By Brittany Black
BEAUMONT, Texas – After 40 years, Buckner Children’s Village in Beaumont is a place where traditions are still carried out and smiles are still being made.
Buckner welcomed more than 175 former residents and their families to Buckner Homecoming June 11. The day’s activities included catching up with old friends and staff members, a worship service, a group photo and plenty of activities for friends and family.
“We think our kids need a place to call home and we try and make sure no matter how old they are, we treat them like family,” said Laura May, Buckner administrator in Beaumont.
The Children’s Village provides residential cares for children who have been removed from their families, often due to abuse or neglect.
Former resident Amy Archer and her old friend Elinda Martin Taylor sat at a table reminiscing while Archer’s boys played. Archer lived at Buckner from 1993 to 1995 and Taylor from 1994 to 2000.
“One time they took us camping in the woods. We ended up running into someone else’s tent, and the lady didn’t even speak English. That was the first and last time I went camping,” Archer said with a laugh.
Taylor credits Buckner for her desire to be dedicated to her family and spiritual life.
“Buckner showed me how important it is to spend quality time with your family,” she said. “I remember always going to devotional and worshiping with a large group.”
C.T. Hooker came to Buckner Children’s Village when he was 11 and stayed until he graduated at 17.
“When I first got here I was quiet and shy,” he said. “Being here forced me to speak and it is why I am where I am as an adult. I have done so many things with Buckner that it is home to me.”
The children who lived at Buckner Children’s Village aren’t the only ones with great memories. Irene Whitaker worked at the Village for 38 years for support services and has vivid memories of taking the children shopping and helping them get ready for prom. She considers all the children she worked with as her own.
“Look at all my children, these are all mine,” Whitaker said after pointing to a wall filled with pictures of grads in their caps and gowns. “I was so proud when one of my kids graduated and made that big step.”
To learn more about the ways you can support children living at Buckner Children’s Village, contact Rhonda O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 409-866-0976.
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