Giving Thanks: Eritrea’s Story

As we give thanks…

…the story of one resilient young woman…

Above: Eritrea telling her story to guests at the 2018 CISDR Golf Tournament.

I would say the best adjective to use for my personality as a child was spunky. At school, I was a whirlwind of energy, mess of curls, and unstoppable talking force. I was 11, and along with the usual struggles of becoming a young lady, I was attempting to deal with Type 1 Diabetes and an unstable home environment.

At home I was the only girl in a family of 3 younger boys and my parents. My mom was from a small town in Mexico. She’d gone to college and had a degree in chemical engineering. My father had been in the child militias of East Africa, and had escaped to seek refuge in the US at age 17. Both of my parents had no one in this country and they both didn’t speak the language when they arrived. I was raised to believe that life was hard for everyone and that although you didn’t decide the location of your birth, you could make the best of your situation regardless.

Coming into middle school was intimidating and at times felt impossible. I wasn’t extraordinarily athletic. I was smart, but I wasn’t a genius. I couldn’t identify with one specific race so some groups wouldn’t let me in their cliques. Throughout middle school, I spent a lot of my time in the central office with the nurse. Being a Type 1 insulin dependent diabetic was a struggle for me. After a while, most of the staff at my school realized that accommodations needed to be made in order for me to succeed in school. The school nurse introduced me to Ms. Kendria Taylor, the CIS Site Coordinator.

Ms. Taylor was young, a graduate from UNT, and she was spunky too! Her CIS office was in the central office where I spent a class period being an office aide and seeing the nurse for my health. It was perfect for me. I started getting more and more involved with other students who were also in CIS. I didn’t have any sisters or cousins or friends to talk to about boys, middle school drama, or how to do my hair. I didn’t have a role model at home who looked like me or who could understand my day-to-day challenges. Becoming a young lady with no type of guide was something I didn’t understand.

Now as an adult, I can see that Ms. Taylor was doing something for me that no one had done before. As a young Afro Latina girl, she gave me the opportunity to glance into my own future and see how much better life could get if I could just keep pushing and get through the critical hard years. I would eat lunch in her office or work on my homework if I had free time. She helped me feel like I had a friend in a school where I couldn’t identify with any of the children. More importantly, she was one of the only adults I felt actually took an interest in the things that were happening to me and advised me on how to persevere.

My first summer after being a part of CIS, I got to go to Dallas Cowboys Camp. Ms. Taylor chaperoned me and about 6 other girls. We played football with some of the Cowboys players, got to meet the cheerleaders. It was the most fun I got to have in a long time. This was one of the first times I was able to get along with girls my age and I knew it had everything to do with CIS.

8th grade was another struggle. I spent the majority of the year hospitalized for different issues. Ms. Taylor would bring me my homework and assignments to Children’s Hospital to make sure I got them done so I could go to high school. I was really worried that I wouldn’t get to go to the 8th grade dance. Ms. Taylor helped me make sure I got all my assignments turned in and that my grades were high enough to go. I couldn’t believe it when my parents agreed!

Ms. Taylor and CIS legitimately changed the course of my life. I was raised to know that life was difficult, but Ms. Taylor taught me that things were painful but survivable. She taught me that everyone has a future, but that it’s up to you, not your situation, your parents, your friends, just you. She and CIS were a lifeboat when I was trying to get off the Titanic. That is what CIS did for me. It gave me hope, someone to be my ally during those confusing years in every teenager’s life. It taught me life skills I wouldn’t have learned at home or in the classroom. I will always be eternally grateful to CIS and to the opportunities it gave me.

Above: Eritrea (right) with her former CISDR Site Coordinator (and current CISDR Board Member) Kendria Taylor

Today, Eritrea is a college graduate working on a school campus in Dallas. Imagine her surprise and delight when she learned that her new employer had a CISDR office! Eritrea’s former Site Coordinator, Kendria Taylor, is now a member of the CISDR Board, and Eritrea herself volunteers with our Leadership Council.

We are very thankful for Eritrea’s personal and professional success, as well as the hundreds of thousands of other students who have overcome adversity through the Communities In Schools program. We are also grateful for the hard work of our staff, volunteers, amazing board and you!

