“Home for the Holidays” has a special meaning for The Children’s Shelter. As a 114-year-old social service agency serving more than 4,000 children and families every year in San Antonio, we strive to not only provide quality services that will create a positive impact, but meaningful memories that will last a lifetime. Whether a child is residing in one of our residential programs or their families are receiving services in our family strengthening department, we want children to feel safe and cared for.
The holidays are always a special time of year, when families come together to spend time, share food and memories and make new ones. We want the same for the children and families we serve; here are a few stories that will warm the heart.
A Father’s Love
Our Compadre Y Compadre program is a program designed specifically for fathers. Dads commit to a 15-week program in which they have to attend weekly sessions where they learn about child development, the needs of children and the expectations of being a father. In addition, they learn discipline techniques, stress management and how to be more involved in their child’s life. As a participant, dads earn “Daddy Bucks” for good attendance, punctuality, participation and completion of assignments. Daddy Bucks can be redeemed for items like, children’s toys, clothing and baby items at The Children’s Shelter.
One father, struggling with unemployment, was feeling helpless and hopeless about his ability to buy his son Christmas gifts; he had been collecting his “Daddy Bucks” and had seen a young boy’s bike with training wheels in the “Daddy Bucks” catalog and wanted to earn enough bucks to purchase the bike for his son. He made sure he was on time to every class, completed his assignments and volunteered for special projects as they presented themselves. A few weeks before Christmas, he had finally earned enough bucks to buy the bike. He left The Children’s Shelter with a shiny new bike for his son, beaming with happiness and restored confidence; he knew his son was going to love his new gift.
Brothers Find their Forever Family
Our foster care and adoptions program serves more than 300 children every year. Many of the children who are removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect will have to live temporarily with a foster family, giving their biological families the opportunity to demonstrate to the court and Child Protective Services that they are capable of appropriately caring for their children. In some cases, biological parents don’t demonstrate that they can be the parents that their children need; resulting in their parental rights being terminated. For children who are permanently separated from their parents, we work diligently to find a forever family for them. Such is the case for Julius and Aidan. The two brothers were removed from their biological family due to abuse and neglect.
Not only were they removed, but had also been separated from each other, each staying with a different foster family. After several unsuccessful attempts to reunify them with their biological parents, the courts decided it was time to terminate; however, they insisted that they boys be reunited. After searching for the right home, our foster family, the Garza’s agreed to take them both. The Garza’s did not have any children of their own and believed they could make a difference by fostering children in need. The Garza’s, now presented with the opportunity to adopt Julius and Aidan and make them their own—jumped at the chance as they had immediately connected and loved them from the day they entered their home. On Dec. 11, after four years in the foster care system, their adoption was consummated. This will be their first Christmas as a forever family.
Over the last century, The Children’s Shelter has helped keep children safe, helped them heal from abuse and helped parents strengthen their families. We give thanks to the community for their support, without them the everyday miracles would not be possible and it’s because of them that the holiday spirit is ever present and very much alive at The Children’s Shelter. Happy Holidays to all!
*Top image: The Garza brothers pose for a photo on the day of their adoption. Photo courtesy of the Children’s Shelter.