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T HE aus tin 2012 | specia l edition

Trail of Lights D ec e m b e r 1 6 - 2 3 , 2 0 1 2 Forefront

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features Trail of Lights Trailblazers Trail of Lights Village


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e v e n t m a p


Tr a i l o f lig ht s V i ll ag e

Health & Wellness


Family Literacy


Youth & Education


Healthy Habits for Central Texas






Community & Social Services


Powering the Possible


Corporate Philanthropy




Tr ailbl a zers


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from the Organizers


hank you for helping us turn the lights back on for Austin’s most beloved celebration. The Austin Trail of Lights is a celebration rich in tradition, shared stories and community. Sitting literally at the center of all that is great about Austin, the Austin Trail of Lights connects us to all that is great about our community no matter how much we grow and change. We are proud to partner with corporate sponsors, nonprofit organizations, community leaders and individuals who are turning the lights back on. Through

remembering stories past and creating stories for a new generation, we have the opportunity to unite in the spirit of community progress. This is a new opportunity to restore a community event for, with and by Austin. Thank you for joining us as we celebrate our advancements and forge connections that keep Austin the place we love to call home. Together we can Light It Up Austin.


trail of lights 2012


Paul Carrozza, Jay Watson & John Honning


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About The Austin Tr ail of Lights The Austin Trail of Lights is part of the Austin experience, lighting up the season with

Writing and editorial

a celebration of community, memories and fun. Founded in 1965 as “The Spirit of

Abby Sandlin, Managing Editor

Christmas,� the cherished event has been embraced by the Austin community eversince. This year, brought to you by RunTex Carrozza Foundation and Forefront Austin, the

Lauren Smith Ford, Editor

Austin Trail of Lights, powered by H-E-B returns December 16-23. This is a community

Kristen Card

event for, with and by Austin. For more information, please visit AustinTrailofLights. org.

Brought to you by RunTex C arroz z a Foundation

Kathryn Cramer Kristen Hicks Sandra Kleinsasser Susan Lahey

Since 2003, the mission of RunTex Carrozza Foundation has been to improve the

Sarah Muthler

fitness of our community, state and nation through the support of events and training

Julie Tereshchuk

programs. By promoting the quality of life, we encourage our community to sustain life-long habits of fitness and health. RunTex Events develops and services hundreds of runs, triathlons, duathlons, walks and other community events in the Central Texas

photogr aphers

region. RunTex Events helps build events that provide a platform to raise awareness and

Katie Hayes Luke

money for non-profits and a community connection for the business sector. For more

John Honning

information, visit Forefront Austin Forefront Austin is a community engagement platform that connects individuals,


Ashley Horsley

corporations and nonprofits to lead change in their communities. Our goal is to encourage a more informed and engaged community by inspiring meaningful discussion and offering opportunities for people to get involved through volunteering with or donating to organizations that are leading change. For more information, please visit Austin Parks and Recreation Department The purpose of the Parks and Recreation Department is to provide, protect and preserve a park system that promotes quality recreational, cultural and outdoor experiences for the Austin community. For more information about the department and its many beneficial services, visit


trail of lights 2012


Produced by

Forefront Austin 5000 Plaza on the Lake Suite 200 Austin, TX 78746 published by

Letter from the Mayor


elcome to the return of Austin’s favorite celebration with the 2012 Trail of Lights, powered by H-E-B. The Trail of Lights is such an important part of Austin’s story and I am proud and thrilled to see it return to its former glory in the heart of Austin.

The Trail of Lights holds the treasured memories and cherished traditions of all of Austin. It reminds us that no matter what heights we climb to as a community, we are all connected in our love of this city. We are bound in our celebration of each other and the things that make Austin the place we all love to call home. Thank you to all those who started this celebration 47 years ago, those that grew up along with the Trail of Lights and those who have come together to create traditions and memories for a new generation. Mayor Lee Leffingwell


elcome to Zilker Metropolitan Park, Austin’s jewel in the heart of the city and the 2012 Trail of Lights, powered by H-E-B. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department is proud to partner with leaders from across Austin who share a vision of the

Trail of Lights Festival as an enduring community celebration. The “Spirit of Christmas” that started in Zilker Metropolitan Park in 1966 as a small gathering has grown and expanded to reflect the brilliant diversity of Austin. Light it Up Austin! Sara Hensley,

Director Austin Parks and Recreation Deptartment


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trail of lights 2012


A look back and a celebration of a beloved Austin tradition’s triumphant return.


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About the 2012 Trail of Lights ecember 16, 2012 marks the 47th anniversary

celebrate. The Trail of Lights is a piece of Austin’s history. It’s the

of our community’s Trail of Lights celebration.

perfect opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments and find ways

Originally armed with a “Twelve Days

to advance our community.”

of Christmas” exhibit and a very large

In addition to all that Austinites love and remember about the Trail

burning log, Austinites have been gathering

of Lights, organizers are creating experiences and opportunities to

to celebrate the holiday together since 1965.

connect the community long after the last light is extinguished. This

Beginning as the “Spirit of Christmas” display

year, the familiar eight-day holiday exhibit returns with more than

and then becoming to the Trail of Lights in 1992, the

a mile of displays, entertainment, culinary delights, exciting theme

holiday trail has been well traveled by friends and family,

nights and a new, non-profit village that highlights 23 community-

allowing Austin to further its culture of community, artistry,

focused, local organizations.

generosity, and music. Yet in 2009, economic hardships forced the

“The 2012 Trail of Lights is our opportunity to celebrate together,

city to cut back on the event and dim the glow, turning the trail

share our traditions and continue to advance this city we love

lights off, although the tree remained lit.

to call home,” says Jay Watson, CEO of Forefront Austin. “The

This year, RunTex Carrozza Foundation and Forefront Austin,

conversations we start here at the Trail of Lights will continue

banded together in unique partnerships with the City of Austin, the

into the coming years as this celebration returns as an enduring

Austin Parks and Recreation Department and corporate, foundation


and individual sponsors to re-illuminate the Austin tradition at no burden to taxpayers.

Visions of sugarplums rest beside visions of our community as the Trail of Lights tradition now continues. Still the festival by Austin

“The Trail of Lights is an iconic celebration of authentic Austin,”

and for Austin, the trail remains a place where our stories can be

said Paul Carrozza, Founder and CEO of the RunTex Carrozza

heard, shared, and lit up in an array of glimmering, winking, blazing

Foundation. “Great things happen when we come together to

holiday lights of the warmest kind.

C e l e b r at i n g a l l o f A u s t i n | Special theme nights brings together unique slices of Austin Military Appreciation Night • Heritage Night • School Spirit Night • Santa & Elf Night


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• Caroling Night • Uniquely Austin

Austin is famous for throwing parties for the rest of the world. The Trail of Lights is a party we throw for ourselves.


trail of lights 2012



a history of the Trail of Lights by Kristen Card, Forefront Author

ntil three years ago, the Trail of Lights seemed like

of Christmas, and features a live nativity scene enacted by Travis

an Austin holiday-season tradition that had

High School drama students, four live choirs, and a seven-foot

gone on and would continue on forever.

pasteboard cutout of Santa Claus. But the shiniest star of the event

The much-loved, mile-long display of

is a jolly, red-clad fellow chuckling and waving from the rooftop of

lights, scenes and entertainment opened

the Swedish Log Cabin in the Garden Center. Such a convincing

each year in grandiose style with a ribbon-

old elf is he that even park personnel have trouble recognizing Park

cutting ceremony and parade, hosted thousands

Superintendent C.O. Smith behind his white whiskers.

upon thousands of sparkly-eyed visitors, and was

lauded among America’s top holiday lighting displays.

SCENE 2: Austin, 1966

But “forever” turned into a potential “nevermore” when the

The second annual holiday-season event undergoes a theme and

city, faced with severe budget cuts, first pared down the event in

name change: this year’s display centers on the ancient tradition of

2009, then pulled the plug on the Trail completely in 2010. While

the burning of the Yule log, and is now known as Yule Fest. The four-

the Trail of Lights had evolved into the dazzling pageant Austinites

night event includes decorative lighting displays throughout Zilker

have been missing for two long years, it had not been around

Park, some colorful plywood cutouts of The Twelve Days of Christmas,

forever. In fact, it’s a year younger than Rankin-Bass’ made-for-TV

a living nativity with real people and animals, and free refreshments.

claymation iteration of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Santa Claus is once again up on the rooftop, and his house and a post office have been built along the road and named Santa’s Village.

