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South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)

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Veteran's daughter becomes youngest fundraiser

A girl stands in front of a building holding a large ceremonial check.

Danielle Resendez, at only eight years old, became the youngest person to independently coordinate a fundraiser to benefit the Fisher House. She successfully raised $750 in one weekend. (VA photo by Steve Goetsch)

By Steve Goetsch
Friday, August 2, 2019

For most San Antonio kids transitioning from the second to the third grade, their summers consist of going to the pool, maybe getting some extra television time, or playing with the other kids in the neighborhood.

For Danielle Resendez, she put her weekend outings like Sea World on hold because she had bigger plans.

She wanted to start a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to a charity. Being eight, she didn’t exactly have any in mind and turned to her father Ernest, an Army Veteran, who explained the Fisher House mission to her.

With that information, she chose the Fisher House and set out on her own mission.

Production got underway, preparing everything for the rollout of her stand aptly named, “Dani’s Lemonade & Treats.”

Ernest, turned to the power of social media to help his daughter market their charitable endeavor, and the community responded. “The community support was amazing,” Ernest said. One neighbor and fellow Veteran was receiving treatment at the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital, and his family stayed at the Fisher House during his stay.

That neighbor had a personal connection to the Fisher House.

“He went as far as donating lemons to us to contribute to our cause,” Ernest said. The neighbor praised his daughter’s efforts.

A girl poses in front of a homemade rocking horse

Danielle Resendez is in the living room of the South Texas VA Fisher House. She learned the history of the special rocking horse that was custom built to serve children, and memorialize the fallen. (Photo courtesy of Ernest Resendez)

That is the exact design of the Fisher House program. “Every donation to the Fisher House supports families who are experiencing both emotionally and financially straining situations,” said Erik Zielinski, program manager of the South Texas VA Fisher House. “With support from the community, Fisher House is able to provide a ‘home away from home’ for families visiting our severely ill and injured heroes hospitalized at the South Texas VA.”

In addition to fresh-squeezed lemonade, Danielle also tried her hand at baking, with a little help from her parents. “I made brownies, rice krispy treats and cookies,” Danielle said. She, measured, poured, cut and baked to the tune of raising a whopping $750 for the Fisher House in a single weekend.

On her way to reaching this total, Danielle, the budding entrepreneur, learned a bit about multitasking. “Yeah, we actually ran out of cookies, so we had to bake more,” Danielle said. “My mom had to call me out, so she popped her head through the door [of the kitchen] and would yell, ‘customer!’ then I would have to run outside real fast.”

A girl and a man are standing looking at a framed photo on the wall.

After Danielle, and her father Ernest delivered the check, they were given a tour of the Fisher House including the history of its beginnings with Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher (Photo courtesy of Ernest Resendez.)

Danielle just recently presented an oversized check fashioned by her mom, to Zielinski who took Danielle and her father on a tour of the house. She was told about the founders, Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, met the staff and learned about the history of the South Texas VA Fisher House which is one of the busiest.

“The VA Fisher House is one of the busiest locations, lodging an average of 60 families per month,” Zielinski said. To keep up with that demand, the South Texas VA has been approved for a second house.

“This will enable us to provide housing for even more families visiting Veterans and service members who have chosen VA for their care,” Zielinski added.

That should be welcome news to the hundreds of community members who patronized Dani’s Lemonade & Treats over the weekend.

After Danielle dropped off the check to the Fisher House, she not only walked out of the house with some Fisher House swag, but the legacy of being the youngest volunteer to independently coordinate a fundraiser to benefit the Fisher House.

She also walked out with the admiration of her father. “I think she is a very headstrong individual,” Ernest said, beaming with pride. “When she puts her focus on doing something for a cause, she puts 100 percent into it.”

Danielle already has plans to do fundraising next summer.

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