ARK Stork’s home to become home for 24 children
Groundbreaking for the newest addition at the ARK was held on November 4, at the ARK facility located in Calallen. Called the Stork’s Home, this new building will become home for 24 children ages birth to 17. The Stork’s home will provide long term care for the children “enabling them to stay (at the ARK) until they reach their 18th birthday, graduate from high school or the court determines that parents have met its requirements for the safe return of the children to their home,” said Delma Trejo, executive director/administrator of the ARK. Pictured turning over the earth are Bishop Emeritus Rene Gracida, Rene Esquivel, chairperson of the board of directors, Sister Milagros Tormo, M.J.M.J., president of the shelter’s board of directors, and Delma Trejo, executive director/administrator.
“The Stork’s Home is a new phase in the life and program of the ARK,” said Bishop Emeritus Rene Gracida at the November 4 groundbreaking for the Stork’s Home on the grounds of the ARK Assessment Center and Emergency Shelter for Youth.
The Stork’s Home will not only increase the number of beds available to youth, birth to 17-years-old, the Stork’s home will be licensed to house the children on a more permanent basis.
Currently, the ARK is the only licensed facility within an 80-mile radius of Corpus Christi which can provide assessment services and emergency shelter to abused and neglected children.
However, children may only remain for up to 90 consecutive days while they are evaluated for placement in an appropriate long-term site. “The Stork’s Home will allow the ARK to extend the length of time it can serve its residents. Our goal is to be able to move the children from the emergency shelter into long-term care within our facility,” stated Delma Trejo, Executive Director/Administrator.
Bishop Gracida explained further, “Children who arrive at the ARK have a tendency to bond with the staff. Unfortunately, when the children go from here to a foster home, the placement is not always permanent. The children are shuffled around, leading to a lack of security. The Stork’s Home will cure that problem. The love, affection and security the children have experienced for the first 90 days will continue after they move into this long term care.”
The new 24-bed, 6,350-square foot facility will allow the ARK to care for a total of 55 children at any one time.
With the completion of the $671,000 construction project, the children living at the ARK will not have to make another move “until they reach their 18th birthday, graduate from high school or the court determines that parents have met requirements for the safe return of the children to their home,” said Trejo.
Present at the ground breaking were Sister Milagros Tormo of the Missionary Sisters of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, president of the shelter’s board of directors, Rene Esquivel, chairperson of the board and family members of the late Monsignor Robert Freeman.
While the ARK is a project of the Missionary Sisters of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, it was Msgr. Freeman together with Sister Milagros and Delma Trejo who presented the original plan of an emergency shelter for children to Bishop Gracida when he was Bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi.
“They brought the idea to me. Sister Milagros, Msgr. Freeman and Delma Trejo presented a solution to a serious problem. I told them yes, and it was full speed away,” said Bishop Gracida.
Warren Freeman, first cousin of Msgr. Freeman and his wife of 50 years Peggy traveled from Victoria, Texas to witness the continuation of Msgr. Freeman’s dream.
“This was a dream of his during the last years of his life. He saw a void which was not being addressed. Msgr. Freeman saw that there needed to have a quick response to crisis situations to save a child’s life and to provide support and spiritual help to that child,” explained Peggy Freeman.
Warren Freeman described the type of man and priest his cousin was, “he saw the problem and was determined to help. Msgr. Freeman never accepted no.”
In thanking everyone who has given to the project, Sister Milagros reminded all present about the ARK’s primary mission, “How can we make a difference in a child’s life everyday? Everyone working here works from the heart.”
Trejo added, “We are thankful for every donor. We thank everyone from the donors who can give only five to ten dollars a month to the foundations who can give more. We appreciate any support the community can give us. The Stork’s Home will enable us to keep siblings together.”
As Bishop Gracida blessed the site, he asked God, “to look kindly upon this project. This project is truly a labor of love for Sister Milagros, Delma Trejo, and the Mount Tabor Convent.”
THE ARK NEEDS AND DESERVES YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT!
Send conntributions to:
The Ark Center & Emergency Shelter for Youth
12960 Leopard Street
Corpus Christi, Texas 78410