by neighbors back home in Amarillo, Texas. CBS News
holiday-celebrations-at-boys-town-texasHoliday Celebrations at Boys Town TexasTexas
Thursday, Dec 29, 2016

​​Boys Town Texas celebrates the holidays with a few events to honor families and employees. Every year, Boys Town Texas holds a Christmas party. The event is for all foster families to attend and was held at a catholic church hall near the downtown office in mid-December. The party featured dinner, entertainment, a surprise visit from Santa who had presents for all children that attended.

Another event Boys Town Texas holds is their annual Secret Santa gift exchange and staff Christmas Celebration luncheon. Employees draw names and exchange gifts at the holiday lunch party while enjoying a meal with coworkers.​

art-for-a-purpose-sees-successful-second-year-raising-28000Art for a Purpose Sees Successful Second Year Raising $28,000Texas
Monday, Dec 5, 2016

​​Boys Town Texas held their second Art for a Purpose event on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at Ken Batchelor, an upscale Cadillac dealership showroom. This event was not only a fundraiser but it also kicked off the 100th year anniversary of Boys Town.

Over 300 board member and development committee members, prospective board members, community leaders, executives from major corporations in San Antonio, artists and their friends and families and Boys Town Texas employees attended the free event underwritten by Ken Batchelor and Frost Bank. After all the raffle prizes were won and all the art was bid on, Art for a Purpose brought in over $28,000 and a bunch of new Boys Town supporters.

Guests were able to enjoy beautiful art, participate in the auction, purchase 50 boxes of Kendra Scott Jewelry, bottles of wine, beautiful notecards, raffle tickets and blinky rings. Attendees were even able to get their caricature pictures drawn and their photo taken thanks to the generous support and sponsorship of Sharbeck and Experian. Happy hour drinks were sponsored by Gambrinus, HEB, Silver Eagle, Glazers and Republic Beverages and the appetizers were sponsored by Frost Bank.

Throughout the event, guests were entertained by the DJ skills of Romeo Cruz, Boys Town Texas Supervisor of Common Sense Parenting, and by the musical and vocal talent of Alexa Padalecki, Boys Town Texas Donor Relations Specialist, and her brother, Tyler Padalecki. KENS-5 Sportscaster Vinnie Vinzetta was also in attendance to emcee the event. Special speakers included In-Home Family Services grandparent Mercedes Bristol and Amber Gifford, a former Boys Town Texas youth shared her recent success as a college student after living at Boys Town for more than six years and Mercedes Bristol a grandmother of five that had received services through the In-Home Family Services Program.

Art for a Purpose began in 2014 when a retired Anesthesiologist, Dr. Kurn, reached out to Boys Town Texas to see if they would have any use for art work in their campus homes. Upon seeing the beautiful art work, a board member suggested that Joyce Horner, Boys Town Texas Director of Development set up an auction to raise funds for Boys Town Texas's services. Dr. Kurn was flattered to have his work sold and even helped Boys Town Texas build the partnership with Ken Batchelor Cadillac to host the event.

While the main purpose of Art for a Purpose is to raise money to support Boys Town Texas programs and services, the event is also used as an opportunity to build relations among executives from major companies. A few important companies in attendance this year included: Frost Bank, Tesoro, USAA, Valero, CPS Energy, Gold's Gym, Bolner Fiesta Company, Casa Rio and many others.

Congratulations to Boys Town Texas on an incredible event and thank you to all the generous donors who made Art for a Purpose a success!

valero-donationBoys Town Texas Values Valero Energy's Continuous Support
Thursday, Nov 17, 2016

​Boys Town relies on the donations of many kind individuals and numerous generous companies and corporations in order to provide life altering services to children and families in need within the community. One of Boys Town Texas's longest donors, Valero Energy Foundation, has dedicated over 10 years of their time and more than $300,000 to support Texas's programs and services. This year, Valero awarded Boys Town Texas $50,000 at their annual Benefit for Children Breakfast.

In addition to donating annually to support Boys Town Texas, Valero also donates to countless other charities within a variety of communities and to other Boys Town locations across the United States. Their generosity has changed the life of many individuals and families across the country and will continue to for years to come.

Every year, Valero sponsors Boys Town Texas's Race for the Prevention of Child Abuse. In addition to sponsoring the event, they also host the race on their property, offer more than 20 volunteers to assist with the race, and provide security for the event and even parking for attendees.

"Valero not only supports Boys Town Texas financially, they provide us with over-the-top board members and volunteers," said Joyce Horner, Boys Town Texas Development Director, about the partnership. "We are truly blessed to have Valero in San Antonio, they totally get the meaning of philanthropy- giving millions of dollars away each year."

