30th anniversary

Category Archives: News

  1. Watching Her Husband’s Hospital Window from Reba’s Ranch House

    She could see the window of her husband’s hospital room

    From her room at Reba’s Ranch House, Angela Farmer could see the window of her husband’s hospital room. Despite them both being in isolation because of the COVID-19 quarantine, she could stay connected with Alan, her husband of 16 years, through the closeness of Reba’s Ranch House. Even from another building, Angela watched over her husband, able to see his room that held him safe.

    The ranch house has remained in continual operation, 24×7, 365 days of the year, since its opening in 1992. Round the clock, round the year, and through a major global crisis, caregivers still need a comfortable place to stay and loving care while they watch over their loved ones.

    Connected by video chat

    After pneumonia, contracting the flu, and experiencing severe low oxygen, Alan remained in isolation at the hospital. It was a long, long two weeks for them.
    But through the power of technology, Angela was able to video chat with him. He reacted by blinking his eyes and moving his head. Angela knew he recognized her voice.

    Prayers from Peru

    “Everybody has been praying,” Angela said. “I have a big crew of people praying for him. I have family praying in Peru, I had three groups on my phone and messenger. Prayer is the best weapon you can have for anything. If things turn out bad, God knows why and then gives you strength to keep going. I’m a living witness of how the Lord acts.”

    Angela met her husband years ago through the Internet. She came from Peru to marry him.

    “Before I met Alan, I prayed for him,” she said. “I prayed for the Lord to give me somebody that would love me, and He brought me Alan. Now we have this test, and the Lord is still with us.”

    It was during a recent time of Angela’s family visiting from Peru that Alan experienced a turn in his health. They were all traveling in Oklahoma when the discomfort in his chest began.

    A series of procedures, expert care at the hospital, and the love of his wife stabilized Alan and put him on the road to recovery.

    “If I had been in Corsicana [instead of staying at Reba’s Ranch House], I don’t think my husband would have made it,” Angela said. With the ranch house remaining open, she had a stable place to stay as things around her, and the world, changed.

    Giving Back

    After an extended stay at Reba’s Ranch House, an essential service that remains open through the COVID-19 crisis to take in caregivers, Angela returned to Corsicana, Texas, while her husband finishes therapy and prepares for release. She works at a candy company and plans to bring a batch of chocolates to everyone who helped during their trying circumstances.

    “All the staff in this house and in the hospital, they’re the best,” Angela said. “They treated me like one more member of the family, and I appreciate everybody. I couldn’t have been in a better place. People need to help places like this. When all this is over, I’m going to start donating [to Reba’s Ranch House] because it could help another person like me.”

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  2. Mothers Stay Close to Their High-Risk Babies

    Separating mother and baby can cause trauma

    When a mother is told she’s being discharged from the hospital before her newborn baby, fear sets in. How will she bond with her baby if she lives an hour away? How can she afford to stay in a hotel for potentially months until her baby is ready to come home?

    Mothers of high-risk babies face this situation at Texoma Medical Center in the new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). But the NICU partners with Reba’s Ranch House to sit down with a family and explain the option of staying at the ranch house within sight of the hospital.

    “They need a place to stay so they can be close to their sweet little baby,” says Angela Yancey (MSN, BSN, RNC-OB). She is the Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Texoma Medical Center. Her role covers the NICU, the newborn nursery, labor and delivery, postpartum, and pediatrics.

    A special time for bonding

    “It’s super important for a mom to spend time with her preterm baby while it’s in the NICU,” Angela says. “It really promotes bonding, breastfeeding specifically. Even if the baby is too small to latch on the mom, it’s very important for a mom to be at the bedside. Studies have shown that a mom who pumps while even looking at her baby is able to produce more breast milk.”

    Sometimes, mothers pump in the privacy of their room at Reba’s Ranch House. There is a special refrigerator at the house to safely store the milk until feeding time. As the only NICU in the area, they have an agreement with surrounding facilities.

