Denton High Cares continues legacy of support for community

Denton High Cares continues legacy of support for community

Denton High Cares continues legacy of support for community
September 11
12:31 2018

Denton High Cares at North Texas Giving Day on the Square in 2016. Courtesy of Denton High Cares

When Denton High School graduate Lisa Rollins became terminally ill in 2014, the DHS class of 1983 banded together to find support for her and her family.

Her former classmates gathered to discuss what they could do for Rollins, a single mother struggling with hospital bills and rent. They connected through Facebook, fortified a group of eight members and secured the bands, the venue and the items to auction off.

The organization Denton High Cares became a direct result of these efforts, coming to a head at the first Lisapalooza in 2014 — an extravaganza of music, art and entertainment to raise money for Rollins.

“It was a smashing success,” Denton High Cares president Rudy Rodriguez said. “Lisa was there in great spirits. Everyone got to love on her and she even helped find items for the auction. She wasn’t only the inspiration behind the foundation but also part of the financial backing.”

The group raised enough money to help Rollins and with what was left over, Rollins gave back to those that helped put Lisapalooza together. This became the initial seed planted for the Denton High Cares organization, which has continued on to become a charity for those in need of financial support.

Four years later, the organization has established a rhythm. Four or five fundraising events a year have made it possible to provide people in the DHS community with the financial help they need. It has helped those in the DHS community with needs ranging from groceries to car payments to medical bills.

Rodriguez was at first doubtful that a thousand dollars could do much of a difference in the lives of those struggling to make ends meet, but was surprised to discover that oftentimes, that is all people need to get out of the rut they are in and come out the other side.

“It’s been amazing,” treasurer Diane Coffey said. “We’ve had so much success with people going on in life, not having to ask for more money two years later.”

An especially important part of the Denton High Cares community is those around town who have taken the organization’s mission as their own. Like Mike Barnett, the owner of Denton Independent Hamburger Company.

Barnett, who is a DHS graduate, has close ties to some of the members of the organization board. In an effort to give back, Barnett suggested using his restaurant as a focal point for fundraising efforts.

“Craig Dodson is a friend and a good customer,” Barnett said. “[He] was just in here one day and I just went, ‘What if we did something here?’ And he said it would be a good idea.”

Barnett said he feels very strongly about the core mission of the organization and believes it is a worthwhile endeavor. Their next fundraiser, slated for Sept. 18, will go towards raising more money to grant those in need within the DHS community.

Barnett is not the only one in the community trying to pitch in.

Susan Carol Davis, chair of the Artists Enclave of Denton County, has helped Denton High Cares with its EGGS-hibition event for a couple of years now. She said she believes that the bulk of the help comes from providing people support amid trying times.

“[The organization] has done such outstanding work [in] its existence,” Davis said.

Alicia Woodard, who heard about the organization from her sister, says Denton High Cares paid for two months’ rent, late fees and eviction fees. A single mother, much like Rollins, Woodward said she was afraid she and her baby would become homeless due to her being on maternity leave.

“They really looked at my case,” Woodard said. “They were the first agency that really listened and understood and didn’t turn their back.”

Lisa L. Rollins, Ph.D, was the initial inspiration behind Denton High Cares. Courtesy of Denton High Cares.

Though Rollins died later that year, her memory fully lives on in the efforts of the organization first founded to help her with her sickness.

“She didn’t want to be forgotten and we haven’t forgotten her,” Rodriguez said. “We promised we’d do [Lisapalooza] every year in her honor.”

In terms of long-term goals, Denton High Cares hopes to establish a scholarship for graduates of DHS who are first-generation college students. Though Rodriguez believes the most Denton High Cares could offer students right now is a $2,000-$3,000 grant, he hopes the organization will one day be able to offer DHS graduates a full scholarship.

Featured Image: Courtesy Denton ISD

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Maritza Ramos

Maritza Ramos

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