Boys Town Texas extends a thank you Valero Energy Foundation and all their generous sponsors for their unwavering support of Boys Town programs and services that change the lives of countless children and families every day.

Grandmother-Raising-Five-Grandchildren-Gets-Help-Gives-Help-with-Assist-from-Boys-Town-TexasGrandmother Raising Five Grandchildren Gets Help, Gives Help with Assist from Boys Town TexasTexas
Mercedes and her five grandchildren (left to right): Valentina, 12; Augustine, 11; Leeleeya, 14; Marina, 8; and Paul, 5
Friday, Oct 14, 2016

​​​Mercedes Bristol admits she felt lost and overwhelmed.

Already experiencing major challenges with raising one grandson, the single grandmother faced the prospect of taking in four more grandchildren.

But that's what Mercedes did. And thanks to some timely help from Boys Town Texas, she and her family are doing fine.

Mercedes' household first grew by one when her son's son, Paul, came to live with her after being removed from his home by Child Protective Services (CPS). Paul had health issues but the young boy and his grandmother began to bond and she soon felt somewhat comfortable with the idea of caring for him.

Then things changed dramatically.

Paul's four siblings from another mother – Marina, Augustine, Valentina and Leeleeya – had nowhere to go when they too were removed from their home by CPS. Mercedes was the only family member who could take them in.

"I was absolutely lost when I got all the rest of the kids," Mercedes said. "Paul had a difficult time sharing me with the other four grandchildren. The oldest was 9 and the youngest was 3 at the time. I was totally overwhelmed."

Mercedes said other people who learned of her situation offered to help.

"Everyone tells you, 'Ms. Bristol, just tell us what you need.' But I had no idea what I needed," Mercedes said. "I didn't know where to start. It was a very trying time. The only thing to ask for was someone to come and help me care for the children in order for me to have some respite. No one offered that."

"I went through several sources. I asked the question, 'Why don't schools have a resource list for parents or guardians who need help?'"

That question led Mercedes to take an important step. She decided to start a support group for grandparents who were raising their grandchildren. It would provide grandparents with helpful resources and information, or just a caring ear to listen to their stories.

Mercedes said the best advice she received was to contact Boys Town Texas.

Mercedes found out the site in San Antonio offered a Common Sense Parenting® class led by Maria Benavidez, a Boys Town Texas In-Home Family Services supervisor. Mercedes said she attended the class with the hope that Maria could help recruit other grandparents for her support group.

"I completed the entire six weeks in Common Sense Parenting," Mercedes said proudly. "And after that, I had In-Home Family Services come into my home. Andres Guzman was my case manager. I really implemented the Boys Town suggestions. Most kids hate chores, but with Andres' coaching, I implemented a 'Job Jar' and a 'Joy Jar.' The children wrote down what their jobs and their joys were going to be and placed them in jars. When they did not do what they were expected to do, the kids would go to the Job Jar where they took a piece of paper and that was their chore until completion. They liked it, and even accepted the responsibility."

Mercedes said she doesn't know what she would have done without Boys Town's help.

"Structure works for me," she said. "Boys Town really helped me by having the children write schedules in order to establish everyday patterns. Andres gave me ideas. And he gave me personal support in finding dental assistance since I retired without medical benefits. More than anything, Maria and Andres helped me be positive and believe I could do it. There was always someone there for me."

Mercedes even started her own Facebook page to help other grandparents. It's called "Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group." She also is an advocate for grandparents who are in her situation, going to public officials to seek policy changes that will benefit those caregivers.

"I don't have all the answers," Mercedes said. "But the group can share experiences, both good and bad, and maybe it will help ​someone out when they need somewhere to turn. I also share the things I have learned from Boys Town with other grandparents and invite them to contact Boys Town to get the same help that I received."​​

texas-holds-book-fair-for-boys-town-youthTexas Holds Book Fair for Boys Town YouthTexas
Friday, Aug 12, 2016

​​On July 13, Boys Town Texas hosted a book fair where 65 youth from Foster Care, In-Home Family Services and Common Sense Parenting® classes were each able to take home four books, one toy and one backpack. There were even Girl Scout Cookies for everyone to enjoy.

“They were really grateful,” Alexa Padalecki, Donor Relations Specialist, said. “I think we take for granted how much joy a book can bring. [Boys Town youth] don’t necessarily have the opportunity [to read on an iPad] or go to Barnes and Noble and pick out a new book.”

SAReads, a project of Literacy San Antonio, Inc,. whose goal is to significantly increase literacy and education attainment, donated over 100 books to Boys Town Texas. Those donations and the donations from other community members over the past year made the second annual book fair possible.

