HC Special Needs Alliance marks first year

Four Points News

The Hill Country Special Needs Alliance is well into its second year of helping support local families who have children with special needs. The non-profit formed in 2016 with the focus of providing financial support for Four Points families by offsetting the cost of things such as therapy, sensory tools, equipment, insurance gap coverage, respite care, camp scholarships and family counseling.

“It is a way for us to help our neighbors shoulder some of the financial burden incurred with providing proper support to children with special needs as well as providing funds for opportunities that some may not have been able to participate in without our assistance,” said William “Biff” Farrell, the co-founder and treasurer of the HCSNA.

HCSNA was born from Run the Ranch, an annual run held in Steiner Ranch. The race had been organized by Hill Country Bible Church, and it was looking for another entity to be able to use the funds raised to help the community.

The HCSNA board includes (L-R) William “Biff” Ferrell, Melissa Miltonberger, Monique Burr, Amy Roberts and Elizabeth Carrero. Kathy Mervin, is not on the board this year, and Matt Roberts is a co-founder. Deepali Poladia is also on the board.

The Hill Country Special Needs Alliance hosted a DIY workshop at the Four Points’ Home Depot a year ago. Kids built bird houses, coin boxes and more.


Farrell’s involvement started when he became the Run the Ranch director.

“When I took over the race director spot, I felt like we were missing a fundraising opportunity,” Farrell said. “I spoke with Hill Country Bible Church about raising funds for our special needs ministry at the church as well as for the schools in Four Points. LISD wouldn’t let us provide financial support directly through the schools, so we decided to set up our own, individual non-profit to provide financial support for families in the Four Points area for children with special needs.”

The other co-founder and president of HCSNA is Amy Roberts, the special needs coordinator at Hill Country Bible Church. Roberts used to be a pediatric nurse in the ICU and has transferred this experience, and other personal experiences to the HCSNA.

“Our own family is affected by special needs, as we have an 8 year old daughter with autism spectrum disorder,” Roberts said. “We have felt the impact financially of caring for a child with special needs; many times insurance will not pay or only partially pay for needed therapies for our special needs children.”

Since the startup of the HCSNA over a year ago, the non-profit has helped eight families in the Four Points area with services ranging from behavior therapy for autism to prescription goggles for severe visual impairments.

“I believe HCSNA is important to have in this community because of the great financial need. Autism Speaks estimates the lifetime cost of caring for a person with an autism spectrum disorder is around $1.4 million,” Roberts said. “That is quadruple the cost for a typically-developing child, and (it is an) overall supportive-need that special needs families have, really in any community. This just happens to be our community and our neighbors, so we started here.”

HCSNA is striving to help as many families as possible and they hope to educate the families of the community as well. The organization partnered with another local non-profit called VELA for a free, parent training, two-part series on special education in public schools. The first session was held on Oct. 1 and hosted 10 people for training. The second session is Oct. 8 at 2900 N. Quinlan Park Rd., Suite 260 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Go to ww.hcsna.com for more information.

“VELA does a great job of helping parents understand their child’s special education services and paperwork and learn how to support their children’s strengths and needs in the school,” Roberts said.