30th anniversary

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  1. A Snack in Hand and a Safe Place to Stay

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer


    The first night Morgan Dworshak’s grandfather was in the hospital, she worried about where her grandmother would stay. The family booked a hotel at $200 per night. 

    Not knowing how long she’d need lodging, Morgan asked her mother where Granny would stay after that first night. Morgan could offer her own home where she was living in Denison, but her grandmother wanted to be as close as possible to her husband of nearly 60 years.

    The nurses at the hospital had a suggestion, and Morgan’s mother shared it with her.

    “Reba has a house by the hospital,” her mom said.

    Shocked, Morgan asked, “The Reba? Reba McEntire?”

    Morgan searched the internet for Reba’s Ranch House and was stunned.

    “It was a big surprise, and definitely a blessing,” Morgan said.

    When she visited the hospital during her grandmother’s two week stay, Morgan always saw her with a snack and bottle of water in hand. Morgan knew the ranch house staff was making sure her grandmother ate, drank water, and felt safe in the house. 

    “We knew she was in great hands, whether it was someone to talk to in the hallway or just the staff there taking care of her,” Morgan said. “We didn’t have to worry about her driving back and forth, and all the things.”

    This summer during a meeting at Morgan’s employment, Snellings Law, Scott Snelling brought up their monthly service project. Morgan had the perfect suggestion.

    “We know the importance of having good care for the injury victim,” Scott said. “But so often the family of the injury victim goes unnoticed and uncared for. Reba’s fills that need and it really spoke to us. I wish there was a Reba’s next to every hospital in every state of the United States. These families go and sleep in these terrible chairs or couches because they just want to be close to their loved ones. To have a place to go where they can get cleaned up and feel safe and get something to snack on or something to drink, is so incredibly important. And Reba’s helped out one of our own.”

    After the meeting, Morgan contacted the ranch house and obtained a list of current needs. One was a request for mini refrigerators for the NICU moms who pump breast milk while staying at the ranch house. Snellings Law provided those and Morgan shared that they were rewarded with a tour of the ranch house. 

    “I didn’t get to visit the actual facility while my grandmother was staying there,” Morgan said. “I was lucky enough to go on that tour with Marilyn. She also showed us the Room for Hope. My grandma is a breast cancer survivor. I walked into that room and teared up. I thought, this ranch house is something else, to go above and beyond for people in need, to make people feel so cared for in the most difficult times. They need a place to stay. They need a meal. Reba’s literally does everything.”

    Morgan knows her grandfather is looking down on them now, grateful his wife was taken in at the ranch house. 

    “He wanted to make sure she was taken care of no matter what,” Morgan said. “I know he would have been so thankful that she had somewhere to go and it wasn’t even a minute from the hospital.”

    Scott said, “Reba’s got a big name and I can’t think of a better facility for it to be attached to.”

    You can join Snellings Law in making a donation to offer caregivers a place to stay and a staff to look after them. 

    Donate here.


  2. Families of Heart Patients Find a Home at Reba’s Ranch House

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer


    Dr. Matter and staff

    When a patient comes to Dr. Greg Matter for heart surgery, they can look out the window to see Reba’s Ranch House where their caregiver is housed. The close proximity is vital for his patients during their recovery time in ICU.

    “When patients are in the hospital, it really helps to have family around,” Dr. Matter says. “They are extra eyes and ears. I’ll walk in the room and they say, ‘Dr. Matter, did you resume his synthroid?’ It’s good to have family there during your critical hospital stay.”

    For 18 years, Dr. Matter practiced at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, performing 250 high-risk heart surgeries per year—all while fighting the daily commute and fast-paced lifestyle in the Metroplex. 

    “In Dallas, I had a list of pros and cons—reasons to stay and reasons to go,” Dr. Matter laughed. “I was sitting on the tollway one day and I wasn’t moving in the traffic. I thought, ‘Wait a second, I don’t have to be here. I can be wherever I want to be.’”

    Dr. Matter moved to Paris, Texas for a time before transitioning to the Texoma hospital. One of his greatest concerns, as it had been even in Dallas, was his patients and their families bearing the cost of traveling in and staying for their surgery. From pre-op to post-surgery and recovery time, the process typically takes 3-5 days. 

