Community leaders work to coordinate resources, help students

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

March 23, 2017 at 11:12 p.m.
Updated March 24, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Better Together luncheon guests write down on paper hands the programs in their community that help youths.

Better Together luncheon guests write down on paper hands the programs in their community that help youths.   Barclay Fernandez for The Victoria Advocate

An eight-piece multicolored puzzle bridged the Victoria school district, the community and churches Thursday.

About 50 participants gathered for a Better Together luncheon hosted by the district and the Gulf Bend Center to discuss how to collaborate and better support students and families.

This is the first time the district has hosted such an event, said organizers Kim Motley, VISD counseling coordinator, and Susanne Carroll, executive director of curriculum instruction and accountability.

Data collected at the event will be used to analyze what resources are needed and what can be changed, said Motley.

Lane Johnson, chief clinical services officer of Gulf Bend, gave a presentation about mental health.

"Trauma happens to all of us," Johnson said, adding that mental illness strikes early.

"Half of all cases begin by age 14," he said. "That's freshman year in high school."

Building relationships that are beneficial to the student will aid their support, Johnson said.

"It's not going to go away, no matter how long we look away," he said. "We can't get away from trauma, but we have the choice on whether it weakens us or strengthens us."

Solutions presented by the participants include student mission trips, creating more student-to-student mentor programs and day camps.

Having children who are students and a wife who works for the district has given Alan Wood, pastor for Glascow Street Church of Christ, experience in understanding students' problems, he said.

"This is great," Wood said. "There may be those who want to help and don't know how to help."

Students should think about volunteering and helping others who may not have access to resources, Wood said.

"Even though you're young, you can do great things," he said. "We need to raise a generation that is more involved in the community."

Robert Loeb, the president of Temple B'Nai Israel, came as a representative of the Jewish community.

He suggested schools start offering services at the elementary level.

"We'd like to see them say it's OK to talk to someone if they need help," Loeb said. "Be open. It's OK."

A heart looking to help children will make a difference, said Jay Tegeler, pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church and counselor at STCH Ministries.

"We need more things like this to be able to communicate effectively and resolve bigger answers to questions," Tegeler said. "It takes the hearts of us all coming together."

A liaison who works with churches, organizations and the district would ease communication, said Jared Lindsey, area director for Young Life.

"We need to bridge the gap between access and people who want to love kids," Lindsey said.

The event is a step in the right direction in creating more resource programs for children, he said.

"Going forward, I am very encouraged," he said. "We all share the same goal."



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