A $2.2 million gift from a local family puts the Breckenridge Village of Tyler one massive step closer to its capital project goal, with funds to be used for the construction of a new, multipurpose building that will provide residents with state-of-the-art classroom space and a larger gathering area for special occasions and fundraisers.

Doug and Patti Mehling gifted the contribution – the single largest in Breckenridge Village history – in honor of their late son, Douglas R. Mehling II.

Mehling passed away in 2016 from muscular dystrophy. Though he lived to be just 34, he led a fruitful life, serving as senior class president, graduating college with a 4.0 GPA, and then going on to earn a master’s degree in theology from the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies.

Mehling, who worked as an associate pastor at Grandview Seventh Day Adventist Church in Grandview, even wrote a book about his life titled “The Bionic Preacher” that was completed just one week before his death.

“In his short, wheelchair-bound life, Douglas impacted many lives …,” the Mehlings said in a release announcing the donation. “Douglas was dependent on a respirator, but preached sermons four words at a time between breaths.”

“Our family decided that making a donation to BVT would be an excellent way to commemorate his life,” their statement continued. “We know firsthand the positive impact gifts to Breckenridge Village make in the lives of these special people. Our daughter Alex loves the volunteers and is so grateful when she shares things people have done for her and her BVT family. Matthew 25:40 speaks our heart and family values for BVT.”

Breckenridge Village, a residential community for adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, has dreamed about opening a new multipurpose center for years, said Steven Campbell, BVT’s executive director.

But as their services expand – Breckenridge Village has welcomed 18 new residents over the past year and a half – the need for a larger gathering space has only become more clear, Campbell said.

The new Douglas R. Mehling II Center, with its classrooms, meeting areas and event hall, will thus prove a blessing.

“We are 100 percent blessed and extremely appreciative for the Mehling family to gift us with this contribution towards the project,” Campbell said. “This building will serve multiple purposes for our ministry and for our campus. Of course it will provide additional classroom space for our campus needs for our residents during our day program, but also it’s going to allow much more community involvement and engagement where we can have different events and fundraisers right here on campus.”

Back in 2013, fundraising events had to be moved off campus because no facilities at Breckenridge Village had the capacity to hold the hundreds of attendees who wanted to show their support, Campbell explained.

“We quickly outgrew the space and had to haul everything to a facility that would house all our generous donors,” Linda Taylor, the associate director of advancement for Breckenridge Village, said. “You know, you can watch a video when you’re off at another venue, but it doesn’t impact you like your own eyes seeing the campus and our residents firsthand. We are just so grateful and thankful that the Mehlings would help us with this project. They’re just a godsend.”

Campbell and Taylor spoke of the countless services provided by Breckenridge Village, where residents learn life skills like how to do laundry, brush their teeth and use computers, attend elective courses that focus on anything from horticulture to candle making, volunteer with Meals on Wheels, the East Texas Food Bank and other organizations, and have the chance to play basketball and interact with their peers while on campus and within the community.

“We are so thankful for the donors that come alongside us and that give so that we can care for these people and they can have a safe place to call home,” Taylor said. “It’s a neat thing for donors to be a part of a person’s life who, through no fault of their own, can’t care for themselves.”

“God doesn’t make any mistakes,” Taylor continued. “Our residents are so accepting, so loving and happy. I think our greatest treasure is how they impact all of us, and how they impact others.”

Breckenridge Village hopes to break ground on the new facility in 2021 and open its doors to residents and donors sometime in 2022. But still, they are in need of some sizable donations to make that happen.

“We cannot do this without community support,” Campbell said. “We don’t take out loans. We don’t rely on the government to fund our projects. We’re asking our community to step up and help us in this effort – come alongside us to help expand our programs and meet this need for the individuals that we serve.”

Beyond the recent $2.2 million donation from the Mehlings, other generous contributions include $1 million from the Baugh Foundation and $250,000 from longtime, anonymous supporters of BVT.

Any individual wishing to support the capital project, which remains about $1.4 million short of its goal, can email ltaylor@breckenridgevillage.com.

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