Archive for March, 2010

Grand Opening – Evening Reporting Center, Harris County, TX

Southwest Key Programs Evening Reporting Center (ERC) held its official grand opening March 11.

Over 80 people including judges, commissioner representatives, the Harris County juvenile chief probation officer, deputy directors, the county sheriff, JDAI task force and community members were in attendance at the 7,000 square foot facility in Houston, Texas.

Ms. Nancy Baird, JDAI Coordinator, served as emcee and spoke of how the ERC will benefit Harris County youth.  Harris County Judge Ed Emmett acknowledged the need for this program as an alternative to detention and the very first program of its kind in Houston, Texas.

Southwest Key’s CEO Dr. Juan Sanchez proudly spoke of Southwest Key’s philosophy, history, and mission: “keeping kids out of institutions”.  He spoke directly to youth as he shared that it was SWK’s hope that, “youth would not ever see a detention facility again.”

Mr. Ed Cline, SWK board member, spoke about the need to ensure that youth excel academically and thereby increase the chances for success in life. He also made a special presentation to Interim Chief Probation Officer, Tom Brooks.

The audience also heard from former ERC participant, Devon.  Devon, who took a college entrance exam while enrolled in the program, expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the program and the staff.

The ribbon cutting finale marked the official opening of the ERC.  Dr. Sánchez and county officials did the honors!

For more photos, please click here

March 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm Leave a comment

First Prom – A Big Night with Big Smiles

For many of us our first prom was a special night that we’ll never forget. Our shelter in Phoenix recently held its inaugural prom for students, many of whom were unfamiliar even with the idea. Staff and students came up with the theme, “A Night of Royalty.” Here is a guest post from shelter director, Geraldo Rivera:

Excitement built on Prom week as preparations were made, and the students began to realize and appreciate the significance of the event. Watching the students’ infectious anticipation grow was wonderful.
Almost 100 students attended our Spring Prom.  The house where the ladies were getting ready had 18 assisting female employees who all pitched in ironing dresses, shirts, pants, and helping with make-up.
The prom was held in the beautifully decorated “Plazita” which was adorned with balloons, paper stars, and papier-mâché.  On the stage was the throne that would sit the Spring 2010 Prom King and Queen.  In the center of the Plazita were round tables with white tablecloths, where all the students would be served.

The students were welcomed by the Program Director Geraldo Rivera, Assistant Program Director Silvia Mendoza and the Guatemalan Consulate, Julia Guzman.   Twenty students danced the waltz which they had practiced and rehearsed the entire week.
Southwest Key’s youth care workers dressed in white shirts and black pants served the students appetizers, followed by an excellent dinner and dessert. After the votes were tallied the newly Crowned King and Queen were congratulated and toasted with sparkling apple cider, sat at the throne, then danced a solo.

Music for the dance was provided by a volunteer DJ which included all types of dances from salsa, meringue, punta, and even a little rock and roll. Many of the young women stated that they had never worn make-up, curled their hair or worn a formal dress.  Their smiles were worth every bit of effort put into the event.  It was such a success that employees and students agreed to make the Spring Prom and Fall Prom an established bi-annual event.

There are no words that can thank the many employees and employee families that gave of their time, purchased items and shared their personal resources without being asked. For example, Maria Avendano, the mother of one of our  employees,provided the entire Italian dinner: Chicken Parmesan, velvet cake, chocolate covered strawberries, and sparkling apple cider. Friends of Southwest Key such as Melissa, Fanny and Heather with Dr. Hidalgo’s team donated formal dresses. Thank you ALL!

For more pictures follow this link

(Please note, as minors, faces have been blurred to protect their identity.)

March 30, 2010 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

March for Cesar Chavez – Sat March 27, 10am

Our CEO Dr. Juan Sánchez will be speaking and our Ballet Folklorico students will be performing, at PODER’s annual Cesar Chavez March on Saturday.  This is always a wonderful event, especially on a sunny spring morning.  Please feel free bring your friends and families for a nice walk through the city in support of social justice!

¡Si Se Puede!

Cesar Chavez

March for Cesar Chavez

Saturday – March 27, 2010

10am – 1pm

March begins at 10am – meet @ Terrazas Library
1105 E. Cesar Chavez St.

