Learn about the organizations and individuals from the New Braunfels community to be honored at our gala on October 11.
Unity Sacred Service Awardees
Community Arts Program of New Braunfels
(Recipient of the Non-Profit alliance)
Rev. Ripp Hardaway, Rector
Tish Sutton, Director of Music
St. John’s Episcopal
The Community Arts Program offers at-risk youth in New Braunfels with high quality after-school programs in violin, keyboard, cello and guitar music instruction, along with a free snack and afterschool tutoring session within a nurturing environment. Our mission is to empower elementary age at-risk students to successfully develop their musical potential, to be persistent in the pursuit of their education and to strengthen their communities. Read More …
New Braunfels Study Center of the Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society in America encourages open-minded inquiry into world religions, philosophy, science, and the arts in order to understand the wisdom of the ages, respect the unity of all life, and help people explore spiritual self-transformation. The local chapter has raised over $2000 in support of the two New Braunfels churches that administer the Communities in Schools Backpack program, which helps overcome inconsistent access to adequate food for students. Read More …
Peggy & Chili Ornelas
A unique couple, both retired and working together to help bring about social justice by regularly assisting asylum-seekers who pass through the San Antonio bus station and airport. They have, on occasion, hosted travelers in their own home “because these are human beings in need, who are existing at the lowest tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and need food, rest, water and warmth.” Read More …
Kathleen Tobin Krueger
Wife of former U.S. Representative Bob Krueger, Kathleen Tobin Krueger has served on the New Braunfels City Council and as Mayor Pro Tem, worked as Director of Development for Hope Hospice, served on the board of the Edwards Aquifer Project, co-produced a weekly Christian radio program in New Braunfels, volunteered for many humanitarian and civic organizations, and (with her husband) co-authored an award-winning book about living amidst warfare in Africa that helped raise awareness of genocide. She is best known publicly for her role as an advocate for anti-stalking laws. Read More …
Community Arts Program of New Braunfels
The Community Arts Program – CAP – offers at-risk youth in New Braunfels with high quality after-school programs in violin, keyboard, cello and guitar music instruction, along with a free snack and afterschool tutoring session within a nurturing environment. Our mission is to empower elementary age at-risk students to successfully develop their musical potential, to be persistent in the pursuit of their education and to strengthen their communities.
In January of 2014 this program was started as an outreach ministry of St. John’s Episcopal Church with 8 students. It has evolved into an independent non-profit program for at-risk students serving 21 children. Scientific studies have proven that the discipline of music lessons help and spark academic performance and social skills. Extra encouragement and praise help every child in the program.
New Braunfels Study Center of the Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society in America encourages open-minded inquiry into world religions, philosophy, science, and the arts in order to understand the wisdom of the ages, respect the unity of all life, and help people explore spiritual self-transformation.
The Theosophical Society is composed of individuals united by their concurrence with its three Objects, by their dedication to promoting brotherhood, and by their interest in study and spiritual self-transformation. Theosophists consider that belief should be the result of individual study, experience, and insight, rather than reliance on dogma. They see each religion as an expression of Divine Wisdom, adapted to the needs of a particular time and place. Theosophy regards the universe as alive and interrelated, with an intelligent order guiding the cyclical evolution of all life. The Theosophical Society supports the right of individual freedom of thought for every person, and no doctrine is in any way binding on any member of the Society.
The three declared Objects of the Theosophical Society are:
- To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color.
- To encourage the comparative study of religion, philosophy, and science.
- To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in humanity.
Members of the NB Study Center Theosophical Society are members of the Theosophical Society and study books on Theosophy and other related subjects. The Theosophical Society is nondogmatic, and Theosophists are encouraged to accept nothing on faith or on the word of another, but to adopt only those ideas that satisfy their own sense of what is real and important. Theosophy is a way of looking at life rather than a creed. Modern Theosophy, however, presents ideas like the following for our consideration, and many Theosophists hold these ideas, not as fixed beliefs, but as a way of looking at life that explains the world as they experience it:
• karma (or moral justice),
• the existence of worlds of experience beyond the physical,
• the presence of life and consciousness in all matter,
• the evolution of spirit and intelligence as well as of physical matter,
• the possibility of our conscious participation in evolution,
• the power of thought to affect one’s self and surroundings,
• the reality of free will and self-responsibility,
• the duty of altruism, a concern for the welfare of others, and
• the ultimate perfection of human nature, society, and life
The two churches that we have donated money to provide money to the Communities in School (CIS) BackPack Program. CIS helps to overcome inconsistent access to adequate food for students receiving free or reduced rate lunches in the schools, by providing backpacks to the students on Fridays so they can eat on the weekends. The students pick up a food-filled backpack from their Counselor on Friday and return the empty backpacks on Monday. Students also receive special holiday packs of food. The Theosophical Study Group has donated $2000 over the past two years to the First United Methodist Church and the New Braunfels Unitarian Universalist church to serve 228 students from 69 families at 8 schools.
