The grand opening of the Buckner Family Hope Center® at Donna was commemorated Aug. 8 with a public ribbon cutting and reception. This is the second Family Hope Center location in the Rio Grande Valley.
This is a satellite Family Hope Center located inside Iglesia Vino Nuevo Donna being operated by the Family Hope Center at Peñitas, which was the first in the Valley. Based on Buckner’s international program model, the satellite Family Hope Center offers classes and services to strengthen local families, including congregants of Iglesia Vino Nuevo Donna.
Senior Director of Buckner Family Hope Centers Candace Gray said it was more than a building that was opened. “Buckner builds families and families are where we believe children belong and where God intended them to be.”
“The Family Hope Center works on three levels: engage, equip and elevate. The result is that we are teaching parents to break generational cycles of poverty and neglect," Gray continued. "Our model emphasizes building sustainability for our families to move them from dependence to independence.”
According to the most recent study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 43.2% of Donna residents live in poverty. The programs and services offered by the Family Hope Center will be a valuable resource to help these families.
Families in Donna will have access to free classes, like Jobs for Life and Faith and Finances, counseling and activities for the whole family.
The ribbon cutting drew approximately 150 people including local supporters of the Family Hope Center, as well as supporters from around Texas including members of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, members of Crossing Baptist Church in Mesquite, Jasper Legacy Fund, and Lee and Susan Bush. Key supporters of the new location also include the Ed Rachal Foundation and Superior Health Plan.
Victor Garza, from Congressman Vicente Gonzalez’ office, Romo Sanchez, from Texas State Senator Morgan LaMantia’s office, and Paco Sanchez from Texas State Rep. Oscar Longoria's office were also present at the ceremony.
A few community supporters also attended including Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation, Edward Jones-Irma Rodriguez in Mission, McAllen Rotary Club, Magic Valley Roofing and Eva Mullis. Important collaborators such as Stark College and Seminary, UMOS Migrant Head Start and UTRGV Mobile Health Unit helped celebrate the ribbon cutting too.
Henry Jackson, president of Buckner Children and Family Services, said Buckner has served the Rio Grande Valley area since 1971, when it opened a foster group home with First Baptist Church in Brownsville. Then in 1998, Buckner took over operations of the Rio Grande Children’s Home.
“From there our local programs expanded to include community-based foster care and adoption, family transition programs, such as Family and Youth Success (FAYS), and preservation programs like the Family Hope Center at Peñitas and now here in Donna,” Jackson said. “In 2022, our Buckner Rio Grande Valley team served more than 4,000 individual children and adults in the community through our programs.”
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, the Family Hope Center hosted attendees for dinner and held a back-to-school distribution for Donna residents served by Buckner as they prepare for the new school year. Distributed items included shoes and backpacks filled with a variety of school supplies such as pencils, paper and folders.