The Woman Who Saved The Wheeler House

The Wheeler House almost didn’t happen. In 2014, Serve Denton had $28,000 in the bank and $129,000 of invoices that were due. We were in the middle of renovating the building for The Wheeler House, a transitional housing facility for single moms and their kids. Today, the transitional housing is managed by Giving Hope, Inc. and a short-term shelter is managed by Grace Like Rain.

We had told Virgil Strange, our contractor, that we would have to stop the build out.

Then we received a call from local realtor Brent Chow informing us that someone had a rental property they were wanting to donate to Serve Denton for us to sell and use the profits to complete the construction of The Wheeler House.

That person was Dr. Cora Martin.

Dr. Cora Martin at the Serve Denton Center

Dr. Cora Martin at the Serve Denton Center

Who is Dr. Cora Martin?

Dr. Martin, now 90 years old, is a retired University of North Texas (UNT) professor who helped start the School of Community Services. She earned her Masters in Sociology from UNT and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas. Originally from East Texas, she traveled the world as a nurse and helped start the Masters of Gerontology program at UNT.

The idea of a one-stop shop for humanity in Denton was always a dream of the professors in the School of Community Services. In fact, Dr. Martin worked with former Denton Mayor Elinor Hughes who first came up with the idea of an assistance center for Denton. Learn more about our history here.

Why Serve Denton?

Dr. Martin had inherited three rental properties and was looking to sell them and have the proceeds go to good causes. She gave the first house to her daughter, gave the second house to Habitat for Humanity, and the third house to Serve Denton.

Dr. Martin was reading the Denton Record-Chronicle when she came across a story about The Wheeler House—the cause resonated with her. That is when she decided to donate her third property to Serve Denton.

There was only two weeks between the phone call from Brent Chow informing us about the house and the sale of the house. The house sold for $101,000; precisely what was needed to finish transforming the old Wheeler Print building into The Wheeler House.

Dr. Cora Martin and Priscilla Sanders at the Serve Denton Center

Dr. Cora Martin and Priscilla Sanders at the Serve Denton Center

Dr. Martin recently came to see the new Serve Denton Center on Loop 288. “Serve Denton is something to be really proud of,” she said.

Because of Dr. Martin’s gift, Serve Denton exists today. Her financial gift was the largest we had received at that point, and it opened doors for others to give and — to this day — allows us to continue to grow

Dr. Martin’s gift has allowed over 110 moms and children to be served at The Wheeler House to date. By allowing us to expand, we now have 13 nonprofit partners under one roof at the Serve Denton Center with three more coming later this year. We expect to serve 16,000 people in our first year of being fully operational.


Serve Denton is something to be really proud of.
— Dr. Cora Martin

Serve Denton is so thankful for Dr. Martin’s generosity. It opened up opportunities to grow that at the time seemed impossible.

If you would like to support Serve Denton as well, please consider joining our Circle of Support or contributing to our Capital Campaign. You don’t have to donate a rental property to make a big difference. Every gift counts


Support Serve Denton Today!