From the CEO: Dec 2021

Eva Aguirre, president and CEO of New Danville nonprofit

“TEAMWORK – coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.”   Henry Ford

Dear Friends, Families, and Supporters:

I would like to focus this month’s article on the incredible teams that we are blessed to have here at New Danville.  Teams can be defined as a group of people coming together to fulfill a goal or have a united purpose.  It is that sense of united purpose that keeps all of us, whether staff or volunteers, moving forward for the benefit of those we serve.  

Working alongside our incredible board of directors, our team of management staff tackles the strategic, operational, and fundraising objectives to help us continue to be a successful agency.  Likewise, the heart of our agency is the team of direct support professionals who serve and support our clients.  Their daily commitment to a high level of quality is truly inspirational.  Without them, we would not be able to accomplish our daily “small victories.” Our team of support employees, whether it is program support, landscaping, or maintenance, all make sure that the staff and clients live, learn, work and grow in a safe and beautiful facility. 

Lastly, our dedicated team of volunteers–whether it is a corporate group coming in for a one-day beautification project, those supporting our program areas, or our committed core of volunteers who operate Jazzy Junque six days a week—provide their selfless service that is priceless and leads to our success.  Amongst our volunteers, one was recently nominated as the Houston Texans Community Quarterback Award 2021 recipient.  This is an annual award issued by the Texans football organization for an outstanding volunteer selected from the Greater Houston area.  Although the efforts and accomplishments of this year’s recipient would not have been possible without the support of the entire Jazzy Junque team of volunteers, we are extremely proud of our very own Odette D’Agostino as this year’s award recipient.  Not only has she been recognized for her selfless service, but as an added bonus, New Danville will receive $25,000 from the Houston Texans organization.  

As Helen Keller wrote, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Not a bad way to end the year!


In the News: Dec 2021

News from local media and external sources, please follow the links to read the entire articles:

Houston Texans Community Quarterback Award Presented to Odette D’Agostino, along with a check for $25,000 to New Danville  https://www.woodlandsonline.com/npps/story.cfm?nppage=71742

Announcement of awards for Willis Christmas Parade.  Spoiler alert…New Danville won the….  https://www.facebook.com/WillisChristmasParade/videos/228973906042757/

Charbonneau Family Building dedication. The first named building at New Danville expands pallet production capability. https://montgomerycountynews.net/pallets-to-partners-celebrates-new-building-p10251-1.htm


Upcoming Events: Dec 2021

Spring Thing, April 22, 2022  To hat or not to hat, that is the question. Mark your calendars! The Spring Thing (formerly known as Tea on the Lawn) is back!  Troy Ball will be our speaker. Originally scheduled for the events that were canceled, Troy will share her story of life and resilience while raising two children with special needs, and also starting a distillery in North Carolina. She has attracted audiences around the country and her story is detailed in her book Pure Heart: A Spirited Tale of Grace, Grit and Whiskey.

Holiday Schedule

New Danville will Close at 2 PM on Thursday, Dec 23rd, 2021
CLOSED – Christmas Eve – Fri, Dec 24, 2021
CLOSED – New Year’s Eve Friday, Dec 31st, 2021


Live: Dec 2021

Our First Respite Service Customer Shares Her Views

It didn’t take long after New Danville began its respite services that it had its first customer, a familiar face in the day habilitation program. Alyx began attending New Danville’s programs in 2008 and has long wanted to move to the residential community, Meadowbrook. The waiting list is long, but she is patient, and she got a taste of living here with a brief stay in the cabin now used for respite services.

“I loved it,” she said. “I can’t wait until I can move here someday. I am staying here for another week soon. I love it so much.”

Alyx is busy in various day program activities. A theater major, she is social and busy.  The pace changed when all the other Wranglers left at the end of the day and she was able to stay behind.

“I had my own key, and wifi and the kitchen. Since I was staying, I could use the food pantry on Tuesday. When everyone was gone, I was able to put on my workout clothes, get a bottle of water and get some exercise outdoors. I enjoyed the grounds after everyone left.”

Alyx liked the sense of independence as well as the sense of community with residents who live on site. She hopes to stay often until the time comes that there is an opening so she can live at New Danville.


