by Katrina King

Imagine waking up every morning to a hand-wringing, heart-wrenching family situation that not only darkens your outlook but your spirit as well. Imagine having a desire for counseling and guidance but having no hope of affording it.  Then, imagine a ray of light, piercing through the darkness, in the form of a caring counselor, who can guide you to a solution, and, unbelievably, at no cost to you.

Now, flip to the other side of this situation and imagine that you are a part of that light and guidance. As an SOS member you don’t have to imagine because you are a part of the light and guidance!

Let me introduce you to our grantee, STARRY.

STARRY’s vision is for every child in Texas to have a healthy “forever” family. They work toward this goal by providing services that nurture children, strengthen families, and restore hope through counseling, foster care, and adoption.  Seeds of Strength is helping to achieve this impressive goal this year by awarding STARRY a $20,000 grant.  This grant expanded STARRY’s ability to meet the needs of Georgetown by providing 94% of the funding for two ten-hours-per-week counselors.

The Georgetown office, led by Lindsey Isabel, is actively seeking to reach those families in Georgetown that are at a greater risk of suffering abuse or neglect. She and her highly-trained staff serve families with children from birth through high-school graduation who need assistance resolving family conflict or handling situations with their child or teen.  STARRY also maintains a 24/7 crisis hotline, and they conduct free training and workshops for the community on needed topics such as cyber-safety or sex-trafficking prevention.

During our virtual site visit, we were able to meet several of the STARRY staff members and counselors. One counselor, Heather Hammock, gave us an example of how the counseling services worked for one family. The mother went from a frustrated parent who was unable to set proper boundaries with an angry child to one that was able to parent from a place of strength, despite growing up in an environment that did not model that type of parenting. To ensure that the changes in the family are still working, STARRY conducts follow up calls several months after counseling ends to see how the family is adapting and applying the principles that were introduced.

STARRY saw some decrease in cases at the beginning of COVID, but once school resumed, the cases increased, most likely because many referrals come from teachers as well as doctors. After some changes in the DPS rules due to COVID, STARRY was able to offer service online and over the phone, which made it possible to better meet the needs of the clients’ schedules.  Jessica Kilpatrick, Chief Program Officer, ended our wonderfully informative tour with a plea for each of us to promote STARRY within the communities that we touch.

Though well on their way to helping the target number of families in 2020/2021, we want everyone to know about STARRY because all in our community should have that healthy forever home.

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