We had the good fortune of connecting with Ann Henderson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ann, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I grew up in LaMarque, Texas in a very tight knit community. When I was about 14 years old my mom got me a job cleaning houses every Sunday for an older couple with a severely disabled daughter. I soon realized the job was more than just vacuuming & dusting. I would quickly do my chores & spend the last hour with Lisa, cutting coupons, listening to music or reading. I don’t remember the name of her disability but I do remember she was unable to walk, I would pick her up in my arms, place her in the wheelchair & bring her to her bedroom every Sunday evening so that she could be placed in an oxygen tank to sleep for the night.. I also remember cutting her fingernails, brushing her hair & putting makeup on her. I didn’t realize at the ripe young age of 14, but my mom, Esther Ann Moon was laying the foundation for my future passion of working with the Special Needs Community.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When I married Jack in 2001, I was a restaurant manager. He told me I didn’t have to work so hard. I prayed & asked God to show me my passion & he put “Special Needs” on my heart. My daughter Allie was just starting first grade at the time, so working as a Para Professional in the public school system made perfect since. I was paired w/ a young man named Christopher, he was diagnosed with Autism. I learned so much that first year from so many educators but mainly Christopher. I was with him every day, I was his shadow & mentor. Autism intrigued me, I read many books on the subject but the biggest lessons I learned that year was having the ability to see Autism through a 12 year old boy’s eyes. I saw his day to day struggles & challenges, but I also witnessed first hand how he overcame them. Christopher would be in his early 30’s now. Last I heard of him, he was driving a fork lift but that was many years ago, we’ve lost touch over the years. I also became close to his family & learned how Autism affects everyone in the family unit,

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
To be completely honest, since moving to the country in 2012, our life has completely changed. When you give up your life as you formally know it to follow a calling that you are to live out, their are sacrifices that must be made. We started out as “boarding facility “ for horses, it took us 6 months to get our first horse. Soon after that we had 8 horses & today we have 14. Jack & I are the sole caregivers for these animals, it is difficult to leave our property for more than a few hours at a time. Since becoming a 501C3 in 2020, right in the midst of a pandemic we have several programs currently in place. The first is called “Back to Basics “ the young adults show up every Saturday & sign in on time just as they would a real job. We teach basic horse care & chores. Our second program is called “ Soap for Hope” this was born out of a mom that has a severely autistic teenage daughter, they call Boss Girl & their company is “Texas Made Soap”. The young adults gather during the week to make soap & eventually our vision is to sell at farmers markets. We are creating young entrepreneurs! We also have a project called “Rainbow Seed Vault” where we partner with another non profit, “Harvest for the Hungry” they provide the seeds & our young adults work with peers putting the seed vaults together. These sell for $25 plus $8 shipping, proceeds benefit Rainbow of Hope Texas as we do not charge a fee to parents & currently operate only on donations..Our future plan is start an Equine Assisted Therapy program but that requires a lot. We need funding, resources, sponsorships, scholarships & volunteers. We will be having our first fall fundraiser in October & are really looking forward to raising money for that component to the program.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m grateful for my mom, who passed away when I was 21, for without her guidance I wouldn’t understand about compassion, love & acceptance of others. I’m so blessed to have my husband, Jack of 20 years of marriage, who without him we wouldn’t even be here today. God used Jack to bring us to this property that I saw in a dream so many years ago of a blue horse arena w/ a silver star! He brought people back into my life that I hadn’t seen in over 28 years to help me build Rainbow of Hope Texas in the middle of a pandemic. Specifically, Crystal Rollins & Vivian Carmona ( former colleagues) and my dear friend Michael Howell, who without these individuals we wouldn’t be making a difference in our young adults lives. I am grateful for all of the teachers, mentors, therapists, professionals, educators, parents & friends. However, I’m most grateful for the children & young adults that I have been blessed to work with over the years, they are the ones I’ve learned the most from! The best gift of all is working with them as children & years later seeing them step into adulthood, what an incredible gift!

Website: Rainbowofhopetexas.org

Facebook: Rainbow of Hope Texas

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.