Hello Healthy Counties!
I am Jennifer Henderson, and I serve as the County Treasurer in Schleicher County, Texas. This is my first year participating on the NACo Healthy Counties Advisory Board. The range of issues that HCAB addresses is impressive, and I am honored to serve as one of your Vice Chairs. As an elected official in a rural county in West Texas, it is often a struggle to get necessary services to our population of only 2,800 people as we have a population density of approximately two people per square mile.
I am a Mississippi native and graduated from Mississippi College with a bachelor’s degree in business. I moved to Texas in 2002 and then to Schleicher County in 2003. I married Houston Henderson, a Texas native, in Eldorado Texas in 2004. Shortly thereafter, I began working in Schleicher County as a deputy tax/assessor collector and later served two terms on the Schleicher County Appraisal Review Board. I then ran for the office of county treasurer and was elected in 2014. I have a passion for serving this community and truly enjoy my work. As a rural county, my office handles many duties including accounts payable, payroll, human resources, IT, risk management, investments, cyber-security training and wellness programs. I had the honor of being selected as one of two Treasurers statewide to participate in the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) Leadership 254 program from 2017-18 and was awarded TAC’s Iris Stagner Award in 2018 for my work as the county’s wellness coordinator. I work with TAC’s Unfunded Mandate Survey Committee and am an active member of their Core Legislative Group. In 2019, I was awarded the Texas Outstanding County Treasurer award, and am currently serving as the President of the County Treasurers’ Association of Texas. I am dedicated to representing rural counties in Texas, with a focus on education and training of my fellow elected officials.
I would like to focus today on our county’s collaboration with the Eldorado Service Center to help address unmet needs in our community. In 2016, the county was faced with a 40 percent loss of ad valorem tax revenue and to offset those losses there were funding cuts for programs such as the Senior Center and Meals on Wheels. In response, the (now-retired) Sheriff David Doran came to me to see if there was any way we could find a solution and we worked together to start the Eldorado Service Center to continue to serve meals to seniors. We leased the former Schleicher County Hospital from the City of Eldorado and in time our program offerings have expanded to include:
- Daily Bread Senior Meals Program
- 2nd Harvest Food Pantry
- Dedicated offices for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- Hill Country MHDD to offer drug and alcohol counseling services, as well as mental health counseling for veterans.
- Regional support services
- Legal Aid of North West Texas (free access to civil legal aid)
- Texas Health and Human Services (SNAP and other benefits)
- Community Action Agency (rent and utility assistance)
- Concho Valley Transit Authority (free transportation for seniors)
These services show the best outcomes of public-private partnerships and that even in rural communities we can work together to offer access to mental health services, address food insecurity and serve our disadvantaged and senior populations.
Since the beginning of these services at the Eldorado Service Center, we have seen a drop in indigent requests at the county level and an increase in the participation of services that were once only offered in the neighboring metropolitan county. Having local access to these services improves the quality of health of our residents and has been a great way for many to participate in community service. Schleicher County and the Eldorado Service Center are continuing to look for more ways to bring services here to promote better outcomes for our most at-risk residents.
For more information about the El Dorado Service Center please visit our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/eldoradoservicecenter/
County Treasurer, Schleicher County, Texas