Winter 2016 Newsletter - Roy Maas Youth Alternatives
Roy Maas Youth Alternatives
of Serving Texas Children
“The great use of a life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” —William James
As we celebrate our 40th anniversary in 2016, it is clear that Roy Maas certainly built something that has withstood
the test of time. The 40th anniversary is the “ruby” anniversary. Rubies are thought to possess an eternal inner
flame, which is a symbol that the passion in a relationship is still very alive and strong. As I celebrate two years
since my arrival at this special organization, I can attest that everyone at RMYA is just as impassioned about the
children we serve today as I imagine they were 40 years ago.
Of course, Roy didn’t build RMYA alone. Back in the 1970’s, Catholic Family and Children’s Services, the San
Antonio Urban Council, the Girls Council of San Antonio, and the Optimist Club of San Antonio were critical to
the establishment of what came to be called “Youth Alternatives.” A former staffer once told me that running the
programs back then was like being in the “wild west,” because the foster care system in Texas was evolving rapidly
and the staff was literally “making it up” as they lived through each experience.
When we talk about the success of RMYA, we often mention the 80,000 children, young adults, and families
we have helped over the past 40 years; however, we don’t say much about the hundreds of staff, interns, and
volunteers who have passed through the doors of RMYA. Untold numbers of these folks were touched by
the work we do. Because of their experience with RMYA, a lot of them made the decision to dedicate their
professional lives to serving children and families. Whether they remained at RMYA or decided to work with
other complementary organizations, we are proud of the influence RMYA has had in the lives of these people
and the children with whom they now work. This impact is not trivial. Even Judge John J. Specia, Jr., the current
commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), served on the RMYA Board of
Directors in the 1970’s.
After 40 years engaging in this work, RMYA is reflecting on how we can forge ahead with new understanding and
renewed commitment to employing best practices in caring for the children we serve. As part of this process,
I am pleased to announce that Dr. Julie Strentzsch has joined RMYA as our Chief Program Officer. She will be
responsible for leading all of our programs and clinical practices. Julie is another former staffer who worked in the
programs at Meadowland for 10 years before deciding to pursue her Master’s degree in Counseling from UTSA
and become a Licensed Professional Counselor. Julie went on to obtain her Ph.D. from St. Mary’s University in
Counselor Education and Supervision. Most recently, she served as an assistant professor and program director
for Clinical Mental Health at St. Mary’s University. We are thrilled to have her come back to her RMYA roots, with
an appreciation for her past experience and the knowledge and wisdom to lead us into the future.
This is what Roy built 40 years ago—something that outlasted his life on this earth. It truly is mind-boggling to think
of how many lives have been affected, and will be affected, by this enterprise. Thank you for your support and the
role you play in helping children and families in crisis. The work never stops, but there’s a lot to celebrate after 40
years. We hope you’ll join us as we dance the happy dance.
Chief Executive Officer
Linda Johnson has been an active volunteer for RMYA since 2002. As a volunteer she has dedicated countless
hours to meet the needs of our children. She once said that RMYA is her mission, and that she loves the children
and wants to help in any way that we need. Linda cares so deeply about our children that she spends quality time
listening to their interests and she tries to get all their questions answered with support from our staff.
For nearly 14 years, Linda has averaged at least 8 hours each week interacting with our kids. Linda is also a
surrogate to some of our Meadowland Charter School students who live at RMYA’s Meadowland campus in
Boerne. She makes a point to help them academically so they can graduate successfully. Linda will often take time
during her lunch break to talk to the kids about the importance of school and to make sure they are receiving the
help they need in trouble areas. The children enjoy her presence because she genuinely cares and inspires them
to make good decisions. She is someone they can depend on and she is consistent. In addition to her time and
talent, Linda and husband Lee have given generous monetary donations to support RMYA programs.
Linda devotes time to talk about how she can continue to be a better volunteer so that it will make our jobs easier,
and we appreciate her. She visits our office weekly to talk to our directors about creative ideas on how she can
better connect with the children and assist our staff. She has a very strong faith that she focuses on with our kids
and tells each of them that they are special in their own way. Linda teaches two very important lessons to our kids:
how to stay strong and to never give up.
