Although the Foundation Archives do not include any legal documents to verify the requirement, it is consistent with other efforts the Butts were making at that time.
When Howard and Mary Holdsworth Butt created the H. E. Butt Foundation in 1934, they had an expansive sense of mission—and who the mission was for. Mary Holdsworth created a range of nonprofits from her dining table, from literacy and library services, to mental healthcare and tuberculosis treatment. These resources were for anyone in need.
Long before the civil rights movement, she created resources and opportunity for people regardless of ethnic background. Her struggle, she noted, was “against the age-old prejudice against people who are in any way different.”
The Butts’ various efforts to care for the Texas of their time ultimately led to the 1954 opening of the H. E. Butt Foundation Camp.
A place for everyone
Communities of need were on their minds as the couple searched for a property that might become the camp.
“We hope to find one [property] with several hundred acres, with rock buildings to care for at least 100 children at once,” Mrs. Butt wrote in a 1953 journal entry. One year later, the H. E. Butt Foundation Camp welcomed its first first group, including students from Flour Bluff in Corpus Christi, who came for outdoor school.
This summer marks the first time in our history that the H. E. Butt Foundation Camps lie fallow, as we take extra caution not to contribute to another epidemic, COVID-19. To young campers and their parents who feel the loss so deeply, there is some consolation in the long history of the Foundation Camps.
These two connections—the fight against TB and the struggle against prejudice—both seem especially relevant just now. COVID-19 disrupts all of our lives, but it’s hitting black and brown communities especially hard. Continued disparities in education, housing, jobs, and levels of stress raise the level of risk for those communities, making them more vulnerable to the virus.
That’s a challenging reality. But it’s also a reminder of the continued urgency of our mission: to cultivate wholeness in people and institutions for the transformation of communities. And it’s a reminder of our legacy, when a family chose to devote its attention to the very people others tended to neglect.