Why Do You Give? Special #GivingTuesday Post

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You have been treated generously, so live generously. Matthew 10:8

After a weekend of shopping and looking for the best deals, we are all ready to slow down and enjoy the Christmas season. It’s a time to celebrate our blessings and share with others. Today we ask you to think about the organizations making a difference in your community and prayerfully consider making a donation towards life-changing efforts.  Some of our key leaders shared why they give to Boys and Girls Country. We hope you enjoy reading about their giving experiences. 

I continue to support BGC because I have witnessed the changed lives of youth and selfless contribution of staff and community for over 20 years. This can only happen through the special grace God provides to Boys and Girls Country. Steve Stephens, Board Director

We give in the hope and with the belief that the kids touched by Boys and Girls Country will grow to no longer need anyone’s gifts but will become givers and nurture their own family of givers.  And time after time, our hope is fulfilled and our belief validated – how could anything bring greater joy or our resources be better spent? Mike Gatewood, Board Director

I passionately support BGC because I have seen first-hand how all of the amazing staff are molding and shaping our young people into confident, capable and God-loving young adults who courageously step forward and leverage the resources and gifts so generously donated to BGC in order to become productive and contributing members of our community, all made possible by the grace of God.  God Bless BGC!  Bill Way, Board Director

I give to Boys and Girls Country in memory of my dad, Gene Gardner and his brother, Wiley. My dad was 10 when his mom died. Due to his father’s negligence, they were forced to move to a variety of places. If there would have been a faith-based oasis of caring like Boys and Girls Country then, he and his brother would have had much happier childhoods. Not only do I donate to Boys and Girls County, I volunteer.  I get to witness the need for this oasis every week. I have donated for over 20 years and will continue to do so. I hope you will, too! Aileen Kirkham, Library Volunteer

I think Boys and Girls Country contributes an invaluable service for our most precious resource, children!  BGC helps not just people in need but those who are innocent and can’t otherwise help themselves.  This should be our first priority.  I trust BGC to be good stewards of their donors’ contributions and appreciate the fact the source of income is private and the program cannot be dictated by outside corporate policies and beliefs.  The Christian-based program is also a crucial part of why we give, since this is, in my opinion, foundational to the well-being of every individual.  Kim McCoy, Volunteer

I contribute to organizations that I believe will make a difference.  Jim Allen, Boys and Girls Country CFO

I give to the staff annual fund because I have been able to see children’s lives changed forever through Boys and Girls Country. Teri Medina, Director of Education and College & Career

Here is how I came to give to BGC:

I am blessed with a good job and want to share with others.

  1. My company has a matching gifts program and I wanted to take advantage of it to double my gifts.
  2. Someone at my company (maybe Donna Boyer) was able to get BGC on the list of charities that my companies will match.
  3. The procurement group at Marathon held a bake sale for BGC at our office and after learning about BGC I decided to give to BGC.

I continue to give because I know BGC is an opportunity for kids from crisis situations to experience a Christian environment. I feel it is very important for all kids to know that God loves them even in crisis situations and want to support BGC to provide the Christian environment.  Mark King, Volunteer

I give to (and work at) Boys and Girls Country because I believe in the mission, plain and simple.  For me, it is ESSENTIAL that I believe in what I am doing.  This is what I was called to do, and I firmly believe that if I’m going to ask others to support our work, I should be “first in” with my support.  Melissa Simon, Boys and Girls Country Director of Development

On this #GivingTuesday, will you make a gift to support Boys and Girls Country and give kids a safe, loving Christian home? Your gift in any amount makes a difference in the lives of children. Thank you!

 

 

Giving Thanks by Serving Others

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For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Our donors and volunteers do so much for Boys and Girls Country.  What happens here because of the support we receive isn’t something we can always easily capture in a photograph.  Because of those who give to us from their time, talents and treasure, our teaching parents are able to give constant love and support to our kids.  They are able to take the time and effort to create traditions, help our children make happy memories, and encourage our kids to enjoy themselves. Our annual Thanks n’ Giving Dinner is one of the many wonderful traditions you make possible.

The Thanks n’ Giving Dinner is a campus-wide dinner, one of the rare occasions all of our kids are able to gather together. Many community members contribute to make the evening a success, including Cypress Belles National Charity League, Goode Co. BBQ and Cotillion Connection. Everyone wears their Sunday best, and we treat our children to a traditional Thanksgiving meal complete with smoked turkeys and homemade pies. It’s a fun night for our families to spend time together.

