The Independence Village
Located in Texas City, Texas, The Independence Village offers assisted living in a family setting to adults
with developmental and/or physical disabilities. Our mission is to provide safe, affordable housing for
individuals with physical or mental challenges and to foster a healthy, happy home that not only
promotes community involvement but also supports independent lifestyles.
In 1982, Gladys Stephenson placed an ad in local newspapers, calling a meeting of those parents who
shared concern for the long-term care and residential needs for individuals with developmental and physical
disabilities. Sixteen parents of adult children with disabilities from Galveston County responded and later
that year formally organized as a non-profit entity under the name HRA Inc. (Helping Residents Achieve)
With an elected Board of Directors, willing to volunteer time and effort, this dedicated group was intent on
safeguarding their children's futures by building a local, affordable assisted living facility.
Membership, as well as support from citizens, businesses, churches and other charitable organizations
increased and HRA began to receive increasing news and media coverage. For the next several years HA
Inc. harnessed the energy of community volunteers, leaders and businesses, raising $250,000.
to build the first wing of HRA Village. In 1983, Former Galveston County resident, Mrs. Virginia Ball donated
a parcel of land. In 1989 a ground-breaking ceremony celebrated the beginning construction of HRA Village.
Under the enthusiastic leadership of Byron Holley, the "Building Because We Care" dream became reality.
In October of 1992, HRA Village officially welcomed its first three residents and the State licensing process
was completed in April of 1993. As a small, Type-A Personal Care Facility, HRA Village was licensed to
provide long-term care for twelve residents. Local merchants and craftsmen donated much of the
construction labor and materials. Architect and contractor Rolf Schuett, President of Professional
Construction, Inc. donated his time and his company to design and build the Village.
The original construction contained six resident suites, each with very generous accommodations for two
residents. Each suite was fully furnished and consisted of a sitting room, a bedroom, a bathroom and
ample closet space. The building also contained a common kitchen, laundry room, dining room and a
common sitting room and entrance foyer. Office space for administrator and for the 24 hour staff required to
operate the facility was also provided. In addition to these finished facilities, the shell of a second wing was
also included in the original construction project. This shell was walled off and remained unfinished and
vacant for the next 10 years.
In 1997, the Texas City's Chamber of Commerce invited HRA to participate as one of three entities
representing their city in its successful bid for the designation "All American City" . HRA Village
participation and support, including resident participation in the selection completion contributed
significantly to that success.
In the latter part of the 1990's, the Village fell into financial difficulty. To maintain liquidity, a portion of the
originally donated land fronting on State Highway 3 was sold. In 1998, the Board of Directors, led by Board
President J. L. Hill and with strong support from Texas City's Mayor Chuck T. Doyle and Mainland
Communities United Way Director Jack Erwin and with excellent press coverage and support averted short
term financial difficulties for HRA Village. The Board developed a series of new fund raising strategies. In
June 1999, the new Administrator, Linda Roten increased the Village occupancy from 7 residents to the
licensed capacity of 12 within a month of taking over the position. Not content to rest on that
accomplishment, on discovering that the square footage available per resident at HRA Village far exceeded
State guidelines, HRA petitioned the State to increase the maximum capacity of the Village to 14. A
revised State license was issued permitting 14 residents. This required placing three residents in some of
the suites, which, due to the oversized suites turned out to be not only feasible but also practical. With
new fund raising strategies and increased resident fees due to the doubling of the Village population, the
Village was again on a sound financial footing.
Our first annual Gala fund-raiser, held in February of 2001, drew 240 citizens, and raised $26,000 toward
finishing out the shell of the Village's second wing. The 2002 Gala raised $32,000 for the building project.