When our children leave they still ask about her and think of her as part of their family. When we have a need,
she is more than willing to lend a helping hand. During the Christmas season she helps organize the gift giving
during our Annual Christmas Party, at which members of her Church come together through her efforts and
create a family holiday gathering for our kids. She started, and continues to coordinate, a traditional faith-based
Christmas Eve event for about 100 children from our Meadowland Boerne campus and our Bridge Emergency
Shelter children in San Antonio, to share the story of Christmas. Just a few days before Christmas this year, she
happened to drop by to give us a message about an event and ended up spending a couple of hours helping us
wrap Christmas Day gifts for the children.
Linda Johnson is the essence of our volunteer program and, being a leader of her faith, she has captured many of
our children’s hearts in a positive way. She is like a Christmas present to us all year round! facebook.com/youthalternatives
RMYA 39th Anniversary “Celebrate Healing” Gala
Our 39th anniversary Gala, which took place on October 17 at the Omni Colonnade Hotel, was an especially
exciting and successful one – the most successful gala to date from a fundraising perspective – raising $238,898.11
in profit. After almost a year of preparations, we had the pleasure of premiering at a new central location, the Omni
San Antonio Hotel.
Months of planning came down to a very special evening with the magic in the details: the grand ballroom was
very spacious, allowing nearly 400 guests to enjoy the cocktail hour, program and silent auction in one room.
Centerpieces made to look like hot air balloons floated above beautiful flower arrangements that gave each table a
pop of color. Bidders mingled and monitored their bids in our 229-lot silent auction.
Guests enjoyed performances by Meadowland residents, including a theatre piece by The Meadowland Players and
a musical performance by The Meadowland Choir. We had the honor of recognizing three long-term staff members
for 25 and 30 years of service to RMYA, and the privilege of extending two Community Guardian Angel awards – to
Manuel & Irene Ruiz, RMYA Board of Directors, and Kate Lanoue, RMYA volunteer – and a Community Champion for
Children award to Impact San Antonio, a collaborative philanthropic organization.
The program culminated in a sensational live auction led by Master of Ceremonies David Sears and Auctioneer Wade
Mayfield. Then, guests and staff alike danced to popular tunes played by The Almost Patsy Cline Band late into the
We thank all of our valued guests, supporters, donors, and volunteers for making the 39th anniversary “Celebrate
Healing” Gala a joyous celebration of the children of RMYA and the community who has loved and healed them for
almost 40 years. Together we really are restoring hope one child at a time.
THANK YOU GALA SUPPORTERS!
Presenting Sponsor: Valero Energy Foundation
Supporting Sponsors: Amec Foster Wheeler; Burns & McDonnell; JV Industrial Companies, Ltd.; Klesse Foundation;
Gregg & Erin Popovich; Richard Design Services, Inc.; Zachry Group
Enriching Sponsors: Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals, Inc./Bechtel Engineers; CD Tech/Lummus Technology, Inc., a
CB&I company; Fluor
Contributing Sponsors: Burdick Custom Homes; Communicare; Criterion Catalysts & Technologies; UT Health
Science Center, Department of Psychiatry; Emerson Process Management; Grace Catalysts Technologies; H-E-B;
Jacobs Engineering; NuStar Energy, LLP; Shell Global; SWBC; UOP, A Honeywell Company
Sharing Sponsors: Broadway Bank; Barta & Robert “Buz” Busby; Dickson Consulting Group, LLC; Georganne &
Robert Freund, Freund Enterprises; Frost; D’Ann Harper, Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper Realtors; Holy Trinity
Catholic Church; Janet Martinez & Diana Gonzales; Meadowland Charter School; Optimist Club of San Antonio; John &
Susan Roach; Manuel & Irene Ruiz; Soft Touch Home Care, Inc.; Julie Strentzsch, Ph.D.; Sunday Night Live; Bill & Denise
Wilkinson; Wood Group Mustang, Inc.
