HOCKLEY, Texas (FOX 26) - Every child deserves the chance to grow up in a place they feel safe and comfortable and where they can call home. Unfortunately, not every child has parents who can provide that. That's where Boys and Girls Country comes in. It's a safe haven for children from families in crisis, where they can live in a loving and nurturing environment. Boys and Girls Country dates back to 1971, when it first began as Boy's Country in a small setting. Now it's a working ranch and the peaceful land in Hockley seems to bring a peaceful lifestyle to its residents.
Children are able to enjoy the comforts of an alternative family for love and support for at least two years, which is the minimum requirement to help get their lives back on track. Many stay much longer than that, like twelve-year old Kaleigh, who has been here since she was 5.
"All the girls here feel like my sisters - whether they're in my cottage or not - and all the guys are like my brothers and the house parents that work in my cottage are like my mom and dad," says Kaleigh.
Children, who come from a family in crisis, have a safe place to stay, here at Boys and Girls Country, with everything they need and more. Kaleigh says it means a lot! Daniel and Kelly Lockey live in her cottage at Boys and Girls Country with a small group of girls. More than 100 children receive life changing help from Boys and Girls Country. 88 of them live in a similar cottage on the same property in Hockley. 14 others are in college or working on their careers!
The Lockeys say they're incredibly attached to the children, even though they have a daughter of their own. "They mean everything to me! They are my kids. For those that we've had for five years and those we've had for two weeks, they just become your own children," explains Kelly. The Lockeys are known as "teaching parents" because they teach the children important life's skills. Plus they take them to school, help with homework, take them to doctor's appointments, cook for them, take them to church every Sunday, everything a loving parent would do. Christian values play a big role in their upbringing here, where children are taught to make wise decisions and positively contribute to our society.
"They love us, they care for us and always help us when we need help," says Ashleigh.
Sometimes it's tough for children to adjust at first and get used to their new surroundings. Just like at anyone's home, there are ups and downs here, as well.
"It really depends on the day, to be honest with you, because you are raising kids and there's times when it can be frustrating but when you see it click and they finally understand, once that light bulb turns on, it really is worth it to say, Wow - they're finally getting it and lives are changing and they're doing great," says Daniel. That includes school, too!
"When a child comes to us, they are usually a couple of years behind in school and by the time they leave here, they're normally with a B-plus or higher, many on the A Honor Roll," says Daniel.
Plus, Boys and Girls Country offers huge incentives to do well in school! Not only do they get privileges on campus, like bikes and games, they're promised a free college education plus a new car, when they graduate from college. Ashleigh is impressed with her friends who grew up here!
"There are some graduating from college and I see them with good jobs! They had a good education and have good houses and everything like that and I want to become & grow up to be like them," says Ashleigh.
The cycle of their misfortune seems to break here, all truly getting a new chance at life.
It has drawn the attention of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who is visiting Houston to help raise money for the organization. Local generous Houston-area residents help fund the facility.
For more information, visit http://www.boysandgirlscountry.org/.