2016 Philanthropy Awards: Lori and Felix Munson
Lori and Felix have been quietly contributing to this community for 30 years. They came to Round Rock to make their home, raise their three children and build their business. Together, they own and operate Anchor Ventana—a local glass company that employs more than 90 people and has a long history of philanthropy. Felix currently serves on the board of the YMCA of Williamson County.
Lori is a long-time member of the Round Rock Woman’s Club and Leading Ladies Giving Circle and together, she and Felix have given strong support to Saint William Catholic Church, Sacred Heart Community Clinic and Annunciation Maternity Home. And they inspire others to give, too; which is how philanthropists become award-winning philanthropists in Round Rock. Lori and Felix have always been found where there is a need in this community of ours.
2016 Innovation in Philanthropy Award: Connie Bellows - Project Care Case
Last year, there were 17,151 Texas children removed from their homes because of neglect or abuse. Nationwide, it’s roughly one child every two minutes. They become wards of the state and enter the foster care system where they bounce around from home to home… their few belongings often stowed in a trash bag, grocery sack or a box.
This is a life Connie Bellows knows well, she lived it from the age of 12 to 18. Since aging out of the foster care system, she has been focused on finding ways to make life a little better for the children who share her experience—first as a loving foster and adoptive mother and now as the founder of Project Care Case.
Project Care Case is all about restoring a sense of dignity and ownership to children who desperately need it. Founded in 2009, Project Care Case works with individual donors, families, churches, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to put together suitcases for children entering foster care. The cases are loaded with new clothes, toiletries, a teddy bear, pillow, blanket and Bible; and labeled with the child’s name. It seems so simple, but for some of these children, it may be the only symbol of belonging and permanence they know. And while the homes may change, these items are theirs to take with them wherever they go. The first 40 ‘Care Cases’ were delivered to Starry in December of 2009. Since then, Connie’s organization has provided more than 1,200 to foster children all over Central Texas.
2015: Philanthropy Award: Kathy Ford & Claire Ford Elder – Backpack Coalition
The Backpack Coalition is a collaboration of various churches, civic and business organizations designed to meet the needs of hungry children in the Round Rock Independent School District by providing them with nutritious and easy to prepare food to take home on weekends. Each week, volunteers from our partners and other groups in our community come together to prepare food kits for the children, deliver the kits to the schools, and distribute those kits to students in need. Currently, we have teams in 19 schools in Round Rock and Pflugerville ISDs.
In the first week they packed the children’s backpacks with food, they served 12 kids. In the next 8 weeks that number grew to over 50 and yet the need was still there. The mission seized Kathy in a way she did not expect and would not let go. That summer, she worked to forge relationships with new partners and schools and the Backpack Coalition was born. Kathy worked tirelessly to secure the 501c3 non-profit status, build a team of dedicated volunteers and improve the mission to make the most difference. With 6 partners in place, Kathy was able to serve 7 schools and feed 460 children a week. In 2015, the Backpack Coalition achieved its first goal: every Title 1 elementary school in the Round Rock ISD now has a weekend food program in place serving 21 schools. It has now expanded its reach to Middle Schools.
By Kathy’s side in this effort was her daughter Claire who helped in any way she could to make this dream happen. While Kathy is busy securing grants, Claire is the operations person making sure everything is running smoothly. With her “get it done” approach to any solution to a problem, she has been invaluable to both her Mom and the Backpack Coalition. And while Kathy and Claire will both tell you that the Coalition’s success is not the result of any one person – that the outpouring of love and support from the community has blessed their mission with growth, guidance, and resources, it is clear to us that the Backpack Coalition would still be a dream without Kathy Ford and Claire Ford-Elder. And our children – and community – have an immensely brighter future because of their efforts.
