By Sandra Bretting
As the owners of Houston Foam Plastics—which makes custom packaging for computer companies, medical device makers and much more—Gene and Mary Lou Kurtz have spent decades protecting their customers’ products.
Now, their role as protectors extends to children, as well, as they become major supporters of Texas Children’s Hospital.
“It’s all about the children,” Mary Lou said. “We’ve been given so much; we feel it’s our responsibility to give back.”
In addition to donating to the hospital’s special events over the years, the Kurtzes recently gave $500,000 to the hospital’s Heal Sick Children campaign. They also support other community efforts and recently provided funds for a gym in Houston’s Fifth Ward that will help underprivileged children.
“Many of our employees work in and around the community center where the gym is located,” Gene said. “It all comes back to helping out families by helping out the children.”
It was 1997 when the Kurtzes launched their business, which designs and manufactures packaging solutions for clients. Since then, the company has grown to employ almost 500 staff members in Houston, as well as separate staffs in El Paso and San Antonio.
When the Kurtzes’ granddaughter Ainsley, now 8, needed medical care for a minor disorder, they were relieved to know she would be treated at Texas Children’s.
“Of course, it’s very nerve-wracking when there’s something wrong with a grandchild,” Mary Lou said. “But we never doubted she’d get the best possible care at Texas Children’s.”
Since pulling back from day-to-day operations at Houston Foam Plastics, Gene and Mary Lou enjoy spending time at their ranch in Seguin. Mary Lou—who began her career as a schoolteacher in North Dakota—also mentors a student at Hollibrook Elementary School in Spring Branch ISD every week.
It’s evident the Kurtzes’ community involvement has influenced the next generation: when the Houston Rodeo welcomed Hannah Montana in 2008, granddaughter Ainsley and her sister Mackenzie insisted on donating their tickets to the young patients of Texas Children’s Hospital.
“Like I said, we’ve been blessed,” Mary Lou said. “We firmly believe in the Biblical passage, ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.’”