Give Hope To Children This Christmas

Originally from the island of Trinidad, Jacob’s mother was abandoned by his father when he was just a baby. When a new man appeared in her life, there was no space for Jacob anymore as her new husband didn’t want to raise somebody else’s child. Just like that, Jacob ended up on the streets of Trinidad at the age of four. Sick and malnourished, he was taken in by a kind woman whom he would grow up to call ‘Auntie.’ Not only did she take him to the hospital and help him get well, but she arranged for his adoption to her family members in the United States.

Life with his adopted family was beautiful. His parents enrolled him in a private school, and they were very involved in church. He remembers a lot of fun times as a family going to amusement parks, on walks and for drives together. However, things took a quick turn when his mom was diagnosed with cancer. The family battled through seven tumultuous years of treatment until she developed an inoperable tumor and passed away.

Jacob was unable to cope with the loss despite his father’s best efforts to help. Instead of grieving, he buried his emotions and started acting out, defying instruction and guidance. His grades deteriorated rapidly, but Jacob didn’t care. When his dad could no longer manage, Jacob was placed at Boys and Girls Country (BGC).

At BGC, Jacob was provided the resources and support needed to learn how to deal with anger. He is grateful for his teaching parent, Mr. Paul, modeling how to be a man and for the fond memories with his cottage family on trips to Needville for dinner and fellowship.

After years of anger and hurt, Jacob learned how to process his emotions and grew closer to God. Through the patience and understanding of teaching parents and mentors, Jacob saw that their relationships with God were genuine, and they truly wanted him to succeed. Jacob was able to restore the relationship with his adoptive father and find peace with all that he endured as a child.

Even when Jacob was alone on the streets of Trinidad as a toddler and suffering in silence after being abandoned by his mother, God saw his future and knew the plans He had to prosper him. We are blessed that his path led him to BGC.

As a College and Career student at BGC, Jacob is a junior at Texas Lutheran University. He has made everyone proud by overcoming his past and fighting hard for his future. “My plans are to graduate with a degree in Rehabilitation Science and Kinesiology with a minor in Psychology. I’ll then get my master’s in Kinesiology, and my goal is to become a physical therapist.” Currently the chapter treasurer of the Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity, Jacob is thriving in school. His positive outlook and hard work ethic will help him achieve his dreams, and he is an inspiration to everyone who knows him.

Without the help of our partners and friends, these dreams would never be a possibility for young men and women like Jacob. At BGC, we help kids who have experienced various forms of trauma. Although their wounds are different and their paths are unique, we provide the love, support and prayer each child needs to thrive as a successful adult.

This Christmas, your generosity can bring peace and joy to the children who desperately need support. Donations of any amount will help us deliver gifts of healing, prayer and a stable home for the children placed at BGC. Please consider giving a one-time or recurring monthly gift today, and be the reason more kids like Jacob can overcome their traumatic pasts and grow up to be successful and optimistic adults.

Heritage Award Dinner 2021

Our 2021 Heritage Award Dinner was a success thanks to the generosity of our underwriters, volunteers and guests. With your help, we raised $1.9 million to help children from families in crisis!

Together we celebrated 50 years of Boys and Girls Country (BGC) and honored Steve and Anne-Laure Stephens. The evening included powerful testimonials from BGC kids and an alumnus, a champagne toast to celebrate half a century of BGC, silent and live auctions and an entertaining performance by Frank Caliendo.

This year’s event honored our friends, Steve and Anne-Laure Stephens, for their support of BGC for more than 20 years. Steve Stephens serves as CEO of Amegy Bank. Together with his wife Anne-Laure, they devote their time, talent and treasure to multiple causes that strengthen Houston’s community. Currently, Steve serves as a board member at Boys and Girls Country, University of Houston’s Board of Visitors and Bauer College Board, as well as the United Way of Greater Houston Board of Trustees. In addition, he supports Houston Methodist as a chairperson of the President’s Leadership Council. Anne-Laure is involved with the Houston Methodist Hospital and The Rose in the fight to eliminate breast cancer. 

