Eyes on Arlington: Game Changer casino party April 5 benefits Helping Restore Ability


Monday, Mar. 17, 2014news-events


By Faye Reeder

Choose something that’s casino casual to wear to the Game Changer casino fundraiser hosted by Helping Restore Ability on April 5 at the Arlington Museum of Art.

The festive party starts with a cocktail hour at 7 p.m., and that’s when the poker, blackjack, craps and roulette tables will open for a fun evening of casino gaming. A scrumptious Mexican buffet and a wonderful martini ice luge will keep guests fortified during the event.

“The event will be an absolute blast, from the live band to the buffet to the prizes to the casino gaming. More importantly, Helping Restore Ability primarily serves a vulnerable population: those who are impoverished who also live with physical or intellectual disabilities,” said Executive Director Vicki Niedermayer. “They need game-changers.”

Niedermayer spoke passionately about the clients the nonprofit serves, specifically mentioning a 2-year-old girl adopted from Ukraine with significant special needs who spent five weeks in the hospital upon her arrival in Texas for treatment of severe malnutrition. She also mentioned a former track athlete who suffered severe spinal trauma in a car wreck heading back to college and another person suffering from Alzheimer’s who needs support to continue living in her home. Those three are typical examples of clients, she said.

“No matter the disability, no matter their age, we are here to serve. The real joy of this event is raising funds to support these people,” she said.

On the event steering committee are Sharron and Brent Little, TJ Griffin and Robin Lowe.

Casino players can win such prizes as a golf trip, art, Rangers tickets, photography sessions and restaurant gift cards.

For that authentic casino atmosphere, the Marcus Rockwell Trio playing a blend of jazz, pop and R&B will be perfect for the occasion. Talented musicians Marcus Rockwell on trumpet, Stephen Morris on keyboards and Marvin “Stixx” Johnson playing drums will be a real treat for the audience.

Helping Restore Ability is the largest nonprofit provider of care attendant services in the state and an important advocate for persons with disabilities.

Tickets are $75 per person and include the buffet, wine and beer, and thousands of casino dollars. Make reservations at or call the office at 817-469-1977.


City by City: Arlington, Mansfield, Northeast Tarrant


March 17, 2014

Seminar looks at services for special-needs families

Helping Restore Ability is hosting a free seminar for parents to provide information on how to protect the long term financial and legal needs of children with special needs. Parents with children of any age and any type of special needs are welcome to attend.

The seminar will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. April 16 at the offices of Helping Restore Ability, 4300 Beltway Place, Suite 130, in Arlington.

Vicki Niedermayer, CEO of Helping Restore Ability, will be sharing information on public and private programs and support services, many of which are free of charge and immediately available.

Aaron Shutt, attorney with the Paup law firm in Fort Worth, will explain how a special-needs trust can help maintain a child’s eligibility for Social Security, Medicare and other assistance programs as well as protect assets from predators, creditors and judgments. Shutt will also explain guardianship and the powers of attorney parents may want to have for the care of an adult child with special needs.

Jason Smith is a financial adviser with Edward Jones who has lived with a disability label, having been born without his right hand. He will cover common strategies used to fund a special-needs trust and share some of his personal experiences.

To RSVP, email or call Sarah Collom at or 817-635-6020.


  • Doug Garner
    Date added: May 24, 2013
    Submission Type: Professional Recognition
    • Current employer: UT Arlington
    Current title/position: Movin’ Mavs Head Coach
    • Industry: Education
    Reason for being recognized: The Helping Restore Ability organization recently named Doug Garner as the winner of its 2013 Sam Provence Award. He has worked tirelessly for disability rights in sports, higher education and for military veterans. Sam Provence, the primary founder of Helping Restore Ability, was an enthusiastic advocate for people with disabilities.



May 13, 2013


Gift catalog sets record
The Shared Community Benefit Foundation celebrated a record-breaking year of donations and participation for the 2012 Greatest Gift Catalog Ever at the third annual Reader’s Choice Awards luncheon on May 2 at the Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth.
Last year, the catalog generated more than $350,000 in direct donations to 15 Tarrant County-area nonprofits, a 35 percent increase over the previous year. Since its inception in 2007, the catalog has raised $874,000 with a total charitable impact of $2.5 million in Tarrant County.

The Reader’s Choice Awards recognize participating organizations that received the highest level of donations. This year’s award recipients are: Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth, Most Individual Contributions; Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County, Most Overall Contributions and Most Program Contributions; Northside Inter-Community Agency, Rookie of the Year; CASA of Tarrant County, Youth Philanthropy Award; and Texas Healthcare, Founder’s Spirit of the Community Award.

In 2013, the catalog will expand to include 18 area nonprofit organizations, adding three new organizations – A Wish with Wings, Helping Restore Ability and Recovery Resource Council. Founder Elliot Goldman said nearly 40 area nonprofits applied to be included in the catalog this year.





