Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update

Just like you, we’re concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are here to support our clients, residents and employees.  We’d like to take this opportunity to provide you with some information on what we’ve been up to on the square.

“Our new normal keeps adjusting as we make the best of a difficult situation.  We are thinking creatively to meet the needs of all those that call “the square” home, clients, residents and employees.” – Charlene Crump, Director

We continue to follow the Texas guidelines which limits access to our clients with the exception of providers of essential services.  The recent “Stay Home – Work Safe” order placed on March 24 didn’t affect us as The Mary Lee Foundation is considered an essential business.  Many of our clients with intellectual disabilities that work in the community are food service workers (also considered essential), so we continue to bring them to and from their jobs.

Our screening measures for all employees, clients and essential visitors remain in place.  We are looking for signs of a respiratory infection, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath or sore throat.  Hand hygiene remains our number one tool.

We have provided our employees with the CDC prevention guidelines and an easy to follow questionnaire to help diagnose any symptoms related to COVID-19.  We’ve provided our residents with a similar questionnaire for symptoms, coronavirus recommendations and a list of local Austin resources that covers healthcare, food, transportation, rental, utilities and employment assistance.  Our clients with intellectual disabilities are all sheltering in place and we are keeping them busy with art projects and games.

We recently reached out to our community to help find supplies for our intellectual disabilities program.  In response we received cleaning supplies along with several forehead thermometers and several monetary donations.  We are extremely grateful for all the support we have received.

If you would still like to help we could still use: hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, hand soap, disinfectant spray, Lysol spray, dish soap, toilet paper, paper towels, nitrile or latex gloves, goggles and N95 masks.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

If you have an urgent question, as always, please reach out to our Southpointe Administrator, Leigh Dunson at any time.

(512) 442-6077 or

Disabilities in the Workplace

Disabilities in the Workplace

In early March, four of our clients were invited to SAFE in Austin to talk to their employees about working with individuals with intellectual disabilities. As an organization that takes care of clients with disabilities, it is important for us to go out into our community and promote a disability-friendly workplace.

Disabled people are hugely underutilized in the workforce today.  In the United States, more than one in five people have a disability.  Only one-third of working-age disabled people are employed.  Employers are overlooking many qualified (or even overqualified) candidates because of the perceptions of what it means to be disabled.

A 2018 study by Accenture, in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities, reported that businesses that actively seek to employ people with disabilities outperform businesses that do not.  Their revenues, net income and profit margins were all higher.  Additionally, the Department of Labor found that employers who embraced disability saw a 90% increase in employee retention.

If you are interested in hiring someone with a disability or would like more information about our Southpointe program for adults with intellectual disabilities, please call Leigh Dunson at (512) 442-6077 or email

Donation Celebration

Donation Celebration

The Mary Lee Foundation has many supporters—individuals, local businesses, corporations and foundations.  One foundation that we celebrate as a friend and supporter is the Burdine Johnson Foundation. In 1960, the Burdine Johnson Foundation was created to serve the needs of Central Texas.  This year, the foundation is supporting Case Management services for our clients in the Home and Community Based Services (HCS) and Texas Home Living (THL) programs.

HCS and THL are both Medicaid waiver programs that provide services and supports to Texans with an intellectual disability so that they can live in the community.

Unfortunately, the Mary Lee Foundation is not reimbursed for Case Management services through these programs.  We are eternally grateful to the Burdine Johnson Foundation for seeing the importance of this service to our clients with intellectual disabilities and providing the funding to make sure it remains in place.

For more information on our HCS or THL programs or how you can help support  Case Management  services for our clients with intellectual disabilities
call Brian Woods, Director of Development at (512) 443-5777.

Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update

The Mary Lee Foundation is closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation due to the vulnerable nature of the individuals who call Mary Lee home. We have taken the past few days to ensure that our clients and employees remain as safe and healthy as possible. Our focus has been the safety of our clients. Thank you to everyone for their patience for us to make our public announcement.

Due to recommendations set for by the State of Texas, we are restricting access to our clients with the exception of providers of essential services, such as direct care workers in group homes, contract doctors, contract nurses, home health and hospice workers, EMS, and individuals operating under the authority of a local intellectual and developmental disability authority whose services are necessary to ensure individual health and safety, persons with legal authority (law enforcement officers), individuals whose presence is necessary to ensure that Mary Lee is protecting individuals and providing appropriate care, and family members and loved ones of residents at the end of life.

At this time, family, friends, and the general public are not allowed to visit our intellectually disabled clients.  Clients are allowed to go off campus to visit (although it is strongly discouraged) and are screened upon returning to our facility.

All essential visitors will be screened for a respiratory infection, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath or sore throat.  Visitors will be required to practice hand hygiene prior to and during the visit, and wear a facemask while in the residence of the individual(s).  Mary Lee will provide alternate means of communication for people who would otherwise visit, (phone, video, etc.) to promote ongoing contact between individuals and their loved ones.

We continue to monitor new developments and evaluate our precautions daily. We’re committed to protecting our clients and staff during this time, and we will continue to take all necessary precautions with their health and safety in mind.

