Recently alumni Bryan came to speak to our kids during an education awards ceremony. After each 6 academic weeks we recognize and award our students for their grades and educational accomplishments. Bryan’s talk was inspiring and a great reminder that hard work can eventually pay off.
Bryan lived at Boys and Girls Country from 1979-1985. He told the kids there were more students in FFA than on the Waller football team when he lived at “Boys Country.” When Bryan graduated from high school BGC did not have a College & Career program. He was fortunate to have a scholarship at the University of Houston but other students did not receive that much support. The organization’s resources were very limited. He told our students how scary it was to go out on his own and reminded them how blessed they are to have support after graduation.
Bryan has worked in television editing and digital media for his entire career. He started with a student job at UH and has gone on to build an amazing career filming sporting events and creating graphics for televised events such as the Superbowl.
Our students really enjoyed his presentation and asked great questions about his experiences and life advice. Bryan underlined, again and again, the importance of dedication and hard work; and the advantages available to our kids at BGC:
“For every one of you here in a chair, there are probably 100 kids who would do anything to be here and have the opportunities you have. You are blessed to be here.”
His family accompanied him on the visit and Bryan was able to take them to the cottage he grew up in. Bryan said nothing had changed and was pleased to see his old cottage home. We are so grateful to Bryan for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit our kids and give back to Boys and Girls Country!
Spring Festival is less than 2 weeks away, and our kids cannot wait to see you there! This year’s festival will gather community members and families from the Houston area on Saturday, May 5, at the Boys and Girls Country campus. As always, it promises to be a great time for everyone.
What began four decades ago as a barbecue and cattle sale has grown over the years into an event which welcomes more than 3,000 people to the Boys and Girls Country campus in Hockley, all for a great cause: to provide for more than 100 children and young adults who call our campus home every year. All proceeds from the event help to provide a safe, loving, Christian home for children who come from families in crisis.
The event features games, activities, food, a silent auction and live music for all ages. New this year is a performance by country music artist Josh Grider, edible pancake art by Dancakes, a dunking booth, and the Porkchop Speedway. Free admission and parking make it affordable for everyone in the community to attend.
“We are very excited to see our friends, volunteers, donors and community supporters join us for a day of celebration united as one big family. Our kids love seeing guests on campus, sharing their stories and taking turns playing games. We are thankful for our sponsors who help us keep this tradition alive,” said Vincent Duran, executive director of Boys and Girls Country.
Sim-Tex, L.P., a leading firm in the oil country tubular goods industry, is a Presenting level event sponsor of Spring Festival.
FREE admission and parking.
All-day Children’s Activity passes are $20 (ages 5 and up) or $5 (ages 4 and under).
Food tents will be on site for an additional charge. Snacks and meals range from $2 – $8.
Booths and Activities:
Classic Midway Games
Games and rides
Edible pancake art by Dancakes
Classic Carnival Food
When you come to Spring Festival you are supporting more than 100 children and young adults who live at Boys and Girls Country because their families are in some sort of crisis. Your support provides a child with three meals a day, clothing and shoes, personal necessities (toiletries), education, counseling, and health services.
After 20 years of fundraising for Boys and Girls Country, Elaine Petranek will retire on April 30. Elaine was hired as Director of Development after giving her resumé to a friend with a connection at BGC.
“I didn’t know about the position; Shirley (former Executive Director) just called me. It was a God thing,” says Elaine.
Elaine and Shirley
Her first SpringFestival was held in the parking lot with barbecue and a live auction in the old gym building. They raised about $56,000 that year. Over the course of her time here, the festival and all other fundraising efforts flourished. The festival today raises over $600,000.
“It is the growth of our children – emotionally, educationally and spiritually – that has made this job meaningful to me,” Elaine says.
She has loved watching kids grow up, learn to ride a bike or drive a car, get a job, make all A’s, graduate from high school and college, get married and come back to campus to show their family where they grew up.
As Director of Planned Giving for the last five years, Elaine has been instrumental in our current “Building for the Future” campaign. She drew on her wealth of knowledge from past cottage renovations as well as the construction of the Penny Loyd Student Life Center and Alexander Operations Center.
We are so grateful for Elaine’s legacy of leadership and relationship-building.
