Brauntex Theatre to screen doc exploring the impact of social media on children, effects of technology on the brain

Feb. 21, 2024

Are you using social media or is social media using you?

Maintaining balance and protecting our well-being has become increasingly difficult in this digital age, where technology and connectivity are integral parts of our daily lives. The relentless flood of notifications, messages and information can lead to feeling overwhelmed and isolated.

On Feb. 27 at 7 p.m., the San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Awareness will host a screening of “LIKE: A Documentary About Finding Balance in Our Digital World” at the Brauntex Theatre in New Braunfels. This film will encourage us to contemplate the effects of social media and technology on our lives. It offers strategies for achieving balance and wellness.

The documentary delves into how algorithms influence our online behavior, from the compulsion to respond to notifications to manipulating our behavior to garner more “likes.” It provides guidance and diverse perspectives on navigating the digital world, drawing on young people’s and their families’ experiences, supplemented by expert insights.

The film introduces the concept of JOMO – the Joy Of Missing Out, promoting the benefits of occasional disconnection. Maryanne Navickas, the theater’s Education and Community Outreach Director, stated that the screening is part of a continuous effort to give back to the community.

Navickas invites the community to learn about the current state of social media and its impact on students and adults.

“We will provide resources that will benefit them,” she said. “We hope they will acquire some knowledge to safeguard their children and themselves from IT devices and social media.”

The evening will also feature a panel discussion from subject matter experts, providing insights on social media trends, monitoring a child’s online activity, and what parents should be vigilant about to protect their children.

Resources from local nonprofit organizations, including Mental Advocacy Partners – Comal County, San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Awareness, Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Centers, InMindOut and Communities in Schools will be available in the lobby at 6 p.m.

“MAP Comal is pleased to support a community mental health education event such as the LIKE screening and panel discussion,” said Kristen Fain, program officer for the McKenna Foundation and coordinator of the Mental Advocacy Partners Comal Coalition. “We hope this event will help families proactively address their mental health needs and engage with community support systems.

The film is a product of iMPACTFUL, a Los Angeles-based company specializing in creating award-winning, evidence-based film programs for schools, businesses and nonprofits.

Admission is free, but seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. You can reserve your seats at You can view a trailer of the film on YouTube at

For more information about Mental Advocacy Partners Comal, visit

New sauna amenities ready for seniors at 7Ten Activity Center

The new sauna at the 7Ten Activity Center is a relaxing feature that is available to seniors, veterans and disabled adults who are members of the Comal County Senior Citizens Foundation.

The sauna, located in the locker rooms for men and women, can help individuals enjoy the benefits of heat therapy, such as better blood circulation, less stress and more detoxification.

The Center’s executive director, Ken Lowery, said clients have given him a lot of positive feedback on the new amenity.

“Our clients are saying there won’t be long before there’s a waiting list to use the steam room,” Lowery said. We’ve completely renovated the steam rooms. We tore out the old and brought in new tile, flooring, drains and steaming equipment. It’s all in concrete now, so it will not deteriorate.”

The sauna is one of the many attractions at the 7Ten Activity Center, which used to be the YMCA building. The Foundation bought and renovated the 20,000-square-foot building a year ago and moved from its old location across the street. The Center’s executive director, Ken Lowery, says the aim is to make the building a modern and versatile facility for senior residents.

The Center offers a variety of activities for seniors, veterans, and disabled adults who want to stay active and engaged. The building contains administrative offices, a central area with three to four separate rooms, outdoor pools, locker rooms, and exercise spaces.

The central area has tile flooring and movable walls, allowing different configurations and uses. Groups can use the rooms for meetings, family gatherings and special events, generating income for the Center, which supports vital programs such as Meals on Wheels and wellness initiatives.

The Center offers a variety of programs, services, and activities for its members. A large room for arts and crafts is at the back of the building. Daily activities include card games, bingo, bean bag tournaments, dominoes, and craft classes. The Center also organizes bus trips and tours to different places, allowing seniors to explore and have fun.

The Center has an exercise area that overlooks the outdoor pool. It includes traditional equipment like treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical machines. It also has Echelon Reflect home gym mirrors, which provide virtual personalized training sessions for senior clients.

The Center is committed to the Meals on Wheels program, which serves about 14,000 meals each month to senior residents in Comal, Guadalupe, Wilson, and Karnes counties. The meals are free for the clients. The Center also offers a pet program covering home-bound clients’ veterinary care and food.