Peggy & Chili Ornelas
Peggy and Chili Ornelas are a unique couple, both retired and working together to help bring about social justice by regularly assisting asylum-seekers who pass through the San Antonio bus station and airport.
San Antonio is a hub of transportation, with many refugees traveling from Dilley Detention Center, Karnes County Residential Center, and the newest tent city in Donna to other destinations in the U.S. where they will reunite with their families. There have been occasions Peggy and Chili have hosted asylum-seekers who are traveling and temporarily without a place to stay. When asked why they do this, Peggy answered “Chili and I are Unitarian Universalists by faith, and we believe in the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings. We do not do it because Chili is a Latino/ Hispanic/Mexican. We do it because these are human beings in need, who are existing at the lowest tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and need food, rest, water and warmth. It is heartbreaking.”
Recently, the mother of a family who were guests in the Ornelas’ home received news that her 14-year-old son still in Central America had just been killed by gang members, he had been electrocuted. While this was a totally unexpected and heart-wrenching occurrence, Peggy and Chili were able to offer comfort and support, providing solace, and help from clergy in facilitating a memorial service. With help from the Ornelas’ relatives and friends, the mother was eventually able to become self-supporting and is now trying to get her 12-year-old son to start out on the long trek to the United States before he is murdered. Unfortunately this is a common occurrence, as asylum-seekers are searching for safety for their families due to horrendous, life-or-death daily living conditions in their home countries. The majority of those making the trip from Central America are women with children, with many children traveling alone who have sponsors in the United States.
The city of San Antonio has recently opened a Migrant Resource Center across from the Greyhound Bus Station, and the Interfaith Welcome Coalition coordinates volunteer work activities. Approximately 200 backpacks are given out daily, one per family of four, which contain water, food, toiletries and other necessities. Several churches in San Antonio have opened their doors at night to house asylum- seekers, and Mobile Loaves and Fishes deliver lunches to the bus station on a daily basis. Many Comal County residents, along with local churches, support these humanitarian groups by volunteering on a regular basis to assist with the overwhelming need for food, clothing and shelter. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit IWC website at: interfaithwelcomecoalition.org/ get-involved, or to help with Mobile Loaves and Fishes, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathleen Tobin Krueger
Kathleen Tobin Krueger is the granddaughter of an Irish immigrant and was born in San Antonio, Texas. At the age of 11, she moved with her parents, Peggy & Don Tobin, and 7 brothers and sisters to their family ranch in Bandera County. Founded in 1947, this historic property remains in continuous operation today as “a working ranch.”
It was there, in the hills of Bandera, that Kathleen learned how to shoot a gun, catch a fish, ride a horse, and drive a tractor. Life on a ranch instilled in her a deep love for wildlife and natural, open spaces. After school, she would wade in the creek, ride her horse across the pasture, or jump off her favorite rope swing into the Medina River. Although she has now lived in 4 different countries on three different continents, she still considers the Texas Hill Country her “heart home” and receives deep spiritual comfort in nature.
Kathleen graduated from Bandera High School with athletic and academic honors before entering Texas A&M University where she received a degree in English Literature and Journalism in 1980.
After graduation, she worked as a Legislative Assistant in the Washington office of Congressman Sam B. Hall, Jr. Missing Texas, she returned after a year to San Antonio and joined the staff of Gill Savings Association as Public Relations Coordinator, before marrying her husband, former U.S. Senator Bob Krueger in 1983. As an active participant in her husband’s three state-wide campaigns, she traveled independently by car and small airplane (sometimes landing on dirt air strips) to over 200 of Texas’ 254 counties, most more than once. During campaigns, she was often referred to as one of “the hardest-working political wives” in Texas. In a press conference at the capitol, Governor Ann Richards called her “Senator Krueger’s Stealth Weapon”. Her typical campaign schedule included public appearances in six different towns each day – six days a week; speeches in African-American churches on Sundays; press conferences & radio and television interviews in both English and Spanish; & going door-to-door to visit voters personally in their homes. She comments that she felt equally at ease both in the barrios and in the boardrooms across the state.
After the first campaign concluded, Kathleen joined the staff of T Bar M Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels as Corporate Conference Director until 1988, just before the birth of her first child.
From 2005 to 2011, Kathleen served on the New Braunfels City Council and was elected by her peers to serve as Mayor Pro-tem for 2 of those years. In 2011, she was named Citizen of the Year. In 2018, she was named a “Pillar of the Community.”
