The Caring Place Staff
Ginna F. O’Connor, Executive Director – For over 25 years, Ginna has worked to address health and human service issues, and improve the quality of life of those she serves. Starting with her experience in the Peace Corps in 1988 to her current role as Executive Director of The Caring Place, helping to improve the lives of others has been her personal and professional mission.
Ginna joined The Caring Place as Executive Director in 2013 where she oversees operations and development. As a strong advocate of community-based solutions to local problems, Ginna feels blessed to serve at The Caring Place, a 31-year old organization that began as a local, neighborhood organization with a $17 budget. Today, Ginna leads The Caring Place as it assists over 5,000 people each year by providing basic human services. She is the first to recognize the value of our supportive and generous community, and dedicated volunteers and staff who are committed to helping our neighbors in crisis.
Prior to joining The Caring Place, Ginna worked as Vice President of Programs for the Senior Resource Association in Indian River County, Florida, where she directed the organization’s programs designed to help older adults age in place. She also prepared and led the quality assurance process for grants and contracts, and served in leadership positions on the Boards of the Florida Association of Aging Services Providers and the Florida Adult Day Services Association. Ginna has also led programs and initiatives at organizations such as the Nashville Coalition for the Homeless, United Way of Jackson County and the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries.
Ginna grew up in Nashville, TN, is a graduate of Hiram College and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Cleveland State University. Ginna and her husband, Brian, have two children, Josh and Katie who are much adored and growing up way too fast.
Rita Turner, Community Engagement Manager – Prior to coming to The Caring Place she spent 10 years at the Round Rock Police Department as Coordinator of their Victim Services Unit. She has been with The Caring Place since 2008. She graduated from Mary Hardin Baylor and has called Georgetown home since 1972.
Mark Turner, Information Management Director- Mark, an Austin native, has been working in technology for over twenty years. He has extensive experience in LAN/WAN topologies, network administration, E-Mail, Internet systems, Windows and UNIX environments. He holds certifications as: CCNA, CCNP, MCP, MCSE 2008, MCTS, and MCITP: Enterprise Administrator. Mark has been at The Caring Place for 2 years.
Lorna Symank, Office Manager, is a Central Texas native. She and her husband have lived in Georgetown since 2006. Lorna retired from the Texas Workforce Commission with more than 34 years of service, which included over 18 years of supervisory and management experience. She was a Client Services volunteer, here at The Caring Place, for 3 ½ years.
Alicea Jones, Communications Manager – has lived with her family in Central Texas for the past ten years. Prior to joining The Caring Place, she was Editor-in-Chief for a community magazine and an award-winning freelance writer whose work appeared in various local and national publications. She has fifteen years’ marketing and public relations experience in both the profit and nonprofit sectors. Alicea Jones earned a Masters of Business Administration degree from Pepperdine University, Malibu, California.
Cheryl Hoover, People Support Manager – joined The Caring Place April 10, 2017. Cheryl, Professional Human Resources Certified (PHR with SHRM), provides support and coordination to all employees and volunteers by developing, implementing, and managing the human resource efforts of The Caring Place. Her goal is to ensure that every person at The Caring Place is taken care of in all human resources areas in order to maximize their contribution to our organization.
Cheryl earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Educational Math and Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin while playing on the Women’s Longhorn Basketball team on a full scholarship. She served as one of the team captains and is one of 42 players to score over 1000 points in her career.
Cheryl also earned a Master’s in Educational Administration from Texas State University, and was named Graduate Student of the Year.
Cheryl is a native Texan, growing up in a large family in Nazareth, located in the middle of the Texas panhandle. After college, Cheryl proudly served students and families for 34 years in public education as a teacher, coach, and administrator at the campus and district levels prior to retiring in 2016. Most notably, serving as the principal at Williams Elementary from 2002-2009. Cheryl has lived in Georgetown since 1984. She is married to Chuck Hoover, and has two sons, Darren Lang, a University of North Texas engineering graduate, and Garrett Lang, a current UT Tyler student.
Erin Becnel, Client Services Director – Erin joined The Caring Place in 2015. She maintains operational oversight of the Client Services Department, ensuring that the needs of clients, volunteers and staff are met through support of the overall mission of The Caring Place. She oversees all grants that support services for those living in crisis. Erin is responsible for maintaining, developing and enhancing essential community partnerships to support the organization and clients served.
Erin received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Psychology/Sociology and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Louisiana State University. She has 18 years’ experience in social services working with marginalized populations. Formerly of South Louisiana, Erin has lived in Central Texas since 2001.
