Realizing Our Vision

Two years ago, Sara was finalizing plans for her quinceañera. Her teal dress was ready, the entertainment was booked, and she was ready to celebrate her transition from being a girl to a young lady. Before the festivities commenced, Sara cancelled all the arrangements. She found out she was pregnant, and as she put it, “There aren’t very many pregnant young ladies running around at their quinceañera. But, it’s okay, I got something better.”

Sarah and two-year old son, Giovanni

                  As a sophomore at Edison High School, Sara was promptly faced with a challenging decision. She could withdraw from school, or she could try and continue her education. To Sara, it was a no-brainer, she wanted to finish school and graduate. Mr. Charles, a social worker at Edison, instructed Sara to call him after she had her baby, and she did. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Giovanni, who is named for a famous soccer player. The very next day she called Mr. Charles to inquire about continuing with school. He referred Sara to Project MAS Homebound so she could continue with her school work even though she was on maternity leave. A homebound teacher from Project MAS visited her and helped her with all her school work. Then, after two months Sara returned to school. She recognizes that previously there was not a lot of hope for teen mothers, but now she can stay in school. As she put it, she is determined not to be a statistic.

Sara also enrolled in case-management services through the Project MAS-OAPP program. She credits Project MAS with showing her how to teach her child right from wrong without physical discipline. “Children learn what we teach them,” she said. “I’ve learned there are more simple ways. You can give them choices and set boundaries.” These parenting skills are new to Sara and with them, she feels she can be a better mom to Giovanni. The recognition that children’s behaviors can be corrected without physical force is knowledge she admits her own parents lacked. Sara also values the sodality she shares with other mothers in the program.

Recently, Sara began the process of potty-training with Giovanni. She is looking forward to days without diapers and she sought tips on the matter with other Project MAS clients. With a laugh she recalled her favorites, like putting cheerios on the rim or leaving the potty out for him to explore. “He is smart,” she says, “he’ll get it in the next couple of months.”

Sara describes herself as a risk-taker in that she tries to avoid woulda-coulda-shoulda feelings. Her sense of perseverance is something she hopes to pass on to her son. One of the most important things Sara has learned in Project MAS is to never give up and to ask for help. “You should never give up. You just find a way to get stronger.” she said. Asking for help has been a past challenge for Sara, and she admits she is glad to have a trusting relationship with her Family Support Worker (FSW). “They worry about you. You aren’t just a stranger or a case number. And you can call them if you need something.”

Sara’s main source of transportation is the bus which makes an emergency trip to the store for baby wipes a serious difficulty, and her job at Taco Cabana creates a very tight budget. The ability to call her FSW in such a jam gives Sara peace of mind and comfort.

Now Sara is a senior in high school and graduation is fast approaching. She plans on pursuing a career in criminal justice because she wants to be able to help people. As an avid volunteer with the Project MAS Teen Advisory Council and the annual Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner, Sara knows it is important to give back. Sara enjoys volunteering because she likes to see people forget their problems momentarily and enjoy themselves. “I wasn’t left alone like many other girls are.” Sara says. “I had Project MAS and The Children’s Shelter.” After two years in Project MAS, Sara is confident in her ability to balance future challenges successfully— like potty training and college. 

For more info about Project MAS and The Children’s Shelter visit




TCS History: 110 years of Creating Brighter Futures

     On Christmas Eve of 1968, a police officer arrived at 133 Cedar with four children. Once they arrived, Ms. Dolores Tapia and her staff gave each child a warm meal. Then, they joined the other children singing carols in the Christmas tree room. The following day, instead of being herded off to school at Bonham Elementary, the children opened presents and enjoyed a holiday feast. Over 40 years later, stories of children arriving at The Children’s Shelter have changed little. But, what has changed are the toys that greet them once they arrive during the holiday season.