“What I realized through Boys and Girls Country and our own family experiences is really you achieve hope through laughter, your friends becoming your family and faith,” said Steve Stephens during his award acceptance speech.

“We are so happy we could gather to celebrate 50 years of helping children grow into self-sustaining adults. Thanks to our underwriters, sponsors and volunteers, not only were we able to have a great event, but the future looks bright for another 50 years of helping children,” commented Vince Duran, CEO of Boys and Girls Country.

The Heritage Award Dinner raises vital funds for BGC to help children from families in crisis. The money raised at this event allows BGC to provide a loving, stable Christian home for children from families in crisis and supports the College & Career program, which prepares the graduates of BGC become self-sustaining adults. This annual event brings together Houstonians who love children and want to help them succeed despite the adversities in their past life.

Major underwriters of the event included the Herr family, Steve and Anne-Laure Stephens, First National Bank, Hugesen Polymers USA LP, Katherine and Scott Galloway, the Gatewood Family Foundation, the Reuhl Family Foundation, Paul and Staci Sorensen, Sim-Tex, Southwestern Energy and the Woodforest Charitable Foundation.

BGC Supports Emily on Her Path to Becoming a Teacher

Emily’s parents divorced when she was three, and her birth mother was in and out of her life until she was 10. She hardly remembers what her mom was like, since she completely disappeared from the life of her kids. Emily felt abandoned and unwanted. The youngest of five kids, she found comfort and safety in spending time with her siblings. However, things changed drastically after their family moved to Texas and Emily’s dad remarried.

Emily’s relationships suffered as tension with her stepmom created a toxic and unstable environment.

Her siblings told her they did not want her to be their sister anymore, and her stepmom no longer wanted her around. Emily’s heart was broken, and she was losing a battle with anxiety.

Due to instability at home and changing schools, Emily was on the verge of not graduating from high school. “I wanted to get away from it all, from the pressure on my chest that I would get from anxiety and stress. I was at the point that I would have anxiety attacks and end up in the hospital.”

When Emily arrived at BGC, she was 23 classes behind her peers. While living at home, she did not have the emotional capacity to pull herself out of that hole, and she was in despair at the prospect of never graduating. At BGC, her teaching parents and program team provided Emily with the resources to tackle what seemed impossible, retaking her classes within a year to graduate on time.

The sense of stability and support gave Emily a foundation to focus on academics and trust those around her.

Emily’s life finally started improving as she became the older sister to a cottage full of girls. That gave her a whole new perspective on life and a sense of responsibility to believe in herself and encourage others. Her relationships at home also improved as she learned to control her anxiety and stress through counseling.

Emily shared that her relationship with God has grown significantly and has become a vital part of her life. She was inspired, encouraged and guided by her teaching mom, Ms. Angie, who is the first God-centered mother figure in her life. Emily created a routine of writing prayers and volunteered to lead devotionals in her cottage. “Faith is the only thing to hold on to,” she commented.

Thanks to the guidance, advocacy, and support Emily received from BGC’s staff and Education program, she was able to finish all required courses and graduate on time. It took a lot of discipline and left her exhausted at times, but Emily is very proud of her amazing achievement.

Today, Emily is following her dream of becoming an English teacher and turning her passion for writing and reading into a career. She chooses to take advantage of opportunities in life while being a light to the people around her. Being an older sister in a cottage taught her to be strong for others and help them stay focused on the plan that God has for them.

After God and family, education is one of the most emphasized values at Boys and Girls Country. All the kids who arrive at BGC carry a lot of pressure on their shoulders. Trauma, food insecurity, distrust in adults and lack of self-control lead to poor academic performance. That’s why it is so important to evaluate the children who are placed at BGC to see what underlying issues are preventing them from being their best selves. Thanks to your support, Boys and Girls Country has the necessary resources to equip our kids for success and meet them where they are. Whether they need special accommodations at school or a private tutor to get back to their grade level, our kids can be sure that the support they need is within reach.

