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Buckner Opens New Community Centers in Dallas

Analiz G. Schremmer

DALLAS—In June of 2010 Buckner International took two new programs under its umbrella: Simari Ridge Community Resource Center and Hillburn Hills Community Resource Center.

Simari Ridge Resource Coordinator, Carter Shepherd, who has worked at the center since 1991, said closing the location would have been hard on the community because the children he serves often suffer from hunger and minimum parental attention.

The two centers were previously operated by an organization called Launching a Dream.

“I tell the kids, ‘I want you to know that when you’re in here, you don’t have to be scared and you don’t have to be hungry,’” he said.

Shepherd added that the area he serves has the highest rate of HIV and STDs in the county. Most of the children in the program come from single-parent homes, and a lot of them have no food at their house.

“Most of these children don’t have positive male role models,” he said. “I take pride in being a role model for them. I’ve also had some parents who tell me that this program has kept them from moving away. They know that we keep their children safe and encouraged while they have to work.”

Shepherd works hard to encourage the children, to make sure there are sex-education classes available to keep teenagers safe and healthy. He also promotes social awareness and responsibility among the adults in the area and supervises a partnership that the center has with Bibleway Bible Church, a congregation across the street from the center in Southeast Dallas.

Adrain Blackwell, who serves as community resource coordinator for Hillburn Hills Community Center in Northeast Dallas, said the focus of his after-care program is academics.

“A lot of these kids come from single-parent homes where the parent still wants to be a part of the party scene, so I try to talk to them about taking responsibility and acting like an adult,” he said.

“We try to make everything in our center a learning tool. I tutor the kids in the after-school program and I encourage them to pair up and help each other. I want the kids to be ahead in school.”

As much as Blackwell focuses on hard work and academic excellence, he still makes a little time for fun.

“Sometimes I’ll be the monster and the kids run and hide,” he said. “The children will be calling out ‘Mr. Adrain, Mr. Adrain, I’m over here.’ They like coming here to the after-care program. I’ll ask them about their day and they get snacks, too.”

Besides working with the children, Blackwell helps provide residents in the community with job-search resources and health clinics, humanitarian support and basic counseling, among other things.

“One time there was a child who told me that his family’s electricity had been out for a week,” Blackwell said. “I was able to call the electricity provider and when they heard I was with Buckner, they said they would not charge the resident the deposit that they owed to start up a new service. They were able to get their lights back on after that.”

Other community centers operated by Buckner in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex are the Wynnewood Community Center and the centers at Broadway Baptist Church and Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana.

To learn more about the ways you can support Buckner’s community work in Dallas or other locations, please contact Buckner Foundation at 214-758-8000.

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