Stephen Mabry, chief operating officer of Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville, was meeting with an insurance adjuster two Fridays ago to map out the work needed to repair a campers’ bunkhouse after a recent storm.
Maby described the recent events like this.
“As storms moved across Kerr County on March 4 at 4 a.m., I remember thinking, ‘It has been a while since we had rain this hard." The wind was up and while I heard rain-drops hitting my back door directly, telling me that the wind was strong enough to be blowing the rain under the eaves with enough force to reach the door, it didn't seem to be any stronger than other storms we have had that didn't result in damage.
“That comforting thought was short-lived, however; and as the morning began, my phone sprang to life to tell me so. TLC's Director of Maintenance Ken Folsom reported to me that he was at Bunkhouse 2 and had cut the electricity and the gas off to the building. When I arrived, this was what I saw:
“The roof of the back porch was completely lifted and folded over so that it was laying over the front of the structure and into the front yard. Roofing materials, beams, lumber and masonry blocks were scattered about, which also had ruptured the gas-line and electrical conduits that were on top of the roof,” Mabry said. “No doubt the quick action of our Maintenance crew prevented further damage as they moved to secure the site.”
Later that morning, Williamson roofing sent a crew to raise materials to the grounds and tarp the site to prevent further damage from pending and continuing rain.
“Their speedy response and immediate assistance was much appreciated as TLC was preparing to receive 300 volunteers for our March workday at the end of that week.”
Mabry said before a single child steps on the property May 31, they have to make sure everything necessary is done. And the response from their insurance company came fairly quickly.
Every summer is a privilege and a joy to operate, Mabry said, but operating a small city and the comings and goings and safety of some 4,000 people in the span of six months is not without its challenges.
“Certainly, this March storm has presented a tremendous challenge, but with it, also opportunity. The opportunity that lies before us involves our telling the TLC story by more people to more people, and how important our mission and message is to more than 1,500 children who will arrive on May 31, for the first session of camp,” Mabry said. “It is the power of that story and the invitation to band together during a time of adversity for the benefit of children and something larger than ourselves, that is the silver lining in this saga.”
He said those interested can contribute to the camp’s repair funds, by sending a check by mail to Texas Lions Camp, P.O. Box 290247, Kerrville, TX 78029. Checks should be marked on the memo line with “TLC Capital Needs.”
Mabry said he cannot say that steps 1-20 that are going to be implemented will preserve operations in Bunkhouse 2 for the Summer of 2020.
“I can't promise that there will be a quick or easy fix for the building itself. What I can promise, is that this is not our first "storm" both literally and figuratively; and I have been a privileged steward to bring resources to bear for children and witness to see how others respond and do likewise.
“Storms are part of the story God in his wisdom has permitted within the chapters of our life's story and journey. To be sure, growth and maturity are often predicated upon our response to such events,” Mabry said. “However, when things do not go as we think they should, the question we must resist is, ‘Why this...why now?’ The ‘Why Question’ is invalid and can invalidate our response when it matters most. The better question is, the ‘What Question’ such as, ‘What has happened and what is my response, now?’”
Mabry said this physical damage won’t prevent the Texas Lions Camp from opening for this summer’s camping sessions.
“This was one of eight bunkhouses, so we have seven available. We’ll see how we can sort out the campers whose families apply,” he said.
This year the TLC camping schedule includes about a half-dozen sessions for youngsters with physical disabilities; a session for those with Down Syndrome; and another for those with Type 1 diabetes.
Mabry added, “I have always known God to be faithful and while I do not know all of the answers at this time, I look forward to marveling at His provision as we do our part as co-laborers with Him in His work. As we find ourselves, T-minus 11 weeks and counting from Summer Camp 2020, I am borrowing from many chapters both in my own story and that of the TLC, that tells me with trial and invitations to crisis, God is present and promises His provision. Indeed, God-sized problems require God-sized answers.”
A photo of a full rainbow over Texas Lions Camp's amphitheater was taken that same morning as storms left the area.
“If you are unfamiliar with that biblical story, the rainbow was displayed in the sky as a reminder for all times of God's promise to man - hope in the aftermath of a great storm,” Mabry said. “Likewise, if you are unfamiliar with the use of TLC's amphitheater, it is a forum to celebrate and commemorate the challenges overcome by more than 1,500 children per summer and a declaration, ‘that they need not face their challenges in life alone’.”
He said if anyone has a heart to assist with the build-back of Bunkhouse 2, residents can send their tax-deductible gifts to Texas Lions Camp, Inc. designated for "BH-2" or to learn more, contact Stephen Mabry or Milton Dare by calling TLC at 896-8500. Area residents may also donate online.
Mabry is president and CEO of Texas Lions Camp, Inc. and recently celebrated 30 years of service to this 70 year-old, 501(c)(3) organization in August 2019.
TLC, Inc. has a large Board of Directors consisting of 94 voting members and more than 300 volunteer members that serve on one of 10 standing committees.
As a corporation, TLC has more than 200 full-time and seasonal employees (who are organized into seven departments) and more than 2,000 volunteers per year who are responsible for creating an atmosphere of success for more than 1,500 children with physical disabilities per summer.
Mabry is a Certified Association Executive and a past Certified Fund-Raising Executive with the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He is a father of three and resides on TLC’s Kerrville campus together with his wife Shawn.