The private non-profit foundation now known as the Hall-Voyer Foundation was granted its charter April 15, 1940. It was chartered as the David Graham Hall Trust and David Graham Hall Foundation. The trust supported the Foundation. In 1984 the name was changed to the Hall-Voyer Foundation to honor Richard F. Voyer, who was responsible for guiding and building the Foundation since its organization.
There are not very many Foundations as old as the Hall-Voyer Foundation. It has grown and changed through its past sixty years, keeping up with the times and the needs of the people it serves. From its inception in Dallas, then its move to Monkstown, then to Honey Grove, it has touched the lives of many thousands of people in various ways.
There are probably many people who live in Honey Grove today who probably do not know the story of how the Hall-Voyer Foundation started and how it ended up in Honey Grove. For those who do know the story, it would be good to reminisce and reflect over the changes it has brought to Honey Grove and to Texas.
The "Dallas Morning News" dated May 27, 1940 had a big article about the establishment of the Foundation. Dr. David Graham Hall, who was 82 years old at that time, turned over $300,000 worth of real estate to set up the new Foundation. This was from a man who never made over $3,000 a year. The Foundation's purpose was for treatment and prevention of communicable diseases, primarily venereal disease, and to promote ways to accomplish this. It also had as its purpose the promotion of communital, social welfare.
David Graham Hall was born in 1858 in New Hampshire. Dr. Hall was an obscure physician, so publicity shy that even other Dallas doctors did not know him. The article stated in 1890 he used typhoid shots in Dallas for the first time and threatened with hanging. He was widely known as the "Squirt Gun Doctor," because of the large hypodermic syringes he used. From that time he lived literally hidden from public notice in the middle of downtown Dallas. He was the first Harvard Medical School graduate to practice medicine in Dallas.
The other part to the success of the Foundation was Richard F. Voyer. He was a self-made man who ran away from a foster home in Massachusetts when he was 13 years old. He made his way to Texas and later became an attorney. He set up the Texas Social Hygiene Association in Austin in 1939 for the purpose of prevention and control of venereal disease, and to lobby for better public health in Texas.
He heard about Dr. Halls desire to set up a Foundation, and went to him with a proposal for the David Graham Hall Foundation. Mr. Voyer was President and Executive Director of the Foundation until his death in 1989.
The first trustees of the David Graham Hall Trust were Karl Hoblitzelle, B. F. McClain, Carr Collins, and Homer R. Mitchell. For students of Dallas history, these men all made their mark in making that history.
Foundation offices and lab in Highland Park.
In 1973 the articles of incorporation were amended. Its purpose was changed to the establishment and operation of libraries, museums, auditoriums, civic centers, educational facilities, human relations programs, and to promote or support communital health and social welfare programs for the people of Texas. In 1984 the Trust was dissolved and the Foundation took over the assets. Through the years the property in Dallas that was given to start the Foundation was sold and the funds invested in stocks and bonds. The Foundation operates from the income from these investments.
The Hall-Voyer Foundation is an operating foundation. Most people are familiar with grant making foundations. The difference in an operating foundation is that they must operate their own programs, instead of giving the funds to other non-profits for their programs. An operating foundation must spend eighty-five percent of their income for programs that they control. The Hall-Voyer Foundation only makes a few small grants each year, most of them local. Recent grants have assisted Honey Grove and Fannindel schools with their Accelerated Reader Programs. An earlier grant was given to the Honey Grove I.S.D. to purchase computers for the kindergarten. Grants have also been given to the Paris Community Theater, North Lamar I.S.D., D.A.R.E., Camp Summit, Elder Watch, Tri-County Senior Nutrition, and the C.A.S.A. program in both Bonham and Dallas.
The Foundation started with little actual revenue, just the rents from the properties owned. Most of the properties were small "shotgun" type houses in the Hallsville section of Dallas. At that time the streets were dirt. One of the houses still survives today and may be seen in Old City Park in Dallas.
Dr. Halls "shotgun" rent houses in Dallas.
The early projects of the Foundation focused on blood tests for venereal diseases, mainly syphilis, and primarily for those above indigent levels of income, as 95% of all venereal disease control at that time was aimed at the indigent. The foundation set up a modern lab in Highland Park and sponsored free blood tests through people's physicians. Tests were available to anyone. They also gave free blood tests and exams through the lab.
