Dear Friends of Phoenix Center, 


Just as the growth of spring will soon be upon us, we are thankful for the growth that you have made possible. From January to December 2013, we served a record 501 children and parents in all programs.


Beginning in February 2014, we are growing in our staff as well.  We are delighted to announce the hiring of an additional contract Child and Family Therapist to meet the growing need (41 children have been on our waiting list from December 2013 to date).   Read more about our talented new Child and Family Therapist, Mandi Melendez here.  


Another exciting development is that Sarah Garrett has become certified as a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) this month - completing an extensive 3 year process of continuing education.  Sarah is the only Registered Play Therapist in Burnet, Llano, Blanco & San Saba counties.  Read more about play therapy and why it is a recommended treatment for young children and victims of abuse/neglect in this newsletter. 


Our growth and ability to meet the increasing demand for high-quality therapeutic services has only been possible through your generous support. 


We are deeply grateful for all that you have made possible for children in need. Thank you.


"My grandson has been meeting with one of your counselors, 
Lindsey Humphrey, for about 9 months... 
The difference in him 
from when he started to where he is today is REMARKABLE.
I give most of the credit for his transformation to Ms. Humphrey & staff at the Phoenix Center.   Thank you to your staff & your donors.
Your gifts of time and money have 
made a world of difference to our family."

- Grandparent of a Phoenix Center Child who 

attends twice weekly at no cost to his grandmother

In this Issue:
Holiday party 2011 yoga liberty hall
Horse and child


Young Christopher went from being completely mute to talking at both the Phoenix Center and school.  As his teacher told his grandmother, "Whatever you have been doing in the last 6 months, it is working."   


Christopher's tremendous progress illustrates the growth and healing that is possible after abuse and trauma. His progress is evidence of the significant impact of intensive, high-quality mental health services for children and families. For example, he attends Phoenix Center services twice a week at no cost to his grandmother.  We will share more about his remarkable progress at the upcoming Gala.


Right now, there are other deserving kids like young Christopher in our community and on our waiting list. Thank you for your continued support so we can continue to grow and help more children in need.

Enter the Roaring 20's 
Speakeasy Gala!
March 29, 2014 
Horseshoe Bay
Enter a 1920's Speakeasy 
with your password through a secret 
side door. 
Step into a world of music, elegance and glamour... 
the Roaring 20's!  
New live band -
White Ghost Shivers!
Las Vegas Style Casino
Don't miss our 2014 Gala - our main 
source of funds for 2014!
2013 Report & Demand for Services


In 2013, Phoenix Center served a record number of children and parents. Thank you for making our growth possible. You have truly made a difference in the lives of children and families.

   Number of children and parents served in all programs
   Number of counseling hours provided by therapists
   Number of parents served in parenting groups
   Number of children who attended Camp Phoenix



Since Camp Phoenix was founded in

2007, the demand for services has steadily increased. 

84 Children and parents in  2007

164 Children and parents in 2010

384 Children and parents in 2012

501 Children and parents in 2013
In 4 of the counties we serve, the rate of child abuse is significantly higher than the state average.
The majority of children and families we serve live at or below the poverty level.


Meet Our New Children's Therapist


Phoenix Center welcomes a new part-time Child and Family Therapist to help meet the growing need within the community. 


Mandi Melendez earned her Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Texas State University, and also holds a Master of Arts in Interpersonal Communication from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a Nationally Certified Counselor, an MFT-Associate, an LPC-Intern, and she has completed all of the coursework to earn her Registered Play Therapist credential. Mandi has specialized training in play therapy, Child-Parent Relationship Therapy, mindfulness based practices, family systems, group therapy and addiction recovery. 


Mandi firmly believes that every child deserves access to a compassionate and fully present adult, and delights in guiding parents and guardians in offering children this precious gift. She is a passionate advocate for children and adolescents, and volunteers her time with the children and families of Camp Phoenix, Hope Hospice, and the Texas Advocacy Project. She has accepted a three-year commitment with the Hill Country Chapter of the Texas Association for Play Therapy, and is currently serving the board as President-Elect. Mandi has taken an active role in Counselors for Social Justice, and was featured in a documentary made by Counselors for Social Justice.  The Phoenix Center is thrilled and honored to have Mandi Melendez as a member of our team.