Client Testimonial

Since 1977, Helping Restore Ability, has been providing services that promote independent living for individuals who might otherwise be confined to nursing homes. Euless native T.J. Griffin, who was paralyzed in 1994 while playing high school football and is currently receiving HRA’s services, voices his concerns that the $15 billion being cut from the state budget could affect his care.


Click here to watch TJ’s Testimonial


UTA wheelchair basketball coach, behavioral researcher win highest awards from Helping Restore Ability
By: By: Donna Darovich, contributor



The coach of the seven-time world champion University of Texas at Arlington wheelchair basketball team, Doug Warner (pictured left), and Duy Le (pictured right), director of Autism Services and Applied Behavior Analysis at the Child Study Center in Fort Worth, have received Sam Provence Awards from Helping Restore Ability, the Arlington-based non-profit agency that provides in-home support for people with disabilities.


Helping Restore Ability Director Warner received the Provence Award in the education category and Le received the award in the health and human services category.


The award is named for Sam Provence, the primary founder of Helping Restore Ability, who was an enthusiastic advocate for people with disabilities.


The awards were presented at the agency’s annual Hand in Hand luncheon.


Warner was cited for his research on the benefits of sports participation for students with disabilities, the creation of free sports clinics for children with disabilities and leading the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Team to a gold medal championship. He has also coached international wheelchair basketball teams.


“Doug Warner is changing the world, one basketball at a time,” said Marylou Moller in nominating him.


Le was cited for his work in securing millions of dollars in grants to provide therapy for low income children, his research on problem behaviors that has been published in national journals, and his work with the Texas Association of Behavior Analysis.


“Duy has dedicated his career to impacting the lives of children with disabilities, and his commitment has resulted in vast improvements in the quality of life for countless North Texas families,” said Richard G. Smith,chair of the Public Affairs and Community Service Department at the University of North Texas.


Other nominees were Antrice Newsome, special education curriculum coordinator for the Arlington Independent School District; Bev Olson, co-founder of the Neuro Assistance Foundation; Rev. Arthur Melton, creator of the “70 Plus Care Ministry;” Donna Anderson, chair of the Arlington Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities; Marty Skinner, creator of the Self Advocacy for People With Disabilities training program; Susan Seelbach, developer of the disability toolkit; T. J. Griffin, Gulfwest Regional Peer Coordinator for the Christopher Reeves Foundation; and Tony Blauvelt, who has led numerous fundraisers to send children with disabilities to summer camp.


Free Arlington seminar on legal needs of children with disabilities

By: HRA release
Arlington-based Helping Restore Ability will host a free seminar to provide important information on how to protect the long term financial and legal needs of children with disabilities on April 24.


HRA CEO Vicki Niedermayer
Parents of any age children with any type of special needs are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Vicki Niedermayer, CEO with Helping Restore Ability, will review action planning Services, which assist in connecting families with expert services available to children with disabilities. Niedermayer will also discuss Medicaid Waiver Programs and what options clients may have in caring for their children.
Antoinette Bone, estate planning attorney, will present The ABC’s of Special Needs Trusts. She will explain how a Special Needs Trust can help maintain a child’s eligibility for SSI, Medicare and other assistance programs throughout their adult life. Bone will also explain how a Special Needs Trust can protect the assets from predators, creditors and judgments.
Jason Smith, financial advisor with Edward Jones, will cover common strategies used to fund a Special Needs Trust. He will also explain the importance of the co-trustee relationship.
Event information:
: April 24, 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Offices of Helping Restore Ability, 4300 Beltway Place, Suite 130 in Arlington (off south I-20 frontage road between Matlock Road and Collins Street).


Advocating for people with disabilities

Do you know someone who is improving the lives of people with disabilities? Perhaps you are thinking of a person who inspires others to a common vision of enriching the lives of people with disabilities or one who has brought about changes to help the disabled.
To publicly recognize an individual who fits this description, consider nominating him or her for the Sam Provence Award to be presented at the May 10 Hand in Hand luncheon benefiting local nonprofit organization Helping Restore Ability.
HRA President Vicki Niedermayer has announced that nominations are open for the award, which honors an individual who works diligently to advocate, enrich, and/or enable the lives of people with disabilities in a substantial or unique way.
The award, established last year, is named in honor of HRA’s founder. Arlington resident and longtime supporter of people with disabilities Lawrence Odom. received the inaugural award.
Get information on award criteria and the nomination form at The deadline for submission is April 19. Send to
Contact Niedermayer at 817-469-1977 with questions.

Read more here:


Benefit to feature John O’Leary
By: HRA release

Helping Restore Ability invites interested residents to attend the fourth annual Hand in Hand Luncheon, benefitting HRA.”
The luncheon will include special guest John O’Leary, a motivational speaker. The event will be held Friday, May 10, noon at the Hilton Arlington, 2401 E. Lamar Blvd.
As a child, O’Leary experienced first-hand the devastating nature of fire, which left him burned over 100 percent of his body. He was given less than one percent chance of surviving the first night. His unlikely recovery meant a journey of pain and loss that could have easily been insurmountable. Yet he chose not only to rise above adversity, but to thrive. As a college graduate, business owner, philanthropist, husband and father, he serves as an amazing beacon of hope, positive change, and bold action.
The event supports the mission of Helping Restore Ability to promote independence and enrich the lives of those the non-profit agency serve, and also to bring widespread awareness to the goal of helping restore ability for individuals with disabilities.
To purchase tickets or sign up for sponsorship, contact Jennifer Watelski at 817/469-1977 or email her



By: Donna Darovich, columnist
So you’re retired and bored or avoiding retirement because it sounds boring?

