Four-year-old Ella Bouse was fascinated with the butterflies on a new statue that has been placed near the entrance to the Western Plains Youth and Family Services building.

Her interest and enthusiasm in looking over the statue was a perfect illustration of why that particular statue, of another little girl enjoying butterflies, was chosen to help welcome children and families to the service center.

“We thought it would be something kids would enjoy,” said Ella’s father Bart Bouse, a Western Plains board member, who donated the statue along with his wife Angie.

On Thursday the couple dedicated the statue to Ella, their older daughter Jillian, and to all the children who are served by Western Plains Youth and Family Services.

Western Plains provides counseling services for both children and families as well as operating a Therapeutic Foster Care program and youth shelter.

Bouse said he hopes the statue will be “an inspiration,” not only for the children who are served by Western Plains, but also for his daughters.

He noted that is partly why he and his wife wanted to dedicate the statue to Ella and Jillian so it might “make an impression on them of the importance of giving back to their community.”

In addition, Bouse said he also sees the statue as a symbol of children’s innocence.

“To me, it represents the innocence of youth that we need to protect and that is what Western Plains is all about,” he said.

Western Plains Executive Director Kevin Evans said the statue helps to complete the agency’s new building which opened two years ago in Sept. 2007.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he said, noting, “I think it makes for a softer, more kid-friendly entrance.”

The center is hoping to add another statue and bench sometime in the future, Evans said. But for the time being, he said the girl and butterflies statue has “turned out beautifully.”

“We thank the Bouse family for doing this,” Evans said.

The staff at Western Plains Youth and Family Services are very grateful another recent donation as well.

Krystal Lujan, director of Western Plains’ Therapeutic Foster Care program, said the center recently received 300 duffle bags from the “My Stuff Bags Foundation.”

According to the organization’s website, www.mystuffbags.org, the My Stuff Bags Foundation is based in California and helps to provide “emergency care bags” for children entering crisis care centers and/or foster care agencies such as Western Plains Youth and Family Services.

The website notes My Stuff Bags are intended “for children ranging in age from infant through 16 years” and “contain age and gender appropriate essentials and comforts such as: toiletries…, blanket or quilt, small stuffed animal, crayons and coloring book, water bottle, school supplies, (and) clothing.”

This makes the bags perfect for the children served by Western Plains Youth and Family Services, especially the children in the Therapeutic Foster Care program and those in the center’s youth shelter, Evans said.

“It has always been one of our goals that we don’t want our kids to leave with just trash bags to carry their stuff in,” he said. “This is definitely a big help.”

Lujan said that in addition to distributing bags amongst the center’s foster children, shelter kids and Systems of Care clients, Western Plains decided to share some of the bags with the Woodward Police Department and with Northwest Domestic Crisis Services.

“We tried to share with as many agencies as we can because we want the bags to be used,” Evans said.

Western Plains only has about 50 bags left, which are being saved to give out to other children that come through the shelter throughout the coming months.

“Our shelter has seen a dramatic increase in number of kids coming through,” Evans said, noting “sadly, we expect that to continue.”

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