The Center was established in 1985 and supports seniors and disabled individuals aged 18 and older. The Center has expanded its services over the years and now offers a range of programs for its members.

The Center is proud to partner with the McKenna Foundation, which recently granted the Center $50,000 to support its senior nutrition program in Comal County. The program addresses food insecurity, hunger, and social isolation among senior residents. It includes initiatives such as Meals on Wheels and congregate meal programs offered at the Center.

For more information about the Center and its memberships, call 830-629-4547.

Your voice matters: McKenna Foundation invites public input on community needs assessment survey

January 26, 2024

UPDATE: The deadline for participating in the survey has been extended to Feb. 23.

The McKenna Foundation invites the public to share their views on the needs of New Braunfels and Comal County by participating in a community needs assessment survey.

Public input on the eight-item survey will help the Foundation shape future investments in area nonprofit organizations for the community’s benefit.

The items cover public transportation, child abuse and neglect, housing programs, mental health, and child care, and the participants are asked to rate their importance and satisfaction levels.

“We began our journey as the McKenna Foundation as students of the community, which is a role that will never change,” said McKenna Foundation CEO Alice Jewell. “How best to invest resources needs to be informed from multiple perspectives, so we make an impact on the community’s biggest needs.”

To participate in the survey, go to and click on “2024 Community Needs Survey.” The survey is available for public input until Feb. 16.

The Foundation conducted a similar survey in 2018. Participation in the survey is anonymous. For any inquiries about the study or its purpose, email the Foundation at

McKenna Events Center accommodates over 900 events, Children’s Museum attracts nearly 125,000 visitors in 2023

January 23, 2024

In 2023, the McKenna Events Center in New Braunfels became a hub of activity and impact, hosting over 900 events and welcoming nearly 125,000 visitors to the Children’s Museum.

Guided by the McKenna Foundation, the Events Center hosted 960 events in 2023, including meetings, job and resource fairs, training sessions, educational workshops, and fundraisers. This is a sizeable increase from the 736 events held the preceding year.

In 2023, the Center donated more than $330,000 in room rental costs. Fundraisers organized by the Foundation’s nonprofit partners raised $1.5 million for the local community. The Center’s reach expanded to 166 organizations in 2023, up from 130 the previous year.

“We are honored and humbled that McKenna Events Center has become a true community space,” said Lindsay Morgan, Events Center manager. “Our partner organizations know we are an accommodating meeting resource where people come to learn, share and grow. We are proud to include community convening in the McKenna Foundation body of work.”

Serving nonprofit organizations, civic groups, local schools, government and churches, the McKenna Events Center in New Braunfels is committed to benefiting the residents of New Braunfels and Comal County. This service is an integral part of the Foundation’s mission to enhance the welfare of the New Braunfels community.

Since 2006, the Foundation has offered meeting and event space at its West San Antonio Street facility at minimal or no cost.

For inquiries regarding venue details and reservations at the Event Center, representatives of nonprofit or community organizations are encouraged to contact the Foundation via email at

Throughout 2023, the McKenna Children’s Museum experienced a notable surge in foot traffic and revenue, setting a new record for admissions and membership sales.

An impressive 123,085 individuals visited the Museum in 2023, marking a 9% upswing from the previous year and eclipsing the 2022 record of 111,965 visitors. Nearly 11,900 of the admissions were field trip guests.

Admission sales reached a new peak, reaching $582,649 in 2023, surpassing the 2022 figure of $523,221. The Museum also achieved record-breaking membership sales, totaling $202,393, breaking the 2022 record of 185,372. Memberships are at a record high of 1,613 families. Gift shop sales totaled $209,517.

At the Museum, children are immersed in art, creativity, science, technology, culture, health and history, engaging with educational exhibits meticulously crafted to stimulate learning and foster knowledge acquisition.

Creative learning classes have increased the daily average participation to 13 kids. After-hours special events are growing in popularity, averaging more than 150 attendees.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the city of New Braunfels and the surrounding areas for their consistent support,” said Isabel Martinez, the Museum’s operations manager. “Our achievements would not have been possible without their contribution. I would also like to acknowledge the Museum team for their unwavering commitment to maintaining a safe and secure environment for our families. Their dedication to providing excellent customer service is truly commendable. I am excited to break records in the upcoming years.”

McKenna curated this distinctive hands-on experience to equip children with the tools necessary for nurturing their well-being. Within the Museum’s confines, children embark on exploratory journeys in a secure and nurturing environment while parents actively participate in their children’s educational journey.

