SoCCA - Spirit & Compassion Celebration & Awards

Each year we honor the most compassionate in our community based on many factors. We also award formerly homeless persons whose grace in overcoming adversity and acts of kindness are an inspiration to us all. 

SoCCA 2015 Saturday Nov. 14th Omni Barton Creek

2014 Honorees

Seedling- volunteers responsible for the early or continuing growth and development of Feed My People.


Sharon Doss, Ph.D., First United Methodist


Sharon Doss, originally from Lubbock and Lorenzo, has devoted herself to the health and wellness of Texans in her work as a speech pathologist, college educator, FFH board member, long-time cook, server and volunteer trainer for FFH’s Feed My People breakfast and wife of Noble Doss Jr., M.D. After working as a speech pathologist in Dallas-area hospitals for several years, Sha and her husband moved to Austin where Sharon worked in private practice while completing a Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Texas. Dr. Doss is a longtime member of First United Methodist Church in downtown Austin. Sharon served on the FFH board of directors from 2000 to 2006.  Since 1999, Sharon has worked on the breakfast crew for Feed My People at least once a week.  She also serves meals through the Mobile Loaves and Fishes truck ministry and has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer for more than ten years. Noble is an obstetrician and gynecologist and has delivered more than 8,000 baby boys and girls during his career.  The Drs. Doss raised two daughters, Amanda and Jessica and now enjoy time with their grandchildren.


Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman


Kirk Bohls was planted deep in the heart of Taylor, Texas more than 60 years ago and last year, celebrated 40 years at the Austin-American Statesman. Kirk has been involved with FFH’s Feed My People breakfast since 1989, served on the board of directors and since 2004, on the advisory council. He has been honorary chair for most of our Golf Marathons and was co-emcee of our 2012 Spirit of Compassion Awards. Kirk likes to say that he was born at the Austin American-Statesman. He worked there part-time briefly before he graduated from the University of Texas, took a full-time job there in 1973 and loved it so much that he never left. He has co-authored two books with John Maher: Bleeding Orange: Trouble and Triumph Deep in the Heart of Texas Football and Long Live the Longhorns!: 100 Years of Texas Football. Kirk and his wife of 39 years, Vicki, have been blessed with three boys, Ryan, Tyler and Zachary, and countless fans and friends.



NEW SEEDS AWARD- volunteers who do their best work in the trenches working closely with homeless families in IHN.


Mark Taylor, Central Presbyterian Church


Mark Taylor, member of Central Presbyterian Church for 9 years and current chair of its Mission Team, has been a coordinator for IHN for about 6 years.  Through the Mission Team, Mark and others at Central have focused on issues of poverty and homelessness.  In addition to serving as a host church for IHN for 25 years, Central celebrates 2 years of its Central Mission ministry for homeless persons, helps host Front Step’s Cold Weather Shelter program, and continues to help raise funds for Church World Service through Austin’s CROP Hunger Walk.  Mark has served in each of these ministries and has been a part of the Austin CROP Walk planning team for 20 years and has also helped with refugee resettlement.  Mark extends his heartfelt thanks to CPC staff for their support and encouragement, the mission team and all the volunteers that make IHN and other outreach endeavors possible.

Mark was born in Houston and has lived in Texas all of his life.  He has lived in Austin since January of 1985 and he and his wife Brian married in May of 1988.  He is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University and has spent the first part of his working career in retail management and the last 20 years with Epicor, a large software company.

Central Presbyterian Church was one of the original congregations that helped start Foundation for the Homeless, specifically, our Feed My People breakfast in 1987 and our Family Promise-Interfaith Hospitality Network shelter program for families in 1993. The late Rose Lancaster was among our first Spirit of Compassion honorees in 2009. 


Deanna Wilson, First Presbyterian Church


Deanna Wilson has served the IHN ministry for eight years, five of them as Primary Coordinator at First Presbyterian Church. Deanna states that her affiliation with IHN has given her the opportunity to witness the love and dedication of volunteers from her own church as well as their sister church, Holy Word Lutheran Church.  “I am continually amazed by the hopefulness and courage which our homeless families display and I really appreciate their efforts (with the considerable help of FFH) toward reintegrating into mainstream society.  I am proud to be associated with Foundation for the Homeless and feel honored to be able to serve the IHN ministry. I have five children, seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, all of whom I hope will experience the joy of service to and kinship with their neighbors.”


Sandy Bootz, Congregation Beth Israel


Sandy Bootz is Co-Primary Coordinator with Meryl Wasserman at Congregation Beth Israel. Sandy began working with IHN in 2004 – in large part due to Tom O’Meara speaking to her congregation. Sandy says, “When Tom O’Meara spoke to our Social Action Committee, he was very eloquent and persuasive about the topic and the need to help families without homes.  Namely, he presented IHN as something we COULD do.  Our rabbi supported it as did many people on our committee, so it became just a matter of making it happen.  My mentor and original Co-PC, Marilyn Bauman, was a master of organization, will and drive – and I felt privileged to work beside her.”  Sandy is an avid supporter of children and education and has worked for Austin Partners in Education for more than 6 years.


