This year's Coastal Bend Day of Giving supports 50 area nonprofits on the forefront of assisting those in need, and the Ark Assessment Center and Emergency Shelter for Youth is one of them.

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From the Ark Assessment Center and Emergency Shelter for Youth:

"The Ark grew out of the New Life Prevention Program for girls and the Turnaround Prevention Program for boys administered by Delma Trejo and operated by the Missionary Sisters of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (M.J.M.J.). In 1993, Trejo proposed establishing an emergency shelter for children under the state's conservatorship. That led to The Ark's launching. A groundbreaking for the shelter took place in 1998, and it opened in 2002. Other buildings followed.

The Ark is licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to care for 61 children and youth, ages 0 through 17, who are removed from their homes by Child Protective Services (CPS) after investigators determine their lives were in danger due to child abuse, physical abuse or neglect by a parent or guardian. The shelter has been home to more than 3,700 minors. Their average age is 2.5 years. The youngest infant has been just 1 day old. The average number of diapers changed in a 24-hour period is 648.

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During a period of up to 90 consecutive days, the residents are taken from being traumatized due to abuse/neglect to being evaluated and assessed by medical doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, counselors and other trained professionals to prompt improvements in their outlook on life and for placement in a suitable long-term site where their needs can be met.

The children are treated as a family and provided with a safe environment, childcare, nutritious meals/snacks, clothes, uniforms, school supplies, hygiene products, haircuts, transportation, diapers, pull-ups, wipes, birthday celebrations with gifts and all else needed for their well-being. Each minor is also given a complete medical, dental and vision examination. Medical treatment is received, including any prescribed medications.

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Most of the children arrive at The Ark with only the clothes they are wearing. Nearly all of them require delousing, and many are underweight due to malnourishment. They may be withdrawn due to the abuse they endured. Sometimes they have scars caused by it. Their fears stem from the insecurities they developed after the traumatic incidents they experienced. The residents often wake up in the night feeling afraid, sometimes causing them to hide in their rooms. The staff trains them in etiquette, using the potty to prevent soiled clothes and infections, and using eating utensils. Malnourished minors are encouraged to eat to attain a healthy weight.

The program includes interagency coordination and training to ensure positive behavioral changes. A Child's Service Plan is developed and coordinated for each resident that addresses the basic and specific needs to be met for that individual.

As the staff works with the minors in a compassionate manner, a transformation begins to take place in these victims. The education and training received contribute to healthy childhood development. Positive changes in their lives allow them to gain a sense of dignity and self-worth."

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Check out the links below for more information about the Ark Assessment Center and Emergency Shelter for Youth.

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