“It’s the closest I get to being part of a miracle”
Anthem Strong Families began 15-years ago as a dream and recognition by community leaders that families must be fortified for communities to thrive. “Families are the building blocks of our community. The collective strength of families translates into the quality of our education, the strength of our economy and the safety of our streets. When our social system is in distress, the cure is our compassion that compels us to reach out to each other. It’s impossible for communities to thrive and soar without strong families,” says Founder and CEO, Cosette Bowles.
Cosette was raised in Dallas and received her Master of Arts (MA) in psychology and counseling from Texas Women’s University. Her 34-year marriage to Paul enriched her with a blended family of children Brett, Kim and Dirk – “three amazing human beings who make my life extraordinary.” Twenty- eight years ago she brought six-month old ten-pound baby Brittany home from Romania. Eleven grandchildren are now added to the family.
Cosette is a nationally known relationship educator, trainer and healthy family and relationship advocate. For more than 30-years she and her husband, Dr. Paul Bowles, were in private practice as Marriage and Family therapists. She personally experienced the pain and heartache that destroys generations of family relationships. Deeply troubled by the breakdown of the family and devastation to children’s lives, she began meeting with Dallas area leaders. In 2004 ANTHEM a 501c (3) was formed to address the need for healthy relationships and emotional and problem-solving skills with the underserved Dallas County community. Two years later she continued the fight at the state level and was instrumental in getting the Texas State Legislature to pass House Bill 2685 that birthed the ‘Twogether in Texas’ law. This law, which is still in effect, increased the county marriage fee to $60 but waived both the fee and three-day waiting period for engaged couples who would take a no-cost 8-hour workshop on communication, conflict resolution, problem-solving and the benefits of marriage.
Under her leadership Anthem became ANTHEM STRONG FAMILIES. Cosette has spent many hours in both the U.S. Congress and Texas Legislature meeting with legislators to educate them on the benefits of healthy relationships and problem-solving skills as a strategy to impact poverty, social welfare programs, mental and physical health and the soaring costs associated with these issues. Anthem Strong Families has impacted the lives of more than 45,000 families and received more than $24M in Federal and State Funds. Anthems work includes innovative programs with men, women and youth. She has served on the Boards for the Texas Coalition for Healthy Families and on the National Association for Relationship and Marriage Education.
“Families each bring a unique culture to produce the next generation. We are brought into this world in relationship, piggybacking on the bodies of our mothers. We learn who we are through a dance of relationship from the moment we are born. If a child does not feel capable, loved and worthy, that is how they will relate to their world. They will grow up with an inferior, damaged mind-set and raise their children in that culture,” she says.
One of principles at Anthem Strong Families underscores that poverty is NOT just a dollar sign. “Our employees understand that when we can relate positively and genuinely to ourselves and others, life offers possibilities. But it is our destructive beliefs, thoughts and feelings that are the most powerful barriers to our own life and happiness. You can have plenty of money and live in poverty,” she says.
Anthem Strong Families gives people the “how-to” tools to be the Champion for their own life. “The more stable a person is internally, the more capable they are to work, to love and to create a good life. When a person finds the courage to transform their life, it is awe-inspiring. Being part of empowering someone to embrace their worth and potential is the closest I can get to being part of a miracle.”