Mission Road Ministries

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Full History


The Votaw-James homestead, Mission Road’s Administration Building, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio began their sponsorship of Mission Road Foundation.


The Mission Road Foundation name was changed to Mission Road Development Center, MRDC.


In June, Mrs. Clifford Bledsoe (Adele) passed away.


Opened the campus home Bledsoe, the first ICF-MR (Intermediate Care Facility-Mental Retardation) in San Antonio.


Opened the community home Lee Hall, an ICF-MR home.


Successfully completed a $3 million capital campaign.


Completed Leon D. Glasscock Medical Center, Stumberg Vocational Center, Kronksoky Cottage for children. And finished the historical restoration of the Votaw-James Homestead building on the campus.  The Votaw-James Homestead received the San Antonio Conservation Society award.


Opened Independence Square Apartments next to the Mission Road campus; apartments provide supervised, semi-independent living for adults.


MRDC led the establishment of Respite Care of San Antonio to provide relief care for persons with intellectual developmental disabilities.


Completed central laundry facility and a new training kitchen in the Work Activity Center on campus.


Opened Mockingbird, an adult community home.


Opened Kopplow, an adult ICF-MR home in the community.


Opened Mabee, an adult ICF-MR duplex, to relocate the campus Bledsoe residents to the community.


Successfully completed $3 Million capital campaign.


Opened Pryor & Coy, the first off-campus transitional home for children.


Opened a licensed Day Activity and Health Services program for persons with intellectual developmental disabilities. Completed the Murray Manor Apartments. MRDC became a licensed Home and Community-Based Services (HCS) provider.


Mission Road’s 50th Anniversary. Opened four new campus cottages.


Opened Covenant, an adult ICF-MR home in the community, to replace the Lee Hall facility.


Opened the Education and Training Center on campus; and opened Vailcrest, MRDC’s first HCS home.


MRDC established Mission Road Ministries as the umbrella organization to MRDC and the apartments.


MRM completed a $1.2 million capital campaign to construct three new homes for children and to expand its Endowment Fund. In July of 2001, Unicorn Centers, Inc. merges with the Mission Road Ministries family of agencies.


MRDC became a Consolidated Waiver Program provider, a licensed Child Placing Agency. And opened the new Bledsoe Cottage for children on campus.


MRDC initiated its Foster Care Program. Opened Larkspur and Sandpiper (two childrens community homes). Converted Pryor & Coy to HCS adult homes. Opened the Meadow Brook Apartments.


A new home for Unicorn Centers, Inc. was purchased at 4630 Hamilton Wolfe Road. The new 28,000 square-foot Unicorn Centers is more than triple the size of the previous facility on West Avenue and is able to serve approximately 200 more customers.

Bob Murray retires as President and CEO after dedicating nearly 30 years to the preservation, growth and exceptional enhancement of our client care.

Toby Summers accepts this invitation of the Mission Road Board of Directors to serve as President and CEO of Mission Road Ministries. *Toby happily agrees to a three-year term of service.  As of 2019, we remain grateful to continue to have Toby Summers serving in his 15th year of his “three year commitment!”


Mission Road Ministries celebrates 60 years of serving children and adults with Intellectual and developmental Disabilities. Sixty years ago, the Bledsoes began serving a few children with disabilities. Since that time, Mission Road has grown to currently serve more than 800 persons with IDD, each day through the organization’s various programs & services. 2007 was a banner year.  The redesigned logo & Web site were introduced, Mission Road was challenged to raise a matching grant of $100,000 from the Richmond Family Foundation & Mission Road was issued a $1 million challenge grant by Sue & Jesse Oppenheimer to raise $1 million to fund the Jesse H. & Susan R. Oppenheimer Center for Programming & Recreation.  Mission Road met the $1 million challenge. Also, Golf San Antonio granted Mission Road $100,000 toward the refurbishment of the gymnasium.


Mission Road broke ground on the Oppenheimer Center.  The Oppenheimer’s $1 million challenge was matched by generous donors & the entire project was increased to a $4.1 million campus improvement project, to include new gate, entrance, fencing, refurbishing the gymnasium to be used as an open-air pavilion, lighting, renovations of the Chapel & more. A Foundation Dedication for the Oppenheimer Center was held in May.