SCENE 1: Austin, 1965 Austin civic leader Mrs. Alden [Mabel] Davis and Austin Parks

The post office proves especially popular, as children can go inside and write letters to Santa, and be assured he will receive them.

& Recreation Department [PARD] Director Beverly Sheffield conceive of and create a new holiday tradition in Zilker Park. The four-night “Spirit of Christmas” display highlights The Twelve Days


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SCENE 3: Austin, 1967 Austin’s Yule Fest expands to five nights, and features the burning


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trail of lights 2012


“Going to the Trail of Lights and walking among the large group of people viewing the of the Yule log, a live nativity scene,



era singers and dancers. But the star of this year’s event is atop the brand-

mile-long display, it brings a sense of togetherness and of sharing something magnificent.“

still included, along with refreshment vendors and crafts exhibitors. A free concert by Asleep at the Wheel caps off the event.

new Zilker Holiday tree, the world’s tallest man made Christmas tree, designed and erected by

SCENE 6: Austin, 2010

the Austin energy department and Austin PARD. Visionary Mabel

Gloria Pennington, a 23-year full-time PARD veteran who now

Davis strikes again with the notion of adding holiday lights to an old

works with the department part-time as a coordinator of special

moon tower in Zilker Park and, with the help of four city electricians,

events and historical archivist, describes what happened next—the

the Zilker Holiday Tree is configured. Featuring a unique spiral

indefinite suspension of the Trail of Lights in 2010—as “devastating.”

pattern of more than 3,300 multicolored lights, the tree is 155 feet

“For almost 20 years, I was in charge of recruiting people to play

tall—about three times taller than the National Christmas Tree in

Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Festival, and I played Mrs. Claus on

Washington, DC. Texans twirling beneath the tree are tickled by

opening night,” Pennington reminisces. “I was also responsible for

this fact and dizzied by the brilliant exhibition.

recruiting six men and six women and teaching them the routine to perform as Santa’s Dancing Dolls. We took so much pride in

SCENE 4: Austin, 1982

presenting this treasured tradition free to the people of Austin. So

Several new displays and lights are added to the now-mile-long

many hearts were broken when the Trail of Lights was no more.”

exhibit, and the event name is officially changed to the Trail of

Pennington has not been directly involved in this year’s

Lights Festival. With more than 40 displays and hundreds of

resurrection of the Trail of Lights, but she’s nonetheless thrilled about

thousands of lights, Austin’s Trail of Lights is widely recognized as

the event’s return, and will be there opening night, accompanied by

one of America’s best holiday light displays.

four generations of her family…with [jingle] bells on. “Going to the Trail of Lights and walking among the large group

SCENE 5: Austin, 2009

of people viewing the mile-long display,” remembers Pennington,

Faced with significant budgetary issues, the City of Austin reduces

“it brings a sense of togetherness and of sharing something

the Trail of Lights Festival to a nine-night Zilker Tree Holiday

magnificent. It’s a happy, happy feeling—there’s just nothing better

Festival. Some displays, including Santa’s house and post office, are

than a community feeling good about itself and about each other, and that’s what the Trail of Lights does for us all.” Forefront

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a b o u t t h e l o c at i o n

Zilker Park A city’s centerpiece—from cows, claypits and the Great Depression By Kristen Card, Forefront Author


t’s been called “the Central Park of Texas.” It’s the hub

discovered as a leisurely retreat, touted by one newspaper reporter

of Austin recreational activity, including Barton Springs

as a “charming bathing place, unrivaled…with clear and sparkling

Pool and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail

water, cool shade and banks lined with clean rock.” In the 1870s,

at Lady Bird Lake. And, without doubt, it’s the pastoral

Michael Paggi of Austin introduced industry to the area, running an

heart of our busy, booming, rock-n-rolling hometown.

ice factory and gristmill along the creek. But the area lagged behind

Ah, Zilker Park.

Austin in urban development and remained rather rural until well

On any given day, between dawn and dusk, you’ll find thousands

of Austinites in and all around this 350-acre natural gem, enjoying everything from kite-flying to train-riding to kayaking to disc

Zilker’s ice, Butler’s bricks and the city dump

golfing to just hanging, to whatever you can think of to do on another

Andrew Jackson Zilker, an Indiana native, came to Austin in 1876

beautiful day in Austin, Texas. It’s odd to imagine the park’s history

at the age of 18 to make his fortune. Purportedly, the industrious

including mule pastures, a brick business and a municipal landfill…

young Zilker arrived with fifty cents in his pocket, immediately got a

but it did.

job as a dishwasher, and had doubled his money by shift’s end. Zilker

Barton settles at springs, establishes “cow country”


into the 20th century, spurring some to term it “cow country.”

went on to help construct the Congress Avenue Bridge, but saw his real opportunity in the searing heat of a Texas summer: Andrew

It all began with William Barton, a Southern property and slave

Zilker went into the ice-making business, and was a huge success.

owner who became the earliest immigrant to the area when he

A community mover and shaker, Zilker gained influence in Austin

arrived in the late 1830s – close to Austin’s 1839 founding date.

politics and business, serving as Director of the First National Bank,

Barton settled on 177 acres of land straddling Spring Creek [now

President of the Travis County School Board, a Water and Light

known as, um, Barton Creek], where he farmed the land and

Commissioner, a volunteer fireman, and becoming Austin’s first

raised cattle until his death in 1840. Other settlers followed

Coca-Cola bottler.

Barton, settling along the creek and continuing to use the land for

In 1901, Zilker began buying land between the Colorado River

farming/gardening and stockraising. But as early as the 1840s, the

and Barton Creek. By 1913, he owned several hundred acres, which

artesian spring we now know as Barton Springs had already been

he used to pasture the mules and horses that pulled his Austin Ice

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Factory wagons, and leased for both industrial and recreational

agencies contributed to Zilker Park’s development beginning in

purposes. One such lessee, Michael Butler, had two parcels – one

1933 and, by 1939, though Andrew Zilker had been dead five years,

north and one south of the river—on which he built the Butler Brick

his namesake park was fully developed and in its glory, a naturalistic

Company. An Irish immigrant, Michael and his brother Patrick

park in the tradition of the great 19th-century pleasure grounds.

founded their business in 1873, mining red clay deposits from the river to manufacture bricks [such bricks built Austin’s historic Paggi

Seven decades of additions and traditions—and counting

House, as well as City Hall and the 1888 capitol building, among

Naturally, not all of the 1930s structures remain today and many

other significant structures].

substantial additions have been made to Zilker Park since World

“There was a lot of clay-pit mining and other extraction industries

War II. The current Barton Springs Bath House was built in 1947.

on the south banks that today would be unimaginable,” notes

The 1950s saw the development of Philosopher’s Rock—a flat rock

Griffin Davis, amateur historian and board member of The Trail

next to the diving board where naturalist Roy Bedicheck, folklorist

Foundation. “On the north shore, by the Austin Rowing Center,

J. Frank Dobie and historian Walter Prescott Webb gathered

stands one of the brick towers Butler used as part of a cable conveyor

regularly to chat. Today, a statue honoring these men and their

system over the river. Massive buckets would pick up the clay being

vision stands at the Barton Springs Pool entrance. And a favorite

mined on the south side of the river and move it across to the kilns on

family attraction, the Zilker Zephyr, has been operating at the park

the north side.” The Butler family eventually moved their business to

for almost half a century. Once known as the Eagle, the miniature

Sandy Creek, close to Elgin, and a municipal landfill was built on

train chugs along at eight miles an hour on a three-mile loop, year-

the old brick quarry. “The park area located today on the southeast

round from 10 a.m. to sundown, weather permitting. In the 1970s,

side of the MoPac footbridge is where the city dump operated,” Davis

the ambling 60-acre Zilker Botanical Gardens was developed,

says. “It was shut down and capped sometime in the 1950s, about the

followed by the 1980s development of the 80-acre Austin Nature

same time Stratford Drive was put into place. But folks wonder why

and Science Center, which features more than 100 dinosaur tracks

the parking lot there at the end of the footbridge buckles so much

estimated to be 99 million years old. And in the late 1980s and early

and is so uneven – it’s because the landfill beneath it is still settling

1990s, American sculptor Charles Umlauf ’s donation of his home,


studio and 168 original sculptures to the city was developed into the

In 1917, Andrew Zilker deeded Barton Springs, the state’s fifth-

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.

