Posts Tagged ‘Bokenkamp’

Iowa Students Spend Spring Break at Bokenkamp

March 14, 2013

bokenkamp bear groupA group of students from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, chose to spend their winter break (which is Texas’s Spring Break) volunteering at Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter in Corpus Christi. From March 2-9, the 14 students and staff went to work at the shelter, painting, cleaning, and generally spiffing up the dorms. They also had the chance to test out and practice their Spanish as they got to know the residents, all unaccompanied refugee minors from Central America.

A fun and creative stop for the group was the Build-a-Bear Workshop® in Corpus, where they stuffed and lovingly finished 75 bears just for the Bokenkamp kids. They were able to make this generous contribution from their fundraising efforts prior to making the trip. These bears will give each new intake at Bokenkamp something warm and fuzzy that they can call their very own and hold onto during their difficult transition.

A trip to the Texas State Aquarium with six of the Bokenkamp boys was another highlight of the Wartburg group’s week. And what a treat it was for the lucky six, who were selected based on their length of stay and very good behavior at Bokenkamp.

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Corpus Christi graciously hosted the student volunteers, and held a special dinner for them one night.

The Wartburg visitors ranged from sophomores to seniors, and one of them shared her experience in this blog:

The Measure of a Year: What LSS Accomplished in 2012

February 27, 2013

2012 blockThis past year, as with every year of the last 13 decades, LSS served the most vulnerable members of society. Of those we served, 96 percent are low income or impoverished. Through providing innovative, quality Christian care, and adapting to the needs of our clients, we strive to strengthen lives, families, and communities.

To help convey the scope of our services, and who they touch, we compile a list of what our agency has achieved in the past year and post it on our website. The numbers tell quite a story!  What they don’t tell is the sheer volume of hard work and loyal support of our volunteers, donors, and a statewide staff of more than 800 individuals who make all of it possible.

In addition to adoption and foster care, our vital programs and services also include residential children’s centers, charter schools, disaster response, emergency assistance, senior retirement communities, and spiritual care.

Following is our 2012 accomplishment list. We’re grateful that we have been given the opportunity to serve so many in need—over 25,000 to be exact.

Children’s Services

  • 1,913 children were provided foster care in 15 communities across Texas—Amarillo, Austin, Conroe/The Woodlands, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Harlingen, Laredo, Lubbock, McAllen, Mesquite, Robstown, San Antonio, Tyler, and Victoria, Texas.
  • 445 formerly abused children, ages 6-17, were served at two residential treatment centers: Krause Children’s Center in Katy, and New Life Children’s Center in Canyon Lake, Texas.
  • 557 child refugees were served at Bokenkamp Emergency Shelter, Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • 228 child refugees were provided transitional foster care in El Paso, Texas.
  • 107 Texas children were adopted through LSS domestic adoption program.
  • 69 children from countries such as China, Korea, Ethiopia, Colombia, India, Russia, Uganda, Ukraine, The Philippines, Kazakhstan, Thailand, and Taiwan were adopted through the LSS international adoption program in partnership with other international adoption agencies.
  • 4,545 volunteers served at New Life, Krause, Bokenkamp, and fundraising events.
  • 145 New Orleans foster youth were served by BeREAL, a mentoring program for teens “aging out” of the Louisiana foster care system.
  • 1,084 students were served at Trinity Charter Schools.

Senior Services

  • More than 989 older adult residents of LSS senior living options, ranging from independent living to skilled nursing and memory care, in Houston, Brenham, Victoria, Round Rock, and Lubbock, Texas.
  • 19 individual patients (1,904 hrs) were served through Care-Connect care management at The Village in Spring, Texas.

Services for Families in Crisis

  • 10,294 individuals were provided emergency assistance with rent, utilities, prescriptions, and other basic needs at Neighborhood House in Lubbock, Texas. More than 127,000 lbs. of food and hygiene products were distributed.
  • 1,668 individual patients were served during 8,121 patient visits through Health For Friends Clinic in Lubbock, Texas.

Disaster Response

  • Approx. 150 families were helped with emergency disaster assistance in TX and LA (wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes).
  • Rebuild/unmet needs funding went to more than 30 families in Bastrop and Spicewood.
  • Aid was given to more than 300 farm families suffering drought/wildfires through Haylift to Texas efforts.
  • Repair/rebuild work was done on 60+ homes in Bastrop.
  • Coordinated approx. 1,900 volunteers for nearly 53,000 volunteer hours.
  • Total clients served by LSSDR = 540 families; 1,458 individuals

Old Navy, New Friends for Bokenkamp

November 27, 2012

Old Navy is a fun place to shop any time, but for the boys and girls at Bokenkamp Emergency Children’s Shelter in Corpus Christi, the store holds a special place in our hearts! The generous store employees are having a coat drive for our kids, collecting lightly used and/or new coats to give to our residents.

