Connections breaks ground on new 28,000-square-foot facility
Oct. 9, 2023
A New Braunfels-based nonprofit organization has taken the next step in its mission to support at-risk youth, breaking ground on a new 28,000-square-foot facility that will expand its service capacity.
Connections Individual and Family Services on Oct. 5 marked the start of the first phase of the project, which will provide residents of the emergency children’s shelter and transitional living home with improved facilities to support youth recovering from trauma.
Established in 1981, Connections offers support services for homeless, abused and at-risk youths, families and the communities in which they live. The agency serves 17 counties with counseling, prevention programming, an emergency children’s shelter and a youth transitional living program.
Connection’s chief executive officer, Jacob Huereca, described the expansion as a “once-in-a-generation” project.
“This is going to be a difference maker for the westside of this community,” Huereca said. “We’re going to revitalize this side of town. We’re going to bring hope for generations to come.”
The new campus at the agency’s West San Antonio Street address will bring together the emergency shelter and transitional living program, allowing youth to benefit from individual and group meeting spaces, therapy rooms and bedrooms designed for youth experiencing trauma.
The new campus will also enable growth within the counseling program to combat growing challenges with mental health.
The current residential homes have sheltered more than 5,000 youth during the agency’s 42-year history, according to Huereca. The agency has also provided counseling services to more than 10,000 children and substance abuse prevention services to more than 15,000 youth.
The expected completion of the first phase of the project is fall 2024. The second phase includes training and meeting spaces, community resource areas, counseling and prevention offices, play therapy and sensory rooms, intake rooms and administrative areas.
In addition to its emergency shelter and transitional living program, the agency offers free or reduced-cost counseling for youth and families and in-school and community events that support positive youth development and family stability.
Vanessa Dean, a former “foster kid” who had experienced homelessness as a youth, spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony about the difference the organization made in her life, stating that “these walls have a lot of stories.”
“When you walk into a place like this, it can be pretty terrifying,” Dean said. “You feel very alone but, yet you are surrounded by 20 other children. They don’t let you feel that way for very long here. They fill you up pretty quickly. I didn’t know what it was like to be loved on. I didn’t have much self-worth. Connections really made a difference.”
Huereca said that the agency has raised $5.4 million for the new project but has about $2.2 million to go.
“We’re going to be able to serve more kids,” he said. “And we’re going to be here 42 years from now, still bringing hope to the community.”
In 2021, the McKenna Foundation provided funding that allowed Connections to purchase land for the project.
For more information on Connections or to donate to its capital campaign, visit connectionsifs.org or call 830-629-6571 ext. 221.