largest natural spring, and more than 37 acres of surrounding land

Today, Zilker Park also touts baseball, soccer, rugby, multi use

to the city of Austin. At the time, Austin had few parks, no park

and sand volleyball fields for play, a sprawling children’s playscape

or recreation department, and no formal parks policy. The 1920s

and a nine-hole disc golf course, as well as multiple water-sports

development of Barton Springs Park included a bathing facility,

opportunities. The park plays host to several immense annual

a bathing pavilion/dancehall, ball fields, a children’s wading pool

events, including the Zilker Kite Festival, the Zilker Garden Festival,

and play area, picnic tables and walking trails. In 1932, Zilker gave

the Zilker Summer Musical and Shakespeare in the Park, the

the city not only another 250-300 acres of parkland adjacent to

latest, greatest addition—the Austin City Limits Music Festival—

the springs, but also the momentum to launch a progressive park

and, of course, the twirl-icious Zilker Holiday Tree and the newly

plan and program that established the framework for Austin’s now

resurrected 1.25-mile-long Trail of Lights.

renowned parks system.

“It’s one of our fantastic, whimsical Austin traditions,” smiles

In one extremely important way, the Great Depression was a

board member Davis. “Zilker Park provides such a beautiful natural

good thing for Austin: federally funded recovery programs were

backdrop for this over-the-top, man-made spectacle that is the Trail

responsible for the comprehensive, high-dollar, labor-intensive,

of Lights. It’s a juxtaposition that really works and is just so Austin.

swiftly paced 1930s development of Zilker Park. Four New Deal

I’m happy to see folks make it happen again.” Forefront

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Proud to support a holiday tradition for Austin families! HAPPy HolidAys from . . .


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A proud sponsor of the Trail of Lights


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The Trail of Lights Village made possible by Dell

Proud sponsor of Caroling Night at the 2012 Austin Trail of Lights


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1. Victorian Entry Gate 2. Rainbow Tunnel presented by Cirrus Logic 3 Max & the Wild Things 4. Tiny Town 5. Tortoise and Hare 6. Groovy Grove gifted by David Booth 7. The World of Seuss 8. Little Mermaid 9. Water Wonderland 10. North Pole Express presented by KXAN 11. Santa and Rudolf 12. Santa Saurus presented by Vista Equity Partners


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25. Home for the Holidays 26. Arctic Holiday 27. Toy Machine 28. Kingdom of Winter 29. Twelve Elves 30. H-E-B Read 3 31. Holiday Memories 32. Spaceship Santa gifted by the Street families 33. AFD Holiday Display 34. Starry Winter Night presented by Samsung 35. Thank You Holiday Card

13. Cartoon Land 14. Dilloville presented by Bill Munday South Point Automotive Group 15. Silent Night 16. Dream Tunnel gifted by Tito and Lori Beveridge family 17. Candy Land 18. Beauty and the Beast presented by Humana 19. Mother Goose 20. Pooh Corner 21. 12 Days of Christmas 22. Santa’s House presented by Seton Healthcare Family 23. Trail of Lights Village made possible by Dell

Holiday Tree








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2012 Trail of Lights Displays and Attractions Forefront

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Trailblazers t h e s e c r e t s a n ta s b e h i n d t h i s y e a r ’ s T r a i l o f L i g h t s h o m e c o m i n g


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It’s not often that corporations, nonprofits and individuals come

a difference in Central Texas. The Village reflects Powering the

together on one night to celebrate. One of the goals for the 2012

Possible, Dell’s commitment to put technology and expertise to

Austin Trail of Lights, powered by H-E-B, was to bring people from

work where it can do the most good for people and the planet.

all parts of the community, from all business and economic sectors, together to share experiences, to learn from each other and to forge connections that last after the event concludes. The Trail of Lights sponsors are deeply committed to Austin, supporting causes and issues affecting our community. The corporate, foundation and individual sponsors of the 2012 Trail of Lights joined in partnership not only to restore the event, but also to create a community advancement platform.


and organizers created unique opportunities for interactions and conversations between trail goers and sponsors. By highlighting the contributions of corporate sponsors to the community and providing common experiences, we are forging

The Seton Healthcare Family is sponsoring Santa’s House—

getting a chance to show some tender loving care for children at the Trail of Lights. It’s a great opportunity for Seton to show their nurturing spirit. Samsung Austin Semiconductor is hosting Caroling Night at

the Trail of Lights on Friday, Decmber 21st, when we are going to try to set a world record for the most people singing carols together at one time. The event, which is projected to have one of the highest night attendances, gives Austin a chance to interact with the hightech engineering company.

connections that advance the city we love to call home. Read on to

EZCorp celebrates Austin’s artistic and cultural spirit with

learn more about how Trail of Lights’ corporate sponsors are working

its sponsorship of the Trail of Lights.

to advance Austin and the impact of their corporate philanthropy


on our community.

Austin performers and Heritage Night at the Trail provides




The Trail of Lights EZCORP


the perfect opportunity to share in the traditions and spirit H-E-B, the premier sponsor, is deeply committed to early

childhood literacy. To demonstrate their commitment to the Trail and this issue, a newly created H-E-B Read Three display will distribute books to every children at the Trail.

that connects Austinites from all corners of our community. Vista Equities shows its commitment to Austin by supporting

the people and partners who make the Trail of Lights a celebration for, by and of Austin with its sponsorship of the VIP and Volunteer

The Trail of Lights Village, made possible by Dell, allows

Headquarters. This special area celebrates the people who have

trail goers to connect with 23 nonprofit organizations making

committed time, talent and energy to making Austin the place we all love to call home. Forefront

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trail of lights 2012


Click the page to

Love of Reading Must Begin at Home by Julie Tereshchuk, Forefront Author

Literacy is a key component of a successful education system, more

Creating an environment for learning

so than ever before. With society’s growing demand for an educated

The three main goals of H-E-B’s Read 3 program are to help ensure

work force, children must begin to develop a love of reading long

that all Texas children begin their school experience ready to read

before stepping into a classroom.

and learn, to provide access to books and to get families excited

Regardless of their own educational levels, all parents want

about reading.

their children to have a good future. And many parents think that

To date, H-E-B has opened 14 literacy centers in stores across

children will begin to read when they begin school. In reality,

Texas. The centers have become hubs in their communities for

precursors to reading happen before that, and a child who is

reading activities and celebrations.

not reading proficiently by the end of first grade has only a one

“We have in-store appearances, including book characters and

in eight chance of ever becoming a proficient reader. Without

children’s authors. Over 700 families came out in Laredo to see the

intervention, that child could remain behind throughout school

Stupid Smelly Bus Tour,” says Rogers, referring to the nationwide

and into his or her adult life.

tour based on the best-selling children’s book series.

H-E-B’s Read 3 program provides key early intervention

and even in grocery stores.”

“Learning needs to happen everywhere: in the home, in schools H-E-B believes that literacy starts early, says Kate Rogers, H-E-

More than 7 million Texans enter H-E-B’s doors every week, so

B’s Vice President of Partner Communication and Engagement. To

the company is well positioned to stress the importance of reading

better promote early childhood literacy, H-E-B has introduced the

and to provide affordable books for all ages.

Read 3 program, dedicated to providing books and to supporting

With the help of its partners, especially book publisher Random

home environments that will help children develop learning skills

House, H-E-B has collected more than a million books in the past

and lifelong opportunities.

year for the exchange, Rogers says.

Physical books are still very important for children and H-E-B is

“Texas’ school teachers and school principals are doing the best

partnering with many local organizations to put books in the hands

that they can to teach literacy with limited resources, but — simply

of Texas’ kids.

put — learning has to start earlier than kindergarten,” Rogers says.


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Click the page to

Four Ways to a Healthy Central Texas by Jesus Garza, Seton Family Healthcare

After 10 years in the acute health care field and a lifetime of

1. Collaborate on care

experience as a patient or relative of one, I know there is room for

By proactively managing the health of patients who frequently use


health care services, Seton hopes to improve their health in an active

Central Texas pays a steep financial and personal price for the

and sustainable way. For example, when we reviewed data about

provider-centric model of health care and services that has evolved

patients who regularly seek emergency care and require hospital

over time. There simply hasn’t been adequate incentive for care

admission — the most expensive type of health care — we found that

providers to pursue strategies that keep you well.

many lack social support to manage chronic conditions.

