Child Welfare in focus

Whether providing school supplies, helping care for the needs of hungry children or helping to provide financially for area families, Live Oak-McMullen County Child Welfare Inc. plays a vital role in the community.

GEORGE WEST – The Live Oak County Commissioners Court appointed 14 members to the Child Welfare, Inc. board on Friday, May 31, an organization that also serves McMullen County.

“We have been in business since 1997, and our mission is to serve children who need our help — those who have been abused, neglected or have family problems,” said Angelique Zamzow, who is one of those the commissioners appointed.

Among the services provided by the agency is the Sunshine Room, located at 207 Leroy St. in Three Rivers, which provides a variety of items and services to disadvantaged children and their families, including clothing, school supplies and even help with utility bills.

“We provide beds so that children don’t have to sleep on the floor,” Zamzow said. “I can’t tell you how many children in Live Oak County sleep on the floor.”

Groceries are also provided for families in need.

“We take families to the grocery store and get them healthy foods,” Zamzow said.

In addition to local governments providing assistance, a number of others support the agency, including Valero, ConocoPhillips and private individuals and churches.

“We provide clothing for children to start school and also winter clothing,” Zamzow said.

During warmer months, the agency has a box fan drive so that it can provide those items to those who need them.

“A lot of our clients can’t afford the cost of air conditioning in the summer, and the fans help them to be more comfortable,” Zamzow said.

County Judge Jim Huff asked Zamzow about the agency’ backpack program which provides weekend food to children who need it.

“It’s one four newest programs and one of the most successful,” Zamzow said. “Teachers had expressed concerns about some kids coming to school very hungry. They weren’t eating on weekends. The school nurse said there were kids coming to school on Monday morning who were ravenous. They weren’t able to focus in the classroom.

“We started placing food for the weekend in backpacks and have switched to bags. This provides nutritional foods and snacks that will carry them across the weekend, including fresh fruit. There was an immediate response. Teachers said as a result of this program, those children were more focused and able to do schoolwork.”

“We definitely appreciate all you do for the children and families of our community,” Huff said. “You do a wonderful job and I have the highest respect for what this organization does.”

Zamzow referred to volunteer Pat Jarratt as the group’s “Angel of Mercy” because of all the work she does helping to coordinate help for those who need it.

In addition to Zamzow, those appointed to the board were: Jarratt, Kathy Campbell, Mary Ann Meeks, Jamie Royal, Blanca DeLeon, Jennifer Shepherd, Gracie Stewart, Dianne Perkins, Barbye Moon, Tonya Davis, the Rev. Adrienne Zermeno, Maria Christina Ponce and the Rev. John Cochran.

Also at the meeting, the commissioners:

• Approved funding for an Automated Weather Observing System to be installed at the Live Oak County Airport. This equipment, expected to cost $150,000 to $200,000, will be paid for by a 75 percent grant from the Texas Department of Transportation, with 25 percent of the funds coming from local sources.

• Heard a request for a courtesy vehicle to be left at the airport which pilots can use to travel to George West or Three Rivers. It was noted that the sheriff’s office has a vehicle which can be used for this purpose. Commissioners agreed to consider the request, and any funding needed, including insurance costs, at a later date.

• Heard a report from insurance representative Victor Uvalle that $1,593 in funds are available from the Live Oak County Safety Program for law enforcement, with an additional $1,593 available for county roads and bridges. This funds are used for items which can help reduce insurance claims. Uvalle also discussed training programs available for county staff, which cover a variety of topics such as risk control, injury prevention and government programs.

• Discussed needed repairs to the sheriff’s annex in Lagarto. The county will advertise for potential repairs but also will consider other options, including possibly a different building being placed on the property.

• Heard from local American Legion Post Commander Rosendo Pena, who invited the public to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony an open house starting at 9 a.m. June 22 for the legion hall just north of the Three Rivers city limit sign.

• Heard from George West Chamber of Commerce Director Rena McWilliams about a ceremony also scheduled for June 22 (at 10 a.m.) to officially recognize the new paddling trail on the Nueces River. The event will be at Live Oak County Park on Airport Road.

Jeff Osborne is the editor of The Progress. He can be reached at 361-786-3022 or theprogress@mysoutex.com.