The entry fee for individuals aged 12 months and above and adults is $8 per person. The Museum welcomes school excursions all year round, and comprehensive information is available by calling 830-606-9525. All children must be accompanied by an adult aged 16 and above.

The Museum operates from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, observing closures on Sundays and major holidays. For supplementary details and access to an events calendar, visit

Texas Tribune: Homelessness in Texas on the rise amid high housing costs, federal estimates show

Homelessness in Texas on the rise amid high housing costs, federal estimates show

Homelessness in Texas on the rise amid high housing costs, federal estimates show” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

For 24/7 mental health support in English or Spanish, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s free help line at 800-662-4357. You can also reach a trained crisis counselor through the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.

The number of Texans experiencing homelessness is back at pre-pandemic levels, federal data shows.

Homelessness in Texas grew by more than 12% in 2023, in line with national trends, according to estimates released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last month. More than 27,000 Texans did not have a permanent roof over their heads when advocates and volunteers across the country walked Texas streets on a night last January to conduct the Point-in-Time Count annual estimate of people experiencing homelessness. About 43% of those — or some 11,700 people — lived on the streets.

Low-income households in Texas now face significantly higher rents than they did prior to the pandemic — and no longer have the pandemic-era safety net afforded by federal rent relief funds and pauses on evictions that aimed to prevent landlords from ousting tenants who couldn’t make rent. Those factors have contributed to an overall increase in homelessness, homeless experts and advocates say.

“We’re in a huge affordability crisis,” said Eric Samuels, president and CEO of Texas Homeless Network. “There’s a lot of people out there at risk of homelessness. And if they fall into homelessness, we have a lot fewer units to help them escape homelessness.”

Homelessness rose in nearly every demographic group measured by the Point-in-Time Count estimate. The number of unhoused veterans and families with children grew in 2023 by 19% and 4.9% respectively. More Black and Hispanic people experienced homelessness than in the previous year.

Experts and advocates noted some bright spots.

Efforts in major Texas cities aimed at quickly getting people experiencing homelessness into new housing and connecting them with support services helped reduce chronic homelessness, which fell year-over-year by about 9%, estimates show. Someone experiences chronic homelessness when they have been unhoused for at least a year or multiple times “while struggling with a disabling condition such as a serious mental illness, substance use disorder, or physical disability,” according to The National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Meanwhile, the state’s overall population of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness — meaning they slept in outdoor spaces like encampments or other places people aren’t meant to live — grew by 6.5%, but fell in places like Dallas and Houston.

The Dallas region saw double-digit decreases in the numbers of people experiencing unsheltered and chronic homelessness last year, which local advocates attribute to a $72 million initiative launched in 2021 to rehouse people and families experiencing homelessness.

The push, dubbed the R.E.A.L. Time Rehousing Initiative and fueled in part by federal pandemic relief funds, relies on close collaboration between dozens of nonprofits who work in homelessness response and a network of landlords willing to give the unhoused a roof over their heads, said Sarah Kahn, CEO of Housing Forward, the lead agency in charge of tackling homelessness in Dallas and Collin counties. When city crews clear homeless encampments, outreach workers offer to connect people with housing and services, she said.

That approach has worked, Kahn said. In October, the initiative reached a goal of placing 2,700 people experiencing homelessness into new housing — and aims to house 6,000 by the end of 2025.

“It’s just important to remember that this work is hard,” Kahn said. “I know it feels slow to a lot of the public and a lot of people are wondering why we’re not making more progress than we are. I think the most important thing to remember is we have a proof point of what works and we have to keep investing and scaling those proven solutions if we want to see those numbers continue to go in the right direction.”

In Houston, federal pandemic relief funds supercharged yearslong efforts to reduce the region’s homeless population by placing those experiencing homelessness into apartments before providing them with support services — efforts Dallas officials took inspiration from when crafting its strategy to address homelessness. The region’s Community COVID Housing Program, buoyed by federal relief dollars, has housed or diverted from homelessness nearly 17,000 people since it launched in October 2020, according to Houston’s Coalition for the Homeless. Last year, the region’s population of people experiencing unsheltered and chronic homelessness fell by 17.3% and 3.7%, respectively.

But federal funds that paid for the program are set to expire by the end of the year, said Ana Rausch, vice president of program operations for the Coalition for the Homeless, leaving policymakers and those who work in homelessness response to figure out how to fund at least some aspects of the program after that money runs out.

