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HIGHLAND LAKES VOLUNTEER MEETUP: Phoenix Center Needs Trailblazers

Volunteers work on the first trail for the Phoenix Center's new home at 3340 Texas 71 in Horseshoe Bay. The property will allow the center to add equine therapy and a summer camp to its program for helping traumatized children. Volunteers are needed to help clear a new path May 26 as part of the monthly Highland Lakes Volunteer Meetup. Courtesy photo

HORSESHOE BAY — Help the Phoenix Center clear a trail at its future Horseshoe Bay location, where it plans to build a new facility and continue to provide quality mental health services for children and their families living in the Highland Lakes.

The center, which works with children who have been abused and/or neglected or display identifiable mental health issues such as depression, is participating in the third Highland Lakes Volunteer Meetup on Saturday, May 26.

Volunteers will help clear a trail on its property at 3340 Texas 71. Work involves removing rocks, trimming weeds, and raking a path. Volunteers are also needed to collect rocks for summer campers to paint.

The center was founded in 2007 and served 1,021 children and family members last year. Since 2015, the organization has partnered with the Marble Falls Independent School District to serve children and teens in the district. Training is provided for teachers to help them understand the impact of trauma on a child’s behavior and academic performance.

Obtaining the land on Texas 71 for a new, state-of-the-art facility will allow the center to expand its equine therapy, summer camp, and yoga programs as well as enhance its play, music, and art therapies.

Executive Director Sarah Garrett’s vision for the Phoenix Center came during her work for the Houston Independent School District. She also volunteered for Court Appointed Special Advocates of the Highland Lakes Area. In both capacities, she witnessed the struggles of children in abusive situations or who suffered with mental health issues.

“The vast majority of the children we serve have experienced trauma,” Garrett said.

That trauma impacts a child’s behavior, relationships, and school work. The center’s five therapists work with the children, their families, and their school to provide innovative trauma-informed therapy and education. A sixth “therapist” might be the most popular. Mabel, a yellow Labrador, is a certified courthouse dog and often accompanies child abuse victims to court.

“Like the post-traumatic stress soldiers experience, causing them to constantly scan the environment, traumatized children are hyper-vigilant and struggle in school,” Garrett continued. “We help teachers focus on the ‘why’ and not on the behavior.”

The center is one of three organizations participating in this month’s Highland Lakes Volunteer Meetup. The other two are the Hill Country Humane Society and Candlelight Ranch. To volunteer for any of of these organizations May 26, sign up in advance at 101HighlandLakes.com/MEETUP.

Families and individuals participating in the Phoenix Center workday need to bring bottled water and work gloves as well as shovels, pick axes, and rakes if they have those tools. A couple of wheelbarrows are also needed. Wear long pants, closed-toe shoes, and sunscreen.

All volunteers for the three nonprofits involved in this month’s meetup will first gather at 9 a.m. at Numinous Coffee Roasters, 715 RR 1431 in Marble Falls, where they will have a chance to meet other volunteers over a quick breakfast. From there, volunteers who choose to help the Phoenix Center will go to the Horseshoe Bay location, where they will be greeted by staff at the property gate.

Visit 101HighlandLakes.com/VOLUNTEER for more volunteer opportunities in the Highland Lakes.

Pam Rodgers is a contributing writer.

editor@thepicayune.com

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