The Independence Village
Located in Texas City, Texas, The Independence Village offers assisted living in a family setting to
adults with either mild mental retardation or mental 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
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 of handicapped and retarded
persons. 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 Handicapped and Retarded
Association, Inc. (HRA). 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 HRA 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
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 mental 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 HRA 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 HRA Village life: residents
began giving back to the community on a regular basis. HRA 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. HRA belongs to four Chambers of Commerce.
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
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 of
activities that foster the highest possible quality of life and community involvement makes HRA
In 2001, the Board redefined the acronym HRA to better reflect our mission and philosophy.
Today, HRA is known throughout the community as "Helping Residents Achieve".
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