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The Arc of Katy Announces 2019 Hometown Heroes


April 8, 2019

By Natalie Cook Clark

Katy Chick-fil-A and Camp Journey owners both named The Arc of Katy 2019 Hometown Heroes. The non-profit also announces more award winners to be celebrated at a gala next month.

Suzette Coates and Rusty Wylie are this year's Hometown Heroes.

Hometown Heroes

The dictionary defines "hero" as one who is admired for achievements and noble qualities; one who shows great courage. The Arc of Katy, a non-profit that provides opportunities for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has found two Katy residents who meet such a description. Chick-fil-A franchise owner/operator Rusty Wylie and Camp Journey owner Suzette Coates have been selected as this year's Arc of Katy Hometown Heroes.

The Arc of Katy launched the Katy Area Hometown Heroes program in 2018 to demonstrate the organization’s pride in the community and to recognize those who make it a great place to live for its program participants, members and families.

Rusty Wylie with Chick-fil-A

Rusty Wylie owns three Katy Chick-fil-A locations and enriches the Katy community by helping numerous non-profit organizations. Wylie and his three restaurants regularly support area students at Faith West Academy and through the Katy Independent School District (Katy ISD) Education Foundation and Katy ISD schools.

Wylie also supports other organziations and churches such as Compassion Katy, Clothed by Faith, Katy Christian Ministries, Grace Fellowship, Kingsland Baptist Church, The Fellowship of Cinco Ranch, Second Baptist Church, The Ballard House, Living Water, Young Life, Hope Impacts, Friends of Sundown and others.

“We want to be an indispensable blessing to our community. Katy is our home. We want to be part of the Katy story of giving and serving others," says Wylie.

Suzette Coates with Camp Journey

Coates has also dedicated her time to serving others in the community. The Arc of Katy is honoring her as a Hometown Hero for her 15 years of work with individuals with special needs. In 2015, she began to work full time on Camp Journey which offers several programs for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) and other disabilities. Camp Journey holds programs throughout the summer for people of all ages with disabilities.

According to Coates, she draws inspiration from a friendship she had back in elementary school with a young boy with autism.

“He would come over on his bike and play a little with our friends and that always touched my heart, and I felt the need to befriend him,” said Coates. “I feel like it’s my calling in life, my life’s passion.”

More Recognitions

In addition to announcing Hometown Heroes, The Arc of Katy announced other award recipients who will also be honored at the May gala.

Ann Davis Founder’s Award

Rhonda Johnstone is being recognized with The Arc of Katy Ann Davis Founder’s Award for a lifetime of service to individuals with IDD. “As a child, the words ‘be a friend to everyone’ surfaced in my mind and I feel like God has impressed upon me to do that,” says Johnstone.

Johnstone helped launch The Arc of Katy Day Program and after retiring from Katy ISD, also served as executive director of The Arc of Katy. Today, she continues her work as an instructor with The Arc of Katy’s Be Strong Program which provides water therapy, water aerobics, weight training and various other exercises for participants of the day program who wish to enhance their health and well-being.

Volunteers of the Year

Dennis and Jeanne Ann Combrink will be honored as The Arc of Katy Volunteers of the Year for their many years of service to the organization. They served on the social committee for several years prior to their daughter Joy’s death in 2006.

“Joy was born with Down Syndrome, so we wanted to be involved in her activities as much as possible,” says the Combrinks. “After we moved to Katy, we were thrilled to find The Arc of Katy. Joy was always very sociable and especially enjoyed attending the day camp and social events with her friends.”

Dennis and Jeanne Ann continued work with the social committee after their daughter’s death, serving as co-chairmen of the committee since 2015. Dennis is also a member of The Arc of Katy Board of Directors and the Program Committee.

Honored at Gala Next Month

All honorees will be recognized at The Arc of Katy’s 2019 Gala Celebrating Hometown Heroes on May 3, at the Omni Houston Westside. To register to attend or to sponsor, visit the Arc of Katy website.


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