The Children's Shelter providing help, relief to local families

SAN ANTONIO – Founded in 1901, The Children's Shelter is one of the oldest charities in San Antonio, and continues to assist more than 4,000 children and families each year.

The shelter is a safe place for abused, abandoned and neglected kids, who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to live at home.

"That's really important to us. To let our children really be children here again," said India Chumney, chief development officer for The Children's Shelter. "Our children come to us starting at newborn, all the way up to age 16. But we're more than just a dormitory or a place to house kids. This is really their life for 90 days when they're with us."

Offering education, meals, clean clothes, a warm bed and medical attention, The Children's Shelter is also reaching outside their doors to make an impact throughout the community.

"In addition to that, in the last 15 years we decided that we wanted to work on the prevention side," shelter CEO Annette Rodriguez said. "We didn't want to see kids coming in to the shelter as abused or neglected children."

And for first-time parents like Patricia Garcia, 18, who is taking part in the shelter's iParent program, it's made a huge difference as she learns her new role as mom.

"I was scared. Babies don't come with directions," Garcia said. "It's hard. And now with Michelle, she makes it so much easier."

Garcia, an aspiring nurse, became pregnant with her son while still in high school, and turned to the shelter for support and supplies.

"Our goal is to keep child abuse out of the home," said Michelle Alvarado, a parent educator. "So if they're just aware of the development of their child, it makes it a whole lot easier for them and for us, and the community and what the shelter stands for."

The Children's Shelter also has programs for fathers, and is home to a strong adoption and foster parent program.

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