Q&A With Jamey Saunders
Jamey is the youngest child of Guy and Lillian Saunders. Guy Saunders was hugely influential in the early years of The Children’s Home – as a founding member, he served on the board for more than 40 years and as board president for 18. Jamey’s brother, Guyon, was also very involved with The Children’s Home both as board member and president.
Can you tell us a little about your father’s involvement with The Children’s Home?
I am very proud of my father. He was a remarkable man who accomplished a great deal in his lifetime, but he was most proud of being one of the four men who, at the Amarillo Hotel one day in 1923, realized the need for a home for children in Amarillo and followed through with a plan.
I never visited The Children’s Home growing up. I don’t know why. I remember him telling the story of finding the three children crying and homeless, but I never asked, “What did you do?” Looking back, that really surprises me.
Dad’s story wasn’t much different from many of the children at The Children’s Home. He left his home in Kentucky at age 16 because of a disagreement in his family. He arrived by train in Amarillo when he was 17. He got off to have breakfast, looked around and said, “This place looks like it has potential!” and he stayed.
What is your connection to The Children’s Home?
While I’ve been a donor for many years, I visited The Children’s Home for the first time in March when I traveled from San Francisco with my wife and daughter to attend the Roots and Wings event. I toured Guy Saunders Cottage, visited with Darrin and saw “Neiman Marcus” where the children get to pick out items they need. I felt very good about it. I highly appreciate the new direction and respect the organization. It was a delightful time. If he could see the impact The Children’s Home continues to make, Dad would be very proud. He didn’t seek his own recognition. He was recognized, but not because of effort on his part. Dad just did things for the community. Amarillo was his home, and he felt it was his duty to give back in a variety of ways.
Have you also felt that burden to give back?
It was ingrained in me. I have been on the board of a few charities benefitting children – never with the depth or imagination that my Father did – but I grew up in a home that was benevolent to the people of the community, and it rubbed off. All of us are affected by our home environment. Certainly, these kids are affected by living in a loving and caring home. As a result, they can be better people than they likely could have been otherwise.
What do you believe is the long-term value of The Children’s Home?
All of us have a responsibility to help people who are, for one reason or another, without. The Children’s Home enables Amarillo to do just that. It gives children a homelike environment – allowing them to grow up in a good family – and gives the Amarillo community an opportunity to meet the obligation it has to care for its people.
To laugh often and to love much, to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of oneself; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know that even one life breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded. – Ralph Waldo Emerson