Here’s a ticket to Six Flags Over Boredom Park.

The rides there have names like Learn Something, Play Something and Do Something for Someone Else.

There are three myths of retirement – that you will want and be able to play golf/bridge/name it every day, that you will have the money to buy an RV (and gas) to see the USA and that no one needs you anymore.
The Learn Something ride will catapult you into one of the thousands of classes taught in Arlington which is, after all, a university/college town. Audit a UTA or Tarrant County College Southeast Campus credit class or take advantage of one of the many continuing education (non-credit courses) each offers.
Classes for senior adults at TCC range from how to take a good photograph to Spanish. UTA offersYoung at Heart continuing education classes that range from ballroom dancing to wine appreciation.
donna-darovichDonna Darovich
Best of all, if you are 55 or older you may be exempt from paying the full price.
Learning something new doesn’t appeal to you? Shame on you. You will stink at it in the beginning, even if you are only watching and playing along with Family Feud or “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” But at least get on the Play Something ride.
A friend began piano lessons at age 65. He won’t be in the Van Cliburn competition but he entertains himself quite well – and those family members patient enough to listen to his halting play. But hey, he plays the piano and they don’t!
I recently took an acrylic painting class at Painting With a Twist in Southwest Arlington. The teacher, Amy Horrey, was great but my impatience gene, complete disregard for detail and inability to stay within the lines drawn were all obvious in the finished product.
So let me publicly apologize to Woods Chapel Baptist Church for making its historic chapel my painting subject.
Having said that, I am framing the primitive piece because it is my only attempt to perch on this branch of the fine arts tree. My nest is on the writing branch and I have clung briefly to the theater and music branches.
But the point is, I branched out. I learned something – mainly that I have no talent for painting, and now have a painting to prove it. That’s me on the far left, trying to push my art out of the photo.
The Do Something for Someone Else ride is the real thrill ride. It will persuade you that you are needed.
Arlington has so many non-profit agencies, churches and schools that need help.
I give a few hours a week to Helping Restore Ability, the nonprofit that helps persons with disabilities remain self sufficient. It has been a learning experience and an opportunity to continue to use my God-given talents. And I leave their offices always feeling good and appreciated.
So get out of that Laz-e-Boy, put down the remote and pick up the phone or get on the computer and buy an admission ticket to Six Flags Over Boredom Park.
After all, you’re retiring (or already have) from the workplace — not the human race.
Donna Darovich is a retired journalist (or as she prefers to say, “award winning” retired journalist), and higher education publicist, song parodist and Sunday school teacher.




Teamwork and Helping Restore Ability get special van to handicapped recipient
By: Donna Darovich, contributor
Shawn Jones, front, and his wife, Susie, in green, have received a 2002 Town and Country van modified to accommodate wheelchairs, thanks to Helping Restore Ability, the Arlington-based non-profit agency that assists disabled individuals throughout Texas maintain their independence.


The van was donated by Stephen Speares of Fort Worth, via Advanced Mobility Systems of Texas in Fort Worth, that contacted the Arlington agency for a recommendation of someone in need.


Jennifer Watleski of Helping Restore Ability, far left and Ammber Tedford of Advanced Mobility are also shown on the day the van was given to the Jones family.



Doug Tonne new president of Helping Restore Ability board
By: Donna Darovich, contributor

Helping Restore Ability, the non-profit agency headquartered in Arlington, has elected new officers and added six new members to its board of directors. Doug Tonne, COO and president of the Debt Education and Certification Foundation, will serve as president.


Community volunteer Patt Bourland was elected vice president and Jake Hardin, president of Mansfield Banking Center, American National Bank, is the new treasurer. Rodney Kaufman, owner of Frick & Frack Kustom Kreations, LLC, is secretary.


New board members are David Gunderson, Birken Olson, Karen Meredith, Jane Mac Adams, John Reynolds and Corbett Nichter.
Helping Restore Ability assists individuals with disabilities remain self-sufficient.


Helping Restore Ability receives $10,000 grant from
Helen Gertrude Sparks Charitable Trust
By: Donna Darovich, contributor

The Helen Gertrude Sparks Charitable Trust has awarded a $10,000 grant to the Arlington-based non-profit agency, Helping Restore Ability, to fund its general operations for one year.


The trust gives to the elderly who are disabled in any way, children who are disabled, orphaned or disadvantaged, education and the performing and nonperforming arts. HRA assists disabled individuals remain self-sufficient so they may continue to live in their homes, go to school and/or work, and most importantly to maintain their independence and dignity.


