A Bit of HAPS History

For fifty years, our mission has endured…

In 1974, a small group of families gathered around a table to discuss the need for support to help their loved ones who were facing the daily challenges of Parkinson’s disease. These 18 family members united in their vision and formed what is known today as Houston Area Parkinson Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making sure that no one faces a Parkinson’s diagnosis alone. 

For the first 20 years, HAPS operations were primarily managed by volunteers whose lives were impacted by the disease. HAPS hired its first permanent, full-time paid Executive Director in 1994, and within two short years, the organization expanded its service area to eight counties within metropolitan Houston. HAPS has responded to the escalating need for Parkinson’s support services by adding licensed Master’s level social workers to develop social services and education programs and facilitate support groups; implementing innovative therapeutic exercise groups like tango, dance, and boxing; and by creating a national model for Parkinson’s patient support organizations while remaining independent.

Five decades later, HAPS continues to be the only Parkinson’s support organization in the Houston region offering free therapeutic exercise and support groups, comprehensive social services, education, transportation, emergency financial aid and respite care. We continue to our mission by using a whole-human approach to community building and in doing so, reduce the fear and isolation associated with a Parkinson’s diagnosis. HAPS is a member of the national Independent Parkinson’s Network (IPN), and is led by three dynamic Boards: Board of Directors, Board of Advisors and Medical Advisory Board.

Below is a video, created in 2014, about our first 40 years as an organization. A lot happened in the ten years that followed. As a community, we endured Hurricane Harvey, a global pandemic and more. HAPS stayed the course and adapted as the needs of those we serve changed.  

As we look back on our beginnings, we look ahead to the future with the commitment and promise to provide support and essential services that enable people with Parkinson’s to live with the best quality of life possible – until a cure is found.