“We have to continue to invest in housing if we want to continue to see a downward trend in our homeless numbers,” Rausch said.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at

Homeless Coalition seeks compassion bag donations for annual Point-in-Time count

January 16, 2024

The public is invited to assist the Comal County Homeless Coalition and Texas Homeless Network later this month as the organizations prepare for the annual “Point-in-Time” count, which aims to provide a snapshot of individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Comal County over one day.

Every year, local agencies and organizations conduct a Point-in-Time (PIT) count to determine the extent of homelessness in the community. The survey is conducted throughout the state and the country.

The Coalition hopes to help the community better understand the needs and resources available to unhoused neighbors. Two-person teams of trained volunteers will conduct surveys of people experiencing homelessness in selected areas over one 24-hour period.

Survey participants will receive a compassion bag containing much-needed food, hygiene and safety items provided by the Seeds of Love non-profit organization. The Coalition is seeking donations of items for the compassion bags.

“Community support and awareness for this project are so important, not only in terms of community engagement but also to create awareness and understanding about this very vulnerable population in our area,” said Bethany Benson from Gruene United Methodist Church and a member of the PIT Count Committee.

The count helps non-profit agencies and organizations understand how homelessness changes over time across numerous variables such as economic conditions, societal factors and policy advancement. It also allows organizations to spread awareness, engage and build relationships with unhoused neighbors.

To donate items to be included in the compassion bags, contact Benson at or visit

To learn more about the count, visit

Seals named Philanthropist of the Year by New Braunfels Community Foundation

Gary Seals, a local businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist, was named as the New Braunfels Philanthropist of the Year by New Braunfels Community Foundation on Dec. 5.

The award, better known as “The Eager,” was announced during the NBCF year-end event at McKenna Events Center by NBCF Board Member Wes Studdard and McKenna Foundation CEO Alice Jewell.

“This is the second bestowing of the New Braunfels Philanthropist of the Year Award,” Jewell explained. “According to the namesake of the award, Cecil Eager believes a community foundation encourages people to be generous and it provides a vehicle for people to place their money in a perpetual fund so that their assets outlive them. But their desires and goals will continue. This person will have exhibited generosity in their charitable giving, or aided in procuring donors, or been an example of paying it forward, or have worked to grow the Foundation, or been a leader in their work life and civic volunteerism, or worked to improve the Foundations effectiveness. Our recipient this year has ‘walked the walk’ and done all of these.”

Seals opened his first waterbed store when he was 21. He says he expanded his “empire” until folks chose to stop buying waterbeds. He worked for various furniture companies until he discovered, according to him now, he wasn’t a very good employee. In 2002, he opened his first Ashley Furniture Homestore in Pflugerville. In 2003, Michael Meek with the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce and the City of New Braunfels Economic Development Corporation enticed him to move his headquarters and warehouse to New Braunfels.

Seals and his family fell in love with New Braunfels. Over the next 17 years, he and his team would open 35 locations in four states with more than 1,200 associates. He founded “Furnishing Dreams” which delivered beds to kids who didn’t have one of their own. The business was sold in 2019, and he turned his attention to residential and commercial real estate, investing in downtown New Braunfels, and launching an art gallery in Austin with an “art for all” mission that supports several nonprofits.

That same year he met with Alice Jewell with McKenna Foundation to discuss opening a teen center for disadvantaged youth. A recent McKenna study identified a significant gap in services to our youth in after-school programs and activities. That meeting led to the founding of the New Braunfels Youth Collaborative that will help our middle and high school youth to become the best version of themselves.

Since moving here, Seals has served and supported a multitude of civic and nonprofit organizations. He serves as a board member with Connections, advisory board member with Chosen Care, and chair of the New Braunfels Youth Collaborative. He currently serves as the vice chair of the New Braunfels Community Foundation and will being serving as the chair in 2024.

“It’s an honor to serve on the board of the New Braunfels Community Foundation,” Seals said. “NBCF serves as a unifying force, pooling the financial resources of individuals, families, and businesses to bolster local nonprofits. By facilitating and supporting others in realizing their charitable aspirations, our foundation is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in New Braunfels through philanthropy.”

“The New Braunfels Community Foundation created this award to not only provide deserved recognition for the recipient(s) but also increase awareness locally of the importance of philanthropy,” Studdard said.

Seals said working with the New Braunfels Community Foundation was important to him because of the legacy of giving that pays it forward.

“Donors find a partner in NBCF, assisting in crafting customized gift plans that reflect their philanthropic passions,” Seals said. “We work diligently to expand donations, ensuring sustained support for the community’s charitable needs for years to come.”