Helen Sparks was a Fort Worth native who worked with the Fort Worth Little Theater and supported local artists by commissioning works. The Trust made its first distributions in 1971.


Grants are given to organizations that do not receive the predominate portion of their funds from government sources. The trust is managed by the Bank of America, N.A


“This grant will assist our agency in providing many services those in need,” said Helping Restore Ability Chief Executive Officer Vicki Niedermayer.


For more information, contact Vicki Niedermayer at 817-469-1977. (HRA archives photo)



Workforce Services Development Specialist Wins MLK Award

Stephen Booher was presented the 2013 MLK Sharing the Dream Award in Government by the Arlington Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee.
The award was presented Friday, Jan. 18, during the MLK “Sharing the Dream” Awards Banquet at UT-Arlington. More than 450 guests attended this year’s 24th anniversary celebration, which is sponsored by the City of Arlington, UT Arlington, Arlington ISD, Tarrant County College and the Arlington Ministerial Association.
Booher was recognized for his commitment to changing the world by advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. After a cousin died of AIDS, Booher also devotes much of his time to caring for individuals affected by this disease. As a City of Arlington employee, Booher teaches customer service and diversity training. He is a board member of Helping to Restore Abilities (HRA) and works closely with the Arlington Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities. He raises funds for Special Olympics and is a founding member of the Caring Friends Center. He provided valuable input into the design and construction of the city’s first barrier-free playground for children with disabilities.
In 2012, Booher was the recipient of the Governor’s Trophy, the highest state honor awarded to a person who achieves success in enhancing the empowerment and employment of Texans with disabilities.
“Stephen Booher weaves his network of friends and family so that we can grow bigger, stronger and smarter to help change the world,” said Chris Huff in her nomination letter.
Congratulations Stephen Booher! See other award highlights at


a big check

A big check for Helping Restore Ability
By: Donna Darovich, contributor
Larry Bothe, vice president of wealth management for JP Morgan Chase, recently presented a check for $29,700 on behalf of the William and Catherine Bryce Memorial Trust, which the bank manages, to Arlington-based Helping Restore Ability chief executive director Vicki Niedermayer, far right.

Also pictured are, from left, Rosalie Crain, human resources director for HRA, and Karen Way, billing manager. The funds are for general operating expenses of the non-profit agency and will support 33 clients for one year.

HRA assists disabled individuals remain self-sufficient so they may continue to live in their homes, go to school and/or work, and most importantly to maintain their independence and dignity.

New regional peer mentor coordinator for the prestigious Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation T.J. Griffin, an alumnus of UTA, is also president of the Neuro Fitness Foundation’s board of directors.

By: Donna Darovich, contributor
UTA alumnus T.J. Griffin had a nagging feeling all day long Oct. 19 of 1990. “Something just didn’t feel right,” he recalls.


His Trinity High School Trojan football team was ahead and had just scored. But as he lined up for the kick, 30 seconds before halftime, he looked downfield at the player he would tackle, and a dark premonition brushed across his consciousness.
“Before I hit him, I just knew something was gonna go wrong,” Griffin remembers, and, indeed, as the two young bodies collided, he heard a loud “crack” and dropped to the ground — “like a noodle,” he says. “I didn’t feel anything. My body just went limp.”
After 22 years, he still remembers the time. “It was 8:34 p.m.”
He had dislocated his fourth and fifth vertebrae and pinched his spinal cord. The handsome and popular 18-year-old athlete was now a quadriplegic, and facing a very different life – one of dependence.
But not completely. And not for long.
“The first five or six days I was in denial,” he said. “I knew I had to stop thinking about walking. It would drive me crazy. That was too far off. So I set short term goals.”
His first goal was to be able to feed himself before Christmas
Two days before Dec. 25, he did.
His biggest goal was to learn to drive and although it took him two years, he did it and now drives his own van.
He graduated, on schedule, and attended Tarrant County College and UTA, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in speech/communication.
In December he was hired as regional peer mentor coordinator for the prestigious Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
Griffin credits Helping Restore Ability, the Arlington-based non-profit agency, with helping him achieve many of his goals by helping him hire attendants to assist him with his physical needs and remain independent.
“HRA has been my life saver,” he said. “It has made my transition so great.”
Griffin also volunteers at the exercise and conditioning facility run by the Neurofitness Foundation that specializes in helping people with neurological challenges continue improving and staying fit — long after their insurances stops paying and is president of the Foundation’s board.
And his fortitude and accomplishments are exceeded only by his attitude that he often sums up in one statement, “The only thing different about me is I sit down and get better parking places.”

cheryl nason column dec 21
CHERYL NASON My Person of the Year is Steve Booher
By: Cheryl Nason, columnist — 12/21/2012
If I could choose a person of the year, it would be Mr. Steve Booher. Who is the guy on the right above? Is he a celebrity? Maybe if you’re a person with disabilities or special needs, Steve Booher is your hero too.

Each year the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities presents the Lex Frieden Employment Awards. The committee selects one person to be recognized for their outstanding work in enhancing the empowerment and employment of Texans with disabilities. The recipient receives the organization’s highest honor, The Governor’s Trophy.