We have developed a nice partnership with Old Navy, and our kids do most of their clothes shopping there with the grant money we receive from the Beaumont Foundation of America (BFA).  BFA provides school clothing for the approximately 1,650 children LSS serves in foster care and its residential treatment facilities in Texas. A provision of the grant is that the children are allowed to select their own clothing, which of course they love to do at Old Navy.  The store and staff accommodate us by opening the store early or staying open late so that we can shop by ourselves, without the general public.

The store manager, Patrick, reached out to us with the idea of a coat drive. On December 3rd we’ll pick up the coats, just in time for our residents to enjoy the holidays in warmth and comfort.  A big holiday THANK YOU to Old Navy, from all of us at Bokenkamp!

[*Note: Bokenkamp is an emergency shelter in Corpus Christi serving unaccompanied refugee minors, primarily from Central America.]

A BOO-kenkamp Halloween

October 26, 2012

bokenkamp halloween2 The kids (and staff!) have been getting in the Halloween mood at Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter in Corpus Christi, with a haunted house-building contest leading up to the big Halloween Carnival on the 31st.

Nine groups, of eight kids each, were inspired to get creative (and creepy!) as they constructed haunted houses from scrap cardboard, paint, and glitter. Spiders, ghosts, and graveyards are all on display, and there’s a competition underway to see which house will win the most votes. Voting ends TODAY (Friday, Oct. 26) and the winner will be announced on Halloween at Bokenkamp’s Annual Halloween Carnival.

The Halloween Carnival will include face painting, cake walks, an actual haunted house – and trick or treating of course!

Mission Team from Nebraska Brightens Up Bokenkamp

August 14, 2012

Bokenkamp candogroup Last summer CAN-DO Missions, a national organization that provides congregations with opportunities and funds for specific missions, sent a team to volunteer at Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter, to help with an array of tasks and maintenance chores. Their efforts were a big help to the staff, and went a long way toward making the emergency shelter feel more like home for the residents, who are all unaccompanied refugee children and teens from Central America.

Can-Do Missions sent another group this summer, this time hailing from Pierce, Nebraska. A hardworking and inspired youth group of six teenagers and two chaperones came to help out at Bokenkamp August 2-9. During their stay they worked on an assortment of projects around the shelter, including putting the finishing touches on the school building and purchasing shelving and totes to organize the donation room. Bok candokidsBok cando shelves

And (with a little inspiration from Pinterest), they added a splash of color to the shelter by spray-painting benches and metal folding chairs bright and cheerful colors. From traditional, utilitarian tan to red, purple, and blue!

Before their arrival, the group had fundraising events to help pay for their trip and also collected clothing to take to Bokenkamp residents. They also brought flowers for me (the director of volunteers) for my help in directing the team through a list of “home improvement” projects.

A special thanks to CAN-DO Missions and the visitors from Zion Lutheran Church in Pierce for giving their time and hands-on labor – which was truly a labor of love for our young residents.

For Shore, It Was Bokenkamp Beach Clean-Up Day!

June 22, 2012

Bokenkamp beach The Bokenkamp kids had a special opportunity to give back to the Corpus Christi community … and they had a blast doing it! Eight residents enjoyed a day of volunteering and fun on the beach, teaming up with the Galilean Men In Mission from Galilean Lutheran Church in Corpus Christi. The clean-up crew cleared away trash from the Malaquite Beach Pavilion area on the Padre Island National Seashore, and the boys received five cents for every bottle cap they collected. The resident who collected the most bottle caps was rewarded with a free English/Spanish youth bible.

The kids loved the scenery and the chance to picnic at the pavilion. They all agreed―nothing beats helping out and giving back, especially when that includes a day at the beach!

Chicktime Comes to Krause

April 20, 2012

Chicktime katy “Chicktime” has a new chapter in Houston/Katy that will hold monthly events for the girls at Krause Children’s Center. Lori Rhodes, who started the first Chicktime group at New Life Children’s Center in Canyon Lake, has launched 15 Chicktime groups throughout Texas, including one in Corpus Christi that organizes events at our Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter. (That’s Lori third from the right in the photo.)

Chicktime partners with local nonprofits to support girls of all ages, exposing the girls to a wide array of creative and fun opportunities, gifts, and talents, so that they can look inside themselves and identify their own. Chicktime leaders help these young women develop their passions and use their gifts to make the world a better place for the next generation.

Birthdays at Bokenkamp

March 19, 2012

bokenkamp birthday cakes [Joanna Villareal Rocha is the Director of Volunteers at Bokenkamp in Corpus Christi].

Each and every one of us has a special day when we are entitled to compliments, gifts, and praise—that day is our birth date; mostly unique just to us (or so we tend to think). Many celebrate their birthday week, others birthday weekend, and some even take it to the extreme and celebrate the whole month! Your birthday is a pretty big deal to you! It seemed only natural that we should recognize and acknowledge the residents of Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter who are in our care during their special day. So beginning January 2012, we officially started celebrating birthdays around here!