    Gas costs are a burden on his patients who would normally have to drive in for pre-op the day before, drive home, then return for their surgery early the next morning. If family comes with them, which he highly recommends, the added cost of a hotel for several nights is too much. 

    Plus, when a patient has to travel to their surgery appointment at 5:30 am, it’s not a good start to their journey. They come in stressed from the drive and the worry of running into issues, such as a flat tire. 

    Reba’s Ranch House and what it offers free of charge—and more of a home than hotel—is now the perfect solution for Dr. Matter’s patients and families.

    “At the hospital, someone told me the families could stay at Reba’s Ranch House and their stay is covered by donations,” Dr. Matter remembers. “It became a major plus to tell my patients coming in from Midland and Lubbock and Paris and Broken Bow—all over—that they could stay there at no cost.”

    Dr. Matter’s office contacts the ranch house in advance and ensures there will be a room ready and waiting for his patient’s family the day before the surgery. They can come in for pre-op the day before, then literally walk over for the surgery the next morning. It’s closer than where the nurses park and walk in.

    Their family is within that same walking distance to watch over them during their recovery. Unlike in Dallas, they don’t even need to pay for parking.

    With the ranch house, Dr. Matter and his patients have the best of the slower country pace and the benefit of Reba’s Ranch House while he helps people get well. 

    “Having the ranch house for my heart patients is just spectacular,” Dr. Matter says. “All my patients and their families love it.”

  3. Taking Care of the Families of Tiny Babies

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer


    Parents shouldn’t have to think about gas money when their newborn baby is in intensive care.

    That is one of the driving factors behind the Millennium Medical Group’s partnership with Reba’s Ranch House. The group owns and manages multiple Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) throughout Texas, New Mexico, and Georgia. They are a national practice of Neonatologists—Pediatric Specialists that take care of newborn babies with extra needs. 

    Many of the families the Millennium Medical Group works with struggle with transportation issues. Some live hours away. For those who are even a 10 minutes drive, it can feel like an eternity when they’re separated from their baby.

    “It’s hard enough having your baby be sick and not being in your room, much less having a baby that has to be transferred to another facility miles away,” says Dr. Snehal Doshi, CEO of the Millennium Medical Group. “As a parent, I couldn’t imagine my wife in one hospital and my baby in another.”

    The unique benefit of the NICU at the Texoma Medical Center (TMC) is its close proximity to Reba’s Ranch House. Sometimes babies are transferred to TMC specifically because the parents can stay close to their babies during the long duration of their stay in the NICU. 

    “We don’t think about it but let’s say Mom and Dad have one car, maybe an old truck, and they’re driving 30-40 minutes every day to visit their baby,” Dr. Doshi says.  “A lot of our families don’t have that cash to say, ‘I need to spend $20 to go see my baby.’ In today’s world, we shouldn’t have to think like that. So having a mom stay at the ranch house a few days to take that burden away helps them.”

    Close proximity is also vital to the health of the mother and baby. Studies have shown that keeping the mother close to her baby reduces the chance of postpartum depression, lessens recovery time, and helps the new mom’s milk supply come in. 

    A special guest room at the ranch house is set up for mothers. There is a rocking chair and everything she needs to pump milk, including a small fridge to safely store it. Shower, laundry facility, food in the main kitchen…parents can feel at home and have peace of mind while they look after their newborn during the intense time.

    While physicians focus on the health of the baby—some as tiny as one pound—the ranch house takes care of the health of the parents. 

    Dr. Doshi says, “We as physicians are so focused on treating the disease and that’s great. But you have to look at the whole patient and the whole family, because when you’re taking care of a baby, you’re also taking care of a family. Reba’s Ranch House provides that extra layer of support.”

    “These partnerships are such a vital part of the work we do at Reba’s Ranch House,” says Michelle Lemming, CEO of the Texoma Health Foundation. “Organizations like Millennium Medical Group are the reason that 100% of guests at Reba’s Ranch House reported a positive impact on their physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.”

    Mother and son, now three, visit the ranch house every year on his birthday. The mother stayed several weeks at the ranch house while her baby was in the NICU.

