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Villas’ generosity in past rewarded in time of need

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SHEILA HATFIELD
Ellis County Press
FERRIS - What goes around, comes around.
That old expression has taken on a whole new local meaning with the outpouring of offers from customers to help rebuild the recently burned Ferris landmark, Bea's Coffee Bar Grill.

In the three short years Bulmaro (Bull) and Gail Villa have owned the café, their generosity has become almost as famous though-out Ellis County, as the 54-year-old, filmmaking-favorite building itself.

'We made a promise to ourselves that if we ever had our own restaurant, we would make sure those who couldn't afford to eat, wouldn't go hungry,' said Gail Villa.

Making good on that promise, the Villas didn't stop there. They regularly donate food and funds to literally any organization in need.

They donate briskets to church fundraisers, turkey dinners to seniors, toys to children at Christmas, sponsor little league, help feed and find homes for the city's stray animals, open their café for various health issue classes, and much more.

With the 'shoe on the other foot,' the fire hadn't even been totally extinguished before friends and customers had collected a couple hundred dollars from local business owners to help the Villas.

Knowing it would take much, much more - Rodney Barker, a loyal customer whose wife, Carla, is a former Bea's waitress, began plans early the next morning for a large city-wide fundraiser to help the owners, employees and rebuilding of the café.

The fundraiser - a huge auction, cookout and street dance - will be held on the downtown square in Ferris on Saturday, Aug. 4 from 5 p.m. ‘till as late as people want to stay.

Ferris old-timers and newbies alike joined together at a meeting last Thursday to 'hash out' ideas for the fundraiser to get the restaurant back on its feet.

Marietta Allen, Ferris Main Street director, and members of the Ferris Downtown Association hosted the meeting at the old movie theatre on Church Street.

Barker was put in charge of entertainment.

His initial plan calls for two or three different bands to entertain, while brisket dinners are served for about $6 to $7 per plate.

Jimmy Don Allen will cook catfish for fish fry plates, with some of the fish donated by Glazier, a food distributor out of Hutchins.

Donated items for the live auction will include a coke machine; a four-year-old Arabian mare, donated by Mary Grones of Mary's Mercantile; a Victorian lampshade from Marietta Allen of Victorian Lamp Shades; a $1,000-value three-foot tall bronze cowboy and horse statue, donated by Teresa Schiffer of Cash and Mail Emporium; a DVD player donated by Skyline Landfill; a storage building from Woodmaster; a James Dean doll; a neuter/spay from Ennis Veterinarian Clinic; and lots more.

A second auction - a silent auction - will be held on the square throughout the evening, with many gift certificates, subscriptions, and smaller items.

First Baptist Church will donate the use of a dunking booth to help raise funds.

Mary Gean Cope, pastor of First United Methodist Church and president of the Ferris Lions Club, will be in charge of contacting the other churches in town, and will donate the use of the Lions Club booths for the cookout.

Mayor Jimmy Birdwell said the city will help by sponsoring the event on the downtown square and will donate tables and chairs to be used during the festivities.

'These are nice people, and they do a lot for the community,' said Birdwell.

Ferris Fire Department, Ferris ISD and Ferris Downtown Association will also provide tables and chairs.

Skyline Landfill will provide cardboard trash receptacles.

June Hamm, who prepares Bea's famous home-cooked pies, will have pies available for sale or auction.

Coca Cola will donate drinks.

Carol Wright donated the use of electricity and her building front (beside the old Green's Hardware Store) for the food booths.

The Dorsey Gang at KSCS Radio Station (FM 96.3) will help promote the fundraiser. Brother Van said, 'We would like to help.'

He said Bea's Café was one of the first places they used to broadcast their new on-the-road-type program about five years ago.

Fire fighter volunteers will also help set up the festivities, but more help is being sought.

The group said they need volunteers to set up and clean crock pots of beans. Additional help toward restoring the business is being sought.

Festivities will set up from10 a.m. to noon in front of the Ferris City Hall at 100 Town Plaza.

G&S Storage of Ferris has donated the use of two large storage buildings to store the restaurant's furniture and furnishings while the building is being restored and cleaned.

Other contractors and business have donated paint, plywood, etc., but much more is needed.

Anyone who would like to help may call Melanie Queen at Cash and Mail Emporium at 972-842-8448, or Rodney and Carla Barker at 972-842-2359 or 214-675-7145.

A special donation account has been opened at Commercial State Bank in Ferris, payable to 'Special Account' no. 00-2911-6.

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