Meryl Wasserman, Congregation Beth Israel


Meryl Wasserman has served as a Co-PC at Congregation Beth Israel since 2006.  Meryl states that her family was always socially conscious and made contributions to many non-profits over the years. “I felt that instead of donating money, I could donate my time. I have enjoyed the direct contact that volunteering with the IHN program offers me.” Meryl and her husband, John Kilventon, moved to Austin in 1979 and Meryl has worked as a labor and delivery nurse for 35 years. Meryl has seen first-hand the value of good pre-natal care and the effects of poverty on our children.  She recently began advanced work at the University Medical Center as a Specialty Transport Nurse and Simulation Team; and the instructor in Seton Perinatal Education Department. In 2010, Meryl’s husband, John, donated his time and skills to build and install new kitchen cabinets for FFH’s former Day Resource Center.


Frank Jennings, Redeemer Lutheran Church


Frank Jennings was born and raised in Austin.  He graduated from Austin High School in 1953, and then served in the U.S. Marines. He graduated from The University of Texas in 1959 and became a CPA shortly thereafter.  Frank and his wife of 56 years, Jeanette, have two sons and five grandchildren.  Frank is an active member of Redeemer Lutheran Church.  Frank retired from The University of Texas System Administration in 1992 and has volunteered with Foundation for the Homeless’ Feed My People Breakfast since then. The Planter Award- honors a founder or someone involved in hunger, homeless and poverty issues at the root level.



The Spirit of Austin Award for their years of generosity and service. 


Eric & Keri Stumberg, Christ Church


Eric writes:  We love joining the Lord’s heart of hospitality, respite and mercy for families in Austin.  We believe He is working through FFH and love the model of allowing the local churches in Austin to use their facilities and people in conjunction with FFH’s case management, to walk with FFH and families through trial.  Eric began serving the families using FFH’s Family Promise-Interfaith Hospitality Network shelter through Covenant Presbyterian Church in 2002.  Keri and Eric’s third date was serving at FFH at St. Thomas More Catholic church in January 2009.  For Eric, it was answered prayer to find a woman who wanted to serve with him and in serving, he witnessed her amazing love for/from children.  Now, team Stumberg serves with our 3-year old son, Ericson.  FFH has been easy to serve in all of our seasons and God has met us in our serving.



EVERGREEN AWARD - an individual or group that has made volunteering for social service a way of life.  


We greatly appreciate the work of National Charity League-Lake Austin Chapter in making meals for the families using our Family Promise-Interfaith Hospitality Network shelter for more than four years. This has been especially helpful when one or both IHN congregations for the week could not host or find volunteers internally to prepare meals.  Jane Ellen Sanders and Laura Beth Kaufmann will be accepting the award.

National Charity League, Inc., Lake Austin Chapter was founded in 2003 and their mascot is the pink flamingo. The chapter has 132 moms and 152 daughters between 7th and 12th grades.  Working together in mother-daughter pairs, they serve 29 philanthropy organizations in the Austin area and provided over 6,400 hours of service to the Austin community in the past year.  The chapter motto is “keep it simple, keep it meaningful, keep it productive, and keep it fun in a supportive environment to foster the success of our members.”

CORPORATE TILLER - a business that has modeled “ground-breaking” employee giving or volunteer engagement programs to help grow and sustain a stronger community.


Gulf Coast Tubulars


Gulf Coast Tubulars is one of the largest stocking distributors of both ERW and seamless casing and tubing in the United States. With headquarters in Austin, Texas, and additional full-service operations in Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Midland, Gulf Coast Tubulars has been a trusted supplier to independent producers and Fortune 500 companies for 30 years.

Gulf Coast Tubulars takes pride and initiative in supporting social and environmental concerns while improving the quality of life for their workforce, their families and our communities at large.  They have made a definitive commitment that guides the company’s activities in the protection and promotion of our neighbors and friends who are in need.  They embrace the responsibility to help make an impact in the lives of those who are less fortunate or who just need a helping hand, and they encourage their friends, customers and neighbors to join in the challenge.

GCT has been a friend to Foundation for the Homeless for at least 10 years, supporting our work with donations, and featuring us on their website.  Other organizations that GCT supports include the Salvation Army, the Wounded Warriors Project, Wonders and Worries, the Alzheimer’s Association, Helping Hands and Dress for Success.



New Bloom Award -a formerly homeless community member whose efforts to overcome personal adversity and give back to the community have inspired us all.


The Thomas Family


Darryl and Alexia Thomas, 32 and 33 years old, have always put family first– their own and others. The Thomas’ faith, disciplined resolve, hard work and love continue to help them overcome homelessness, poverty and Alexia’s incurable and progressive neurological health condition that now largely prevents her from standing or walking without assistance.

