Land is significant to any community effort. It symbolizes stability and permanency. A friend called one day in 1985 and described a property in Caldwell County only eight miles east of San Marcos, Texas, that would eventually become the organization’s national headquarters. An old two and a half story Texas Victorian home that had been constructed at the turn of the century accented the rolling hills and plentiful Texas oak trees gently scattered about. In an instant, the decision was to purchase the 27+ acre place, though the challenge was in finding the financing.
As fate would have it, a childhood friend of the president happened to be on the job at a small, minority-owned bank in Austin’s east side. Immediately, a deal was struck and the land became the first-time property of NHI. It wouldn’t be until a few years later than an adjacent nine acres were purchased from a retired college professor, followed by an additional nine acres and 3,200 square foot summer retreat home that once belonged to a San Antonio physician. Little did anyone know, back then, that the nearly 46-acres of land now owned by the Institute had once been the original family homestead of the Schawe family—a place where Texas governors once traveled by horse-driven buggy to spend the afternoon visiting with area farmers and drinking cool lemonade under the tall Texas oaks, while children ran about playing hide and seek. Some day soon this place will be transformed into a national learning center on community leadership training and will not only be known throughout the United States, but also Latin America. As the founder often reminds families who come by to visit, “wishes always come true when you work hard enough to transform dreams into realities.”