2015: Innovation in Philanthropy Award: Avery Family – Beth & Charles Avery, Judy & John Avery, Micki & Nelson Avery, Christina & Doug Fell
This is a 6th generation Williamson County family that from the very beginning has exemplified public service and good stewardship in this community. It is a family that has produced Texas’ first Highway Commissioner as well as a Texas Supreme Court Justice. It is a family that has always been focused on the greater good – generation after generation – and it is their vision and hard work that has made some of the best things Round Rock has to offer become realities. The results of which have literally benefited the lives of thousands of people already and will leave a legacy that benefits the lives of thousands more to come.
By trade, they could be described as a banker, a lawyer, a physician, and a teacher. But those titles do not accurately describe the common thread that weaves these siblings together. Whatever their careers, they have each been motivated by the desire to help…to take something and make it better – whether it be a person or a community. And in keeping with the family tradition, they each married a like-minded partner who in their own right has contributed greatly.
Beth and Charles Avery’s lives have been rooted in ministry. Their deep faith has been their calling and has led them to serve in many faith-based missions from supporting international citizens with a variety of resources to help them achieve their goal of U.S. citizenship to providing counseling to individuals in need.
Judy and John Avery have defined philanthropy both in Austin and Round Rock for decades and were instrumental in making the Ronald McDonald House what it is today. They were also founding members of Round Rock’s Friends of Higher Education and some of the biggest supporters of Wonders & Worries, the Junior League and the University of Texas academics.
Nelson Avery is a renowned physician who is now a professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine in Round Rock. He also sits on the Board of St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, the Chisholm Trail Communities Foundation and the Board of Visitors for Southwestern University. His wife Micki has long dedicated her time and talent to supporting the arts and is a Board Member of Georgetown Art Works. In addition, she actively supports African Children’s Haven and Seeds of Strength.
Christina has dedicated her entire adult life to education as a gifted teacher to at-risk students. Her husband Doug serves on the Economic Development Council of Hutto, the Williamson County Conservation Foundation and supports the Hutto YMCA.
It goes without saying that all of that should be enough – achievements that have served to benefit so many. But that is not the end of their story.
Led by Charles and John’s vision and business savvy, the family chose to donate their land for the benefit of others and orchestrate the future of Round Rock. There is a famous quote that reads: “Good donors don’t give to institutions. They invest in ideas and people in whom they believe.” The Averys are good donors and because of their investment, Round Rock now has Seton Williamson Medical Center, Texas State University and Nursing School, ACC and Texas A&M Health and Science Center. Hutto has Texas State Technical College and Temple College and the city and county has public easements for badly needed roads. In fact, the family’s collaboration with Williamson County and the City of Round Rock has set new benchmarks for what can be accomplished when private and government sectors work together to make good things happen for a community.
2014 Philanthropy Award: R.O.C.K. (Ride on Center for Kids) CEO – Nancy Krenek
Nancy is the founder of R.O.C.K. and is one of approximately 50 Hippotherapy Clinical Specialists in the nation. Her background in physical therapy includes orthopedics, pediatrics, home health, public schools, and neurology. The guiding force for R.O.C.K., Nancy has been providing therapeutic riding and hippotherapy since 1998.
2014 Innovation in Philanthropy Award: Dr. Kent Macaulay
He personifies the saying, “smile and the world smiles with you.” A native Texan who graduated from the Baylor College of Dentistry in 1974, Dr. Kent Macaulay has enjoyed a very successful career as a highly regarded dentist in Central Texas. An Army veteran, he established his first private dental practice in Round Rock and today has an active practice in Georgetown. In the years in between, he was named a Fellow in both the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists. In 2007, he was nominated by the Texas Academy of General Dentists for Dentist of the Year in recognition of his service, leadership and integrity. Most people could retire happily on those credentials, but Kent Macaulay is a public servant first, a dentist second.
Kent has dedicated his life to community service and has earned tremendous respect from his colleagues and friends because of it. Among his many accomplishments:
• He was one of the founding members of the Round Rock SERTOMA Club and remains active with the club today.
