Volunteers corral the spirit of giving


Agee Springer (left) and Mary Vu, volunteers from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, apply sealant to planks from a corral at Spirit Reins in Liberty Hill Monday as part of the United Way’s MLK Day of Service. (Mike Eddleman Photo)


Before the cold front moved in Monday night, volunteers gathered throughout Williamson County to spread some warmth through service.

As part of the United Way MLK Day of Service, more than 150 volunteers gathered at 10 different locations for projects, one of those being at Spirit Reins in Liberty Hill.

The assistance of the 11 volunteers was welcome and invaluable to the organization.

“I wouldn’t say that this place could not exist without volunteers, but volunteers play a big role in keeping the facilities in good shape and operational,” said Thomas Kemp, who has been volunteering at Spirit Reins for about 14 years.

The ranch, which spans 125 acres and is home to anywhere from between 25 and 30 horses, provides therapy to families who have experienced trauma.

“We provide trauma therapy for abused children, and incorporate and use horses and equine therapy in the process,” Kemp said.

The project at Spirit Reins was to seal wood planks on a covered corral, keeping volunteers from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and Hill Country Community Ministries (HCCM) busy removing planks, dusting them and sealing them before replacing them.

“We get a lot out of it,” said Agee Springer who volunteered with his ERCOT coworkers. “It is a real sense of fulfillment for us all and we enjoy doing it.”

Donna Skipworth, from Liberty Hill, decided to donate her time on the day off to the local cause after reading about the Day of Service in The Independent.

“This is wonderful to me, especially being outdoors, with horses, and great volunteers taking time out of their holiday to give back to the community,” said Ramona Urbanek with the United Way of Williamson County. “It means a lot to me personally, our organization and the residents of Williamson County.”

Volunteer projects come in all shapes and sizes across the county in an effort to fulfill the mission of the United Way locally.

“The majority of our projects are with agencies that we currently fund. We’ve also got schools involved and some county park projects,” Urbanek said. “We’re trying to help out everyone in the county, so the more volunteers we can provide to our partner agencies who can’t afford to do some of these projects, the more we are able to serve our community as a whole.”

At the end of the day, United Way of Williamson County Executive Director LeAnn Powers was pleased with the results.

“It was a very successful event and a great opportunity for people to make it a day on rather than a day off,” she said. “Our project hosts were so grateful to have the volunteers help with some much needed projects – both indoor and outdoor. And we were very grateful that the cold weather held off until (Tuesday).”