“Especially in the summer, it’s important for the youth to keep reading,” Padalecki said. “I think it’s important to instill a love of learning and reading and discovery at a young age.”

To add to the excitement, the fair was paired with the donations Boys Town Texas received from KENS 5 Sports Anchor, Vinnie Vinzetta. At the end of June, Vinzetta celebrated his birthday week by doing a random act of kindness each day. One of his random acts was donating brand​​ new toys to Boys Town.

The youth who attended the book fair were able to choose from a wide variety of summer toys, such as Slip ‘N Slides, giant bubbles makers, basketballs, footballs and more.

Thanks again to Literacy San Antonio, Inc., and Vinnie ​Vinzetta for your generous donations!

Read more about how to make learning fun during the summer on Boys Town’s Teachable Moments blog.

11-year-old-girls-become-devoted-supporters-of-boys-town-texas11-Year-Old Girls Become Devoted Supporters of Boys Town TexasTexas
Friday, Aug 5, 2016

While many supporters of Boys Town tend to be adults, there is a lesser-known group of donors—children—who also do great things to support the mission. Two of these young supporters, ​Jacqueline Fentress and Ava Daetwyler have become big supporters of Boys Town Texas over the last few years.

Jacqueline Fentress’s knowledge of Boys Town started young. Her grandfather was a long-time supporter of Boys Town’s mission, donating to the Texas site most of his life. Although Jacqueline’s grandfather had passed away before her birth, his passion for the mission lives on through her.

A few years ago, Jacqueline and her older brother decided to volunteer, and choosing Boys Town Texas to give their time seemed like an easy choice. After working with Joyce Horner, Boys Town Texas Development Director, the pair spent a day cleaning flowerbeds at the site.

When it came time for Jacqueline’s 10th birthday in October 2014, the young girl believed she had all the presents she wanted, deciding instead to give back to the organization she felt most connected to. After working with the other students at her school to collect donations, the Fentress family was overwhelmed by the amount of support they had received.

The family had collected dozens of dance costumes, wigs, Halloween costumes, and costume jewelry, which were hand-delivered by Jacqueline to the children at Boys Town Texas.

The next year, Jacqueline wanted to keep this new tradition alive. She decided to have a joint 11th birthday party with her friend, Ava Daetwyler, but instead of asking for presents, the girls asked for monetary donations. Inviting the entire class to their party, the girls raised nearly $400, which was presented to Boys Town Texas at its annual Race to Prevent Child Abuse on April 2, 2016.

“Jacqueline and Ava are amazing young ladies who believe in paying it forward,” said Joyce Horner. “They got several of their friends involved in supporting Boys Town Texas. We are truly blessed by the generosity of these young ladies!”

Seeing her work make a difference in the community with an organization she holds close to her heart continues to motivate Jacqueline to do more. With the success of her collections, she plans on continuing this birthday tradition for years to come.

Boys Town thanks Jacqueline and Ava for their gifts to Boys Town Texas, as well as the many other youth around the country who selflessly donate their time and treasure to support the mission.

wave-pool-wednesday-promotes-boys-town-texasWave Pool Wednesday Promotes Boys Town Texas Texas
Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016

​​Boys Town Texas has​ partnered with Splashtown San Antonio to help raise awareness of child abuse prevention and to inform on and recruit families for the services Boys Town Texas has to offer through an event called Wave Pool Wednesday.

Romeo Cruz, Common Sense Parenting Supervisor, has been a disc jockey at Splashtown San Antonio for the past four years, and after a discussion with the water park's vice president, they concluded that Boys Town Texas would be an exceptional partnership to have.

“Music is incredibly powerful in the impact it can have on a person’s mood and behavior,” Cruz said. “Most families that attend musical events and theme parks are looking to connect more with their own family. By combining music and the need to bond, families are more receptive to learning what Boys Town has to offer.”

The goal of the event is centered on Boys Town’s mission to help children and their families. However, the focus is on the music and the water park experience that brings them closer together. Additionally, the event serves as an opportunity to make families aware of Boys Town’s parenting classes, in-home services and foster care.

Wave Pool Wednesdays takes place every Wednesday throughout the summer from 12 - 4 p.m. The event offers plenty of games, prizes, information for parents and a music series with DJ Dr. Cruz.

Splashtown San Antonio offers more than 50 rides and attractions, including a wave pool, lazy river, 14 full-sized waterslides, a basketball court, sand volleyball courts and more.

The event is in its sixth week and Boys Town Texas has already seen a great response from attendants.

spurs-sports-and-entertainment-donates-tickets-to-boys-town-familiesSpurs Sports and Entertainment Donates Tickets to Boys Town FamiliesTexas
Monday, Jul 11, 2016

​​Sporting ​events are a normal part of life. From childhood into adulthood, many individuals seek out and attend high school, college and professional games for the competitive and entertaining atmosphere. Yet for many children at Boys Town, they have never had the opportunity to attend a game.