    “We’re excited to offer the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to North Texas,” Angela says. “We are the closest Level II NICU within an hour and a half north and 45 minutes south. If a baby is delivered at any facility in the surrounding area, they can come here. We have that same arrangement with OU. If they have a transfer that can come to us, maybe because the family lives in Durant, Oklahoma, they will bring that baby to us.”

    This allows the mother and a support person to stay at Reba’s Ranch House until her baby is discharged. According to Tracy Anderson, who is over Transports at OU, Reba McEntire donated funds to OU to set up a staff chair for the NICU department. She was pleased with the connection for the babies.

    “Having a baby in the NICU is a period of great stress for families and mothers, so it’s really nice that Reba’s Ranch House can alleviate one of the stresses,” Angela says. “I’ve had patients literally start crying when we told them there was the option of Reba’s Ranch House. Some of our moms live an hour away and would have to commute otherwise. This is already such a traumatic time for them. We try to do everything ourselves, setting it up so they just have to go across the parking lot and be able to come right back to their baby.”

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  3. A Place to Put Your Feet Up

    Sitting in a hospital waiting room chair for hours and hours. Legs dangling. Blood circulation cut off. This takes a heavy toll on a caregiver’s body, as was happening to Elisabeth Pacheco and her nieces.

    “You don’t realize the impact that has on your body to not lay down or put your feet up,” Elisabeth says.

    Brain surgery puts strain on family members

    After her sister, Beverly, underwent emergency brain surgery at the hospital, a new phase for the family began. It happened at high speed, yet the hours themselves went by slowly, day by day. Elisabeth, her adult nieces, and their friend stayed the night at a hotel across the highway from the hospital, but it wasn’t something they could afford to continue for an extended period. Driving the hour home and back again every day wasn’t an option, either. Elisabeth tried twice and had no idea how she made it home.

    “You don’t realize the stress of what is happening and what a toll that is taking on you emotionally,” she says.

    Reba’s Ranch House allows the family to stay near

    After learning about Reba’s Ranch House, completing background checks, and getting a room, the family entered a peaceful, home-like atmosphere. With the ranch house just across the parking lot from their hospital, the family was able to easily change shifts with one another in the waiting room or in the room with Beverly. None of them wanted to leave her alone.

    “It’s my sister, and I can’t imagine being away from her,” Elisabeth says.

    A nice meal makes all the difference

    After a few days at Reba’s Ranch House, she told staff member Jeri Carosella she was headed out to find something to eat. Jeri promptly said, “No, you’re not. You’re going to go into the kitchen and dish up your food and have some time to yourself.”

    “And I was like, ‘okay!’” Elisabeth recalls with a laugh. “It was the first meal I hadn’t had in the cafeteria in days.”

    Throughout their stay, Elisabeth, her nieces, and their friend ate meals provided by local churches. They were able to relax with their feet up on the bed instead of dangling in a waiting room chair.

    “I’m a general manager for a hotel,” Elisabeth says, “and I was so impressed with how Reba’s Ranch House is run. It reminds me of my hotel, where people are there and taking care of you. Immediately when you walk into the ranch house, there’s this calming that comes over you.”

    Back at home and coping

    Elisabeth’s sister is home now, though they have to adjust to new normals with her condition. But their stay at the ranch house gave them the place they needed to pull together as a family.

    “Having people who are loving on you and caring about what you’re going through, is just amazing to me,” Elisabeth says.

  4. Caregiver of the Caregivers

    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.”

  5. Bonded for Life

    Disconnected. That was how Pam Abasolo felt as she entered the hotel across the highway from her ill husband. Ken was admitted to the hospital near the end of July 2019. Pam and her adult girls, Erin and Hayli, stayed at a hotel across the highway, but given his condition, the hospital staff knew it wouldn’t be long. Once a room was available at Reba’s Ranch House, Pam met staff member Jeri Carosella, and knew they’d found a home to weather this storm.

    A room with a nautical theme

    They stayed in a room with a nautical theme that related to Lt. Kenneth Abasolo’s 22 years of service as a Navy Seal. Before that, he was decorated for his underwater demolition work in Vietnam. The room is sponsored by Mark and Kris McKinney in honor of Nancy McKinney who helped establish Reba’s Ranch House through her volunteer work.