  4. Saving the Mental Power of Caregivers

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer


    Not sleeping. Not eating, not drinking water. Stressed.

    These were the top things Marilyn Bice and the staff at Reba’s Ranch House observed happening with caregivers whose loved one was suddenly in the hospital. 

    In researching ways to better care for caregivers, Marilyn made a startling discovery—three things that make human brains stop working: No sleep. Dehydration. Stress. 

    The caregiver guests at the ranch house were faced not only with the emotional stress, but the physical inability to hear what doctors and nurses tried to tell them. They might be required to make hard decisions and literally lack the brain function to do it.

    A guest room at the ranch house is the first step to remedying their condition. In the comfortable, private rooms with beds covered in handmade quilts, caregivers get peaceful sleep each night. 

    The second step is making sure the caregiver has something to eat. In addition to the ranch house kitchen and meals provided by churches on a regular basis, a hutch is situated near the lobby door, loaded with a wide variety of snack options. There’s even fresh fruit at times, along with bags to pack with the snacks and bottled water. 

    Marilyn calls these “hospital bags,” a small but brain-saving tote for caregivers who are facing a medical crisis.

    The third step is reducing the mental stress of the caregiver.

    “Nowadays, we know so much more that pertains to different aspects of mental health,” Marilyn says. “It’s just amazing that in three days, there are so many things that go through your mind of, ‘Who do I need to call, what do I need to do?’ It’s crazy what all happens.”

    Exhausted and drained, caregivers often arrive late at night for their room at the ranch house. Marilyn encourages the staff to greet guests with a compassionate smile and ask how their patient is doing. Sometimes this opens up time for friend-like counseling, where the caregiver is able to talk through the situation. 

    While staff doesn’t offer specific advice on making decisions, they ask questions like, “Do you think it’s time to call in another family member?”

    They can also connect caregivers with a chaplain who can recommend further help, such as a therapist. 

    “When they have someone they can go to in addition to their medical personnel or advisors, it gives them more confidence in the decisions they have to make,” Marilyn says.

    As caregivers of the caregivers, Reba’s Ranch House will continue to expand on ways to care for the physical, emotional, and mental health of caregivers who seek refuge here.

    You can join us by making a one-time or ongoing donation now.

  5. Meet Mitch and Fancy, Ranch House Residents Caring for Caregivers

    Ginger Nye (THF board member), Fancy, and Mitch

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer 


    When a guest returned from the hospital one morning after seeing her ill husband, Mitch Gray noticed how distressed she was. He was working the front desk and asked if there was anything he could do for her.

    She replied, “Would you get that dog and meet me in the kitchen?”

    “That dog” is Fancy, the blue heeler resident at Reba‘s Ranch House. Fancy was napping in Mitch’s room at the time. The woman lived on a ranch and had bonded with the dog the evening before when Mitch and Fancy met her during their nightly rounds.

    Mitch brought Fancy to the kitchen where they sat with the guest. She told Mitch about her hard news while stroking Fancy’s head. 

    When Mitch went to work full-time at the ranch house as night manager, the foundation had been having conversations about the possibility of a “house dog” that could bring some comfort and love to guests during trying times.

    The perfect fit came when former ranch house volunteer Cameron Bates contacted Mitch. Moving into new realms with his professional career, Cameron needed to re-home his beloved blue heeler, named after a hit song by Reba–Cameron‘s favorite singer. 

    Fancy went to live with Mitch in her “retirement home,” going from a country dog to the city. But Fancy is still a working dog with important jobs to do.

    “She opens the house up every morning with me, and closes it up every evening,” Mitch says. “She knows every door in the building.”

    In addition to comforting people in their time of grief and stress, Fancy accompanies Mitch constantly in the 27,000-square-foot house and two acres of property. Mitch mans the front desk Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and handles deliveries, errands, pickups, manages building inspectors, and changes lightbulbs.

    Always, Fancy is by his side. They keep a respectful distance from guests until they are invited over, knowing that not everyone loves dogs. They are also mindful of those guests with allergies. Just about everyone who meets Fancy loves her.

    “We’ll water the flowers every morning, feed the birds, open the doors for the trash pick up,” Mitch says. “At night, we walk around the inside and outside of the building.  Everything I do on this property, she’s right behind me.”