Because healthcare providers receive payment based on the

We created a multidisciplinary clinic of nurse navigators, social workers

volume of work we do, and not the value we deliver, health costs are

and doctors trained in complex cases to help these patients manage

taking an increasing bite out of our budgets.

their health and avoid unnecessary emergency and hospital care.

Individuals, employers and private and public payers have said: “Enough. Find a better way.” The Seton Healthcare Family is collaborating with Central

Among a test group of patients compared to a control group, this model shows promise in reducing inpatient and emergency admissions and readmissions, as well as the overall cost.

Health and others to create a true system of care for Central Texas,

Likewise, Seton Health Alliance, an Accountable Care Organization

a coordinated approach that helps patients stay healthier, heal more

(ACO), permits doctors and hospitals to collaborate on a patient’s care

quickly and spend less on care.

plan, something that was previously barred by law. Providers are paid based on patient outcomes and efficiency.


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2. Talk about healthy behaviors

Thirty-five percent of students in the Austin Independent School District are overweight or obese. To tackle this problem, we must encourage members of the community to adopt new routines. The Texas Center for Treatment and Prevention of Childhood Obesity at Dell Children’s Medical Center offers two programs designed to teach lifelong healthy routines: a clinic for overweight and obese children and teens, and

4. Provide better training

We know that to attend safely and affordably to patients, care givers of all types must coordinate their efforts, throughwhat we call person-centered care. Unfortunately, that’s not the way the majority of clinicians have been trained. So, when doctors, nurses, therapists and technologists come to work at a hospital, they often require training in how to work — and speak — as part of a multidisciplinary team.

an English/Spanish after-school program for families.

Seton already provides multidisciplinary simulation training at

3. Go where the patients are

Medical Center Brackenridge five years ago. We also hope to pay

As our region grows in both area and population, Seton has returned to the timeless model of bringing care and services to people. Perhaps the most eye-catching example is Seton’s Big Pink Bus, a mammoth polka-dotted digital mammography clinic on wheels. The van visits a network of nonprofit partners to ensure that low-

the Clinical Education Center we created at the public University for the replacement of Brackenridge with a 21st century teaching hospital. Our vision, together with UT Austin and Central Health, is to train doctors and all members of the clinical team to provide the type of coordinated care that benefits our entire growing and changing community.

income and uninsured women in five Central Texas counties have

I hope you will share Seton’s vision to care well — and affordably —

access to breast cancer screening.

for all Central Texans.


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Click the page to

Riding the Wave from Science Class to Learning Lab by Kristen Card, Forefront Author

In the coming decade, Central Texas will see a leap in jobs that

“We hire lots of engineers and technicians,” says Catherine

require STEM skills — science, technology, engineering and math.

Morse, SAS General Counsel and Director of Public Affairs. “And, as

Yet, international tests show that U.S. students lag behind children in

technology continues to integrate into people’s everyday lives, we’re

other countries when it comes to math and science. Samsung Austin

going to be creating more and more jobs that require those sort of

Semiconductor is working to provide project-based curriculum and

strong STEM skills.”

technological tools to Central Texas students to help build a labor force for the 21st century. Of the 43 occupations expected to grow fastest in Central Texas, 20 are STEM occupations.

Samsung Austin invests in programs aimed at changing the way STEM studies are approached, starting with its own in-house Samsung STEM Academy.

At the seemingly light-speed pace

“We bring high school students who have an interest in STEM

that technology is advancing, today’s kids will need core STEM

subjects into our facility for a day and give them some training about

competencies to succeed at almost any job.

what it is we do here,” Morse says. “We show them what engineers do, what sort of problems these people come to work to solve. It’s

Samsung supports STEM education


very, very powerful.”

Samsung Austin Semiconductor (SAS), one of America’s most

Experts agree this hands-on approach is the best way to make

advanced semiconductor manufacturing facilities, has a naturally

STEM accessible and appealing for students — and the best way

vested interest in nurturing STEM education in Central Texas.

to prepare them for their future workplace. In “learning labs,”

trail of lights 2012


Trail of Lights Starry Night tunnel, presented by Samsung Austin Semiconductor kids discover how to collaborate, communicate, make real-

SAS partners with Skillpoint Alliance, a local nonprofit helping

world connections and apply concepts to solve problems, just as

meet employers’ needs for qualified workers. Skillpoint Alliance’s

professionals do every day.

STEM Council of executives and educators promotes more than a dozen robotics, green technology and digital media programs.

Samsung partners with programs that work

Samsung Austin works with the E3 (Education Equals Economics)

Samsung Austin also helps fund several area STEM-centric

Alliance, a collaborative designed to develop career-readiness for

programs, such as United Way for Greater Austin’s Play To Learn

regional competitiveness, delivering Texas Project Lead the Way

initiative. To help economically disadvantaged families, Play To

curriculum to Central Texas schools. These project-based programs

Learn provides Samsung Galaxy tablets pre-loaded with educational

for middle- and high-school students are geared toward technology,

apps, bookmarked websites and parenting videos.

engineering and biomedical sciences. Forefront

trail of lights 2012


Click the page to

Dell Puts Proficiency, Profit and People to Work to Empower Central Texas by Kristen Card, Forefront Author Dell’s Powering the Possible initiative is combining grants,

So currently, Dell partners with about 25 different Central Texas,

volunteerism and technology to tackle many challenges facing

focusing on four areas where we believe we can do the most good

Central Texas. In an interview, Michele Glaze, the Dell North

entities: youth learning, social entrepreneurship, children’s cancer

America Giving Manager; Debbie Immel, the American Red

care and disaster relief.

Cross of Central Texas Regional Chief Development Officer; and Mark Kiester, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area CEO,

FFA: Mark, your organization is one of Dell’s community

discuss how partnerships can help solve problems and strengthen

partners. What are your thoughts about the role

our sense of community.

businesses should play in the community? From your perspective, how’s Dell doing in the Austin area?


FFA: What is the concept behind Dell’s Powering the Possible

Kiester: Taking care of our community really is all our responsibility

initiative and what does it mean for Central Texas?

because the challenges are growing faster than anything else.

Glaze: Powering the Possible is Dell’s architecture for our

In Central Texas, we have some excellent examples of those who

community responsibility commitment. It begins with Dell’s pledge

understand that and, in the corporate world, Dell is the leader. At

of one percent of our annual pretax profit exclusively for company

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area, we won a highly competitive,

giving. But another part of our evolution is moving from checkbook

nationwide $215-million youth learning grant from Dell, which

philanthropy to building relationships with key community partners

we’re using to help close the tech gap for Central Texas children

to address key social issues. Writing a check is important, but we

living in poverty. The whole thrust is helping kids break the cycle of

want more of a shared value, a shared responsibility, a partnership.

poverty they come from by gaining the technological skills they need

trail of lights 2012


to be successful academically, and to be ready for the working world.

technological equipment at our Disaster Services Maintenance Center here in Austin, so we can use that equipment to set up mobile

Dell is supporting — with both manpower and financial firepower

Disaster Operations Centers wherever disaster strikes.

— some significant programs that are developing kids in our city. But when a corporation like Dell makes the commitment to put a

Glaze: All of Dell’s community efforts are supported, driven and

specified percentage of their profit back into their communities, I

made possible by our employees. Last year, our employees donated

think it pays other huge dividends, like pride among employees and

419,000 hours of service worldwide. This year, we beat that number

positive feelings for the company’s image among consumers.

with a quarter of the year still left to go. Our people are amazing.

FFA: So even though Dell has redefined its approach

Kiester: Of course, people are very valuable — volunteers are

to giving back, does it all still really drill down to

essential — but when it comes to social service agencies, especially

the bottom line, to how much money they invest in

ones dealing with special populations, trained staff must come first,

community programs?

and trained staff costs money. While there are some volunteers with

Immel: At the American Red Cross Central Texas Region, we can’t

specialized skills who fit specialized programs — like our Powering

emphasize enough the value of Dell’s volunteer efforts. We’re run

the Possible partnership based around technology learning, which

95 percent by volunteers. Dell is always ready with great teams of

fits plenty of Dell volunteers perfectly — volunteers often can’t do

volunteers whenever we need them – from assisting with cleanup

what staff does. We have to have financial resources first; then we

during the Bastrop wildfires last year, to helping re-certify and ready

can find all kinds of unique opportunities for volunteers to serve.