This year three of our students raised animals with FFA. Carla and Kaleigh raised goats, and PJ raised chickens. Their projects started in early October, and they just sold their animals in March at the Waller Country Fair. The girls’ animals all brought in more than $1,000 each. The money they raised will be applied to their scholarship account. We are so proud of their skills and determination in raising the animals and taking care of them even during the snow day!
Livestock ranching has always been an important part of Boys and Girls Country life. Our animals bring in additional income when we sell them at auction, and most of the beef and pork our kids eat comes from our stock. We are especially grateful to area businesses who donate animals to us following FFA sales. Right now we have 94 head of cattle and three bulls as well as some goats and lambs.
Students who participate in FFA through Waller ISD attend the meetings and take an Agriculture Education course. Education Program Manager Kristi Pierce adds, “FFA is excellent for our students because it promotes leadership and hands-on learning experiences for students, as well as career exploration and certification.”
Operations Manager and former resident Jason Duebbe believes FFA participation teaches commitment and responsibility. “The kids are solely responsible for the care and exercise of their animals. BGC buys the feed and medicine, but it’s up to the students to raise the animal. The project is a huge confidence builder, especially on the day they walk into the show arena, sell their animal, and realize all the hard work they put into their project,” Jason shared.
We are especially grateful to our donors and supporters who got into a friendly bidding match during the sale. Our girls were amazed by how much money their animals raised. We cannot thank you enough!
We were thrilled to dedicate and open a new cottage home last week! The Cottage 9 family of boys and their Teaching Parents, Jim and Madela Stuckey and Na’Shon and MiSchelle Edwards were excited to finally move into The Hamill Foundation Cottage. The boys lived next door to the construction site and watched excitedly as the building went up. They chose their bedrooms as soon as they were framed out. It was a special moment to see them walk through their new front door!
The Hamill Foundation Cottage was built by Lennar/Village Builders and HomeAid Houston, a 501 c 3 charity of the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA). Construction funds were generously donated to Boys and Girls Country by The Hamill Foundation, longtime friends of BGC. Attending the celebration of the new cottage were representatives from The Hamill Foundation, Lennar, HomeAid Houston, local stakeholders, and friends.
“The construction process has included recruiting vendors and trades to donate as much as possible to complete the home,” said Bill Dalton, Board President of HomeAid Houston. “Working with Lennar/Village Builders and the Boys and Girls Country staff and volunteers has been one of the most rewarding experiences HomeAid has had as we begin our 15th year serving our community.”
Robert gave a moving speech about what a beautiful new home means to him and cottage family.
In addition to eight bedrooms, the 8,100 square foot cottage includes a full modern kitchen, a separate area for the teaching parents, a study room and a large family room. There are 11 cottages on the Roberts Road campus for our children. Three cottages have been replaced so far. If you would like to come for a tour of a new cottage, join us on Saturday, April 7 at 10:00 am for our Walk of Hope Tour. This free event is open to the public.
All the kids at Boys and Girls Country are following the education path that they create with our Education Program Manager Ms. Kristi. Exposure to real life is a very important component of that process. Our experience shows that the more kids get to learn first-hand about different professions and career opportunities, the more motivated they become at achieving excellence.
Our relationship with Oklahoma Christian University began almost a year ago. Their admission representatives visited our campus, participated in events with our kids, and were very impressed with the mission of Boys and Girls Country. As part of their outreach, OCU offers kids from children’s homes merit-based scholarships and discounted tuition rates. We were blessed to learn that OCU extended this benefit to the children of our teaching parents as well.
Robert receiving his scholarship
A few weeks ago three BGC kids had an opportunity to take a trip to OCU and see their beautiful campus. One of the highlights of the trip was Robert being awarded a $32,000 scholarship to attend OCU. He is pursuing a degree in Psychology and is graduating in the top 5% of his class at Waller High School. “Samantha” applied to attend OCU as well and got accepted this week. They both are starting school in the fall of this year. One of our College and Career students applied to transfer to OCU for a computer science program. All the kids found the campus very welcoming; they especially enjoyed the Christian foundation of the college and many activities on campus.
Ms. Kristi Pierce snapping a selfie with the kids and teaching parents
We never cease to be amazed by the provisions that God sends to our kids. We are blessed to see more and more opportunities springing out for them. What’s more, we are excited to send them to a college that will continue the spiritual leadership growth well into their adulthood. Thank you for investing in our kids!