• He is a founding Board Member of the Capital Area Dental Foundation – an invaluable organization that provides dental care to Central Texans in need – and has been Chairman of the Access Committee since its inception. The foundation works closely with St. Vincent DePaul, the St. David’s Foundation and the HAMM program serving Austin musicians
• He has been one of the bedrock providers of care through Donated Dental Services known as DDS.
• He also serves on the Board of the Breast Cancer Resource Center Foundation and has helped raise funds for Hope Alliance and the Central Texas Blood and Tissue Center’s Leukemia Golf Tournament.
• Kent can also be seen year after year on Thanksgiving carving turkeys at a church kitchen for the underserved in Round Rock. And while he will be remembered for his selfless service to these causes, he is especially recognized tonight for his service to the Texas Mission of Mercy through the TDA Smiles Foundation. Currently, the Dental Chair for the Williamson County Texas Mission of Mercy, Kent oversees this much-needed program that provides dental care to the underinsured in 5 counties. If you have volunteered at one of these events, you know the amazing work that is done.
Since 2001, Kent has traveled at his own expense to triage patients. He has worked tirelessly to provide necessary dental treatment to more than 100,000 people across Texas who otherwise would not receive it. The program has been life-saving for some and has restored confidence and self-esteem for so many others.
2013 Philanthropy Award: Mr. Ron Hagood
Ron Hagood is a fourth generation native son of Round Rock. Ron has focused his time, treasure and talent on his hometown his whole life and has never missed an opportunity to give where he can whether it be straight from his checkbook or donating services to a non-profit in need. Over the last 30 years, he has tirelessly spearheaded fund raising efforts for great causes that have touched every Round Rock resident in some way and continues his good work to this day. Ron is a Texas Aggie with a Master’s degree from Pepperdine, and the word “service” can describe his life from the very beginning. First, he served his country as an Air Force pilot followed by service to his community once he returned home. Despite a growing business and a busy family, he joined the Sertoma Club in 1983 and since that time has been a fixture in Round Rock as both a civic leader and public servant with a very big heart. Serving where he can – whether it be on the board of a non-profit or civic organization or reaching out personally to someone in need – he has always believed in taking care of each other and being part of the solution – rather than the problem.
2013 Innovation in Philanthropy Award: Will Williams
Will Williams, a First Sergeant in the U.S. Army, has served our country for over 20 years before retiring in Round Rock in 1996. Since that time, Will has been nothing short of a miracle worker who has had a profound effect on Round Rock Sertoma, Heroes Night Out, Water to Africa, Relay for Life, Agape, Special Olympics, UT Speech and Hearing Center, Blue Santa and Brown Santa, Just Because, Play for All Abilities Park, Project Care Case, Hope Alliance, Texas School for the Deaf and Faith in Action Caregivers. And that’s not even a complete list. After joining Sertoma, one of the first things Will did was to adopt an Army battalion through the club and his neighborhood association and provide supplies over a two year period to Afghanistan – resulting in over 5,000 pounds of toiletries which allowed the battalion to operate a free issue store supporting more than a 1,000 soldiers. Will himself traveled to Afghanistan to help set up the store.
Will signed on as co-chair of the Sertoma Rubber Duck Race and transformed it into the club’s top fundraising event raising more than $100,000 so far for Dell Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and other local community causes. In addition, he stepped in as leader of the Round Rock 4th of July parade when it looked as if the city would lose one of its favorite traditions and in doing so, tripled the size of the parade. His leadership rightly earned him Sertoman of the Year for 2013 as well as numerous other civic and leadership awards.
Will also arranged for Home Depot and Sertoma to come together to repair homes for Round Rock residents in need. In the last 3 years, Home Depot has donated $150,000 and Will has led volunteers to renovate 12 homes. Heroes Night Out, an organization very important to Will assists veterans with physical and mental injuries to readapt to civilian life. Actively involved in the organization from the beginning, Will saw a need here in Round Rock and has been instrumental in connecting veterans with community activities – providing them with the opportunity to get involved and at the same time benefiting the community in ways that heal and touch lives.