Why Play Therapy & Phoenix Center to have Registered Play Therapist

Another exciting development in February 2014 is that Sarah Garrett has become certified as a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) - completing an extensive 3 year process of continuing education.  Sarah is the only Registered Play Therapist in Burnet, Llano, Blanco & San Saba counties.  In addition to Sarah, all therapists at the Phoenix Center have had training in play therapy.  


In the frequently asked questions below, learn more about play therapy and why it is a recommended treatment for young victims of abuse/neglect (text below is from the Association for Play Therapy's website).  



Why Play in Therapy?


Play therapy is a structured, theoretically based approach to therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children. Therapists strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings. In play therapy, toys are like the child's words and play is the child's language. 


Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them. Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their age and development.


How Does Play Therapy Work?


Play therapy allows trained mental health practitioners who specialize in play therapy, to assess and understand children's play and behaviors. Further, play therapy is utilized to help children cope with difficult emotions and find solutions to problems. By confronting problems in the clinical Play Therapy setting, children find healthier solutions. Play therapy allows children to change the way they think about, feel toward, and resolve their concerns. Even the most troubling problems can be confronted in play therapy and lasting resolutions can be discovered, rehearsed, mastered and adapted into lifelong strategies.


Who Benefits from Play Therapy?


Although everyone benefits, play therapy is especially appropriate for children ages 3 through 12 years old.  In recent years, play therapy interventions have also been applied to infants and toddlers.


How Will Play Therapy Benefit A Child?


Play therapy treatment plans have been utilized as the primary intervention for multiple mental health conditions and concerns, e.g. anger management, grief and loss, divorce and family dissolution, and crisis and trauma, and for modification of behavioral disorders, e.g. anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders.


Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters. 


Current Groups 


Phoenix After School


Mondays: Elementary School Children

3:30 - 5:00 pm 


Tuesdays: Middle and High School Girls 

4:00 - 5:30 pm  


Parenting Workshops


Thursdays: 5:30 - 8:15 pm 

Caring For Children who have Experienced Trauma

7 week parenting group, with coinciding children's therapy groups and a free of cost dinner for the entire family. Offered in collaboration with HCCAC. The group began in February 2014 and is held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Marble Falls. A huge thank you to Rev. David Sugeno, Rector, Rev. Cathy Boyd, Associate Rector, Madeleine Manigold, Penny Miller, and all of the volunteers at Trinity Episcopal Church who have donated generously of their time and talents in support of this program.  


Mondays: 12:00 - 1:30 pm

Child Parent Relationship Therapy Group 

CPR-T, also called Filial Therapy, is a research-based, 10-week parenting group that teaches parents of 3 - 9 year-old children how to use some of the same skills play therapists use to help children experiencing social, emotional, or behavioral problems. CPR-T is offered at the Phoenix Center during the lunch hour; our current group began in January 2014. 

Camp Phoenix 2014


Sign-up has begun for Camp Phoenix 2014 sessions.  All of our therapeutic camp sessions are free of cost & are staffed entirely by mental health professionals and masters level Interns offering a ratio of 1 adult to every 2 campers.   Children make tremendous progress through equine therapy and our innovative therapeutic camp curriculum.  For the 2014 camp dates and an application, please visit our website or click here.



Quotes from Phoenix Center Children


"My hope is to come back to Camp Phoenix every year."

- Age 9, Summer 2013


"My hope is to be adopted and have a family who loves me."

- Age 7, Summer 2013


"My hope is to have a security system to keep my family safe."

- Age 10, Summer 2013


"My hope is to help all the people without homes or a lot of money."

- Age 11, Summer 2013


My hope is that the Phoenix Center lasts forever."

- Age 6, Summer 2013


Family Fun: Kids and the Outdoors 

Written by Amy Sugeno, LMSW

Spring is just around the corner, a time when most people enjoy being outside.


Here in central Texas, the mild weather, warm sunshine, brilliant wildflowers, and plenty of places to hike, fish, canoe and camp just can't be beat. It just feels good to be outside.


As it turns out, there is good reason for this, especially where children are concerned. Being outdoors positively affects children's physical, psychological, emotional, social, and mental well-being. According to the Children & Nature Network, "Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors."