In 2008, the Cottage 9 family formed the Boys and Girls Country Cycling Team. Teaching Dad Jim Stuckey partnered with community cycling teams and shops to provide the kids with bikes, gear, and coaching. The first year they spent every weekend traveling to mountain bike trails and rides all over Texas. “It was so amazing to see the kids enter a race and finish for the first time on their own,” says Jim. “All eight of my boys rode, and they were so proud of themselves.”
Since then we have had over 30 students participate in the program, and several have ridden in popular national races. This year the BGC Bike Team joined the Northwest Cycling Club. Five kids are registered to be on the race team and six other kids will participate in the ride program. In March our students will start training at Houston’s Alkek Velodrome for track racing. We are grateful to the NWCC coaches who agreed to help our kids train in the Velodrome and build a foundation for the team to learn to work together.
Jim observes that every kid who has cycled with the BGC program has gained self-confidence and willpower. “They learn self-determination because if they don’t put in the time to learn the sport, they only have themselves to blame.” He continues, “The key to self-discipline and self-satisfaction is doing something hard that few can do. Finishing a race is one of the hardest things a teen can do. The joy and satisfaction I see on a kid’s face are indescribable when I see them reach the finish line, no matter where he or she placed in the race.”
On March 3 many of our students will ride in the Pedal for a Purpose bike ride benefitting Boys and Girls Country. They can’t wait to see our loyal riders and new participants. We hope you will ride with us and get to know our kids.
We want to recognize Richard Lamb of Southern Elite for his advocacy and support and for donating track bikes to the kids. We are also incredibly thankful for Bill Sharp, Scott Schaefer and the Lakewood UMC Family Matters Class for supporting the bike team. And of course, thank you Northwest Cycling Club for welcoming our kids as new members!
For 47 years, Boys and Girls Country has relied on our community to provide for children from hard places. We are beyond blessed by the faithful support and prayers of so many. The Annual Friend of Children Awards recognizes donors, volunteers and community partners who have made a significant impact through their contributions of time, talent and treasure.
This year we honored a number of friends:
Champion Forest Baptist Church – Church Partner
CFBC has been a wonderful supporter of Boys and Girls Country for many years. The Cottage 2 family attends CFBC and has benefitted from scholarships for mission trips and church camp. This summer they sent six of our girls to camp at no cost to us. Allie Kretsinger mobilized her youth and their families to shop for presents, donate additional items, and host a fun Christmas party in the cottages for the kids.
Marsh & McLennan – Corporate Partner
They have been supporters of our kids and our mission for close to 20 years, generously underwriting both the Heritage Award Dinner and Spring Festival. In addition to being a donor, Marsh & McLennan has handled our insurance needs for over ten years.
Tokio Marine HCC – Corporate Partner
Tokio Marine HCC has been the title sponsor for the bike ride since it began in 2015. Each year their employees ride, man rest stops, work registration, and help with anything and everything. They take ownership of their role and their CEO, Chris Williams, has ridden with us for several years.
The Wayne Duddlesten Foundation – Foundation Partner
We are thankful the trustees of the foundation recognized that the work of Boys and Girls Country fits Mr. Duddlesten’s passion for education. Their generous support last year allowed us to provide over 2,200 hours of tutoring help to our kids, administer valuable educational assessments to better address educational needs, and provide a robust summer enrichment program.
NW San Jacinto High Rollers – Club Partner
The San Jacinto High Rollers are committed and generous friends to the BGC kids. Not only do they give generous in-kind gifts, since 1994 they have donated over $330,000 to the organization. We are so grateful for them and look forward to many, many more years of friendship.
Jay Aldis – Professional Services Partner
Jay Aldis is a Partner with Bracewell LLP whose expertise is employment law. He has provided quality guidance to BGC for navigating the employment law minefield.
Kim McCoy – From the Heart
As an advisor for the Currie Fund, Kim McCoy has helped us to secure over $62,000 in donations, and she and her husband Jeff have made generous personal gifts as well. For many years she and her family have been the Christmas sponsors for the Cottage 9 boys, celebrating with them and giving them wonderful Christmas memories.
Dayna Williams – Volunteer of the Year
In her short time volunteering with us, Dayna has jumped in with both feet, helping where ever needed including Spring Festival, tutoring, mentoring and assisting with reception. Like so many of our volunteers, Dayna’s family generously donates to our mission on a monthly basis.