Learn: Dec 2021

Scholarships Keep the Learning Going

Great things happen with just a few extra days spent at New Danville. Several months ago, the Assistance League of Montgomery County (ALMC) provided assistance to two Wranglers, enabling them to attend day habilitation programs more often. What difference does a day (or several) make?  A lot.

According to Barb Michels, of ALMC’s Special Needs Scholarship Committee, “Assistance League of Montgomery County is proud to have awarded Justin and Ashley scholarships, enabling them to continue to pursue their goals. We are pleased to enjoy a partnership with New Danville as we work together to improve the lives of the people of Montgomery County.” Lives can be improved in many different ways.

Justin was featured in a previous issue of The Wrangler Gazette when he and his mother were able to share some of their story as an inspiration to others. For all the progress cited in the story, it has continued, thanks to ALMC support.

Nicole Martinez, program coordinator, recently cited several areas of noticeable improvement for Justin. “He continues to come out of his shell and socialize more. I am most pleased to see that he is advocating for himself now.  That is a huge step for adults with IDD.”

According to an article by Katherine Owen and Jackie Downer, and published by the University of Hertfordshire in 2002, “Self-advocacy is one of the most important ways in which people with intellectual disabilities have a voice of their own…This is important because it is directly linked to building confidence and self-esteem.”

Justin’s mother has noticed a difference, too.  She said, “It is apparent to me that Justin feels a deeper connection to others this time around. He has developed a sense of community and can remember the names of people that he refers to as his friends. He is also learning some skills – like sewing – that are completely new to him. 

Overall, we are both deeply grateful to both the Assistance League and New Danville for the opportunity he has been given this year. The sense of community and connection that he now has is priceless.”

Nicole shared that Ashley is also coming out of her shell, citing her involvement in meditation class, as well as others. “We realized how far Ashley has come when she agreed to be part of the group photo at the recent building dedication.” The new building is home to the pallet-production team that is part of the “Pallets to Partners” program with New Danville and Charbonneau Industries. Ashley is a member of the team but has typically shied away from having her photograph taken or participating in group events.  “That was a big sign of growth,” Nicole said.


Work: Dec 2021

Working in the Community Has Benefits

Marlon and David have worked in the community for a combined total of almost 30 years. They have gained a lot from their efforts in addition to pay checks, and they have great wisdom to share from their experiences.

Start by practicing: David began working for HEB grocery stores 18 years ago. While in high school, his teacher had students practice for jobs, and David practiced bagging groceries. He started as a bagger for HEB and is now a parking lot attendant. As the chain has expanded in the area, he has transferred to different stores, bringing him closer and closer to New Danville where he lives.

Learn and learn some more: Marlon worked for McDonald’s for eight years and has worked for Whataburger for the past two years.  He takes pride in his work – he has won awards for his service – and attributes his ability to do well to his commitment to always strive to learn something new.

It is not always easy, and that’s okay: Marlon and David agree that work can sometimes be hard. Whether it is dealing with summer heat while working in the parking lot, or having to clean up an area after the lunch rush, they both say that there are times they are tired when they get home from a full day. Neither of them mind it because of the sense of independence the job provides and because of the people they meet.

It is the people that matter: They share something else in common regarding their views about work:  It is about the people. People matter. Marlon says that what inspires him to learn on the job and to deliver award-winning service is because he likes to help people. David shares that, while he doesn’t have as much contact with customers in his current role as he did in the past, he enjoys interacting with them.  “I like meeting customers,” he said.

Never have a bad day: Marlon sums up more than work; he sums up life and attitude. With a big smile, he said, “I never have a bad day.” That is a choice he makes. “Everything is going to be okay; don’t be sad.”  Words to live by.


Grow: Dec 2021

What was started by a couple of concerned parents who wanted to help the residents of Meadowbrook, New Danville’s residential community, have access to household goods has grown, and grown some more. The assistance began in 2011 and the past ten years have shown ongoing development of an important service—a pantry known as the General Store.