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Click the page to

Corporate Philanthropy on a Personal Level by Susan Lahey, Forefront Author

For many Central Texas companies, philanthropy is less a societal

for professional audio applications, boasts many musicians on

obligation and more a company finding its calling. Increasingly,

its staff, and they love to help out with causes having to do with

companies are offering money and volunteer hours to causes

music. Cirrus Logic is involved with Austin City Limits, the

that have personal meaning to employees and owners. Cirrus

South by Southwest Music Festival and the Health Alliance for

Logic, Humana and South Point Automotive Group are turning

Austin Musicians.

personal causes into working partnerships among businesses, nonprofits and individuals.

meet the company’s mission of promoting healthy people, a

Ask leaders of Central Texas businesses why they contribute

healthy planet and healthy performance. Some of the causes are

to charitable causes and encourage employees to volunteer, and

nationally chosen. But in each community, volunteers from the

you get a variety of answers: It’s part of our mission; it’s the right

company’s employees study proposals for a $100,000 grant given

thing to do; we want to strengthen this community. But in many

to a community organization.

Central Texas companies, such as those sponsoring this year’s

At South Point Automotive Group, the heart behind the

Trail of Lights, personal passion drives involvement. Employees

company’s giving is founder Bill Munday, says Scott Stark, the

are invited to bring community projects to leadership’s attention,

managing partner of South Point Auto. “Bill is very much a self-

to sit on in-house boards that choose philanthropic donations or

made man. He knows he would never be where he is if someone

to pitch in with projects such as building playgrounds or cleaning

had not given him an opportunity,” Stark says.

up green spaces.


The health insurance company Humana picks causes that

Most of the company’s donations, whether to children’s shelters

At Cirrus Logic, employees often bring causes to leadership, and

or employee scholarships, are created to provide an opportunity

leadership supports them. The company, which provides circuits

for people who might not have one otherwise. For employees,

trail of lights 2012


feeling devotion to a cause drives a higher level of commitment.

Fiat donated by Jay Leno to raise money for the Fisher House.

Workers aren’t just writing an obligatory check; they are

The nonprofit provides services for wounded U.S. soldiers and

answering a calling or solving a problem that matters to them.

military veterans. The car was worth $25,000.

In doing so, they are improving their community, and their own lives, too.

Munday has focused on providing opportunities to children who might not have many. He has donated half a million dollars to Austin Children’s Center. “They’re in a bad situation,” Stark says. “They have no opportunity for a reasonable road to success.” Munday has also provided more than 500 scholarships for his

South Point Automotive Group Founder Sets an Example

employees’ children. “The scholarship is not based on being in the top five or 10

Austin, says Stark, is a great place to work but an even better

percent of the class,” Stark says. “There may be a really bright kid

place to live.

who has to work to help his family pay the bills. That may preclude

“For as long as I can remember, my daughter and I ran the Trail

him from getting straight A’s.” And at St. Edward’s University, a

of Lights 5K,” he says, “Since she got big enough to trot ... that

school that strives to provide scholarships to students from low-

was one of the cornerstones of the holiday season. It’s so beautiful

income families, Munday has made a $13 million donation to

along the lake. We missed it.”

replace the old Scarborough-Phillips Library. South Point Auto

So when Stark and the others at South Point Auto learned of

employees also get involved with campaigns including the Susan

plans to resurrect the event after a two-year hiatus, they jumped

G. Komen Race for the Cure and the Austin Heart Walk. Munday’s

on board. “I know it sounds way too altruistic. When you think

generosity, Stark says, filters down. He leads by example.

of car dealers you think about fine, upstanding citizens,” Stark jokes. “But when giving is the right thing to do, we give.” For

“He’s always been a really strong example of what charitable donations are all about,” Stark says.

Munday, that giving has included spending $350,000 to buy a Forefront

trail of lights 2012


Q & A with Eric Lassberg, President & General Manager of KXAN What is your community philanthropy and corporate sponsorship approach? Our approach always starts with determining how effectively we are aligning ourselves with our organization’s core purpose of enriching the entire community. We must choose a few things each year that best drive this ultimate goal. How do you identify the organizations/causes that you will support? We identify the causes that we support by determining which cause will best help us to enhance our ability to enrich our village and also support our mission of being the best local story tellers and investigators. In what ways do you partner with the community? Due to KXAN News being here since 1965, we have many long withstanding partnerships with local organizations, while we also always look embrace upcoming events and causes we feel will help our mission. The most important role we can provide to the community is a voice for local matters of importance for the people of Central Texas; we can deliver powerful messages to hundreds of thousands of local viewers quickly. Our team loves to partner with organizations to help deliver important messages, it truly is about enriching the local community and making people’s lives better. Why are you sponsoring the 2012 Austin Trail of Lights? As a local news organization we witnessed and heard from many people the last few years of how disappointed they were that the Trail of Lights went away. When we were given the opportunity to bring back the Trail of Lights, it was a nobrainer, we said we were in and how can we help?!


trail of lights 2012


Cirrus Logic’s Mission “Bubbles Up” From Employees

Humana prioritizes health

For Cirrus Logic, philanthropy “wasn’t this big formal thing,”

All of Humana’s philanthropic and social responsibility efforts

says Jo-Dee Benson, Vice President and Chief Culture Officer.

promote healthy people, a healthy planet and healthy performance,

“It came from the employees and bubbled up to a swell through

says Tom Silliman, Market Practice Leader for the Large Commercial

surveys and that kind of thing. We adopted it slowly, and it really

Sales Division of Central Texas.

fit our overall corporate culture.”

Healthy people includes sponsoring the Trail of Lights 5K this year

With about 650 employees, Benson said, up to 50 percent

as well as partnering nationally with KaBOOM, an organization

might get involved in any one effort. That can-do culture is a

that builds playgrounds. In Austin, Humana and KaBOOM built

big reason why Cirrus Logic was ranked ninth on the list of best

a playground and garden space for Cedars International Academy

small and medium workplaces in America by the Great Place to

with the help of about 75 employees.

Work® Institute in 2012. And a generous workplace can spread ideas far beyond the office walls. “I painted a bridge area (in Shoal Creek) with three little kids, and we just had a blast,” Benson says. “That’s when philanthropy

Healthy planet includes sustainability efforts, and healthy performance emphasizes “being responsible and ethical in business practices, all the way down through all of our associates and compliance training,” Silliman says

starts, when you’re about three feet high and you see mom and dad

Every year, the company provides a $100,000 grant to a local

and their company giving back. That’s a phenomenal foundation

nonprofit. The winning grant has to meet one of Humana’s goals, be

for philanthropy.”

doable and make an impact. A Humana board of associate volunteers

The company joins a variety of causes to try to resonate with its

goes through the grant applications and chooses finalists. A group of

employees. While the musicians in the company might be inspired

community judges chooses from the top three. Last year, there were

to help with the musical events, others might be more inclined to

62 applicants.

give blood, plant trees, help with a Habitat for Humanity build or do a race for health. If employees are interested, Cirrus supports them.