March ends at City Hall Plaza
301 W. Cesar Chavez St.

Music by Mitote!

Performances by:

St. Edward’s Ballet Folklorico

Southwest Key Ballet Folklorico

Speakers & More!

Cesar E. Chavez is one of the most important leaders of the 20th century. His legacy of workers rights, civil rights, environmental justice, equality for all, peace, non-violence,  children and women’s rights, deserves national recognition. Cesar Chavez inspired millions of people across the country of all races and nationalities to engage in social & economic justice for farm workers.

Call PODER for more info 512/472-9921

March 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

Census Questions? Southwest Key Can Help

Southwest Key’s Community Center is an official Questionnaire Assistance Center (QAC) for the U.S. Census Bureau and will be open to the general public for this purpose on certain dates in the next few months.

On Friday, March 19, 2010, starting at 10:00 am, a representative from the U.S. Census will be set up in our Café del Sol to answer any questions or concerns that you have regarding the 2010 census.  They will be prepared to explain how the census works and why the census is important. The representative is also bilingual so if you do have questions, please stop on by. We are located at 6002 Jain Lane, Austin.

Blank census forms will also be available at our reception for you to complete and mail (postage paid).

The census representative will be at Southwest Key on the following days:

March 2010 – Mondays and Fridays only (10:00am to 2:00pm) April 2010 – Mondays and Fridays only (10:00am to 2:00pm)
March 19th April 2nd
March 22nd April 5th
March 26th April  9th
March 29th April 12th
April 16th
April 19th

Remember, Federal law protects your identity and the information you give to the US Census.

March 18, 2010 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

Save The Date – May 1, 2010

You are your family are invited to join us here at Southwest Key’s community center, Centro de Familia, 6002 Jain Lane in Austin, for two exciting events rolled into one!

On Saturday May 1 starting at 10.30am, we will have a ground breaking ceremony for our new 14,000 sq.ft Social Enterprise Complex that will put people back to work by providing workforce development programs,  job training and create 60 full-time jobs.

That will be immediately followed by a Family Fiesta!  Bring all the family and enjoy live music, food, moonwalks, hear about our Children’s Promise and at 1pm enjoy a performance by our Latino Arts Preservation Program.  Fun for all the family, so please come join us and help us celebrate!

March 16, 2010 at 11:09 am Leave a comment

East Austin College Prep Academy Receives $100,000 Grant From State Farm

Today our friends from State Farm dropped by  our East Austin College Prep Academy to present a check for a new grant.  The grant for $100,000, from State Farm’s Youth Advisory Board,  provides funding for the East Austin College Prep Academy’s new direct service learning project, Breaking Barriers Through Success. Chris and Joe from State Farm also talked to us about why education is so important to State Farm.

Thank you State Farm!

For more photos of the celebration click here.

March 8, 2010 at 6:26 pm Leave a comment

Free Mobile Information Service for Pregnant Women and New Moms

The Office of Community Services has informed us of a mobile information service called Text4baby.  Text4baby is a free text messaging service that provides pregnant women and new moms with information to help them care for their health and give their babies the best possible start in life.

babyText4baby: How it Works
• Women who sign up for Text4baby service will receive brief text messages three times per week to inform them on widely accepted and highly vetted scientific guidelines to promote healthy births, especially among traditionally underserved populations.
• These messages focus on a variety of topics critical to maternal and child health, including birth defects prevention, immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, oral health and safe sleep.
• Text4baby messages also connect women to prenatal and infant care services and other resources.
• Women can sign up for this free mobile information service by texting BABY to 511411.

Background on Text4baby
Each year in the U.S., more than 500,000 babies are born prematurely and an estimated 28,000 children die before their first birthday.  In response to this national public health crisis, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB), in partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Children and Families, has launched Text4Baby. Text messaging represents an enormous yet untapped channel for delivering vital health information to those who need it most.  Over 1.5 trillion SMS text messages were sent in the U.S. in 2008, with texting use higher among women of childbearing age. The text4baby initiative includes a robust evaluation led by The George Washington University with potential to demonstrate the impact of text4baby, and mobile health technology more broadly, on maternal and child health.

Information on Text4baby is below and attached.

For more information about Text4baby, please visit the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) at: or

You may also contact HMHB at:

March 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm Leave a comment

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