Darryl and Alexia were high school sweethearts in hometown of Ft. Worth and married in 2000. Darryl enlisted and served in the U.S. Marines from August 2000 through August 2005. Their first child, Amiya, was born while they were stationed in Pensacola, Florida. Their three boys, Darryl III, Derrick and Darrius, were born while the family was stationed and continued living in Arizona. The family lived in Arizona for 7 ½ years before deciding to return to Texas to be closer to family. Alexia was pregnant with their fifth child, Aliveyah, when they moved in 2009.

Alexia’s health began to falter after the birth of their third child in 2006-2007. She began stumbling and eventually made her way to a neurologist. The neurologist told them the condition, Spinal Cerebellar Ataxia, was hereditary, incurable and progressive. The doctor urged Alexia to refrain from having any more children and recommended $30,000 in testing that they could not afford. Alexia was still able to walk without assistance when she had her fifth child in September of 2009.


After discharge from the Marines in 2005, Darryl worked for Enterprise Rent-a-Car for three and one half years and had risen to Branch Manager. When the family decided to return to Texas, Darryl attempted to arrange a transfer to another management position with the company, but this was not to be.  Darryl chose to use his G.I. benefits to get a college degree and pay toward housing during the period 2009 to 2011. He continued looking for work and earned a BA in Business-Network Marketing.  By May of 2011, however, the family could no longer pay their rent. They voluntarily surrendered their apartment to avoid eviction and moved-in with friends until September 2011.

The Thomas family entered FFH’s Family Promise-Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) shelter in October 2011 and remained there until March 2012 when they exited into transitional housing.  While in shelter, Alexia began falling down more frequently. After she fell at Covenant Presbyterian Church, FFH decided to move the family to our Day Resource Center for the duration of their shelter stay.  This gave the family ready access to staff during the day Monday through Friday and Sunday.

During January-February 2012, Darryl went to boot camp for entry into Officer Training School for the U.S. Marine Corps. Unfortunately, Darryl experienced a temporary disabling health problem that prevented him from completing the boot camp. He decided to remain with his family following his recovery. He was hired by DriveTime in June-July 2012 where he remains.

Through FFH’s Passages program, the Thomas’ were granted Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA), a one-time only voucher that sets rent at 30% of household income for 12 months. They exited shelter into their current apartment in March of 2012. The Thomas’ were able to transition in place because Darryl progressed to the level of Sales Manager for DriveTime. Still, the family continued to experience periodic short-falls due to the nature of commission-based income, Alexia’s health costs and the costs of raising five children.  They recently graduated from our Best Single Source Plus program which provided shallow rental assistance and are now stably housed in fair market permanent housing.

During their time in shelter, Darryl, Alexia and their children won the admiration of staff, volunteers and other shelter families alike.  All have commented on their compassion and respect for self and others, how well behaved and studious the children were, and on Alexia and Darryl’s devotion to peaceful communications.


The family has continued to embody servant leadership.  Darryl’s calm, respectful and engaging demeanor has made him a trusted leader at home, work, church and in the neighborhood where he mentors one or more boys of single mother(s). He has coached his children’s t-ball and football and teams. Through their church, Balm Kingdom Ministry, and with the support of Pastor Michael Nash and his wife Yolanda, Darryl has founded a nonprofit, The Size of a Man- “Impacting, Instructing and Inspiring our Young Men to be MEN!” The mission is to help bridge the gap between childhood and manhood in the lives of young men who are without active fathers.  Alexia continues to model compassionate attention to her children and the children themselves are gaining notice as outstanding students and athletes.

September 23rd, 2014: Today we are featuring Susan McDowell, Executive Director of Lifeworks, and Walter Moreau, Executive Director of Foundation Communities, who will receive the Community Scion and Community Gardener awards, respectively.


Community Scion -a community member whose work has brought new life to many–a person who has helped grow organizations dedicated to alleviating hunger, homelessness and poverty.


Susan McDowell, Executive Director, Lifeworks


Susan McDowell is Executive Director of LifeWorks, a youth and family service organization in Austin, Texas that provides a continuum of support for youth and families facing issues such as homelessness, abuse, poverty, emancipation from foster care, and mental health challenges. Susan is active in numerous civic organizations and regional health and human service planning initiatives. Susan has been awarded “Austinite (Under 40) of the Year” by the Young Men’s Business League and Young Women’s Alliance and “Central Texas Social Entrepreneur of the Year,” by Ernst and Young. Susan holds a B.A. and M.A. from Vanderbilt University and the University of Texas-Austin, respectively.

Community Gardener- a community member whose work and mentoring of others has actively shaped the field of homeless services in Austin.

Walter Moreau, Executive Director, Foundation Communities


 Walter Moreau is the Executive Director of Foundation Communities, which works in Texas to create affordable housing where families succeed.  During his 20 year career he has secured subsidy financing of more than $100 million to create more than 2,500 units of service-enriched, nonprofit-owned affordable housing. FC operates ten onsite learning centers, four supportive housing communities for the homeless, and is the largest private producer of solar power in Central Texas.  FC provided short and long term housing to over 400 evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.

Moreau received the JAJ Fannie Mae Fellowship in 2007, and the Texas Houser Award in 2004.  He holds a Masters Degree in Public Affairs from the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs (1994)