On the second Friday of each month, four wonderful volunteers from Sacred Heart Home Health leave their work early on Friday and come set up, decorate, and get ready for a birthday celebration! Ms. Rita, who owns the company, was thrilled to start this project and wanted to get her staff involved. Since January, she and her crew have come to make sure that this day is special for all the residents who share a birthday in the same month. They decorate and bring balloons, chips, and drinks for everyone, and even do the honors of cutting the cake.bokenkamp birthday bokenkamp birthday volunteers Every month, 3-5 residents turn a new age, and for them, Ms. Rita brings a special gift, customized to match their favorite color! She also includes candy and a card. Every birthday party is also followed by a dance—which is also lots of fun.Ms. Rita

Our volunteers have been amazing, and they truly enjoy being a part of each birthday celebration. In my role as Director or Volunteer Services, I purchase the cake and take lots of pictures during the celebration. I pass the photos on to case managers and clinicians, so that they can share them with the family if they choose to.

Birthdays are a blessing. They are a gift from God and it was time to start making them special for each resident who has a birthday to celebrate while in our care. Feliz cumpleaños!

Five Stories of Survival from Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter

October 17, 2011

boyonstreetweb Every child at Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter has a story. These stories are often heroic, sometimes horrific, and all are remarkable. These are minor refugee children, mostly teens found in emergency situations, who have been placed at Bokenkamp by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. They have experienced more during their young lives than most of us can imagine. We are constantly impressed by their positive attitudes, and in awe of their resilience.

Here, I’ve summarized just a few stories of our recent Bokenkamp residents.

· Felipe, age 17, was the oldest of seven siblings living with his mother in Guatemala. He came to the United States to find his father (whom he hadn’t seen in six years) and to work and send money back to his impoverished family. Once Felipe was safe at Bokenkamp, staff noticed that he cried every day at mealtime. The counselor discovered he felt guilty for eating the meals that were provided by Bokenkamp—because as he enjoyed this good food, his brothers and sisters back home were starving.

· Eva, a 16-year-old girl from Honduras, traveled to the U.S. with a family friend, was apprehended by law enforcement, and placed at Bokenkamp. When told she could call home to notify her family of her whereabouts, she refused. Eva only wanted to get in touch with a sister she knew was living in Laredo, TX. When Eva was hospitalized for an injury, her sister and another family relative surprised her by coming to visit. This was just two weeks before her birthday and to Eva it was a miracle! The sister submitted all the necessary paperwork and the two sisters were reunified shortly after.

· Adolfo, a 15-year-old boy from Guatemala, arrived at Bokenkamp on a quest to find his uncle who was living somewhere in the U.S., and convince him to return home. Adolfo wanted to help rebuild his village, which had been completely wiped out by a mudslide, and he needed his uncle’s help. Adolfo told stories of destruction and despair, and how he had pulled dead bodies out from under rocks. His plan was to work, and send the money home, until he would be able to go back himself. Adolfo has been very patient, understanding, and humble. He recently celebrated his 16th birthday at the shelter [and his uncle has not yet been located].

· Fourteen-year-old Corina escaped from El Salvador to the U.S. on a search for her mother. She did not know her father and had been raised by her grandmother, uncles, and aunts. Corina fled her home country after four men raped and assaulted her one day after school. Once Eva was safe at Bokenkamp, her mom was found living in Houston. She visited Corina regularly and finally was able to take her home.

· Upon his arrival at Bokenkamp, it was obvious that 16-year-old Estuardo had a great personality and an uncanny ability to positively alter the mood of a group. The performer in Estuardo came shining through at the Bokenkamp Talent Show, when he wrote and sang a Christian song about hope and faith. He sang that God put us here, for a reason, and that each and every resident of Bokenkamp was meant to survive. He sang that they all must be resilient and stay positive, and always look forward to what was to come. This fine young man left a lasting message in the hearts of everyone who heard his song that day.

Dancing With Rachel and the Bokenkamp Stars

August 25, 2011

Bokenkamp girls dance Although it took some time to “break the ice,” after only two sessions volunteer Rachel Figgs had the girls of Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter* dancing and learning to “feel the beat!” Rachel has been leading dance classes at the facility, and the girls will perform a samba/reggaeton routine at this year’s Bokenkamp Talent Show coming up Friday August 26th.

Rachel, age 24, is a new volunteer to Bokenkamp, but she comes with plenty of passion and a desire to help the residents. She was recently accepted into the Peace Corpsto serve in a Central American country and she hopes that her experience at Bokenkamp will enhance her effectiveness in her new Peace Corps assignment.

In spite of a significant language barrier–with Rachel desperately trying to learn Spanish, and the girls of Bokenkamp using what little English they have picked up from school– “dance has an amazing way of opening up people to others,” Rachel notes. “It’s amazing to see how these girls who have no dance experience catch on so fast!” With little time left to practice, Rachel hopes to fine-tune the routine and make this act one of the best that Bokenkamp has ever seen.

“I am truly humbled; the girls take what little they are taught and run with it,” says Rachel. “It makes me really appreciate the opportunity to help and hopefully inspire them.”

*Note: Bokenkamp is an emergency shelter in Corpus Christi serving unaccompanied refugee minors, most from Central and South America.

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