The Friends Alliance Awards recognize and honor outstanding volunteer efforts by local Friends Groups or individuals that support THC historic sites. The Friends of the THC presents these awards in partnership with the THC Historic Sites Division’s Community Partnerships Program, in the following categories:
Civic Engagement: for promoting and advocating for a THC State Historic Site to public entities, to maintain or elevate the site as a recognized community asset.
Friendraising: for creatively engaging diverse community stakeholders to support the site.
Stewardship: for augmenting site staff capacity by any means of assistance, such as hiring site staff, fundraising for additional operational, maintenance or preservation needs, and/or providing in-kind services or supplies.
This year, the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission recognizes the following for their outstanding work in support of the Texas Historical Commission:
The Friends Alliance Award for Stewardship:
The Washington on the Brazos Historical Foundation, which supports the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site complex in Washington, Texas, received the 2022 Friends Alliance Award for Stewardship. Site Manager Jon Failor accepted the award on behalf of the foundation’s board president, Cyndee Smith, who could not attend due to the winter storm.
The Washington on the Brazos Historical Foundation was nominated by Washington-on-the-Brazos staff for its support of the site, particularly in the past year, when they decided to cancel their annual Texas Independence Day celebration in the interest of public safety. The festive event typically draws thousands of visitors to the site for a day of reenactments, live animals, historic cooking demonstrations and more.
In its place, the foundation raised enough funds in six months to create a dramatic short film about the founding of Texas, called “Independence: A Lone Star Rises,” focusing on the men who assembled the Texas Convention in March 1836 to debate, draft and sign the Texas Declaration of Independence.
The film debuted in March 2021 and successfully engaged a younger audience by casting two middle-school students as time travelers and 21st-century witnesses to the historic moment. Since then, the film has been used widely as an educational resource by other historic sites and teachers. It can be viewed on the THC’s YouTube channel.
Donors for the film ranged from individuals to organizations such as the Sons of the Republic of Texas and corporations such as Blue Bell Creameries and H-E-B. The nomination period for the 2023 Friends Alliance Awards will begin in May and will be announced on the Friends of the THC’s website.