For Marjorie Lee–the cheerful, gracious woman from Colorado Springs, Colorado–retirement didn’t mean taking it easy. “When you retire from your regular 40-hour-a-week job,” she explains, “you can’t just sit and do nothing.”
Marjorie, along with her late husband Frank, embodied that spirit with their own retirement. After a short period of the usual retirement for Frank, they knew it was time to get active and give back. “When you give to the Lord, you get back more than you give. You get the blessing, too.”
That spirit led them to Texas Baptist Men in January of 1990. By volunteering, the couple had the opportunity to volunteer in projects across the United States. Not only did they help so many along the way, they helped themselves as well. “We were helping churches get new buildings or additions and other construction jobs. Doing that work helped us ‘old people’ too,” said Marjorie. “If we had to sit in our easy chairs and twiddle our thumbs the rest of our lives it wouldn’t have helped, and it wouldn’t have been as much fun. We got the benefit as much as the churches did. It was a two-way street.”
Over the next seven years, the Lees joined many volunteer projects–lending their hands to every project they could be part of. One special opportunity came in October of 1997 when the Lees joined dozens of other volunteers in Tyler, Texas. The work of every volunteer helped bring the Breckenridge Village of Tyler to fruition. At the Breckenridge Village of Tyler, adults with intellectual disabilities receive the opportunity to live in a community that provides love, care and support to each individual as they develop physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Taking that huge, empty Tyler pasture from nothing into something truly special resonated with the couple. Over those few weeks, the volunteers built six cottages that remain in use today. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the Lees, Frank’s health was in decline. Frank would succumb to cancer just two months later, with his family by his side. With Frank’s passing, the Breckenridge Village became even more special to the Lee family–it served as Frank’s final project.
That sentimental value continues to draw Marjorie, their three daughters and extended family back to the family. There, they maintain bonds with the adults with disabilities and their families. “We sensed right from the beginning what a marvelous concept BVT was,” says Marjorie.
In the spring of 2015, Frank and the Lee family’s journey brought him back to BVT–this time to honor Frank’s legacy and efforts at BVT and for Texas Baptist Men as a whole. At the ceremony, Frank was honored with a tree and plaque placed where Frank’s ashes were interred. For Marjorie, this has all been worth the wait. “I always wanted Frank to go to the Village and be interred there. When BVT said they’d be pleased to do that, it just thrilled me to death. I’ve put this off for almost 18 years since he died.”
Since the efforts of the Lees and the other initial volunteers, BVT grew to a 70-acre campus with six homes, a chapel and many other facilities that promote vocational training as well as leisure and spiritual activities.