Hummingbirds, sounds of nature, the peace of a walk outside. Guests at Reba’s Ranch House find places and moments that help them relax during their trying situations. Enjoying the outdoor areas at the house is also a way for Director Marilyn Bice to clear her mind and boost her creative thoughts as she pursues making Reba’s Ranch House a caregiver of the caregiver.
“While working at Austin College, I began working with Michelle Lemming at Texoma Health Foundation, using her expertise in the medical and foundation realm to help some of our Leadership students find the perfect spot for their internship needs,” Marilyn says of the Texoma Health Foundation CEO. “I knew Michelle was a force in these fields and she could really extend the student’s internship experience. We also organized a health fair and I learned how deeply involved the foundation, who also owned Reba’s Ranch House, was in the service world.
Retired, but not really
“After 25 years at Austin College, working in several departments including the Posey Leadership Institute, and Model United Nation Programs, I retired. Four months after retiring I heard the director’s position at Reba’s Ranch House was open. I loved their mission and the opportunity was perfect for my desire to be more involved with helping others, so I applied.”
With Reba’s Ranch House open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Marilyn’s list of tasks is never lacking. She manages three full-time employees, several interns, numerous volunteers — and folds laundry.
A fully functioning home
“Everything that goes on in your home, goes on here,” she says. “It takes the same amount of effort to keep it all rolling and ready for our guests to meet the next day.”
This creates a home-like atmosphere for guests who sometimes stay for extended periods. They may have a newborn baby in the NICU or are staying close to the side of their terminally ill loved one.
A perpetual need for volunteers
“We try to run a holistic house so that everyone has what they need,” Marilyn says. “Volunteers are very helpful. We need volunteers to sit at the front desk and register people, take care of checking them in and out, and doing tours. We would love to have a volunteer come every other morning and sweep off the sidewalks and make sure the patios look inviting. We need volunteers to just come be there when a guest needs someone to talk to, or if they want to be prayed with.”
This year alone, the house has served people in crisis from four countries and 44 states, hosting an average of 950 guests per year.
“For some of them, it is a total respite from every little bit of responsibility they have,” Marilyn says. “They can actually rest, whether in bed asleep, or sitting in the library reading in front of the fireplace, taking a walk outside, or watching TV in the kitchen — whatever they need to center themselves so they can go back and face the realities of everything going on in their loved one’s life.”