In 1893, an abandoned newborn was discovered in a shoebox at Austin’s railway station. Word of the baby girl spread quickly, and just as quickly, several women who were leaders in the missionary societies of their various denominations volunteered to take responsibility for the child. They took her into their homes, cared for her and gave her a name: Mary Austin.
Soon, many other abandoned and neglected babies were brought to the women. These dedicated women pooled their resources and purchased a small cottage on Guadalupe Street where the babies could be cared for. Little did they know that this first childcare facility in Austin would operate continuously from that time forward.
Within a few short years, the original cottage was too small to take care of all the children needing safe haven. In 1899, a much larger home on East 11th Street was purchased. Over the next quarter century, this second home served hundreds of children.
In 1925, the Rotary Club of Austin donated a new facility on a tree-shaded lot in the Hyde Park neighborhood, where Helping Hand Home is located today. The original Avenue B facility was replaced in 1978, and over time, three additional buildings were acquired to complete the current campus.
Helping Hand Home has evolved from a basic childcare facility for abandoned children into a residential treatment center for children who have experienced extreme abuse and neglect.
In 1995, the Home expanded its services to include therapeutic foster care. The program serves children from birth to 18 years old, some of whom require treatment services but can function successfully in a home environment. In addition to foster care, the home is also licensed for adoption services.
The new children’s wing was completed in the winter of 2001, allowing the home to increase the number of children served to 41 and creating additional spaces for healing.
Another recent expansion of services is the Helping Hand Home/UT Charter School. Through a partnership with the University of Texas at Austin, the Home opened an on-site charter school in the fall of 2008 to cater to the unique educational and behavioral needs of our children.