And this year, bringing back the Trail of Lights is a cause that personally touches many employees. “It’s about the memories that are created, giving families the opportunity to share this wonderful experience during the holiday season,” Silliman says . Forefront

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Q & A with Paul Rothamel CEO, EZCORP What is your community philanthropy and corporate sponsorship approach? At EZCORP, one of our core values is People Matter Most. We strive to live that value each day by providing exceptional customer service in our stores. We go to great lengths to ensure that our Team Members are passionate, friendly, and knowledgeable. We also work hard to give back to the communities in which we do business. As a company, we’ve elected to primarily support children’s causes. Many of our customers and Team Members are parents, and we are working to elevate the standard of living for children and families in our store communities. We have a four-pronged approach to community involvement that includes providing support to nonprofits through EZCORP Foundation, our Team Member volunteerism in the community, store-level community contributions and use of store facilities for community events. How do you identify the organizations/causes that you will support? The mission of EZCORP Foundation is help fund nonprofits that provide resources to children and their families in order to help them live healthy and fulfilling lives. Over the past two years, we have provided funding to more than 150 US organizations in approximately 22 states that provide for basic needs, healthcare, and enrichment such as life skills and mentoring. In addition, we have provided funding to charitable organizations in Mexico and Canada. In what ways do you partner with the community? In June 2010, we established EZCORP Foundation. In a little more 46

trail of lights 2012


than 2 years we have contributed more than $650,000 to more than 150 nonprofit organizations in US, Mexico and Canada. In addition, each of our more than 900 US retail locations has a community involvement budget to spend on local community activities. Our more than 7,200 Team Members volunteer thousands of hours each year, and, where we can, we open our US stores to nonprofits for fundraising events. These events provide a great opportunity for our Team Members to interact with nonprofits and see their missions at work. Why are you sponsoring the 2012 Austin Trail of Lights? EZCORP is proud to be a presenting sponsor of the 2012 Austin Trail of Lights and help revive a long-time Austin family holiday tradition that brings joy to tens of thousands of youth and adults in Central Texas. In addition, we are honoring our Team Members who live and work in our home town and take great pride in our involvement in the community. How does your philanthropy support your business goals? Are they connected? Our philanthropic activities are totally aligned with our culture of putting people first which we believe will help to drive superior business results. Our research indicates our customers appreciate our community involvement. Our Team Members have told us via our annual survey process that it’s an important factor in their retention and engagement. Our giving is directed to the communities we serve – we are supporting our customers and our Team Members in their own communities and neighborhoods. In short, we believe that giving is not just the right thing to do, it’s also good business.


trail of lights 2012


health & wellness


youth & education

community & social services

The Trail of Lights Village, made possible by Dell, provides a platform for nonprofit organizations to create awareness and

Celebrating Austin’s successes hat better place to spark some new ideas

connections with the

than among 1 million light bulbs and 250,000 of our closest friends? Great things happen when Austinites get

250,000 trail goers.

together. Creative ideas, new perspectives and a commitment to this city we love to call home produce solutions to our community’s most pressing issues. The celebration at the Trail of Lights provides a great opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of 2012 and set goals for continued advancements for Austin in the coming year. The Trail of Lights offers opportunities to have some fun, start conversations, gain new perspectives and strengthen our community. The Trail of Lights Village, made possible by Dell, provides a platform that connects individuals with the nonprofit organizations advancing our community every day. Throughout the 8 days of festivities, 23 Trail of Lights nonprofit partners highlight the way Austin has improved over the past year and engage trail goers in new opportunities to advance issues including health and wellness, youth and education, environment and social services. Read on to learn about how the 23 official Trail of Lights nonprofit partners are advancing solutions that the community can be part of. For more information on these nonprofit organizations and extended stories of the following stories, please visit www.


trail of lights 2012


Keeping kids healthy in Central Texas: • More than 225,000 Austin-are children completed a 26.2-mile incremental challenge in 2011. (Marathon Kids) • 32,000 AISD students in the 2012 Sprouting Healthy Kids project learned how nutritious food gets from farm to table. (Sustainable Food Center)

abits can be positive, creating routines that allow us

Marathon Kids and Sustainable Food Center are tackling a

to reach new opportunities or potential. Practicing

burgeoning obesity epidemic through an innovative partnership

lay-ups day after day allows a basketball player to

that gets kids moving and eating healthy from an early age. Dell

shoot the winning goal practically on instinct. But

Children’s Medical Center and People’s Community Clinic offer

the same tendency toward routine can produce

unique programs to help children and families receive care in their

bad habits that limit us or, even worse, cause

communities in ways that promote life-long healthy habits. And

harm. Continually overeating, smoking or getting

organizations like Wonders & Worries and Special Olympics of

angry causes real physical damage. Both types of

Central Texas create networks to support and guide all members of

habits, multiplied over a community, can propel

our community in their journey toward health.

its members forward, or create pitfalls and burdens with social and economic costs. As Central Texas grows and shifts at incredible rates, six of the 23 official Trail of Lights nonprofit partners are guiding our community

Each of these organizations has improved the health and wellbeing of our community.

Read on to learn more about these

innovative programs and how you can help Central Texas adopt healthy habits.

toward habits that will keep us healthy and happy for decades to come.


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h e a lt h & w e l l n e s s | n o n - p r o f i t s

special olympics The phrase “life changing” comes up a lot at Special Olympics Texas. For the athletes, volunteers, staff members and others who participate in the organization, there’s something transformative that happens on the courts and ball fields around Texas. Consider this example: A man in his late 30s was nonverbal when he began participating in Special Olympics Texas three years ago. He tried basketball. Then track and field. And bocce and bowling. He now greets people, is gaining more independence, and even has a girlfriend. Suzanne Anderson, Vice President of Field Services, says the organization, which begins working with children as young as two and has no upper age limits, helps intellectually disabled and developmentally delayed athletes build interpersonal skills needed for jobs and socializing. It empowers athletes by highlighting their abilities rather than their disabilities.

olympics 52special trail of lights 2012 Forefront

dell children’s medical center The 2010 census shows Texas adding nearly one million kids in the past ten years. Seton Family of Hospital’s Dell Children’s Medical Center is the regional facility dedicated to delivering effective healthcare to this most vulnerable sector of society. Dell Children’s 72,000 square foot new bed tower is set to open in May 2013, explains Bob Bonar, President and CEO of Seton Family of Hospitals, and also CEO of Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. “The region includes some of the fastest-growing ZIP codes in the nation,” said Bonar. Dell Children’s is adjusting to geographic shifts. For example, it has opened an in-patient pediatric unit at Seton Medical Center Williamson, a county where the population is expected to increase by 51 percent over the next ten years.

dell children’s medical center

h e a lt h & w e l l n e s s | n o n - p r o f i t s

people’s community clinic

sustainable food center

people’s community clinic As part of People’s Community Clinic holistic approach, they offer an integrated behavioral health program, and promote healthy eating to pregnant women. The growth of the very young and the reproductive-age population points to a need for family practice and pediatric resources. “We need to make sure we have providers that can serve them, by changing some of the reimbursement models. Being a family practitioner should be more highly valued,” says Regina Rogoff, Chief Executive Officer of the clinic. A population increasingly young and Hispanic—a historically underserved ethnic group—puts the healthcare delivery focus squarely on women’s reproductive health issues, pre-natal and family planning, she says.

Sustainable Food Center Based in Austin, Sustainable Food Center is working to create healthy food options and habits that will support the health of the community for generations to come. “Access to fresh, nutritious, affordable food is vital in promoting community health and preventing disease,” says Executive Director Ronda Rutledge. SFC’s programs are devoted to growing produce, providing a local distribution system for farm-fresh foods, and teaching parents how to transform healthy food into affordable and delicious meals for their families. Grow Local is SFC’s lead program, which encourages local gardens. The organization partners with 50 Austin schools to plant and maintain gardens. “ I’ve seen kids pull a carrot out the ground, shake off the dirt, and crunch away. They say they never knew a carrot could taste so good,” Rutledge says.


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h e a lt h & w e l l n e s s | n o n - p r o f i t s


marathon kids

Wonders & Worries

Marathon Kids strives to “reconnect us to [that] joy” through a simple program of getting kids moving and teaching families about making healthy food choices. The atmosphere is joyous at Marathon Kids events. There are big smiles all around as elementary children begin to incrementally run or walk the 26.2-mile marathon. And there are bigger smiles six months later, when they complete the Final Mile event and earn a medal. Rebecca McIlwain, Marathon Kids’ Director of Innovation and Program Development, says that Marathon Kids is helping address alarming obesity trends by getting 90,000 Central Texas kids and 250,000 children nationwide moving. The simple, non-competitive program gets kids moving and teaches families about making healthy food choices.

For a child, the illness of a parent can be devastating. Wonders & Worries provides professional support services to children who have a parent dealing with a serious or chronic illness. In a six week curriculum, the group’s trained child life specialists help children better understand the illness their parents have, learn how to effectively communicate their feelings and develop coping skills. “We’ve flourished to the point we’re at today through the work of the volunteers in our community,” says Meredith Cooper, Executive Director. The group was founded in 2001 with a grant from the LiveStrong Foundation. Today, volunteers handle administrative functions, staff the board of directors, raise community awareness and conduct fundraising.

