Month: January 2021

A Community of Support: Volunteer Mentoring at ACH

Transitioning into adulthood is a challenging time for anyone. The number one factor in helping young people through challenging times is the support of at least one caring adult or ideally, a community of adults, who can provide support and guidance in many ways.

The young adults in ACH’s LIFE Project are facing all the challenges and responsibilities of adulthood on their own. As a result, we must recruit a community of supportive adults who can help them with this major transition. Mentoring does not remove every obstacle but gives them the important knowledge that they are not alone.


Qua’ (far left) chats with a group of mentors from Connections for LIFE during a night out at Alley Cats.  (Pre-pandemic)

“Mentoring at ACH gives our young adults a community that walks beside them, through all the ups and downs, to help move them forward,” said Kate Faggella-Luby, ACH’s Volunteer Mentor Coordinator.

ACH’s volunteer mentors are committed individuals who together form a community of support for young adults in LIFE through two groups: Connections for LIFE for the young men; and, Circle of Caring for the young women.

Volunteer mentors participate two to three times per month in fun group activities with the young adults and other volunteers to build connections and provide a sense of belonging for them,” said Kate.

Before the pandemic, the groups would get together to cook a meal, play a game outside, or leave campus to visit a museum or see a movie. They also celebrate birthdays, graduations, and other big accomplishments. In the past year, they’ve shifted their activities to Zoom, with some socially distanced events.

BUILDING BRIDGES


Volunteer Mentors celebrate milestones with the young adults in LIFE, including graduations as seen here in 2019.

Qua’ has been a part of the LIFE Project since July 2018 and he’s actively participated with the volunteer mentors.

“Connections for LIFE was the highlight of my time at ACH,” said Qua’. “They gave us opportunities and resources, and just having dinner and interacting with them was engaging and fun.”

Qua’ met his mentor, Dennis, last year and the two bonded over stand-up comedy and rap music.

“He’s old-school and I’m new school,” laughed Qua’.

It wasn’t long before Qua’ began to open up to Dennis and the pair grew closer.

“I try to give them the sense of being wanted and appreciated,” said Dennis. “I try to guide Qua’ the same way I do my own son.”

For Qua’, Dennis became the first male role model he ever had, and one of the first adults to make him feel seen and heard. Experiencing years of emotional abuse made him feel ignored and abandoned, which made it hard for him to develop a connection with trusting adults.

That changed with Connections for LIFE.

“Getting the chance to know all these volunteers is definitely a milestone in my development,” said Qua’.

Dennis believes that taking a vested interest in these young adults creates a much larger impact in the long run, for both them and the community.

“They’ve never had anybody take a vested interest in them or care about them, so when you show them that, they know how to give that love and care back into the world.”

Qua’ encourages other young adults in LIFE to get the most they can out of the mentorships.

“Without those friends, those bonds, and those connections, you’re not going to make it very far,” said Qua’. “It’s good to know that you’re appreciated every once in a while, and that there are people you can depend on.”

That’s what Kate wishes all young adults in LIFE receive from the volunteer mentors.

“The fact that the mentoring group shows up for them time and again, sends a message that they matter, that they have something to offer, and that the world can be a safe and good place for them,” said Kate. “That sense of belonging, of receiving and giving support, is what I hope they take away from the experience.”

LOOKING AHEAD

Qua’ will soon graduate from the LIFE Project and venture out on his own, but he and Dennis still have plans to remain close. For Dennis, the most rewarding part of the mentorship will be getting to see Qua’ “spread his wings and fly.”

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer mentor and making an impact on ACH’s young adults, reach out to Kate at Kate.Faggella-Luby@ACHservices.org to get started.

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

ACH raises awareness to protect exploited persons during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

 

FORT WORTH, Texas (Jan. 4, 2021)- Each January, ACH joins others throughout the country to participate in National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which calls attention to the experiences of human trafficking victims in our country. In 2019, 2,455 human trafficking victims were identified in Texas. ACH advocates on behalf of these victims in the Tarrant County and surrounding areas through a series of programs designed to support those who are vulnerable.

“Trafficking can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race or gender,” said Tia Magee, Program Manager for ACH’s Youth Emergency Shelter. “Our staff works every day to provide a safe place and trusting relationships for victims of human trafficking whose crises, homelessness, substance abuse or mental health concerns leave them especially vulnerable to traffickers.”

Several of ACH’s programs help youth at risk or affected by human trafficking. The Pat O’Neal Youth Emergency Shelter serves youth ages 10-17 who are runaways or homeless or who are experiencing or at risk of sexual exploitation and/or trafficking. The shelter – the only one of its kind in Tarrant County – provides 24/7 safety and care as well as outreach, education, advocacy, counseling and case management services.

The Youth Emergency Shelter is also a designated “Safe Place.” Safe Place is a national program administered locally by ACH that provides access to immediate help and safety for young people in trouble. Youth feeling unsafe or threatened can get help from ACH at any of more than 250 Safe Place locations throughout Tarrant County.

Through ACH’s Assessment, Intervention, and Referral Services (AIRS) program, youth and others in crisis can find the help and assistance they need, when they need it. AIRS operates a 24-hour crisis call response line that serves as a portal to connect individuals to ACH programs and services or other community services. If you need support, contact us at 817.335.HOPE (4673) or email help@ACHservices.org for 24-hour assistance. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month is spearheaded each year by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through their Blue Campaign, which works closely with DHS Components to create general awareness training and materials for law enforcement and others to increase detection of human trafficking and identify victims.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline provides survivors of human trafficking with vital support and a variety of options to get help and stay safe. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

 

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About ACH

With over a century of experience, ACH Child and Family Services, a Fort Worth-based nonprofit agency, brings needed resources and skills to children and families struggling with life’s challenges. ACH has 17 programs that provide a variety of services and support in crisis intervention, foster care and adoption, family services, residential services, and community-based care. Some are in place to keep children and families together while others provide a healing home for children who can’t live with their families. Through the Our Community Our Kids division, ACH is leading the way in Community-Based Care in seven counties of the Texas foster care system. ACH has been accredited every year since 2003 by the Council on Accreditation and in 2018 Our Community Our Kids became the only nationally accredited community-based care contractor in Texas. Our vision is for families to thrive and children to experience safety, hope and love. Learn more at achservices.org.