We are regularly updating Mary Lee clients and family members via email, on social media and over the phone, but if you have an urgent question, as always, please reach out to our Southpointe Administrator, Leigh Dunson at any time. (512) 442-6077 or

Supportive Housing for Seniors

Supportive Housing for Seniors

Mary Lee Foundation’s Flagship is a 22 unit building located at 1312 Lamar Square Drive.  It was built in 1972 and renovated with accessibility and ADA upgrades in 2006.  The renovation was a $1.3 million dollar project funded under the HUD Section 202 program for low-income seniors.

Lamar Square Drive is in close proximity to bus stops, shopping, entertainment, restaurants, pharmacies and much more.  The Flagship offers many amenities including free covered parking, onsite maintenance staff, a community courtyard, case management and medication management.  Floor plans include efficiency and 1 bedroom/1 bathroom units.

“Flagship is a place where seniors can come and be healthy, involved, inspired and independent. We provide enrichment programs and activities to promote happiness, independence and total wellness.” – Christina Esparza, HUD Property Manager

Suzanne moved to Austin from Dallas to be near her adult son.  She had grown up in Rockwell, Texas, just outside of Dallas.  When her son was young, Suzanne helped her then husband renovate houses and also found work as a decorator.  Eventually she would find work as a food service supervisor at a nursing home in the Dallas area.

Suzanne has now been in the Mary Lee community for approximately 10 years.  She initially moved into our “Willows” apartment complex.  When Suzanne turned 62, she became eligible to live in “Flagship” – our supportive housing for seniors.  She has since been a happy resident at Flagship for the past five years.

Suzanne lives in her apartment with her 20 year old Senegal Parrot, Molly, and Bronson, a 3 year old Pitbull that was rescued from Hurricane Harvey.  According to Suzanne, Bronson has come a long way after being rescued and has many friends in the Mary Lee community and the surrounding areas.

Being on Lamar Square Drive, Suzanne describes the area as a “grocery store heaven.”  She has easy access to HEB, Whole Foods, Randalls and several others.  Suzanne is lucky to still be able to drive and enjoys that she has covered parking at Flagship.

Suzanne appreciates the life she has created here in the Mary Lee Community.  She is still close with Bob Hollan, the Case Manager at the Willows.  Bob even babysat Molly while there was some work being done on Suzanne’s apartment.  The monthly functions that Christina Esparza, HUD property manager, organizes for the residents are an opportunity for her to get out and socialize with her neighbors.

Recently, Suzanne found out that she was eligible for another HUD program but it would have meant she would have to move out of the community and she has no desire to leave the life she has built here at the Mary Lee Foundation.

If you would like more information about Flagship or our other affordable housing programs, please call (512) 448-9628 or email



Abby’s Story

Abby’s Story

Wayne and Susan Johnson lived most of their married life in Harligen, Texas.  Wayne grew up in South Texas and Susan was an “Army Brat” and lived all over the place – Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, etc. even Germany. They have three girls, Emily who is 38 and lives in Liberty Hill, Texas with her husband and two sons; Rachel who is 36, lives near Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and four children; and Abby who is 34 and lives with us here at the Mary Lee Foundation.

After marriage Wayne worked as a loan specialist, farmed with his brothers, worked as an Associate Pastor/Worship Director for a local church and after moving to Austin taught special education life skills.  Susan was a stay at home mother when the girls were small and then went back to work as an art teacher.  Wayne has since retired and Susan is currently teaching art drawing and painting in Austin.

When Abby was born, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Cri Du Chat syndrome.  Cri Du Chat, sometimes called cat cry syndrome, is characterized by intellectual disability and delayed development, a small head size, low birth weight, weak muscle tone and distinctive facial features.

After Abby graduated from high school at 22, the Johnson’s looked for a living situation where Abby could live and be served.  They wanted her to be able to be as independent as possible.  They had signed Abby up for Texas assistance living programs about 10 years earlier and two weeks prior to graduating high school she was accepted into the Home and Community Based Services program.  Wayne and Susan found the Mary Lee Foundation to be an inviting and safe environment for Abby.  After meeting Leigh Dunson, Southpointe Director, and a short trial visit, Abby had found her adult home.

Moving Abby to the Mary Lee Foundation was a leap of faith for Wayne and Susan.  Once they saw all the services provided and the activities that Abby has been able to participate in (Special Olympics, Best Buddies, trips to the museum, ballet, parks, etc.), they knew they had found a “gem”.  The biggest comfort that they found was that Abby was happy.

The Johnson’s have been big supporters of the Mary Lee Foundation.  The Foundation isn’t reimbursed for trips, activities, home furnishings, technology, all important aspects to their clients’ quality of life.  In the past year, Wayne and Susan have raised over $1,500 through Facebook fundraisers. “The organization always needs additional funding to fully support their clients”, says Wayne.  Wayne has also recently agreed to join the Board of Directors. “Abby loves it here, and I’ve grown to love the staff and clients over the years.  I jumped at the opportunity to be part of a Board that can help improve the quality of life of its clients.” says Wayne

If you would like more information about the Southpointe Program, please call (512) 442-6077.