HOUSTON (FOX 26) - There's a special place in our area that is positively changing the lives of children. It's called Boys and Girls Country of Houston, and their mission is to help children from families in crisis, by loving and nurturing them in a Christian home environment.
You'll find home-after-home filled with "teaching parents" for children who need a safe place to live on this peaceful property in northwest Houston.
"It's more than a children's home, it's a safe haven for children. We have about 100 children in our care. We provide all of their needs, physical needs, educational and spiritual needs, in a cottage family home," says Vincent Duran, the Executive Director of Boys and Girls Country.
Eighteen-year old Tirzah has called Boys and Girls Country her home for seven years.
"My real parents were never really in my life, and they decided to choose drugs over taking care of their children, which is kind of hard and heartbreaking. My parents were in and out of jail, and I was always raised by my grandmother and grandfather," says Tirzah. That is, until her grandfather passed away and her grandmother got sick. Then Tirzah went from a quiet home to a boisterous one here, with roommates.
"The transition wasn't that easy. My first couple of years was wanting to leave instead of seeing the opportunities I had, so after I realized (after trying to get out), that's not my plan. I'm supposed to stay here. Seeing my grandma going through dementia made me realize I needed to make the best of it instead of making it worse on myself," explains Tirzah.
She keeps it "real", but is the first to talk about how amazing the opportunity has been, once she gave the situation a chance. With the love and support that she has received at Boys and Girls Country, Tirzah will finish high school with an associates degree and head off to college soon. She is beyond thankful for her experiences with loving adults she now calls family.
"They're my parents. They've done a lot for me and I'm so grateful to have two people who are loving and caring and take care of you and teach you skills you need for life. It's a blessing and honestly, if this place wasn't here- I don't know where I'd be today," says Tirzah.
Each child has their own bedroom at Boys and Girls Country and some of them were excited to give us a tour.
"I have a bunch of emoji's and stuff because I wanted my theme to be emoji's," smiles San'a. She loves her room and says it's a happy space for her. She loves being able to decorate it to her very own preferences.
Eleven-year-old Aerial agrees and shares with us the special symbols in her room.
"I got that cross for my birthday and also my white board is important to me. My mom is my testimony. She has been sick for 10 years now. She was told she couldn't survive, but she has been through so many miracles, so I consider her my testimony," says Aerial. Since Aerial's mom wasn't able to care for her, Aerial says she and her sister have found a good life here.
Boys and Girls Country is considered "private placement", funded by generous Houstonians, who care. "Our supporters, donors, are invested in these children. We want to see them thrive. And with education, the right degree, they can go on to do great things. Every college graduate gets a brand new car. It's great to see them get rewarded for their hard work," says Duran.
Sixteen-year old Kaleigh has spent most of her life here. She introduced us to her goat named "Dog". She's involved in FFA and the 4H Club. She spends almost four hours a day tending to her goat and heifer, all while helping pave a positive future for herself.
"It is so much fun. My animals are a way for me to relax and be in my nature zone. It allows me to show responsibility and also when I take them across the auction block, I can help and raise money for my own future and through scholarships and help raise money for college as well," says Kaleigh.
Students like Kaleigh and Tirzah are perfect examples of how lives can be transformed when someone invests time and love in them. Tirzah plans to be an emergency room doctor some day.
"Not only do they help us with life skills, they help us beyond, so that when you do go out into the workforce, we're guaranteed to be debt-free," Tirzah says. That's an incredible step toward achieving big dreams for all children who live at Boys and Girls Country.
For more information and to learn how you can help them, https://www.boysandgirlscountry.org/