Recognizing the “black hole” that exists for adults with disabilities after high school graduation, Erin created a vocational program – Brookwood in Georgetown – where participants lead purposeful lives by creating and selling goods like handmade greeting cards and pottery.
I am honored to nominate Erin Kiltz for the distinguished “RecognizeGood Award”. Erin is legendary in our community for her lifetime passion and dedication to improve life for others. Her legacy spans decades of volunteering countless hours to help others to know the feeling to be celebrated, empowered, engaged, and living meaningful lives. Inspired by her daughter Gracie, Erin has profoundly changed and impacted countless lives across Texas over the years. Gracie (now 20) was born with downs syndrome and as a toddler later diagnosed and survived one of the most aggressive forms of leukemia, only to experience severe brain damage due to a bacterial infection which almost took her life. Shortly thereafter and with the loving support of her husband John and two other children, Emily and Riley (now 25 and 23), Erin created His Grace Foundation non-profit which serves as a bone marrow transplant unit of the Texas Children’s Hospital where Erin managed operations as their Volunteer Executive Director for 8 years in Houston. Erin did not stop there. Although Gracie cannot walk, talk, or feed herself, against all odds, her smile continues to be an inspiration to all. In most recent years, Gracie represented Georgetown High School proudly as our communities Homecoming Queen in 2010. At that time upon receiving the sobering news of no post high school programs with purpose for adults with intellectual disabilities in our area, Erin went on a mission to bring meaning and purpose to adults with intellectual disabilities and launched a pilot program, Light Texas, in our community. Through Light Texas, Erin once again and never ending, planned, implemented, participated, provided countless hours, and personally funded numerous projects to help intellectually disabled students that were “aging out” of the public school system. Under the tutelage of Vivian Shudde, Executive Director of the prestigious 27 year old Brookwood Community in Brookshire, Texas, Erin rallied our community through Light Texas and provided inspiring hope to parents, students, families of loved ones with disabilities, and communities across Central Texas. As a credit to Erin’s contagious passion and dedication to celebrate, empower, and engaged adults with intellectual disabilities in our community, six months later, making first time history, The Brookwood Community of Brookshire Texas absorbed Light Texas in Georgetown and became BiG, (Brookwood in Georgetown) in November 2012 with Erin as the driving force and their Volunteer Executive Director. Because of Erin and those she inspired to follow, BiG has now doubled in size. The citizens of BiG are engaged in the meaningful work enterprises housed in free church space where they hand make: jewelry, stationary cards, pottery, baking granola, and horticulture. Their beautiful handmade creations and products are sold at the “BiG Shop” which has sold over $56,000 in sells since February 2012. Erin Kiltz has devoted her life passion to helping others with her focus on adults with intellectual disabilities. Erin’s legacy will live on in our community and across Texas through the lives of all she has touched. She has profoundly impacted and changed countless lives forever through her unbelievable endeavors in the creation of two life changing organizations: BiG (Brookwood in Georgetown) and His Grace Foundation. Erin is living life by example as a cornerstone of our community and state, giving hope to the future for families of loved ones with disabilities and those needing bone marrow transplants. I am so honored and humbled to call Erin Kiltz my friend. I proudly nominate Erin Kiltz as a “RecognizeGood Legend”.
– Laura Antoine