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marathon kids

wonders & worries


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Helping Austin’s children learn: • Nearly 1,800 kids per day attended programs leading to a high school graduation rate of 96 percent, compared to 77 percent for AISD. (Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area) • 42,541 pre-school and young children gained access to 33,317 books. (Bookspring)

ids who are in school now will, when they graduate,

Six Trail of Lights nonprofit partners are expanding the way we

have to reach across continents to collaborate on

teach to ensure that today’s students are prepared for the jobs of the

solutions to energy problems, pollution and the

future. Some, such as Breakthrough Austin and Boys and Girls Clubs

dwindling water supply.

They’ll have to work

of the Austin Area, are offering unique ways to keep underserved

with teams of engineers, designers and marketers

and economically disadvantaged students on track to high school

to develop products and bring them to market.

graduation. Others offer innovative programs to foster the skills of

They’ll need to relate to all kinds of people, adapt

the future. Creative Action is training problem solvers of tomorrow.

to cultural differences, think critically and solve

BookSpring and Con Mi Madre cultivate communities to support

complex problems.

learning and academic achievement for Central Texas students.

That is a very tall order for educators and communities to meet.

And The First Tee of Greater Austin and Creative Action are offering

In Central Texas, that challenge is complicated as the current

innovative programs to foster the leadership and problem solving

and near-term student population is growing and diversifying

skills of tomorrow’s leaders.

rapidly. The City of Austin Demographer indicates that the under

Each of these organizations offers a different approach, a new

five population in Austin is one of the fastest-growing age groups

perspective and unique solutions that will keep Austin educated,

in Austin. And many of these current and future students are

capable and growing. Learn more about each of these community

considered economically challenged.

leaders and get involved in advancing Austin’s Youth and Education.


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creative action

58 trail of lights 2012 Forefront con mi madre

breakthrough austin


yo u t h & e d u c at i o n | n o n - p r o f i t s

creative action Creative Action uses arts-based programming to empower young people to solve problems and resolve conflict. The group’s mission is to teach children to become creative artists, courageous allies, critical thinkers and confident leaders. The organization has 55 teachers and 18 full-time staff members who provide more than 600 hours of in-school, afterschool and community programming a week in school seven districts as well as in low-income housing sites and juvenile detention centers. “We provide opportunities, pose scenarios and ask questions,” Executive Director Karen LaShelle says. “We’re not providing them with answers but making them part of solving problems. We use inquiry and dialog as opposed to just delivering information.”

con mi madre The women of Con Mi MADRE emphasize the importance of a holistic approach in helping Hispanic girls finish high school and college. “The Hispanic female, she has the highest rate of teen pregnancy, the highest rate of domestic violence, the highest rate of depression,” says Executive Director Sandy Alcalá. Those problems can lead to dropping out. As the name — “with my mother” — implies, Con Mi MADRE engages the mothers of the students. The nonprofit encourages a strong relationship between mother and daughter. Through mother and daughter conferences, leadership training, college prep assistance and a healthy living program, the students and their mothers work toward academic success and a better life for the whole family.

Breakthrough Austin Breakthrough Austin works to ensure that kids know why success matters and the kind of lives it can lead to. “Breakthrough prepares students for college in order to increase their career options, earning potential, and quality of life,” says Executive Director Barry Aidman. Breakthrough helps low-income students with summer programs, after-school programming and personalized support and advocacy throughout their education. For its summer programs, Breakthrough brings in college students to teach. The approach pays off. The voluntary summer classes have better than 90 percent attendance by participating students, all of whom show academic improvement at the end of the summer. By matching students with mentors closer to their own age, Breakthrough gives them role models and often a more fun approach to learning than what they’re used to during the school year.

BookSpring The early literacy gap affects the entire community, says Mary Gatlin Hearon, Executive Director of BookSpring. The Austinbased nonprofit drives early learning by providing thousands of free books and literacy tools to children and families. Access to books is the key to solving the literacy challenge. BookSpring is able to deliver its programs “to where the people already are,” Hearon says, through its partnership with more than 30 community organizations, and with the help of hundreds of trained volunteers. BookSpring partners with medical practitioners and the Austin Independent School District, providing free books, encouragement and instructions on reading aloud to children.


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yo u t h & e d u c at i o n | n o n - p r o f i t s

The First Tee of Greater Austin You can lecture youth about healthy habits and values, but the folks at The First Tee of Greater Austin know a more effective strategy: Get kids outdoors, give them some golf clubs and let them learn life lessons while they play. Through a structured curriculum, The First Tee not only teaches children how to putt and drive, it instills in them the importance of developing healthy physical, social and emotional habits. Part of a national organization, the Austin chapter of The First Tee started in 1999, offering in-school and after-school programs and summer camps for kids ages 5 to 17. The nonprofit will reach 5,000 students in 2012.


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Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area At the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area, keeping kids on track to earn high school diplomas, find jobs and enroll in college means making a lasting social and economic impact on the community. “We’ve been working with kids — most of whom come from difficult circumstances — for more than 100 years,” says CEO Mark Kiester. “The BGC ‘way’ works because it is simple, direct, tried and proven. We know how to use after school hours to teach kids the life skills they need to become productive, caring and responsible citizens.”


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Keeping our city green: • The more than 1.5 million visitors who use the Lady Bird Lake Trail enjoyed a renovated Johnson Creek trailhead. (The Trail Foundation) • More than 5,000 volunteers helped improve the city’s parks with more than $255,000 in grants. (Austin Parks Foundation) • 163 beautification projects engaged 8,668 volunteers who contributed 28,333 hours of service worth more than $620,000. (Keep Austin Beautiful)

entral Texans enjoy a much-touted quality of life that

solve problems and further sustainability social services. One of

can easily be taken for granted. Jewels like Zilker

these innovators is the nonprofit, EcoRise Youth Innovations who

Park, the Trail at Lady Bird Lake and an abundance

is teaching local students the values of environmental stewardship

of outdoor spaces keep Austin a vibrant, connected

and sustainable living in creative ways in and out of the classroom.

and growing community. But it’s clear that no one

Explore Austin also brings young people in to nature for growing

entity can sustain what we value so much—from our

experiences in education and character development. Nature also

beautiful outdoor spaces and extensive academic

plays a big role in Keep Austin Beautiful, which educates students

community, to our capable and educated workforce.

about taking care of the environment through activities like the

Five Trail of Lights nonprofit partners are

neighborhood beautification projects. The Trail Foundation uses

identifying solutions and driving innovations that will keep Austin

the power of partnership to maintain and improve the city’s beloved

a vibrant, resourceful, enjoyable place to call home by protecting

hike and bike trail downtown.

common green spaces, fostering an appreciation and capacity for environmental stewardship and channeling youth innovation to

Read on to learn more about these organizations and how to keep Austin the place we all love to call home.


trail of lights 2012


environment | non-profits

Ecorise EcoRise Youth Innovations trains teachers and develops curriculum to help students solve sustainability problems. That might include improving the school’s recycling program, building an outdoor classroom, creating a water catchment system or devising green homes. But the coolest part is the process. “My hope is to develop kids as creative problem solvers, leaders taking action in their community,” says Gina LaMotte, the Founder and Executive Director. “I am less concerned about inspiring students to become environmental activists than to give them the tools to effectively solve the problems they are most passionate about.” EcoRise students often build their projects and have to negotiate real problems: selling the idea to stakeholders, creating budgets and using an interactive process until the project succeeds.

the trail foundation


trail of lights 2012


Austin Parks Foundation Collin Wallis, Executive Director of the Austin Parks Foundation, calls a surging number of people using the parks a good thing. Newcomers appreciate Austin’s green spaces. And that’s important for a small organization like Austin Parks Foundation which operates on a $1.5 million budget and the sweat equity and good will of local citizens. “People are very passionate about parks,” Wallis says. If Austin is to preserve its parks, it will be through the work of the people who use them, because city funding will not stretch far enough. Austin Parks Foundation helps small groups. They provide grants of $500 to $50,000 which grantees must match with volunteer labor, community fundraising and in-kind donations— such as park equipment.

