Just as the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission (FTHC) works with the Texas Historical Commission (THC) as the agency's nonprofit partner, local Friends Groups throughout Texas also partner with the agency's state historic sites by garnering philanthropic and volunteer support in their respective communities. The FTHC is proud to support these partnerships through our new Friends Alliance Program.
As a joint iniative with the Historic Sites Division's Community Partnerships Program (which started in 2017 to support the agency's historic sites local Friends Groups) the Friends Alliance Program supports ongoing training and education opportunities for local Friends groups. In addition, the FTHC is excited to recognize the outstanding efforts of our local historic sites' champions through the newly created Friends Alliance Awards. The awards recognize local Friends Groups nominated by site staff, or by others in their communities, for their exemplary volunteer efforts to support the historic sites that they're passionate about. Friends Alliance Award categories include:
Civic Engagement Award
The Civic Engagement Award recognizes a Friends Group organization for outstanding efforts in promoting, educating, and advocating for a THC State Historic Site to public entitites, to maintain or elevate the site as a recognized community asset.
The Friend Raising Award recognizes a Friends Group organization for creatively engaging and bringing together diverse community stakeholders to build on or create a supporting partnership organization that supports the THC State Historic Site.
The Stewardship Award recognizes a Friends Group organization for outstanding volunteer service augmenting site staff capacity through any number of volunteer assistance: hiring temporary staff, fundraising for additional operational support, maintenance or preservation needs, and/or providing in-kind services or supples.
Announcements regarding the nomination process and deadlines for 2020 will be available in May, 2019. Questions concerning nominations can be submitted to Angela Reed, Community Partnerships Coordinator—Historic Sites Division, by email.
2019 Friends Alliance Awards Recipients Announced!
The Friends of the Texas Historical Commission is pleased to announce the 2019 Friends Alliance Awards. Please join us in recognizing the following recipients for their commitment to supporting Texas' state historic sites.
Friends Alliance Award for Civic Engagement: Friends of San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site
The Friends Group for San Felipe de Austin Historic Site--first organized over 100 years ago--serves as the advocates, cheerleaders, and champions for the site’s significant improvements and development. Over the years, the group has coordinated local support and interest to ensure the site’s significance to the state of Texas; for example, the Friends of San Felipe were instrumental in having the site designated as part of the original 1940 donation to the state of Texas, and prior to that, had memorials and commemorations such as the Stephen F. Austin Centennial statue placed here. They volunteer-managed the state historic site when the state’s resources were not capable, and they motivated partners and donors to contribute to the overall planning and development of the site. The Friends have been stalwarts in reaching out to elected officials, local and regional partners, and potential supporters to share their passion and belief in the importance of this site. This year, the group’s efforts are proudly evident as a new state-of-the-art museum at San Felipe de Austin Historic Site opened its doors in the spring of 2018. This was made possible in large part by their efforts in garnering local, regional, and even statewide legislative support, and through their faithful partnership with the THC and the FTHC.
Friends Alliance Award for Friendraising: Friends of Mission Dolores State Historic Site
The first fiscally sponsored Friends Group by the FTHC, the Friends of Mission Dolores began organizing to support the site within the first year of the site being transferred to the THC. Through the leadership of the group’s chairperson, Lois Lacy, and organizer, Betty Oglesbee, the Friends of Mission Dolores elected a working board, created their bylaws with a keen eye toward following nonprofit best practices, developed a strategic plan to guide formation of the group, and meticulously followed the terms of the THC-Memorandum of Agreement as well as the new Friends of the THC Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement. They quickly gained close to one-hundred members from all over the region and they immediately started their work to support the site through creative fundraising efforts, volunteering for events, providing program support, participating in stakeholder meetings, and even welcoming program and planning participants with their homemade lunches. All of this they accomplished since the fall of 2017 – one year prior to this nomination. Their nominator, site manager Amanda McVay, wishes to honor them because of their “limitless enthusiasm and commitment to the success of Mission Dolores,” as they continue to grow in capacity, membership, and ability to support and further augment Mission Dolores State Historic Site.
Friends Alliance Award for Stewardship: Friends of Fort Griffin State Historic
“Pretty much anything out here that has a roof, has been made possible by the Friends Group,” Mitch said when he nominated his Friends Group for stewardship of the 1860s Cavalry fort that he manages. For those structures on the site that can be reconstructed or restored to the Secretary of Interior Standards, the Friends of Fort Griffin have eagerly accepted the job of augmenting the state’s budget with their fundraising assistance. For eighteen years, the group has held annual galas and raised significant financial resources to support various site needs, not only for programs such as the annual living history event, but more significantly, for funds to support much-needed infrastructure items. Some of the projects the Friends of Fort Griffin have helped support over the years have been the restoration of the powder magazine, repairing chimneys, repairing cedar shake roofs, and stabilizing of the site’s historic bakery. Of all the budget items the legislature approves for the THC, infrastructure repairs are the most costly, and state budgets do not always extend far enough to complete all repairs for a single site in a given fiscal year. Friends Groups such the Friends of Fort Griffin exemplify what an effective public-private partnership may achieve to support state budgets, bringing much needed additional funding for Texas’ beloved historic sites.