HISTORY OF DHHC/CCACD
Given by Susan Tiller, Executive Director at the Board Meeting 1/19/05
In 1977 a group of people concerned about the lack of services for people who were deaf met at the Whataburger building to discuss the possibility of establishing services. Some funds were available from the state to pay for two services, interpreting and senior activities. Due to this meeting and a lot of hard work, in February of 1978 The Corpus Christi Area Council for the Deaf was created as a non-profit corporation.
One interpreter was willing to answer the phones and go out on interpreting assignments and one of the seniors was willing to visit other seniors in the community. This service was delivered from a borrowed room at the Health Department on Horne Road. For several months the ladies worked but soon felt overwhelmed with the prospect of trying to do it all. The provider was not able to continue so we had meetings to discuss the situation and at one of those meetings (at the Floerkes home) I was asked to volunteer in the office. I already had vacation plans so asked if I could begin later in the summer. Harriet Tillman said she would hold it down until August 15, 1979. I started as a two morning a week volunteer in the Health Department office at that time. We upgraded to two rooms and I began my quest to learn sign language and organize an office. At the end of July 1979 the bank balance was $64.24 and we had provided seven interpreters during the month.
The board decided it was time to become a non-profit for the purpose of requesting donations and grants. Bylaws, constitution, and an application were prepared and it was soon determined by the Internal Revenue Service that we were a 501(c) (3) private non-profit organization.
In 1981 we needed meeting space and more staff so we moved to my husbands dental office building where we had two rooms and the use of the central area in the evenings for sign classes and meetings. We stayed there for two years while raising funds to build our own building. We finally had enough money for the building but not for the land so we decided to ask the City Park Department if we could build on city property in a park. We worked on a great proposal and ask to be put on their agenda. We filled the room and after the presentation we received an approval of the concept but needed to take it on to the City Council for approval of a lease. Now we worked with city staff to prepare us for this next step. Again, we filled the Council chambers and made our presentation. When I finished there was a hush over the room and my heart sank. Then Bob Gulley said This is the way things are supposed to happen. You come wanting to do something for our community with money in hand. Thats the American way. I wholeheartedly support your request. The rest of the Council followed with aye votes and the project began for real. At our ground breaking Mayor Luther Jones proclaimed it a wonderful day in the lives of the many deaf people in our area. I loved that man. In 1984 we moved into our current building. In 1993 we completed an addition and remodeling of the property through a grant from the Community Development Block Grant Fund. We own the building and our free lease with the city states that if the city sells the parkland that the buyer would build us another comparable building.
In 2003 we added a dba business name, The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center, to incorporate the hard of hearing community into our service area of twenty-three counties.
From 1979 2005 we have grown from two programs to a full service organization, providing casework, employment training, job search, and classes including American Sign Language, Literacy for Deaf Adults, and Speech Reading. We produce two newsletters including a monthly one for our community of deaf and hard of hearing and a quarterly one for the general public and donors. We provide outreach in community area schools, have an assistive listening device resource center, and provide recreation for all ages including a summer recreation for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Our newest program for people who are hard of hearing focuses on listening devices and training for those of us either born with hearing loss or losing it due to age. Our original programs of senior activities and interpreter services have grown since my first month of work.
Our agency is governed by two boards, the Board of Trustees and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center Board. The Trustees have the responsibility of running the business of the center and the DHHCB is the advisory board. We are funded by contracts with organizations for interpreter services and job related services; grants to cover interpreter training, tutoring in social skills, literacy, senior activities, hard of hearing services, and operating funds; tuition for classes; and the sale of listening devices and other items. We have an endowment, which is actually a separate 501(c) (3) corporation, The Silent Foundation that was established with left over building funds and a gift from the William F. Wallace Estate. A Bingo operation began last year and has already contributed to our operating funds. Donations and events cover the rest of our expenses.