It all started in true Texan style… at a Whataburger.
In 1977, a small group of people concerned about the lack of services for people who were Deaf met in a Whataburger. This group discussed ideas on how to provide services. Some funds were available from the state to pay for two services: interpreting and senior citizen activities.
Because of this meeting and a lot of hard work by a small group of committed volunteers, The Corpus Christi Area Council for the Deaf was created as a non-profit corporation in February of 1978.
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 Home Road.
These staff quickly felt overwhelmed with the prospect of trying to do it all. This group began work to recruit more staff and to secure more dedicated office space.
At the end of July 1979, the bank balance was $64.24, and CCACD had provided seven interpreting services 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 CCACD is a 50l(c)(3) private non-profit organization.
In 1981, the organization needed meeting space and even more staff, so operations were moved to Executive Director, Susan Tiller‘s husband’s dental office building. There, the team had two rooms and the use of the central area in the evenings for sign classes and meetings. The team worked there for two years while raising funds to build our own building.
The team finally had enough money for the building but not for land. CCACD asked the City Park Department if the building could be on city property in a park. The team worked on a great proposal and was added to their agenda.
The community filled the Council chambers as Mrs. Tiller shared the presentation. When Mrs. Tiller finished, there was a hush over the room and many hearts sank.
Robert “Bob” Gulley, Councilmember, then said “this is the way things are supposed to happen. You come wanting to do something for our community with money in hand. That’s the American way. I wholeheartedly support your request”. The rest of the Council followed with aye votes and the project began.
In 1984 we moved into our current building. At the groundbreaking, Mayor Luther Jones proclaimed it a wonderful day in the lives of the many “deef” people in our area.
In 1993 we completed an addition and remodeling of the property through a grant from the Community Development Block Grant Fund. We now own the building.
ln 200, CCACD added a “dba” business name: The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center. This was intended to incorporate the hard of hearing community into our service area of twenty-three counties.
Since then, DHHC has 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 more.
We have come a long way, thanks to the dedication and passion of a small group of people with a dream.