Thanks to the investment of our generous donors, kids like Emily find safety, stability and care at BGC and focus on their God-given talents. This year, 10 seniors graduated from high school and are pursuing a bright future as successful, independent adults.

As we prepare for the upcoming school year, we ask that you prayerfully consider making a gift to invest in the future of children who call BGC home. We are so thankful for your support. Every gift ensures that our mission is alive and that the future of our children and young adults is bright.

Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

We are so proud of our Class of ’21 seniors who persevered through a very difficult year to reach the high school finish line. Graduation is a wonderful accomplishment and a stepping stone to achieving dreams and defying the past. Thanks to your support, our kids have had the chance for a healthy childhood and many wonderful opportunities. As you read about our amazing graduates, please say a prayer for their futures, with God guiding them every step of the way.


Alan was nervous about graduation but also very excited about the next stage in his life. At school, he participated in Color Guard and art, as he had always been very creative. He will miss quality time with his teachers and school friends. BGC helped Alan thrive and enjoy his hobbies: drawing, reading and exercising. He shared that his teaching parents made the greatest impact on him because they taught him how to be focused on his goals. Alan says that without BGC he would probably not be alive because he used to be very depressed and hang out with the wrong crowd.

Favorite Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17


Brandie was very excited to graduate and start college. In high school, she acquired a Pharmacy Technician certificate, and she is going to Lone Star College to become a Veterinary Technician. In the seven years that Brandie has lived at BGC, she acquired many memories she will cherish because they included her younger brother. Whether it was treating him to lunch or spending Christmas together, she is grateful for the safe family environment that BGC provided for both of them. Brandie was proud to be baptized in 2019 at a church camp. Her teaching parents made a significant impact on her life because they taught her how to communicate properly and control her anger.

Favorite scripture: Romans 5:8


Estifanos has lived at BGC for seven years. At school, he was involved in cross-country running, soccer, football, wrestling and track. He enjoyed having a normal childhood at BGC, where he could play video games, basketball and hang out with his cottage brothers. His favorite BGC memories include playing Sardines in the dark with his cottage family and going on vacation to Galveston. He is thankful that BGC provided structure and positive influences in his life.

Favorite Scripture: Philippians 4:13


Evelin shared that high school was tough, but she will miss her teachers and friends. She was involved in FCCLA, band and Spanish Club. She is grateful for her BGC cottage, who became her second family. Together they had birthday parties and cottage vacations, which will always be the highlights of her life here. Thanks to living at BGC, she did not have to worry about earning money to provide for her family but rather enjoy her childhood and take advantage of the opportunities that have come her way.

Favorite scripture: Jeremiah 29:11


Kaleigh, also known as “The Goat Girl”, has lived at BGC for almost 13 years. Since she was little, Kaleigh was involved in a variety of after-school and on-campus activities like FFA, 4H, Waller County Jr. Fair Board, Teen Court and Leadership Council. She always took advantage of opportunities, making her high school years busy but fun. She will miss her teachers and friends. Kaleigh is grateful for the loving home that BGC became, for the memories of going on a hunting trip, being baptized and singing karaoke. Her dream is to get a degree in criminal justice.

Favorite scripture: 1 Timothy: 4-12


Although the pandemic disrupted many normal high school experiences, Luke is grateful for the memories of Friday night football games. He enjoyed his high school experience but is also excited to start his journey to becoming a first responder. While living at BGC, Luke was involved in Waller High School football and Accounting UIL. In his free time, he cycled and played sports with other kids. Luke is grateful for his teaching parents who guided him through various challenges and never gave up on him. Luke said that without BGC, he would not have a real family and most likely be in a bad place right now.

Favorite scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:11


Mekdelawyt enjoyed her high school years and the support she received. She had fun being a part of Color Guard and theatre at school, and she learned a lot from those experiences. She understands how challenging the next step will be, but she is well-prepared to tackle it. She is grateful for many people who cared for her at BGC, especially her teaching parents and mentors who helped her overcome tough times. She will always cherish the memories of going to D.C. with her cottage family and decorating the campus for the Tour of Lights every Christmas. Mekdelawyt shared that without BGC she would most likely be homeless and never know what a truly loving family is like.

