Reconnecting with Nonprofits in the Coastal Bend - The Bend Magazine

Reconnecting with Nonprofits in the Coastal Bend

Eight local nonprofits share their organization’s updates since first being featured in The Bend

The Coastal Bend Fairy Godmothers | Photo by Lillian Reitz

Since its founding, The Bend has felt passionate about spotlighting local organizations and nonprofits in the Coastal Bend focused on helping those in our community. Even before the “Giving Back” section was a regular part of the magazine, showcasing philanthropic endeavors throughout these pages was always, and still is, a major part of our ethos. As “Giving Back” became a recurring section in 2016, we consistently had the pleasure of deep-diving into some of the organizations making waves in the community. For this anniversary issue, look back at where some of these causes were when we first met them and what they have been up to since we last shared their story.

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities South Texas (RMHCSTX) is “Keeping children near the care they need so families can get better together.” RMHCSTX is part of a brand of global charities that provides families of seriously ill or injured children a place to stay at little to no cost. What truly makes RMHCSTX special is that it creates a home-like environment so each family feels supported while undergoing major medical experiences, with the hope that providing basic needs like shelter and food will alleviate some stress. The House provides 25 private guest rooms, a communal kitchen, a living area, laundry services, a family pantry and home-cooked meals provided by its Share-A-Meal program. 

Ronald McDonald House

Since its first feature in 2015, one of its new and notable programs is called “Pantry Partners.” The Partners adopt a month ($2,500) to provide the House food and wishlist items for 25 families. This program allows families to have healthy grab-and-go options while they’re running to and from medical appointments. Pantry Partners, like all RMHCSTX programs, helps families focus on what really matters: helping their sick child heal.

Planting seeds of faith, love and hope for cures one smile at a time is the guiding principle of Brooke’s Blossoming Hope for Childhood Cancer. For Jessica Hester, spreading messages of hope after the death of her daughter became her driving force in starting a childhood cancer foundation. Since the foundation’s story was published in 2015, Brooke’s Blossoming Hope for Childhood Cancer has helped children across 50 countries. Its global impact continues to grow as its members strive to help every single child battling this disease.

At the Purple Door, previously the Women’s Shelter of South Texas, welfare and protection for all family members in need are of utmost significance. And while people may think the organization is just for women, the agency serves everyone. When we last met with the nonprofit in 2016, it had served 2,830 women, men and children across a 12-county area of South Texas who had been victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. Since then, the shelter has rebranded under the name Purple Door. As a part of building awareness and increasing funding opportunities, the Purple Door recently opened Purple Door Resale, where community members can donate items. All proceeds benefit The Purple Door’s mission to empower those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault to move to a safe and healthy environment.

Special Hearts in the Arts

Paws and Claws is a local non-profit providing a better life for Coastal Bend dogs and cats. An auxiliary for the Gulf Coast Humane Society, Paws and Claws shares the mission to provide the best care possible for all the animals under its roof. Since 1945, it has worked to promote responsible pet parenting and the humane treatment of animals. Over the years, Paws and Claws of the Coastal Bend has “continued supporting and celebrating local grassroots rescue organizations through the annual Fur Ball event,” said Caitlin Shook, a volunteer for the organization. “Since [the first article in] 2017, we’ve raised over $400,000 of desperately needed funds for spay and neutering campaigns, fostering, pet adoption and transport of neglected and abused animals of the Coastal Bend.” 

Special Hearts in the Arts is a nonprofit organization that promotes art, music, dance and theater for people with special needs. It is a place where individuals with special needs explore fine arts through classes led by trained professionals, culminating in live performances for the community. The organization’s leader, Sherri Davis, described the overwhelming desire for a program like this back in 2018 when we first shared its story. “We didn’t realize how much of a need it was,” she said. Davis wanted to create this program because of her love for her then-42-year-old nephew with Down Syndrome. The program has since grown from 17 participants to 60. A new program launching this spring, “Special Hearts Remarkables,” will feature superheroes who perform skits for hospitals, nursing homes and schools. 

The Traveling Library

Read, lead and succeed is the mantra of The Traveling Library. This organization hopes to instill a love of reading and foster growth for success in the Coastal Bend while increasing literacy. Since its October 2021 story, The Traveling Library has grown in size and influence. Founder Abigail Trevino has secured community partnerships with groups such as Esperanza de Tejas, Harte Research Institute and the Port of Corpus Christi to further spread her mission to bring literature to underserved populations in our community. The Traveling Library now has 2,000 books and a 16-foot mobile library that continues to combat illiteracy in middle to upper-grade area students.

100 Women of the Coastal Bend has been slowly growing since its beginning in 2022. Intending to cultivate 100 members to donate $100 every quarter and award local charities $10,000 four times a year, founders Kristen Collins and Lauren Mims created a sisterhood that now has a 200+ member waitlist. “We want to continue having a larger impact,” Collins said. “But we want to continue to grow slowly so we can find the space to do so.” Currently, the group has 150 members and has awarded over $127,000* to eight charities in the past two years. *Figure includes matching grant funds.

Coastal Bend Fairy Godmothers made its mark on the community through a shared experience of not being able to attend formal events due to financial reasons. Dedicated to providing free prom dress, menswear and accessory loans to school-aged individuals, Teresa Hunter and Kacie Stanford, the women behind the nonprofit, have made it their mission to help students live out their formal dance dreams. After being featured just one year ago, the Coastal Bend Fairy Godmothers have been hard at work making dreams come true for a new class of students hoping to attend prom this spring.