Special Sponsors: Carolyn & James Alley; Ron Graves & Jan Oord Graves;
Garden Ridge Lions Charities, Inc.; D’Ann Harper; Morkovsky + Associates
Individuals: Carolyn & James Alley; Liz Bell; Mary & Steven Brook; Linda
Bookout; Clara & Alan Ernst; Allen Guidry, Sr.; Cesar Tomasino, DDS; Emily
Persyn; Judge Daphne Previti & John Austin; Art Snow; Nancy Thompson; Gail
Tomiak, Ph.D.; Charlotte & L.K. Travis; James & Lora Watts
In Appreciation: Ashley Barth; Michelle Bradshaw; Discount Tire Wives Club;
Justin Goode; IBC Bank Volunteers; Kohl’s Volunteers; Wade Mayfield; David
Prejza; David Sears & KSAT-12; Sandra Trevino
Asset Performance Networks, LLC; DuPont Clean Technologies; Garry & Deborah Kirker;
Bacon Lee & Associates; Becht Engineering Co., Inc.; Robert & Jill Burns; Lewis & Melissa Chandler; Donald & Nancy
Chronister; Michael S. Ciskowski; Thomas & Marianne Crowe; Mike Crownover; David Marrs & Virginia S.
Daniel; Walker & Nita Garrison; Gary & Kathleen Reile, GR & Associate; Allen Guidry, Sr.; Daryl & Brenda Hanson; Ruth
Lofgren; Retired Master Sgt. Frank Martinez; Daniel McCarthy; David & Sonya Nispel; David A. Pappal; Doris
Beaulieu & Josee Plante; Javier & Joyce Quintara; Yves Racette; Darryl & Robyn Seillier; John J. Walter & Sabine
Senft; David Sloan; Dykema Cox Smith; Ellen Williams & Karen Snyder; Patrick H. Swearingen, Jr.; Michael & Mary
Katherine Teders; Sandra Trevino; Joseph & Patty Tleimat; Mike & Fabiola Urzendowski; Wayne & Sally Woodard
Alamo Café; Alamo Gymnastics;
Carolyn & Jim Alley; Amy’s Ice Cream; The Almost
Patsy Cline Band; Asics; Lisa Brothers;
Bucks; Becky Lynn’s Designs; Bliss Hair Studio; The
Boardroom Salon for Men; Spencer & Michelle
Bradshaw; Brake Check; Art & Pam Burdick;
Barta & Robert “Buz” Busby; Caliente Harley
Davidson - Fred Bosshardt; Callaghan Road Animal
Hospital; La Cantera Resort; Canyon Café; Charming Charlie’s; The Christmas Shoppe; Cinnabar; Corpus Christi
Visitors’ Bureau; Anna & Mark Cortez; Cracker Barrel - Old Country Store, Inc.; Cured at the Pearl; Gogi & John
Dickson; Disneyland Resort; Dive World; Earth Burger; Éilan Hotel & Spa; El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel; Barrett & Melanie
Evans; Fickle Pickles; Foresight Golf, LLC; Georganne & Robert Freund; Alma Gallegos; Garcia Art Glass; Renee Garvens;
Diana Gonzales; Ron Graves & Jan Oord Graves; Green Vegetarian; Grimaldi’s; Gurinsky’s Fine Jewelry; D’Ann Harper;
Susie Harper Designs; Hearthstone Bakery Café; H-E-B /Mike Jarzombek; Hollerbach & Associates, Inc.; Inside Outside
Wellness Center & Medical Spa; J. Alexander’s Restaurant; Jet Blue Airlines; Gene & Jerry Jones Family Foundation;
J-Prime Steakhouse; John & Charlotte Koiner; Lillian’s of Boerne; Luce Ristorante e Enoteca; Lucky Thread; The Magik
Theatre; Mama Margie’s Mexican Café; Aileen Markowski; Erica & Leo Martinez, Luma Transport, LLC; Janet Martinez;
Massage Envy Spa; Debbie & Mike McCollum; McKenna Children’s Museum; Velma Morales; The “Moms of Stone Oak”;
Morgan’s Wonderland; Mark & De’Cel Morkovsky; Lee Murphy; Natural Bridge Caverns; Oak Hills Country Club; Off the
Vine Wine Tours; Pappas Restaurants, Inc.; Papouli’s at the Quarry; Peng’s Chinese Restaurant; P.F. Chang’s; Coree Perez;
Piranha Killer Sushi; The Playhouse San Antonio; David Prejza; Retama Park; Riverwalk Vista Inn; Jim & Mary Rizzuto;
RMYA Thrift Shop; John & Susan Roach; Tracy & Darren Rock & Friends; Rosario’s Mexican Café y Cantina; Ruth’s Chris
Steak House; San Antonio Aquarium; San Antonio Comedy Clubs; San Antonio Missions - (Missions CARE); San Antonio
Museum of Art; Santikos Theatres; Schlitterbahn Water Park; Kendra Scott; Sea Island Shrimp House; SeaWorld San