After several years of being supported by parents, the TLC Food Pantry in Willis stepped up to help stock the pantry with food products to complement the household items the pantry maintained, according to Jennifer Mauboules who oversees the pantry among her various roles at New Danville.  Twelve Sunday School classes from Crossroads Baptist Church in The Woodlands provide non-food items, each class covering one month of the year. A Sunday School class at First Baptist Church in The Woodlands provides items in November and December, or whenever it is needed.

Early in 2021, the pantry moved to The Cabin, one of our original buildings. It currently serves as a classroom on one side and the pantry on the other. About that time, Keep US Fed of Montgomery County became a partner and introduced Jennifer to Kroger. “Because of that relationship,” she said, “we’ll soon partner with the Montgomery County Food Bank, too. With the help of Keep US Fed we’ve been able to add food products to our inventory, too. Occasionally we get fresh vegetables donated or from our gardening class.”

Colt and Marlon, residents of Meadowbrook, like to help on the trips to get donations, as well as load and stock items into the pantry. While Colt likes ordering his groceries from Kroger and having them delivered to his home, he understands how important it is for the pantry to serve other residents. “It is good that we have the pantry. There are always long lines when we open,” he said. Tuesdays are pantry days. Marlon concurred, “A lot of people come.”

Of the 34 residents, 25 utilize the pantry, according to Jennifer. “The others have other means of assistance, but anyone who lives here can utilize the pantry,” she said.

The pantry is also on the radar of the New Danville’s Job Readiness and Support Program. President and CEO Eva Aguirre said, “Our goal is to employ a couple of our clients to manage the pantry. We are close to being at that stage of development.”


A Wrangler’s Tale: Dec 2021

What has life been like for someone who has been at New Danville since the day it opened?  That is a Wrangler’s Tale; that is Brooke’s tale, and that of her parents, Diane and Jerry.

“I remember the first day,” Brooke said. “It rained so hard. Water was running through the tent. But I came back.”  It was 15 years ago that she first attended New Danville’s day habilitation program. About 18 months ago she was able to move to Meadowbrook, New Danville’s residential community.

Jerry said, “They had the tent, the cabin and that was it. Oh, and porta-potties.”  Diane smiled with an observation, “Things have certainly changed here.” The cabin has become a classroom and food pantry, and has been joined by homes for 36, a greenhouse, two classroom buildings, the recently dedicated Charbonneau Family Building for pallet manufacturing and more. Amidst all the changes over the years, Brooke and her parents have been involved in just about everything New Danville has ever offered.

When asked what the most important change was for her when she moved to Meadowbrook, Brooke was quick to answer, “Friends. Being social.” She nodded often as Diane expounded on what it means to the family, including their pet dog, for Brooke to be part of a community and a typical lifestyle. “She and her friends socialize, and Jerry and I come up to spend the weekend with Brooke sometimes in her place. Her place…that makes all the difference. Independence is special.”

Jerry and Diane volunteer much of their time to New Danville. Jerry helps out in the woodshop and Diane at Jazzy Junque, along with the help they provide at various activities such as the recent Christmas Marketplace where Wranglers were able to shop for free to get presents for their loved ones.

It is clear that being busy comes naturally to Brooke. Over the years, she has worked in woodshop and in the production program, participates in the Social Club, enjoys a variety of classes and was part of the recent Christmas Parade float that won the Outstanding Float Trophy at the superheroes-themed parade in Willis, TX. Of course, she also has her eye on additional things she’d like to see at New Danville, such as a community/rec center. She is looking forward to the soon-to-be-created park area that will have stationary exercise equipment. Jerry wrapped up the Brooke story nicely. “She has a community and she is living on her own like anyone else.” Diane and Brooke smiled and nodded affirmation of the Wrangler’s Tale of good times.


Guest Voices: Dec 2021

Finding New Danville Products in Special Places

Ernesto and Jodi’s B&B on Lake Conroe has 189 excellent reviews, largely because of their special attention to their customers’ needs and comfort. New Danville products produced by Wranglers are part of their success. “We’re proud that we can support New Danville while also spreading the word about their great services,” Ernesto said. “We even had a customer from Germany who wanted to know how to buy New Danville’s sugar scrub.  We directed them to New Danville’s store. All the great personal touches are Jodi’s idea,” he said with a proud smile.