In addition to the incredible meal, we take time to recognize each cottage family for their service to the community over the past year. It’s an awe-inspiring moment as kids talk about serving others when they themselves have come from such difficult situations. The BGC kids were very busy this year with mission trips, church service projects to feed and clothe the homeless, visits to nursing homes, and more. Many of our cottages helped with Harvey clean up and relief efforts. Not only do our children feel good when they help others, they take pride in being able to serve our Houston neighbors.

Creating traditions is especially important for children who have come from chaotic family backgrounds. Program Manager Malcolm Guerra explains, “When you think about your favorite childhood smells or the feeling you had when you sat down to pray over the Thanksgiving meal, you have good, happy feelings related to those memories. It’s important to help our kids by creating traditions for them so that when they have their own families, they can do the same for their children.”

We encourage the kids to make a list of what they are thankful for, and we share their responses in a video during the dinner. View the slideshow below to see what our kids are thankful for this year.

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Alumni Reflection: Siblings and Separate Campuses

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It wasn’t always easy to keep sibling groups together. Boys Country and Girls Country were once 5 miles apart when the girls lived on our 2920 Campus (now College and Career). One former resident, Crystal York, remembers living apart from her twin brother, Robert, when they were both 8 years old: “It was difficult to be separated. But my sister, LaChrisha, and I used to visit Robert all the time. He loved the country life. He liked to help out on the ranch. We all loved life out there.” Crystal and her siblings came to live at Boys and Girls Country from 1989 to 1993; “it was the best place for us to be; my mom couldn’t take care of us,” says Crystal.

 

She says they all took away a lot of good lessons from her time at Boys and Girls Country, “I know how to treat others and these are lessons I have been able to pass on to my children. I’m so glad for all Boys and Girls Country taught me and my siblings.

She and her sister used to walk around the Girls Country lake and pick blackberries. Crystal says she loved doing arts and crafts with church groups that came to visit. “These were the best times of our lives.”

Crystal is now an Executive Assistant for a Transportation Company in Houston. She has three children, one of whom is adopted; Leeah, Dylan and Ashlynn.

 

We’ve enjoyed sharing these Alumni stories with you during our0 #ThankfulThrowback #GivingTuesday campaign.  Learn more about the purpose of Giving Tuesday here. It’s coming up on November 28, so keep us in mind while planning your holiday giving! As always, please follow us on all our social media to see daily updates about how you give children a second chance to succeed.

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Alumni Reflection: Life Lessons from Boys Country by Casey Cobb

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In late August 1984, I arrived at Boys Country to live in the Hill Cottage.  I was 13, about to enter 8th grade in less than a week, and I was literally a punk. I dressed in ripped up jeans and punk rock concert shirts and had a bleached blonde, rat tail haircut.  I was a lost little boy on the verge of getting in real trouble, bound for the penitentiary.  As with most Boys and Girls Country kids, my childhood was beyond awful.  There were hungry times, and we moved constantly. By 7th grade, I had attended 12 schools in six states and had lived with various family friends and my sisters for a year each.  All this upheaval created a very unhappy child on the verge of blowing up; it was just a matter of time and opportunity.

Coming to live at BGC can be scary. You have no idea what the teaching parents are like, who the other kids are and how all of them will treat you.  My first dinner was quite an experience. My mom had always done her best to feed me well, but I had never had anything like a dinner in Mamma Hill’s Cottage.  She was in her late fifties and had a very high sing-song voice that I came to understand was filled with actual love for me.  That first meal she said,

“Boys, a new lost soul has joined our flock.  We are going to eat the fatted calf tonight.”

The fatted calf at the Hill Cottage was a huge heaping pile of the most aromatic chicken fried steak this side of Amarillo…what a vision!  I had lived on nothing but ramen noodles, pinto beans and cornbread for most of my life.  Now there was a table piled high with every fixing you could imagine, bowls filled with mashed potatoes, gravy, yeast rolls, creamed corn, and peach cobbler with Blue Bell Ice Cream for dessert.  It was more food than we could possibly eat.

