Roy Maas’ Youth Alternatives (RMYA) has been operating in the San Antonio area for over 40 years, with the aim of helping youth recover from the trauma of abuse and integrate back into the community so they can lead healthy and productive lives. The organization has grown with the San Antonio community and its needs over the years, and today operates two facilities that provide a variety of services, including preventive counseling, a charter school, an emergency shelter, and a transitional living program.
RMYA has been involved with TNOYS for almost as long as it has been in operation and says TNOYS membership provides many benefits. Dr. Julie Ann Strentzsch, Chief Program Officer at RMYA and a TNOYS board member, says it is important to have a relationship with TNOYS in order to stay connected to other youth services work being done across the state. That relationship has clearly paid off — Strentzsch credits connections created by TNOYS as being pivotal in securing a new state grant that is allowing RMYA to expand its work.
The grant came from the Child Sex Trafficking Team at the Texas Governor’s Office, and has allowed RMYA to open an additional emergency facility including beds specifically for youth who are victims of trafficking. The opening of the center, called Centro Seguro, has allowed RMYA to serve upwards of 60 youth at any given time, up from the 20-30 it had capacity to serve before.
RMYA learned about the grant when it co-hosted a summit on child sex trafficking with TNOYS in December 2016. Strentzsch says that summit was what allowed RMYA to form partnerships with the governor’s office and other agencies that led directly to them being able to secure the funding to expand their emergency services.
“Without TNOYS, we wouldn’t have had the expansion in this direction,” she says.