The mission of the Denton High School Family Assistance Foundation is to provide financial or other assistance to current and former Denton High School students, faculty, and staff and their families in times of medical or other crises.
In June 2014, the idea took hold that someone should do something for Lisa L. Rollins, Ph.D, a 1983 graduate of Denton High School ,who had been diagnosed with a difficult illness. Lisa fought the devastating disease with unparalleled poise and dignity, and despite the crushing financial and physical burden, she never asked for any type of help. Through social media, this whisper of an idea quickly took hold with a larger group of Lisa’s DHS classmates, and it soon became obvious that a formal meeting was necessary to move forward.
Lisa is an integral component of our history. Our organization would not exist today were it not for our desire to help her.
So on a fateful Sunday afternoon in that same month, this group of eight relative strangers from the Denton High School Class of 1983—several of whom had not seen each other for over thirty years—gathered together for the purpose of helping one of their own. Little did these eight know that this one meeting would change not only Lisa’s life, but also their own. They had no idea their lives and those of their families would become seamlessly intertwined. These original eight organizers would later go on to form the original Board of Directors of the Denton High School Family Assistance Foundation.
At that first meeting in June 2014, it was decided that we would hold a benefit concert showcasing locally-based bands donating their time and talent to the cause. The event would also include a silent auction featuring donated goods and services. Following this initial meeting each of these individuals spent every waking moment outside of their normal careers preparing for the event. We quickly settled on a name: Lisapalooza.
As we planned Lisapalooza, we confronted and overcame many obstacles. We were told repeatedly about the many problems with our plan. Things like
“You don’t have enough time to prepare properly for this.”
“You won’t be able to get bands to volunteer.”
“You won’t get good donations from individuals and businesses because you are not a tax-exempt charity.”
“You won’t get a lot of people to show up for a daytime concert in the middle of August.”
Thankfully, we did not listen to the naysayers.
Here’s what we did:
We secured an outstanding venue, completely free.
Eight fantastic bands volunteered their talents.
We were relentless in seeking donations of goods and services for the auction, and as a result we received dozens of donations, ranging from earrings to guitars to paintings to a week at a vacation home.
We promoted the event constantly on social media.
We secured wonderful coverage from newspapers and radio stations throughout the area in advance of the event.
We found many other loving people willing to volunteer their time and talent to help make the event a success.
As the result of our efforts, on August 23, 2014, we presented Lisapalooza to a capacity crowd at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton, Texas. And we raised thousands of dollars for our friend Lisa Rollins.
During the course of our work on Lisapalooza, we realized that there was a real need for an organization that could serve the critical needs of the greater Denton High School community. It was therefore decided that we would form a charity and seek tax-exempt status for the purpose of continuing our work.
On August 8, 2014, Denton High School Family Assistance Foundation, Inc. was formed. We call ourselves Denton High Cares, and our sole purpose is to provide financial assistance to Denton High School alumni, faculty, staff, and their families, in times of health or other crises.
Denton High Cares is run completely by volunteers—no one receives any monetary compensation for working on the Board. Because we have no overhead for salaries or facilities, our expenses are low, and are almost entirely associated with promoting and presenting events and maintaining fundraising campaigns. The proceeds of every event we host, net of expenses, is applied directly to fund grants for worthy members of the DHS community. 100% of our direct contributions (through the website or to our Post Office box) is applied to grants.
We held our first official Board meeting exactly one month after our formation, on September 8, 2014. At this meeting, the decision was made to expand the Board to twelve; we have since expanded to fourteen. This governing body now consists of twelve Denton High School alumni and the current and former Denton High School Principals. Our Board members are a diverse group, and each Director contributes a unique skill set. We are truly made stronger by the sum of our parts.
Our Facebook Group (Denton High Cares) grew to over 2,000 followers in the first week and is now approaching 3,000 members. It serves as an effective way to communicate with large numbers of people at once regarding people in need and upcoming events. We also have a Facebook Page and a Twitter feed (@DHSCares) to get our message out to the public at large.
But most importantly, we are advancing our mission, each and every day. Since our formation in August 2014, we have awarded over $95,000 in grants to deserving members of the Denton High School Family. With your help and support, we can do so much more, and we will.
We created this organization for the Denton High School community: past, present and future. We feel a deep sense of responsibility to assure the effectiveness and financial stability of this organization for future generations to carry on our mission.
But let there be no doubt: we created this organization for the love of Lisa Rollins. Our dear friend passed away on November 13, 2014. Without her, we would not exist. We carry on in her memory, and in her honor. We thank God every day that she was a part of our lives.
The founders: Cathy Burch Fliedner, Jeanette Alvarez Claytor, Abel Gonzalez, Rudy Rodriguez, Craig Dodson, Dee Williams Mattingly, Kelly Sullivan, and Shelby Benton Workman
Lisa L. Rollins, Ph. D.