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Supporting Strong Families Together: The Orsinger Foundation and Endeavors

COMMUNITY SERVICES

For over thirty years, the Orsinger Foundation has been helping to change lives in San Antonio, including those of many Endeavors clients. 

A Legacy Of Community Support

The Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation has been a Texas philanthropic institution since well before it was even an official nonprofit organization. Genevieve and Ward Orsinger began investing in their community when they donated fifteen acres to Bexar County for a community park in 1980. Genevieve had taken an early interest in philanthropy since young adulthood when she organized dance performances to raise money for local charities and gave personal gifts to the community through her trust at the San Antonio Area Foundation. When she met her husband, Ward, she found a perfect match in kind-heartedness and community vision. Genevieve and Ward’s generosity built a beautiful natural space with walking trails and a playground right in the heart of San Antonio — an oasis for residents to come together and enjoy their city. Today, Orsinger Park remains a community space for fun, adventure, and togetherness.

Sadly, the Orsingers were just starting to leave their mark on their hometown when Ward passed away in 1983. Determined to continue building upon the good she and her husband had started, Genevieve built a pavilion in Orsinger Park in Ward’s memory. But a park was just a small piece of the vision the Orsingers had for their community, and  Genevieve went on to establish the Foundation to set larger goals and reach a wider community. 

Helping Women And Children In San Antonio

Since then, the Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation has grown to support organizations and institutions in Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, Hays, Kendall, and Travis Counties. Its goal is to provide community members in need with a “hand up” by providing Cultural Enrichment, Education, and Human Services grants to organizations that offer people tools for education, health, and self-reliance. Though Genevieve passed away in 2004, the foundation continues to further its mission to cultivate and provide a nurturing environment for families and future generations of Texans. In 2020 alone, the Orsinger Foundation granted over $1.8 million to organizations fighting hunger and homelessness and supporting family and education initiatives. 

And Endeavors was fortunate to be one of those organizations! 

The Orsinger Foundation generously granted financial support to our Fairweather Family Lodge (FFL) in San Antonio, which serves single mothers and their families who are experiencing chronic homelessness. At the FFL, our mission is to help families emerge from severe duress and difficulty and rebuild their lives. When we realized this mission aligned with the Orsinger Foundation’s dedication to achieving “a community where all people can access opportunities to be their best selves, build stronger family dynamics, and provide a nurturing environment for the success of future generations,” we were thrilled to find such an amazing partner in serving San Antonio! 

New Beginnings At Endeavors’ Fairweather Family Lodge

Our clients at the Fairweather Family Lodge, who reside long-term at our safe, secure, and private campus, come from harrowing circumstances. Often, they have lived in cars or on the streets, suffered from addiction, or fled domestic violence. Due to heartbreaking circumstances, they may be at risk of having their children taken away from them. These strong, amazing women come to the FFL desperate and in need of help. Our goal is to support and provide them with the tools and resources to someday leave our lodge having built a stable, self-sufficient, and dignified life for themselves and their children.

With the Orsinger Foundation’s funding, the FFL instituted a range of new in-person and virtual programming to support the mothers and children who live there. Thanks to the Orsinger Foundation’s immense generosity, we were able to implement not one but three new pillars of family development and support for our residents: Parent Education, Early Childhood Education, and Family Engagement.

Parent Education

The parenting curriculum provides mothers with skills that will help them raise self-confident, motivated children who are ready to go out into the world and thrive. Thanks to the grant, the FFL was able to host regular educational programs led by child psychology and family development experts throughout 2020. 

Early Childhood Education

Meanwhile, the Early Childhood curriculum was built on activities that both mother and child can engage in together to replace old thought and behavior patterns with healthy new ones. Over the summer, the FFL’s Children’s Activities Coordinator also provided activity kits for families to focus on children’s sensory, literacy, discovery, and fine/gross motor skills to help foster the essential development of a child’s early years.

Family Engagement

Perhaps the broadest-ranging program brought to the FFL through the Orsinger grant was Family Engagement.  The program included multiple formal educational programs for mothers to learn how to set and enforce limits with sincere compassion and empathy. This parenting technique would allow their children to make their own decisions and mistakes while instilling an understanding of natural or logical consequences. The Family Engagement programming also included Family Reading Nights to reinforce literacy, Healing Arts classes to encourage expression and healing from past trauma, and Family Game Nights to support positive relationships during the difficult times of 2020. 

Throughout these programs, our FFL coordinators, clinicians, and staff witnessed immense personal growth among the participating families. One day at a time, the FFL staff and residents worked together to develop practices of strength, independence, and resilience.

Read more success stories from our strong, resilient, and inspiring clients at the Fairweather Family Lodge!

Heartfelt Thanks To Our Local Partners

The truth is, we at Endeavors could not do what we do without the help and support of organizations like the Orsinger Foundation. This incredible nonprofit inspires us with its dedication to supporting San Antonio residents and their well-being. When we think about Ward and Genevieve, we know that it takes an exceptional person to inspire such a long and passionate legacy of philanthropy. To everyone at the Orsinger Foundation today, we say, “Thank you. Thank you for helping us improve the lives of women and children struggling to survive in our city.” And to Ward and Genevieve, if we could, we would say, “Thank you for believing in a San Antonio for everyone.” 

About The Fairweather Family Lodge

FFL was established in 2004 to provide permanent supportive housing, case management, professional counseling, life skills training, and employment opportunities for chronically homeless women with mental illness and their children in San Antonio. The Fairweather Family Lodge receives all referrals for admission from Coordinated Entry through the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH), an agency that works with agencies across San Antonio and Bexar County to end homelessness. For volunteer opportunities with the Fairweather Family Lodge, contact the San Antonio Lodge Coordinator at 210-208-5700 or [email protected]

About Endeavors

Endeavors, a San Antonio-based nonprofit, is a longstanding national nonprofit agency that provides an array of programs and services supporting children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness, disabilities, disasters, or emergencies. Endeavors has served vulnerable people in need since 1969 through personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.

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