Since 2007, Trinity Oaks has helped tens of thousands of people experience the outdoors, through hunting, fishing, shooting and other activities—people who might not otherwise have had access to these experiences.
Based in San Antonio, Texas, Trinity Oaks is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded on the premise that active participation in the outdoors is a powerful, healing and fundamentally life-changing experience. The staff and volunteers at Trinity Oaks use hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities to make a real difference in peoples’ lives.
Specifically, Trinity Oaks programs support Purple Heart and combat veterans, families suffering through the terminal illness of one of their members, children with special needs and underprivileged youth. In addition, the organization processes and distributes over 100,000 pounds of game meat annually to address food insecurity and hunger throughout Texas.
Trinity Oaks provides dream trips for wounded warriors, the terminally ill, special needs children and underprivileged youth. The experience of being outdoors and being treated like family allows for fear to abate, if even for a moment, and for a positive outlook to take root. (Image courtesy of Trinity Oaks.)
“Trinity Oaks uses outdoor experiences as a lever to instill a more positive attitude and spirit in people who have been going through a hard time,” said Trinity Oaks co-founder Tom Snyder. “Those experiences help people look at the world with a bit more hope. The shift to a more positive take on life happens through a combination of treating all of our participants as family while being in a natural setting.”
Snyder shared that instilling a more positive view of life through outdoor experiences isn’t something quantifiable through numbers or flow charts.
He added, “However, the personal testimonies shared with us illustrate the philosophical shift in their lives to a more positive outlook, a reconnection to nature, and how they are better able to relate to friends and family after a Trinity Oaks experience.”
Snyder described his childhood as “difficult and impoverished” but came away from his youth with a “spirit of humble thanksgiving” for the good and positive aspects of life. As his career success mounted—he is the owner of the regional Colonial Life Insurance office in Garden Ridge, a suburb of San Antonio—he kept looking for ways to share his passion for the outdoors and to give back to the community. The result was Trinity Oaks, co-founded with his wife, Nona. On an annual basis, Trinity Oaks is able to offer more than 100 events for people who can benefit from once-in-a-lifetime outdoor-based experiences, and hunting and the shooting sports are a big part of what the program offers. On an annual basis, Trinity Oaks is able to offer more than 100 events for people who can benefit from once-in-a-lifetime outdoor-based experiences, and hunting and the shooting sports are a big part of what the program offers.
Attesting to the tremendous impact such events have had on the lives of others is Trinity Oaks Executive Director Brittany Longoria, who hosted a fundraising pigeon shoot with her husband, Ricardo, for the NRA Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) last October. “Annually, we work with 50-plus terminally ill people providing last Dream Trips, over 1,000 combat and wounded veterans on Hero Celebrations, over 3,000 youth and more than 50 special-needs children through our David’s Day for Unique Kids program.” In addition, Longoria said Trinity Oaks processes and distributes more than 100,000 pounds of game meat throughout Texas to those in need.
As for the Trinity Oaks/NRA connection, Longoria, who also supports the NRA’s efforts on behalf of hunters through the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF), shared a note about Trinity Oaks’ NRA fundraising event. “It was the perfect opportunity to bring these two great, like-minded, organizations together to share stories and double the impact,” she said. “For me, it was very important to host an event to share with friends and family the mission of the NRA HLF and WLF. Often the public is bombarded with the media’s version of what the NRA does politically, but it is also a powerhouse for hunters’ rights and the protection of our outdoor lifestyle.”
Trinity Oaks is a faith-based organization that welcomes the individual's family as part of its own family, which creates more lasting memories for everyone who goes on the dream trips. (Image courtesy of Trinity Oaks.)
Promoting that outdoor lifestyle is what Trinity Oaks continues to do. But Snyder says not only do hunting and shooting sports participants get the opportunity to get outdoors and connect with other people. These experiences provide yet another benefit in reaching mainstream America.
“People who hunt or shoot for the first time with us often find their attitudes about firearms changing in a more positive way,” Snyder noted. “They don’t fear them like they have in the past. This is especially true of the parents who have their kids attend our H2O Youth Days.”
These parents see the safe firearms handling and safety and education that go into all Trinity Oaks hunting and shooting programs and come away with the sense that firearms are essentially tools, neither good nor bad. The “bad,” by the way, has often been instilled in these parents thanks to an anti-gun media.
Snyder noted that while a lack of actual, physical access to the outdoors can be a barrier to the kinds of experiences Trinity Oaks provides, money is another very real hurdle.
“Often, the price to participate in hunting, fishing and outdoor activities is a limiting factor,” he said. “We believe that there should be no cost to participate in our events, and we rely on the generosity of hundreds of supporters. And with our programs evolving and growing, our need for that support is more crucial than ever for us to continue to offer the Trinity Oaks mission programs.”
“I am very proud to work in support of an organization that remains dedicated to giving a moment in time to touch the lives of others in such a profound way.” —Karen Lutto, Hunter Outdoor Communications Helping to spread the good word about Trinity Oaks is Karen Lutto, owner and president of Hunter Outdoor Communications in Boerne, Texas, who handles its public relations.
“I am very proud to work in support of an organization that remains dedicated to giving a moment in time to touch the lives of others in such a profound way,” said Lutto. “Trinity Oaks operates with a 98-percent volunteer base and two paid employees—a part-time executive director and a full-time meat processor—with all events made possible through donations. While promoting this wonderful organization, our firm also will be able to support Trinity Oaks’ efforts to highlight the importance of hunters and hunting to the future of wildlife conservation.”
About the Author: Brian McCombie is a field editor and editorial contributor for the NRA's American Hunter. He writes about firearms and gear for the NRA's Shooting Illustrated website, as well as handling public relations and marketing for companies and manufacturers in the shooting sports industry. He is a member of the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Brian likes hunting hogs, shooting 1911s chambered in 10 mm and .45 ACP, watching the Chicago Bears and relaxing with Squinchy, the orange tabby cat.