Elijah’s Retreat for families facing autism opens new cabin in Jacksonville

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Published: May. 2, 2022 at 3:10 PM CDT|Updated: May. 2, 2022 at 10:30 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Elijah’s Retreat is celebrating the addition of a new cabin to its facilities.

The Jacksonville-based nonprofit organization is a nature retreat with a focus on providing outdoor adventures and interaction with therapy animals for families who have members facing autism. The addition of a new cabin is an expansion of their facilities and will allow for broader access to their offerings.

“Thank you guys for all coming out here today to just see this dream become a reality,” Torres said to the crowd gathered for the Maus House grand opening. “Last year we were able to serve 240 families, but we had to turn away 400 families. With COVID and everything else, we’re tired of turning people away, so this cabin alone gives us a chance to host another 80 families to come out here today.”

Elijah’s Retreat in Jacksonville is a 50 acre dude ranch - a sanctuary for families facing autism. It’s a place where the whole family gets to enjoy time together.

“Here they can just be themselves, and we actually cherish them for who they are, and celebrate with them, and we’re here to help,” Torres said. “If they have a melt down, no big deal, we’re right here to help. There is no judgment, just a helping hand to encourage.”

Today, the retreat held a grand opening for their fourth cabin, the Maus House, which will allow them to host up to 320 guests a year.

After COVID hit, the price of building materials got very expensive so Lowes in Palestine sold them all the building materials at cost and delivered everything to them. The remaining cost was covered by donations from the community, and the cabin was built by volunteers.

Following a speech by Torres, the Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony. Guests were then welcomed into the Maus House for refreshments.

Torres came to Elijah’s retreat alongside her husband five years ago, and has worked to make it a special place for families facing autism.

“Seeing how much it really means to these families has been a priceless journey,” Torres said. “Then to see the support from the community to wrap around these families to see how much it really means to them to have a place to call their own - to have a place that their cherished and it made me realize how much their is a void of that in their regular life and so it’s been very humbling to be a part of their families and apart of their life to give them this chance.”

Elijah’s Retreat had to cut back their volunteer force during the height of COVID, but now they are actively seeking volunteers for a variety of roles.

If you are interested in being a part of the life-changing work they are doing, go to their website to connect with them.

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