Favorite Scripture: Isaiah 1:17


Mimi enjoyed her high school experience, staying busy with Color Guard, choir and National Honor Society. Growing up at BGC was a blessing to her, and she is grateful for her teaching parent who became a mother to her. She appreciates the family environment that BGC provided and many campus traditions, especially Tour of Lights. Mimi’s most cherished memory is going on vacation to Colorado with her cottage. Mimi believes that life is what you make it and hopes to become a therapist one day.

Favorite scripture: Jeremiah 29:11


Sophia’s high school years were difficult, but she says they made her hard-working, confident and determined. She will miss high school events and getting ready for dances. In her free time, she enjoys writing, baking and playing with animals. Sophia is grateful for the support she received at BGC and the guidance of the counselor who helped her to improve the relationships with her family. She shared that without BGC her life would be full of anxiety and stress, but now she is hopeful for the future. Sophia’s favorite memory is her 17th birthday party at BGC where she felt loved, appreciated and cherished.
Favorite Scripture: Philippians 4:16


Stephanie had a wonderful time in high school and received a Pharmacy Technician certification. She enjoyed playing on the volleyball team, doing Color Guard, and participating in National Honor Society. As a staff child, Stephanie considers herself blessed to live at BGC. She built many important relationships here and cannot imagine her life without them. She loves BGC traditions, especially the High Rollers Toy Run and Spring Festival. Stephanie is excited for her life as an adult, and she hopes to build a career in the medical field.

Favorite Scripture: Zephaniah 3:17

Kyla’s Path to Relying on God

“Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;” 2 Corinthians 9:10

Kyla recalls a less than idyllic early childhood. Her mother did not graduate from high school and struggled to find adequate work while trying to care for five children. Eventually, she experienced issues with substance abuse.

The kids quickly learned to be independent and creative. They took care of each other when their mom was not present. Despite their challenges, the siblings never questioned their mother’s love or devotion.
They still recall how she did her best to make sure her children’s needs were met, but at some point, it all became too much.

“We never went hungry. If it meant we were making ramen noodles, eating old cereal or raw hot dogs straight from the package, we just managed to get by, and that was our normal,” Kyla recalls. Despite how fond they were of their mother, the kids lived in conditions deemed unsuitable for children.

Days before her 6th birthday, Kyla arrived at BGC. As her mom drove away, Kyla whispered, “I Love You,” then her mom’s car became a blur in the distance. Kyla was sad that their family was being split up, yet a feeling of relief crept in with thoughts of a warm bed and a full tummy.

“There are so many wonderful memories of living at BGC,” Kyla says fondly. She appreciated the stability, love and family environment. Whether it was holiday celebrations or pancakes every Saturday, the traditions helped her overcome painful memories of the past.

Kyla’s journey with God began with the many Christians who fed into her life every week. “Ms. Gloria, our House Grandmother, opened her home to us like we were her own grandkids, and we got to swim there in the summer. She made us Easter baskets in the spring. Our mentors from Lakewood Church would bring over their families with dinner from Olive Garden and just hang out with us. And so many people at Fairfield Baptist church taught me what it was like to be a Christian every week at Sunday school.”

Kyla graduated from Texas A&M University in 2014. She is a Regional Manager at a successful company in Houston and is grateful for the opportunity to give back to others in need with both time and financial resources. She’s married to a God-fearing man, and she continues her own walk with God. She attributes her success to the love she received at BGC.

For 50 years, kids like Kyla have needed Boys and Girls Country to provide the home and security their families cannot. With God’s provision and the support of our partners, we’ve been able to give them what every kid deserves: love, safety, structure, education, health, and a foundation of faith. Your support ensured that Kyla would carry the memories and examples of a healthy family and Christ-like love into her adult life.

