In March 1985 a small group of energetic, determined ladies, who wanted to make a difference in their community, met and decided to “organize.” They joined forces with Assistance League of Houston to become their first auxiliary—that was the beginning of the Lake Conroe Auxiliary of Assistance League of Houston, later to become Assistance League of Montgomery County. Forty-one ladies became charter members.

A 900-square-foot Thrift Shop on Houston Street in downtown Conroe was opened, with that initial year spent organizing the first philanthropic program, Prime Time Treasures, which allowed senior citizens to sell their crafts and earn a little extra income to enhance their quality of life. The “41” cleaned out their closets and kitchen cabinets and filled the Thrift Shop with goods to sell.

During those early stages, if the Thrift Shop earned $25 – $50, it was a HUGE day. Cigar boxes were used for supplies, and adding machines were cash registers. The biggest issue then became where to get more donations. As one member put it, they solved that problem eventually by becoming friendly with all their neighbors and convincing them to clean their closets and cabinets and donate to the chapter.

When the 900-square-foot space became too small to meet the needs of the chapter, it transitioned through two shopping center locations.  Then in 2000, the first steps were taken to look for sites to build the chapter’s own facility.  An acre of property at the corner of San Jacinto and Collins (now Metcalf) in downtown Conroe was purchased in 2002, and the newly-constructed Thrift Shop opened for business on July 7, 2003.

The loan for the new building was paid in full in December 2004 – made possible by a sizeable gift from the James D. Nunan Estate.  In 2006, in honor of Mr. Nunan, the membership approved a new philanthropic program, Scholarship.

The chapter owns the current 11,850-square-foot building and after two expansion projects, the Thrift Shop takes up 5,455 square feet of space, with the additional area being used for processing incoming donations, a kitchen, and office space.  In the spring of 2018, existing floor space used for storage was rearranged into over 300 square feet of additional sales floor space.

In 1994, with the growth in membership, philanthropic programs, clothing donations, and funds, Assistance League of Houston and the National Assistance League Board approved the status of Assistance League of Lake Conroe Area as a guild of National Assistance League. On March 13, 1995, the guild became the 92nd chapter to be chartered by National Assistance League. Then in 2003, the membership of Assistance League of Lake Conroe Area approved a name change to Assistance League of Montgomery County to better reflect the demographic makeup of the membership and the community served.

Operation School Bell®the signature program of National Assistance League, was started in 1988. That year 33 students were provided with new clothing to start school.  Since then, over 60,000 students have received new school clothing. All six school districts in Montgomery County are invited to participate by referrals from the counselors.

Poison Information – Always Ask™ was also started in 1988.  Through it, Assistance League of Montgomery County continues to tell a story educating students in Montgomery County preschools and kindergartens throughout the county about poisonous substances.

Other programs include Assault Survivor Kits®, since 1994, which provides comfort kits to assault and trauma survivors in county hospitals. In 1997, two new programs were formed. Fans for Friends provides fans or blankets to local agencies that serve the economically disadvantaged, and Passport for Good Health™ provides health record booklets to mothers of newborns and seniors.

Scholarship is the second largest program. Since 2006, scholarships have been awarded to high school seniors, adults returning to education, and mentally- or physically-challenged individuals for therapeutic programs. Tender Loving Care Dolls, started in 2006, provides therapy dolls to counselors. In 2010, Pass It On was begun to provide a way to allow agencies to benefit from unsold merchandise. Caring and Sharing, begun in 2013, provides Welcome Home baskets and basic needs items for residents moving from homelessness into a home for the first time, as well as many other services.

We have only just begun to make the difference we want to make in the lives of the residents of our community. There remain more students to clothe, more families to feed, and more students who need help to further their education and better provide for themselves and their families. As in its beginnings in 1985, the now 240+ all-volunteer organization continues to transform lives and strengthen community in Montgomery County.