This years Governor’s Trophy recipient is City of Arlington employee and UTA graduate Steve Booher.

Steve’s work in disability awareness began in 1994 as a tribute to his cousin, Warren Davolt, a victim of AIDS. While at Texas Instruments he was on the Texas Instruments Diversity Network. As a City of Irving employee, he was a member of the Advisory Committee on Disabilities and co-chaired the Disability Expo. Mr. Booher also served on the Dallas Mayor’s Committee for the Employment of People with Disabilities.

Steve is one of those people with a deep passion. He involves himself on a daily basis with the fight for better and continued advancement in the area of rights for individuals with special needs. In his role as an Organizational Development Specialist in the Workforce Services Department of the City of Arlington, he takes every opportunity to educate and enlighten others about resources available to those with special needs.

When Steve teaches classes on Customer Service and Diversity, he incorporates disability awareness bullets into the classes. Additionally he recently had direct input on the creation of services and the construction of a barrier-free play ground in Arlington. For more information go the City of Arlington website

Walking among us are people who are heroes. They look like us. They talk like us. They walk like us. They aren’t celebrities or millionaires. We don’t see anything different about them…no cape, no super powers, just a person. And yet, there is something special and different about each one of them. These individuals are heroes who have a passion for improving the human condition or for helping the rest of us understand others in a new way. Steve Booher is one of those heroes. His advocacy is genuine and his feelings are intense.

Steve says, “I look to inspire by mentoring those with disabilities. I encourage them to get their back up and demand respect and inclusion.”

A creative and resourceful person, Steve created a class based on an ASTD workshop, Communicating Effectively with People With Disabilities, presented by Irene Ward. He has offered the class at least once a year wherever he has worked. “I have a room full of display materials to go with my presentation. I have received so many positive personal testimonials and stories from those who have attended.” Stated Booher.

One person with strong beliefs and a passion can make a difference. I have seen it with my own eyes. I know Steve Booher. Hang in there hero!

Cheryl Nason, M.Ed., is a motivational speaker and author of THE FUN FACTOR: Your Prescription for Stress Relief at Home and at Work. Her company, Nason/Harris Associates, provides custom training to organizations to improve individual performance and professional effectiveness. |


Arlington nonprofit gets $100,000 grant

Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012

Recent state budget cuts and a corresponding reduction in Medicaid reimbursement rates threaten to rob some disabled Texans of their very independence.

A grant from The Meadows Foundation will help Arlington-based Helping Restore Ability ensure that as few residents as possible have to go live in a nursing home.

The Dallas charitable organization has awarded a $100,000 grant to the statewide agency, which provides personal attendant care to allow disabled people to live as self-sufficiently as possible.

Most of the agency’s income comes from program service revenue, according to its IRS Form 990 filings. Donations typically comprise less than 3 percent of the budget.

In the 2011 fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31, the agency received $361,201 in gifts and grants out of $15,316,264 in revenue. The year before, it was $244,203 out of $14,820,945.

“With this grant, Helping Restore Ability can continue to help disabled individuals by helping them remain self-sufficient so they can continue to live in their homes, go to school and/or work and, most of all, maintain their independence and dignity,” said CEO Vicki Niedermayer, borrowing heavily from the agency’s vision statement.

Last year, the agency said, its caregivers gave more than 1 million hours of assistance to clients.

Helping Restore Ability was founded in 1977 as the Arlington Handicapped Association by Sam Provence, who had polio, and his friends. They believed that disabilities should not keep people from living independent, active lives.

In 1999, the name was changed to Helping Restore Ability.

The agency is not the only one in Arlington to receive recent grants.
Read more here:



By: Donna Darovich, contributor
Helping Restore Ability, the Arlington-based non-profit agency that assists individuals with disabilities to remain self-sufficient, hosted an open house Dec. 14 at which attendants who serve their clients were recognized.The attendants were, top photo from left, Cynthia Sims, Jeff Taylor, April Roland, Jean Brown, HRA CEO Vicki Niedermayer, Rosie Smith, Elnora Henderson and Mari Winer.

Also attending were, in photo at bottom left, from left, Darian Corona, Dave Woodward and Sandra Lassalle and, photo, bottom right, from left , HRA staff member Heather Boggs, Samantha Skiff, CEO Vicki Niedermayer and April Roland.



