Healthy Real County

The H. E. Butt Family Foundation is the largest private employer in Leakey, Texas—a small town in Real County, Texas—just down Highway 83 from the Canyon and even closer to our hearts. The town and its outlying areas have an aging population, higher-than-average poverty, and a high rate of unemployment. In order to help our neighbors thrive in their community, the Foundation has been exploring new, strategic ways to invest in Real County. Moving forward, we want to be even more strategic by listening to the community, understanding their dreams for the future, identifying their assets, and helping build local consensus and ownership around driving positive, lasting change.

While nurturing partnerships and working with local leaders, local emergency service providers, the Real County Library, healthcare providers, and other entities, the Foundation’s Healthy Real County initiative, under the leadership of Dana Williams, has been investing in three emerging areas of community development.

Collaborative Space

Real County has a need for collaborative space to develop leaders and provide community educational opportunities, as well as mental health services. We networked with investors in the county about viable spaces in Leakey for these purposes and decided to work with a local builder. We are partnering with Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Services to strategize ways to provide mental health services within the county, using this space. We served on a leadership team, Real County 2025, building a strategic document to guide the future of the county. In partnership with Texas A&M, we trained 14 community members of Real County to become leaders and trainers of the Texas Rural Leadership Program. The local program, now called Real County Visionaries, is working to develop county-owned space along the Nueces River for better public access, sustainable green space, and to provide a family-friendly atmosphere. We will continue to provide leadership training in this space.

In 2018, we will create a collaborative space, continue to support the Texas Rural Leadership Program, and work toward collaborative healthcare services outcomes.

Childhood Mentoring

Leakey youth have limited childhood mentorship opportunities, and we are researching two curriculum possibilities: Raising Highly Capable Kids and Parents as Teachers. We are working with a collaborative team of community members to identify a collective agenda the community can embrace to support local youth. The team is being led by HEBFF representative Dana Williams, Community Health Development, Inc. CEO and President Rachel Hanson-Gonzales, Methodist Healthcare Ministries Wesley Nurse Lesa Parry, and Texas A&M Family and Community Health Agent Molly Flores. In 2018, we will continue to engage with this team and the broader working group including faith leaders, educators, policy influencers, veterans, doctors, and nurses to find ways to increase childhood mentorship opportunities.

Faith and the Arts

Communities with vibrant expressions of faith and arts can come alive. The Foundation has connected with a majority of the churches in Leakey and is providing opportunities for its faith leaders to attend Laity Lodge retreats. In early January, we hosted a free, countywide concert featuring longtime friends of the Lodge Buddy Greene and Jeffrey Taylor.

In 2018, we will identify other Laity Lodge artists to perform in Leakey, help more local faith-based leaders attend Laity Lodge retreats, and further explore innovative ways to partner with local resources.

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Expansive Mission: A Reflection from Deborah Rogers

Deborah Rogers, daughter of Howard Butt Jr., reflects on the mission of the Foundation over the past 70 years and beyond.