Community Relations


The Community Relations department of Austin State Hospital (ASH) provides vital support to the ongoing clinical operations of the facility. Community Relations is responsible for managing the volunteer programs, providing support to the Volunteer Services Council, serving as the contact for external customers and information requests, and serving as the liaison between ASH and the community we serve.

Year-round activities of the Community Relations department include:

  • Managing the volunteer program
  • Building alliances with organizations and businesses that share our strategic goals
  • Soliciting donations of money and in-kind goods
  • Coordinating special events
  • Supporting employee relations
  • Promoting and conducting tours of the hospital
  • Publishing two publications, The Script for community friends and supporters and The Insider, a monthly staff newsletter
  • Providing support to the Volunteer Services Council

Campus Tours

The Austin State Hospital was the first state facility of its kind built west of the Mississippi. In 1856, the governor of Texas signed a bill providing for the establishment of the Texas State Lunatic Asylum. Construction started in 1857, and the first patients were admitted in 1861. The facility was renamed the Austin State Hospital (ASH) in 1925. Today, the original main building serves as the administration building for a modern, innovative facility providing psychiatric care to a 38-county region in Central Texas. If your group is interested in touring our facility, tours are conducted on the second Tuesday or the fourth Thursday of each month. Contact the Community Relations department to schedule a tour at 512-419-2330.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers play a huge role in the lives of our patients and are a critical component of the hospital’s services and programs. They bring friendship, understanding, and the desire to help and make a difference. In the past our volunteers have built chapels, swimming pools, gardens, and playgrounds to enhance the lives of people with mental illnesses throughout Texas. Most importantly, they have established a tradition of caring and healthful concern for those who are struggling to restore their lives.

You have the opportunity to become a part of that tradition as we invite you to explore our volunteer opportunities. Do you have a special talent to share? Consider volunteering with the Austin State Hospital.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • Assist with games, art projects, and music and art therapy
  • Write grants to ensure many programs and services continue
  • Design and create brochures, flyers, and marketing materials for special events and internal programs
  • Become a trainer and presenter of our educational program, Erasing Stigma/Changing Minds and take the message of the hope of recovery to community organizations, university groups, churches, and businesses
  • Join our Pet Pard’ners program with your four-legged friend
  • Host a party for our patients. Medical studies show that patients who laugh regularly and are mentally engaged have much faster recoveries.

To become an important member of the ASH volunteer team, contact Angie Behnke at 512-419-2323 or e-mail at

Become a valuable member of the Volunteer Services Council

The Volunteer Services Council (VSC) of the Austin State Hospital (ASH) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that advocates for persons with mental illnesses through community education and active solicitation of goods, services, and donations. The VSC has been involved with Austin State Hospital for over 50 years, improving the quality of life of the children and adults who are patients at the hospital.

As a nonprofit organization, the Council does its work through public relations efforts, fundraising activities, and special events. The staff of the ASH Community Relations support the Council's activities.

The Council is a working board whose sole mission is to improve the quality of life for patients at Austin State Hospital. We are looking for individuals who wish to share their talents, interests and energies. Individuals who wish to serve are accepted by a vote of the Council. Members are encouraged to provide financial support and serve in a way that helps raise monies for our patients. Members may choose to serve on one or more of the following committees:

  • Fundraising
  • Nominating
  • Community Education
  • Public Relations
  • Finance
  • Technology
  • Special Events

The VSC depends on the generous support of individuals, corporations, and foundations to carry out the mission of improving the quality of life for ASH patients. Every donation, large or small, helps provide that extra support. Can you help?

Randalls Remarkable Card – The VSC receives donations through the Randalls “Good Neighbor” program. Simply go to the courtesy booth and request your card be linked to the VSC – Code #297/ That’s it! Every time you shop, 1% of your purchase will be donated to the VSC.

Tribute and Memorial Contributions – Make a donation in honor or memory of friends, family members, and loved ones. It is a thoughtful way to honor someone close to you while supporting the patients of the Austin State Hospital.

Matching Corporate Gifts – Corporate matching gifts are an important source of funds for the VSC. If you, a family member, or friend who with a company with a Matching Gifts program, please utilize the program to increase the value of donations dollars to ASH.

If you would like information about serving on the ASH Volunteer Services Council, contact Cindy Reed, Director of Community Relations, at 512-419-2333 or e-mail at

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Last updated March 11, 2015