Wednesday, September 13, 2006


The Story of the Mark Kilroy Foundation

In the spring of 1989, Jim and Helen Kilroy began searching for their missing son. Four weeks later, they learned that Mark had been kidnapped and murdered, used as a human sacrifice by a drug smuggling cult in Matamoros, Mexico. Mark was a 21-year-old University of Texas pre-med student on spring break. During the search and after the discovery, Mark's parents received thousands of letters and talked with many people who told them of the destruction in their lives caused by drugs. The Kilroy family had become victims even though none of them were involved in drugs. The search for their son is over; they know he is safe and they are at peace, but they could not turn and walk away. Our young people are searching and they have many different paths to choose. Who will be there for them?

In May of 1989, the Mark Kilroy Foundation was formed. The primary goal was to unite organizations and individuals of the community in the prevention of substance abuse. The Foundation has since been involved in drug and violence prevention, drug and violence education, and rehabilitation. It has provided seed money to residential men's and women's treatment facilities. Two four-year Scholarships are given annually. The Kilroys have spoken throughout Texas at schools, organizations, and churches. They have put any and all money given to them, including all book sale monies, into the Foundation's anti-drug efforts. In the book Sacrifice, Mark's father Jim relates a very personal account of the family's search for their son. It is available for purchase by calling 409-925-3819.

The Foundation and Beginning of the S.A.F.E. Program

In 1994, the S.A.F.E. (Substance Abuse Free Environment) Program, was born. As a community based, drug and violence education-prevention program for youth and families, it was formed with help from the Mark Kilroy Foundation and a government grant. The Mark Kilroy Foundation has sponsored S.A.F.E. ever since, in partnership with the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe and Hitchcock schools, organizations, and private donors, to provide S.A.F.E. Program services to the community year-round, including a summer youth program.

Throughout the years, changes in government grants and other roadblocks created challenges for the program, but with contributions from the Mark Kilroy Foundation, school and community, S.A.F.E. endured the hardships and remained true to it's causes. The youth in Hitchcock and Santa Fe would still be receiving their services within the schools. With still more grant status changes and federal grant entities switching grants from one department to another, the S.A.F.E. Program grant fell under SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). This particular grant was for forming coalitions, and only allowed a percentage of time to be spent on direct services, so another change was in store. We would have to be creative in an attempt to maintain the program within a coalition.

The Safe (yes, lower case letters) Coalition Is Transformed

In 2004, changes came about, but not without some issues being resolved. It was determined that the S.A.F.E. Program (still supported by the Mark Kilroy Foundation) would now function as a member of the Safe Coalition. This coalition would become the new primary focus for as long as we carried this grant. The change would allow for direct services to continue while still keeping a grant that is broader than the scope of one mere program. Ideally, this Safe Coalition would be a catalyst to expand our vision. By doing what we should do in the present about drug and violence problems, as a larger and more engaged coalition, we would help to preserve the future generations.

We would soon realize that this new grant was going to bring more focus to the coalition, with specific goals. With more clarity on the bigger picture of problems within the community, we realized that this coalition grant would help get everybody on the same page, it would push for more community members to become involved. Our coalition would experience changes for the better, and become more involved and enlightened.

In the Now

It is a new grant year and a new beginning. Yesterday was the first Safe Coalition meeting of the new grant and school year. Twenty two people attended and each member shared their community projects (minutes from the meeting will be posted soon). We have made a lot of progress in the coalition, uniting hearts and minds in order to form a more perfect union. I stole that line. Anyway, we are off to a good start. With a new blog, we can better communicate our thoughts and ideas. Please feel free to offer suggestions via email.

If you are a coalition member, please email us to let us know what you are up to. Include pictures! We'll upload them onto the blog as soon as we can. Thank you all for your support!