“It is in this spirit and with great gratitude that the New Braunfels Community Foundation awards the second The Cecil Eager Philanthropist of the Year Award in his honor to Gary Seals,” Studdard said. “We should all strive to be so ‘Eager!’”

For more on charitable giving, visit

First Footing community center near completion, guests get first look at refurbished facility

December 28, 2023

NB Housing Partners’ First Footing program is near completion of a years-long journey to provide a permanent community space to serve New Braunfels residents experiencing homelessness.

The organization hosted a recent open house to let guests get a first look at the new facility, a renovated former fire station at Loop 337 in New Braunfels that will act as a crisis housing and outreach center containing a comprehensive intake process connecting individuals to community resources and housing opportunities.

Officials with NB Housing Partners said the 1970s-era building requires some installations, such as a fire suppression system, before participants can occupy the facility. Still, they remain hopeful for a January move-in date.

“Anytime there is a change, even if it’s something that you are looking forward to, it still has its own unexpected things and adjustments,” said Kellie Stallings, executive director of NB Housing Partners. “Our team and our participants know that and are starting to plan ahead for that. We’ve been asking participants what they want to see and what they think are reasonable expectations for participants who seek help on their journey toward housing. They’ve been giving us some good ideas of things they think they should be responsible for and ways we can help them more effectively.”

In early 2023, NB Housing Partners entered a 25-year agreement with the City of New Braunfels to lease the former fire station. The site will provide case management, basic needs, meals, medical care, behavioral healthcare, budgeting, employment/job assistance, benefit application assistance, housing navigation and planning, and congregate crisis housing (shelter).

First Footing staffers develop a housing plan with each participant. Housing navigation and housing startup costs are provided in partnership with the Crisis Center of Comal County. Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Centers will offer mental health services, counseling and life skills assistance.

Since its establishment in February 2021, the First Footing program has been leasing local motel space to provide services to community members at risk for or experiencing homelessness. The program serves an average of about 30 individuals daily. The demand increases to nearly 50 individuals on cold weather nights.

The Salvation Army of New Braunfels will provide meals at the new facility with additional support from New Braunfels Church of Christ, Elks Lodge, New Braunfels Food Bank, SOS Food Bank and Peace Lutheran Church.

The facility’s medical exam room will be utilized for wellness checkups and healthcare visits. The goals are to improve preventive healthcare, address medical needs that accompany prolonged exposure to weather elements, detect and address acute or chronic health issues and reduce the overuse of emergency healthcare services.

Healthcare is provided weekly through Acadia Medical Mission, with offsite appointments offered through Volunteers in Medicine, America’s Best Eyecare and local dentistry practices.

The congregate sleeping space will provide rest for about 40 individuals at a time, with more served to preserve life safety when the outdoor temperature drops to 45 degrees or below.

An onsite skilled daytime and overnight team is alert and ready to provide a listening ear and offer suggestions to improve sleep for participants as needed.

The team also welcomes those returning from work. Participants show proof of their work times before entering the building after 10 p.m.

The facility also includes a bathroom/shower area, a television and computer room and a laundry room.

Although NB Housing Partners has established partnerships with nonprofits, businesses, faith leaders and housing developers, the organization also needs the public’s help.

The program urgently seeks donations of personal care items, such as brushes and combs, sleep masks, shower scrunchies, bath towels, deodorant and shower shoes.

Food items, such as coffee, dry cereal, and snack items, are welcome, as well as cleaning and household supplies, toilet paper, and transportation items, such as adult skateboards, adult bicycles, and ride-sharing gift cards.

Program participants also welcome H-E-B, McDonald’s, Walmart and Walgreens gift cards. For a complete list, click here.

Donors can leave items at the McKenna Events Center at 801 W. San Antonio St.

Tax-deductible donations can be made to NB Housing Partners and mailed or dropped off at 801 W. San Antonio Street, New Braunfels, TX 78130. Individuals can volunteer for the program through the Serve Spot website at For additional information regarding donations or the program, email or call 830-272-5020 ext 6.

McKenna Foundation marks 15 years of grantmaking

December 21, 2023

Community members, partners and friends gathered earlier this month to join the McKenna Foundation in celebrating a milestone – 15 years of grantmaking to nonprofit organizations in Comal County.

The Foundation began making grants to community nonprofits in 2009 and has since awarded more than 500 grants to 85 nonprofit organizations serving residents. Over 15 years, more than $28 million in grant funding has resulted in strengthened and new programs and nonprofit assets that bolster the strained social infrastructure of this growing community.

