One Monday morning, about 5 years ago, my friend Donna walked into my office beaming from ear to ear.
“What did you do this weekend?”
I looked at her suspiciously, “Well, obviously it wasn’t as much fun as whatever you did!”
I could tell she was struggling to contain her joy.
“Did you win the lotto or something?” I asked.
“Better,” she said giggling, “I bought a post office!”
“A post office? How in the world did you do that? Where?” I asked incredulously.
“Bula, Texas,” she said.
I knew that Donna had grown up there and that it had been deserted for many years. It was really just a ghost town by now with dilapidated buildings, an old inoperable cotton gin and maybe one resident.
“What in the world are you going to do with an old post office?” I wondered.
“I’m going to make it beautiful!”
I was sure that she would. Donna has a knack for taking things that people can’t appreciate and making them aesthetically striking. I just wasn’t sure why she felt the need to make a beautiful post office in the middle of nowhere.
Fast forward to 2017.
Donna now owns the town of Bula minus the one lot her cousin lives on, and she actually stewards several commercial buildings nearby that are in the process of becoming beautiful!
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say, but I would argue that most sane people would believe this project has a beauty beyond words.
See, Donna’s daughter, Shelby, was a special education teacher at one time and fell in love with students with Down syndrome and autism. She found that most parents didn’t have a transition plan for their special needs kids because they intended them to always live with them.
However, with modern medicine, many of these kids are living much longer than their previously expected life spans and they are out-living their parents. When that happens, there is no where to go and no one to take care of them.
Enter the beauty of Shelby’s Bridge.
Shelby’s Bridge is the name of my friend’s project. She purchased an isolated West Texas town that would ensure safety to the residents. She is building cottages and a community with a recreation center, medical center, diner and worship center where the residents are free to be part of a loving and supportive community of friends and caretakers.
They will be bused to the nearby Sudan to work in the soon-to-be open thrift shop and cafe so they can have an occupation and enjoy the accomplishment of earning a paycheck.
The thing about all this is that it started with a dream in my friend’s heart. I have to be honest; if she had told me her dream five years ago, I would have thought she was nuts. If she had walked in that morning and said, I’m going to buy a town and build a community for special needs adults so that my daughter can fulfill her life’s calling, I would have thought, yeah right and I’m going to build a rocket and go to Mars.
In that moment, I know she knew the whole plan, but she simply talked of her post office and said she was going to convert it into a nice place for guests to stay. I figured she was going to move back home to the family farm and would host friends.
Then she started buying the lots around it.
I reasoned that she was going to generate a little income for her retirement by building a motel for people traveling between Lubbock and New Mexico.
Then I visited and was blown away.
At the moment, Bula is still a dirt patch out west. It’s the place on the satellite map that looks like the surface of Mars. However, they have plans drawn up, buildings in a nearby town donated, grants, large donations and tons of support. They are in the process of renovating the buildings and will open the Gift and Thrift this summer!
And just like that, her dream is a reality.
I believe we are meant to live like that: dreaming big dreams and making them come to pass. Her story truly inspires me. There are so many aspects that just amaze me: what she is doing as a mom, why she is converting nothing special into something wonderful, how people are supporting her.
However, the thing that just floors me, is that my friend knows how to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Watching her complete this project has taught me that no dream is too big, you just have to start doing it, and then one step will lead to another and before you know it, your vision will be producing fruit.
Rina Ramos is an educator, writer, motivational speaker, evangelist, wife and mother called to serve Johnson County. Send inquiries or comments to
email@example.com. You can visit her
blog at ramoslegacy.blogspot.com.