Board member Judy Slocumb provided the inspiration and leadership as well as a lot of hard work for these
successful fund raisers. Finishing the second wing became known as the Phase II project with the motto
"Build it, they will come". Through consistent, effective networking, a strong waiting list of applicants was
developed which justified grant applications for the expansion. Major grant awards from The Houston
Endowment and The Meadows Foundation provided much of the over $ 400,000 needed to complete the
Phase II project. Phase II ground breaking took place in September 2001 with a ceremony attended by
residents, staff, Board members and community leaders. Phase II was completed and dedicated in June of
2002 with a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony. The project was managed from beginning to end by
volunteer and Board Treasurer Mike Johnson. At the dedication ceremony, Board President Claire Donovan
read a proclamation creating the "Michael R. Johnson Excellence in Service and Leadership Award" and
presented the award to the first recipient, Mike Johnson. By the end of the summer of 2002, the new wing
was licensed by the State as a Type B Personal Care Facility and 14 new residents from the waiting list
had moved into HRA Village Phase II, doubling the Village population.
Phase II consists of six furnished resident suites that are essentially identical to Phase I suites. There is
also a large open central area used as a recreation room and for additional dining space. There is a desk
for the required Phase II 24-hour staff person as well as cabinet space for records and medications. The
room is attractively furnished with several round tables, each with four chairs, used for dining, table games,
or relaxed conversation, a piano, a pool table, and a large screen television with seating. Both Phase I and
Phase II have central fire alarm systems. Phase II is also protected by a sprinkler system.
HRA Village grew from an idea to succeed and prosper because of the dedication of its Board, volunteers,
and staff and because of broad and meaningful community support and commitment. Local industries and
businesses, their employee and volunteers, as well as community service organizations have provided
outstanding support to HRA, contributing to the success of the Village through fund raising events,
organizing maintenance work days, and by organizing outings and parties at the Village for the residents.
These assets point to a bright future for HRA.
Our mission is to provide safe, affordable housing for individuals with physical or developmental challenges
and to foster a healthy, happy home that not only promotes community involvement but also supports
independent lifestyles. Residents are adults, citizens, and members of the community in addition to being
physically or mentally challenged. They differ from you and me in that they face greater challenges.
Residents work either in the private sector or sheltered workshops, participate in day programs, volunteer in
the area, or attend college. Physically healthy and functioning at a comparatively high level, these persons
are ineligible for publicly funded assisted housing, however their limitations preclude their living without
assistance and significantly limit their earning potential. Almost all cannot drive.
"Community" is a defining, unifying, and recurring theme for The Independence Village. HRA Inc. built the
Village not only to provide shelter for this population but also to promote their participation as citizens. A
new philosophy was implemented and became a part of The Independence Village life: residents began
giving back to the community on a regular basis. Village residents became truly "citizens" and came to be
recognized as such by the community. To that end, Village residents, staff, and volunteers attend local
churches and functions, make presentations to schools and mental health providers, run concession
stands at Chamber of Commerce events, bowl in a league, attend dances and sporting events, play
challenged baseball, and volunteer at the library. Annually, residents and staff participate in such
community service activities as the Cancer Walk, Muscular Dystrophy drive, Heart Walk, Little League
carnival, fund raisers for underprivileged children, health fairs, and school supply drives. One resident has
volunteered over 2000 hours at the Mainland Hospital. Independence Village belongs to four Chambers of
Networking with other community entities is a key element in the success of the Village. Graduate
students in the College of Education at the University of Houston-Clear Lake participate in a semester-long
Special Education program with Village residents. An Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy student,
recipient of the Robert Bing Scholarship at the University of Texas Medical Branch, chose the Village to
conduct her five-month practicum. In its fourth year, UTMB's School of Nursing includes experience at the
Village as a regular component of their curriculum. These students enrich the lives of our residents in many
ways while enriching their own educational experience.
Years ago, when HRA Village was little more than a vision, its founders aspired to provide an exceptional
quality of life for persons with physical and mental challenges. Today, in addition to having a superior home,
Village residents embrace life beyond our doors. Our promotion f activities that foster the highest possible
quality of life and community involvement makes The Independence Village unique.
Today, HRA is known throughout the community as "The Independence Village"
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