For the second consecutive year, we’ve had to cancel our annual Spring Festival, which provides $350,000-$400,000 annually to care for our children. More than ever, your support allows us to transform the lives of kids living in trauma and unhealthy environments and change the outcome for generations to come. In this 50th year, we celebrate with more than 1,600 alumni and their families. None of this would be possible without the love and generosity of friends and partners like you.

Please consider sowing into the lives of the next generation, so we can reap another 50 years of blessings for children. Your prayers and financial support are needed to help us provide the home that kids like Kyla so desperately need. Your gift will make a life-changing difference to our children. Please consider making a one-time or a sustaining monthly gift to our children and become a part of the Boys and Girls Country legacy, growing children for life.

Thank you for being a blessing to our children!

50 Years of God’s Provision

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Friends, this year Boys and Girls Country is celebrating 50 years! It is an unbelievable blessing to be able to serve children from families in crisis for half a century. With your faithful support, lives have been changed, educational barriers have been demolished and cycles of trauma have ended. God has provided Boys and Girls Country with everything to grow from a small patch of land into an amazing facility supporting the lives of our cottage families, College & Career program and staff. This year, we look back with fondness on the history of this mission and how it came to bless the lives of more than 1,600 children over the years.

The idea to create a residential program to help young boys on juvenile probation originated in the 1960s by Wardell Leisk. He later approached T. A. “Tom” Robinson, Jr., owner of First Mortgage Co. of Texas, who became the guiding force behind the organization. At a time when most men are looking forward to retirement, Mr. Robinson devoted the next 20 years of his life to this cause.

He initially donated 10 acres of land in the Hockley area where the facilities stand today. Over the years, more acreage was donated by Mr. Robinson and additional acreage was purchased, bringing the campus to 216 acres. Tom Robinson and his wife, Jean, didn’t want to raise the boys in a barren land. Every Sunday after church, they would go down to Buffalo Bayou, get on their hands and knees and gather saplings in their hands. Then, they would drive out to Boys Country, get back on their hands and knees and bury the saplings on their land.

The name “Boys Country” was chosen by Mrs. Robinson. Mr. Robinson, in addition to making the majority of the capital contributions and underwriting operating expenses, personally guaranteed many loans so the building program could continue. Mr. Robinson’s visionary contribution was matched by that of another leader he recruited, Jack Brewer, a Youth Director at Tallowood Baptist Church, whose guidance and expertise proved invaluable over the years.

In 1971, Boys Country began with three mobile buildings, a metallic building and its first dormitory under construction. Progress developed rapidly with 24 boys enrolled by the end of the first year, as well as four heads of Santa Gertrudis cattle in the livestock operation and a one- teacher school to assist the boys with their studies.

The closing bank balance in May 1971 was a miraculous $678.96. Within six months, however, Boys Country secured $50,000 in grants to build one staff house and begin a vocational program while expanding enrollment to 35 boys. A master campus construction plan for the next ten years was presented.

It was the vision of these fearless leaders to turn confused, abandoned and hopeless youth into productive, responsible citizens by providing a loving, Christian environment, an education, a vocational training program and a shared sense of responsibility.

By 1974, Boys Country was a home for 40 boys. Within a year, the funding for the school, administration building and gymnasium was secured. Boys Country leadership also announced a plan to construct four total-care cottages (with each cottage accommodating 12-16 boys and teaching parents), a complete sanitary sewer system, commissary, barbershop, dispensary and enclosure of the gymnasium. This was an ambitious plan to improve the quality of the residential services offered to the children and provide other resources paramount for a healthy upbringing.

During that time the Ladies’ Auxiliary was founded, raising $10,000 in its first year. The auxiliary was a major force behind the success of the organization’s growth. They started Spring Festival as a barbecue and steer auction to raise funds for Boys Country

In the late ‘70s, four cottages were constructed and furnished at a cost of $90,000 each. The ranch added a 250-chicken facility, and a commercial laundromat was installed on campus. The renovations started on the original dormitory to convert it into a commissary, clothing closet and staff living quarters.

By the end of the decade, Boys Country was licensed to care for 130 boys. The improved square footage and added facilities classified the operation as the second-largest boy’s ranch in Texas.