The Oppenheimer Center was completed with a grand opening held in April. Mission Road purchased 2 homes, Los Indios & Sugar Hill, as HCS adult community homes. The SOAR (Summer Outreach & Recreation) children’s program was opened to include children with IDD from the community.


The 13th off-campus home Windgap was opened for adults with IDD.  The Darlene Kay Segler Pavilion was dedicated.


The 14th off-campus home, Rambling Trail was opened for adults with IDD.


The 15th off-campus home, Bradley Creek, was opened for adults with IDD. The 16th off-campus home. Cozy Trail, was opened for adults with IDD. The Texas Home Living license was surrendered and the Children’s Emergency Care Services Program was licensed and opened. Work to add space to accommodate 20-25 more adults in the Day Services Program began and $200,000 in funding to accomplish the additional space was secured. A grant to preserve and restore the exterior of the Votaw-James Homestead was secured from the Castleberry Family through the San Antonio Area Foundation. Purchase of the 12th HCS Community Home, “Cozy Trail”, closed on August 15, 2013.


Completed construction on phase one of the Frank Fisher Memorial Fitness Park made possible through the generosity of Pastor Jim De Hoog, Mrs. Shirley Fisher Kline and the Mays Family Foundation. A 1/4 acre paved walking trail including nine exercise machines (5 of which are wheelchair accessible), and covered outdoor classroom. 2016 and 2017, professionally landscaping was added with special attention to plant textures and smell for deafblind clients.

Mission Road was chosen by the Castleberry family to be a recipient of a grant from the Castleberry Family Charitable Trust at the San Antonio Area Foundation for restoration and upgrades to our historic home and administration building. Built in approximately 1880, the Votaw-James Home, a national historic landmark, is a two-story, rock home on the banks of the San Antonio River. It has served as a client home, infant nursery, school, kitchen and offices for the clients and staff of Mission Road since our founding in 1947. The Castleberry grant allowed for the installation of a new, metal roof, repair and replacement of windows (7 original windows!) and rain gutters, replacement and repair fragile bricks and mortar damaged in a fire in 1980 plus interior plaster repair, lighting, and both interior and exterior paint.

Eagles Nest classroom was constructed at the rear of the campus overlooking our extensive playground and trees.  Eagles Nest is the 7th classroom serving clients participating in our Free.To.Be Day Activity Program. Eagles Nest curriculum is specially designed for clients eager to participate in robust physical activity, daily off-campus field trips and excursions, and frequent participation on community events and volunteering.  The construction of Eagles Nest also included – and required – the design and construction of our drive way, parking and fire lanes offering upgraded client security, pick up and drop off safety plans and long-lasting concrete design to serve generations to come.


Design, planting and dedication of the Virginia and Clark Munroe Olive Orchard at Mission Road made possible through the generosity of Mrs. Jess Womack. More than 50 volunteers planted 250 olive trees with the guidance of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard. Annual harvesting of olives has occurred each year since as the trees grow and mature.  A tranquil prayer and sculpture garden was dedicated in 2016 featuring a custom made, bronze sculpture with the likenesses of two life size Mission Road children and our beloved boxer, Oreo – designed by local San Antonio artist, Donna Dobberfuhl.

Completed construction and opened Cynthia’s Pool made possible through the generosity of George and Barbara Williams. This is a state-of-the-art swimming pool and water park especially designed for people with IDD. Designed and constructed by Keith Zars Pools.


Accepted HandsOn as a new program within Mission Road Developmental Center serving the residential and day activity needs of adults with diagnoses of deafness, blindness and IDD. HandsOn serves 26 clients living in four single family homes.


Realigned Unicorn Centers as a named program within Mission Road Developmental Center allowing better stewardship of our limited funds by eliminating the need for multiple annual audits, inter-company account transfers, duplicate reporting to grantors and donors and allowing new streamlining and efficiency across the organization. Pastor Jim De Hoog is named director of Unicorn Centers.

Broke ground on our new Harvey Najim Children’s Cottage. This safe and modern home is made possible through the generosity of Harvey Najim. Mr. Najim’s gift is an unsolicited grant allowing Mission Road to serve more children and adults by providing state-of-the-art residential facilities serving children with IDD who have been rescued from abusive or neglectful families.