    Coming from the stressful corporate world, Mitch was looking for a non-traditional, non-8-to-5 job. Several years ago, Mitch started the Room for Hope Golf Tournament, an annual fundraising endeavor. After part-time work at the ranch house, he accepted the full-time position in September 2022. 

    “As long as I do my job in taking care of the building and taking care of the ladies who work here, I don’t have someone setting my schedule,” Mitch says. “That’s worth money to me.”

    Knowing that Mitch and Fancy are here for families every night at the ranch house gives guests a settled and safe feeling, not to mention the comfort they bring. The pair serve as caregivers of caregivers.

  6. Reba’s Ranch House Helps FLITE Students Become Community Members

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer 


    When guests leave Reba’s Ranch House for the hospital to see their loved one, they sometimes encounter a unique group of young adults who are there on a mission: to help keep the ranch house running smoothly.

    This group of young people that bring smiles and comfort to the guests at the ranch house are with the Grayson Co-Op FLITE Team. The three-year program, under the Grayson County Co-op Special Education service, allows students to participate in programs throughout the school year. 

     Directed by Angele Johnson, FLITE stands for “Foundations of Learning Independence through Transitional Experiences.” One program it utilizes is volunteering nine hours each week at the ranch house.

    “Whatever Ms. Jeri tells us to do, we do,” Angele says.

    Sometimes the group is still there at lunchtime when guests gather in the dining room. Angele might be doing a lesson with the students, talking with them about career choices or how to keep a schedule. 

    “The guests at the house sit there and are amazed that we are not only educating them but we’re also hands-on tactile teaching them the things at Reba’s,” Angele says. “So it’s a two-fold place for us because if we’re not busy with the bed making and the activities at Reba’s, we’re doing functional academics. They need these steps to be able to move forward.”

    The students’ opportunities were expanded two years ago when Texas Workforce Commission, which sponsors the program, incorporated paid work opportunities.

    Once they complete their first year of programming, which includes many volunteer hours at Reba’s Ranch House, the students are eligible to move into paid work experiences. This lets the students come to school and be paid.

    “All 6 of my students have employment on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Angele says. “TWS hires a job coach and each site has a coach, so the students are learning how to take instruction from someone other than me. It makes it a lot of fun to come to school, and also to be utilized.”

    Their journey always includes volunteer work at Reba’s Ranch House. That work brings them into the community and makes them part of it.

    “Reba has us there as a commitment to her community,” Angele says. “I’m blessed to have all of these resources, and I’m so excited that after ten years of doing this program, it is absolutely coming together.

    “It’s because of places like Reba’s and Texas Workforce that my students learn functional life skills, learn how to be a community member, and have the opportunities that come to them,” Angele says. “Their experiences are helping them gain access to the community because of the things they are doing whether it be at their job or Reba’s.

    “When there is an exchange between the students and the guests at Reba’s, it always puts a smile on their faces.”

  7. Welcoming Guests Home at the Ranch House

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer


    When guests arrive at Reba’s Ranch House, weary and worn, there is someone at the front door to welcome them in. One of those who welcomes guests is our new staff member, Linda Morgan. She is always ready to show guests around the ranch house and make them feel at home.

    The kitchen, the library, the laundry facilities—all are open to guests, though it’s the final stop on Linda’s tour that solidifies the feeling of home. When Linda opens the door to the guest’s room, they are greeted with a homey, handmade quilt just as if they are at Grandma’s house. 

    “One guest told me it’s like I’m opening my house to them,” Linda says. “And that’s exactly what it is. This is basically Reba’s house, and donors help us open it to the guests who need it. The guests are always very grateful and thankful, and we’re glad we can help in some small way.”

    Recently retired, Linda was looking for supplemental income. She went to work as a temporary employee at the ranch house, but it turned out not-so-temporary. The staff, the mission of the house, and how she can serve guests led Linda to accept a permanent position at the ranch house. 

    A couple of decades in clerical work serves Linda well where she registers guests at the front desk. But she always has time to pause and pray with guests going through their hard time with a loved one in the hospital. 

