By Kev Moyè
DHS Media Specialist/Writer
During a basketball tourney between Division of Youth Services (DYS) teams from each of the division’s treatment centers, Cassandra Henry stood close to the Lewisville Juvenile Treatment Center (LJTC) players and explained the game-plan before tip-off
Meanwhile, inside the multi-court gym, kids from other squads gave fist-pounds, took shots at the goal, and dribbled basketballs as other games had already begun.
Eventually, Henry’s team took the court and got off to a great start, building an early lead. However, they suddenly began to take bad shots offensively which ultimately led to easy transition points for their opponent.
Henry, the LJTC facility services liaison, was so disappointed that she turned away from the action and asked her players currently on the bench, “What are we doing? We just talked about what we wanted to do less than five minutes ago!”
Henry, who’s a shade under 6-foot tall, called timeout, looked in the players’ eyes, and pointed out to the court while telling them to follow directions. In fact, the former college basketball player for Southern Arkansas University (SAU) always encourages her students to follow the rules in everything they do.
“The students need discipline, but they also need love,” Henry said. “My students need to know that they’re worth something to somebody. My role is to put them in different educational and recreational activities that allow them to mature and recognize their potential.”
Court-ordered youth are placed at one of the division’s seven treatment centers. The facilities provide special projects and education programs to give youth the structure and confidence they need in order to succeed once they’re out of state custody.
The goal of DYS hits close to home for Henry.
“For some reason, I’ve always had a rapport with young people,” she said. “With the students, I meet them where they are in life and empathize with their situations. I want to show them that I care, I’m fair, and I’m consistent.”
“I view my job as a privilege,” Henry said. “I’ve seen how some of our kids have improved in every facet of their lives because of the different activities and team-building exercises that we provide.”
Henry also has a ton of compassion for her neighbors in Lafayette County.
The Lewisville native enjoys volunteering in her community. Some of Henry’s civic service activities include: creating a countywide spelling bee for students in grades 9-12, organizing a Lafayette County 5K, participating in the Lewisville-Stamps Library reading program, coaching local sports teams, and serving as a member of the Lafayette County Leadership Council.
“My community has always supported me. So, it’s a must that I give them the same kind of support,” Henry said. “I want to make a positive impact on the youth of our area. That’s my mission in life.”
What made Henry embrace community service?
“In 2013 there was nothing constructive for the kids to do during the summer,” she said. “So I created a free basketball camp for the kids, and it was well-attended. That alone showed me I could make a difference.”
Henry simply wants to be a source of encouragement for all people, like so many individuals have been for her over the years.
“I’m grateful that I can use the gifts, the talents, and the knowledge God has given me to help me in my career,” she said. “In school, I had teachers who encouraged me to shine bright academically, in athletics, and in whatever else I did in life. I want to inspire these kids just like my teachers did for me.”
(Cassandra Henry was nominated and featured for the Living the Mission series at DHS, which focuses on staff members who go above and beyond their typical functions. If you know someone who lives the mission of DHS and should be featured for the Living the Mission series, contact Kev Moyè at email@example.com.)