COPPERAS COVE — Like other state-funded entities, the Copperas Cove Mental Health and Mental Retardation Training Center doesn’t always have the funds for all the activities it would like to host.

That’s where the parents of their consumers step in.

The Copperas Cove Association for Challenged Citizens is a group made up mostly of parents of people with mental disabilities who utilize the center. Members work to raise money or collect items, such as arts and crafts supplies, to support the training center and its consumers.

“We started back in 2004,” said Barbara Burt, president of CCACC. “MHMR made it known that the government was cutting funding. With less money to work with, they were trying to figure out how to stay open.”

The Copperas Cove center said it might close if it couldn’t secure enough funding, so a group of parents met to discuss the problem.

The training center offers lessons and supervision for challenged residents who have graduated high school, with the goal of continuing education and training those who have the ability to join the workforce. It is part of the reason they refer to the residents as “consumers” instead of “clients” or “patients.”

“They come here to receive a service,” said Linda Wilson, supervisor of the training center. “We provide daily habilitation training as well as vocational training.”

Without the center in the city, parents would have to use MHMR locations in Killeen or Temple, so they organized a nonprofit organization to help offset costs of the training center and help keep it open.

“We got together, elected officers and did all the stuff you have to do to be a nonprofit and started holding meetings once a month,” said Burt.

Since being organized, CCACC has helped host the center’s annual Christmas party, provided them with new patio furniture and helps keep a stock of arts and crafts supplies for consumers to use.

“They love arts and crafts,” said Wilson of the value of supplies the CCACC provides. “They kind of fill in the gap where the budget doesn’t cover.”

Without the CCACC’s assistance, Wilson said the staff of the training center would have to seek assistance from a community that isn’t aware of the center’s existence.

“Like a lot of other people, I didn’t find out until the year (my son) was going to graduate high school that this was here,” said Donna Torrez, treasurer for CCACC and a mother of a special-needs son.

The CCACC hosts open meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at the American Legion Post 582, located at 910 Industrial Ave., Copperas Cove. Residents are welcome to learn more about the organization by attending a meeting or calling the center at (254) 547-5914.

Contact Audrey Spencer at or (254) 501-7476

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