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2023: A year of Shining Hope and Inspiring Happiness at Buckner

It is hard to believe we are closing out 2023, an outstanding year of shining hope among vulnerable children and families, and inspiring happiness among senior adults. Reflecting on this past year brings a sense of joy, satisfaction, accomplishment, and celebration for all the Lord has done through my colleagues at Buckner International, Buckner Children and Family Services, and Buckner Retirement Services, as well as the exceptionally talented Board of Trustees. More than 14 decades the Board of Trustees of Buckner International have provided steady guidance, wise counsel, and keen oversight of all things within our nonprofit organization.


We reorganized our Impact Advancement group to include missions, the Buckner Humanitarian Aid Center, and Camp Buckner, along with development and government relations. This team is on track to reach our development goal, setting yet another record. Together, with the support of faithful donors, we are impacting more than 100,000 lives this year. We hosted a Rio Grande Valley homeowner’s reunion with families involved in our Healthy Housing program with the support of a $300,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture. We also began investing in economic development programs in Peru, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.


We welcomed Jen Mann, our new VP and Chief Human Resources Officer and launched a Shining Star Leadership Program with the leadership faculty of Andrews University. Our Communications team celebrated the collection and distribution of the 5 millionth pair of shoes through Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls in Oaxaca, Mexico. We celebrate the 70th anniversary of our license as a Texas adoption placement agency. Our Communications team continued to enter award competitions comparing their work to mostly for-profit companies. This year at the Public Relations Society of America Dallas Pegasus Awards, our team won three of the top awards, more than any other organization in Dallas.


In our ministry among children and families, we added a new Executive Director of Buckner Mexico NGO, welcoming Dr. Lilibeth Santiago, and celebrated our 15th anniversary there by cutting the ribbon on a new Family Hope Center in San Agustin Etla, near Oaxaca. In Guatemala, we named Victor Lopez, a former Buckner leader, as new Executive Director of the Buckner Guatemala NGO. We said farewell to Maria Alida de Brugal, founding and retiring Executive Director of Buckner Dominicana NGO. In Texas, we cut the ribbon on a new Family Hope Center in Midland, we held a grand opening of a satellite Family Hope Center in Donna in the Rio Grande Valley, and we hired Manny Alaniz as Director of a new Family Hope Center in San Antonio, set to open in 2024.


In our ministry among senior adults, we welcomed Michael Olmstead as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer as well as three new Executive Directors:  Samantha McCain at Buckner Calder Woods in Beaumont, Jake Bell at Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, and Amy Shields at Buckner Parkway Place in Houston where we celebrated our 25th anniversary of service there. Five of our six senior living communities were rated as 5 Star by CMS (Medicaid & Medicare) in healthcare and four of our communities earned healthcare awards for 2024 from U.S. News and World Report. Ventana by Buckner received a “Best Senior Living Community Award” in Dallas from the Dallas Morning News.


Buckner achieved a “Great Place to Work” Certification for 2023 to 2024. We scored 94 on the Trust Index, more than 13 points above the baseline for companies.


I am so pleased to announce my third book, Never Alone: The Power of Family to Inspire Hope, will be released by spring of 2024. As we prepare to enter 2024 with hopes, dreams, and aspirations, I am optimistic about our future with the presence and power of our Lord who said, “I am making all things new.”

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