Alice Jewell

The concept of sustainability has come into vogue in many aspects of our society over the last decade. Sustainability is often viewed from an environmental perspective — through a lens of prioritizing continued care of our natural resources. Locally, we undertake measures to protect and enhance the Comal Springs and our beautiful rivers as a gesture toward the sustainability of these assets. 

At its core, however, sustainability means more. It’s the ability to meet our own needs today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Making life easier or, at least, not harder on our kids. With this perspective, sustainability shouldn't just be about environmentalism. The philosophy should apply in a broader sense to economic and social aspects as well.  

The McKenna Foundation’s mission is to advance the well-being of the New Braunfels community. This past year has proven difficult to advance much of anything, but this idea of sustainability has crossed our minds many times. We strive to sustain people’s abilities to maintain steady income, place nutritious food on their tables, be physically and mentally well, and even keep a roof over their heads in a year plagued with challenges. We want people to come out of this pandemic at least as strong as they were when it started.

Fortunately, McKenna’s efforts to sustain local families have been aided, and even accelerated, by our most valuable partners: the local nonprofit community.  We’ve watched, over the past decade — and certainly over the past 10 months — the increasing role that nonprofits play every day in the sustaining the daily livelihood of tens-of-thousands of families. Nonprofits have sustained countless financial assets, jobs, homes, child care, mental health and more; all critical pieces of the economy of New Braunfels. Without the efforts of local nonprofits, many of our neighbors couldn’t sustain productive lives. Scarcity diminishes people’s abilities to contribute to or even survive in society.

I’ve often said nonprofits are in the most important business — the people business. They take on some of society’s greatest challenges, building people up and catalyzing behavior change, leading to more positive outcomes. Most fundamentally, nonprofits work at every level of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This hierarchy is shaped like a pyramid, with necessities such as food, shelter and safety forming the broad base and moving up to include belongingness and love and finally, self-actualization at the top. Nonprofits provide people with the support they need up and down this hierarchy, resulting in our best employees, parents, neighbors and leaders. Strong families, the basis of our economy, would not exist without nonprofits’ commitment to all levels of need.

Supporting people sustains our community's ability to meet current economic and social needs with the intention of stability today and a stronger tomorrow. Dozens of local nonprofits have organizationally weathered the current storm, maintaining their business operations while still managing to churn out exceptional resources to people at all levels of need. They’re sustaining our community through the support of our people — New Braunfels’ most valuable natural resource.

Alice Jewell
Board Member, New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce 
CEO, McKenna Foundation