By John McGreevy, TJJD Communications

Gainesville Family Days

The Gainesville State School once again held its popular event, Family Days, on June 24 and 25. The students of the school their families to come and share a meal, participate in song, and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and family time. 

Stephen Claybrook, Family Reentry Enrichment Specialist at Gainesville, hostedand designed the program to be a campus-wide event. Claybrook’s vision that “no youth eats alone” is about forging new relationships.

Thirty Texas Juvenile Justice Department volunteers and as many staff offered their time to work the event and this made it possible for every youth to have family, a volunteer, or a staff member to share the special day with them. 

Gainesville Family Days

This year’s event was the largest yet, with more than 350 youth, family members, volunteers and staff taking part in the food and good times.

Over 675 hotdogs were served, alongside chips, cookies, popcorn, and homemade cotton candy was served. There was also entertainment provided by the school’s choir led by Kevin Hill, Volunteer Services Coordinator as well as the vocal group, Power of Harmony. Power of Harmony performed at the Family Day event at the school in November of last year.

Gainesville Family Days

“Seeing families enjoy the food and fun is worth all the effort, time and planning it takes to put an event like this together” said Claybrook. “We are fortunate to have an administration that supports our programming and sees the need for family reunification.”

Claybrook extended a special thanks to the Power of Harmony and Dennis Castiglione, who brought the choral program to the school, as well as the Vocal Majority, who volunteer weekly to work with the choir. He also thanked the hardworking TJJD Volunteers, Hill and Rebecca Williams, Texas Model FIT Leader.

“Many of our mental health professionals and staff from other departments assisted as well,” Claybrook said. “Without the teamwork and dedication to the youth assigned to the school, an event of this size could not become a reality.”