Richard Voyer holding employee blood test certificate.
A free clinic was set up in the Hall Street area. They offered free blood tests, urinalysis and other procedures. Blood typing was also done. In 1941, over 11,000 people were typed. Portable units were sent to industries. The Foundation served the armed forces during World War II, and received many letters of commendation. A working relationship was set up with Temple Lumber Company and a clinic was put in place at Pineland, Texas. Mr. Voyer and the Foundation directors lobbied the legislature for better public health laws, and they were responsible for getting the law passed requiring blood tests before marriage. The advent of penicillin eradicated most of the venereal disease at that time and forced the Foundation to change its focus.
Some areas in which the Foundation became interested were the promotion of fluoridation of public drinking water supplies, the Dallas Health Museum, and operation of a Health Information Clearinghouse.
In 1960, the Foundation moved to Monkstown, Texas. Mr. Voyer was looking for a low income county that did not have a public health service and Fannin County fit that profile. While at Monkstown the Foundation set up the Monkstown Community Center, a ball field, youth programs, movies, socials, trips to the Texas State Fair for the community on a chartered bus, and rabies vaccination clinics. Lectures on public health were given by noted lecturers.
Monkstown Headquarters of the Foundation, with donated baseball supplies.
The Fannin County Commissioners court commissioned the Foundation to conduct a public health survey. Dr. Ira Hiscock, Professor of Public Health at Yale University headed the survey. This survey led to the construction of the Fannin County Hospital, which opened in 1972.
Honey Grove City officials and Chamber of Commerce leaders had taken notice of what the Foundation was doing in the county and approached Mr. Voyer with the idea of the Foundation coming to Honey Grove. They wanted to halt the deterioration of the downtown square and try to bring in more businesses. In 1961 the Foundation headquarters were moved to Honey Grove. Mr. Voyer purchased and restored a beautiful two story home on East Main Street and he and his wife moved there.
Some of the Foundation accomplishments in Honey Grove have been the renovation of many downtown buildings, notably what is now known as the Honey Grove I.S.D. Hall-Voyer Learning Center (Civic Center), the library, the Hall-Voyer Exhibits Hall, and the downtown park. Mr. Voyer personally purchased, renovated, and sold many houses and buildings.
The Civic Center dedication was held on July 4, 1963, with Congressman Ray Roberts as principal speaker. The Center was composed of a modern banquet room and meeting rooms. In 1984, when the school system needed room for the kindergarten, the Foundation deeded the Civic Center and meeting rooms to the Honey Grove Independent School District. The school system still allows use of the banquet room for public events. The kindergarten eventually moved as new schools were built. At the present time, the City of Honey Grove offices are housed in the front meeting room while the City Hall is undergoing restoration.
Bertha Voyer started the library in 1962 in the former Evans Grocery store building, and it moved across the street in 1963 into its present location. Mrs. Voyer was known as the "Library Lady," to many patrons and was loved for her sweet and gentle nature. The library still periodically celebrates her March 17, St. Patricks Day, birthday with special events. The library was originally named the Honey Grove Public Library, but the name was changed to the Bertha Voyer Memorial Library after her death in 1985.
Bertha Voyer in the earliest days of the library.
Today the library is well known for having a collection worthy of libraries much larger in size. Mrs. Voyer would marvel at all of the technological advances with the circulation system automated and computers available for the use of the public, as well as all of the videocassettes and audiocassettes.
The library holds 17,338 items and had a circulation of 21,992 in 1999. The library currently has about 2,000 registered patrons. When the library moved in 1963 to its present location, it had only 2,800 items. In 1985, the library became a member of the Northeast Texas Library System. This was made possible by the City of Honey Grove agreeing to contribute $2,500 annually to the library budget. That amount has never increased. Most citizens don't realize that most small towns have to totally fund their library. The Hall-Voyer Foundation contributes over $70,000 annually to the library operation, not counting the use of the building.
A Friends of the Library organization was started in 1985 and has been invaluable to the support and promotion of the library programs and activities. They assist with exhibits, programming, public relations, and fund raising.
