At Buckner Children’s Village, widower extends late wife’s legacy of care

A Beaumont-area veterans' group joined Art Weiner for an Independence Day party involving children served by Buckner in Southeast Texas.

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BEAUMONT—The first thing Art Weiner sees when he wakes up each morning and the last thing he sees before nodding off to bed at night is her photograph. She’s his everything and always will be—his beloved wife, Alice.

“She was the most wonderful person I’ve ever known,” he said. “We were only married 71 years. We were more than the usual married couple. We were friends.”

Caring for vulnerable children

She lost her extended battle with Alzheimer’s disease, but he carries on fighting for the causes she would have wanted. He’s particularly supportive of Alzheimer’s research and caring for vulnerable children, including those Buckner serves in Southeast Texas

He offers financial support to Buckner Children’s Village. His generosity and passion have helped minister to children when they are most vulnerable.

He’s also sponsored parties that bring the children in Buckner Emergency Shelter together so they can relax and enjoy themselves. Children come to the shelter, where Buckner staff members assess their needs so they can find the best match with foster families.

“Children are simply drawn to Mr. Weiner,” said Laura May, executive director of Buckner in Southeast Texas. “He’s made an incredible difference in their lives when they most need it. They gather near him to hear his stories and soak in his wisdom. He inspires children to do their best in school and reach their full potential.”

Creating special memories for children

Time and time again, he creates very special memories for the boys and girls at Buckner. Most notably, the children joined him for an Independence Day party that included a local veterans group, as well as guests from Pelican Bay Assisted Living Community.  

“It was a very memorable moment, watching the children’s faces as two of America’s finest demonstrated the folding of the flag,” Weiner said. “They shared the meaning of the flag and the ceremony. Most of the boys and girls had never seen this before, and they loved it.”

Young people particularly love hearing stories of when Weiner played baseball.

“They’re willing to talk,” he said. “They want to talk. We talk about all kinds of things. That’s what this is all about—to provide educational materials and meet their needs.”

Weiner has connected with the children and enjoys providing opportunities that allow them to tuck away memories of special events they never will forget. The majority of the children he visits reside in the emergency shelter at Buckner for 30 to 90 days, and although he rarely sees the same child twice, he connects with each group he visits in the same way.

“They are kids who have gone through a tragedy,” he said. “Their lives have been disrupted, and they aren’t quite sure what’s going to happen to them next. I just encourage them to get an education, study, work hard and choose to do something in life that they enjoy doing. Then it’s not work. The sky’s the limit to what they can do with their lives.”

Looking at the picture of his wife, Weiner smiles. She would have been proud to see the joy on the children’s faces at Buckner.

“Everything I do is in her name,” he said. “Everyone knows of her. I have a huge photograph of her in our bedroom. It’s what I see before I go to sleep. It’s what I see when I wake up. I talk to her. I talk to her all the time. I talk to her about what I’m doing on her behalf.”

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