The impact of bringing Fort Hood vets to the Play for All Abilities Park with their Hummers or to the Texas School for the Deaf to meet with the students and share their ability to overcome adversity has been empowering to all involved. To encourage hearing-impaired children to learn how to interface with society and understand that no goal is too high, Will recruited 20 pilots to offer free rides to the children. The pilots provided the plane, fuel and their time to take each child for a ride and give them the opportunity to fly the plane themselves. He also sponsored through Sertoma a trip for 2 busloads of hearing-impaired high school students to Fort Hood to tour the post and see the Apache attack helicopters…as a grand finale, Will parachuted down to land in the middle of the kids.
2012 Philanthropy Award: Chaz Glace
Chaz Glace is a non-discriminatory giver with the one goal of making this community and its residents the best that they can be. His overall generosity is beyond remarkable, but it doesn’t stop with his checkbook. He has invested just as much in this community with his time and talent serving on boards and guiding the growth of many non-profits including the YMCA of Greater Williamson County which bears his business name due to the enormous impact he has made on the center from its beginning. His donations and in-kind contributions have helped the YMCA grow from serving 25,000 people to over 800,000 and he and his family’s efforts continue. And the Round Rock Serving Center whose new building was constructed thanks to the efforts he made to drastically reduce costs, the Play for All Abilities Park which could not have been finished without his generosity and the list goes on: Families of Fallen Soldiers, Williamson County Crisis Center, Round Rock Blue Santa, Agape, Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts of America, Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center, Round Rock Police Olympics, Round Rock Sertoma…we just do not have enough time tonight to list all of the ways he has touched this community.
2012 Innovation in Philanthropy Award: Kenneth Seymore, Marge Tripp, Kris Whitfield, Rachel Birkhead, Jason Rammell and Joe Scurlock
This year, the award was given to a group of individuals who were instrumental in the vision, creation, and realization of the Play for All Abilities Park in Round Rock. The 2012 Innovation in Philanthropy Award was given to Kenneth Seymore, Marge Tripp, Kris Whitfield, Rachel Birkhead, Jason Rammell, and Joe Scurlock. Kenneth Seymore is a Round Rock resident and loving parent who just wanted his son, Dennis, to have a place to play despite his physical challenges. He cared enough to bring the idea of such a park to the City Council. Marge Tripp is a compassionate volunteer who worked on getting a grant that would help start the process and enthusiastically enlisted her friends to help. She then spent countless hours working with local physical therapists, educators and medical professionals to incorporate their expertise into the plan. It took the work of the architects to design the vision and establish the means for the building to begin. Kris Whitfield, Rachel Birkhead, Jason Rammell, and Joe Scurlock did this work and formed the planning committee that would tirelessly guide the project in both its construction and financing.
2011 Philanthropy Award: El Amistad of Round Rock
This is the first year the Community Foundation has honored an organization for Philanthropist of the Year and the award is long deserved…since 1968, this well respected non-profit civic club has given out more than $1,000,000 in scholarships to children of every ethnicity and background and raised countless dollars for the Round Rock community through efforts supporting education, community services, Veteran’s recognition, and Hispanic cultural awareness. And their fundraising efforts are no small task…everything from an annual street festival to their Scholarship Drive Golf Tournament. But they will tell you themselves that their work is a labor of love with a worthwhile result. This year alone, $150,000 in scholarships was presented at their annual banquet that has proven to be one of the most meaningful and inspiring events in Round Rock year after year. Every member of this organization works hard to fund programs dedicated to inspiring and promoting youth leadership and providing awareness of the good government can do. Nothing is better proof of their efforts than seeing the pride and sense of achievement on the faces of their scholarship recipients who in turn become our leaders of tomorrow. In the words of the Club’s own leaders: “We will continue to extend our hand of friendship to ensure every deserving student has an opportunity to realize his or her dreams. Anyone can go to the moon, but they can’t get there alone.”
