The New Horizons residential treatment center gave a presentation during the Early Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon on Friday afternoon at the Early Business Complex.   

Luncheon attendees donated dozens of teddy bears and stuffed animals to New Horizons for the event, which the center will give to newly admitted children. The luncheon, which the chamber called “Chamber Cares,” gave New Horizons an opportunity to share its mission and needs.   

New Horizons development director Hollie Jo White and associate Cara Stone were on hand to address the diners. “The kids that come to us have lost everything,” Stone explained. “They have been ripped from their homes through no fault of their own because whoever was their guardian or parent has made some terrible choices.   

“These animals that you guys have brought are going to offer them comfort,” she said.   

New Horizons operates two residential treatment campuses for youth who have been traumatized by severe emotional, physical or sexual abuse. The Audrey Grace House, located in Abilene, accommodates 30 children suffering from emotional, behavioral and attachment or relationship problems, according to New Horizons literature.   

More severe cases often go to The Ranch, a New Horizons facility near Goldthwaite that houses 70 children on 150 acres and offers equine therapy, swimming, playgrounds, sports and its own charter school.   

White said children stay in New Horizons facilities anywhere from several months to three years, depending on their needs. “Imagine what state they come to us in,” she said. “They’re not verbal. Most of the time they won’t look at you, and most of the time they’re scared to death of you.   

“Once a child has been moved into one of our houses, they feel safe. They feel protected. They go through therapy each day. We have a therapist on site, and you’ll see an immense change in those kids,” she said.   

White said New Horizons offers some of the state’s best residential treatment facilities, with comfortable housing and amenities. But she said state funding only covers about 79 percent of the New Horizons budget, meaning the nonprofit must raise over a million dollars each year on its own.   

“Your support’s necessary, and we’re just very grateful for you,” White said.   

In addition to its recreational treatment centers, New Horizons also offers free counseling services to youth through its S.T.A.R. Program. White said families in conflict or with children acting out are good candidates for the program.   

New Horizons’ traveling counselors can schedule in-home S.T.A.R. sessions with interested families at 325-437-1852. The organization can accept donations for its programs at www.newhorizonsinc.com.