2017 Friend of Children Awards

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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!

 

Giving George a Chance

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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.

Alumni Pays It Forward

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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.

 

Kelly Ailly

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.

 

Mia’s Special Christmas

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Our donors and volunteers go above and beyond for our kids every Christmas. Generous donations, lots of parties, and delicious goodies make the season extra special. It’s awesome to see the smiles and joy on our kids’ faces when the High Rollers show up or when they receive a special present. Many of the Boys and Girls Country kids come from families who couldn’t afford to do much during the holidays or parents who had to work throughout the break.

One of our new children had an extraordinary Christmas this year. Before coming to live at BGC, Mia had never received a personal Christmas or birthday gift. Her family was so impoverished that they would choose items in their home and wrap them so the kids had something to open. Mia never had a Christmas tree or met Santa.

Mia’s oldest brother came to Boys and Girls Country first. He was so happy to live here that he begged his grandma to come let his younger sister come live here too. The children feel happy and safe after a life of moving from state to state and being in and out foster care with Child Protective Services. Their mother has serious mental health issues and has been homeless at times. They have never had a stable father figure.

We are thrilled to be able to give these kids the love, care, and stability they so desperately need. Mia’s teaching parents shared with us:

Mia is so excited for all that has happened since being here at BGC. She has had real birthday parties and presents picked out just for her (not items found in her house). The other girls in the cottage are surprised that she has never had a gift before and are learning to appreciate all they have had. It is amazing to see the girls protect each other when they find out someone has had so much less than they have.

Without the support of our community, we can’t be a home for kids like Mia and her brother. Thank you for giving them a joyful Christmas and a place to call home all year.

If you didn’t get a chance to make your year-end donation, why not start the new year off right? Your gift in any amount provides a home for Mia and kids just like her. Thank you!

 

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Here’s Mia with her teaching parents. To respect her privacy we have changed Mia’s name and hidden her face.

 

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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