Fern Basden – Lifetime Friend
Fern and Richard’s donor record with Boys and Girls Country goes back farther than our database and files. Although her husband Richard passed away in 1989, Fern continued to support BGC. In 1996, she became a “Founders” Friend and in 2008 made a major gift to our capital campaign, all the while maintaining faithful monthly gifts.
Texas Contract Floors – Business Partner
Texas Contract Floors have been long-time supporters. In 1996 they played a significant role in the remodel of the Recreation Center and Cottage 1 with Jerry Katchel Builders. In 1998, we started the task of a capital campaign with the renovation and expansion of all 11 cottages, building a new Education Building and renovating the Administration and Community Life Building.
Watford Family – Family Partner
Mike Watford set up a scholarship fund in the endowment in the name of his late wife Joanne, who was a volunteer at BGC. In addition to serving as a Board Director, he was the first one to fund a new cottage; the Joanne H. Watford Cottage was dedicated in November of 2016.
Mike’s son Jason and his family are also very involved with the Watford Cottage and with our Young Professionals Group.
Deputy Trey Fosdick – Education Partner
Deputy Fosdick is one of Waller High School’s Resource Officers, and he works for the Harris County Sherriff’s Department. He has been an educational partner of Boys and Girls Country for more than nine years. He has been building relationships with our kids for years and taught them how law enforcement works.
We are so grateful for their support and friendship! Thank you for growing our children for life!
Like most families, Boys and Girls Country sees potential in every child that calls our campus home. We pray for them and work hard to ensure that the children in our care have every opportunity to succeed in life…..even if they resist us!
George came to BGC at the age of 13. He was a very stubborn “Texas tough” teenager who resisted direction. He remembers growing up at BGC extremely bitter, resentful, and very narrow-minded. He focused his energy on being envious of what other kids had instead what he could do to change his own circumstances.
It was a rough ride but he graduated high school and moved on to the College and Career Campus. Not long after his first year in college, he was discharged from the program because he could not follow the rules. George spent three years in between jobs and found himself homeless. Out of desperation, he called Boys and Girls Country and asked for a chance to start over. Like a prodigal son, he was embraced by his BGC family who helped him develop a plan for improvement and accountability.
I remember walking into my new room at the College and Career campus and hitting my knees and thanking God and the universe. I told myself right then and there, I was not going to ruin this opportunity.
Last week we proudly celebrated George’s graduation from Stephen F. Austin State University with a degree in Business Administration. The room was decorated in purple, George’s pictures were posted along the walls, and he was surrounded by his Boys and Girls Country family. We shared a meal and memories of thanksgiving. At the end of the evening, George walked outside holding a set of keys to his graduation gift – a new (used) vehicle!
Today George is a proud father and husband who cherishes moments with his family and the opportunities he has been given. He realizes his story did not start out very positive and credits Boys and Girls Country with getting him on track and standing by him. George hopes that other kids at BGC will learn from his mistakes. He cannot imagine where he would have been without BGC giving him another chance.
Boys and Girls Country kids participate in a variety of activities, including volunteering at the Houston Food Bank, going to Christian summer camps, and even going on hunting trips. We are always thrilled when alumni reach out to share the story of how these experiences have impacted their lives. Recently, Kelly Ailly contacted Operations Director Quintes Stark to share that he has become a hunting guide for Operation Orphans.
Kelly came to live at Boys and Girls Country after his father passed away in 1995 and his mother started a new life which did not include him. Kelly was forced to deal with grief on his own during his formative years. He did not stay at BGC long, but he knows the impact his time here made.
One of the most important experiences for Kelly was the first hunting trip with Operation Orphans. The people he met while on the trip made a big impression on him. “These people believed in you and I needed that relationship the most. I remembered that program my whole life,” commented Kelly. Now Kelly is a volunteer with the program and guides other kids. He appreciates the opportunity to go through the experience again and make a difference in the lives of children, and he encourages his friends to take part so they can make a difference together.
His appreciation for Boys and Girls Country has grown over the years. Kelly admits that at first he built a wall inside which prevented him from truly understanding the positive impact of his stay at BGC. But now he recognizes BGC taught him many of the best lessons he’s ever learned. As a father of three, he passes these life lessons to his kids. He has been happily married since 2013 and currently works at TXDoT as a Senior Inspector.
Do you have a memorable experience which shaped your perspective as a kid? We would love to hear about on social media or in the comments below.