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Giddings Recognizes Mentors

GIDDINGS, Texas – Youthful offenders honored their mentors at an appreciation dinner at the Giddings State School in late December. About 40 youth served the mentors a barbecue dinner, then dine with the 20 or so mentors who came to the evening program. 
Several youth paid tribute to the volunteers.
“I appreciate mentors for coming out because they don’t have to do it,” said one young man. “This is free time for them, time out of their days and away from their families.”
Said another, “Because we’re separated from family, the people who come out and talk to us become family. You find out you can trust people and people do help you even though they are strangers.  
“You get closer and start knowing them and you become family,” the youth said.  “This is what mentors are to me.  They’re someone you can trust, rely on, and always look to for help.”
Giddings Superintendent Jorge Gonzalez, Giddings Chaplain Frederick Horton, and Suzanne Scharle from Community Programs in Austin attended.

Three honored for service with TJJD Office of Inspector General

AUSTIN, Texas – The TJJD Office of the Inspector General (OIG) said farewell to three of its employees in December, sending them off with a ceremony in the Lone Star Conference Room at Central Office. The departing employees, two of whom are retiring from decades-long state service, received framed flags and certificates commemorating their careers.
Lt. Johnny Thomas retired after 23 years of state service split between TJJD and Texas Youth Commission (10-plus years) and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice .
OIG Sgt. Tom Hamilton presented Thomas with a custom-made rifle that Hamilton had ordered just for his friend and fellow officer. Hamilton was uniquely positioned to procure this gift, a 35 Whelen on Mauser action rifle, for gun collector Thomas because Hamilton’s father is a gunsmith. He presented the rifle as a gift from both dad and son.
SIO (Security Intelligence Officer) Alex De La Garza also received a certificate and congratulations on his retirement af…

Tornado Ranch to Offer Equine, Animal Programs; Honors Retiring TJJD Director Reilly

GAINESVILLE, Texas – The Gainesville State School broke ground Wednesday, Dec. 20, on a new, unique facility and program that will help students in custody learn agricultural skills and access a special type of horse therapy that has been proven to help at-risk youth with complex trauma, attachment disorders, and mood disorders. The dedication of Tornado Ranch, as it’s named, honored retiring TJJD Director David Reilly, who has championed animal therapy programs as a way to reach and help troubled teens. Reilly was the impetus behind both the equine program, which will begin operation shortly at Gainesville, and the PAWS (Pairing Achievement with Service) canine program, already in place at the Gainesville, Giddings and Ron Jackson campuses.

Gainesville Superintendent Mike Studamire and Assistant Superintendent Deidra Reece presented Reilly with a handcrafted metal Texas “badge” made by youth in the metal shop and also unveiled photos of the new animal shelter at Tornado…

Happy Holidays from Giddings

GIDDINGS, Texas – Youth at the Giddings State School decorated their dorms for Christmas during their holiday break from classes. Here are photos of the amazing decor drawn, assembled and arranged by the youths from Dorm 8B and Dorm 3B.


SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Ayres Halfway House youth participated in a rewarding community service project, “Christmas for Seniors” on Dec.15, 2017.
Volunteer Council Member Glenn  Faulk organized the project and raised almost $2,500 from generous community sponsors to provide lunch and Christmas presents for 54 residents at the Newell Retirement Complex. Ayres youth assisted in setting up, serving the seniors, eating lunch with the seniors and cleaning up. Santa made an appearance and brought smiles to the face of everyone in the room.

Ministries of the Third Cross Retreat at Ayres Halfway House

SAN ANTONIO – Ayres Halfway House youth participated in a two-day Ministries Of the Third Cross Retreat on Dec. 17, 2017. Members of the MOTTC group treated the youth to uplifting fellowship, music, and worship. The retreat members volunteered their time to cook for, serve and lift up our young men in an incredibly powerful way, that even brought the shyest youth out of their shell.

At the end of the retreat the group members surprised the youth with Christmas gifts for each young man in the house.  All youth in the program participated and even lead prayers and songs.

Many MOTTC members asked to sign on to volunteer with our agency to mentor in the future. It was a wonderful experience for all and they have already began the process of returning for a full, four-day retreat in the summer.

Staff and Youth Host Toy Drive at Mart

MART, Texas – The Capstone team and youth at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department’s McLennan County facilities collected over 200 toys for the Waco Boys & Girls Club!!
Ernest Akers and Debra Noles went above and beyond with their efforts to get the toy drive started, and then following through on the details to make a huge success! A special thank you to them and all who donated as well as the HR department and business services because they donated an abundant amount of toys.
The executive director of the Boys & Girls club was very appreciative of the work that was put in, and most off all, for providing holiday gifts to the children in Waco.
Capstone youth and staff distributed flyers around our campus and also posted them on our dorms to promote the event. They also developed a sign in sheet for donators to place their name and list how many toys they have given.
To promote the toy drive, the youth also came up with the idea of making the drive a completion for each depa…

Tamayo House Participates in HEB Feast of Sharing

HARLINGEN, Texas – On November 10, 2017 and November 16, 2017, the Tamayo House Students were able to help serve food to the community at two HEB Feast of Sharing 2017 events. One was held in Willacy and the other was held in Cameron County.   At the Willacy county event, 4 students helped serve over 4,000 people.  At the Harlingen event over 15,000 people were served with the help of 15 students  from Tamayo House on two different shifts.  The students enjoyed serving their community and enjoyed the great food!

Youth Seize a Rare Opportunity - to Make a Snowman

Edinburg, Texas, hasn't seen snow in 13 years!

But the staff and kids at the Evins Regional Juvenile Facility enjoyed it during the rare snowfall that reached all the way to the Rio Grande Valley on Dec. 8.