Barbara Bell, Client Services Crisis Manager – joined The Caring Place in 2010. Barbara manages the day-to-day operations for the Client Services department. With assistance from the Client Services team members, Barbara’s job is to ensure clients receive compassionate and professional care as they request assistance with their financial crisis. She also manages a team of approximately 60 volunteers within the department, which includes training and scheduling.
Barbara is certified in Volunteer and Human Resource Management. She attended St. Edwards University in Austin, where she pursued a business degree. Her 20-year career prior to TCP was in Human Resources, Training and Development, and Office Administration.
Barbara has enjoyed living in Georgetown for almost 30 years. She has four grown children and ten grandchildren, whom she “simply adores”. Barbara enjoys writing, whether writing short stories for her book club or reading personal development books. In the past, she enjoyed dancing, fencing for exercise and tried her hand at golf. She has traveled to almost every state in America and also the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Canada and Italy, where she plans to move later in life.
One of Barbara’s favorite quotes is, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~Gandhi
Kerstin Cochran, Client Services Resource Coordinator- Kerstin began volunteering at The Caring Place in 2009 as a Client Advocate. In 2011, she was hired as the Client Advocate Supervisor and worked with the dedicated volunteers, training them to help clients receive compassionate, caring services in their time of need.
At present, Kerstin is the Client Services Resource Coordinator. Her responsibilities include establishing vendor contacts, negotiating contracts for partnerships, providing support to community partners, assisting with community outreach, developing training materials for volunteers , training volunteers and maintaining the volunteer database. She also schedules and facilitates Client Services meetings for the Focus Group and the Client Services Department.
Kerstin graduated from The University of Texas at Arlington with a B.A. in Communications and has a Volunteer Management Certification. For seventeen years, she trained medical doctors, residents, nurses and other medical staff on products, side-effects, and other important medical information. For six years, she served on the Board of the Austin State Hospital Volunteer Services Council where she helped organize fund raisers and other actives to support ASH VSC Clients.
Kerstin was born in Germany and came to the USA by sea when she was only four. At that time, her only language was German so she understands the difficulties that some TCP Clients have in learning a new language. Raised in a military family, Kerstin has lived in many places, but has called Georgetown her family home since 1990. Kerstin and her husband have been blessed with two children and three beautiful grandchildren. “Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain
Rebecca Orozco, Case Manager – joined The Caring Place in 2016. Rebecca provides ongoing assistance to clients participating in Special Programs available at The Caring Place including case management, SOAR, Alternative Loan Program, ReBuild, and Workers2Work. Rebecca received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
Dulce Ramirez, Client Services Specialist – joined The Caring Place in 2017. Dulce monitors processes to ensure efficient client service flow and operations. For those families who need assistance in overcoming a language barrier, Dulce provides Spanish translation. She is responsible for providing services (directly and through oversight of volunteers) to individuals and families experiencing financial crisis and barriers to self-sufficiency. Dulce will also provide direct support to volunteers, ensuring all meet organizational standards and interact with clients in a compassionate, non-judgmental manner.
Dulce Graduated from Georgetown High School. GO EAGLES! After graduating she began working for GISD’s before and after school program, Extended School Enrichment which then became the YMCA. During these 14 years, she provided leadership to ensure high standards of enrichment and childcare services in achieving performance objectives related to children’s academic, social, emotional, and physical success as prescribed in the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and Child Care Services. She oversaw compliance with licensing regulations, district policies, collaborative partnerships, and state mandates as well as the success of enrichment opportunities, and operation of all program activities.
Dulce is a native Georgetonian and is raising her four children in Georgetown as well. Due to her children’s ages ranging from 1-15, her hobby is to make each moment count and making memories.
One of her favorite quotes is “Helping a person will not necessarily change the world, but it will change the world for that one person.”
Sheryl Rich, Client Services Triage Coordinator – Sheryl oversees the Reception and Intake areas of Client Services to assist volunteers and ensure a positive experience for the clients from sign in to check out. She provides support for the phone operator as needed, and manages the completion of the voucher process including verification and payment reconciliation. In addition, Sheryl also manages and coordinates the Coats For Kids Program and the Summer Fan Drive.
Sheryl was a TCP volunteer for 4 years before becoming a member of The Caring Place staff. Prior to joining TCP, she was a certified Histotech for Seton Medical Center in Austin, TX, and the CFO/Co-Owner of an electrical contracting company for 20 years. She was also an active volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America and numerous school organizations.
