Fresh air, green trees, rolling hills and beautiful views. The scenic stretch of land just south of the busy city of Killeen is gorgeous.

It’s also Leslie Gilmore’s new office.

“Being out here in this beautiful place with such a wonderful staff is an absolute joy,” Gilmore said.

After a 15-year career with the Killeen Independent School District, Gilmore resigned in August to become the executive director of Variety’s Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children.

The retreat, located on 120 acres of land along the Lampasas River, is a nonprofit that provides activities, field trips, retreats and camps for children, including those with special needs.

“We want to give kids an opportunity to be all they can be,” Gilmore said. “I feel really honored and blessed to be a part of that.”

Gilmore described the retreat as “thriving.” Last year, Peaceable Kingdom hosted 9,000 children and their families, including students from districts across the state of Texas. That number is 5 percent higher than the 2011-2012 school year, and is expected to increase this year.

“We’re getting more kids than ever before,” Gilmore said.

From September to May, the retreat runs its environmental education program for students, as well as camps and retreats for children with illnesses or disabilities. Peaceable Kingdom also runs camps for children during the summer.

While the retreat primarily serves children, Gilmore said one of her goals as director was letting people know what Peaceable Kingdom can offer the wider public.

The retreat has facilities and buildings on the grounds that can host everything from meetings and corporate retreats to weddings.

“Our main focus will always be on the kids,” Gilmore said. “We want to let everyone know that Peaceable Kingdom is also here for the rest of the community, too.”

While this is Gilmore’s first time working as the executive director of a retreat, it isn’t the first time she has worked for Peaceable Kingdom. She worked for the nonprofit from 2002 to 2006.

“It’s fabulous being back,” Gilmore said. “It’s like being home.”

For more information

For more information about Peaceable Kingdom, go to www.varietytexas.org or call 254-554-5555.

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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