Antonio; Simi’s Indian Cuisine; Sister Creek Vineyards; Six Flags Fiesta Texas; Smoke Restaurant; The Club at Sonterra;
The Spa at Folawn’s; Splashtown San Antonio; Spurs Sports & Entertainment; St. Mary’s University; Starbucks Coffee;
Steve’s Plumbing & Heating Company; Stone Werks Big Rock Grille; Bruce & Mary Jo Stroup; Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q;
Sushi Zushi; Texas Hills Vineyards; Texas State Aquarium; Thin Air Trampoline Park; Tiago’s Cabo Grill; Top Golf; Charlotte
& Larry Travis; University Bowl; The University of Texas at San Antonio; Valero Energy Corporation; The Wash Tub; The
Westin Riverwalk Hotel; The Witte Museum; The Woodlawn Theatre; Woven Boutique; Zollie Glass Studio
SAVE THE DATE:
RMYA 40th Anniversary Gala, Oct. 15, 2016, at the Omni San Antonio at the Colonnade.
What does it mean to be a 501c3 nonprofit organization? It means we aren’t making any money at this gig. RMYA relies
on the support of numerous individuals, corporations, foundations, government agencies and even other nonprofits,
to give our children the best possible care as they recover from trauma they have experienced because of abuse and
Thank you to everyone who has donated funds to RMYA. We
don’t have the space to list all of the hundreds of volunteers and
individual donors, but feel free to picture the administrative staff
doing a happy dance every time we receive a check.
And, to give you an idea of what we need funding for
(EVERYTHING!), we thought you might be interested in some of
the grants and larger donations we’ve received in 2015 and how
these funds are helping children healing from the trauma of abuse.
2015 kicked off with the renewal of a Methodist Healthcare
Ministries grant in January. Funding covers the cost of psychiatric services to children at our Bridge Emergency
Shelter. Residents from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Division help us make sure these kids are as healthy as possible when they move on to a more permanent placement
– whether that’s with their families or within the foster care system.
The H.E. Stumberg Trust gave us a $5,000 general donation. General donations mean we can use them where we have the
most immediate need, which usually means program costs for the staff who care for our children day and night.
A Junior League of San Antonio grant paid for a new milk cooler and a refrigerated sandwich unit for the cafeteria at
our Meadowland Campus in Boerne.
In February, we were selected as one of the recipients of the Junior League of San Antonio’s Goodwill Gift Card
Project. We received $2,500 in Goodwill gift cards, with which the children and young adults in our residential
programs were able to go shopping to purchase clothing and personal items.
In March, the William Klesse Foundation and the Mays Family Foundation provided funding for operating costs at
our TurningPoint Transitional Living Program. TurningPoint provides housing, job training, and life skills support for
homeless young adults 18 to 21 years of age.
The Greehey Family Foundation paid for the cost to repair the Meadowland swimming pool, which was completed in
time for the children to use the pool this summer.
The B’Nai Tzedek Teen Project of the San Antonio Jewish Federation gave us money to purchase a milk cooler and
some pots and pans for our Bridge Emergency Shelter.
In April, a Kronkosky Foundation grant funded a detention basin at the Meadowland Campus which is now complete.
Without this funding, future construction projects would not be possible because of a City of Boerne restriction.
The Gentry Family Fund provided some funds to help offset general operating costs.