    “It’s never too busy that I can’t sit with them for ten minutes in the kitchen, have a cup of coffee, and just let them talk,” Linda says. “It’s more of a home than a house. It’s warm and caring.”

    Comforting others in their time of grief is a difficult task. It tears a little at Linda’s heart, but her understanding and tenderness helps people through the time. In turn, they are a blessing to Linda in the work she does alongside other staff members. 

    “All the people who work here are a blessing,” Linda says. “They are what makes it so warm.”

    We’re grateful to have Linda as a caregiver of caregivers here at Reba’s Ranch House. She helps to create a soothing, home-like atmosphere for guests.


    You, too, can take part in caring for people whose loved ones are in the hospital. We invite you to donate goods, your time, or a monetary gift here.

  8. Everything that Needs Doing — A Trio of Indispensable Volunteers 

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer

    Shelley and Rita at Ruiz Foods.

    There are three ladies the team at Reba’s Ranch House can’t do without.

    Meet Rita, Linda, and Shelley—three volunteers and cancer survivors who give guests at the ranch house a hand to hold. And they put their hands to work on whatever needs doing.

    Four years ago, Rita Williams and Linda Vissering, both retired, did volunteer work together. One day, they targeted the ranch house.

    “We came in and introduced ourselves,” Rita recalls. “We said we’re breast cancer survivors and asked what we could do. That’s how we inched our way in. Then they found out they couldn’t live without us. They were stuck with us.” 

    A few years later another friend, Shelley Martin, joined as a volunteer at the ranch house.

    “The minute I walked in the door for my interview with Marilyn [Bice], it felt like such a relaxing atmosphere,” Shelley says. “This is going to sound funny, but even the smell was spiritual! I knew this was where God wanted me to be. If I don’t do anything else but this, my life is complete.” 

    The three women have become indispensable at the ranch house. Sometimes they find themselves picking up a check from a fundraiser, or helping with a golf tournament, or redoing wreaths to decorate the ranch house for Christmas. 

    Linda manages the food ministry to make sure there are hearty meals available for worried caregivers 7 days a week. 

    “There’s something good for the soul here all the time,” Linda says.

    Often, whenever one of these ladies turns a corner in the ranch house, there is someone who needs prayer or a touch of encouragement. This might be in the kitchen where Shelley found a guest crying, or at the front desk where Rita directed a family and their pastor to the library.

    “It was quiet and we shut the door so they could carry on with what they needed to do,” Rita says. “It made me feel good that I don’t know these people, but I was able to help them when they needed help the most.”

    When beloved Susan Hooper was no longer able to run the Room for Hope in the ranch house, Rita began taking the calls from patients asking for a wig, or assisting them in checking our inventory to find a personal need. As cancer survivors, Rita, Linda, and Shelley pass on their experience to the women and men who come into the room.

    And prayer. Always lots of prayer, whether in words, silence, or tears.

    “It’s when the soul does the praying, when you can’t say a word,” Linda says.

    “We literally had to fight for our lives,” Shelley says. “But it gives us the knowledge now to talk to people. We can calm people down in the moment because we’ve been there.”

    “We all just learn to live each day, and do the things we do, like at Reba’s Ranch House,” Linda added. “I think while you’re doing good things for other people, you don’t think about the things you have wrong with yourself.”

    These ladies walked into the ranch house, introduced themselves, and now the ranch house really can’t live without them.


    If you have a heart for others, please consider volunteering at Reba’s Ranch House. There are so many ways to serve! Find out how you can volunteer at the ranch house here.

    Rita and Linda with the Sherman High School High Steppers mascot.

  9. “Absolutely Magical” — 30th Anniversary Reunion Week at Reba’s Ranch House

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer


    That Christmastime-as-a-kid feeling came over Mike McKinley during the 30th anniversary reunion for the former golf tournament committee. For nearly two decades, the tournament raised funds for what became Reba’s Ranch House. 

    At the reunion, Mike’s friends were several years older than when they started the tournaments, but it didn’t take long for them to feel like kids at Christmas again.

    Mike (far left) with his beautiful wife speaking to Randy and Robert.

    “[Those years] gave you that excitement you only get a few times in your life,” Mike said. “It was genuine.”

