The Recipe for Success Starts with Family

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As you can imagine, with over 100 kids and young adults to feed each day, our cottage kitchens never cool down. Our dedicated Teaching Parents not only maintain a safe and loving environment in their cottages, they teach essential life skills to each child. We try to make one meal each day a family affair where everyone gets involved! Students may help with meal prep, setting the table, dishes or clean up. Older students are encouraged to plan and cook meals for the family when their busy schedules allow. Our kids routinely say they enjoy time in the kitchen, and many pride themselves on a favorite recipe.

The Cottage 8 boys love trying new recipes, and they are very talented. Over the summer the cottage contributed breakfast food to our weekly all-campus meeting and devotional. Several staff members really enjoyed the boys’ cooking and always got in line early!  (Not that we ever have favorites!)

Last night Cottage 8 invited the Cottage 10 girls for dinner. They had been packing and preparing all day to move into the new Pool cottage, and they were hungry! These little girls had so much fun with their older “brothers” and the boys enjoyed serving them.

 

Be sure to check out what they cooked up, and if you like be sure to share and pin the recipe for later!

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Ingredients for taco meat:

  • 5 Lbs. Ground Beef
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Cumin
  • 1½ Tsp Chili Powder
  • 1½ Tsp Cayenne
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Garlic
  • ½ Yellow Onion

Preparation:

Dice up your preferred toppings and set to the side. We like tomatoes, avocados, and lettuce. We also serve with homemade salsa and shredded cheese.

 

 

When you finish getting your toppings sorted, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add your onion, olive oil and seasoning. Gradually crumble in your beef and cook until completely brown (about 7-10 minutes). Once the beef is completely cooked, add a little water to finish. Before you serve, strain out the excess grease with a colander.

Taco night is always a hit, and sometimes prompt messy faces and spontaneous dancing!

 

We also like to treat ourselves to our favorite Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars!

Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 pkgs of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 2 pkgs 8 oz. Cream Cheese (Softened)
  • 1 ½ Cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 TBS Vanilla extract
  • 1 Stick of butter, melted
  • ¾ cup of brown sugar and cinnamon mix. (2 tsp of cinnamon)
  • Honey (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9’ baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Lay one can of crescent rolls down for one single layer on the bottom of the pan. Don’t leave any spaces uncovered!
After you’ve finished prepping the first layer, prepare the filling.
With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, white sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Spread the mix evenly over the already prepared first layer. Distribute the remaining can of crescent rolls over the filling and again, no empty spaces! Pour the melted butter evenly over the top and coat with cinnamon sugar mix.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, and drizzle with honey while cooling. We never have any of these left, but if you do they can be stored in the fridge after.

We make these in bulk so alter it to suits your needs! We cook two to three meals daily, and we rely heavily on our food pantry to help us do this. It is truly a blessing when groups hold food drives for us or bring in cars full of food! Of course, we’re well equipped to keep it stocked, but the extra help is always a relief. We’re always in need of staple items like:

  • Spices
  • Broths
  • Bullion
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Pastas
  • Canned vegetables
  • Condiments
  • Canned tuna & chicken
  • Rotel

Thank you so much for your continued support! Let us know what else you’d like to see on here and be sure to keep up with all our other social media accounts.

 

 

 

 

Growing Children for Life: College and Career Update

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One of the most unique and wonderful things about Boys and Girls Country is that, through the College and Career program, our kids are able to continue with us past high school graduation. There are currently 13 young adults on the College and Career Campus who are seizing this opportunity.

 

This summer the C&C kiddos went on day trips to Austin, where they stopped in for a quick dip at Hamilton Pool Preserve before hitting the shops along Congress Avenue, and San Antonio, where they had a blast at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. This was a time of bonding for new C&C staff, the tenured residents and the recent high school graduates, who enjoyed this down time together.

The C&C family also came together this summer to give a big “thank you” to the men and women in our Operations Department who work tirelessly every day to keep us up and running. Each of our College and Career kids wrote a card to an Operations staff member. Joseph and Naidi also delivered homemade cookies!