Completed Unicorn Center Capital Improvement Project adding more than 4,000 square feet of new client program space and storage area. Also included in the project are an outdoor, covered sport court, expanded safe driveway and parking lot, drainage and infrastructure improvements culminating in an attractive, colorful and safe facility of 31,091 square feet. The project was completed at a cost of $2,085,782. Since the building was acquired for $1,050,000 on June 22, 2004, six (6) improvement projects totaling $3,128,917 have been completed. The total building investment now totals $4,178,917 for 31,091 square feet of space or a cost of $134.41 per square foot.

Completed implementation of an electronic case management system, Task Master Pro, that maintains case notes on 258 Residential clients and 87 External Non-Residential clients utilizing 85 Chrome Books.

Completed Trademark Registration Protection for the Mission Road Ministries, Mission Road Developmental Center, and Unicorn Center names and logos.

The Praesidium Abuse Risk Management re-accreditation began on August 7, 2017 and accreditation was receiving on August 3, 2018 for a three year period.


Unicorn Merger into MRDC was completed with the filing of the FINAL Form 990 on June 14, 2010 and Corporate Dissolution approved by the Secretary of State on June 26, 2019.

Renovation of the Programming & Finance Building was completed in April, 2019.

Transitioned to RFP Funding from United Way from Outcomes Based Program funding with approval of a Family Violence Prevention Proposal for Day Services resulting in $300,000 annual funding for 5 years. This is significantly less funding than the previous model, which produced a high United Way Funding level of $802,000.

Seeking to comply with the Family First Prevention Act of 2016, the Campus Children’s Program began an accreditation process with CARF.

Construction of the Harvey Najim Cottage began with issuance of the building permit on March 19, 2019. The home design includes 6 bedrooms and has a total of 3,867 square feet.

Shindig 2019 was hosted and chaired by Laurie and Paul Bracher on November 15, 2019 at the Witte. The event set a new record with a gross of $827,137 and a net of $706,961 compared to $655,222 in 2018 and $375,000 in 2010.

Year One of our Strategic Initiatives Partnership with United Way under Strong Individuals & Families Initiative began with funding for the Campus Adult Day Program of $300,000. This is a sharp decline from funding of $616,443 in FY 2019 and a high of $802,000 in FY 2017.


A Leadership Development Program began on January 9, 2020 and was intended to run through October 1, 2020. The program was be temporarily suspended due to the outbreak of COVID 19.

Received Certificate of Occupancy for Najim Cottage on Campus on May 6, 2020 following completion of construction of the home which includes 6 bedrooms and has a total of 3,867 square feet with a contract amount of $514,729.

Construction began with the issuance of a building permit for the Repurposing of K-Cottage into the Kronkosky Center with one classroom to support the KOALAS program and two classrooms to support serving more adults in the Campus Day Program. Cost of the project is $516,000 and it is being fully funded with grants from the Guglielmo Family Foundation, Zachry Foundation, Mabee Foundation, Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, and the Bledsoe Foundation.


We suspended the Free To Be Day Activity Program on the MRDC Campus, Unicorn day program, and Unicorn workshop effective 5:00 pm on Monday, March 16, 2020. This action impacted 177 clients on campus and 320 clients at Unicorn and was intended to allow them to “shelter in place” where they live to avoid spreading the virus. The Texas Health & Human Services Commission essentially mandated our action state-wide 2 days later.

At the same time, we began to operate our 5 campus homes and 20 community homes under a 7/24/365 “shelter in place” which requires substantially more staff. The staff displaced in our Day Program suspension were all offered full time employment opportunities to work in the residential programs which substantially increases the cost of operating the residential programs by about$100,000 per month. However, this has allowed us not to lay off or furlough any of our 45 employees affected by the program suspensions.

We filed an application for support under the Payroll Protection Plan which provides a “forgivable loan” for maintaining our current employment levels for 24 weeks. We received funding of the loan in the amount of $1,919,438 on May 5, 2020. If forgiven, the Forgiven amount will be treated like Federal Grant Income. On June 25, 2020 we applied for assistance available through the Medicaid Provider Targeted Distribution Fund that could produce a grant not to exceed $293,000.