    Thirty years after it all began, the Texoma Health Foundation (THF) and Reba’s Ranch House hosted three major reunions in September 2022 to bring together just over 100 individuals who served on the committees and the THF board of directors throughout the years. They traveled in from Virginia, Austin, San Antonio, the Dallas metroplex, and local counties to Reba’s Ranch House, and reunited after years of losing touch.


    Golf Tournament Committee Reunion

    An evening of food and swapping stories from the golf course brought back memories of a special time in the lives of those who took part in raising funds for the local hospital and the ranch house.

    At the reunion, Mike enjoyed rare conversations with old friends, the select few who underwent those days of setting up in the wind and rain, then golfing under clear blue skies and winding down the day, exhausted.

    “The reunion was very satisfying and fun, to go back and talk about stuff that you can’t talk about with just anyone,” Mike said.

    Reba sent a video of love and appreciation for the former golf committee members to enjoy during their evening. It brought up memories of how Reba helped hand out trophies after the tournament. Mike recounted attending Reba’s first fundraising concert in Denison when he didn’t know much about her.

    “We left that concert and I told Lynn, she’s really got a voice!” Mike recalled with a chuckle. “Little did we know we were going to get years more of her.”


    Development Committee Reunion

    “Absolutely magical” is how Sherry Christie described the reunion evening for the development committee that once oversaw the Memorial weekend fundraising efforts. 

    “My favorite moment was walking in the door and seeing the people that I hadn’t seen in so long,” Sherry said. “It brought back memories of how hard we’d laugh and how tired we’d get and how it all came together.”

    A slideshow in the dining room showed off hundreds of photos, and prompting stories and laughter. Then the big surprise came for the nearly 100 in attendance.

    “I turned around because I heard a voice that sounded like Reba,” Sherry said. “And there she was on a big screen!  We could see ourselves on the screen, too, so it was almost like in the past. She was as excited to see us as we were to see her.” 

    The party spilled onto the back patio under the night sky, the enthusiasm unabated. Jeanie Graber, another of the early committee members, shared her favorite part of the reunion. 

    “Hugging and laughing and reminiscing with all our friends,” Jeanie said. “Those human contacts, that was such fun. We were all thrilled to see each other and we were proud of the work we had accomplished.”

    “If we had to do another one of those [fundraisers], I know we could get it done,” Sherry said with a laugh. “I looked around and thought, we could do it all over again. We might have to start a little earlier and work a little longer, but there was enough enthusiasm there to put together another concert.”

    Before the night ended, the group gathered for a photo.

    “It was nothing but big smiles,” Sherry said.


    The Development Committee – Sherry, 3rd from the right, and Jeanie, 6th from the right.


    THF Board Reunion

    A young person couldn’t have lived in Denison during the ‘80s and ‘90s and not been part of those fundraising concerts with Reba.

    “I grew up going to all the concerts,”  said John Carey, a past THF board chairman. “As a young person, the concerts were awesome. You wanted to go see the show. Getting older and realizing what it was all about, makes it even more special.”

    For the past and present THF board members, the luncheon reunion was combined with the regular board gathering. The event gave an opportunity for board members to recall what built the THF and Reba’s Ranch House, and recognize those who conserved and perpetuated the legacy.

    “A lot of our board members didn’t know some of the past members,” Joe Fallon said. He is the current chairman of the board. “I thought it was great for them to meet and to show our appreciation, to say, ‘We have not forgotten that you guys did a lot of work and set us up for success. Job well done, and thank you.’”

    Joe Fallon

    Culminating the luncheon was the announcement of a significant donation to THF.

    “The day escalated,” John said. “It went from this jovial time of all of us getting together and enjoying each other’s company, to the reflection of the 30 year anniversary of the ranch house, to ‘oh, by the way, we received an extra six million dollar gift to continue our mission.’”

    The gift came from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, a contribution tied to a larger effort to identify and support organizations across the U.S. who are making a difference in health equity in vulnerable populations, including rural communities.

    John Carey


    Others Not Forgotten

    A common thread through all three reunion events were quiet moments of remembering those who were missing. Many people who took part in the original effort have passed on, making the reunions all the more precious to those who could come.