2011 Innovation in Philanthropy Award: Liz Burton-Garcia, Sacred Heart Community Clinic
Liz Burton-Garcia could never have imagined her life now as Executive Director of a new non-profit. Just a short time ago she was a math teacher and cosmetics sales director busy raising her young family here in Round Rock. Always a strong Christian volunteer, it was after several international medical mission trips through her church that Liz was struck with an idea that would not let her go…what if she could be of help to those in need right here in Round Rock? How could she best serve those who live right in her own backyard? What happened next was God’s work…through her own selfless dedication and determination, Liz spread the word about her idea. She reached out to friends and solicited help from supportive community leaders and medical professionals…and in a mere 7 months achieved nothing short of a miracle: a free community health clinic serving the uninsured with quality healthcare right here in Round Rock. Sacred Heart Community Clinic is now a 2,000 square foot facility on the St. William Catholic Church campus with a committed staff of 190 physicians, nurses and volunteers serving 200 patients. It is the Clinic’s mission to continue the healing ministry of Jesus Christ for those with no health insurance within the Round Rock and surrounding community by promoting wellness and providing physical, emotional, and spiritual care with dignity. While that is the Clinic’s mission statement, it is also a mission that speaks directly to the heart of Liz Burton-Garcia. What she has done with her time and talent in the service of others is remarkable, and Round Rock is very lucky to have her as one of its own.
2010 Philanthropy Award: Buddy Crossley
In 2002 Buddy Crossley helped to start Agape, a resource center for girls facing an unplanned pregnancy. Buddy has worked tirelessly to support Agape’s mission to share the life-changing message of Jesus Christ by providing practical help and loving support to these women. Buddy is described as an honest unassuming humble servant eager to serve. He has served as President of Agape’s Board of Directors and has been named their “Philanthropist of the Year” every year as well. Buddy has donated countless dollars and thousands of hours of his time. He is known to get personally involved in projects by supervising construction, meeting with city officials or getting help for computer problems and is considered the “go to guy” for projects. Since Agape opened, every bottle of water, every snack for the volunteers, every roll of toilet paper, every supply has been provided by Buddy Crossley. Each week, he picks up a “Buddy list” and returns with every item on it at his own expense. Buddy and his wife Patsy also quietly care for a widow and her special needs adult daughter driving them to the grocery store and doctors appointments. Buddy has been described as a servant of servants. His giving truly comes from his heart.
2010 Innovation in Philanthropy Award: Mike Swayze
Mike Swayze doesn’t appear at first glance to be much of a dreamer. As a hard-working CPA with his own accounting firm, it is easy enough to see that he is a good businessman and a conservative and solid community leader who is excellent with figures and is fiscally responsible. He has dutifully supported and given of his time to many Round Rock organizations and causes including Rotary Club and the Williamson County YMCA. He has served on numerous boards and attended countless meetings working to help others and improve our community. Over the years, he just seemed too busy to dream – but a dreamer he was. Some 15 years ago, Mike Swayze envisioned higher education in Round Rock. Mike wanted Williamson County residents to be able to educate themselves and work in the very communities where they lived. When he first spoke of his dream, he was doubted. When he spoke of multiple higher education institutions in Williamson County, some even laughed. The noise we hear now is not that of laughter but that of applause.
He was a visionary beyond logic and proved that he is a force to be reckoned with who never gives up. The local legends of Round Rock who had spent years raising money for a myriad of local projects couldn’t and didn’t envision money from The State of Texas. Mike did. He formed the Higher Education Committee, asked community leaders to come together and combine forces. He brought speakers from numerous institutions to the group and worked tirelessly on problem-solving. Slowly but surely the dreams started to look like possible realities. When the time came to visit the Legislature and make appeals on behalf of the future of our children, Mike had just about everyone convinced that dreams can come true. Today one only has to drive to North East Round Rock to behold an educational complex beyond imagination. Buildings are up, teachers are teaching and students are learning. The availability of higher education has put Round Rock on the map in a way that no one would have thought possible. No one that is, but Mike Swayze.
