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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Brownwood Bulletin Horizons 2013

Being the change

Erica Vasquez helps others at her work at New Horizons in Goldthwaite AMANDA ASHBY | Brownwood Bulletin


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illiam Shakespeare once wrote, “Though she be but little, she is fierce” and this quote describes Erica Vasquez to a tee. She is petite, but has such a fierce and wonderful heart. Most who have met her describe her as the nicest person you will ever meet, who, even in the face of adversity, she overcomes it with a smile on her face. She is a mother, social worker, professional, role model, student and friend without the slightest hesitation or second thought. Vasquez graduated from Early High School in 2004. She continued her education at Howard Payne University studying health science and graduated with her associate’s degree in 2008. She earned her bachelor’s degree of science in social work at Tarleton State University in 2012. She began college with dreams of becoming a nurse, but traded those in for dreams of working with youth. “I always knew I wanted to make a change in the world and I felt having my degree in social work would help achieve that dream,” Vasquez said. Vasquez said she choose a bachelor’s in social work because it was a broad degree and there were many things that she could do with that degree. After graduating from TSU, she began working with the New Horizons S.T.A.R program because she wanted to be a great mentor for youth and show them there are people who care about their future and well-being. “Tarleton State University had a tough social work program, but I had grown and learned so much from their program. I was inspired to work for New Horizons because I wanted to help others in need, not just in one area, but in several. I cover at least seven areas,” Vasquez said. New Horizons’ mission is to provide an environment where children and families are able to heal and grow through caring relationships, unconditional love and acceptance.

It was founded by Del Barnett as a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed boys in 1971, and is located on 150 acres in Goldthwaite. Several of the boys at the ranch were taken on a camping trip on the land that is currently known as “The Ranch” in Goldthwaite. The boys were so successful in the more individualist, open environment that it was decided to build a permanent residence. It was originally called Camp Pecan Bayou, but in 1974 was changed to New Horizons. The first girl was admitted in 1978. In over 40 years, New Horizons has changed a great deal. Today, they operate two residential treatment centers, four child placing agencies and provide youth and families with the counseling services needed. The S.T.A.R program in particular offers free counseling services to families with children ages 17 and under who are or have experienced family conflict, youth involved in illegal offenses, truancy or a run-away child. In the New Horizon’s S.T.A.R program, Vasquez helps at-risk youth. She provides free services for in-home crisis counseling, linking community resources, skillbased training, emergency respite care, advocacy for families, reunification support, strength based case plans and universal child abuse preventions. Vasquez said her job is to help families establish and achieve goals that strengthen and promote their well-being. “It makes it worth it because the families can be so overwhelmed with whatever situation it is and it is rewarding to me knowing that I made some things a little easier for them... knowing that I made a difference for them when they felt like giving up,” Vasquez said. “It is great to know that they are improving at whatever problem they are going through. It makes it difficult when you wish you could do more to help, but sometimes situa-

“I’ve always had dreams

of helping others in need growing up. I’ve always wanted to make a positive impact on youth.”

— Erica Vasquez


Erica Vasquez (second from the left) surrounded by friends on graduation day at Tarleton State University in May 2012. tions are complex and harder to resolve.” Vasquez said she would tell anyone interested in a job like hers that it is a rewarding job, and that no situation is black or white, there is always a gray area in between. “Each case you have, you will have to look at from all perspectives,” Vasquez explained. Next in

Vasquez’s journey is graduate school. She will be attending Abilene Christian University and wants to continue education in social work and eventually would like to be a professor at a university. “One of my biggest goals is to open up my own non-profit organization for children and their families,” Vasquez said.

Erica Vasquez (middle), with two members from her social work program, take a picture while raising awareness about child abuse in 2012. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Parade of Progress 2013






cadenhead veterinary clinic

3807 Hwy 377 South • Brownwood





and Retirement Community


“Care... The name says it all”

Home Sweet Home

200 County Rd. 616 Early, TX 325-646-5521

2001 Slayden 643-4591



Brownwood Muffler & automotive

4 Locations

Go Improve Something

3605 HWY 377 SOUTH • 325-643-2638

40 YEARS Southside

Village apartments 2801 4th 646-1749 All bills paid

39 YEARS RED WAGON RESTAURANT 401 N. Main • 646-1599 Daily Lunch Specials


tootie kelly real estate Hwy 279 • 784-5270 (1 Mile South of Lake Bridge) Call for all your real estate needs.

3005 Hwy. 377S • Brownwood • 325-643-3383 120 S. Harbin Dr • Stephenville • 254-968-4221 1202 W. Beauregard Ave • San Angelo • 325-658-2679 Veterans Memorial Blvd • Harker Heights • 254-526-6182 Daryl Kirbo & Bruce Stewart - Owners


Brownwood Flying Service Cisco Hwy • 646-8047 Municipal Airport Pete and Brenda Michaud Owner/Operators


Central Texas Women’s Clinic 2201 Coggin • 643-1526 Obstetrics, Gynecology F. Michael Schultz, M.D.


Little Dude Ranch

406 Early Blvd.

(next to Heartland Mall) 646-0716 • Since 1974

Mon-Fri 7:30am - 5:30pm


Serving Families Who Want Quality Child Care Infant Stimulation Program • Pre-School Classes Pre-Kindergarten Classes • After School Program Evening Childcare


heard brothers automotive

Juki & Singer Sewing Machines & Fabrics 410 Center Ave • 643-1132 Downtown Brownwood

403 Early Blvd. • 643-1725 Phyllis, Russell & Gaylon Owners



State Farm Insurance

Longhorn Auto Sales

Larry Pullin - Agent

400 C.C. Woodson • (325) 643-2624 car • home • health • life

“Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Is There!”



903 W. Commerce 325-643-2994 Glen Smith - Owner

36 YEARS making sense of investing

Child Development Center 1601 Stewart • 646-8877 Open 5:45am to 10:00pm; M-S

211 W. Commerce • 646-6812

500 Main 643-2544 • 1-800-441-2356

201 W. Adams • 646-2959 Bart Johnson LUTCF Insurance & Investments

Member New York Stock Exchange & SIPC

Since 1871 Pierre Osbourn, Ryan Reagan Mike Seidenberger • 1105 Riverside Investment Representatives

Thank you to all area businesses in helping to promote community progress.