When Executive Director Andrea Richardson started working for Bluebonnet Trails Community Services nine years ago, she was no stranger to mental health care systems—she said she had worked for a number of others in the state.
“When I started, I felt Bluebonnet didn’t quite meet its potential,” she said. “We had opportunities we hadn’t explored yet.”
Richardson brought in new programs, such as children’s mental health and autism services, within the existing budget.
The nonprofit serves as an umbrella for community and mental health services, offering early childhood intervention, developmental therapies, substance abuse help and crisis assistance. The organization opened its first location in 1997 and has expanded to 16 sites, including a location at 711 N. College Street in Georgetown.
Richardson said the organization works with local law enforcement, schools and hospitals to identify community needs and ways in which Bluebonnet Trails can assist.
“We’re driven a bit differently than other systems of care,” she said. “We were built as a safety net system for Central Texas.”
Bluebonnet is funded through various resources, including government funds and donations. Richardson said most of the funding comes from the state. After demonstrating that the organization meets certain standards, she said it has to achieve set metrics to maintain funding.
“We’ve built our system on accountability,” she said. “We have to achieve these metrics for the lives of the people we’re serving.”
Tiffany Gonzalez, director of the Williamson County and Burnet County locations, said she has seen a “paradigm shift” in mental health care over the past few years.
As a community-oriented and public program, Bluebonnet Trails also has volunteer and internship programs. Richardson said volunteers frequently have a background in mental health issues or substance abuse, and they want to help others. Gonzalez said one of the most valuable resources is the peer network Bluebonnet Trails offers.
“It’s incredibly important as you’re going through recovery to have someone come alongside you and say, ‘I’ve lived through that,’” Gonzalez said.
With more than 300 partners throughout eight counties in Central Texas, Richardson said she hopes the organization will continue its approach to connecting families to the resources they need.
“When a family walks through the door, we aren’t going to diagnose them immediately,” she said. “We’re going to ask what’s going on. We want to work with the entire family to find ways to bring them together in the strongest way possible.”
Bluebonnet Trails Community Services
711 N. College St., Georgetown