Ark Assessment Center and Emergency Shelter for Youth

The Ark's mission is to provide a caring intervention for abused, neglected and displaced children and youth, ages 0 through 17, by placing them in a secure environment.

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Can you imagine being afraid of those who should love you the most, not knowing when you'll get to eat a decent meal or being pulled in the middle of the night from the only home you've ever known? The Ark Assessment Center and Emergency Shelter for Youth rescues children from the unimaginable. It cares for little ones who are removed from their homes by Child Protective Services (CPS) due to abuse or neglect by a parent or guardian. That abuse or neglect may cause them to be traumatized, withdrawn and fearful when they arrive at the shelter. Some have scars because of it. Others have broken bones.

The Ark is the only facility within an 80-mile radius licensed and contracted by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to provide assessment services and emergency shelter for 61 of these victims, ages 0 through 17. DFPS knows it can count on The Ark to provide a safe and caring home for them. Some of the infants have been as young as 1 day old.

The shelter, which is open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, provides childcare, diaper changes, diaper rash ointment/skin protectant, clothes, uniforms, personal hygiene products, delousing, haircuts, school supplies, backpacks, homework assistance, transportation, birthday and Christmas celebrations with gifts, education and training normally provided by parents (such as etiquette, using eating utensils, using the potty to prevent soiled clothes and infections) and everything else needed for the children's well-being. When the children are discharged, they receive luggage containing seven clothing changes, hygiene supplies, a book, two toys and a stuffed animal.

During a period of up to 90 consecutive days at the shelter, they are assessed by medical doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, counselors and other trained professionals for placement in an appropriate long-term site where their needs can be met, such as a foster home, residential treatment center, therapeutic treatment center or basic child-care institution. Each minor is also given a complete medical, dental and vision examination. Medical treatment is received, including any prescribed medications. A Child's Service Plan is developed and coordinated with basic and specific needs to be met for each resident in a given period and desired behavioral outcomes.

As the shelter's staff works with the residents in a compassionate manner, a transformation begins to take place in them. The education and training they receive contribute toward healthy childhood development. An example is the elimination of nutritional deficiencies - which exist in most of the children admitted to the shelter - through consumption of three daily nutritious meals, snacks, drinks and dessert. In time, physical and emotional scars heal. These positive changes enable a restoration of their dignity.

Making a difference in the children's lives is more than a catch phrase. It's the reason for the shelter's existence. You know the staff has reached that goal when it's time for a child to be discharged, and he or she doesn't want to leave. Why would you want to leave a place that has shown you love … maybe for the first time in your life?

The shelter admitted its first child on April 7, 2000. The total number of children served was 3,702 as of Aug. 28, 2018.

The Coastal Bend Day of Giving is extremely important because each dollar directly benefits the children at The Ark.

The following are examples of what your generosity can accomplish:
• $10 pays for more than a full day's skin protectant paste to treat and prevent diaper rash, as well as to soothe and help heal the irritated skin of three children at the shelter
(changed hourly). New arrivals usually bleed due to severe diaper rash.
• $20 pays for a box of pull-up training pants.
• $40 pays for luggage to be given to two children upon discharge to carry their possessions.
• $75 pays for 468 diapers (sizes 2 and 3).
• $100 pays for six (100 oz.) newborn liquid laundry detergent containers.
• $150 pays for a full day's groceries for three nutritious meals, snacks, drinks and dessert.
Delma Trejo, executive director/administrator of The Ark, received the Social Service Professional of the Year 2004 award in the nonprofit category at the Communities in Schools' second annual Social Service Professional of the Year Banquet at the Corpus Christi Country Club.

The purpose of the award is to acknowledge social service professionals who show commitment to the community and to encourage all social service professionals that are making a difference in the community.

The following quotes were taken from letters supporting her nomination for the award:
• "With love and caring, yet solid structured guidance and administration, Delma makes The Ark a wonderful safe haven for children who are so vulnerable and at the lowest (point) in their life."
• "She is an extremely dedicated, hard-working person, who has demonstrated love and devotion for the children at The Ark."
• "She is there in the middle of the night to open her door and her heart to these children."
• "Her joy is seeing to it that all the children's needs are met."

Sister Milagros Tormo, M.J.M.J., The Ark's board president, was one of the honorees recognized "for their leadership as role models, and for their significant contributions to the citizens of Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend" in a City of Corpus Christi Proclamation naming Oct. 12, 2017 the Hispanic Women's Network of Texas - Corpus Christi Chapter "Carnaval de las Estrellas Gala" Day. She was selected as one of the local "Stars of Texas" in the community category.