1001 E Tate St., Burnet, Texas 78611 executivedirector@theoaksagency.org 512.234.8614

Joey’s Story – Final Chapter

Fund the Mission:

November 27th, Giving Tuesday is a way that you can donate to support boys, like Joey, who are in need.  With your financial contribution not only are you helping these boys, but your contribution helps recruit and train volunteer mentors.  These mentors provide the boys with a feeling of a place to belong, relating to them and encouraging them to be young men of integrity.  A portion of these contributions will also provide these boys with school supplies and other items that perhaps they cannot afford.  Please consider The Oaks Agency’s Acorn Project for your Giving Tuesday contribution.

Joey’s Story (Part 2)

The Oaks Agency acorn program helps boys like Joey.  Our volunteer mentors are trained to provide positive, consistent support and encouragement to boys like Joey.  The mentors are available to help with homework, listen to the boys and guide them towards a successful future.  School counselors, juvenile probation and parents can refer boys like Joey to the acorn project where they are matched with a mentor.  The mentor can spend time with Joey by going fishing, swimming, talking, planning for his future and helping with homework.  Joey learned to show and earn respect, improved his grades and graduated high school.  The acorn project mentors are long term volunteers who encourage and support youth through high school and beyond.

Stay tuned for Part 3

Joey’s Story (Part 1)

Joey’s favorite part of the day is early morning.  Being 14 years old, he lays in bed and savors the peace and quiet because he knows as soon as he and his parents get up the chaos starts.  Today is like any other day as he walks into the living room and sees his mother passed out with a liquor bottle still in her hand.  Joey walks into the kitchen and his dad immediately starts yelling at him and hits Joey just because he is angry at the mother.  Joey quickly escapes his father’s anger and leaves the house hungry.  Joey meets up with his friend and smokes a joint on the way to school, hoping to forget about the chaos at home and how it makes him feel sad, unloved and alone.  Joey’s first period class is English.  An essay was due today but Joey doesn’t have an assignment to hand in because his parents had a party with alcohol and drugs last night.  The teacher confronts Joey about this failure to fulfill his responsibility in front of the class.  Joey yells at the teacher and storms out of class angry at the world.  He gets detention and spends that time being aggressive and disrespectful.  This is a typical day for Joey and no one knows nor seems to care how he is neglected and abused at home….

Please stay tuned to read more of Joey’s story next week.

Acorn Project

We are implementing our first out outreach program which we have named the Acorn Project.  The acorn project matches volunteer mentors with at-risk teen boys.  The mentors will spend time with the boys weekly by text, phone or messenger and at least once a month in person.  Mentors will provide guidance, support (not financial support), and friendship in a positive, safe and relaxed environment.  For more information contact us at info@theoaksagency.org or 830-837-2579 or 512-234-8614.

Circle of Courage

My goal for The Oaks Agency is to have one of the highest rates of success for clients in Texas.  I have used the term evidence-based to define the type of interventions we will utilize.  Evidence-based is an important term in world of social work and psychology but what exactly does that mean and why is it so important?  I recently read the article Environments Where Children Thrive: The Circle of Courage Model which gave me a whole new perspective on evidence-based interventions.

A randomized control study is considered the standard by which evidence-based practice relies on.  However, such studies only prove that the intervention works in a controlled environment and it may not be significantly more effective than other interventions.    I want to use an intervention that works well in actual practice and not just in a controlled environment.  The authors of the article cite examples where policy and practice such as the DSM psychiatric manual and juvenile justice programs make decisions that are not based on evidence.  If policy makers do not use evidence-based data to make decisions why should we as professionals put such stock in them?  I suggest that practice-based evidence (PBE) provides the most valid data for choosing effective interventions.

My professional experience has taught me that integrity, honesty, empathy, and positive relationships are very important for success when working with at-risk youth.  The Circle of Courage Model incorporates those characteristics with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  The Circle of Courage Model is compared to self-worth, Maslow’s Hierarchy and positive peer cultures in the following table

Circle of Courage Self-Worth Maslow’s Hierarchy Positive Peer Cultures
Belonging Significance Belongingness Attachment
Mastery Competence Esteem Achievement
Independence Power Self-Actualization Autonomy
Generosity Virtue Self-Transcendence Altruism

(Brendtro et al, 2014)

Brendtro et al (2014) posit that Circle of Courage rebuild cultures of respect by “building trusting connections with caring adults and positive peers”, gaining knowledge, competence and capacity to solve problems”, improved self-control and decision making and “developing empathy and engaging youth in caring for others”.  I believe that a program such as the Circle of Courage  embodies all the things I hope to teach the youth spend time at The Oaks Agency boys home.


Brendtro, L. K., Brokenleg, M., & Bockern, S. V. (2014). Environments where children thrive: The circle of courage model. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 23(3), 10.

The Oaks Agency is a 501(c)3 and all donations are tax deductible. EIN 81-3483442