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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Guidance program assists struggling families

Photo by Photo by Ethan Dias

Weinkie LeUnes, a service dog, is a life enrichment specialist at Project Unity and helps promote guidance programs through Project Unity.

When Judy LeUnes was handed a one-eyed chihuahua to hold for a KBTX interview she was surprised by how well-behaved the small canine was. 
Now, six years later, Wienkie LeUnes has matured into a service dog for the community, donning the title of “Life Enrichment Specialist” at Project Unity. 
Project Unity is a collection of grant-funded programs which provide residents with familial guidance and access to health services. There are three programs offered, including Prevention of Child Abuse, Special Health Services and Safe Harbour.  
As director of development and communications at Project Unity, LeUnes handles board development, fundraising and communications. However, when Project Unity was struggling to get the word out about its programs, president Jeannie McGuire suggested hiring Wienkie to make the programs more approachable. 
“I think [Wienkie] is a very good promoter of this organization because nobody is perfect and our clients aren’t perfect,” LeUnes said.  
Prevention of Child Abuse is a seven to 10 week program that reaches out to more than 400 families by creating a parent model that encourages communication and simulated solutions to potential parent-child conflict. 
“People in poverty a lot of times don’t have resources … They had a bad experience maybe, so we get to model for them how to parent better — and this would be good for everybody,” LeUnes said. 
Safe Harbour is a $50, one-time intake fee that provides a safe space for court-ordered, monitored visits between noncustodial parents and their children. Safe Harbour occurs on Saturday once a month for two hours. Additionally, Special Health Services provides services for 200 clients with HIV/AIDS. 
“We make sure that [patients] get to their doctor’s appointments. If they need eye care, oral care, or if anyone is homeless and has AIDS, then there are funds to get them into a home so they’re not out on the streets,” LeUnes said. “No one should die from HIV anymore.”
Although these programs offer aid for community members, LeUnes said most people don’t like to think about the negatives that Project Unity deals with on a regular basis. With Wienkie as life enrichment specialist, the story of Project Unity and its programs is becoming more palpable for the masses through short online videos posted on the Project Unity Facebook page. 
“When I would post, I would get maybe 100 views with [help from] my friends. With Wienkie, there were over 2,000 views on his last video,” LeUnes said. 
July 20, the Aloft Hotel hosted a benefit event for Project Unity. Attendees were able to score a picture with Wienkie decked out in a small tuxedo. 
“Wienkie gets to represent Project Unity, [which helps with] keeping people together, [and] keeping families together and safe,” LeUnes said. 

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