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My teaching dad, Willy Hill, lived to work.  He was born a poor farm boy in rural East Texas and managed to provide a nice middle-class life for his wife and two daughters working on the docks of the Houston Ship Channel.  He was small in stature, not much more than five feet tall, but he was a giant of a man.  His voice was the gravelly, booming one of a Marine drill instructor. Papa Hill managed the grounds for Boys Country. He also mowed yards around Waller and Hockley and drove a school bus.  That first Saturday morning he woke us up at 6 a.m to work. It was the beginning of a three-year life lesson in how to survive from Willy Hill: “Boy, you got nothing going for you except one thing: a strong back.  If you outwork everyone you ever work with and always have a second job, you will make it.” Papa Hill passed away before I could tell him that I have had a great life because of his lessons.  I hope that he sees me from heaven and knows what an impact he had on my life.

The daily routine and normality of life at Boys Country turned me around so fast.  It’s amazing how that routine made me feel safe and loved.  I had never really passed my classes before arriving at Boys Country.  We either moved before I could fail, or I was just promoted to the next grade so teachers wouldn’t have to deal with me anymore.  The state of Texas had written me off and was just waiting for me to drop out. But Mamma Hill had a two-hour study hall every night after chores.  She stood over me those first few weeks and made me do my homework.  I made the honor roll on my first report card and for the rest of that year.

Sundays at Berean Baptist Church in Houston were life-changing.  Right away, I was mesmerized by the sermons of Pastor Lester Hudson, another East Texas farm boy who followed the call to preach to teenage boys.  I was already a big fan of history and Pastor Hudson used historical examples in his preaching.  In fact, most Sunday night sermons centered on the history of the Old Testament, which was infinitely fascinating to me.  I learned to work hard from Papa Hill, and Pastor Hudson brought me to the cross.  Looking back over my life, Jesus put me in Boys Country so that I would accept his gift of salvation and learn to “earn my keep by the sweat of my brow.”  Those are the two blessings of my time at Boys Country: one saved my life, the other my soul.

At the end of the 1987 school year, I decided to move to Atlanta, Georgia to live with my mother again. We went through many rough years, and I started and stopped college classes several times. I worked hard, often in hotels pulling double shifts.  To this day, I don’t know if my departure was a mistake or just part of my journey; it might even have been what God wanted for me.

In 1997, 10 years after leaving BGC, several of my church friends really pushed me to go back to college.  I tried two night classes at the local community college.  I was a store manager of a cellular sales store, and it was difficult to balance school and work, but I made an A in both classes.  Next quarter, I took five classes and made four As and a B. Eventually I transferred. I was on the Dean’s list every semester at University of North Carolina- Asheville and graduated in 1999 as a scholar in History, a University Scholar, and a University Research Scholar. I graduated with a Masters’ degree in history in 2002 from University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  In 2005, I accepted a tenure-track position at Roane State Community College in East Tennessee.  I jumped right in and worked as hard as possible and did whatever was asked of me.  From my first semester, until now, I have taught seven classes a semester instead of the required five to make extra money and classes in the summer as well.  And, you guessed it, I’ve also had part-time jobs all of that time. I work at a rural Appalachian community college where I try every day to help poor young people make something of themselves. I try every day to give back a little of what Boys Country gave me.

In 2009, I met the most beautiful Christian woman that has ever lived.  She was everything that a woman should be and all that I could dream of in a wife. We met at the college where I taught.  Bobbi graduated in 2010 and went to work as a kindergarten teacher that fall.  We have worked hard and now have a beautiful home and a great life with my stepson Brock.  I am blessed to have such a wonderful family and financial security at 47 years old.  I would love to tell every kid at BGC that they need to work hard, never give up and cherish the opportunity that God has given them.

Every donation to Boys and Girls Country provides a home to children from hard places. Jesus asks us to take care of the least of these, and that is truly what little Casey Cobb was in August 1984. That scared little punk rocker is now a tenured professor, husband, and father.  Mamma Hill taught me what it was to feel safe and Papa Hill told me the truth: that life wasn’t fair and that I was going to have to work hard to survive.  I tell people all the time that Boys and Girls Country is a special place which gives kids heading to nowhere a chance to make something of themselves.

Save the Date: November 28, 2017

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This November 28th, we invite you to join the #GivingTuesday movement and give back.

What is Giving Tuesday?

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season. You’re invited to focus on the meaning of Christmas and end-of-year giving on this day.

Why #GivingTuesday?

You do so much to support Boys and Girls County throughout the year. It’s a busy time of year as we prepare to celebrate the holidays, but it’s also a time when we are called to reflect on and share our many blessings. Please join us in remembering those less fortunate and celebrating your many gifts by donating to our mission.

