|(Seguin) -- Imagine one night you are taken from your home with basically the clothes on your back and maybe a few other items you were able to throw into a bag. You're being forced to leave for your own safety, and you're not sure when you're going to return. Think about that scenario and how difficult it would be for you to exist during this time. Now, think about this situation again. This time it isn't happening to you, but instead, it’s happening to a child in our community, because of allegations of abuse or neglect in the home.|
The situation we described is happening more often than you'd likely think in Guadalupe County, and there's a non-profit volunteer organization that's working to help meet the immediate needs of children who are removed from their home.
The Guadalupe County Child Welfare Board does all of its work behind the scenes, but Board President Jack Linden says it's important work that makes a difference in the lives of children across Guadalupe County.
"It's a county commissioners' appointed board. We're all volunteers and we basically try to supplement help to the Family and Child Protective Services group is what we do. To give you some idea of what we do, we have something called the Rainbow Room in which we have cleaning supplies, believe it or not. We have clothing for children in there. We also have personal items that children who are removed from their home and are going to either a kinship care or a foster care home -- all of those things we have ready for the people in Child Protective Services," said Linden.
Linden says they oversee the funds that the county receives from the state, and they also have a 501c3 charitable component that allows them to accept donations from the public. The additional funds help them to meet even more of the needs of the children in crisis in our community.
"We also do some things for kids who are in foster homes or other protective type situations. Taking them to the Wave Pool for instance, supplying them for perhaps, maybe if they need a baseball bat -- that is a separate organization that's a 501(c)3. We are the same people. The ones that are appointed by the board or the money from the county is declared by the state and also by the county so it's very restrictive. One of the things that the 501(c)3 can do is to add money and add supplemental help to families either as kinship or as foster care when they need it. Last year, we spent about $29,000 as a 501(c)3 just helping children with basic needs. Tooth brushes, tooth paste, just things that every day, you and I take for granted," said Linden.
The Child Welfare Board tries to help make the best of some bad situations for these kids. Linden says they try to do what the can to make their lives as normal and safe as they possibly can.
"One of the things we did last year, we bought duffle bags for what you mention when the kid was being pulled out of the house and he was taken in with grocery shopping bag, a plastic bag or something. This way they got a duffle. There's also an organization who will donate goods called My Stuff which is just personal items. We can give each one of the children one of those things. What we try to do is just make the kid feel a little bit normal like the rest of us have grown used to," said Linden.
Child Welfare Board Member Diane Anderson-Glover says the board this year is teaming up with the Guadalupe County Children's Advocacy Center to host a community Super Hero 5K. The fun run/walk will be held this Saturday morning in Max Starcke Park. Glover says there's still time for people to sign up online at www.athleteguild.com. She says even if you've never done a 5K, you're encouraged to come out and have a good time.
"The schedule that we have, registration is going to be at 7:30 a.m. There will be a welcome at 8 a.m. A warm up at 8:15. The race will start promptly at 8:30 a.m. We'll also have some Seguin Jeepers in New Braunfels Trail Team Six, Super Hero Jeeps, including the Hulk, Captain America, Warrior Princess, and Goldie the Golden Lasso and a couple others for the kids to see. I think they'll really enjoy that. We do have healthy snacks and water that's going to be provided for the runners. We also have Starbucks Coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts that were donated. We're requesting everybody to come out dressed as your favorite super hero and join in the family fun," said Anderson-Glover.
The board is doing all it can to not only raise money this month, but to also raise the awareness level about the many cases of child abuse and neglect in Guadalupe County. Board members say that abuse can come in many forms. They say any mistreatment of a child, which causes harm or injury is, by definition, child abuse. They add that failure to provide for a child's basic physical, medical or emotional needs is child neglect. If you suspect any kind of child abuse or neglect, you need to "say something." You can call local authorities, or you can contact the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.