The Texas Cavaliers Charitable Foundation provided funding for mattresses and blankets.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Shop chose RMYA as recipient of its Free Cone Day fundraiser.
In May, our Transitional Living Program grant for TurningPoint was renewed by the Administration on Children and
Youth of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which we have had since 1999.
We received a San Antonio Area Foundation Community Grant from Ruth Lang Charitable Fund of the San Antonio
Area Foundation for TurningPoint operating funds.
The Charity Ball Association celebrated its 60th anniversary with a Significant Impact Grant and RMYA was the
recipient! $750,000 will be used to build a new Bridge Emergency Shelter on the lot next door to our current shelter.
In June, the TurningPoint Transitional Living Program received operating funds from the Greehey Family Foundation.
We were one of many recipients of the United Way Shoebox Project, providing personal care packages filled with
hygiene supplies for the children and youth in our residential programs.
The Valero Energy Foundation approved our request for $500,000 to help fund construction of the new Bridge
We received the second installment of funding for an extensive renovation of our Pool House, sponsored by Ken and
Christie Kahlich, long-time RMYA volunteers.
In July, in addition to the funding they give for our long-term residential care programs at Meadowland, the
United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County selected RMYA for a New Programs grant to fund a short-term out-patient
psychiatric clinic for community children, at the RMYA Family Counseling and Resource Center.
SA Reads approved our grant request for 200 books for our children and their cabin libraries.
In August, the Marcia & Otto Koehler Foundation gave us funding for laptop computers for our Family Counseling
and Resource Center.
In September, the Administration on Children and Youth of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department renewed
our Basic Center Grant which has been the major funding source for the Bridge Emergency Shelter since 1976.
We received a Charity Ball Association Traditional Grant for structural repairs to our West Avenue Campus building
that houses the Bridge Emergency Shelter, RMYA Family Counseling and Resource Center, administrative offices and
the RMYA Thrift Shop. In particular we will be implementing renovations to the bathrooms in the current shelter.
We were once again excited to be one of the charity recipients of the Valero Benefit for Children Golf Classic, which
helps offset operating costs for RMYA’s numerous children’s programs.
We received a general operating grant from the Thomas Gilcrease Foundation.
The Young Executives Committee at Fair Oaks Ranch Country Club held its second annual Back to College Night
Tailgating Party to raise funds for our Meadowland campus in Boerne.
In October, the Faye L. and William L. Cowden Charitable Foundation
approved a grant for new flooring at two of our boys’ cabins at Meadowland.
The Harvey E. Najim Family Foundation granted RMYA funds to purchase
two gently used multi-passenger vehicles, which will be used to transport
children to appointments and events.
The L & M Coulter Family Shelter Trust sent an unsolicited general donation.
We held our annual gala fundraiser. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,
raising money for operating funds – to cover boring but necessary costs like
keeping the lights on and the heat and air conditioning running.
In November, Rackspace awarded RMYA a “Rack Gives Back” grant for
operating funds for TurningPoint.
And, last but not least, in December, the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio awarded a $25,000 Responsive
Grant to RMYA to help offset costs of the short-term psychiatric clinic for community children in San Antonio.
Ken and Christie Kahlich donated funding to completely replace the flooring in all six of our residential cabins at
We were pleased to receive a gift designated by David Holmes from the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, a
fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation. The Santikos’ funds are designated for the New Bridge Emergency Shelter.
Numerous community supporters donated toys, books, clothes, hygiene supplies, blankets, winter coats, food, movie
passes, and gift cards – ensuring a very Merry Christmas for all of our children.
Thank you to all of our supporters. We couldn’t do it without you!
If you are interested in funding a special project, please contact the Development team at (210) 340-8077 ext. 7001.
If we could bottle the holiday spirit we would. We’d
serve it all year-round – at fundraisers, speaking
events, tours, volunteer activities – any time we talk to
someone from “the public.” With thoughts turning to
a new year and new beginnings, please don’t forget
the feelings of thankfulness that we get caught up in
during November and December.
