Giving Project: Personalized Pillowcases for the Ranchers of Down Home Ranch in Austin, TX

In preparation for our 2019 Annual Meeting – the PECAA Event + PECAA Gives Planning Teams traveled to Austin, TX to begin the work of creating the end-to-end experience that all PECAA Members will be immersed in and impacted by when they attend next year.

Our favorite part of this planning process has become the very special & important task of seeking out and interviewing the local organizations in need that are each considered as a beneficiary for PECAA Gives – creating an opportunity for all PECAA Members & Vendors to give back to the local communities we visit together & leave behind  a positive footprint at each meeting.

That said, and as part of this process – the PECAA team had the distinct pleasure of visiting & touring Down Home Ranch which is a 410-acre working farm, east of Austin. Their mission is to empower the lives of people with intellectual & developmental disabilities through social, educational, residential & vocational opportunities.

Down Home Ranch currently has 37 full-time ranchers – who live & work onsite, along with an additional 15 day-time ranchers who participate in various work, education & day-time activities. There are over 40 full-time staff members supporting this effort, along with an outpouring of continual support from the local community & businesses in the area.

This impressive program inspires & facilitates not only day-to-day work opportunities, but all variations of creative aspirations for the ranchers – literally any outlet imaginable, from gardening to nurturing & selling Christmas poinsettias, sewing, art of all types, a craft room, woodshop area, computer education, musical talents, farming, swimming, boating, and a variety of farm animals to attend to and take care of.

We all came away with a deep sense of ‘special’ from our tour time at the ranch; their dedication in creating an environment for creativity, choice, growth – allowing this special community of adults to thrive and contribute is such a beautiful story.

Upon our return, we shared their story, mission & video with the PECAA team at large, as well as a special lady here in the Northwest (a relative of the PECAA team), Grandma Carrie, who has her own mission… to provide comfort, and a sense of ‘I matter’ through the gift of her various hand-made crafts (personalized pillowcases, afghans, receiving blankets, quilts, etc).  She has been quietly creating and giving/gifting to those around her in this way for many years – and as we explained the special nature of Down Home Ranch (and the ranchers), the idea of creating personalized pillowcases for each rancher was born.

As a special holiday donation from PECAA to Down Home Ranch, Grandma Carrie handcrafted 55 personalized cases to reflect the unique personalities, hobbies, and farm activities of each rancher. The ranch staff is beyond excited to choose & gift the pillowcase that most closely reflects each individual rancher’s interests & we were all thrilled to be a part of such a warm & wonderful giving opportunity during this holiday season.

Although Down Home Ranch was not chosen as our benefactor for the 2019 Annual Meeting – PECAA has selected the Down Home Ranch community to provide some of the etched promotional items you will receive at the meeting, so be on the lookout for them at the PECAA Gives station during the registration welcome party!

Happy Holidays in this season of giving!

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