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But it’s definitely not all fun at C&C! The young adults are hard workers, too. This summer they could be found working internships at the American Productivity and Quality Center, watching our kids at the BGC pool as lifeguards, delivering pizzas for Pizza Hut, making coffee at Starbuck’s, working for our favorite beaver at Buc-ee’s, serving up food at Whataburger, and helping us work out at Planet Fitness.

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Two of our young ladies, Cynthia and Vannesa, have been working toward their goals of attaining their licenses to become phlebotomists. Vannesa will take her final state exam in the coming weeks, and Cynthia will be finishing up her certification classes this fall.  Cynthia and Vannesa will be looking for work in the medical field in order to use their skills, so if you know of a job opening, do not hesitate to contact us.

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We were blessed this summer by Dr. Friedrichs and his team at Tropical Dentist who provided our campus with checks ups. We are proud to report no cavities and lots of happy smiling faces!

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As our summer comes to a close, many of our students will be leaving for the fall semester and headed to Prairie View A&M, Texas State, SHSU, University of Texas, University of North Texas and SFA. Some, however, will remain on our C&C campus while attending Lone Star College.

Please continue to pray for these awesome kids as they transition into adulthood on our College and Career Campus. Thank you for your support which makes these exciting steps possible for them!

 

A Year in the Life of a Teaching Parent

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Teaching Parents are the heart of every cottage home at Boys and Girls Country. These amazing, mission-minded staff members give so much of themselves to parent the children who live at BGC and provide them with a safe, stable home. Tom and Emily Alderman have been married 39 years and have five adult children of their own, plus nine grandchildren. They became the Teaching Parents for the Cottage 10 family on August 1, 2016, with eight girls ranging from 7 to 11 years old. Today, Tom and Emily reflected on their experiences after a year at Boys and Girls Country.

Looking back on the last year, tell us what it means to you to be a Teaching Parent.

C10 Alderman Tom and Emily (3)_smallTom: When we decided to make this jump, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Looking back, I don’t know why we waited this long. I love this place. After a long business career, I have found myself more fulfilled in this place than I ever have in any business position.  When you are in the business of affecting young lives, the wages are twofold.  Yes, you get paid for doing your job, but the real pay is seeing the light come on in a young person’s life when they start to realize they can live a better life than where they came from.  They can have a real relationship with a real God, who REALLY cares for them.

Emily: I love being a Teaching Parent. It is so exciting to watch the girls realize they are capable of doing anything they set their minds to. We see them change using new habits and see hope and possibility on their faces. They start to know nothing is impossible. It is wonderful to touch a young life and encourage these girls to believe in themselves and dream big dreams.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

Tom: Realizing these girls do not come from stable backgrounds, and they need to learn functional living from the very beginning.

Emily: Finding the perfect way to meet each individual child’s needs and the style of teaching that will help them learn each skill the best.

What are some of your favorite memories?

Tom: Because of our donors, I was able to show a future resident that she will never be hungry living here. At the end of her weekend visit before becoming a full-time resident, she ran back to give me a hug and asked to see our very full pantry one more time. While she lives here, she will have three meals a day and snacks. Our blessed donors have made this child feel safe, cared for, and secure that she will not go to sleep hungry again.

Emily: Recently, the girls wrote this card for us and pinned it to our office door. They did not have to. No one told them to. They just did this on their own for us.

Letter

Thank you card from the girls

How have you seen our Christian mission impact the children?

Emily: There is no greater joy than to be a part of eight girls’ lives who ask to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. These girls pray for each other and desire to learn more about God. My heart is full knowing that above all they learn or we teach, they have received the greatest gift of eternal life. What an honor and privilege to be a part of a Christian organization that encourages Teaching Parents to teach life skills as well as Biblical principles. I am blessed to teach these beautiful girls to grow in their relationship with the Lord.

What do you want volunteers, board members, and possible donors to know about Boys and Girls Country?