Santa Clause, or at least a version of him, has been a Christmas icon for centuries. Almost every Western culture includes folklore about a jolly giver who spreads cheer for children. At The Children’s Shelter, Santa has always made an appearance. Nurse-Home Visitor, Nancy Velasquez remembers attending Christmas parties at the Shelter as a young girl growing up in the King William district. “I can remember being invited with my sisters and best friend to see Santa. Mrs. Tapia greeted us with warm hugs and smiles, it felt like home.”

     In earlier years, staff at the Holmgreen Shelter appealed to the community for toys like the little red wagon, jump ropes, transistor radios, and space toys. Transistor radios and record players, like the one pictured below given to the shelter in 1956, have been replaced by iPods and mP3 players. Last year, every child at the Residential Treatment Center received an iPod.


       Just like in years past, The Children’s Shelter relies heavily on the support of volunteer groups to meet the holiday needs of the children and families we serve. Not only do holiday donations help us provide every child with a toy, they also sustain the toy demand for the following year. As then Executive Director, Gordon White, told the Express News in 1980, “You must remember, we are also here the 4th of July” and babies need safety and toys then too.



     Many Christmases, like the one pictured above, featured new bicycles. Last Christmas, TCS received over 100 bicycles. Other gifts— like the shampoo, book, and teddy bear shown below in 1981— have always delighted the kiddos.


     Today’s toys do everything from walking to talking. And, even though Disney introduced the first princess in 1937, Snow White and her other princess companions have clearly overpowered other less royal toys for girls. This year, TCS received Disney princess dolls, clothes, tea sets, and more.

For more information about The Children’s Shelter visit

The Tooth Fairy and Zachry Cottage

Children wake up around the same time every morning and there is great urgency to get everyone dressed, cleaned up and ready for the day.

A six-year old boy approached the Supervisor’s Desk in the Zachry Cottage. “My tooth fell out.” he told Karen Jackson-Rash, Program Director at the Cottage. Knowingly, he asked if he could put the tooth under his pillow. He informed Karen that he was asking for $12 for his tooth, but he would take $10. Karen explained that the tooth fairy stopped by the desk for any teeth that she might use to help repair another child’s teeth. “Ok.” He said, “I’ll check with you tomorrow.” And with that, he scurried off.

Caring for children is a demanding job, especially if you are caring for 40-50 at a time, which is why in addition to planning for meals, baths, school, diapers, prom dresses, and pom-poms, The Children’s Shelter also plans for childhood experiences like the tooth fairy.  In fact, there is a policy about the tooth fairy.

Marina and Veronica take care of infants at The Shelter.

The staff at the Zachry Cottage Emergency Shelter walk a fine line between State-appointed caretaker and parent. On the one hand, they provide for all of the children’s most basic needs. On the other hand, the staff exceeds expectations and provides a healing and learning environment for children to feel safety and security many have never known. In this new safe place, the staff embraces their role in empowering children to make good choices and gives them the tools to work through their anger. This, says Javier DeHoyos the Emergency Shelter Case Manager is the biggest challenge for staff, to build a relationship with a child and then to let them go. It is the relationship staff build with the children that helps turn the Emergency Shelter into a home.

One little girl arrived at the Emergency Shelter, while it was located on Cedar Street, at just six years old. Then, three years later, she was again placed in our care at Cedar. In 2009, at the age of 13, she ran away from another placement 74 miles outside of San Antonio. She made it to the former emergency shelter on Cedar Street, where she had lived when in care with us—before we moved to the present Woodlawn Campus location.  Distraught, she sat on the steps unsure of her next step. A friendly stranger gave her comfort and bus fare, sending her on a much shorter journey to the new Woodlawn Campus. She arrived at the front desk, and with a broad smile, informed the receptionist, “I’m supposed to be back there.” To her mind, the Shelter was the home she had never known.

A young child multi-tasks as he gets ready for the day at The Children's Shelter.

