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30th anniversary

Category Archives: Volunteers

  1. Feeding the Masses

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer

     

    It was springtime, and Horace Groff just couldn’t say no when asked to volunteer for the upcoming fundraising concert. That was how he became involved with “feeding the masses” each Memorial Day weekend before the annual Reba concert, raising funds for the local hospital and Reba’s Ranch House. 

    What started as a one-day event exploded when the concerts shifted from the football stadium where Horace and fellow volunteers grilled hamburgers and hotdogs. The concerts moved to the airport and the grills were replaced with mega smokers where the cooking crews fed people 15-18 hours a day for a whole week. Reba would bring in multiple semis plus buses filled with equipment.

    “That was the kind of show she put on,” Horace said. “It was always top quality, and there were a lot of people in the background to make it happen.”

    With those semis and buses came lots of people backstage looking for something to do—and something to eat. Then there were the local volunteers to feed: Staff from the hospital freely offered their time; students from the high school earned a concert ticket by setting up chairs; the ladies of the Reba Development Committee who organized everything.

    And Horace was in the midst of it all, helping keep hundreds of people fed.

    “Some workers would start at daylight, then they’d finish and another crew would come in,” Horace recalled the shifts. “The food service director at the hospital coordinated and bought the food. We would show up and do briskets and sometimes fried fish. There were several of us with cooking equipment, and we always felt good about giving back to the community.”

    Born and raised in Denison, Horace served as the county judge for 21 years, so another unique task fell to him. He became a liaison between the committee and the airport, helping iron out wrinkles in flight schedules, timing for setup and the concert.

    The Memorial Day concert got underway at dark as the late spring heat cooled from the day. Horace and the brisket smokers were set up backstage and he had no trouble hearing the lively concerts. 

    Still, the best part for him was the fellowship—everyone from big name country stars to high schoolers.

    “You had a lot of people backstage,” Horace said. “It got to be quite a production to get all that done, but we had hundreds of volunteers show up and pitch in. A good time was had by all.”

    The monumental effort Horace and his cooking crew put forward is paying dividends today for every caregiver who finds refuge at Reba’s Ranch House.

     

    After 30 years, “Feeding the masses” remains part of the ranch house. Churches and other community members bring food weekly for exhausted caregivers to have a hot meal and snacks. The kitchen in the ranch house is available to caregivers 24/7.

    You can continue Horace and the food crew’s legacy of feeding hungry souls by contributing to the ranch house here

  2. Making the Ranch House Part of His Life — Dr. Timothy Parker’s Story

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer

     

    Box fans kept the air moving at the event, one of the earliest fundraisers for Reba’s Ranch House. It was warm under the big tent, but Dr. Timothy Parker didn’t mind.

    He had prime seating at the dinner table — right next to Reba McEntire and her family.

    Dr. Parker with his wife and Reba

     

    Dr. Parker and the Reba’s Ranch House Story

    Practicing medicine in Dallas in the early 1990s, Dr. Parker wanted to make a change for his family. They drove to Denison to check out the hospital there and speak to the hospital administrator. During the conversation, the administrator offered Dr. Parker tickets to an upcoming Reba McEntire concert. 

    Though Dr. Parker couldn’t go that year, it was his introduction to fundraising for Reba’s Ranch House.

    After moving his practice to Denison, Dr. Parker made the fundraisers, and ultimately the ranch house, a part of his life. Besides those early fundraisers, he has served on the Texoma Health Foundation board the past 4 years. To this day, he swings by a local store and picks up items that the ranch house needs, like trash bags and paper towels.

    “Just those little things you can bring are so appreciated by the staff,” Dr. Parker says. “It makes a tremendous difference for them and the people staying there.”

    When he first transferred to the hospital, he saw tiny newborns he’d delivered who needed to remain in the nursery on IVs. Their exhausted parents had nowhere to stay as close as they needed — except Reba’s Ranch House. 

    “They could be at the hospital in a matter of moments if something happened with babies,” Dr. Parker says. “It didn’t cost them anything. What a nice place for them to have a comfortable bed, a place to relax, and if anything happened, they’d be right there.”

    For Dr. Parker, taking care of patients comes first. That’s why he’s continued supporting the ranch house since his first experience of sitting at a fundraising dinner table with Reba. 