When children spend time outdoors in nature, they benefit through:

  • reduced stress
  • better physical health
  • increased creativity and improved concentration
  • increased resilience, allowing a child to more easily deal with difficulties
  • higher test scores
  • increased sense of self independence
  • better problem-solving skills
  • increased focus
  • better self-discipline
  • more cooperative
  • more flexible
  • increased self-awareness
  • reduced aggression
  • increased happiness


With so many benefits, why are children are spending less time outdoors than ever before?


Research shows that over the past two or three decades, children's free time has become increasingly structured as they join various sports and other extra-curricular programs, making unstructured play outdoors a rare commodity. Additionally, youth of all ages, from toddlers to teens, spend dramatically more time inside with electronic media, such as smart phones, TV and computers. And, parents have become more concerned than in decades past about their children's safety when out-of-doors, resulting in less freedom or opportunity to explore the natural world.


With so many positive benefits, it is crucial to help kids find ways spend time outdoors. Luckily, we have a head start just by living in central Texas! Within only 30 miles from Marble Falls lie nearly two dozen state, LCRA, and Travis County parks in which to hike, swim, fish, play, and explore nature at its finest. 


Many of these parks have guided programs and activities (often for free) to help you and your family enjoy the outdoors together. If you're looking for something closer to home, our city playgrounds are wonderful places to go, especially for younger children. It won't be long before the flowers, birds, and beautiful spring weather will make discovering the outdoors too good to miss.


To find a nearby park:

For information and fun programs

Article was reprinted by permission & originally published in our January 2012 newsletter.   Written by Amy Sugeno, LMSW

Ways You Can Help 
Thank you hand
$10 Healthy snacks
$50 Parenting classes
$100 One therapy session
$200 Day camp for one child
$500 Weekend camp for one child
$1,000 10 therapy sessions for one child  


Our programs are made possible 

by volunteers and private donations. 

Your support is vital and deeply appreciated.

Options to give include a monthly, quarterly, or 
annually recurring gift, and a dedication or 
memorial gift.  



Phoenix Center
P.O Box 732
Marble Falls, TX 78654

(Click for more info)



Consider donating your used 

car, truck, van, motorcycle, 

boat, RV, trailer, airplane or 

ATV to the Phoenix Center. 

It's a tax-deductible donation,  and we'll take care of 

everything, including pick up.


Visit for complete details. Call 
877-537-5277 to get started! 



 Who We Are   


art classyoga - peyton

Phoenix Center, a 501c(3) non-profit, is committed to meeting the need for high-quality, affordable mental health care for children and families in rural Central Texas.


When children have experienced trauma or abuse, research shows early intervention is critical for long-term well-being and health. Through our services, children in need are able to access exemplary mental health services, and ultimately thrive as individuals and families.


Our Services

Phoenix Counseling: Research-based therapy services for children, ages 3- 18, who have experienced abuse and/or other critical mental health needs.

Phoenix Parenting: Free of cost, research based parenting classes, supporting local children who have experienced abuse or trauma. 

Phoenix After School: Therapeutic children's groups incorporating yoga/wellness and expressive art activities, which promote relaxation, coping, and social skills.

Camp Phoenix: Therapeutic camp sessions at Candlelight Ranch, including equine therapy - our own innovative therapeutic camp curriculum.


card-sunflower Who is a Phoenix Center Child? 

Children and teens ages 3 - 18 with an identified mental health need, including survivors of abuse and trauma.  The children we serve are often uninsured, under-insured or are otherwise unable to access high-quality mental health services.  


Our Collaborating Agencies  
CASA for the Highland Lakes Area, Hill Country Children's Advocacy Center, Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Highland Lakes In addition, youth are referred to our programs by school counselors, churches and families.


Our Staff 

Phoenix Center staff include licensed mental health professionals and graduate student counseling and social work Interns from the UT Austin School of Social Work and Texas State University. 


Our Board 

Members include J. Allan Garrett, Terry Gulden, Harry Born, Lindsay Plante, Patti McCormick, Molly Biglari, Elizabeth Turner & Courtney Bowen.

Connect with Phoenix Center!

Find us on Pinterest View our profile on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter 



Sarah Rosen Garrett, LCSW

Founder, Executive Director
Post Office Box 732
Marble Falls, Texas 78654
Our mission is to provide high-quality mental health services to children and families in need in rural Central Texas.