Matching helps leverage donations to Phoenix Center

By Lew K. Cohn

The Highlander

Managing Editor


Residents of Burnet County who contribute to The Phoenix Center during its current capital campaign could see their gift leveraged into an even larger amount, thanks to two separate matching pledges by supporters of the Marble Falls-based center.

Marble Falls resident Robert Ruff has pledged to match, dollar for dollar, donations made to the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization through Jan. 10, 2017, up to a maximum amount matched of $300,000. This includes contributions received through charitable organizations.

Meanwhile, Bill and Karen Wines of Horseshoe Bay have pledged to match, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000 in donations, provided they come from new donors who reside in Horseshoe Bay and are contributed by Dec. 15, 2016.

Those gifts could help the Phoenix Center realize its five-year capital plan to acquire 40 or more acres of land and build a 12,000-square-foot facility to provide mental health, play, music, art and equine therapy services to children who have experienced trauma in a six-county area.

“We have always operated with a waiting list, but we are currently at our physical capacity in our facility,” said Lindsay Plante, president of the board of directors of the Phoenix Center. “Even if we were to hire new therapists, we would not have enough room or space for them to treat patients.

“Burnet County has a higher rate of child abuse than the state average and the center was able to provide services for 500 families last year. There are still more families that we hope to serve and that is why we are trying to build a facility which can handle all of the things we do in one place.”

Child abuse rates in Burnet County are 2.1 times greater than the state average. The six counties served by the Phoenix Center — Blanco, Burnet, Lampasas, Llano, Mason and San Saba — are all designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Plante said the goal of the Phoenix Center is to raise $6.6 million over the course of five years to allow the center to relocate from its current facility at 119 Avenue G to a future site and to build an all-inclusive therapy center for trauma-informed children and their parents.

Currently, the center has secured resources, which include grants, corporate donations, individual donations and event proceeds, which have totaled $1,427,671 and they have raised an additional $2.2 million since the launch of the capital campaign in October 2015. This includes $500,000 raised at their Blues on the Bay gala held at Horseshoe Bay in February.

They anticipate a five-year total cost of $2,267,753 in expanding the center's current program offerings and $3,433,200 in one-time capital investments, which include land acquisition, a building, equipment, stables for equine therapy, camp facilities and structures, camp equipment, an aquatics play area and a ropes course. They also hope to set up a Phoenix Center Endowment Fund of about $850,000.
The center is currently the only one within the region which provides all of the following under a single roof: equine therapy, play therapy, art therapy, music therapy, child-parent relationship therapy, yoga therapy, therapeutic outdoors camp and a courthouse-accessible therapy dog named Mabel, whom the center added last year through Canine Companions for Independence.

All of this is provided free of charge to children ages 3 through 18 who have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse or trauma. There is no limit on the amount of therapy that can be provided to a child, either. More than four out of five children served by the center are considered low-income.

“Most of these children and families either are on Medicaid or they have no insurance and there is a gap in coverage for these types of therapies,” Plante said. “There is no limit because each case is different; one child may get services three times a week and one may come once a week. Plus, six weeks of services may not be enough to help them.”

The center, which began operations as Camp Phoenix in 2007, was the dream realized of Sarah Garrett, LCSW, RPT, the Phoenix Center's founder and executive director. Camp Phoenix began by partnering with the Boys & Girls Club for after school programming, teaching art and yoga. In 2008, the first outdoors camp was held at Candlelight Ranch, with 24 kids in attendance.

Renamed the Phoenix Center in 2009, the center began offering therapy services and moved to its present location on the second floor of Liberty Hall two years later. Besides hiring additional full-time therapists, the center has partnered with the social work master's programs at University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University in San Marcos to bring interns, which has expanded their ability to help children in need.

For more information about the Phoenix Center and its capital campaign, see the center's website at

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