EL PASO, Texas –
Soldiers of the 653rd Regional Support Group, 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), 79th Theater Sustainment Command, delivered childcare items to the Child Crisis Center of El Paso on August 21 as part of an initiative developed over the past decade by unit member Capt. Jerald Bodden.
“Years ago, when I was stationed here on Bliss, there was a Soldier and his wife who passed away,” said Bodden. “The kids were taken in by the Child Crisis Center, while we were trying to gain donations to bring the grandparents into town to take care of the kids.”
Being unfamiliar with the Child Crisis Center at the time, Bodden researched the program and saw they supported, and were supported, by the community of El Paso.
Enrique Davila, Director of Administration and Compliance for the Child Crisis Center, and Melissa Cordero, Military Program Director, welcomed Col. Chandra M. Roberts, the commander of the 653rd RSG and Command Sgt. Maj. Denise A. Lagana to the center and explained their mission and programs.
“The mission of the Child Crisis Center is to prevent child abuse and neglect of children in the community of El Paso,” said Davila. “Needless to say, all of our goals and all our objectives lead in that direction.”
The Child Crisis Center is an emergency shelter for children, from newborns to 13-year-olds. It offers a number of programs such as respite for parents, temporary placement through Child Protective Services, flex-funding to help stabilize a family’s immediate needs, and hosts a food pantry. The center also has a number of programs to specifically help with veteran and military families and their unique needs.
Bodden makes it a point in each new unit he’s assigned to introduce them to the center and get the Soldiers involved in holding diaper drives, volunteer work, and generally doing what they can to help with the crisis center’s mission.
“Soldiers are so diverse—especially in the Reserve and National Guard—because they have a career outside of the Army,” said Bodden. “They bring an array of talent to the table.”
Last year Bodden and the 210th RSG painted the children’s bedrooms and completed minor repairs. This year, the focus has shifted to the outside play areas for the children.
The first venture with the 653rd RSG and the Child Crisis Center was a diaper drive. Future projects include installing shade triangles over the play area for the older children, and sponsoring the installment of very soft synthetic grass for the babies.
“I think that’s an amazing way to give back to the community,” said Roberts. “It is wonderful being able to do something both for the military community and the El Paso community.”
Both Cordero and Davila are certain that after these projects have been completed, the next question from Bodden is going to be, “What else?”
“It takes one person (Bodden) to enable us to reach out to many,” said Davila.
The Child Crisis Center is holding a Golf Tournament on October 25th at the Underwood Golf Club to raise funds to purchase a mini-van with a working air conditioner for the children and general repairs for their aging building.
For volunteer opportunities with the Child Crisis Center, please call Enrique Davila at (915) 562-7955 ext. 116 or visit http://www.childcrisiselp.org/volunteer-program/.