In 1980 Boys Country opened two new cottages and expanded its total population (staff and children) to 141. With a budget of more than $600,000, the staff had expanded from three to thirty-one. The program now included vocational, agricultural, and horticultural training, a complete athletic program and chapel services.

Later that year the executive committee approved plans for a facility for girls, ages 5 to 10 years old. The program was located on FM 2920 and was designed to care for young girls from broken homes who had been abused or neglected. The siblings of Boys Country youth were given priority placement. Plans for the facility included a six-acre lake, a road system and two cottages.

In February 1982, Girls Country announced plans to open a Christian school on its campus. It began with a kindergarten. The original plan was to add one grade each year until all grades through high school graduation were offered. Future buildings of the school were to be added to the Spindletop Chapel which was completed in May. The school was later renamed Rosehill Christian School, and by 1989 the board of directors decided to focus on child care and allow the school to become an independent entity.

By 1992, Boys Country’s beautiful oak-shaded campus and farm encompassed 166 acres with 20 major buildings. Girls Country provided 40 acres of serenity nestled among a lake and tall pine trees with eight major buildings.

In 1993, Boys Country and Girls Country programs were combined, and the organization was renamed Boys and Girls Country of Houston, Inc. During that time, the cottages became limited to eight children per cottage according to state-licensing requirements. Some exciting additions to campus included a 12-station computer lab and a 4-H program.

What is now known as the College and Career Program began in 1996 as the Independent Living Skills Program. This program was created to provide support for high school graduates of Boys and Girls Country as they choose to go through trade school or college.

As the College and Career Program expanded, housing for Boys and Girls Country’s high school graduates began on the 2920 campus in 2001. This allowed every graduate to have “a bed to come home to” as they transitioned into self-supporting adulthood.

Thanks to the success of the capital and endowment campaign that started in 1998, updates and additions to campus were made in the early 2000’s. The 11 cottages were renovated, and the Community Life Building was updated. A new education building, the Kelly Gene Cook Sr. Administration and Admissions building and the Alexander Operations Center were added.

Staff training was enhanced and new models embraced, including the Family Teaching Model, Therapeutic Crisis Intervention and Normative Culture. These tools helped the direct care staff meet the growing needs of residents while maintaining the family atmosphere in a Christian environment.

In 2007, a new swimming pool was completed thanks to the generosity of two anonymous donors. At the end of 2007, planning was underway for infrastructure rehabilitation, security, lighting and a new student life center, which was possible through the Growing for the Future capital campaign.

The Penny Loyd Student Life Center, an educational and recreational facility, replaced the 30-year-old gym in August 2009. The following year the old gym was demolished, and the land became a park in the center of campus.

From 2012 to 2014, the remainder of the Growing for the Future projects included the exercise tracks, soccer field, bike and game storage, night lighting, storage units, Staff House 4, the Sim-Tex baseball field and a new water well. The Joe H. and Sue S. Reynolds Foundation Chapel was completed and dedicated in 2012.

The rebuild of the 11 cottages began in 2015 with Watford cottage being completed in 2016, Pool Cottage in 2017, Hamill Cottage in 2018 and Woodforest Cottage in 2020. The new cottages are energy efficient and feature larger living quarters for the teaching parents as well as a private room, a bathroom and a closet for each child.

As Boys and Girls Country enters the next 50 years, we pray to continue to help children of families in crisis by providing them a loving, stable and secure Christian home. We look forward to growing as a community and helping even more children, which is only possible with God, our generous donors and our faithful supporters. It has truly been a blessed first 50 years, and we look forward to celebrating many more milestones at Boys and Girls Country!

Boys and Girls Country Achieves National Accreditation

Boys and Girls Country reached a milestone this year by receiving a national accreditation through Council on Accreditation (COA). We strive to exceed expectations for the service we offer to our children; meeting (and exceeding) the standards of the COA helps us on that endeavor.