ACH’s Tia Magee To Be Played by Jada Pinkett Smith in Netflix Film

One of ACH’s dedicated employees will soon have her story told via Netflix.

Tia Magee, who oversees ACH’s Pat O’Neal Youth Emergency Shelter, will be played by Jada Pinkett Smith in the upcoming Netflix film “Redd Zone.”

The film will follow Magee’s real-life story as a single mother who helped her son’s football team heal following the tragic murder of their teammate, Dominic Redd.

“This beautiful story is a powerful example of how love and dedication from one person changed the lives of so many,” said Pinkett-Smith in an Instagram post.

“Redd Zone” will be produced by Westbrook Studios with Magee’s son, Brandon, as executive producer.

 

Tia Magee, Manager for
ACH’s Youth Emergency Shelter.

 

ACH is thrilled to see Magee’s story told through this film as she continues her passion for helping youth in need at ACH. The Youth Emergency Shelter serves ages 10-17 who are runaways or homeless or who are experiencing or at risk of sexual exploitation and/or trafficking.

“There are almost 15,000 homeless youth in Tarrant County alone, and more than half are under the age of six,” said Magee. “Our staff works every day to provide a safe place and trusting relationships for runaway youth who are grappling with family conflicts, crises, and homelessness.”

The shelter – the only one of its kind in Tarrant County – provides 24/7 safety and care as well as outreach, education, advocacy, counseling, and case management services.

ACH is proud to have Magee on our team. The work she does every day continues to better the lives of youth and families in our community.

For more updates on “Redd Zone” and to learn more about ACH, follow us on FacebookInstagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

ACH Youth Treatment Center Dedicated to Honor Robert & Jane Ferguson

ACH Child and Family Services staff, donors and supporters gather for the dedication ceremony of a residential treatment program for highest need youth

Pictured: Robert Ferguson and ACH CEO Wayne Carson

FORT WORTH, Texas (Jan. 15, 2021)- ACH Child and Family Services named The Robert and Jane Ferguson Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in a ceremony Thursday. The Fergusons and prominent RTC donors were honored for their contributions to this unique facility, as well as volunteer chairs Kelly Keller and Lynn Newman who led the fundraising campaign.

“We have been involved with youth care and developmental organizations in one way or another all of our married life,” says Robert Ferguson. “This comes from our Christian faith and deep personal belief that youth need to have an equal as possible opportunity to develop as they become adults in our country. The new Residential Treatment Center fulfills our goals. There’s no other like it in DFW or Texas today, and we are proud to be part of this experience.”

The RTC is designed to help foster youth with significant behavioral or mental health challenges. As the need for these services was and continues to be so great within our local community, ACH opened the RTC in August 2019 before it was fully funded in late 2020.

“By helping teens understand that they are safe, valued, respected, and have a purpose, they can begin to trust safe and caring adults and begin to heal from their trauma,” said ACH CEO Wayne Carson. “The Robert and Jane Ferguson Residential Treatment Center is one-of-a-kind in Texas and is crucial to providing these teens the support they need to begin to heal. We are so grateful to the Fergusons and other generous donors who made this possible.”

ACH identified a significant lack of programs for teens with severe challenges after state leaders asked ACH to improve foster care services in 2014. By pioneering Community-Based Care in seven North Texas counties (CPS Region 3b.), the Our Community Our Kids (OCOK) division of ACH coordinates services for and compiles information on 2,400 foster youth annually. In analyzing this information, ACH uncovered a gap in services for teens in need of healing from severe trauma and created an innovative program centered around the RTC.

Tarrant and other counties now have an innovative, secure facility for the most vulnerable youth in the foster care system—those who have experienced extreme abuse and neglect. The RTC’s 24-hour treatment teams will put these highest-need teens on an accelerated path to success.

Created to feel non-institutional with a peaceful atmosphere full of natural light, the RTC can serve 16 boys and girls ages 13-17 in separate dorm-like wings. Youth attend an on-site charter school and enjoy fresh air in a 1.5-acre outdoor space with a walking path and basketball court.

The goal is to connect these youth in less than a year with a support system and help them transition to successfully living in a family—the best setting to continue to develop and learn to become an independent, contributing member of society.

The RTC is the only one of its kind in Texas and joins professional home-based care, therapeutic foster care, support services, and foster care in the ACH Continuum of Care. These integrated services were developed by OCOK to reconnect children with their biological families or when that is not possible, to find them a forever family with relatives or adoptive families.

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About ACH

With over a century of experience, ACH, a Fort Worth-based nonprofit agency, brings needed resources and skills to children and families struggling with life’s challenges. Some of our 17 programs and services keep children and families together while others provide a healing home for children who can’t live with their families. And through the Our Community Our Kids division, ACH is leading the way in Community-Based Care in seven counties of the Texas foster care system. ACH has been accredited every year since 2003 by the Council on Accreditation and in 2018 Our Community Our Kids became a nationally accredited community-based care contractor. Our vision is for families to thrive and children to experience safety, hope and love.

817.335.HOPE (4673)  |  ACHservices.org