Thank you to everyone who joined us at The South Asian Bar Association of Dallas / Fort Worth’s 3rd Annual Benefit Gala, “A Night in Havana”. We greatly appreciate being chosen as a beneficiary of this event. Guests enjoyed a cocktail hour, 3-course dinner, and a silent auction with amazing items. SABA also lined up comedian Rasika Mathur for the main performance during the gala. We greatly appreciate everybody who could come out to enjoy a fun night filled with delicious food, dancing, and mojitos, all while supporting CISDR’s mission of surrounding students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

Thank you to Flowserve, Ryan and all our sponsors for helping to make the 7th Annual CISDR Golf Tournament the most successful yet. Special thanks to John Scott and the rest the Golf Committee, as well as our hard-working board, volunteers and staff.


Registration and Shotgun Start
Golf Tournament
Team Photos
Awards Banquet

Thank You to Our Sponsors

It’s an exciting day in the Dallas area, as people from around the community take part in North Texas Giving Day. While we are just one of many worthy causes, here’s how CIS Dallas is different.

As a certified Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainer, we are on the front line of preventing violence in schools. Following the tragic school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas this spring, the Texas State Senate recommended an increase in school-based support and an expansion of MHFA training. This evidence-based mental/behavioral health intervention model provides education, coaching and strategies to identify signs of mental illness and develop a timely approach to triage and treatment. With over 33 years of on-campus experience, CIS Dallas is uniquely poised to continue and expand MHFA training throughout the community.

Later this year, we will augment our Mental Health First Aid training with American Red Cross certification in First Aid, CPR and AED. These initiatives would not be possible without partners like you. Thanks in part to our North Texas Giving Day donors, CIS Dallas’ field-based staff will be better able to bring the community together to help make the future better for the children of the Dallas region. Every gift, no matter the size, truly makes a difference in the life of a child, so please donate today!

We know we are one of MANY worthy non-profits sending you reminders about what day tomorrow is…..
Here’s how CIS Dallas is different:
  • We support students, teachers and their families
  • We are “school based”, which means we work with students on campus every day
  • We support the neighborhood around each school, engaging local business, community leaders, and service providers
  • We train, coach and guide teacher and parents in Youth Mental Health First Aid, helping adults identify a child in distress before they hurt themselves or someone else
  • We provide CPR/First Aid training to parents, staff, teachers, and anyone who works with students
  • At the end of the day, we are a shoulder to lean on, a hand to help up and network caring adults for the children who need it most.
At the end of the day, we are a shoulder to lean on, a hand to help up and network of caring adults for the children who need it most.
Giving for the North Texas Giving Day is now open. Every gift, no matter the size, truly makes a difference in the life of a child, so please make your donation today!
G. Brint Ryan

G. Brint Ryan
Chairman and CEO

DALLAS, TEXAS (September 17, 2018) — Ryan has committed to be Presenting Sponsor for the 7th Annual CISDR Golf Tournament on Monday, September 24, 2018 at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas. Ryan’s sponsorship supports Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region, Inc. (CISDR), a Dallas-based nonprofit that provides school-based wrap-around services to address what children need to be successful in school – including coaching the adults in their lives. As part of its Connected Community Initiative, CISDR partners with 9 local school districts and over 20 social service agencies in a network of care for students who need it most.

Ryan Chairman and CEO and CISDR Board Member G. Brint Ryan says, “We became involved with Communities In Schools a few years ago and have been very impressed with the positive results this organization has achieved for our school children. Having on-site coordinators at each school served makes a noticeable difference, and instead of dropping out of school, the students benefitting from CISDR stay in school 99% of the time. That benefits our entire community, and we are proud to be involved with this organization.” Mr. Ryan won the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award recognizing the Highest Rated CEOs for 2017. Mr. Ryan has also been selected to receive the Texas Association of Business (TAB) Dallas Chapter’s Distinguished Business Leader Award for his contributions to the business community and numerous civic and social causes.

Following the tragic school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, on May 18, 2018, Governor Greg Abbott requested an increase in school-based support and an expansion of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training. This evidence-based mental/behavioral health intervention model, operated by the National Council for Behavioral Health, provides education, coaching and strategies to identify signs of mental illness and develop a timely approach to triage and treatment. As a certified MHFA trainer, CISDR is on the front line of this important work.

The Mental Health First Aid model and strategy works best when parents, teachers and other members of the community can recognize and identify the signs and symptoms of mental and behavioral health crisis. With over 33 years of on-campus experience, CISDR is uniquely poised to continue and expand MHFA training throughout the community. Later this year, they will augment their MHFA training with American Red Cross certification in First Aid, CPR and AED. These initiatives would not be possible without partners like Ryan. Thanks in part to Ryan’s Presenting Sponsorship, CISDR’s field-based staff will be better able to bring the community together to help make the future better for the children of the Dallas region.