At Thanksgiving and, really, through Christmas, you will see a lot of memes, Facebook
posts, holiday cards or e-mails discussing what we are thankful for. Well, at RMYA, we are
thankful for the children in our care all year long, and our children are thankful for the
loving, caring adults in their lives.
Part of providing a home-like environment for children who have, literally, nothing is
giving them opportunities for a sense of normalcy – like going to the movies,
summer camps, amusement parks, going out to eat or shopping. We give them a safe,
structured “home” with nutritious meals, clothes, an education, healthcare and, probably most importantly, adults who
model proper social skills and teach them that they are a valued part of our lives.
We could not provide the services we offer without your help. So,
Thank you, volunteers, for spending time with our kids.
Thank you, donors, for providing the money to give these kids the “extras” that help them feel like a “normal” kid.
Thank you, sponsors, for helping us spread our mission at fundraisers and friend-raisers.
Thank you, local businesses and corporations like Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Ruthie’s Mexican Restaurant, E-Flow
and Taurean Corp., Valero Energy Corp., and so many others, for holding holiday events for our children.
Thank you to the churches of San Antonio, Boerne and the surrounding Hill Country, for sharing the spirit of love
and friendship, regardless of religion.
Thank you to foundations and other grant funders who believe in our programs enough to trust that the money
you give us will restore hope, heal trauma, and create brighter futures for children in crisis.
Thank you all for making our children your children.
When you join the Circle of Hope, you make a
lasting commitment to the children of RMYA. Your
sustaining gift creates brighter futures for abused
and neglected children, bridging the gap between
housing children and healing them.
Here are some of the things your monthly donation will provide:
$10 per month
for one child.
$25 per month provides
two extracurricular activities
for a child in care—a trip to
the movies, roller skating, or
the zoo with a snack
$100 per month
for ten children.
$250 per month
feeds one child
for a month.
$50 per month
for a child in care.
$500 per month
provides job training
for a TurningPoint
resident for one month.
By joining at the level you are comfortable with,
you provide opportunities for children to achieve
individual success and establish healthy relationships. Your monthly gift to RMYA helps to break the cycle of abuse by
giving children consistency, safety, and structure in a therapeutic environment. Your support makes it possible to heal
trauma through respect, acceptance, and kindness to establish healthy and positive interactions. Together, we can restore
hope, one child at a time.
Please contact RMYA at 210-340-8077 and ask for Renee Garvens
(Ext. 1102) for more information about the Circle of Hope.
As we enter the mid-year point, we celebrate many wonderful events and activities and some academic successes at
Meadowland Charter School (MLCS). As a non-traditional school, we celebrate the small things, the things that
count, the kids and their successes.
Some of our kids have learned to write their names in cursive. Some have passed state assessments or achieved
an academic year of growth. For some it is vocalizing their feelings and thoughts for the first time without fear of
retribution or criticism. Our first success this school year was simply making it through the football season with no injuries.
MLCS kicked the school year off with the implementation of Restorative Practices (RP), a process of building community. A recent
survey of the Restorative Practice at MLCS has really provided some food for thought for all of us. 71% out of 75 respondents
stated they felt there was at least one adult in their school that cared about them. That is a huge success as many of our students
do not feel they can build a strong relationship with adults.
Special activities such as visits from therapy animals, athletics and sports, using the morning circle process daily, monthly birthday
celebrations, and group outings to laser light shows, the theater, surrogacy programs and the pumpkin patch all build community.
This is a community where all have a voice. A community in which we can all take pride. A community of learners!
To each and every donor, volunteer and staff member who made the holidays special
for our children, a very special THANK YOU! We couldn’t have done it without you!
Many of our residents have never had the Christmas celebration that most children take
In November the children attended a delicious Thanksgiving meal served
annually by Ruth’s Chris Steak House, courtesy of Lana Duke. There was traditional
turkey with all the trimmings and the children’s favorite homemade desserts served
by the restaurant’s welcoming staff. Lana’s heartfelt message of hope to the children
made the day inspirational. Ruthie’s Mexican Restaurant held their annual Thanksgiving
celebration for the children as well and former RMYA resident Nieves Hernandez and his family celebrated their 30th anniversary
of preparing and sharing Thanksgiving dinner with children at the Bridge Emergency Shelter.
