Sisters Pala Reid Hammond and Kimber Reid Marshall have owned a building that their father, Jack Reid, used to run his appliance business out of for years. Since the business closed more than 30 years ago, the sisters have waited far too long for someone to take the building.
While the Reids had been trying to sell the property at 129 W. Second St. in Freeport, one request had to be met — the property had to be used in some way to give back to the community. Giving back was a staple of who Jack Reid was.
“He was always about giving back,” Marshall said. “He gave back to Lake Jackson, he served in Lake Jackson, he gave back to Freeport and he would be thrilled for this to be repurposed for this group of kids.
“It is a dream we have had in trying to do something for this building, and it is a miracle.”
“Our heart has always been in Lake Jackson, Angleton and Freeport,” Hammond said. “We are local at heart. And talking with JT, he has a lot of the same viewpoints as our dad did.”
More than a year ago, the sisters found a perfect match when TJ Pena, founder and coach of the newly-formed Brazoria County select baseball team, was looking for a place to serve as a safe haven for youth in Freeport.
With the three coming together Monday in downtown Freeport, their collaboration could be a game-changer for future generations.
“I am eager to get this thing going,” Pena said. “I am eager to give back to the community, eager to give back to Freeport. I grew up here my whole life before I went to the military, and I know what these kids out here need.
“They need a place where they can feel safe, a place they can come and not just play around but learn discipline, have structure, life lessons and have someone guide them.”
Reid retained the appliance portion of a lumber company he ran until the 1950s and founded Jack Reid Appliances, which he and his wife ran until he retired in 1991, according to his obituary. The store moved from one corner of downtown Freeport to the other corner on Second Street as the business expanded, the sisters said.
After Reid’s retirement, the sisters and brother Randal Reid leased the property rent-free to Brazosport ISD for about 10 years, Hammond said. Their father died July 29, 2015, at the age of 89.
Since then, the property has sat vacant for about 15 years, the sisters said, despite accumulating interested parties for the property over the years.
“We were never able to agree that that was the right person to sell to or it wasn’t a good fit,” Marshall said. “Then last year, it all came together.”
The only good fit for the sisters would have been someone wanting to use the property to serve the community, they said.
“Salvation Army, one of the churches — we reached out to several organizations in town, and it was either too big, too small or too much work to be done,” Marshall said. “But our purpose was always to let the community use it.”
That’s where Pena comes in.
Freeport has always been home to Pena. He graduated from Brazosport High School in 2007 and left the coastal community from 2008 to 2011 to serve his country. Since he returned, he has had his hand in the proverbial cookie jar of guiding youth.
Pena started the Brazoria County select baseball team in September 2021 for kids ages 7 to when they graduate high school. The team has played games at the Lake Jackson Little League fields, Pena said, but his vision to help youth in the Brazosport area was years in the making.
“I have always been the type to help kids and help the youth get better in anything they can in sports or life,” Pena said. “My little boy was like, I want to play select ball, and that’s when I started a team. When we started the select baseball team, I thought, ‘I want to start an organization, so I contacted people about a nonprofit 501c. Once we got that, then we started looking.”
The building Pena bought was not his first choice; the building next door that housed Epic Resale Shop was the one he was eyeing. Realtor Amanda Badawy reached out to Marshall and told her Pena’s story; he said. Then Marshall wanted to donate the building to him, he said.
“I feel like God has prepared me for this point,” Pena said. “I have learned a lot in life. Growing up, I wasn’t a perfect kid, but I had coaches in my life helping me, inspiring me to want to give back and help inspire these kids.
“I want to let them know that Brazoria County is not just about working in the plant. I want to open their eyes, let them travel and see everything outside this area through this organization.”
Freeport city officials have advised Pena to have the building demolished, which the sisters said they understood and believed would be the best scenario for him.
“And if it doesn’t work for them to build here, we want them to sell, get what they can for the land and use it for their purpose,” Marshall said.
ONE DAY AT A TIME
Pena was originally looking at properties in the area for the Freeport Boxing Club before he answered the call to start a select team.
Baseball and softball are the organization’s foundation for community outreach. However, the goal of the Freeport building is not just a place for kids who want to play sports but also as an academic facility.
“I don’t want them thinking they have to play a sport to come here. No. You just have to be a kid to come here,” Pena said. “Maybe you don’t play sports; you want to learn. This is going to be somewhere they can come and learn for free.
“This is going to be a safe spot for kids to hang out.”
In the meantime, Pena is trying to take things one day at a time. Pena is unfamiliar with leading a nonprofit and securing a building that is years out of date on its code enforcement, so he is seeking help wherever he can get it.
He believes the building will need to be razed, and he is working with the City of Freeport on that process, he said.
“I am so thrilled that the city is supporting him,” Marshall said. “I had talked to the city manager, the mayor, the lady that helped set up his nonprofit about what we were trying to do, and everybody was very supportive. You never know when you are knocking on the door if they are going to go with it, and they are.”
City employees Pena has met with have told him his best bet is to knock it down and rebuild it, Pena said. Still, he is seeking help from the community to get the project off the ground.
“I want to get the (Freeport) LNGs and the Dows, small companies, any company to get involved and let them know we’re doing this for our youth and our future,” he said. “This is for the long run. This is not something that is going to be here while my kids are young; I want it to be here where my kids are at the point sitting here at my age with their kids and grandkids.”
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