Thursday, September 10, 2020 / by Jenny Carroll
Contributed by Deena Thomas
(BASTROP) Even in the midst of COVID confusion, good things are happening at various non-profit organizations including Down Home Ranch located on 410 acres near Elgin.
The Ranch, offering residency, day programs, and ranch camp over their past 31 years serves adults with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (IDD). Their mission is “empowering the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through social, education, residential and vocational opportunities.”
It is with great anticipation for Saturday, Oct. 3, that this year’s 17th Annual Gala---“Down Home is Where the Heart Is” will be held completely online through a virtual hosting platform from 6 to 8 p.m.
“We will still have all of the great entertainment and speakers you’ve come to know and love with other galas,” Jeffrey Mizell, Director of Development said.
The event kicks off with a special pre-event performance by members of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, a special guest appearance by country music star Seth Ennis, followed by speeches by the DHR executive leadership. But it’s the robust silent auction, all online, that will provide some excitement as paddles are raised and matching donation opportunities fulfill the fundraising goal of more than $100,000.
Pre-gala, DHR invites community members to consider sponsorship opportunities ranging from Ranch Champion at $100 to Deep in the Heart Sponsor at $2,500. As with any sponsorship, donors not only help a good cause but also receive recognition of their support. This online event is no different, except with this event, donor recognition will be communicated through DHR social media, website, and at the gala rotating slide show.
“The DHR gala has become a staple charitable event in Elgin and the Greater Bastrop County areas,” Mizell said. “This year is a little different utilizing our extensive social media network. Is your family in Spokane? New York? Virginia? No problem! They can participate in this year’s fully virtual gala!”
DHR is recognized for training its ranchers—those serviced at the Ranch—to produce, care for, and market various farm-to-table selections including 100% Wagyu-Angus beef products, eggs, poinsettias, and hand-made items. With COVID, visits to the Ranch for purchases have been limited to Wednesdays from 10-4 for curbside pick up or deliveries. They even partnered with Bastrop’s Neighbors Kitchen and Yard to include some of their selections in the Community Support Agriculture farm-to-table boxes in the midst of the pandemic.
All this hinges upon volunteers willing and able to assist in the many programs at the Ranch.
“Each year, DHR relies heavily on generous volunteers to assist in the growing process for thousand of plants,” Mizell said. “COVID has caused a significant burden on staff as volunteering in the greenhouse has decreased. We have created innovative ways to have groups, family units, and individuals volunteer at the ranch safely. Yes, you’ll need to wear a mask.”
DHR has focused on rancher health, engagement, and relationships more than ever since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Ranchers have had many opportunities for engagement, many of them outside including swimming, fishing, kayaking, dancing, team sports, and even an at-your-pace 5K. Ranchers are able to continue their vocations with adjusted protocols.
For those interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities or gala sponsorship, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-856-0128.