Birthday Buddies With Texas Health Resources

Texas Health Resources

There are 29,000 dedicated individuals standing under the umbrella labeled Texas Health Resources. The faith-based, non-profit organization serves 16 counties across Texas through a massive system that remains focused on delivering compassionate and concerned health care. “We have a huge network,” Sarah Higdon acknowledged. “Despite our enormous size, we have a strong atmosphere of intimacy. We are individuals who take care of other individuals, and we do it together. We care for each person as an individual within our walls, and we extend that same care and concern to the community.” Sarah is the vice president of Foundation and Fund Development, North Region, for the Texas Health Resources Foundation. The care and concern of Texas Health extend deep into the various communities they serve, providing specific programs and projects to cater to their target needs. “We funded the Thrive grocery store at the Sanger High School, operated and managed by the students,” Sarah said.

The project was recommended by community leaders to establish food security in the area, as well as a way to channel students in stable directions. “Very often, it’s volunteers in the neighborhoods who keep us aware of a community’s needs and requirements,” Sarah continued. “Most of the time, these are community leaders who are close to the pulse of a neighborhood’s residents. We couldn’t do what we do without them and their feedback.” Texas Health Resources makes an effort to become an accepted and respected member of their communities. “We’re working on the development of a large community garden in Bridgeport,” Sarah said, “but I think one of our best programs is Birthday Buddies. It started 10 years ago with the pilot program at Harris Methodist.” The intent of Birthday Buddies is to honor the neo-natal department, the caregivers, the children, and their parents. “Some of those babies are with us in NICU for months. Bonds are formed. Caregivers become attached to so many of them, as well as to their families.

The feelings are mutual, so we decided those feelings deserved a celebration.” Birthday Buddies is a huge success, and Texas Health Resources expects more growth in 2024 with the new Center for Women in Denton. “The families register while the babies are still in the hospital,” Sarah said. “We receive a notice when each of those babies is about to turn one year old. The baby and their family, often bringing extended family and friends, come in, and we have a really fun celebration with gift baskets and balloons. We take pictures and, using water-based paint, we do foot and handprints. We put those on our wall and, with the parents’ permission, we post them on social media. It provides a beautiful way to stay in touch.” Many families also return for subsequent birthdays. “The oldest one who came back was 15! She wanted to say hello to the people who literally helped her start her life. We have at least one or two of these celebrations each month.”

Families often make donations to the Foundation at the celebrations. Many times, older children who understand the true meaning of the fanfare ask people to make donations in lieu of birthday presents.
Parents feel it’s a perfect early lesson in the art of giving back. Texas Health Resources sincerely believes that health care extends far beyond taking temps and blood pressure. It extends to a person’s entire health profile. The people behind the Thrive grocery store know a hungry kid cannot sit in a classroom and learn. They know the emotional attachments that form between the compassionate caregiver who cuddles the newborn, and they feel it should be celebrated. They know the benefits of fresh, home-grown produce to an individual’s physical diet and to their sense of accomplishment. “We know it takes a village to do all this,” Sarah said. “That’s why those 29,000 people are committed to excellence. We don’t want anyone under our care to slip through a crack.”

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