2009 Philanthropy Award: Bernadette and Dutch Kellerman
Through their generosity, Dutch and Bernadette Kellerman have significantly supported many local causes in Round Rock over the years including the YMCA of Williamson County, Seton Williamson, Capital IDEA, Round Rock ISD and Hope Alliance but have been most passionate in their support of the Catholic Diocese. The Kellermans were especially instrumental in the building of a new sacristy for the St. William Parish in Round Rock, the building of Holy Family Catholic School and of St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School. Together, the church and schools provide a spiritual and educational base for over 500 students and 4,000 families. Dutch and Bernadette have also been an integral part of the Round Rock Circle of Friends supporting the Children’s Medical Center Foundation since it began in 1996. Over the years, Dutch and Bernadette have also been very strong supporters of the Annunciation Maternity Home. After Dutch took a tour of the school facilities at Annunciation Maternity Home, he turned to their Director and said, “We have to move these students into the 21st Century learning environment.” He not only completed all the paperwork to apply for a grant from IBM to provide computers for the students but also personally wrote a check to provide the match necessary to receive the grant. Dutch’s dedication to others is even more remarkable given the fact that he gave up playing golf every day even with a 10 Handicap!
2009 Innovation in Philanthropy Award: Changemakers and Wells Fargo
ChangeMakers engages youth in active philanthropy – through studying community needs, prioritizing a focus issue and investing charitable dollars. The Greater Round Rock Community Foundation Board of Governors commends the ChangeMakers because we believe that communities benefit when their youth gain leadership skills and understand what philanthropy is all about at an early age. Last year, the fifty-plus members of ChangeMakers from Round Rock area high schools logged over 500 hours learning about needs in the community and determining how they would invest their charitable dollars. They also completed two community service projects, offering their time and energies to those in need. None of this would have been possible without Wells Fargo who truly went out on a limb in making this grant to the ChangeMakers. They offered their support to a brand new idea, one that had no track record, but which they felt would be an asset to the community. Hollis Bone championed the project and we want to thank him and Don Kendrick as well for their support. Thank you, ChangeMakers for your service to our community and thank you, Wells Fargo, for making the program possible.
2008 Philanthropy Award: Deanna and Carl Miller
Deanna and Carl Miller supported children when they made a donation to the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center to help them build their new location…and they have actively served children through the Round Rock YMCA. Through their generous support of the annual Strong Kids Campaign, they helped provide numerous scholarship opportunities for after-school care. In addition, they were a leading contributor to the Make-A-Splash Campaign and provided the funds necessary to build the women’s – only fitness space: The Loft. They are active members of the Future Fund Giving Circle and have personally hosted several of their events. They are also strong supporters of the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation and the Agape Pregnancy Resource Center. They give their time, as well as their treasure. One is a member of Round Rock Rotary and serves on the YMCA’s Board of Directors and the other serves as the Membership Chair for the Chaparral Women’s Club.
2008 Innovation in Philanthropy Award: YMCA and City of Round Rock
The first Innovation in Philanthropy Award is being presented for only the second time. This award was given last year to the Round Rock Rotary Club for their Children of Fallen Soldiers Fund. The spirit of this award recognizes those in our community who strive to create new and innovative ways of making a difference. This year, the award is shared based on a collaborative effort to achieve something worthwhile for our community that could not have been done alone. The Foundation is pleased to recognize both the City of Round Rock and the YMCA of Greater Williamson County for their vision in seeing the need for a competitive indoor swimming venue and for their insight in knowing that a partnership was necessary to make it happen. The Foundation presents this award to Jeff Andresen, Mayor McGraw, and Jim Nuse. This collaboration has made possible a new 16,000 square foot aquatics complex at the Round Rock Family YMCA. The aquatics complex has an 8-Lane lap pool perfect for swim meets and teams to practice, as well as a lazy river and giant slide. The aquatics center will be open to members as well as non-members and will provide expanded recreational and instructional opportunities for the entire community. It will also allow city events – such as the Games of Texas – to be held on site. Together, the YMCA and the City of Round Rock will provide the entire Round Rock community with its only year-round indoor aquatics facility by Mid-December 2008. The Foundation would like to commend both the City of Round Rock and the YMCA of Greater Williamson County for their creative collaboration by awarding them this year’s Innovation in Philanthropy Award.
