As a philanthropist, community volunteer and fundraiser for more than 20 years, Estela Avery has dedicated countless hours to non-profit organizations within her hometown of San Antonio, Texas including serving terms as a board member, capital campaign manager and chair of special events. Until her recent retirement, Avery served seven years as executive director of the San Antonio River Foundation.
Avery first became familiar with the medical aspects of drug and alcohol rehabilitation in the mid-1980s while working as a registered nurse. She says she was ready to try a different type of medical setting other than ICU and that an agency assignment became available in the Hill Country of Texas. At this treatment facility, Avery received a professional introduction to behavioral healthcare, which accompanied a deeply personal experience with alcoholism within her own family.
It was on this initial assignment that she first met Dr. Anand Mehendale who was serving as medical director at the facility. Several years prior, she had met Linda Werlein socially. Avery says it became apparent to her through the specialty work just how devastating the disease of addiction can be to the entire family. The assignment turned into a full-time leadership position where she worked for several years until she returned to San Antonio to manage a medical/surgical unit. Throughout her 10-year nursing career, memories of that initial and rewarding assignment with patients suffering from the disease of addiction remained strong.
Later, Avery would serve as president of the Nursing Advisory Council at the University of Texas School of Nursing and on the Texas Governor’s Commission for Women. About five years ago, Dr. Mehendale and John Lacy made a presentation to a group about Clear Springs Ranch and that is how she became involved with the organization. Avery was convinced of the critical need for just such an advanced treatment facility, and her direct involvement in the project grew, particularly financially.
Today, she is glad to know the innovative ways treatment centers have changed and expanded to include more options for caring for women. She shares that she was educated in a private girls school and understands that women are unique and learn in different ways. She feels that women in treatment need to have space where they can live together in a dormitory-like setting and express themselves freely in order to work on women-specific issues. Soon, the brand-new women’s facility at Clear Springs Ranch with these much-needed qualities will open and bear her name.
“I hope that people will continue to get help if they need it because it can change their lives tremendously. They need to know it’s not a personal weakness. Alcohol and drug addiction is a disease, and like any other disease, they need to go and get medical attention for it,” she says.
In addition to philanthropically supporting good health, Avery, her husband, James (of James Avery Craftsman), and their family are strongly committed to charities throughout San Antonio as well as the surrounding areas of Fredericksburg, Kerrville, and Houston in a number of ways. She says they particularly support educational causes because, through education, the possibilities are endless.
Always a strong voice of encouragement to others, Avery wants everyone – especially women — to know there is hope for recovery. “For individuals who are struggling with drugs and alcohol, don’t be afraid to make that first phone call to get help,” she says.
Please join us at Clear Springs Ranch, June 16 from 10:00am-12:30pm for an open house to our new Estela Avery House, a beautiful women-only residential facility. Call 877-843-7262 for more information.