Broken down, the Foundation has gifted $726,630 for community development programs, $1.14 million for capacity building programs, $2.75 million for education programs, $2.97 million for family relationship programs, $3.58 million for physical health programs, $4.6 million for mental health programs, $5.89 million for capital funding programs and $6.96 million for basic needs programs.

“We are in the people business, the best kind of business there is,” said McKenna Foundation CEO Alice Jewell, addressing celebration attendees. “We have the ability to impact the entire community — from those in the most vulnerable situations to the people with the resources to care for them.”
In 2023, the Foundation gifted more than $2.1 million in grants to 42 nonprofit organizations in Comal County, serving 72,133 people.

Some have asked what this celebration tonight is all about – the answer is easy, Jewell said
“This celebration is about people,” Jewell said. “The people who built McKenna Memorial Hospital over its 54-year history as patients, staff and leadership. The people with the vision to negotiate the sale of a premiere hospital system and create an entity whose sole mission is to improve the lives of people. The people who took that Hospital and expanded and enriched its offerings for a more holistic opportunity for health care right here in New Braunfels. The people who, this very day, are committed to carrying on a legacy that is passionate and intentional. Those people are you. Physicians, clinicians, social workers, board members, volunteers, leaders, friends.”

The Foundation also oversees the McKenna Events Center and the Children’s Museum, which opened on April 1, 2006. Since then, those offerings remained a community need through which McKenna has served thousands of residents as a community partner.

“The grantmaking, Children’s Museum and Events Center are executed every day by an incredible staff team here at McKenna, who make this operation possible and impactful,” Jewell said. “Our culture here is one of caring for people first, and I am so grateful for their dedication to each other and our mission.”

The Children’s Museum has seen nearly 1.2 million visitors and the Events Center has hosted about 9,000 events.

Jewell also recognized Bill Morton, who was the Chair of the McKenna System Board of Directors, as well as prior Foundation chiefs Tim Brierty and Jerry Major.

The beginning of what would become the McKenna Foundation goes back about 70 years to when population growth prompted the need for a full-service hospital to serve the New Braunfels area.

Although two attempts in the late 1940s to establish a county-funded hospital in New Braunfels failed, a group of business and civic leaders led by Howard McKenna kept pursuing that vision.

The group set out to privately secure the funds to build a new hospital. Along with a host of peers, Mr. McKenna persuaded the city in 1951 to support health care for its residents by providing a site for the proposed Hospital. The city leaders and other individuals organized a fundraising effort in 1952, often going door to door to ask residents for their support.

Mr. McKenna’s vision became a reality when New Braunfels residents donated more than $500,000 for the project, equivalent to nearly $5.9 million in today’s dollars, augmented by a $280,000 Hill-Burton grant.

Construction began in October 1952, and a grand opening celebration for the new 40-bed New Braunfels Hospital occurred about a year later. The original structure, which still stands as the central core of the Hospital, opened its doors to patients in November 1953.

In 1973, New Braunfels Hospital changed its name to McKenna Memorial Hospital in honor of Howard McKenna, who served as president of the Hospital’s board of trustees for over 20 years.

Tremendous growth came to the Hospital during the following decades, including several multimillion-dollar facilities and equipment expansions. What began as a small community hospital became a nationally recognized regional healthcare provider. The McKenna Health System found its place as a vital part of New Braunfels and Comal County, providing effective programs, services, and resources that benefit the health and well-being of the community.

The Hospital operated as an independent facility until 2008 when the board opted to sell McKenna Memorial Hospital to a system with resources that could expand the service line to the growing area. The sale to Christus Santa Rosa Health Care occurred on Jan. 31.

Genifer Rucker began her 30-year healthcare career as a transporter for the radiology department at McKenna Hospital, now Christus Santa Rosa Hospital. She currently serves as the Hospital’s president.

“McKenna is my family’s hospital,” Rucker said. “I feel so proud now that I’ve been asked to come back and lead and preserve the legacy that McKenna and all of you have participated in. I feel very obligated and very proud to preserve the culture, compassion and quality of care we provide for this community.”

The hospital sale brought two significant benefits to the New Braunfels community: the assurance of quality health care by Christus and the funding to create the McKenna Foundation, whose mission is to advance the well-being of the greater New Braunfels community.

“The McKenna family is one that is expanding every day, with one of my favorite branches of the tree being our nonprofit partners,” Jewell said. “Over 15 years, we have met some real characters. We fell in love with you and the work that you do serving people in this community. You all know that we are here for you — to support you from the front or the back or walk alongside.”