City of Arlington Employee Honored with Governor’s Trophy for Work in Employment of Disabled

By: City of Arlington


The Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities has named Stephen Booher, Organizational Development Specialist for the City of Arlington, a top 2012 Lex Frieden Employment Award winner. The award recognizes employers who go above and beyond the legal requirements in hiring, training and maintaining positive working relationships with employees with disabilities.
On October 24, Booher was to have been awarded the Governor’s Trophy during a ceremony and luncheon in Houston. The Governor’s Trophy is the highest honor awarded to an individual who has achieved success in enhancing the empowerment and employment of Texans with disabilities.
Booher works tirelessly to help improve and enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities in Arlington and throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As a member of the Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, he’s had an opportunity to interact with the Cowboys Stadium design team on various issues.
“Winning the Governor’s Trophy, the top Lex Frieden Employment Award, is a wonderful acknowledgment of the work I have had a passion for since I was in high school, almost 40 years,” said Booher. “We have to remember, culture changes slowly.”
Nominations for the awards were submitted by individuals and organizations from communities throughout the state, and winners were selected by a panel of judges familiar with disability issues from the public and private sectors.
“Since joining the Arlington Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, Steve has brought new ideas and energy to the committee,” said Ellen Brooke, staff liaison for the Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities. ”He has such a positive attitude, enthusiasm and passion to assist those with disabilities. Steve works every day to bring awareness to the challenges and the changes that can make such a difference in a person’s life.”
For the past four years, Booher has served as a board member of Helping Restore Abilities for the past four years. To bring more hands-on learning to people in the community, Booher taught classes on communicating effectively with people with disabilities and co-chaired the Disability at Heritage Center in Irving. He’s also served on the Texas Instruments Diversity Network, and has coached and financially supported a team to raise money for Special Olympics in the Plane Pull at DFW Airport.
Booher joined the City of Arlington’s Workforce Services department in 2008.

Stephen Booher with Donna Anderson of the Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities as Mayor Robert Cluck recognizes October as Disability Awareness Month.





Blind and autistic musical savant will perform
By: Donna Darovich — 12/12/2011

Blind and autistic musical savant Rex Lewis-Clack will perform May 25, 2012, in Fort Worth at the Third Annual Hand-in-Hand Luncheon benefitting Helping Restore Ability. His mother, Cathleen Lewis-Clack, will speak.
Cathleen and Rex Lewis-Clack

Lewis-Clack’s rare combination of blindness, autism and musical genius has been featured twice on CBS-television’s “60 Minutes,” and he was profiled in The Science Channel’s “Ingenious Minds” documentary. His book “Rex—A Mother, Her Autistic Child and the Music that Transformed their Lives,” has been translated into eight foreign languages.

Lewis-Clack was born blind with brain damage so severe it looked as though he would never walk, talk, or do much of anything. When he was diagnosed with autism at 18 months, he began to develop an acute sensitivity to sound and touch. When he was 2 years old, his father bought him a keyboard, and his musical talents became apparent. As his musical talents progressed, so did his development. He learned to walk, talk and even ski.

Although Lewis-Clack has never seen the keys of a piano, he can play any composition after hearing it only once, and can instantly identify any note played for him, a talent attributed to only one in 10,000 people.

He is a frequent guest at The Classical Underground in Los Angeles, where he plays with the world’s most famous classical musicians. Underground owner Alexey Steele says of Lewis-Clack, “You are in the presence of a tangible miracle. It illustrates how art can surpass any limitation of the body.”

The luncheon will be at the Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel, 1701 Commerce, in Fort Worth, starting at 10:30 a.m. with a silent auction. Sponsorships are available starting at $1,500 for a table of eight. To become a sponsor, call 817-469-2977. All sponsorships include an invitation to meet Lewis-Clack after the luncheon.

Helping Restore Ability is a charitable, nonprofit corporation that employs, trains and monitors personal attendant care providers for people of all ages with any type of disability. It is headquartered in Arlington, Texas, but serves the entire state of Texas. For more information, call Stephanie Melchert-Smith at 817-469-1977.





Niedermayer, HRA listed on Aggie 100
By: Donna Darovich, ANN — 11/16/2011
The Arlington-based non-profit corporation Helping Restore Ability has been selected one of the top 100 fastest-growing companies in the world owned or operated by former students of Texas A&M University. Its chief executive officer Vicki Niedermayer earned her B.S from A&M in 1980.

Helping Restore Ability is a 501 (c)(3) charitable nonprofit corporation that employs, trains and monitors personal attendant care providers for people of all ages with any type of disability.
The Aggie 100 program was created by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship in Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and honors graduates from across disciplines who own or manage companies with the highest compound annual revenue growth from 2008 to 2010.
Niedermayer was recognized at a formal luncheon in the Zone Club on the Texas A&M University campus, Friday, Nov. 4.


“Since the founding of Texas A&M University, Aggies have been leaving a legacy across all businesses and industries,” said Dr. Richard H. Lester, Executive Director of the Mays Business School’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship. “Over the last seven years, the Aggie 100 companies have continuously proven that even in tough economic times, solid business ideas and hard work pay off.”
The Aggie 100 list in its entirety may be viewed at

Click – section of the Star Telegram



August 26th, 2011

Helping Restore Ability Members met to make promotional brochures for the new home healthcare program.


Front row: Irene Sargent and Stephanie Smith;
Back row: Sherry Riley and Vickie Niedermayer


Work Faces – section of the Star Telegram

July 17th, 2011

The Helping Restore Ability Board has approved the appointments of new board members: Dave Woodwoard, Jack Hill, Brenda Tucker, Patt Bourland, Bonnie Noble, Shana Nix and Chris Huff. Monica Santiago will be a board shadow for the 2011-12 year.


