The volunteer services councils working with HHSC's state hospitals and state supported living centers have long provided crucial financial and moral support to patients, residents and staff. But in fiscal year 2019, they were stronger than ever. Of the 23 facilities, 22 have their own council.
Statewide, VSCs helped provide more than $2 million worth of goods and services while volunteers and interns served more than 200,000 hours at facilities — time worth nearly $6 million.
And with the holidays coming up, Texans looking to help other Texans this season are encouraged to contact their local VSC.
"The volunteer services councils are a crucial part of our communities and work tirelessly for the needs of the people who live in our facilities," said Mike Maples, deputy executive commissioner for the Health and Specialty Care System.
VSCs are sometimes known by different names, but they all strengthen community ties and offer a way for those communities to raise funds and give time to enhance the lives of people at state hospitals and state supported living centers. These nonprofit organizations are composed of volunteer board members who lead fundraising efforts.
How to Help
Donate: The VSC Holiday Wish List (PDF) includes wish list items still needed for residents and patients, contact information for each volunteer services council and other ways you or your group can help. Even if you can't donate, you can still help — spread the word in your community through social media, word of mouth, etc.
Volunteer: If you're interested in volunteering for any HHSC program, visit the Volunteer with HHS webpage to fill out an application.
Those efforts can pay for things big and small — ranging from a new campus sports complex to employee appreciation events and holiday parties for patients and residents. Each council works closely with local leadership to tailor the help it receives from the community to the needs of the facility.
This help is nothing new: Abilene SSLC's VSC just celebrated its 60th anniversary, and Big Spring State Hospital's VSC has been connecting the hospital to the community since the early 1950s. In Big Spring, volunteers have provided everything from feel-good entertainment to successful therapy to sophisticated fundraising efforts such as downtown's thriving The Chalet resale shop. Thanks to a generous community, Big Spring's VSC raised almost half a million dollars last fiscal year.
The Volunteer Services Council for the Lufkin SSLC raised a similar amount but took a different road to get there. More than $450,000 was raised to renovate a dining area, not just through the community but also through nine grants that the VSC was awarded for the project.
The new dining area provides a safer, cleaner environment for the residents and can be used outside of meal times for meetings and special events.
"Our volunteer services council is made up of community leaders who are passionate, creative, innovative and very driven to support the people that are served at the facility," Lufkin SSLC Director Gale Wasson said. "The residents have benefited from their generosity, and I am amazed by the fruits of their service."