During December, children attended parties and events sponsored by First Baptist Church
in Boerne, and other businesses and family groups. At the annual Tower of the Americas
outing a delicious breakfast was served by Chart House Restaurant and children were
treated to a 4D movie about Texas. Boerne Rotary sponsored a breakfast with Santa at Kendall
Elementary School – a favorite with the little ones. At the off-campus event hosted at Valero
Headquarters, dinner was served followed by games, activities, music and pictures with Santa.
Children showed off their dance moves at the Wilder Intermediate School and Resurrection
Baptist Church dinner and DJ party. Many people donated time, clothing and gifts – a warm
message that the community cares. Clark High School students spent time with the children
doing crafts, playing games and enjoying pizza. Patty Ansaldo and family provided dinner,
Christmas cookies, stockings and gifts. Les Dames d’Escoffier cooked and served their annual
holiday steak dinner for children and staff at the Bridge Emergency Shelter. On Christmas
Eve, volunteers from First Baptist Church brought delicious tamales and hosted a program for
our children and staff. Volunteers, including the Hearne family and the Bow family, invited some of our Meadowland children to
spend Christmas Day with them. Children staying at the Bridge Emergency Shelter enjoyed gifts, crafts, snacks, and stories with
volunteers on Christmas Eve. They were all smiles on Christmas morning when they saw the presents under the tree. The young
adults from TurningPoint joined the Bridge children for a Christmas breakfast buffet prepared by one of our staff, and the children
at the Bridge were later joined by the B’Nai Tzedek teens who spent the afternoon playing games and creating artwork with them.
We are thankful to everyone who helped give our children holiday memories that will last a lifetime.
Recently, a teenage boy who, until last February, had been a Meadowland resident for nearly two years, was struck and
killed on I-35 while running from police. To say the entire Meadowland campus was rocked by his sudden death is an
understatement. Several residents had been close to this young boy and our residential and Meadowland Charter School
staff and faculty worked hard to help our children process the sad news and come together to heal. In the midst of working
with the kids, we also found that our staff had a difficult time as well. When this happens, as it does more often than it should,
we cannot help but ask ourselves whether we did everything we could for him. We ask ourselves if we loved him enough,
fought for him enough, and made him feel valued and worthy and accepted in the time he was with us.
For privacy reasons, we cannot share his name or show his picture but we can honor him with our memories. Staff who
worked with him describe him as someone who was sweet, polite, lovable…a people pleaser who always impressed adults
with his desire to be loved and respected. With tiny freckles on his face that could only be seen close up, a warm smile, and
big sad eyes that drew you in, volunteers who met him were instantly charmed by his unassuming personality. He wasn’t a
jock or a genius; he was simply a boy desperate for the acceptance of his peers. This desire to be included often led him
to make poor choices and he was notorious for his penchant for running when he became frustrated, once making it over
a mile away in his socks.
The sadness we feel over his death can be felt throughout Meadowland. New direct care employees learn quickly that it is
essential to limit some level of emotional connection if we are to do the job well. The stories our kids bring with them are
often so devastating that, in order to help them, we must work hard not to over-empathize with them. This work isn’t about
us or how we feel, it’s our about our kids, and not allowing our emotions to get the best of us is a requirement for being
effective. But this boy’s death, like others before him, devastates us all and we collectively grieve our loss.
Earlier this year, in reviewing old footage of our founding Executive Director Roy Maas, we came across a short clip of
Roy with a young African American boy. The scene, while staged, was simply beautiful. Roy is seen working with the boy,
talking and walking, playing and working out. In the last clip, he and this young man walk away from the camera side by
side, Roy removes his jacket and places it around the boy’s shoulders and then hugs him close. Everything that was “Roy
Maas” is in those two minutes of video. We then got the idea to find out how this boy was doing. A quick call to Meadowland
and we learned that Robert had died before his 20th birthday in what was classified as a suicide. After sitting in silence at
the news, the staff who had known Robert began to speak about him. He lived at Meadowland with two older siblings. He
had experienced severe violence and neglect. When they were removed from their home, Robert suffered from extreme
malnutrition; his only source of food had come from his older brother rummaging in garbage cans for scraps. Robert’s sister
had suffered horrible sexual abuse that left her so traumatized she could barely function the first several months she was
with us. All three children had intense emotional and behavioral problems from the abuse. Like so many of the kids in our
care, Robert and his siblings needed 24-hour care to help them recover and heal. Robert is remembered as the boy you
couldn’t help but love because of his sweet, gentle, and kind personality. Every single person who knew him, more than
twenty years ago, found themselves in tears as they talked about him.
