The Light Lingers for Wengers and Hope Rekindles with a Lot of Friends


By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: When they were alive, Shobha and Alan Wenger would throw a party each June for the mentally challenged kids and adults at the Hope Village which is in Friendswood, not far from their home in Clear Lake. A caring couple who were involved with many other community activities, they brought a ray of sunshine to those in the Village which is a residential assisted living facility and service provider for people with mental retardation.


Hope Village was started in 1967 by Bill and Lucille Williams when they sought care for their daughter Sally, who was diagnosed with mental retardation. The first home opened in 1970 with six residents. Since then, it has grown substantially to handle kids from 6 years-old to adulthood living in five homes on the Village campus on 18 acres of land donated by Louis and Hildegard Strey.


Shobha Wenger passed away six months ago in February, seven years after her husband of 30 years, Alan died. Both were also instrumental in starting up a local charity, Friends Helping Friends, which has provided free healthcare and last rites services to all residents of the Houston area for the past seven years. And the Board of FHF, many of whom knew the Wengers well, wanted to remember them for their tremendous generosity by once again keeping the tradition of the June festivity alive.


In that spirit, FHF sponsored the “ Dance, Music, Food, Fun” event at the Hope Village on July 8 in memory of Shobha, Alan and their daughter Suji Wenger who also passed away just a little earlier than her mom, with the help of their surviving son Doug, Shobha’s sister Asha Kapadia and a few other family friends.  Almost 200 residents of the Village enjoyed the food and dance at their newly built facility with the help of Lisa Davis, the Day Program Manager and Recreational Director at the Hope Village.