Valentine’s Party for Local Shelters Leaves Girls Feeling Loved
THE WOODLANDS, TX – Valentine’s Day can make you feeling pretty unloved if you live in a shelter without parents nearby. A local nonprofit organization in Montgomery County, Back 2 Basics Ministry (B2B), is a 501(c)(3) ministry that brings the love of God to abused, neglected, and forgotten lives. B2B focuses on teenagers in Harris and Montgomery County shelters, mental health facilities, foster homes, and similar systems, as well as those on the streets.
Every year B2B holds two life changing camps that end in a gala – one for boys and the other for girls. The girls attended a camp where they heard from powerful women in careers that serve the community. Presenters included law enforcement, non-profit executives, small business owners, publishers, and others that have shared their story of living on the streets to come up strong. The girls also had the opportunity to bond with horses that have been rescued from abuse.
The annual Valentine’s Day Gala, named Glitter Gold Gala, is held at The Woodlands United Methodist Church. The girls that attend the Glitter Gold Gala are fitted like princesses in preparation for the ball. Prom dresses are donated to B2B beginning in January in anticipation of the gala. Ashley’s Cinderella Closet collected many of the gowns, along with several purchased by B2B.
The day of the event they pick a dress and shoes, get manicures, pedicures, makeovers, and get their hair styled. The girls range in age from 7 through over 18. Those that age out (over 18) come back to be part of the fabulous celebration. The staff that accompany the sheltered girls get the same treatment since they work hard as caretakers for the girls.
This year the girls came form several shelters: Lamar Village, Bridgeway Youth Shelter (Yes to Youth), Sheltering Harbor, We Care, Heart with Hope, and Treehouse. Approximately 130 young ladies attended the evening with entertainment from Justin Milburn from I AM Justified, music from Ashley Stringer, Zeeda – the Rapper, an aerial performance by Fenyx Aerial Arts, Jill Foxworth of Eagle Nest Ministries sang, and a live testimony from a girl brought up in CPS. A buffet that included chicken parmesan and every dessert imaginable was catered by All Star Catering of Willis.
The attendees heard testimony from a young girl, Ashli, who was living on the streets at the age of 11. She told her story of getting involved in a severe drug/prostitution ring, moving between shelters, running away, becoming pregnant at a young age, being in prison, losing eyesight due to drugs, and then re-discovering Barbara Alpha, Executive Director of B2B Ministry. Ashli is now legally blind from the drugs, and missing one eye completely. She spoke to the girls about boundaries and making the right decisions that can change your life. The girls were encouraged to follow the people that will lead you down the path of success.
“Over 60 percent of the kids that leave foster care end up dead, homeless or in prison within the first year,” said Alpha. “This is horrific and we as a team are doing everything that we can to change this.”
“Hearing and seeing my girl Ashli speak after being on heroin, crack, meth, alcohol, and everything else since she was 11 is why I do this. I started this ministry with her in mind,” said Alpha. “Long after the gala is over, the girls will cherish the memories and know they are loved and can offer love in return.”
The Treehouse Center is a residential home niched in a neighborhood near River Plantation in Conroe that serves girls 6-15 years of age with a safe place to live until they are stable enough to go back to living with their parents or eligible for adoption, free from abuse, delinquency, substance abuse, and neglect.
“Our girls came back so excited and full of life,” said Carmie Cantu, Executive Director at The Treehouse Center. “B2B Ministry offers so much hope and just a lot of fun for our girls that often live at the facility for over 2 years.”
Through therapy and cognitive behavior therapy the residents learn different strategies for coping instead of unacceptable behaviors. The residential shelter is structured to provide full time care, education, support and counseling to improve their self-image and modify behavior to enable the girls to lead happy, productive lives in society. B2B partners with The Treehouse Center throughout the year.
Besides the monthly birthday bashes, B2B participates in weekly bible studies, Easter parties, week long camps for boys and girls (separately), a Back to School Drive, and a Christmas party with all kids receiving gifts.
Stonebridge Church in The Woodlands, partners with B2B Ministry to host monthly birthday parties for the youth in foster care. Community partnerships with the shelters, churches, and local businesses make a difference to the teenagers on the streets, in shelters, in prison, and those needing hope that God listens.
UPDATE 2/22 12:50pm: Since the original time of publishing of this story, one of the sources has updated their story to not include “abusive parents” in their testimony. The words “abusive parents” has been removed from the article.