 

BGC Campaign & Goal

Our #GivingTuesday campaign is #ThankfulThrowback, a showcase of how far the organization has come because of donors like you. Throughout the month of November, you’ll learn about the BGC history and hear from alumni impacted by your support. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Insta, and WordPress!

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How can you participate?

Your donations to Boys and Girls Country directly impact the lives of children and give them a safe, loving home. Remember to share that you gave and encourage your family and friends to join you in giving back to BGC on #GivingTuesday.

Learn more: https://www.givingtuesday.org/

 

Celebrating Our Alumni at the Heritage Award Dinner

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Last night we held our 26th annual Heritage Awards Dinner at the Hilton Americas.  Our generous donors and Board Directors raised $2 million for children from families in crisis!

The Heritage Award Dinner not only raises crucial dollars to care for our kids, but it has become one of our most anticipated events each year because it gives us the opportunity to honor a person or persons that have positively impacted Boys and Girls Country in some way.  This year, we were pleased to honor our Boys and Girls Country Alumni for the mark they are making on the world.  It was a great honor to recognize their growth and contributions and we could not be more proud!

For 46 years we’ve watched children from families in crisis blossom when given the opportunity to do so in a safe and healthy environment. Although we don’t always immediately see the impact of what we do while they are here, we often hear back from them as adults.  Our staff enjoys catching up with them and feel especially gratified to know that they and Boys and Girls Country played a key part in their growth into adulthood.

Alumni Amy, Girmay, Bruce, Jason, and Victoria are perfect examples of why you and so many leaders in the community support our mission. Every child deserves to know that they are loved, safe and cared for. They also deserve a chance to have a successful future. We’re so proud of all our Alumni have accomplished and celebrating with them was a blast!

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Our students also participated in the evening; the Heritage Joyful Noisemakers sang and performed to kick off the dinner and our Leadership Council students welcomed guests in the VIP reception. Our Naidi, a 2017 high school graduate and current Prairie View A&M student through our College & Career Program, shared the struggles her family faced before coming to Boys and Girls Country and the incredible victories she has achieved in her time with us. We were blown away by her courage and positivity!

We cannot thank our amazing Donors and Board Directors enough for all they do to make Boys and Girls Country a successful home for kids. The 2017 Heritage Award Dinner was a wonderful celebration and we can’t wait for next year! See our complete list of sponsors here.

It’s not too late to donate and support this event! To make a donation to the Heritage Award Dinner, click HERE.

 

From the Archives: It’s Not Work, It’s a Lifestyle

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Program Services Manager Tis Gaston has been working at Boys and Girls Country for 41 years!  When she started, the organization was known as Boys Country.  She says, “In 1976, I was a student at Sam Houston State University seeking an internship to fulfill a course requirement for graduation.  My professor said, ‘Here’s a program, Boys Country, never heard of it; it’s in Hockley. Never heard of that either, but they are asking for an intern so go check it out.’  I did and little did I know that internship would turn into my life’s work!”

While many see their employment as just a job, Tis says it’s more of a lifestyle when you work in a 24-hour residential care program.  “I remember years ago doing such a variety of things, including helping kids gather eggs when we had the chicken coop; driving Ms. Rose, the cook, home to Waller every evening; picking up the kids who stayed after school for athletics; completing paperwork for the school lunch program; and many, many late night emergency room runs!” exclaims Tis.

“Since I’ve worked here for so long,” she says, “I know many of the kids who used to live here. I keep in touch with several of them, and I love to hear how well they are doing as adults, in a career or raising their family.  No matter how long ago someone might have lived here, many still see this place as their ‘home base.’ I get requests all the time from former students for documents, photographs or keepsakes they collected while in school. I even get requests for recipes for dishes they remember as Boys and Girls Country standards.”

Boys and Girls Country is a special place where kids’ lives are being changed. “Spend any length of time here,” says Tis, “and you will see amazing things from kids, from the boy who never played a sport make his first touchdown to seeing kids progress from special education classes to honor students and graduating from college.”


We have many long-time staff members who have dedicated years of their lives to our children. We are especially grateful for Tis. Her many years of service to the Boys and Girls Country kids is invaluable! If you’d like to support us, click here for more information and here to donate! Also, be sure to follow all of our social media sites for daily updates.

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