While it’s not a subject we enjoy discussing, this recent death
has brought to mind other children we have lost over 40
years of caring for children. In researching the subject for this
article, seasoned staff, who have devoted their lives to this
work, found themselves unable to speak as the memories
“Can I write this down (instead)? I’m really struggling to talk about that hard-headed kid Roger. God, that kid. I can picture
him so clearly. It’s so hard.”
“I didn’t expect to react this way. I’m so sorry. Give me a few minutes.”
Veteran employee, Tracy Rock (and several others), talked about a boy named Jeffrey. He is the child who haunts her – the
one she can’t forget. He was one of the Wright cabin boys in the mid-nineties. A goofy child with a bad cropped haircut
and chapped lips that no amount of Chapstick ever seemed to heal. Because he was often picked on by other children,
Tracy found herself wanting to protect him. She worked hard to help him feel good about himself and gain confidence.
She remembers him as incredibly lovable, in spite of his struggles with mental illness. She describes a child with so much
potential, and she wonders to this day what would have happened had he lived. Jeffrey had loving adoptive parents who
had struggled to help him for many years and maintained a close relationship with him, even though they had been forced to ask the state to step in
and help them. When he was killed, while joyriding with several other teens,
his adoptive parents returned to plant a memorial tree in his honor which
still grows on the lawn at Meadowland today.
The stories we collected share a common theme: kids we loved and cared
for, who moved on and then we found out later they died too young – in car
accidents, from drug overdoses or, most devastating of all, suicide. These
stories never leave us. They force us to ask ourselves if we did enough,
if we tried hard enough, if there was anything more we could have done
for them. And while we are still in shock from this most recent death, it’s
important to talk about him and the other children we have lost because
they matter to us. We loved them. We feel the loss deeply.
With the loss fresh in our minds, in 2016 we continue our commitment
to this important work, to help children heal and to restore hope. This
dedication strengthens our resolve to always be able to answer the
question, “Did we do everything could?,” with a resounding yes!
And to Roger, Jeffrey, Robert, and our most recent loss in 2015, we will
never forget you.
Jackie & Chuck Hemby
Charlotte & Larry Travis
Allan & Mary Petermeier
John & Kathy Gilmore
Bob & Maxine Riley
Diane & Paolo Fellin
Jackie & Chuck Hemby
Dr. Sue Weintraub
MR. & MRS. THOMAS WARD
KEN & SARAH HARGROVE
Dr. & Mrs. Robert Zeigler
POPE & DON CROOK
The Carduner Family
The Carduner Family
THE WHELESS FAMILY
The Carduner Family
COLLETTE & BARRY BROONER
The Carduner Family
RONALD RICHARD WATKINS
JERRY WINSLOW &
THE McCLELLAND FAMILY
The Carduner Family
SHARI & RANDY PULMAN
The Carduner Family
ALICIA TORRES & FRANK LEGACKI
The Carduner Family
MARY & GORDON WEINER
The Carduner Family
JANE & ROBERT BUTLER
Dennis & Bridget Revell
Roy Maas Youth Alternatives
3103 West Avenue
San Antonio, Texas 78213-4535
RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED
When you join the Circle of Hope,
you make a lasting commitment
to the children of RMYA.
Your sustaining gift creates brighter futures
for abused and neglected children,
bridging the gap between housing
children and healing them.
Your donations help break the cycle
of abuse by giving children
consistency, safety, and structure in a
Please contact RMYA at 210-340-8077
(Ext. 1102) to make a donation or for more
information about the Circle of Hope.