Shindig 2020 was held in a Virtual Mode due to the COVID-19 pandemic and raised a net $707,809 compared to a 2019 net of 706,961. This compares to a net of $655,222 in 2018 and $375,000 in 2010.


Our long term transition and succession plan, approved by the MRM Board in May 2019, began implementation in 2021. On July 12, 2021 a new organizational structure was implemented that included Caroline Watkins moving from Operations Director of Community Services to a newly created position of Director of Regulatory & Quality Assurance; Elisa Gonzalez was promoted to Operations Director of Community Services; Dawn McArdle was promoted to the newly created position of Director of Community Nursing, and Lora Clack was hired into the newly created position of Director of Staffing.

Dorothy and Cory Basso committed to chairing Shindig 2020, which was forced to be presented virtually. They generously extended their chairmanship to Shindig 2021 hosted in person on November 11, 2021 at the Witte Museum.

The Unicorn Centers Community Employment Luncheon was hosted in a virtual mode for the second consecutive year and netted $191,148, compared to the 2020 virtual event that netted $149,931.

Our Kronkosky Center on our MRDC campus, The K-Center, received the Certificate of Occupancy on April 22, 2021 following the completion of the re-purposing of the former Kronkosky Children’s Cottage into a Day Programming Space with three (3) large classrooms and a kitchen/dining/life skills training area. The cost of the project was $516,000 and was fully funded with grants from the Guglielmo Family Foundation, Zachry Foundation, Mabee Foundation, Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and the Bledsoe Foundation.

The Najim Cottage was fully populated by nine (9) children on June 9, 2021. With this move, the plans moved forward to repurpose the Bledsoe Cottage into a space that will serve as a home to six (6) clients from our Hands On Program.

Hands On co-founder and Director, Gay Bellamy, died suddenly on March 5, 2021 from surgical complications.

On May 3, 2021 we began the re-opening of the Free To Be Adult Day Activity Program on our MRDC campus, our Adult Day Activity Program on our Unicorn Centers campus, and our Job & Life Skills Training Program on our Unicorn Centers campus.  The Free To Be Day Activity Program had served 179 clients pre-COVID opened with 76 people and was slated to progress to 130 people served by January 2022, which was 73% of previous capacity. The Day Activity Program at our Unicorn Centers campus had served 115 clients pre-COVID opened with 15 and was slated to progress to 60 by January 2022, which is 52% of previous capacity. The Job & Life Skills Training Program at Unicorn Centers had served 190 people pre-COVID opened with 75 people and was slated to progress to 110 people in January 2022, which is 58% of capacity. The pace of reopening was dictated by our success in filling 19 staff / caregiver employee roles that were open at that time.

Fortunately, we were able to enroll in the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program which enabled us to vaccinate 184 staff and 112 adult residents, 4 children age 16 or older, 56 Host Home Residents, and 54 Apartment Residents beginning on January 7, 2021. At the end of June, 2021, we had 207 vaccinated staff and 60 un-vaccinated staff.

In the midst of all of the COVID, we “weathered” the Polar Vortex February 15-19, 2021, which required the evacuation of 12 Community Homes to the Unicorn Centers campus and one Community Home to the MRDC campus – both campuses are fitted with emergency generators and mobile cots.

The PPP loan of $1,919,48 was forgiven on March 30, 2021.


  • We survived COVID!  After our residents “sheltered in place” for over a year as mandated by the State, we got back to the business of helping the individuals we serve live their best life.
  • Week day adult programming re-opened at both the main campus and Unicorn Centers
  • MRM was re-accredited by Praesidium for our risk and abuse management practices and procedures
  • The Grand Western Shindig surpassed our $1 million goal for the first time ever!


  • The Community Employment program continued to grow and the luncheon moved to the Mays Family Center at the Witte. Our 2023 “Symbol of Success” was Justin Bader, a 16 year employee of HEB. Frost Bank was recognized and honored as our “Friend for Life”.
  • Adult day programs converted to a new format incorporating many more off site activities to an already fun and action-packed schedule on our main campus and Unicorn Centers
  • We did it again!  The Grand Western Shindig surpassed our $1 million for the second year in a row!
  • Recognizing the importance of succession planning, we created a Leadership Development Class to recognize and develop future leaders for MRM.