Through the years the library has sponsored many program, notably a Summer Reading Program each summer for the children, story times for children, the Reading Is Fundamental program, G.E.D. preparation classes, and English as a second language program.
The library is a focal point of the downtown area. Many groups use the meeting rooms available upstairs over the library. The library reference room is used also for meetings of the Honey Grove City Council, Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Foundation, Oakwood Cemetery Association, and many other groups. The library has no limits on its service area, and its services are available free of charge to anyone. Mary Fowler is the Library Director, and has worked for the library over twenty years. Other employees are Deidra Jackson, April Stanford, and Mac Siebenthall. The offices of the Hall-Voyer Foundation are housed on the second floor of the library building.
The Foundation endowed the Paris Junior College with $250,000 for health career scholarships and related programs. Many registered nurses and licensed vocation nurses have been assisted and are still being assisted in receiving their education through those scholarships.
The Memorial Park on the south side of the downtown square in Honey Grove was conceived and put into place by Mr. Voyer. It replaced a vacant, overgrown lot where a building had burned. Markers in the park commemorate the service given to our country by veterans. Mac Siebenthall, who has worked for the Foundation for many years has been instrumental in preserving the beauty of the park through his immaculate care, and plantings of seasonal flowers.
In 1992, the Foundation added the historic 1883 St. Marks Episcopal Church to its properties. Seeing the building in a sad state of repair, the Foundation approached the Episcopal Diocese in Dallas and requested that they donate the building to the Foundation. They did so and the Foundation immediately began restoration of the building. It was leveled, painted, roofed, re-wired, and had central heating and air conditioning added. The beautiful stained glass windows were completely taken out and restored, as was the pump organ. The floors were returned to their original polished wood and the tin ceiling in the Sunday School room was replaced with a reproduction tin. The original ceiling was not restorable due to water damage. The church is available for rental for weddings. Other special events have been held there, such as Easter services and Christmas concerts. A beautiful gazebo was also built on the property.
The Foundation also owns two buildings directly behind the downtown park. One is used for storage, and the other is rented.
Currently one of the main projects of the Foundation is the 2020 Vision program. This program seeks to bring together the citizens of the town to assess their strengths and weaknesses, and set achievable goals for the community. An advisory committee guides the Foundation in this program. A project to rehabilitate the downtown and bring it back to a more historic look is currently underway. Funds are being raised to place historic type light fixtures around the square. Currently over $19,000 has been raised. Plans are also being made to add landscaping and park benches. Businesses are being urged to restore their downtown building fronts back to their original look. A low interest loan program has been put into place by local banks to assist building owners in doing this.
The current gross income of the Foundation averages around $200,000 annually. Interest rates and the stock market conditions affect the income and it varies along with the market. The Foundation board feels that the Foundation has achieved a great amount of good with the relatively small net income. In terms of foundations, the Hall-Voyer Foundation is one of the smallest, but it has had an unmeasured impact on this area.
Following the death of Richard F. Voyer in 1989, the board elected his daughter, Evelyn F. Wise, as President and Chairman of the Board. She died March 4, 2002 and her daughter Cheryl Maxam is now the President and Board Chairman. Other current board members are Beverly Felts of Honey Grove, Abraham Goldfarb of Dallas, Gary Fernandes of Dallas and Honey Grove, and Ben Holland of Paris. Mary Anne Thurman has served as the Executive Vice President from the time of Mr. Voyers death to December of 2007.
Through the years many have been suspicious of the Foundation's activities, not understanding that a foundation's role is that of giving without receiving anything in return. That is sometimes a hard concept to understand in today's society. Other times people have tended to want the Foundation to do everything. Not withstanding the fact that it would not be possible, is the fact that just as giving a child everything they want does not help them to grow into responsible citizens, so giving a community everything it thinks it needs does not help its citizens. People need to be involved in what happens in their town and work to make it happen. The Hall-Voyer Foundation always stands ready to work with any citizen or group to achieve something that will benefit a large number of people. One of Mr. Voyers most important philosophies was taken from a quotation made by Andrew Carnegie, one of Americas most noted philanthropists. It is that we help those who help themselves.
As the Hall-Voyer Foundation moves into the next century, it will stand ready to devise programs to benefit Honey Grove and the surrounding areas in the state of Texas.
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