Gathering in Gratitude

Dec 12, 2023

Gathering in Gratitude

By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer

Colorful poster boards graced the interior of Reba’s Ranch House where Texoma Health Foundation (THF) grantee recipients highlighted the good work they’ve been up to. From Austin and Grayson Colleges to the Crisis Control Center in Durant, organizations serving our communities gathered under one roof as the THF family.

The annual Grateful Gathering began as a way to give a visual scope of the breadth of THF initiatives and projects. It is a way to bring together our own nonprofit, Reba’s Ranch House, our community collaborative work, and all the ways we invest dollars in a thriving community. This includes grantmaking to nonprofits, place-based philanthropy, like the THF Park, and partner giving through Texoma Giving Partners. The event brings recipients of each of these areas together with the THF board and staff. It’s become a family reunion.

“For us, it’s a way to give thanks and recognize that these are the people making our work possible every day,” says Michelle Lemming, THF CEO. “All the pieces of THF are in one place for us to learn about, connect with, and support each other.”

Many people at the gathering discover the range of partnerships under the umbrella of THF —volunteers at Reba’s Ranch House are often unfamiliar with the vast number of nonprofits who receive funding through THF; grantees may not know about Texoma Giving Partners.

“What we found early on is, we would have someone really engaged in one of those pieces, but they wouldn’t necessarily know about, or understand another piece of the work we did,” Michelle says. “A member of our board, Reba’s COO at the time, Cliff Williamson, said, ‘You need one time each year where you bring everyone under one roof.’”

During the 2023 Grateful Gathering, everyone enjoyed music provided by a band comprised of faculty and administrators at Austin College (including President O’Day, a THF board member, and our Grants and Giving lead was the guest drummer). Delectables were catered in by the Grayson College Culinary School. Each morsel was carefully crafted—the students were competing for a grade. Wine was donated by the Grayson College Viticultural Program, and Twin Oaks donated pumpkins to round out the festive atmosphere.

This year, a unique highlight rolled into the parking lot of Reba’s Ranch House and the THF offices—the Oklahoma Dental Foundation’s MobileSmiles Oklahoma bus. Gatherers toured the unit that boasts a wide range of care, and the staff operated the wheelchair lift as part of the tour.

It was Jill Woodzell’s first time attending the THF Grateful Gathering. She is the MobileSmiles program manager.

“It was neat to see all the different organizations THF helps,” Jill says. “Everyone was excited to see the new bus that we put in operation recently. I was impressed with everyone, and we got to meet a lot of the people that gave us the funding. It was such a good experience.”

As a community foundation, we can’t think of a better way to spend a day in November than gathering in gratitude with our partners and friends—our THF family.