The couple have had their B&B for about three years. As they were getting it prepared for the market, they visited Jazzy Junque to look for furniture and home décor items. There they met Odette D’Agostino, one of the co-founders of the store, who told them about New Danville. They were sold. They continue to buy products and spread the word about New Danville.

Jodi is a graphic designer and Ernesto has had a long career in the foodservice industry, including overseeing events as large as for 6,000 people. “We’re failures at retirement,” Ernesto said with a broad smile. “I don’t think he’ll ever really retire,” Jodi added. “He likes to be busy. He has been all his life.”

“I got an adrenalin rush from all the challenges in putting together huge events,” he said, “but I also really enjoy being able to be so attentive to the various needs of those who stay with us. We continue to learn and adapt.” He pointed to a variety of New Danville products, including lotions, creams, natural insect repellant, as well as several décor items from Jazzy Junque and items created in the New Danville woodshop, all that serve the needs and comforts of their clients.

“Odette introduced us to the New Danville team. We met with Eva, Randy, and others. Everyone was receptive to our ideas of products and smaller product sizes. They wanted to be there for us like we are there for our clients, and we appreciate that.”


Development Corner: Dec 2021

The last two weeks of the year are, for many people, crunch time for making decisions on which causes to support and at what levels. It is also a time when many questions arise about organizational needs, naming opportunities, planned giving options, donor-advised fund distribution details, and more.  Please feel free to reach out with any questions you might have regarding possible support of New Danville. I can be reached at Dion.McInnis@NewDanville.org or my cell number, 832-877-8821.

Remember, to meet the December 31 deadline for 2021 tax purposes, your contribution must be postmarked by December 31, or you can give online at https://newdanville.networkforgood.com/projects/61703-annual-giving-campaign/.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.  All my best to you and yours.

We are pleased to introduce Live, Learn, Work and Grow:  Wisdom from Under the Windmill, an inspiring, motivational, immediately usable presentation by Dion McInnis, development director. Bring this to your organization, association, business or group; everyone’s life can be better with the 15 nuggets of wisdom for living discovered at New Danville. Contact Dion at Dion.McInnis@NewDanville.org to book the presentation for your event.

New Danville is a 501( c ) 3 nonprofit rural community in Willis, TX for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. New Danville provides our clients an opportunity to live enriched and purposeful lives; we proudly call them Wranglers.


Development Corner – November 2021

Among the many donors who joined the ranks of supporters for the first time in 2021, was a company that has tackled a few volunteer projects this year. Sterling Construction has built relationships with New Danville while using an essential building material – shared values.

The first time a Sterling Construction crew of volunteers came to New Danville, they tackled painting picnic benches, the bridge, and the residence cabins. A few months later, they spiffed up the lunch/gathering area with bold, geometric patterns painted on the walls and other wall finishings added that changed the room from ho-hum to “hot dog!”  Their third service trip for the year had them extending the work of their second trip into the smaller gathering area adjacent to the lunchroom.

Sterling Construction leadership believes in addressing the needs of those with special needs. That is the basis, of course, of all long-term relationships between an organization and those who support it; mutual values. The more one knows about the cause and how the organization addresses it, the stronger the relationship can be. 

November 15 is National Philanthropy Day this year. The Sterling Construction story serves as a good reminder of what philanthropy means and the many ways it can manifest. The roots of the word “philanthropy” means “love of mankind.” It is for the love of others that time is given, talent is utilized and treasure is shared. To all who support others, thank you.

Join the family of New Danville supporters. I invite you to learn more about how (and why) the New Danville team serves adults with IDD with a tour or a conversation. I can be reached at Dion.McInnis@NewDanville.org or 936-253-5757.

We are pleased to introduce Live, Learn, Work and Grow:  Wisdom from Under the Windmill, an inspiring, motivational, immediately usable presentation by Dion McInnis, development director. Bring this to your organization, association, business or group; everyone’s life can be better with the 15 nuggets of wisdom for living discovered at New Danville. Contact Dion at Dion.McInnis@NewDanville.org to book the presentation for your event.

New Danville is a 501( c ) 3 nonprofit rural community in Willis, TX for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. New Danville provides our clients an opportunity to live enriched and purposeful lives; we proudly call them Wranglers.