    There were a great many more experiences at the fundraisers — meals on the grass lawn of the old hospital…the airport tarmacwhere a jet flew in and then a miniature jet appeared on stage and out came Reba. From parades to golf tournaments, Reba McEntire always brought a celebration to town. And it was all for the best reasons.

    “We’re doing this for patients,” Dr. Parker says. “What a great asset we’ve been blessed with here in Denison. Thank you, thank you to Reba for helping get this started.”

     

    Reba’s Ranch House is now funded by individuals like you through the Texoma Health Foundation. You can become a caregiver of caregivers when you partner with Reba’s Ranch House by contributing — it’s as simple as dropping off a bag of paper goods or making a donation through our page here.

     

  3. Third Graders, Bible Pages, and Loads of Grocery Sacks

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer

    Reba’s Heroes:

    A Series Highlighting Our Wonderful Volunteers

    From the early days of Reba’s Ranch House, the heart of volunteers beat throughout the space to bring peace and comfort to all the guests who walk through the door.

    This series is our chance to publicly thank our precious volunteers who consistently show up and provide for the many needs we have. The ranch house operates like any home — laundry, meals, cleaning, bedding, prayers. 

    We couldn’t exist without our dedicated volunteers. Thank you!

     

     

    Sweet Innocence

    “I wonder if they liked my picture, or if my verse helped them?”

    These are sweetly innocent questions third graders at the Texoma Christian Schools ask as they color pumpkins, flowers, and chapels on their cursive pages’ borders. 

    Their teachers, Kathy Lindsey and Twila Thomas, explain to the children that they will never see the person who receives their Bible verse page. But they can pray for them and know the people will be touched by the pages sitting on nightstands in the guest rooms at Reba’s Ranch House.

    “We tell them, ‘Before you start coloring and writing your verse down, we want you to pray about that paper you’re decorating, and pray for the person who’s going to receive it, even though you don’t know who they are,” Kathy says. “And they do; they say a prayer for the person that’s going to read their Bible verse and see their coloring.”

    For the past twelve years, Texoma Christian School’s Third-Grade classes have adopted Reba’s Ranch House for their annual Care-A-Thon project. Kathy puts out large paper grocery sacks in the fall with a list of things stapled to the sacks that the pantry at the Ranch House needs — from cake mixes to spaghetti sauce — and the children take the empty sacks home to fill them. Once full, they return them, and many ask if they can do another one, excited as they watch the sacks fill the back of the classroom. They’re reaching the goal: filling up the pantry at Reba’s Ranch House! One hundred children have walked through the door at the house for the project over the years.

    “I tell them there’s a loved one at the hospital, and they’re tired,” Kathy says. “They need a place to shower and get some rest rather than sitting in a chair all the time.”

    The class, with moms and grandmothers along to help, arrive at Reba’s Ranch House, they are welcomed in.

    “Marilyn will give them a tour, and they see Reba’s guitars and that the house even has a place for little ones,” Kathy says. “And if we’re really, really quiet and there is an empty room, Marilyn will show them the quilts and the beds where the guests stay. At the end, the moms have pizza delivered, and we sit in the kitchen there with our very good manners.”

    When parents and grandparents experience the work that goes on in Reba’s Ranch House, some decide to come back and volunteer.

    The children also visit the kitchen pantry where the staples they collected are stored. They present their Bible pages to Marilyn, knowing the pages will go on nightstands of guests staying at the ranch house.

    “They get it, that people are tired and need a good place to sleep,” Kathy says. “The children pour their little hearts out for them.”

  4. The Comfort of a Country Quilt

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer

    Reba’s Heroes:

    A Series Highlighting Our Wonderful Volunteers

    From the early days of Reba’s Ranch House, the heart of volunteers beat throughout the space to bring peace and comfort to all the guests who walk through the door.

    This series is our chance to publicly thank our precious volunteers who consistently show up and provide for the many needs we have. The ranch house operates like any home — laundry, meals, cleaning, bedding, prayers. 

    We couldn’t exist without our dedicated volunteers. Thank you!