Sheryl was born in Georgia, but grew up in the Austin/Round Rock area. She has lived in several cities in and around Central Texas, but hears the mountains calling her name. Sheryl loves to travel, go camping and hiking, whitewater rafting, spending time around the pool, DIY projects and repurposing items, but her favorite love is spending time with family. She is happily married with 2 grown sons, and the proud Mimi of 2 adorable grandchildren with more on the way.
The Shops at The Caring Place
Ann Lind, Retail Operations Director – Ann, a Georgetown native, has been the Store Director at The Caring Place since March, 2007. After graduation from The University of Texas at Austin, Ann spent 30 years in retail and wholesale businesses.
Andrea Smith, Assistant Store Director – Andrea Smith, Retail Manager – joined The Caring Place in 2013. In her role, Andrea coordinates and arranges training for cashiers, serves as front line support resolving issues with registers, and assists with preparing clothing for The Shops at The Caring Place. Andrea also researches and prices high-end items for The Boutique. She is second in command to the Retail Operations Director.
Andrea grew up in her 80-year old family furniture store where she gained experience in the retail industry. She also worked at Ashely Furniture Store and other retail outlets. A person who loves helping others, Andrea also worked as a private duty nurse.
A Texas resident since 1993, Andrea says she has a “wonderful husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.” When she isn’t helping to manage retail operations at The Caring Place, she enjoys growing plants, making stained glass crafts and repairing and refinishing furniture.
Joan Quigg – Retail Assistant Manager – joined The Caring Place staff in August, 2013. Working alongside volunteers, Joan merchandises clothing in The Shops at The Caring Place. She is responsible for helping to keep the store neat, organized and well-stocked. Joan also assists cashiers, updates reports when needed and provides customer service. Prior to joining The Caring Place, Joan spent 25 years as an Administrative Assistant with a major construction company in Illinois. Joan grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Illinois in 1986. She recently moved to Georgetown with her son Tom.
Dena Ashby, Retail Associate – joined The Caring Place in 2016. Dena helps to keep The Shops at The Caring Place well-stocked with clothing, books and other items. She is responsible for providing customer service in the thrift stores. Additionally, Dena serves as a cashier.
In her role, Dena helps to keep the store clean, organized and appealing for shoppers. This includes monitoring the appearance of clothing racks, shelves and dressing room.
Dena comes to The Caring Place with varied experience. She worked in the electronics industry designing circuit boards for 25 years. She also worked as a convenience store cashier and held management positions.
Dena was born in Georgetown and has been a Central Texas resident her entire life. She has 2 sons, a daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren. She also has chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs, goats . . . and she says, “I love to fish and spend time with my family.”
Second Helping (Specialty Retail Store)
Al Beaver, Specialty Retail Manager – Al was born in Buffalo NY. He has lived in the Austin area since 1984. Al has had a varied career, wearing lots of hats, culminating in his own business, and he is now retired. Al has volunteered for The Caring Place since 2011 and is very happy to join the staff. Al has 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren.
Tracy Tripulas, Assistant Manager – A native Texan, and graduate of the University of Texas, Tracy Tripulas is drawn to the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that often accompanies community service. Prior to relocating to Georgetown in 2014, Tracy spent 15 years of her career working at a community care clinic in Austin, TX. In addition, Tracy brings a trove of relevant experience as a previous owner/operator of her own retail clothing store in Salado. Moreover, Tracy has an independent spirit that is reflected in the LLC and residential rental business that she built from the ground up with her late father. She began her career at the Caring Place as a volunteer, prior to becoming a permanent member of the staff.
John Burton, Donations Area Coordinator – Before coming to The Caring Place, John retired from the Round Rock Fire Department as a Battalion Chief after 28 years. He has a 15 year old son that is a sophomore at Eastview High School. He has lived in Georgetown for 16 years.
Justin Ryan Arzola, Assistant Donations Manager – Justin comes to The Caring Place with 11 years’ experience in construction and 3 1/2 years in warehouse operations. Justin has lived in Georgetown for the past 4 years with his wife, Erica, and his daughter, Juliana. He is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. “I love my current job and look forward to many years here.”
Ray Valadez – Donations Assistant – is a native Texan, spending most of his life in Austin. He is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. Ray has a son named Patrick and they go fishing together. He has a dog named Pelon and they spend a lot of time together. Ray really enjoys working here and is enjoying getting to know his co-workers.
Dennis Hilgeman – Donations Assistant