Gratitude and Community Celebrated at Thanksgiving Lunch

Youth from BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio’s programs shared a Thanksgiving meal together on November 26, enjoying outdoor games, face painting, coffee and pastries while chatting with friends.

Once guests were seated for lunch, they were introduced to Roy Juarez Jr., author of “Homeless by Choice” and a native of San Antonio, Texas. Roy has spoken to thousands of young people around the world, using the most difficult moments of his life as a storytelling tool to encourage those who may feel defeated.

BCFS-San Antonio had the pleasure of hosting Roy as the featured speaker that day, where some of the more than 140 youth in attendance found similarities between Roy’s life and their own.

Roy had a strained relationship with both of his parents from a young age, admitting that he learned how to hate and how to hold a grudge by the age of 7. Roy’s mother left her husband to escape domestic abuse, yet he followed the family wherever they moved, injecting constant fear and chaos into their lives.

By his teenage years, Roy was in foster care, trading houses and families so often that he rarely if ever had the chance to learn what a relationship built on trust and vulnerability might look like.

It wasn’t until Roy studied psychology in college that he learned his parents were broken people from broken places. “As kids, we don’t realize that parents are human; that they make mistakes,” Roy told the crowd. “I am thankful for education because education gave me my family back.”

Roy Juarez Jr. shares his life story.

Roy emphasized that he still loves his family today, and that forgiveness is an incredibly powerful tool and necessary step toward finding peace. Forgiveness lets victims define their lives by more than their survival, allowing them to live with freedom and without limits.

“Just because we make it to this side, that doesn’t mean we forget where we come from,” said Roy, reminding the audience that success is not something to have and hold onto, but something to share.

After his message, Roy was presented with an award of appreciation by Noel Martinez, program director at BCFS-San Antonio. Several youth and guests met with Roy afterward, either to thank him or to share some of their own story.

Today, BCFS-San Antonio helps youth facing some of the same issues Roy did. The organization aids youth who are or were in foster care by helping them plan their lives and establish their purpose, ensuring they are given every opportunity to transition out of foster care and into a life of independence and success.

Learn more about the work that BCFS Health and Human Services is doing in San Antonio.