     

     

    Handmade Comfort

    When guests come to Reba’s Ranch House, it’s because they are experiencing a crippling crisis, something that pulls them almost to the floor.

    But instead, they have a place to rest. Opportunities to talk with someone and pray. Handmade quilts to draw over them like a grandmother’s hug.

    In 1990, before Reba’s Ranch House officially opened, local ladies worked through the Grayson County Extension Office to take on a tremendous project — crafting twenty handmade quilts for the bedrooms where guests at the house stay.

    It started when Jerri Lane, Grayson County Extension Agent, was asked to gather a small troop of ladies to dedicate two years to design and make the quilts. Jerri was an agent at the extension office for over thirty years.

    With several ladies on the project, they started at a quilt shop in Denton to choose colors and decide on patterns. On that first trip, they bought $1,000 worth of fabric. The volunteers consisted of Anne Gary, Jeanie Graber, Jerri Lane, Jana Caroyl, and co-chairman Gerry Dougherty.

    Gerry fondly recalls the adventure. “We had a plan, a full committee, designs for each quilt, and a start. Two of the ladies taught us the new name for a certain red — the Reba Red. It was more of a barn red, but that and the blues we used throughout our project took on a whole new meaning!”

    They worked out of the extension office at the Grayson County Courthouse, tables spilling over with fabric, supplies, and always a quilt in the frame. The ladies kept busy for a year and a half and were ready to present the quilts at a special tea attended by Reba McEntire’s mom and dad. The quilts were added to the guest rooms at the original Reba’s Ranch House and later transferred to the new building.

    “We also did thirty-one shams for the pillows on the beds — eight bedrooms full,” Gerry says. “We were delighted to be involved in such a worthy project. Ann Arnold, who worked at Reba’s Ranch House for a long time, took good care of the quilts. When she washed them, she would dry them over the rails of the porch. What a pretty sight they were!”

    And what a sight they are for everyone who walks into a guest room at Reba’s Ranch House, greeted with the comfort of a handmade quilt.

  5. Watching the Winds of Change

    Reba’s Heroes: A Series Highlighting Our Wonderful Volunteers

    Due to COVID 19, we had to cancel our annual volunteer luncheon that we hold to honor our amazing volunteers! In our effort to cover the many aspects of volunteering at Reba’s Ranch House we found a plethora of wonderful stories. In the coming months, we will cover the many ways to volunteer at Reba’s Ranch House. Read some of our 28 years worth of stories and see if you are visualizing yourself joining these beautiful souls giving their time and love to those who need it. Remember: Studies show that volunteers stay healthier, are more active, and live longer with more productive lives. We are here and would love to talk to you about volunteering and we always need a volunteer somewhere!

    Thank you so much for reading our stories and going through this unexpected year holding us close to your heart. Thank you, Thank you! We are here and will continue to be here while we find our new normal!

    May the Lord bless you, and hold you close to His heart.

    Reba’s Ranch House Director Marilyn Bice

    Watching the Winds of Change

    As a boy growing up during the Great Depression, Bill Wilcox witnessed his mother open their door to people in distress. Sometimes she hired a passing worker for chores or gave them a meal. Bill learned that the winds of hard times would blow, but trouble ultimately passed. That was the analogy he shared with staff when he oversaw the construction of Reba’s Ranch House in 1992, donating two weathervanes to sit above the guest rooms.

    Born in McKinney, Texas, in 1919, Bill was the youngest of eight children. His parents named him Wilson Edison Wilcox after the president who had taken them through the First World War and after an inventor. Setting type at his father’s newspaper, the Sherman Democrat, Bill developed a love for news and communications that lasted throughout his life.

    After Pearl Harbor in 1941, Bill enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served onboard an escort carrier in the South Pacific Theatre as a communications officer until 1945. When he returned from the war, Bill purchased a radio station. He liked to keep abreast of current affairs and to always know from which way the winds were blowing.

    After raising a family and his first wife passing in his early retirement years, Bill turned toward more service work in his community, modeling his mother’s example of reaching out to those in distress. One of his guiding principles was, “all we will ever have is what we give to others.”

    Bill was engaged with his church and in numerous civic efforts, and was passionately dedicated to improving Texoma’s healthcare community. When the process began to raise funds for Reba’s Ranch House, he joined the effort. Bill oversaw the construction and added a special touch to the building: two weathervanes.

