Bayside Foundation helps community rebuild

Pat Torres, left, and Margaret Babb, members of the Bayside Foundation, stand in one of the three shaded canopies that the foundation funded for concrete pads. More fundraisers are planned by the nonprofit charitable foundation to continue the restoration and improvements in Bayside. (Tim Delaney photo)

BAYSIDE – After Hurricane Harvey struck this Southeast Texas coastal town in August 2017, it looked as if it was the victim of an atom bomb.

Prior to the onslaught of Harvey, the town had one convenience store, a plant nursery and Crofutt’s Sandwich Shop and Bakery restaurant, known for its sandwiches, breakfast rolls and baked goods from far and wide. Texas Monthly even listed the small restaurant in its magazine.

But Crofutt’s was never to come back after Harvey. Guru Patel slowly rebuilt his convenience store, and the late Chris Naylor rebuilt his nursery with the help of grants from Rebuild Texas.

Still, the town was devastated with an estimated 44 families picking up and moving away. That was a crushing blow to a town of 325 population. And Refugio County was economically wounded by the town’s loss. 

Many in the town and others from afar took action by forming a nonprofit foundation called the Bayside Foundation.

“The Bayside Foundation was founded after Hurricane Harvey decimated most of the town. Its purpose is to raise funds for projects that will enhance the town of Bayside’s natural assets,” said Roy Torres, an executive for the foundation.

Torres noted that the Bayside Foundation was a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The foundation was incorporated March 11, 2019.

Torres, who is vice president of the Bayside Foundation board, is joined by President Sylvia Arehart of Pearland, Treasurer Sheryl Butler of Kerrville and Secretary Margaret Babb.

“Since we just got started a little over a year ago, we have not done much but raise funds. We funded the paving of the areas (with concrete) beneath the picnic tables at the KaBoom Sports Court next to the community center. Also re-anchored the pole to which the net for pickleball connects,” Babb said.

The foundation’s official mission statement is “to generate and organize investments that aid in disaster recovery and to preserve, enhance and protect the town of Bayside’s ecological, historical and recreational assets.”

While a recent barbecue fundraiser took place at the community center, the foundation was one of the organizers.

“We are currently working on raising money for restoring the ceiling in the community center auditorium to its original height, along with making the windows full height again and installing ceiling fans in both the auditorium and kitchen,” Babb said.

“We are not allowed to do any work or donate money until the work being done by the grant has been completed. Depending on how far the grant funds go, we may add internet connections for the office and guest connections as well,” she added.

The Bayside Foundation also is asking the town’s employees to make a list of things they will need, such as office chairs, desks, file cabinets and more — all part of the foundation’s intent to cover.

While many Bayside Foundation projects are in the making, one major project on the drawing board is restoring the boat launch south of Bayside. The launch was rendered almost useless after the hurricane dealt it a blow.

“It’s great that the town got a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Its donations and contributors are managed properly. That’s a foundation for the benefit of the city,” said Refugio County Judge Bobby Blaschke.

“There is a major project down there,” he added. That is the boat launch.

Funds from Restore Texas were being sought to fix the launch and add a kayak launch, too. But those funds expired.

Blaschke said there are other organizations involved in the boat launch project.

“It’s a complex situation,” he said.

One source for funding is available for the next 30 years, according to Blaschke.

“We certainly will help in the funding of that project if it comes to fruition,” Babb said.

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