COA accreditation seal

COA is an independent, not-for-profit accreditor of the full continuum of community-based behavioral healthcare and social service organizations in the United States and Canada. It took Boys and Girls Country 18 months to achieve accreditation and join its place among 2,000 agencies across the country. Organizations pursue accreditation to demonstrate the implementation of best-practice standards in the field of human services. COA evaluated all aspects of BGC’s programs, services, management and administration, and awarded high ratings across the categories.

“We are so proud of this historic milestone and the staff who works tirelessly to provide the best service for children from families in crisis”, said Vincent Duran, Chief Executive Officer of Boys and Girls Country.  “We received above-average ratings in fiscal stewardship, employee and client satisfaction and state-of-the-art facilities. We never doubted the quality and success of our ministry, but this endorsement is an inspiration to continue exceeding expectations.”

COA accreditation demonstrates accountability in the management of resources, establishes the industry’s best-practice standards and creates a framework for ongoing quality improvement. The accreditation requires continuous evaluation of performance and outcome measures that will pave the way for future re-evaluation. Over 2,000 organizations — voluntary, public, and proprietary; local and statewide; large and small — have either successfully achieved COA accreditation or are currently engaged in the process. Presently, COA has a total of 47 service standards that apply to over 125 different types of programs.

We are thankful for our amazing staff and the community of supporters who keep our mission thriving! This would not be possible without you.

Winter Storm Uri Update


This time last week we collectively sighed with relief as the warmer temperatures began melting the ice and the snow outside. Despite the various challenges the storm brought, we could not help but enjoy seeing the happy faces of some of our kids, who were playing in the snow for the first time.

We pray you and your families weathered this extreme weather well with minimal damages and have electricity and water in your homes. It was heartbreaking to see our community struggle with yet another crisis, and our prayers and thoughts continue for you all.

We felt God was watching over all of us on the BGC campus. We were blessed to have electricity almost throughout the entire week so we could keep our families and cottages warm. Our main struggle was the availability of water. Several older cottages and other buildings on campus had significant pipe issues. Our Operations team has been integral to bringing BGC infrastructure back to working order. They have had many long days repairing pipes and fixing plumbing issues throughout campus, as well as finding necessary parts during the high demand.

Our families have remained prayerful and resourceful. From melting snow for bathrooms to playing games with no internet access, they kept their spirits up. Baking delicious treats and making a cheerful snowman will hopefully remain their best memories from this storm.

We are grateful for your thoughts and prayers during this challenging time. We felt God’s love come through for our kids as you sent messages, valentines and prayers. Truly, without you there would be no us, and we are so blessed to be on this important mission together with you.

Blessings to all of you,

Vincent Duran
Chief Executive Officer

The Lord watches over you-the Lord is your shade at your right hand;” Psalm 121:5

Becoming an Ambassador for Children

When Audrey Arroyave was 10, she helped deliver cookies with her Brownie troop to Boys and Girls Country. While they were here, they spent some time in one of the girls’ cottages. This short visit impacted Audrey deeply and led her to become a youth ambassador to support some of those very same girls seven years later. “I remember thinking how all of the girls I met were just like me, and if they went to my school we would probably even be friends,” Audrey recalls about her visit.

“Even as a little girl, I couldn’t get over how sad it was to know they didn’t have a family like I did. But their teaching parents were so nice, and it just made me feel so much better knowing they were at least being loved by someone and raised in a nice home with someone to support them.”

Audrey is a 17-year-old at Cy Fair High school, active in band, key club, and the Science National Honors Society.  As if that doesn’t keep her plenty busy, she reached out to Boys and Girls Country just before Christmas to see what she could do to help. “Volunteering has been difficult because of the pandemic, but I just knew there had to be a way I could help.”

Audrey helped us launch a new peer-to-peer program by volunteering to fundraise for our kids. She set up her own fundraising page and sent the link to friends and family who supported her effort.