Since the Woodlawn Campus opened in 2006, the Zachry Cottage Emergency Shelter has served between 500-600 children each year. Each child has experienced an array of physical abuse and emotional neglect, but they each have a distinctive story and respond to the trauma in a different way. The staff at the Emergency Shelter is charged with helping the children work through and heal from this burden, while providing the children a sense of normalcy in the wake of trauma. The meticulous care is precisely why children remember the Shelter long after they have left it. Because even in the midst of changing diapers, doling out bottles, bandaging skinned knees, and reading bedtime stories; the staff preserve childhood, and even though staff may “neither confirm nor deny the existence of the entity known as the “Tooth Fairy,”” it is not uncommon for the mistress of the molar to stop by.

Proud Adoptive Parents

Although we are unaware of Mickey Mouse’s adoptive history, we are sure of one thing: His creator, Walt Disney, and wife Lilly, were proud and loving parents to Diane and Sharon, their adopted daughter. The success of the Disney’s never stopped them from building a family of their own. Can you imagine being a Disney?!

When planning our “A Home is a Wish Your Heart Makes” event, we did not realize just how closely Disney tied into our purpose. Walt and Lilly were advocates for giving children a chance to succeed and achieve the impossible, just like us here at The Children’s Shelter.

If you’ve ever been interested in adopting a child, please check out our website or give us a call at (210) 212-2590. General requirements include being at least 23 years of age with stable health, be single or in a stable relationship for at least two years and be a US citizen or legal resident.

“A man should never neglect his family for business.”
-Walt Disney

Do you recognize this face?

Founder of Wendy's

This familiar face belongs to Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s Restaurant, entrepreneur and businessman. Thomas opened his first Wendy’s in Columbus, Ohio in 1969. In 2010, it ranked 3rd largest hamburger fast food chain in the world with over 6,650 locations and over 2.5 billion dollars in sales.

What didn’t you know about Dave Thomas? He was adopted when he was only 6 weeks old by Rex and Auleva Thomas and had become one of the America’s largest supporters and advocates for adoption. Creating the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. His values were simple:

  • Every child deserves to live in a safe, loving and permanent family.
  • No child should linger in foster care or leave the system at age 18 without a permanent family of his or her own.
  • Every child is adoptable.

Throughout the 90s, Dave Thomas lead a national awareness campaign for foster care adoption. In 1997, he testified before Congress to support an adoption tax credit that aims to make adoption more affordable. He also worked to create a national adoption stamp. His extraordinary efforts were rewarded when Congress signed the tax credit into law and the U.S. Postal Service issued the DTFA stamp countrywide.

Although Thomas passed away in 2002, he created a long lasting legacy and the Foundation continues to carry out his vision.

“Every child deserves a home and love. Period.”
-Dave Thomas

For more information about the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, visit their web site at

Fore more information about adoption at The Children’s Shelter here in San Antonio, visit us at:


Welcome to the official blog of The Children’s Shelter.

Here you will find information about what’s going on at The Shelter as well as the community around us.  We are excited to share stories about happy children, nurturing families, and strong communities. For over 110 years The Children’s Shelter has focused on the safety and well-being of children by providing an emergency shelter,  residential treatment center, permanency support services, and an array of family strengthening programs.

Hopefully while you’re here visiting our blog site you will find a way to get involved in the betterment of the community, whether it be through donating, volunteering, or spreading the good word about how The Children’s Shelter is making an impact in lives of children and their families everyday. Enjoy!

You’re Invited!

Adoption Awareness: Press Conference & Event

A Home is a Wish Your Heart Makes.

That may not be the exact words Cinderella sang in Disney’s 1950 classic. However, these words do ring true for over 500 kids in the San Antonio/Bexar county area. Their greatest wish, is a forever home.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and The Children’s Shelter is taking advantage of the significant date and time of 11/11/11 at 11:11am to hold a press conference and release balloons for every child in our community waiting to be adopted and find the family they have been wishing for. We invite you to come out to our Woodlawn campus and encourage you to wear purple in awareness of the need we have within our community.

We hope to see everyone there!