December 12, 2023
Communities In Schools and RecoveryWerks! each received an unrestricted $10,000 Impact Grant from the McKenna Foundation, highlighting the end of a successful 2023 grant-gifting season.
The announcement of the awarding of the grants came during the annual Christmas Breakfast at the McKenna Events Center on Dec. 12.
The Foundation previously asked nonprofit partners to nominate one of their peers. This year, however, the Foundation invited the public to participate in selecting two deserving nonprofit organizations serving Comal County to receive grants. The Foundation received more than 3,300 nominations from members of the public.
In addition to nominating an agency, the Foundation asked participants to include a statement supporting their nominee.
RecoveryWerks! provides recovery support services for teenagers and young adults experiencing problems with substance use.
Through state-certified peer recovery support specialists, they provide counseling, peer coaching, support group meetings, sober social activities, role modeling and accountability to help young people discover the freedom of life without the effects of mind-changing chemicals.
“RecoveryWerks! stands out as an organization deserving special recognition due to its unwavering commitment to supporting individuals in their journey towards recovery from addiction and mental health challenges,” an individual wrote in their nomination statement. “Through their innovative programs and empathetic approach, they’ve created a nurturing environment that fosters health and empowerment. Their dedication to destigmatizing mental health issues and providing accessible resources reflects their profound impact on countless lives, making them a beacon of hope within the community.”
In addition to working with teens and young adults, RecoveryWerks! provides similar support to family members, ages nine and above, who have a loved one struggling with substance use disorder.
Staffers work with family members on how to enable recovery versus enabling addiction. The agency maintains a 12-step support group meeting for parents and grandparents, while other counselors have a 12-step support meeting for the teens.
The agency also offers a 12-step support group meeting for brothers and sisters who are not using between the ages of nine and 17. Everybody in the group gets tools on how to help enable recovery.
“When we started this, there was such a big stigma, and I didn’t know how things would work out in New Braunfels, said Program Director Joanne Daxon to breakfast attendees. “We did start up with such a small group, and I am just honored to be part of RecoveryWerks! I’m totally grateful.”
Communities In Schools of South Central Texas celebrated its 30th anniversary this year in its mission of supporting and changing the lives of area students.
What started as a program serving five schools with a $393,000 budget in 1993 has grown to 55 schools in three counties with a $5.6 million budget.
CIS places highly trained professional site coordinators inside the schools who have relationships with students and work hand-in-hand with the school to help identify students’ needs. Schools, businesses and community agencies work with site coordinators to support students and families.
Site coordinators provide specific resources: one-on-one mentoring with a caring adult, counseling and supportive guidance, food assistance, clothing and shoes, rent and utility assistance, behavioral and academic support, and linkages to community resources.
Through individualized interventions and a family of support, students traverse a personal journey of hope, goal achievement and meaning in their lives.
In nominating CIS, one person wrote that the agency “continuously goes above and beyond to do whatever it takes to help students and families with all the challenges in their daily lives.”
“Additionally,” the individual went on, “the mental health crisis in our schools is not getting better, and with the assistance of CIS, the students are shown tools and coping skills to help them navigate the big emotions students need help with.”
Many of the youth CIS serves are from families experiencing poverty, substance abuse, and poor mental health – a home environment that is not conducive to healthy living and an excellent moral compass. All CIS services and programs support the goal of providing safe and healthy environments for students at school and home for our community’s good.
“What an opportunity to hear back from our constituents, then to also be recognized in front of my peers,” CEO Chris Douglas said to breakfast attendees. “I am blessed to be here – it will be 27 years. It’s just amazing work, right? Working in a nonprofit – there’s nothing like it…this money means a lot to us this year.”
During the 2021-2022 school year, CIS staff members, mentors and volunteers served more than 39,000 students in 55 schools in the New Braunfels, Marion, Comal, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City and Seguin school districts.
As part of its school-based programs, CIS provided 4,448 students with intensive ongoing services during the 2021-2022 academic year; 239 students received mentor services, and 186 students received clinical counseling.
McKenna began making grants to community nonprofits in 2009 and has since awarded nearly $30 million in grant funding to nonprofit organizations serving New Braunfels and Comal County residents.
This year, the Foundation gifted more than $2.1 million in grants to 42 nonprofit organizations in Comal County.
Visit the Foundation’s website at www.mckenna.org.