2007 Philanthropy Award: Bunky Whitlow
A life long banker, Bunky was known as “the poor man’s banker” – defining philanthropy in Round Rock by helping countless get started who needed a hand up – often times making personal loans himself to help those in need without expecting return payment. He also strived to preserve the history of Round Rock while embracing the new. His lifetime work with the Old Settlers Association helped restore buildings and established Old Settlers Park and in recent years he helped bring Capital Idea to Williamson County which has helped enrich the lives of so many residents living in poverty. Few people in life have touched so many. Few have given so much and a very few loved the Round Rock community more.
2007 Innovation in Philanthropy Award: Round Rock Rotary Club
Round Rock Rotary has been giving to Round Rock for more than 30 years in a myriad of projects benefiting our city and they have innovatively initiated the new Children of Fallen Soldiers Project raising funds to provide children of fallen veterans with the opportunity to one day attend college. This group has collectively challenged themselves to do more, go one step further and embrace the unknown, on top of all their current work.
2006 Philanthropy Award: The Henna Family
Much of what makes Round Rock such a great place to live and raise our families comes from individuals who chose philanthropy as a way to make good things happen for the community as a whole. We the distinct honor of awarding the first ever Greater Round Rock Community Foundation Philanthropy Award to a family whose impact on our community has been extraordinarily significant. Through their many gifts, they have left a legacy that will continue to give for many more generations to come. Let me tell you their story… In the 1940′s, the options for orphaned children or children living in troubled homes were limited. Many of them in this area lived in the nearby Lutheran Children’s Home. A little boy by the name of Louis Henna, Jr. began inviting some of the children over to his home to play in his yard.
The seeds were planted then for what was to come because when the Lutheran Home could no longer provide shelter for children, Billie Sue Henna, who by then was clearly attached to the children, told her husband that they would need to “build a children’s home to keep her from adopting all of them.” The dream the Henna Family shared was not a home where children led institutionalized lives, but where children could lead more normal lives growing up in cottages with house parents and attending public schools. Louis and Billie Sue Henna traveled the country visiting homes. Realizing that their dream would require ongoing resources, the Hennas approached the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
On September 5, 1950, Louis and Billie Sue Henna’s original gift of 112 acres of land and 5 buildings were deeded to the Baptist General Convention of Texas and what we now know as the Texas Baptist Children’s Home became a reality and home to 60 children. With the Henna Family’s loving support, the Texas Baptist Children’s Home thrived. In 1955, Mr. & Mrs. Henna purchased an additional 2 and 1/2 acres of land on North Mays across from the campus and built an elementary school to offset the property taxes due to the admission of the TBCH students. The land and buildings were then donated by the Hennas to TBCH and provided at no cost to the Round Rock ISD for 20 years as a school and 10 years as a tax office.
The building has since provided space for beginning services of the YMCA, offices for the Literacy Council, United Way, and the Child & Family Services Agency. It now houses the STARRY program. In 1989, Miracle Farm, a 325-acre ranch program was added for teenage boys. Today, the Texas Baptist Children’s Home has grown to 40 buildings and the land originally valued at $200,000 is now worth $25 million. In the 55 years since it was begun, more than 20,000 children and their families have been served in residential and non-residential programs. This legacy will continue to reach thousands of children and families in crisis for many, many years to come.