30th anniversary

News & Needs Archive

  1. Feeding the Sheep — Grace Sunday School Class’s Meal Ministry to Reba’s Ranch House

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer


    Sue Miller knows what it’s like to spend long stretches away from home. She and her husband stayed in a hospitality house for six weeks when their special needs child was hospitalized. She experienced firsthand how vital it was to have a place to sleep, shower, and all the things she needed while away from home. 

    Later, she told her husband she would love to work at a place like that. Joining the Grace Sunday School Class of the First Baptist Church in Sherman, she was excited to learn that’s just what the class does for Reba’s Ranch House.

    “I just think it’s wonderful,” Sue says. “My husband’s family used the ranch house when my father-in-law was passing. None of the kids lived here, and I didn’t have room for everybody, plus the ranch house was so close to the hospital.”

    Sue Miller (right), Sue Foster (left)

    When Sue walks into the Sunday school and sees her name on the calendar, her reaction is different from other obligations.

    “I love doing it,” she says. “A lot of times, you are reminded of things and go, ‘Oh shoot, I gotta go do that.’ But when I see it’s my turn for Reba’s Ranch House, I say, ‘Okay, it’s my turn.’ I’m very thankful I’m able to do it.”

    The ministry started twelve years ago after Anita Rawls faced an out-of-town challenge when her mother was placed in hospice care. Anita refused to leave the hospital. From Friday night until her mother passed the following Wednesday, she didn’t step foot out of the facility.

    At some point during that time, a nurse came into the room and told Anita, “We have food down in the kitchen, you come get whatever you want.”

    Anita went to the kitchen and was amazed to find ready-to-eat meals to dish up. Casseroles, breakfast foods, and snacks were available throughout her long vigil.

    When Anita returned home, she and a friend reached out to Marilyn Bice, director at Reba’s Ranch House. Anita wanted to organize her Grace Sunday School Class to bring food and anything else Reba’s Ranch House needed for guests every week.

    Now, about 25 ladies from the Grace Sunday School Class are signed up to fulfill food needs at the ranch house.

    Sue Foster, another volunteer with the class, knows what it’s like to camp out during a medical situation. She slept on a couch in her pregnant daughter’s hospital room for six weeks in Oklahoma City.

    “I was constantly running out to get her something to eat,” Sue says. “If I’d had food available there for me, I would have felt overwhelmed with gratitude like Anita. It brought her to tears, and still brings her to tears when she thinks about what the volunteers at the hospital did for her and her mom.”

    Like the other Sue, Sue Foster doesn’t dread when her turn comes to bring food to the ranch house.

    Sue Foster

    “I’ve got it in my phone when my days are,” she says. “And when I walk into Sunday School and see it’s my week, I sit down and text Marilyn, ‘What do we need?’”


    Simple acts of kindness from volunteers like the Grace Sunday School Class make all the difference at Reba’s Ranch House.

    If you are interested in donating to the house to help support buying groceries for families, click here.

    You can play a vital role in being a caregiver of caregivers!

    “…And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” –John 21:17 (NKJV)


  2. Keeping the Ranch House Running

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer 


    Down by the old Southern Pacific Railhouse on E. Houston in Sherman sat a nondescript welding shop. It was to this welding shop that Bert Bond trekked in the summers of the 1950s and 60s. 

    His granddad had opened the shop around the 1920s, and his dad went to work in it after World War II. There were always chores for Bert to do—sweeping the floors, painting metal projects. His main reason for being there, though, was because he had an endless curiosity for how things worked and how to fix them. That curiosity led Bert to an electrical engineering degree and a 41-year career at Texas Instruments. 

    Now retired, Bert is still fixing things.

    Around Reba’s Ranch House—a home away from home for caregivers—there is always a lightbulb that needs to be changed, a sink to unstop, or a flapper valve to replace. Bert is on call for the ranch house whenever they need him, whether it’s fixing something, or saying a prayer with a ranch house guest. 

    “God is good to us,” Bert says. “A lot of times people just need someone to listen to them and cheer their day up. I think everyone could use a good word, or for someone to say a prayer for them and their family. It gives them hope and lifts them up for the day. And that’s basically what we’re here for, to make this place a better world.”



    Helping people, especially with their medical needs, runs in Bert’s family through his mom and sister who were in healthcare. He is also using his retirement years to work in his church as the maintenance person and especially helping elderly ladies who need lightbulbs changed. 

    A Jack of all trades, Bert’s early days of working in his granddad’s welding shop, and his Boy Scout merit badges for electricity and plumbing prepared him for the good work he now does. 

    “And it keeps me out of trouble,” he said with a laugh.

    The staff couldn’t imagine the world without Bert.

    “He keeps us running,” says Marilyn Bice, director of Reba’s Ranch House. “He is kind, considerate, and solves most of our problems.”

    Bert started helping around the ranch house over a decade ago when he installed handicap grab bars for the guest bathrooms. He saw the mission of the ranch house up close and knew he wanted to continue being a part of it.

    “Reba’s Ranch House is such a blessing to our area and those needing a place to stay and unwind after a long day and night staying with their loved one in the hospital,” Bert says. “It is a privilege and pleasure working with all the wonderful individuals who work and volunteer here at the Ranch House.”

  3. Feel-Good Meals to Soothe During Difficult Times

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer 


    Sometimes when guests drive up to Reba’s Ranch House, they are on their last gallon of gas. Having a cozy room to stay in while their loved one is hospitalized is already a gift, but they soon learn the hospitality doesn’t end there. A hot meal often awaits them in the ranch house’s kitchen.  Read the rest of this entry »

  4. 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.


  5. 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.”

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.”

  10. 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.