    “The ranch house and the foundation have been in existence long enough that we are now beginning to lose members,” John said. “[The reunion] was a reminder of everyone’s hard work and how successful the foundation has become, but I think it was there, also, to keep us connected.”


    The Next 30 Years

    Remembering the past paves the way to keep the ranch house and its mission at the forefront of the area communities.

    “There were people over the years who were really interested in what was done, and that was brought up in the conversations,” Mike said. “I told someone, ‘Just think, a quick 30 years and we can do this reunion again.’” 

    He laughed, then added, “Most of us are still healthy and going strong.”

  10. Touring Reba’s Ranch House with Reba McEntire

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer


    Ten minutes before the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Reba’s Ranch House facility on Memorial Day 2010, Michelle Lemming answered a call from Dr. Darius Maggi.

    “I’ll see you tomorrow at the grand opening,” he said. “I’ve got it on my calendar.”

    Michelle, CEO & President of the Texoma Health Foundation, nearly dropped her phone. “Dr. Maggi, it’s today!”

    After weeks of frenzied preparations and moving, the ranch house team had met a significant goal: to open the new facility on Memorial Day. The sentiment harkened back to the long weekends filled with fundraising for the hospital and the original Reba’s Ranch House. Concerts, golf and fishing tournaments, parades—all the events culminated in the original house and now, by extension, the new ranch house.

    Everyone gathered under the white tent on Memorial Day 2010, including Reba McEntire and her family, awaiting the grand opening ceremony. But Dr. Maggi, the man who had asked Reba to become involved in the medical endeavors in the area years before, hadn’t arrived.

    “It’s tomorrow,” Dr. Maggi insisted with Michelle over the phone. Then he laughed. “I’m pulling in now.”


    Dr. Maggi speaking at the ribbon cutting

    Dr. Maggi speaking at the ribbon cutting.


    On that day of sunshine and jovial spirits, the ceremony kicked off with flags and prayer, Reba speaking and thanking all the contributors, and there were hugs and kisses all around. 

    The party moved up the stone sidewalk beneath the wood beams that stretched overhead, holding up the portico. The beams let guests know they had arrived at the ranch house—their temporary home away from home. The exterior of the house is a symbol to the community, representing thousands of hours and years of fundraising poured into the ranch-style house.

    The roof itself was used to design the Texoma Health Foundation (THF) logo. 

    “We didn’t have a logo,” said Tony Kaai, president of the Denison Development Alliance and former THF board member. “It clicked with me one day that those beams could be part of the logo.”


    Tony at a holiday event with Reba’s Ranch House partner, Grayson College and Culinary Chef Joanna Bryant.


    Under those beams, Reba McEntire cut the red ribbon to open the home to an average of 800 weary caregivers annually.

    Kent Black, a founding member of THF, had the honor of giving Reba her first tour. Past the open, friendly welcome desk, they could veer left where the walls are filled with the history of the house. Photos, posters, newspaper clippings, and a written history tell the story of those years of fundraising that created this comforting place for caregivers. 

    Across from the wall is the entrance into the library, a quiet sanctuary. Filled with touches from the original ranch house, it’s a place where difficult conversations and prayer happen as staff and volunteers care for caregivers going through some of the greatest trials of their lives.

    The kitchen opens as a bright space where guests can take meals and bond with others going through similar situations. The wood hutch represents this bonding. It was built and donated by a former guest who had received the comfort the ranch house offered. The kitchen was designed around accommodating the hutch.

    From the bedrooms with handmade quilts to the relaxing outdoor areas, Reba was able to see how carefully planned every square foot of the ranch house was to give caregivers a refuge in the storm of their lives. 

    On that Memorial Day 2010, everyone knew their years of tireless work was worth every minute.

    “The highlight was to see the facility finished and know the history of how many people worked on it, and the whole Reba history in Denison,” Tony said. “To understand the history and then see the present and know what’s going to happen in the future because you’ve got the staff and the funds to make significant progress in the health of our region, that’s what I thought about.”


    Kent touring Reba and her mom Mrs. McEntire

    Kent touring Reba and her mom Mrs. McEntire in the new ranch house.


    Celebrate Reba and the next 30 years of the ranch house! Give a one-time donation or recurring gift here.