    The ranch house reminded the girls of the early days of Pam and Ken’s 10 years of marriage when he would take them on weekend trips. The home-like atmosphere gave them permission to rest, knowing they were a very short distance from Ken if they got the call.

    An opportunity for bonding

    “To be able to go to the hospital room and then come back to Reba’s Ranch House, just the three of us, added a layer of serenity and bonding to the situation we could not have had otherwise,” Pam says. “The hotel wasn’t the same; it’s industrial, it doesn’t have that spirit of comfort and peace over it.”

    As Pam and her girls endured weeks of angst and turmoil, Jeri was there for them. She shared the story of her husband’s passing the previous year, and prayed for Pam whenever she needed it.

    “Jeri was so welcoming, so understanding of our position,” Pam says. “I love people, but there are certain ones that the moment you meet them, you know you’re going to stay in touch, that they are part of your life’s fabric.”

    Support when it was needed most

    When Ken passed at the hospital in mid-August, it was a heartbreaking time. But Pam and her girls were able to support one another.

    “Erin lives in Boise, Idaho, and for her to even be there with us in that beautiful environment and bond even over something like Ken’s death was an experience that couldn’t have been duplicated in a hotel room,” Pam says.

    Before leaving Reba’s Ranch House, Pam purchased three pottery mugs for them to remember the time they shared. It was especially meaningful when Pam learned the money went to support the Room for Hope at Reba’s Ranch House. She is a three-year breast cancer survivor.

    Pam and Jeri share a bond understood by those who have been through the trauma of losing their husband.

    “Jeri struck a chord with all of us,” Pam says. “Meeting her felt like a divine appointment, as did our stay at Reba’s Ranch House.”

  6. She Adjusted Her Sails

    “I’ll be back and marry you someday, Nancy.”

    That is what young Ben McKinney told teenage Nancy Foreman after they spent two summers in Canada with her teaching him how to sail. He was a teenager himself from Little Rock, Ark., who had taken trips to Canada with family friends. The father of the family told Ben that Nancy was the one to learn from when it came to sailing. She was a water baby, spending most of her time on lakes and oceans in sailboats, canoes, and powerboats.

    Ben did indeed marry that sailing girl on June 3, 1944. But their honeymoon was cut short with D-Day on June 6, and Ben was called to ship out. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and in the Korean War.

    Married for 68 years

    Over the course of their 68 years of marriage, Ben and Nancy had four children, including a son named Mark. Nancy developed a close relationship with a young girl in her neighborhood, Kristine (Kris) who became her dear friend — and daughter-in-law.

    “I have known Nancy all my life,” Kris says. “Mark and I married 20 years ago. His mom had fixed us up!”

    Founding members from 1987

    Nancy and Kris served together on the original development committee that raised money for the foundation that built Reba’s Ranch House of which Kris was the first chairman. They met Reba McEntire during the initial fundraising concert in 1987.

    “She was thanking us more than we could thank her,” Kris says. “She was so humble, she’s such a star and such a force. You could tell she had this big heart to help others. It cemented everything about what we were doing.”

    Ben passed in 2012, and in 2017, at 96 years old, Nancy’s health rapidly declined. Kris and Mark began thinking of ways to honor her life.

    “We decided doing something at the Ranch House where she had worked so hard was a fitting tribute,” Kris says. “She was a role model, always doing things for others, and never met a stranger. What better place for her legacy to be than somewhere that does the exact same thing.”

    Honoring Nancy in a unique room

    Nancy passed in December 2017, but her presence is still felt in Reba’s Ranch House. The room, with its nautical theme, showcases photos of Nancy and her family doing what she loved — sailing.

    “And when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”

    “When our grandkids come to visit us in Denison, they can see the legacy of their great-grandmother,” Kris says. “If you know something about the person beyond their headstone, it makes them come to life.”

    Nancy’s hard work continues to bless others. Pam Abasolo, a recent guest, endured the passing of her husband in the hospital in 2019. The nautical room gave Pam and her girls a place to weather one of the worst storms of their lives.