Keep Austin Beautiful Keep Austin Beautiful (KAB) has evolved from focusing on litter clean-up and beautification projects to one championing education and leadership. KAB believes a ‘knowledge is power’ model will create lifelong environmental stewards. When found ed in 1985, KAB aimed for a litter-free Austin, says Monica Lopez Magee, KAB Development & Communications Director. But in 2004, the KAB board expand ed into environmental education. Their school-based programs involve more than 8,500 kids annually. The school-wide Clean Creek Campus program helps organize service-learning projects such as restoring parks and building vegetable gardens. Additionally, KAB administers the City’s Generation Zero program, which engages students in recycling, composting and conservation.

the trail foundation

The trail foundation

Explore Austin

The nonprofit Trail Foundation was formed in 2003 and has worked in close partnership with the City of Austin. That partnership with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department allows The Trail Foundation to pursue its core mission to enhance and protect the trail for everyone to enjoy. About 500 volunteers annually work on projects large and small, says Development Director Jenny McMillan. “Every volunteer comes out there because they love the trail and they want to give back to it,” she says. The Trail Foundation closes the gap between what the city provides and what the trail requires by making careful improvements to infrastructure and environment.

Jen Ohlson calls it the “awe factor,” and it’s a key component in the success of Explore Austin, a nonprofit that uses the outdoors to develop leadership skills in underserved teens. “Outdoor experiences teach that life is bigger than you,” Ohlson, an Explore Austin board member, says. “To master an outdoor skill gives a sense of achievement and builds confidence.” Explore Austin, founded in 2006, offers a six-year program for sixth- through 12th-grade students. In events during the school year and a week-long summer wilderness trip, the youths challenge themselves in activities that city kids rarely experience — hiking, mountain biking, orienteering, backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, raft building, fly fishing, and a guided ropes course. Forefront

trail of lights 2012


Serving communities here and everywhere: • Through a technology partnership with Dell, victims of Superstorm Sandy can use social media to find emergency relief vehicles and feeding sites. (American Red Cross) • 23 Austin families helped build their own homes…more than 700 people received homebuyer education and foreclosure counseling … and 30 families avoided foreclosure. (Habitat for Humanity)

ustin is growing and thriving. The city is consistently

the Austin success story floating and thriving. These organizations

ranked among the best cities by magazines and has

are able to identify problems, map out unique solutions and provide

been named one of the world’s 30 most dynamic

direction for those of us who want to help but just don’t know where

cities by The Atlantic and the nation’s No. 1 boom

to begin.

town by Forbes. We celebrate the creative, capable, innovative. The


The Arc of the Capital Area and Family Eldercare are stepping our

up to meet critical needs among those who might otherwise fall

community are the very elements that could also




through the cracks: the elderly and people with intellectual and

keep us from connecting with the needs to improve

developmental disabilities. El Buen Samaritano, Austin Habitat

our community. And if portions of our community are not on that track

for Humanity and the Capital Area Food Bank are ensuring that

to growth, our Austin’s lights might not burn as brightly as they could.

all members of our community have access to basic needs. And the

If a rising tide lifts all boats, who is helping make sure everyone is

American Red Cross is keeping us moving forward no matter what

rowing the boats?

disaster strikes.

Six Trail of Lights nonprofit organizations are working to ensure that

Learn how these organizations are ensuring that all members of

all members of our community have the tools and capabilities to keep

our community are integrated and contributing to Austin’s success.


trail of lights 2012


c o m m u n i t y & s o c i a l s e rv ic e s | N o n - p r o f i t s

family eldercare In the past decade, Austin’s elderly population grew by 27 percent, twice the national rate. Austin’s Baby Boomers — the oldest are turning 66 this year — are beginning to put heavier demands on community services for the elderly, and that will increase exponentially over the next two decades. On the frontlines of this changing demographic is Family Eldercare, supporting a growing senior population’s desire to live independently for as long as possible. The issues this senior boom present are complex. Housing, transportation, medical care, food insecurity, living assistance, poverty, and mental health are primary concerns. Yet Family Eldercare CEO Angela Atwood says that “unbelievable opportunities” exist for the community to enrich the care of its oldest and increasingly fragile citizens.

El Buen Samaritano How will poverty among Latinos affect Central Texas? While close to 20 percent of all Travis County residents live in poverty, more than a quarter of Latinos fall below the poverty line. And the Latino population is increasing at a dramatic rate. El Buen Samaritano, an outreach ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, is committed to helping Latino and other families in Central Texas lead healthy, productive and secure lives. Since 1987, El Buen has fulfilled a unique role in Austin as a provider of integrated health care, English-as-Second-Language education, job readiness skills, social services, health education, leadership training, children’s programs and emergency food assistance for working-poor Hispanic families. 68

trail of lights 2012


american red cross of central texas The American Red Cross of Central Texas is respected for its reliable role in helping people during times of great distress. Volunteers are at the heart of the success in times of stress. The organization provides an effective, unpaid work force to aid official government organizations in emergency relief, disaster preparedness training, military support and other health and safety services. ”We have volunteers who help us do every aspect of what we do at the Red Cross,” says Debbie Immel, Regional Chief Development Officer of the American Red Cross of Central Texas. Volunteers do 95 percent of the work performed by the Red Cross, providing administrative functions, disaster relief and services for military families.

family eldercare

The arc of the capital area

The Arc of the Capital Area The Arc of the Capital Area is dedicated to providing personalized, community-based services that improve the quality of life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers. The Arc helps steer the families of the estimated 35,000 Central Texans who have intellectual and developmental disabilities toward resources and programs that can help them prepare for future needs. The Arc serves clients with a range of disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy, from birth to the end of life. Often, the individuals with the greatest need are those who have aged out of the school system. About 80 percent of The Arc’s adult clients are unemployed. And as people with disabilities now have much longer life expectancies, they are starting to outlive their caregivers in greater numbers. The key, Eason says, is “recognizing that everyone is unique, and everyone has challenges. But these are people who deserve a life just like the rest of us do.”

capital area food bank of texas The demand for food is growing in Central Texas. Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, which serves 48,000 people a week — 20,000 of them children — in Austin and the surrounding area, has seen its food distribution increase by more than 50 percent in the last four years. In the last two years alone, the Food Bank provided 50 million pounds of food to Central Texans, and the demand is expected to grow, according to John Turner, Senior Director of Marketing and Branding. “What we have seen is a pretty dramatic increase in the number of people who need emergency food assistance,” he says.

austin habitat for humanity Austin Habitat for Humanity is seeking ways to create affordable housing within the urban core, keeping its clients closer to their work says Kelly Weiss, the organization’s Executive Director. “Every dollar counts,” Weiss says, noting that the typical Austin Habitat for Humanity client is a family of four earning $30,000 a year. Those families face a daunting challenge, she says, as housing costs in Austin have risen by 85 percent in the past decade. Only 13 percent of Austin renters can afford the median home sale price. Weiss says Austin Habitat is looking at new housing models, including denser housing types — think row houses rather than single family structures — to build within Austin’s city limits. Forefront

trail of lights 2012


el buen samaritano

red cross of central texas 70 american trail of lights 2012 Forefront

capital area food bank of texas

habitat for humanity Forefront

trail of lights 2012



trail of lights 2012



trail of lights 2012



trail of lights 2012


Special thanks to friends of the tr ail of lights and tr ailbl a zers

The Street Families • Robert Smith Family • David Booth Tito and Lori Beveridge • Austin Pride • Mario Espinoza • Atkins Carr & Smith Dental PLLC • Ramming Land, The Ramming Family Ramming Paving • Dale Miller • Apple Sport Imports • Locke Lord LLP Kruger Jewelry • Saunders Foundation • Chuy’s and Shady Grove • Neil Webber Al Koehler • Curtis Mercer • Jennifer Attal Allen • Vikki & Bob Goodwin • Distinct Austin Properties The Hernandez Family • Burke & Tricia Edwards • The Turley Family • Don Grant Ed & Sheila Peters • The Irick Family • Paprocki Insurance Agency • Film Fleet LLC

Additional thanks to the Austin Community Foundation

As of December 7, 2012


trail of lights 2012



t r a i l o f l i g h ts 2 01 2 | z i l k e r pa r k trail of lights 2012


Trail of Lights 2012  

The Austin Trail of Lights is part of the Austin experience, lighting up the season with a celebration of community, memories and fun. Found...

Trail of Lights 2012  

The Austin Trail of Lights is part of the Austin experience, lighting up the season with a celebration of community, memories and fun. Found...