    “He was a realistic optimist,” says his son, David Wilcox. “He saw quite a lot of history unfold in front of him. He knew things might get stormy, but eventually settle down.”

    Bill made provisions to continue supporting Reba’s Ranch House with contributions left in his will.

    “He felt like Reba’s Ranch House was a critical component of support for families,” David says. “He understood the need for Reba’s Ranch House, that families coming from rural Oklahoma or Texas to the hospital needed a place to stay for a while.”

    When the new ranch house was built in 2010, Bill’s weathervanes were placed over the new guest wing as a reminder to families that the winds of change eventually shift, and difficult times will indeed pass.


    See the tribute to Bill Wilcox in the THF Annual Report

    See our video version of the Texoma Health Foundation 2020 Annual Report, including a tribute to Bill Wilcox.

    Looking for a creative holiday gift idea?

    If you are looking for a gift for someone who already has most of what they need, consider making a donation on their behalf to Reba’s Ranch House. It’s thoughtful, creative and it goes to a great cause. And now it’s so easy! We have streamlined our donation process, making it easier for you to quickly make a donation by credit card to Reba’s Ranch House.

     

     



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  6. Buffets of Blessings

    Reba’s Heroes: A Series Highlighting Our Wonderful Volunteers

    Due to COVID 19, we had to cancel our annual volunteer luncheon that we hold to honor our amazing volunteers! In our effort to cover the many aspects of volunteering at Reba’s Ranch House we found a plethora of wonderful stories. In the coming months, we will cover the many ways to volunteer at Reba’s Ranch House. Read some of our 28 years worth of stories and see if you are visualizing yourself joining these beautiful souls giving their time and love to those who need it. Remember: Studies show that volunteers stay healthier, are more active, and live longer with more productive lives. We are here and would love to talk to you about volunteering and we always need a volunteer somewhere!

    Thank you so much for reading our stories and going through this unexpected year holding us close to your heart. Thank you, Thank you! We are here and will continue to be here while we find our new normal!

    May the Lord bless you, and hold you close to His heart.

    Reba’s Ranch House Director Marilyn Bice

    Hot Meals, Snacks, & Love

    Hundreds of people have taken part in our meal ministry program from churches with decades-long commitments to the ranch house. 89-year-old Wyota Hannon witnessed the grand opening of Reba’s Ranch House in 1992 and was one of the earliest volunteers.

    “My husband, James, was always so helpful,” she says. “He would make a big pot of stew and bring it over to the ranch house. We would eat a meal with all the people there with their families. We started setting up with churches to do monthly meals. We had several churches that participated. There are a lot of good people out there.”

    Wyota worked in an emergency room in Denison for 15 years, and James, her husband of 72 years, also worked in Denison. She began volunteering at the ranch house, dedicating her time for 12 years. After retirement and settling in Colbert, Oklahoma, Wyota had turned fully to volunteering.

    “We had people that would come to me and say, ‘Is there anything that we can do?’” she recalls. “‘We know families are there, stranded, and we want to do something.’ I suggested people do a meal once in a while, and I started contacting churches. I made up a little schedule. It worked well, and something that was really fulfilling to me to do.”

    Twelve local churches support the meal ministry program at Reba’s Ranch House. Though the COVID-19 shutdown restrictions prevent them from offering full meals, churches like Trinity Lighthouse Church still bring snacks, frozen breakfast and fruit combos, and bottled drinks to keep the guests supplied with easy-access food.

    Deena Steen is the ministry coordinator at Trinity Lighthouse Church. She began volunteering when churches in the area were invited to participate in the meal ministry after the ranch house opened. Since then, until the time of the shutdown, Deena made sure hot meals were at the house every Friday.

    “The first director [of the ranch house] was Barbara Points, and she was a very personable young woman,” Deena says. “I visited with her many times whenever I would take food over, and see the vision and the heart she had for the families. I could put myself in those families’ shoes, especially if they were from out of town.”

    Trinity Lighthouse has retained some of the volunteers from the original group who stayed faithful in their commitment for nearly 30 years. Deena is also seeing an increase in younger women joining the program, and men as well. Their pastor, Raymond England, is a strong supporter of the team that serves RRH, always willing to promote the need for volunteers.