Helping Restore Ability received a $15,000 grant of the children’s interest list from the King Foundation to assist children with disabilities.


September 2010

Helping Restore Ability has announced its newly appointed board members and board positions for the 2009-10 term. New board members are: Della Faye Sowunmi of Korloki Corp.; Doug Tonne, vice president of operations, Debt Education and Certification; and Steven Booher, City of Arlington, organizational development specialist. Positions are: Nancy Spears, president, marketing professor at the University of North Texas; Becky Haskin, vice president, owner, Steel Lightning Sales; and Mamie Bevers, secretary, LMSW, district aide to Sen. Chris Harris.


Arlington agency that helps people with disabilities now has double the space

By Elizabeth Campbell

Armie Snarley spends five hours a day helping a woman who has lupus, diabetes and cancer with grocery shopping, cleaning and other tasks so that she can stay in her home and live independently.

Snarley, 61, who works for Helping Restore Ability in Arlington, said she doesn’t view what she does as a job, but as a way to help someone live a better life.

“Doing this work has helped me be more patient,” Snarley said.

“When a person is unable to do whatever it is, like clean house or remember things, I’ve learned to be more understanding,” she said.

Founded 34 years ago as the Arlington Handicapped Association, the renamed Helping Restore Ability has outgrown its former home on Division Street because the number of clients is increasing.

Last month, the organization moved into a 9,200-square-foot building on Beltline Place that is double the size of the old facility. The grand opening was Friday.

Vicki Niedermayer, the agency’s chief executive officer, said Helping Restore Ability has grown 20 percent per year during the past four to five years as more people from across the state receive assistance.

Most of the clients are on Medicaid, but there is a “private pay” option for those who are not eligible for federal benefits, according to the organization’s website.

Stephanie Meltcher-Smith, director of marketing and development, said Helping Restore Ability provides nonmedical care such as bathing, grooming, light house cleaning and grocery shopping so that people can stay in their homes.

“Our whole mission is to promote independence for those we serve,” she said. “We help keep them out of nursing homes and hospitals.”

Meltcher-Smith said most of the employees are out in the field, serving people from Corpus Christi to West Texas.

Some employees also spend time reaching out to homeless people who are disabled to make sure they qualify for services they need.

Ruth Ann Bellamy, 70, who gets daily visits from Snarley, said Helping Restore Ability has been a “lifesaver.” Bellamy said that she and Snarley were friends for years, and it was an easy transition for Snarley to work with the organization.

“I would be a basket case and a shut-in if I hadn’t run in to Helping Restore Ability,” Bellamy said.

Because she is getting help at home, Bellamy now works two days a week for the Precious Children’s Emergency Shelter in Fort Worth.

“When I come home, [from work] I am totally gone. Armie enables me to be free and to go with other people and do things to keep me from being totally depressed.”

Elizabeth Campbell,

Eyes on Arlington: Helping Restore Ability moves to more spacious digs

By Faye Reeder

HRA Housewarming. Having just attended the inspiring Hand in Hand luncheon for Helping Restore Ability last week, nothing pleases me more than to announce their well-deserved move to new offices.

When I asked HRA executives Vicki Niedermayer and Stephanie Melchert-Smith to tell me about the new digs at 4300 Beltway Place, Suite 130, here’s what I learned:

The new space is more than twice as large and the location is extremely accessible and easy to find — it took a bloodhound to find the old one.

The new building meets all ADA standards and the lease is for 10 years.

All expenses of relocating and refinishing were funded by donors and supporters.

And, to top it off, the agency says that clients can be served far more efficiently in the new location.

The festivities to celebrate HRA’s grand reopening are Friday. Mayor Bob Cluck will be on hand for a ribbon-cutting and dedication at 2:30 p.m. Guests can meet the staff, tour the office and learn all about HRA. Call Smith at 817-469-1977 to learn more.


Advocates warn that budget cuts could endanger city’s plan to end chronic homelessness

FORT WORTH — When the City Council approved a $3 million plan last summer to end chronic homelessness, advocates called it a watershed moment for the largest U.S. city without a program.

One year later, they say the city risks thwarting the plan’s progress if it enacts $1 million in proposed cuts.

“We have just begun this program. To cut a third of the funding only one year in makes us afraid we will slide down the slope back into the status quo,” said the Rev. Brooks Harrington, chairman of the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Homelessness.

“It would really hurt the momentum and, we are afraid, endanger the program.”

Directions Home, the homeless plan, is among many city programs facing cuts as the city tries to make up for a $61 million shortfall. Mayor Mike Moncrief, a champion of the homeless cause, acknowledged during budget discussions last month that scaling back the plan might be unavoidable.

At the City Council meeting Tuesday night, Harrington delivered a unanimous resolution from the 19-member homeless commission urging the council not to cut the program.

He pointed out that much of the funding that was approved last year didn’t get to agencies serving the homeless until April, and he reminded council members that the plan was a commitment to the city’s homeless.

“I personally went and addressed homeless people in the shelters and told them this was evidence this entire city was with them, that they are no longer on the margins,” Harrington said.