“I had never heard of a peer-to-peer campaign, but it was super easy to set up and so easy for the donors as well. Even my grandparents who are not tech savvy at all were able to figure it out without any problems. I asked friends to donate instead of giving me gifts for my birthday, sent the link to my band’s ‘Group Me’ list and even posted it on the Nextdoor app. I was amazed by the response. Even strangers commented that they had been looking for ways to help out kids in our own community, but couldn’t because of COVID. I was unsure about setting a goal of $1,000 to raise in just a few weeks. But people are so good and want to help; they just need to know how. Reading their comments and watching donations come in was amazing.”

Audrey is an inspirational young woman who has a giving and passionate heart. Youth ambassadors are truly our hope for the future, and we’ve been blessed to have her share her passion to support our kids at BGC.

“Young people have a lot more influence than they realize. We are more connected than ever before. It’s important to help the community, and the ‘connectedness’ we share today gives us an influence that other groups have never had,” Audrey shared. When asked what message she has for peers who want to help others in need, she replied without hesitation, “What I think holds them back is thinking they’ll fail or not meet their goal. I say go for it! Any effort can still make a difference and is better than no effort at all. And you just might be shocked. I couldn’t believe something so easy to create could make such a difference.”

Audrey says her spirit and passion for others comes from her mother. “My mom is amazing,” she shared. “She has always given me so much of her wisdom, has always been there and taught me how important it is to help others. She’s a great mom and I just love her so much.”

The love Audrey received as a child has come full circle in her desire to help others. If you have love to share with kids in need please follow the link and sign up to be an ambassador just like Audrey. Together we can ensure that every child has a place to grow up in a loving and nurturing home.   

A Loving Home That Changed Daniel’s Life

Daniel spent his early childhood living in abandoned homes and under bridges, never owning anything other than what he carried in a backpack.

“A regular dinner would be free ketchup packets from restaurants and about 20 coffee creamers to make a small cup of milk,” recalls Daniel, now 34, of his earliest memories.

One day while waiting at a bus stop, seven-year-old Daniel ran inside a Burger King to use the restroom. When he returned, his mother had left without him. Certain she would be back, he waited patiently inside by the window, watching for his mother who would never return. This started the roller-coaster phase of his time in foster care.

Sadly for Daniel, things didn’t get much better. He remembers being locked in closets, and in one year alone, he attended nine different schools. He frequently moved from home to home.

“Saying goodbye was just a normal part of life in the foster system. It became easy to shut off; there was no time to grieve, just had to move on. Until I got to BGC, I never really learned to settle or feel stable.”
At the age of nine, Daniel’s case worker brought him to Boys and Girls Country (BGC) and his life began to change.

“I would be homeless or dead without BGC,” Daniel states. “It was the first time in my life anyone actually said out loud, ‘I care’ or ‘I love you.’ I never had that before. But I also knew they expected the best from me. I realized for the first time that I was really smart, and they taught me how to be disciplined in my work and studies. That was a skill I carried all the way through college. Without it, I never would have succeeded”.

As well as the constant support and expression of love from teaching parents and staff at BGC, Daniel found unconditional friendship and a lifelong bond with his mentor, George Adams.

“I expressed an interest in golf, so one day a staff member at BGC asked their friend who played if he would teach me,” Daniel remembers. That mentorship turned into friendship, and then eventually their bond became like a father and son. Daniel still lovingly refers to him as “Dad.” The pair stayed in touch all throughout college and until his death just last year. Daniel fondly shares, “He gave me the advice and tough love of a true father.”

Armed with life skills and a disciplined mindset, Daniel graduated from the University of Houston – Downtown with a 3.4 GPA, and is now the Director of Community Services for United Way of Central Texas. He mentors 5th and 6th graders and has great pride in returning the love and guidance he once received through so many people along his journey.

Your support of BGC means so much more than a provision of shelter and food. Teaching life skills and providing loving mentors helps kids do more than just survive their circumstances. It teaches them to thrive, to overcome adversities, and to rewrite their destinies with faith and hope for their future.

Thank you for giving our children a chance to overcome adversities and change the trajectories of their lives! Thanks to your generous support and God’s Grace lives are being changed at Boys and Girls Country.