    “I’m never short on volunteers,” she says. “Before COVID, we had fifty-six women on a rotation basis. If I ever lost one for whatever reason, all I had to do was put a notice in the bulletin that we needed volunteers for Reba’s Ranch House. The slots would instantly be filled because of what the ranch house represents to people. So many of the members have needed their services.

    “I feel we’re an extension of Trinity Lighthouse into the community, being arms and legs to serve hurting people. The ministry of Reba’s has been a joy for the people that do it. They all say that it’s a ministry that touches their heart.”

    Want to make a donation to Reba’s Ranch House?

    We have streamlined our donation process, making it easier for you to quickly make a donation by credit card to Reba’s Ranch House.

     

     



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  7. Making Room for Hope

    Reba’s Heroes: A Series Highlighting Our Wonderful Volunteers

    Due to COVID19, we had to cancel our annual volunteer luncheon that we hold to honor our amazing volunteers! In our effort to cover the many aspects of volunteering at Reba’s Ranch House we found a plethora of wonderful stories. In the coming months, we will cover the many ways to volunteer at Reba’s Ranch House. Read some of our 28 years worth of stories and see if you are visualizing yourself joining these beautiful souls giving their time and love to those who need it. Remember: Studies show that volunteers stay healthier, are more active, and live longer with more productive lives. We are here and would love to talk to you about volunteering and we always need a volunteer somewhere!

    Thank you so much for reading our stories and going through this unexpected year holding us close to your heart. Thank you, Thank you! We are here and will continue to be here while we find our new normal!

    May the Lord bless you, and hold you close to His heart.

    Reba’s Ranch House Director Marilyn Bice

    A special place for those with cancer

    A few years ago, a local Girl Scout saw that people battling cancer would benefit from additional support for certain items, such as wigs, prosthetics, books, blankets and more. She connected with Reba’s Ranch House to propose the concept of a “Room for Hope.” Reba McEntire loved the idea, and today an entire room at Reba’s Ranch House is dedicated to supporting women and men who have cancer by providing these items free of charge. Painted on the wall of this small beige room tucked into one corner of Reba’s Ranch House are the words, “Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful.” The volunteers in that room often bring an understanding unique to those who have faced the same battle … .

    Thank You, Room for Hope Volunteer Carol Brownlee:

    “I began volunteering in 2016 after I retired from a successful career at Caterpillar. It was helpful to keep structure in my life, and volunteering fit that bill. I chose RRH since I had been a cancer survivor and knew they had the Room For Hope. I had also been a supporter and donated to their fundraising efforts with the ‘500 Strong.’ Additionally, RRH has a support group for breast cancer survivors of which I participated in.

    “One of my fondest memories was the successful opportunity to raise funds for RRH exceeding $4,000 by helping organize a Cowgirl Prom with a national organization (Sisters on the Fly) that has over 15,000 members. Proceeds from that event went to the Room For Hope. Another memory is donating garden totems that brought in over $1,200 for the Room For Hope. While the monetary amounts seem small when you have an organization like RRH, it gave me a sense of gratification. The staff at RRH encouraged me to succeed.” —Carol Brownlee

    Thank You, Room for Hope Volunteer Darla Wakefield:

    “Being a breast cancer survivor, I wanted to help others going through a similar journey. Also, I wanted it to be a local opportunity.” —Darla Wakefield

    Thank You, Room for Hope Volunteer Virginia Eldridge:

    “As a breast cancer survivor, I chose RRH because 15 years ago, when there was nothing local for cancer patients. I drove to Dallas to attend a support group.

    “I love RRH because I know what it’s like to not have a place to stay and sleep in a car when a loved one is in the hospital. My favorite memories are talking to the people who are staying at RRH and hearing their stories when we meet on Thursday evenings for a cancer support group. We listen to them and offer food. They are so thankful they have a place to stay.” —Virginia Eldridge

     

    Want to make a donation to Reba’s Ranch House?

    We have streamlined our donation process, making it easier for you to quickly make a donation by credit card to Reba’s Ranch House.

     

     



    • Sign up for Reba's Ranch House stories!