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Nonprofits: Tara Hall gets a makeover – Texas style

By Roger Greene
Coastal Observer

Having dedicated 41 years of his life to Tara Hall, Jim Dumm thought he had a pretty good idea of who would, and wouldn’t, be walking through his office door.

So it was quite a shock when the executive director of the residential home for neglected and abused boys was visited by Rick Barnes, a former Clemson and current University of Texas basketball coach, and his wife, Candy, one day in June.

“Rick Barnes may not have been the last person I would have expected to see,” Dumm said. “But he was probably one of them. I recognized his name from his having coached at Clemson and I was glad to give them a tour.”

The impetus for the Barnes’ visit resulted from a magazine article Mrs. Barnes read about Dumm’s work at Tara Hall. She had phoned Dumm with her intention to visit, but he had no idea she would bring her husband. Nor did he make any connection between her last name and the former Tigers coach.

“When I recognized who it was, I knew the boys would be excited to see a big-name coach,” Dumm said. “And he went to each classroom to meet our boys. He talked with them about who their favorite teams and players were, but more importantly he showed a genuine interest in them. Both Rick and Candy are nice, down-to-earth-people.”

Once the Barneses – who own a home at DeBordieu – received a tour of the facility, they quickly made inquiries as to what they could do to help. And just as Dumm had no idea that the Longhorns basketball coach was coming for a visit, he had no clue as to the extent of the Barneses’ forthcoming generosity.

Calling on connections in the area, the Barneses fueled a makeover that almost completely refurbished Tara Hall. Every piece of furniture in Tara Hall’s Yawkey House – the facility’s living quarters – is brand new. There are new beds, box spring mattresses and flat screen televisions in all four cottages and the community room.

The recreation room has new flooring, new flat screen televisions and two new pool tables, along with other games. Floors, paint, lights and plumbing have been upgraded throughout the complex and Direct TV service has been installed.

“I’m still in a state of shock over everything that has been done,” Dumm said. “I have to pinch myself every once in a while to make sure it’s all real.”

When the Barneses first proposed the idea of the renovations, Dumm downplayed all of Tara Hall’s needs so as not to appear greedy. But Coach Barnes quickly altered that game plan.

“He told me I wasn’t asking for enough,” Dumm said. “He said that sometimes you just have to get out of the way and let God work. I’ve stayed out of the way ever since.”

Not being ones to just sign a check and let others do the work, the Barneses and their son, Nick, have taken an active role in the renovations. Their work included spending several days over Labor Day weekend mopping, sweeping, moving furniture and assembling beds.

“They have put sweat equity into everything they have done,” Dumm said. “There are no words to describe what their generosity has meant. Beyond that, they have opened their hearts to our boys. Be it Rick just talking with them, or Candy swimming with them in Black Mingo Creek. It has all been very special.”

Tara Hall’s extreme makeover will be open for public view at an open house on Oct. 6 from 6-8 p.m. Coach Barnes is expected to speak about his role in the project during the event.

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