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Our Charitable Community

By Jim Mikula, President/CEO

Last week was our first FUN AFTER FIVE event for this year and held in the historic Nimitz Hotel Ballroom. Following tradition, the year’s inaugural event was a showcase for non-profit organizations. Participating non-profits have the opportunity to explain their missions and how they go about accomplishing their goals. We hosted 14 organizations this year, and veterans of FUN AFTER FIVE events shared that the attendance was higher than usual. That is a meaningful marker of our community’s support of charities and other non-profits.

Being a curious fellow, I wondered how many such organizations we have in Fredericksburg. According to Google, we have 376 charitable organizations in our community which equates to one charity for every 29 citizens of Fredericksburg. Of the charities in our community about 100 belong to the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce. That is 12% of our membership – and that’s amazing!

Over the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to visit two of our non-profit members and also attend the launch of a new organization. Each has a different mission that supports different aspects of our community from human healthcare to care for our furry friends to the creation of new outdoor experiences for our families.

The Good Samaritan Center was started in 1992 as the Fredericksburg Free Clinic, founded by Sarah Allercamp and some eager volunteers. The center provides affordable medical, dental, and counselling services to members of our community who are uninsured and have low incomes. The center states it is “here to improve our patient’s quality of life through coordinated care, disease prevention, health/wellness information and promotion.” (

Hill Country SPCA was launched in 1997, and seven years later, construction began on the organization’s own shelter. In September 2005, the staff moved into the building, and the Grand Opening of Trudy Brune Hill Country SPCA shelter was held in January 2006. The organization is a private intake, no-kill facility.

Touring the facility, I was impressed with the staff, cleanliness, and the care given to all the furry friends waiting for adoption. I was equally impressed with their year-to-date numbers which include 88 dog adoptions, 39 cat adoptions, 3 other adoptions, 127 volunteer hours, 113 intakes, and 114 animals fostered! (

The newest local non-profit is the Fredericksburg Parks Foundation, an idea that came from one of the Chamber’s Leadership Gillespie County (LGC) classes. The foundation had a launch event on February 13 at Hondo’s. Two of its leaders and LGC alumni, Emily Kirchner and John Wells, shared that the group’s mission “…is to help revitalize existing parks and recreational spaces, support innovative projects that enhance our community, provide healthy outlets for our youth, and promote the rich history of our area.” As a new non-profit, the group is actively seeking volunteers, committee members, and donations. (

I am look forward to visiting more of our community’s charitable organizations this year and understanding how the Chamber can provide more value to this critical sector. I also encourage everyone in the community to get to know more of the almost 400 non-profits we have here. You might discover an organization out there that shares one of your concerns for our collective well-being – and, all of these organizations would welcome support from more of us!

Following up last week’s column about the Chamber’s entrepreneurial program initiative, thank you to the many readers who reached out to us offering assistance. It is indeed a small world - one of those generous folks had moved here from Bend, Oregon.

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