Emily: Through all the imperfections, lives are being changed for the better. Day to day we may not see change, but then suddenly a light goes on and the kids realize why we take the time to teach them and how it will benefit them. They see a reason for being here and that they are loved by so many. It is deeper than receiving material things. So much takes place because of how much every person behind the scenes contributes.

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The Cottage 10 family will move into the new Tilman and Peggy Pool cottage when it’s finished. They wrote this scripture on the foundation by the front door.

Making Wonderful Memories: Family Vacation

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“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

Every family needs a break from their hectic schedule, and summer can be even busier than the school year! It’s important to spend time together playing, talking and just hanging out. Cottage family vacations are a relaxing summer tradition at Boys and Girls Country. This July, our kids had a blast in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Dallas, and Houston. They did everything from visiting museums and zoos to riding roller coasters, getting mani/pedis, and attending the opera. We are so grateful to our donors for blessing our children with the opportunity to vacation and spend time together. The happy memories they make on vacation last a lifetime and give them a sense of family and belonging. Our kids were happy to share their favorite vacation memories (see below).

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“Going to Six Flags was my favorite part! I also enjoyed down time with our cottage without any school or work stress.” –Carlos

“Getting to see Pleasure Pier was AWESOME!”- Matthew

“It was great! I didn’t realize how fast it went by because we were having so much fun.”-Roman

“I also really liked Pleasure Pier. Oh, and getting to ride the Iron Shark!!! I want to do that again.”-Anthony

“Definitely the bumper cars. That’s got to be my favorite part.”- Royal

“First we went to Fiesta Texas, which that in itself was so much fun. Then the next day our teaching parents surprised us by taking us to SeaWorld and that was even better!”-PJ

“Everything we did was fun, but my favorite part was being with the whole cottage. I loved the quality time.”-Brandie

“I LOVED THE FOOD. We got to eat so much! Fiesta Texas was cool too.” –Avery

“I loved Hurricane Harbor! I’m happy we swam most of the time, it’s my favorite!” –Aerial

“Going to the cabin with the other girls and just watching movies was my favorite part. I want to go back!”-Assyria

We are so grateful that we get to do cool things for the kids like cottage family vacation. It’s so important for our children to make happy memories and spend time “just being kids.” Your support blesses and sustains Boys and Girls Country!

Skill Building for Success

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‘For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11

It’s been a very busy and fun summer here at Boys and Girls Country!  Our kids are constantly in motion with summer jobs, cottage vacations, off-campus visits home, overnight camp opportunities, ACT/SAT prep, individual learning and tutoring, and special programs like this week’s Lego Challenge. Our very own office apprentice, Mekede, is juggling color guard practice, academic career counseling with one of our awesome volunteers, and helps update our social media and blog. As you can see below, she does it all with a big smile!

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We’re so grateful for the opportunity to give our children extra support and individual guidance over the summer. Your generous support makes all of this possible. Would you consider making a gift to help kids like Mekede succeed all year? Your investment of $50, $100 or $150 does so much to give our children opportunities for success. Your gift today will ensure a successful start to the new school year.

Our very dedicated education volunteers and staff go above and beyond overseeing our summer program. If you’re interested in becoming a tutor, or just want to join our extended family of volunteers who help us maintain this vision, you can get more information here. Check out what we’ve been up to this summer in the gallery below!

 

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We love seeing you share our posts so make sure you follow us on social media and keep us updated on what you want to see!

Training Them Up: Summer jobs at BGC

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Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 

Do you remember your first real job – the one that taught you to set your own alarm, punch a time clock and answer to someone other than your family? The Boys and Girls Country Apprentice Program is exactly like that! Every summer we offer our 15-year-old students a six-week on-campus job program designed to give them work experience and understand the expectations of a job in the community.

We kick the program off by hosting a job fair on campus where our students learn about all the different departments that keep BGC running. Kids follow through with a formal application and interview. Once they are hired, they are given an orientation and training, set work hours, receive a mid-program review, and learn some new skills.

