On a hot July day in 1877, Baptist minister R.C. Buckner gathered concerned citizens around an old oak tree in Paris, Texas, to ask for their help in meeting a local need: a home for orphans in North Texas.
From a humble collection that day of $27, Dr. Buckner began his mission to build the Buckner Orphans' Home in Dallas—one of the oldest orphanages west of the Mississippi River.
Dr. Buckner visualized a home that would meet the needs of children whose families had been displaced or broken by war, poverty and other burdens. He centered the orphanage on the biblical principles of James 1:27: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
In its early years, Buckner Orphans' Home provided a roof over the shoulders of hundreds of orphaned children, as well as a number of elderly individuals who could not take care of themselves. But more than just shelter, Buckner Orphans' Home sought to provide an environment where these children could learn, grow and be loved.
The earliest record of adoption services rendered by Buckner Orphans' Home dates back to 1884. Those services continued well into the 1900s, as Buckner placed orphaned infants and children in permanent homes. In 1998, Buckner also partnered with the State of Texas to provide foster care for children and assists foster families that wish to adopt foster children in their care.
Today, Dr. Buckner's dream has developed into Buckner International—one of the largest and longest-operating social services organizations of its kind in Texas and the United States. Buckner International serves more than 400,000 people each year through family and community programs, empowerment programs and humanitarian aid in 17 Texas cities and 10 countries worldwide. Dr. Buckner's original vision and principles continue to guide the organization as it expands and adapts its services to meet ever-changing needs in the community.
One facet of Buckner International is the Buckner Family Place program. This program provides homeless mothers and their children a better future through low-cost housing, counseling, child care and financial support when enrolled in an approved higher education program.
Collaborations with universities and community colleges lay the groundwork as the mothers enrolled in the program strive to achieve something they thought might not be possible before – a college degree. Buckner Family Place helps women in Texas all the way from the Panhandle to the Coast in seven cities.
This month, Buckner will celebrate more than 132 years of service in Texas, helping children and families find safe, loving homes and hope for a better future. I'm proud Texas is home to this remarkable organization that sets an example for all of us on the power of compassion and the life-changing benefits of a second chance.
Sen. Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary, Armed Services, and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee's Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.