The Community Center was named after Ella Austin who came to San Antonio in 1890 along with her husband. They used their home in taking in children in need, and by 1897 their home became an Orphanage. After they were overcrowded in their home on the Westside they purchased a two story home on the Eastside on Burnet St. With the help of the Progressive Women’s Club, which Ella founded, they were able to expand their philanthropic endeavors with the help of fundraisers. Unfortunately, Ella’s life was cut short in 1902 due to heart disease at the young age of 46.
Ella’s vison lives on in caring for young children and seniors at what used to be the old Waldo Emerson Junior High School, located at 1023 N. Pine St. It was in late 1969 that the Ella Austin Community Center was opened.
Today the legacy of Ella Austin lives on. The staff of 47, plus 27 volunteers at the Center, provides a multi-service to the needs of the entire Bexar County Community, in particular to the Eastside Community.Programs such as early childhood development, youth & family services, individual & family emergency services and senior programsas an example are offered at the center. The Annual Impact in fiscal year 2015 through 2016 points to the successes;
• Assisted over 9,000 individuals through social services to facilitate personal success, stability, and independence through income tax relief, emergency services, early childhood programs, youth and family services, and senior services
• Provided physical, intellectual and emotional development to childrensix weeks through fourteen years through childcare, afterschool, and summer programs
• Educated over 700 parents of children ages six weeks to eleven years in parenting skills
• Served 8,058 meals to seniors ages 60 and older to provide nutrition while facilitating social engagement
• Supported 169 families in emergency crisis through utility assistance in an effort to increase personal stability
• Provided a safe place for after school educational and recreational activities for over one hundred children
• Facilitated tax preparation for over 700 individuals through VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistant)
Ella Austin cultivates relationships with organizations across the San Antonio region to enhance their services; Alamo Colleges, Antioch Christian Academy, Gemini Ink, San Antonio Dance Umbrella, San Antonio Food Bank, San Antonio Junior Golf, San Antonio Public Library, San Antonio Youth Literacy, St. Phillips College, University of the Incarnate Word Center for Civic Leadership, and the YWCA Senior Connection.
It is my hope that the Mayor and our newly elected City Council of San Antonio continue to support the legacy of Ms. Ella Austin, by providing the Community Center with a long term lease agreement.
Let us all remember the Lord’s Prayer … “our father who art in heaven give us our daily bread” We are all shepherds of the Lord, those who are elected to represents us as public servants, and those of us who serve others in our daily lives as well. Let us all be responsible to each other, and moreover to our precious children.