The latest Buckner Today might look a little different than you’re used to seeing, but you will still find stories of the ways our Buckner families, staff and clients are finding ways to overcome, encourage and find hope in this season of uncertainty. Virtual adoptions, at-home schooling and celebrations of staff milestones are just some of the pieces you can enjoy in this issue!
In this issue you will read about:
Celebrating 30 years of consistency, excellence and prayer: JoAnn Cole leaves behind a legacy of service to Buckner
A Video Report: Buckner NGOs rise to meet coronavirus challenges internationally
Heroes on the Frontlines
Going Gold for Senior Living
When COVID-19 required everyone to shelter in place, Buckner International did not abandon those we serve. From home offices around the state, staff found innovative ways to minister and help vulnerable families and children navigate new and sometimes scary experiences. From telehealth visits and food distributions, Bucker continues to shine hope during a pandemic.
"These are just a few of the ways Buckner is stepping in and stepping up in response to the storm of COVID-19," said Buckner President and CEO Albert Reyes. "God is protecting us through the storm and empowering us to shine hope or inspire happiness. When I think about the history of Buckner and the storms we've weathered the past 14 decades, I'm reminded of God's faithfulness."
Despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, we have a lot of reasons to be excited about the continued services we're providing and how you're responding to the needs. Among those reasons are:
Continued support from donors like you. The Buckner Development team reports that giving has remained strong as donors have responded to the needs of those we serve. In addition, supporters like you have given more than $110,000 to Buckner for COVID-19 relief, with an additional $40,000 commitment. The Buckner Retirement Services fundraising campaign Above and Beyond: Helping Those Who Help, has raised $25,000 for the BRS Employee Assistance Fund.
Continued volunteer response. While many volunteer activities have been put on hold to observe social distancing measures, many volunteers have come up with innovative and creative ways to serve children, families and seniors, including: participation in the Adopt-a-Family initiative, which has brought food and other supplies to families in five communities; a letter-writing initiative to Buckner staff, foster families and senior living residents; and participating in virtual Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls® shoe drives through online ordering.
Continued service by our staff. Despite the challenges of social distancing and working remotely, we haven’t lost a day of service to children, families and senior adults. Buckner has adapted and continues to serve in new and innovative ways, including here in Texas, where our Family Hope Center coaches are meeting with families; Family Pathways parents' needs are still being met; and foster care provision and adoptions are still as strong as ever. Additionally, the Buckner senior living team – our frontline heroes – continues to form a virtual shield around each of our six senior living communities in Texas. Internationally, our NGOs are distributing food to families hardest hit financially (more than 34 million tons of food have been distributed so far) and Family Hope Centers are still actively ministering to families near them.
By Kayla Ivy
Day in and day out, frontline heroes are serving in the communities of the most vulnerable throughout the current pandemic. Within the walls of Buckner Retirement Services senior living communities, these heroes continue to keep the health, safety and happiness of residents and Members as their top priority.
Among the many staff members, Derone Martin, chef at Buckner Parkway Place in Houston, Texas, has been serving in the senior living industry for more than a decade. Derone adapted how he typically obtains products, as well as schedules and delivers meals to residents in these unprecedented times.
“I practice more patience in my position as the pandemic continues,” Derone said. “Menus are changing day to day, whereas we used to have a schedule of meals. We are having to think outside the box to obtain products that are not as easy to receive as they used to be because of the pandemic, and delivering meals to resident doors is a more tedious process now in order to mitigate risks.”
Derone is thankful for the support system he has at Parkway Place and is proud of his culinary team for their servant hearts and devotion to coworkers and residents.
“I am so proud of my team and the attitudes they have when they come into work every day. They are heroes, serving one of the most at-risk populations and their associates with a smile and pride in the job they do,” he said.
Also thankful for fellow associates keeping the positivity alive during hard times is Shannon Hohmann, certified nurse’s assistant at Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo, Texas. Shannon started working as a CNA on March 16, right as the pandemic began, making for a memorable beginning to a new career.
Shannon works in memory care, helping residents work through the pandemic, as many of them do not understand daily why they are unable to see their family members.
“It is hard to watch them struggle to remember and understand,” she shared. “My job is to care for them and make sure they feel safe inside their home during a time that is so confusing and difficult for all of us. Their fears and anxieties about why their family members cannot come see them are real and I am trying to help them understand where those are coming from each day.”
Puzzles, bingo, singing and dancing are activities Shannon uses to bring residents out of a negative mindset and bring joy to their day.
“We have fun together and seeing the joy on their faces makes my job easier,” she said. “Making them happy makes me happy, and I cannot think of a better way to spend my workdays.”
In Dallas at Ventana by Buckner, Elizabeth Niksich serves as the health and wellness director. She is a source of encouragement and positivity for all Ventana Members during a time where maintaining a healthy fitness regimen is of utmost importance.
“Rejoicing in the success that the Members make in managing health conditions and improving the performance and quality of their lives is so important,” Elizabeth said.
From 20-mile bike rides alongside a Member, to simply helping another onto a bike, Elizabeth said watching her members stay healthy and reach goals keeps her smiling and motivated for work during these uncertain times.
Heroes walk the halls of all six Buckner Retirement Communities in Texas. They are working diligently and serving wholeheartedly to keep residents feeling safe, healthy and cared for. Inspiring happiness when times are scary make these workers COVID-19 pandemic frontline heroes. BT
By Russ Dilday
When the coronavirus pandemic became global in scope, it affected not only Buckner International’s work in Texas, but in the six countries where Buckner provides ministry to children and families. As the pandemic’s reach spread to Guatemala, Kenya, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Honduras and Peru, Buckner personnel in those countries rose to meet the needs of their affected communities.
Often, those needs were desperate. Many countries where we work were affected by overburdened hospitals, hunger, lack of resources and large numbers of deaths. Watch as each Buckner country director reports from their countries with the current situation and what they are doing to meet the challenges COVID-19 presents.
Ministry update from the Dominican Republic:
Ministry update from Guatemala:
Ministry update from Honduras:
Ministry update from Mexico:
Ministry update from Peru:
Ministry update from Kenya:
For children celebrating their new forever family, this season of uncertainty has marked a unique and special experience in their latest chapter of life.
While the state of Texas ceased many operations to a halt, Buckner Children and Family Services and others in the adoption process did all they could to make scheduled adoptions take place. Multiple adoptions were held all across the state through the help of technology. From Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype, children were still able to experience the joy of becoming a forever family – even if it was through video chat.
For many Buckner families, their unique adoption marked the first of their kind in their respective counties. Many of these adoptions also took place during National Foster Care Month, an exciting season continues to bring awareness and knowledge to the journey of foster care.
THE SANCHEZ FAMILY
The Sanchez family grew by one member on May 13. Two-year-old Jose joins a loving crew of two big brothers and a sister. Ivan and Jesus, Jose’s older brothers, were also adopted by Marcos and Veronica Sanchez. To read the encouraging story of a growing family despite the pandemic, click here.
THE PATTERSON FAMILY
After a long season of uncertainty and struggle for Lindsey and Taylor Patterson, William, 8, and Charles, 7, became their forever sons through a Microsoft Teams call on April 28. Celebrating with decorations and a drive-by car parade, the day was made special even in the challenging circumstances. Read more about their journey toward adoption here.