Transier shines as a devoted advocate for Houston-area children
CAI is a private, nonprofit agency with the mission to give children who are victims of child abuse, neglect and abandonment a voice. The organization mobilizes highly trained Court Appointed Advocate Volunteers to serve as the link between the child and the courts, thus ensuring they don’t slip through the cracks. After an exhaustive case study, the volunteers make recommendations to the judge.
“Our Court Appointed Advocates help get these abused children the care they need,” Transier says. “Our volunteers provide everything from access to psychological care and educational tutoring to the more basic needs of eyeglasses and clothing. Many of our children travel through the foster care system with very few possessions, often carried in a plastic garbage bag. They deserve a better chance in life; this costs money.” Transier finds the money.
For the past 18 years, Transier has raised more than six and a half million dollars for Houston charities. “Of late, I am focusing less on events, concentrating my efforts more on board service and capital campaigns,” Transier tells me as I look over the long list of balls, luncheons and other events she has chaired or assisted.
In addition to Child Advocates Inc., she currently serves on the executive boards of the Houston Ballet Foundation, Theatre Under the Stars and the “I Have a Dream” Foundation.
“I have good time management skills,” she says. “Plus, I’m that deadly combination of Southern and Texan. I live by the Golden Rule, write thank-you notes and make the bed first thing in the morning.”
The organizations for which she has helped raise funds are so numerous that in both 1994 and 2003 she was named “Volunteer of the Year” by the National Society of Fundraising Executives on National Philanthropy Day.
Transier describes herself as, “a glass-half-full kind of person.” This positive attitude is partly the product of a happy childhood.
Lynda Lighthouse Transier grew up in Glenn Brook Valley by Hobby Airport. “[It was] a house where I never heard a criticism or a raised voice,” she proudly declares. Her parents, Katy and Terry, met at the Shell Oil Deer Park refinery. He was an engineer and she worked for his boss. Unlike many oil patch families, they didn’t move around. Her dad turned down any job that would uproot Transier and her brother James out of Houston, and for that she is grateful.
Transier describes a classic baby-boomer childhood. “[We had] one rotary black phone. We walked to school in the neighborhood. We knew all our neighbors and played with their kids. Sunday night was ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’ on television and Saturday night was ‘Lawrence Welk,'” she recalls fondly.
Weekends consisted of either riding the ponies at Playland Park or catching crabs at friends’ bay houses. There was always time to catch lightning bugs in the evening. Summers were “visitin’ time” with trips all over Texas to see “[her] granny, aunts, uncles and cousins.” From Alpine, Transier came to love Fort Davis’ McDonald Observatory, Mexican food in Marfa and the canyons of the Rio Grande. She could serve as a tour guide through San Antonio, Uvalde, Garner State Park, Brownwood, Rusk, Lufkin and Wimberley’s 7A Ranch on the river.
After graduating from Milby High School, Transier earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education and special education from the University of Texas at Austin. Transier began her career of helping children at Austin State School, teaching physically handicapped and emotionally disturbed children. A year and a half later, she married her husband, Bill Transier, on Christmas break, moved to Houston and began teaching for the Spring Branch district in January 1977.
“I was teaching in the Title One reading program. All of our students were either on free or reduced price breakfast and lunch. There was always a child without enough lunch money, so I’d loan them a dollar. To teach responsibility, I was very clear that the first time they did not pay me back the next day, there would be no more loans. Never did a child fail to bring me back that dollar.”
The Spring Branch job helped Lynda begin to fulfill her childhood dream of learning how to ride English saddle and jump horses. The music teacher at the school had property nearby with horses. In exchange for riding lessons, Lynda helped care for the horses. Just as she started to jump, she discovered she was pregnant. Bill didn’t want her to take any chances, and Lynda agreed to dismount.
Car pool and kids
Nicholas Ryan made his entrance in April of 1980. When Christopher Hall followed in June of 1983, Lynda quit teaching and became a full-time mom.
“I drove 14 straight years of Friday car pool,” she declares. In true Texan style, never a moment of time was wasted. While waiting for the kids in the carpool line, she indulged her passion for needlepoint.
“I always showed up. The boys knew they could count on me. I’m not saying I was always on time, but I got there! I was always home at 3 p.m., even when my boys were in high school. I didn’t want them coming home to an empty house,” she says.
That house was constantly brimming with the children’s young friends. “You always want to be the house they come to,” a friend had told her. Lynda took that advice to heart.
“Bill and I had remarkable trust in our sons, and great conversations about our expectations regarding their behavior.”
The trust and lines of communication are still beautifully open. Both sons graduated from the University of Virginia. Now, Nicholas is attending the University of Texas School of Law and Christopher is in investment banking.
Lynda has every right to say, “I’ve been a really good mom; a mom just like I had years ago. The years spent teaching and being with children of all backgrounds and abilities help me to appreciate all the more what I have. I am blessed,” she says.
Dreams do come true
In February of 2000, Lynda finally obtained her lifelong wish of owning her own horse when she acquired Waylon. She and the thoroughbred had five glorious years together as she learned the graceful, athletic challenges of the hunter/jumper style of riding. Unfortunately, Waylon developed arthritis and bone spurs. From her capital campaign work with the San Jacinto Council of Girl Scouts, Lynda knew of Camp Misty Meadows, the Scouts riding camp near Conroe. Soon, Waylon had a new home at the camp and Lynda had a broken heart.
Niko, a Dutch Warmblood, whose show name is Sergeant Pepper, is Lynda’s new love. Together, they have fulfilled another one of her dreams: to win a ribbon in the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, which she attended with her dad when she was a child.
“In March of ’06, I entered my first Pin Oak Horse Show and I got a sixth-place ribbon. Of course, there were only six entries,” she says. “Sixth place is a green ribbon and I’ve got a lot of green. I’ve got lots of white ribbons — that’s fourth. I’ve got one second and five thirds.”
Over the past year, Lynda has been in six horse shows and looks forward to a summer stalking a first place, blue ribbon. In addition to horse shows, Lynda is setting her sights on a summer of golf and might just fulfill her goal of setting foot in all 50 states; she has five to go. Lynda looks forward to helping more kids grow to be generous, happy adults, specifically her grandchildren. While she does not have any yet, she does have a room already decorated with red bandana-sporting cowboys waiting for them.
“I’ll buy every one of them a pony and teach them all to catch fireflies,” she says.