Now, thanks to Spurs Sports & Entertainment, they do.

Joyce Horner, Development Director at Boys Town Texas, has “a great relationship with the Community Responsibility Coordinator for Spurs Sports & Entertainment.” The company has sent Boys Town around 20 tickets to the last few San Antonio Stars games. The tickets are Plaza Level, allowing the youth and their families to be close to the action.

The Stars, a Women’s National Basketball Association in San Antonio, are coached by Dan Hughes and play at the AT&T Center. The games draw a large crowd with average an attendance of more than 7,000 people.

Spurs Sports & Entertainment has also donated tickets to San Antonio Spurs National Basketball Association games and San Antonio FC professional soccer games.

“It is such an awesome experience for our children to be at the AT&T Center watching professional athletes,” Horner said.

The tickets are distributed “to the kids and families in all of our programs, and if some are left over, to our staff and their families.”

Julius Hunter, Foster Care Consultant, and Lindy Best, In-Home Family Services Consultant have the opportunity to distribute tickets to the families they work with. The families who receive the tickets are based on availability and who has expressed interest.

“Often we receive tickets with a short amount of lead time and so we have to go with those whose schedule is open on short notice,” Hunter said.

Best explained that “some families don’t have the means to be spending money but still need the quality time and opportunity to go out in the community and bond with children.” Since many families have three or four kids, attending events is costly.

“They really appreciate the tickets,” she said.

The basketball games are more than just entertainment. They serve as a learning and enrichment opportunity, allowing the youth in Boys Town care programs to expand their horizons and see what’s out there in the world.

“Attending a sporting event like this is so important because it provides normalcy for the children, which is something we want to provide every child in care,” Hunter said. “Most of us can recall the day we went to the big game with mom or dad, and we want our kids to have this same experience and be able to share it with others.”

Best said that it “broadens their minds” and “raises their spirits. It’s motivating.”

Something as simple as a basketball game can have a huge impact on the youths’ lives.

“The kids talk about the experience for weeks after and the thought of it brings a big smile to their faces,” Hunter said. “Many of these kids come from homes where they did not have these simple opportunities.”

Opportunities that most people take for granted.

Thank you to Spurs Sports & Entertainment for providing our children and families with these opportunities!

a-foster-couple-reflects-on-life-with-boys-town-texasA Foster Couple Reflects On Life with Boys Town TexasTexas
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

​​Kevin and Kelli Bueker of Boys Town Texas have been fostering children in the San Antonio, Texas area for four months. Learn more about their lives as a foster couple below. If you're interested in being a foster parent, call 210-271-1010 or get started today.

  1. How did you get involved in becoming a Foster Couple?
    I (Kevin) was working with an organization that helped provide mentors for youth that were aging out of foster care, and I really saw a significant gap in most of these young men and women's lives where a family should have been. The stories of 30, 40 or 50 placements were heart-wrenching, and seeing the reality of how much they struggled with early adulthood deeply affected me. I kept feeling like there was more that we could do, so Kelli and I began praying about how we could be involved, and we decided that we would become foster parents, and we would focus on adolescents and sibling groups.
  2. What is the typical age of children you care for?
    We are licensed for ages 6-17; so far, we have had kids ranging from 10-16 years old.
  3. What is a typical day like for a foster family?
    I imagine it's like most other typical nuclear families. We get up and get ready for school/work, spend time together after we get home, work on homework, eat dinner together and do fun activities before getting ready for bed. We try hard to be very intentional about learning more about each other with fun games, and we take the opportunities to teach lessons wherever possible, but I believe we function like any other family.
  4. How has this commitment impacted you?
    It hasn’t always been easy, but it's allowed us to learn more about being patient and being self-less. It's also led us to a deeper understanding of what true sacrifice looks like and so the sacrifice by Jesus Christ for our sins is increasingly apparent to me every day. I'm humbled by that. It's also strengthened our marriage, allowed us the opportunity to learn to communicate with each other more effectively and improved our ability to be teammates.
  5. What do you wish more people understood about foster care?
    I wish more people understood that the care older kids receive in the system is truly at crisis levels. I believe that kids are truly one caring adult away from having a successful life and yet, many kids every year age-out without ever encountering that one caring adult. I wish more people realized that a child in care is not a "bad child" and to learn to empathize with these kids' situations. Every child, from every situation, deserves a ​chance to be successful.

Boys Town thanks the many foster couples who open up their homes and their hearts to children who need it most.

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