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My name is Judette Padilla and I am the new Executive Director of The Villages. Using my Criminal Justice degree from Washburn University, I have worked in Topeka’s child welfare community for over 20 years. I became a part of The Villages team as a House Manager in 2012, where the population was juvenile offenders, placed through the Juvenile Justice Authority. In 2017, I helped establish the grant that allowed five of our homes to serve a new population, providing services for Unaccompanied Children. This is a federal program that is under the Office of Refugee and Resettlement. Our two homes residing in Lawrence started to serve Children in Need of Care in the State of Kansas’ custody.
What first led you to be a part of The Villages team?
As a native Topekan, I had always been aware of The Villages and the good work they have done. When the opportunity presented itself, Sylvia Crawford approached me about a new model of supervision for their clients in group home settings. I joined The Villages as a House Manager at House 20, handling case management for the ten kids who lived there.
Now as Executive Director of The Villages, what are your biggest immediate priorities?
One of the biggest priorities I have is to the staff and the clients we serve. Ensuring that through this change in leadership, The Villages will remain faithful to its core beliefs of serving children. Our mission is to ensure the safety and well-being of children entrusted in our care while empowering them to prepare for the future.
What do you hope to accomplish in your first year in the role?
A successful start on construction of our new Administrative Building/Learning Center. The Villages Board has been instrumental and supportive of this endeavor and I am excited to see what this new addition will do for our program as a whole.
The Villages is starting a Capital Campaign for a new facility. What would you like potential donors to know about that effort?
Our new administrative building/learning center is the first construction on The Villages property since the 1970’s and is vital to the care of our children. It will provide a more professional environment for learning, and also for staff. It will move services such as case management, clinical therapy, in-house education, legal consulting, as well as leisure and recreation to a neutral environment, allowing the houses to serve as their main function: a safe and healthy living environment.
What would you like the Topeka and surrounding communities to know about The Villages as an organization?
The Villages is a non-profit, state-licensed agency which was founded in 1964 by Dr. Karl Menninger to provide homes for children who had been abused, neglected or abandoned. In 1969, The Villages first group home opened its doors. Since then, The Villages has added six more group homes that provide youth a stable, structured home in a family-style setting. The Villages currently has 5 homes dedicated to a federal program for unaccompanied children in federal custody and 2 homes dedicated to kids in the State of Kansas’ custody.
September 15 marks the day in 1821 when five countries in Central America declared independence from Spain: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
We, at The Villages, serve children from these communities and we wanted to celebrate! A day of parties, music and lots of authentic foods made special memories for our children. Some fun facts:
Ricky came to The Villages in January 2021 looking for a new start after a foster home placement with a family member.
The first few months with The Villages were difficult, even leading Ricky to write a letter to age out of care befoe graduating in late March of 2021. A meeting was held by Ricky to discuss this decision and at that meeting Ricky had a change of heart. Ricky decided to build himself up before exiting care and shattered expectations along the way, establishing himself as one of the greatest comeback stories The Villages had ever witnessed.
He began spending time with staff members who had formerly served in the U.S. military. These individuals helped him find the structure and stability that he had been looking for and Ricky appreciated them as positive role models in his life.
Ricky is excelling in his classes at Lawrence High School and is on track to graduate in May 2022.
The Villages team has helped Ricky plan out his next steps after graduation when he will proudly join the U.S. Marine Corps. He has already completed paperwork and is working on physical training requirements.
Until that time, Ricky will continue to receive the support and encouragement from The Villages team that has helped him confidently map out his future.
Don’t miss your chance to show your support for The Villages by participating in our Brick Fundraiser.
To help fund our new facility, which will greatly improve our operations, The Villages is starting our first fundraiser that will allow you to become a part of The Villages’ history. For $100 you can purchase a brick with your name inscribed that will be used in the courtyard of our new building. With each brick, you have the opportunity to leave a family legacy. Not only do we accept payees names but also cat/dog names, children’s names, and family names on the bricks.
Other Ways To Donate
If you have a Dillons/Kroger card, you can identify The Villages as a recipient of a percentage of your groceries, and if you shop on Amazon, through Amazon Smiles, you can also designate The Villages and we will receive a percentage of your purchases.