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.

Tiffany’s Story

Tiffany’s Story

Tiffany grew up the middle child with three brothers in a small town in Illinois.  Her father served 30 years in the Air Force.  In 1987, she set out on her own path and joined the Army.  For 18 years she served our country proud, even volunteering for Operation Desert Storm, what Tiffany calls a “life defining experience.”  After leaving the military in 2005, she moved with her family to Houston where she started a very successful career in SAP consulting.  She worked for Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation.  Eventually she would go out on her own as an independent contractor earning six figures and racking over a million miles traveling around the world.

Tiffany’s life changed in March 2016 when she was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm which ruptured and caused bleeding in her brain.  While in surgery to fix the aneurysm Tiffany experienced a stroke.  She was left with short-term memory problems, balance and hand/eye coordination issues and contracture of the fingers on her left hand.  Following her stay in the ICU, she moved to South Austin, where her parents had retired and went to a couple of neurology programs while she waited for an opening at the Mary Lee Foundation Rehabilitation Center (MLFRC).  According to Tiffany it came highly recommended as one of the best brain injury rehabilitation centers in the country.

Providing services to survivors of Traumatic Brain Injuries and Neurological Disorders since 1991, the MLFRC provides individual and group therapeutic services for both 

inpatient and outpatient clients. The MLFRC aims to focus on the skills necessary to regain independence through client-centered, community re-integration therapies and activities.

In January 2018, Tiffany was accepted into the MLFRC program.  She spent about a year in the program.  Upon graduating, Tiffany moved into Mary Lee Foundation’s affordable housing where she volunteered her time in the Leasing office and in the weekly Food Pantry open to all of our clients.  She did such a good job that she was offered a job in the Leasing Office as their Office Aide.

Tiffany recently enrolled in college to work on a degree in business.  She feels that Mary Lee Foundation really helped her restart her life after her traumatic brain injury.  A proud veteran, mother of three and grandmother of four, Tiffany is a great example of the work being done here in South Austin.  If you would like more information about the Brain Injury and Neurological Disorders Program please call (512) 443-5777.

Brain Injury Information, Support Group and Training, October 9th

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...

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...

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....

Brain Injury Information, Support Group and Training, August 14th

Information Regarding Health Care Services in Austin

Date ~  August 14, 2018                     Tuesday Evening

Time ~ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm                 Free of charge

 Program Topic:  Accessing Community Resources

 The Austin Resource Center for Independent Living (ARCIL) will provide an overview of a wealth of services they provide.  Information provided will include how and where to access affordable housing, how to secure financial assistance, accessing affordable care insurance, and a variety of other program and services all pertinent to those in attendance.  In addition, Sam Joynt will provide participants information on how to secure affordable health care including hearing aids and an affordable dental plan.

 Guest Speakers:

John Meinkowsky ~ Policy Advocate for ARCIL

John Meinkowsky has earned B.S. and M.Ed. degrees from the University of Texas, and has worked with ARCIL, Inc. of Austin since 1991. ARCIL provides independent living services to persons with disabilities, their families and communities throughout Travis County and surrounding counties.  John provides testimony on public policy issues; promotes and markets ADA technical assistance services; provides disability awareness training, develops educational materials; conducts independent living skills classes and provides individual advocacy to consumers.

Sam Joynt – Independent Insurance Broker

 Sam Joynt helps individuals access the most affordable Medicaid and Medicare health care plan that best meets their specific needs.  His services are personalized and he does house calls upon request.

RSVP is not needed.  Light refreshments served. 

If you have any questions, please contact our Program Moderator, Chip Howe at (512) 443-5777

Brain Injury Information, Support Group and Training, July 10th 2018

Brain Injury Information, Support Group and Training, July 10th 2018

Where: Mary Lee Foundation Community Center 
                1327 Lamar Square Drive Austin, Texas 78704
Date: Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
Time: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm       
Free of Charge
Screening of the film “Smarter Brains”

In follow up to Dr. Michael Merzenich’s film series, his next presentation SMARTER BRAINS reveals how a person can improve their physical and mental health regardless of their age or current limitations.  Following years of research, scientists have recently discovered an amazingly easy and effective strategy that helps prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease regardless of one’s pre-determining factors.  Simply stated, this movie is appropriately titled SMARTER BRAINS as it provides insightful techniques that can easily be implemented that will result in a SMARTER BRAIN.  Come join us as we discover the tools that will lead to a more productive and healthier life.



Dr. Merzenich



Dr. Merzenich is the brain behind BrainHQ and the author of Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life. For nearly five decades, he has been a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research. As co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Posit Science, Michael Merzenich heads the company’s science team.  In 2016, Dr. Merzenich was awarded one of the world’s top neuroscience prizes, the Kavli Prize, for his achievements in the field of brain plasticity.  His work has revolutionized the way we view the brain’s function.

He is the scientific consultant and provided the brain assessments and brain training exercises for the Discovery Channel.  His work has also been featured on four PBS specials.  Dr. Merzenich earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Portland and his PhD at Johns Hopkins University. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin in Madison before becoming a professor at the University of California in San Francisco.

RSVP is not needed.  Light refreshments served. 

If you have any questions, please contact our Program Moderator, Chip Howe at (512) 443-5777.