The best thing of all is that our staff members get to work directly with our students and form even deeper bonds and relationships. We not only get to see the kids’ growth but reinforce the strength of their support system at BGC. The Apprentice Program helps them get a grasp of the entire employment process, from the job search to daily employment requirements like being punctual, requesting vacation days, maintaining acceptable job performance and more.

When we wrap up the six-week program, students submit a resignation letter and participate in an exit interview. They also learn to create résumés and describe job skills and experiences to help them apply for their next employment opportunity. “This is a great setting for them to understand the chain of command and employer/employee relationships,” says Director of Operations Quintes Stark, who oversees the apprentices. Students earn the privilege of working off-campus in the community the following summer after they complete the program.

“The apprentice program is an opportunity for us to develop ourselves in a professional environment before going outside of Boys and Girls Country and getting a job with strangers. The staff members that I work with make me feel comfortable to ask questions and be curious how an office environment works, and I feel confident after learning something new which is awesome.” –Mekdelawyt

 “It’s pretty fun actually, I didn’t think it would be at first. The program itself is awesome because we’re improving our life skills and learning how to do things one on one with people who care about us. It’s a great experience and I feel lucky to be able to participate in it.”- Estifanos

 “The program is amazing. I’m apprenticing as a mechanic and even though it’s hot and the work is hard I look forward to it. I feel comfortable and safe apprenticing under the BGC staff and excited about the things I’m learning.” –DeRussell

 

The BGC Apprentice Program is a treat for our staff, whose hearts are ultimately devoted to our children, and enjoy the opportunity to train them personally. We’ve had such an incredible summer, but the school year is approaching fast! If you’re interested in donating, visit our website and make sure to follow us on our social media sites for daily doses of our kiddos!

Let Your Light Shine

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“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.- Matthew 5:16”

Vince’s View

Our kids come from hard places where praise and recognition did not happen very often.  The Children’s Awards Banquet gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the big and small achievements that have happened in their young lives over the past year. Boys and Girls Country is blessed to have the staff and resources to do many things for our children.  Many times, our children experience these benefits and privileges for their first time at BGC.

We want to send a message loud and clear to our kids – WE SEE YOU!  We see your effort, progress, and hard work.  We see your spiritual growth and desire to serve others.  We see your maturity, skills, and talents.  Not only do we see you, but we want to recognize and praise your accomplishments.  I invite you to join me and the BGC staff as we congratulate our Award Winners!

Athlete of the Year: Regina and Farid
Most Creative: Cameron and Jose
Faith in Action: Carla and Morgan
Trendsetter: Naidi and Conner
Tom and Jean Robinson Award for Service: Albert
Leadership Council Student of the Year: Morgan
Most Improved Student Elementary: David
Most Improved Student Jr. High: Esmeralda
Most Improved Student High School: Morgan
Elementary Scholar (highest GPA): Aniyah and Matthew
Jr. High Scholar (highest GPA): Kaleigh and Andrew
High School Scholar (highest GPA): Cameron and Robert
Kids Choice Award (voted by BGC kids): Carla and Morgan
Student of the Year (voted by BGC staff): Carla and Albert

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“I felt so appreciated when I got my award! I haven’t been at Boys and Girls Country for very long but they made sure I had the help to do better as soon as I arrived. It made me work harder and my grades improved a lot. I went from bareley passing some classes and failing the others, to finishing with mostly A’s and B’s! Being recognized for that felt awesome, and it was even better that my family was there to see it.” –Esmerelda, Winner of Most Improved Jr. High student

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We also want to give a huge thank you to the Cypress Belles, St.Francis Episcopal Church, and Texas Business Theatre for making this whole event happen! We can’t give you enough thanks for all you do for us!

If you’d like to know more about how you can get involved and help us continue to successfully operate and raise these awesome kids, visit our website and continue to follow us on social media! Also, please let us know your thoughts so we can always keep improving!

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