    Consider a sponsorship

    If you would like to consider sponsoring a room at Reba’s Ranch House, please reach out to director Marilyn Bice at 903-463-7322.

  7. FLITE Team Students Help Keep Reba’s Ranch House Running

    Students with Special Needs Learn Life Skills While Keeping Reba’s Ranch House in Shape

    Four summers ago, Angele Johnson sat at her computer and typed, “volunteer opportunities for Sherman Texas.” She was determined to find the right place for her students in the Grayson County Co-op Special Education service. They needed an outreach in the community that doubled as a chance to teach them life skills in the Grayson Co-Op FLITE Team program – “Foundations of Learning Independence through Transitional Experiences.”

    This transition program is for Angele’s students to discover their abilities, aptitudes, and to teach them basic life and work skills. FLITE is in its seventh year as part of the Grayson County Co-op Special Education service, and helps students transition from high school to young adulthood.

    “The need was so great to have something for students with those abilities to be able to do something with those abilities,” Angele says. “This program was designed for those who want to seek employment.”

    A happy coincidence, or something more?

    When Angele hit search on her Internet browser, up popped the opportunity she was looking for: Reba’s Ranch House.

    “To me, it was a God-thing,” she says.

    Angele visited Reba’s Ranch House and met with director Marilyn Bice. They discussed ways to incorporate the students as volunteers.

    Learning how to function in a work environment

    “Basically, we help keep the house in running order,” Angele says. “During the school year, we come in twice a week and make beds, do laundry, sweep, dust mop, polish. These are all functional life skills the students have the opportunity to learn to do.”

    From tucking the sheets tight to knowing how the towels should be folded, the students are learning how a job may require them to do things a particular way. It’s teaching them how to function in a work environment, from resolving disagreements to taking on leadership roles.

    “There’s something magical about having one student teach another,” Angele says. “They retain, they remember, they know what to do. I love it when they tell others, ‘this is how we do it at Reba’s.’”

    Interactions with guests make an impact

    Of the 950 annual guests that stay at Reba’s Ranch House, the students meet them occasionally.

    “Reba’s people always make sure we are introduced to whomever we encounter,” Angele says. “That’s great social skills where my kids can say, ‘Hi, I’m so-and-so,’ and show they know how to appropriately shake hands and introduce themselves.”

    At the end of a task, the students step back and experience one of the most fundamentally gratifying things in life — the knowledge of a job well done.

    “They love it when they see the room they just completed is clean,” Angele says. “When we cleaned the windows this morning, they saw the difference. They said, ‘Don’t touch the windows, guys, they’re clean!’ It’s an interesting correlation between the work and what they see.”

    Become a volunteer

    Volunteers are an essential part of Reba’s Ranch House, and we are grateful to partner with the FLITE Team. If you are interested in volunteering at Reba’s Ranch House, please contact Marilyn Bice at 903-463-7322 or visit our “You Can Help” page.

  8. North Texas Giving Day!

    We are extremely excited to announce that Reba’s Ranch House will be participating in North Texas Giving Day this year! North Texas Giving Day is the largest online giving event in the country where online donations are accepted for non-profits throughout the North Texas community. We will be raising funds to replace appliances that have been in use since the newest location of Reba’s opened in 2010. Our washers, dryers, and front desk computer are all in need of being replaced, so we can ensure our high standards for the guests who come to stay with us. The official date for donations is September 19th, but you can schedule a gift as early as September 9th through our North Texas Giving Day profile. Follow our Facebook and Instagram to find updates about our progress! #WhyIGive #NTxGivingDay

    5:00 PM TO 8:00 PM
    110 E FM 1417, SHERMAN, TX
  9. Shindig!

    You are cordially invited to a little Shindig celebrating Style & Spring.

    Click here for more information and to purchase a ticket!

  10. Special Thanks To First United Bank – Denison

    Special thanks to First United Bank – Denison for allowing us the opportunity to display information about our Room for Hope! You are a great asset to our community and we thank you for giving us the chance to partner with you once again.