Since 2013, Kathleen has worked as Director of Development & Public Relations at Hope Hospice, a non-profit hospice & grief counseling agency founded in New Braunfels in 1984.
On August 8, 2017 Kathleen was appointed to the board of the Edwards Aquifer Authority in San Antonio where she continues to serve. The Edwards Aquifer is the source of drinking water to over 2 million people a day and is one of the most prolific artesian aquifers in the world, stretching over 8,800 square miles and across 17 counties in Central Texas. For nearly 30 years, Kathleen & the Krueger family funded, co-produced, and hosted a weekly Christian radio program in New Braunfels called “Thoughts and Music.” This inspirational 30 minute broadcast was first begun by her husband’s parents in the 1950s and was the longest-running program on KGNB until the family decided to conclude the broadcasts in 2013.
Kathleen is best known publicly for her role as an advocate for stronger anti-stalking laws. In 1993, she testified before both the Texas State House of Representatives in Austin and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C. as a spokesperson for stalking victims. She also appeared on numerous national television shows including the Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, The Today Show, Dateline NBC, on Australian and British radio and television, and on the cover of People Magazine. Recently, she was the subject of two Discovery Channel documentaries about her personal experience of survival and resilience after a deranged stalker tormented her family for nearly 9 years.
During her husband’s years as an American Ambassador in Africa (Burundi & Botswana), Kathleen was President of the Diplomatic Women’s Association, served on the board of the international children’s charity Child to Child, worked with Habitat for Humanity building homes in remote African villages, and led an International Red Cross expedition into the Kalahari Desert to provide clothing for the Bushmen of Botswana.
In New Braunfels, she volunteered in a number of capacities, including as a board member of the Children’s Museum, Eden Hill Communities, Hope Hospice Foundation, Sophienburg Museum & Archives, the New Braunfels Police Contractual Training Board, and as an enthusiastic NBHS Band Booster for 7 years. She currently serves on the boards of Volunteers in Medicine, The World Affairs Council of San Antonio, and The Hill Country Alliance and is on the founding board of the New Braunfels Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association, serving as its secretary for her 5th year. She recently concluded service on the regional board of the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas and on the board of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, both based in San Antonio.
Independent of boards or clubs, Kathleen led & organized the community effort to assist New Orleans residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina to find housing, food & clothing in New Braunfels; assisted law enforcement to locate & pursue suspected human traffickers in her community, even shadowing the traffickers at night, herself; and served as the official spokesperson in support of the clean-river initiative to eliminate trash in local rivers known as the “Can Ban.”
Continuing a family tradition, Kathleen is a member of the D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution), having both maternal and paternal ancestors who fought for America’s independence.
In 2008, Kathleen and Bob Krueger published a book (University of Texas Press) about their years living amidst warfare in Africa: “From Bloodshed to Hope in Burundi. Our Embassy Years during Genocide.” Their book won the Institute of Letters award for “The Best Non-fiction book in Texas” for 2008.
In a review of their book, Tipper Gore, wife of former Vice-President Al Gore, wrote: “Reading Kathleen Krueger’s vivid and captivating story of embassy life in Africa shatters the stereotype of a traditional diplomat’s wife. Leaving the bone china and chandeliers behind, Kathleen chose to visit refugee camps, face down armed soldiers to protect a household employee, and put her young children to bed to the sounds of machine-gun fire and grenades exploding outside. Americans reading her vividly-told, captivating story will be proud to have had a person of such grace and strength representing our country overseas.”
President Jimmy Carter, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, said: “Kathleen and Bob Krueger’s outspoken defense of a suffering population helped advance human rights in Burundi, where after decades of violence, the country now is moving positively toward truth, reconciliation, and peace.”
And Paul Rusesabagina, real-life hero of the Oscar-nominated movie “Hotel Rwanda”, who saved over 1200 lives in the worst genocide in the last half-century wrote: “This book is a wake-up call. Read it. It will humble, teach, and inspire you.”
The Kruegers have three children who graduated from New Braunfels High School and pursued higher education & work out-of-state: Mariana (30), a Duke University Master’s Degree graduate in Global Health, is a medical researcher/analyst for Boston University’s School of Public Health; Sarah (29), also a Duke University graduate, is an emmy-nominated television journalist for WRAL, an NBC affiliate in Durham, North Carolina; and Christian (23), is a recent (June 2018) graduate of Princeton University, now serving on the Washington staff of Congressman Joaquin Castro. The children love returning to New Braunfels and to the historic residence on the Guadalupe River the Krueger Family has called home for three generations.