The commission appreciates that the budget gap will force the city to make difficult choices, he said. However, “We are here, frankly, saying this is one program that should be spared any cuts.”

Worth the cost
Most of the money for the homeless is being spent on support services and housing vouchers for the most vulnerable homeless people. The money pays for new caseworkers and for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

The theory is that paying to put homeless people in housing is cheaper in the long run because they don’t use as many emergency services then. The Rev. Fritz Ritsch, secretary for the board of the Presbyterian Night Shelter, said the plan would specifically reduce the costs of police, firefighter and ambulance services for the homeless.

One study put the cost of homelessness in Tarrant County at $30 million a year.

“Assuming the mayor and City Council still believe in the long-term practical benefits, then it only makes sense to maintain current funding,” Ritsch said.

Programs working
At the meeting, several advocates for Directions Home pointed out that local service agencies have started programs in response to the plan. Susan Cockrell, the Fort Worth Housing Authority’s administrator of special projects, said six agencies have hired 16 new caseworkers in three months.

Those caseworkers have already helped get 34 homeless people into housing, she said.

“It’s not broke; it’s working,” Cockrell said.

Other supporters listed examples of people being helped. Sara Trigg, one of the new caseworkers, told the council about a 60-year-old woman who suffers from serious heart problems, who became homeless two years ago and has been hospitalized multiple times.

The woman, Vicky, is about to move into an apartment from a homeless shelter, where it was “next to impossible to maintain stable health.”

“This program is giving her the opportunity to not just get off the street but will very likely add years to her life,” Trigg said.

Solutions possible
Moncrief assured homeless advocates in the audience that he believed that the plan is worthwhile and working. “I could not be more delighted with I am seeing and what I am hearing,” he said.

He also reminded them that the budget is in its early stages and that the city manager has yet to submit his official recommendation.

“There are nine more innings to be played here,” he said. “We have not made any hard and fast decisions.”

Councilman Sal Espino, who traveled on a fact-finding trip to find best homeless practices in other cities, said he subscribes to the belief that spending money on a homeless plan now saves the city money in the future.

He said Directions Home is “a gold standard” for homeless plans.

“We’ll work with staff and other colleagues on this council to make sure we keep this momentum going,” he said.

There are nine more innings to be played here. We have not made any hard and fast decisions.” Mayor Mike Moncrief

ALEX BRANCH, 817-390-7689


Fort Worth has tough budget choices ahead but city? homelessness initiative deserves sparing
By FLORA BREWER — Special to the Star-Telegram

At a recent Day Resource Center board meeting, I heard that the city of Fort Worth is considering cutting the public contribution to homelessness programs by one-third.

I understand the city’s financial problems, but I want to contribute some observations about budget trade-offs.

As an officer of an agency receiving Directions Home funding, I have a front-row seat through case managers working to move homeless folks into housing, services or treatment programs.

I am so impressed with the quality and commitment of the case-manager resources that have been brought to bear. Our agency alone has nine clients (some with children) already in the pipeline for housing. These folks include domestic-violence victims and a woman with chronic heart disease who spends most of her time in and out of emergency care at John Peter Smith Hospital.

Helping Restore Ability has served low-income, disabled Texans with nonmedical, in-home personal attendant services for 32 years. It was included by the Day Resource Center and Catholic Charities on their Directions Home grant teams to bring our knowledge of disabilities and services for handicapped Texans into the mix of tools being provided to solve the problems of highly vulnerable homeless persons.

This is the first time the agency has been brought in to work on homelessness programs in the community.

Helping Restore Ability is becoming involved as an employer of homeless persons through Project WISH and Directions Home. We are finding donors who have never been involved in homelessness issues to contribute thousands of dollars to help furnish apartments for our clients. This is one way that the city money is being leveraged.

Fort Worth grants do not cover the cost of the case-management services provided by the nonprofits. That’s more leverage of city dollars.

Put in perspective, $3 million is less than 8 cents per Fort Worth resident per week, bringing to mind the Depression-era song Brother, Can You Spare a Dime. What are we willing to forgo to move women, children and sick people off the streets and into stable housing?

Certainly we should make sure that the money is being spent wisely on best practices from lessons learned. But the city has a good evaluation process in place, and metrics are being kept on every aspect of the programs delivered under Directions Home.

In my neighborhood in District 3, we have a park being renovated. Maybe there are some drainage issues, but they were not a big problem and frankly, it was already a very nice park.

I also have trouble as a resident paying to maintain a herd of cattle while the Day Resource Center is serving more than 1,000 unduplicated homeless clients per month.

I realize these programs and services are important to some constituencies. The City Council has the difficult task in difficult times of weighing what will have the greatest overall impact on the community and what is the morally right thing to do, knowing that difficult times are the most difficult on those with the fewest resources.

Government can provide the structures and supports that keep a bad situation from becoming disastrous. As a resident, I hope our City Council is considering these trade-offs.

Flora Brewer of Fort Worth is chief operating officer of Helping Restore

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