With global headquarters in Dallas, Texas, Ryan is an award-winning global tax services and software provider. As the largest Firm in the world dedicated exclusively to business taxes, Ryan provides a comprehensive range of state, local, federal, and international tax advisory and consulting services on a multi-jurisdictional basis. The Firm’s multi-disciplinary team of more than 2,200 professionals and associates serves over 14,000 clients in more than 50 countries, including many of the world’s most prominent Global 5000 companies. Ryan is a six-time recipient of the International Service Excellence Award from the Customer Service Institute of America (CSIA) for its commitment to world-class client service.

The mission of Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region, Inc. (CISDR) is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. CISDR provides support to the child’s ecosystem as well, training parents, teachers and youth leaders in strength-based interventions to address the social-emotional and basic needs of every child though a network of common language and practice.


Thank you to everyone who came out August 9 to our Leadership Council Mixer at Vetted Well. Thanks to word of mouth from our Leadership Council members, we had a great turnout on the rooftop patio just south of Downtown Dallas. It was a beautiful night for a mixer, with a slight drizzle keeping us cool, as well as a faint rainbow on the horizon. Special thanks to our sponsor, Lorri Terkelsen, who helped make this event possible. We appreciate all of our friends, new and old, who made it out to Vetted Well, and we look forward to seeing you at another event soon!

Capital One logoThank you once again to Capital One for donating school supplies to help CISDR students start the 2018-19 school year off on the right foot. This donation will bring smiles of joy to children who need a little help to prepare for school. We greatly appreciate our partnership with Capital One and thank them for making a difference in these kids’ lives.

Beyond Bullying Logo
Come join us at the Beyond Bullying Conference on August 11. This is a half-day back-to-school conference for educators, parents and professionals that features an informative keynote speaker and breakout sessions discussing the latest trends in bullying prevention and related mental health issues.

  • Saturday, August 11: 8 am–12:30 pm
  • Woodcreek Church, 3400 E Renner Rd, Richardson, TX 75082
What’s Included:
  • Registration: $15
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • LPC and Social Work CEUs offered

Click here to register online.

On behalf of the students to be served by Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region (CISDR) this year, we extend a heartfelt thank you to our amazing Dallas area community. In our second year of partnership with DFW/NBC 5/Telemundo 39, Tom Thumb and Albertsons, you exceeded last year’s donations to over $500 thousand dollars towards school supplies!

A portion of the total will support CIS Dallas Region campuses, and over 6,000 children in Dallas, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Garland, Richardson, Plano, McKinney, Terrell, Midlothian and Greenville will be prepared for the first day of school. As many of our families struggle to make ends meet, this initiative not only invited our community to participate in their success, but also freed this organization to work on other resources such as ensuring teachers don’t spend more out of pocket for their classrooms, and that families have some place to turn when in crisis.


This summer we continued in our training of teachers, staff and our community in Mental Health First Aid. With the support of funding from the Rees Jones Foundation, the Hoglund Foundation, and other organizations, we provided the 8 hour certification to teachers from local school districts such as Dallas, Garland, Plano, Richardson, Royse City, Mansfield, and Waxahachie at a significantly reduced rate. Not only did they use their time off to learn how recognize a student in crisis, but they joined a larger community of caring and devoted individuals who don’t want to see any more news stories about kids in pain. CISDR will remain available to those 250+ teachers and counselors, post-training and keep them connected to each other.

A few updates to share with you for this upcoming school year:

  1. All CISDR campus staff are certified in Mental Health First Aid to recognize a child experiencing mental and behavioral distress. Our clinical team will expand to include prevention support, early warning assessment and crisis response to our schools and community. FYI: CISDR site staff’s professional experience include social workers, former teachers, and social service backgrounds. All staff are supervised and trained by a team of licensed clinicians. Learn more at
  2. CISDR will expand out Mental Health First Aid trainings to include adult signs and symptoms, reminding us to be aware of parents/guardians (of the children we serve) who may need help.
  3. By November 2018 all CISDR campus staff will be trained in First Aid/CPR/AED to be an additional resource in our community. We will offer trainings to school faculty and staff as well.
  4. We are expanding our Young Men of Honor groups which focus on character development, personal responsibility and crisis self-management to young men ages 10-17. YMOH helps our boys from every community and every walk of life talk, vent and learn better ways to cope with stress.


With your continued support and participation, we move forward into the 2018-19 school year with a simple purpose: to be servant leaders to the children who need us most. CISDR appreciates this community and invites you to join us in fostering healthy, resilient, and brilliant children.

Have a great rest of your summer!