Jerry Chrisner


Jerry Chrisner’s father was in construction, so the family moved a lot, following the jobs around Texas.  Since these constant moves affected Jerry’s education, he was labeled a slow learner and assigned to Special Education classes.  At age 14, he went to live with his uncle in Mississippi and was placed in the State School where he was trained in woodworking, childcare and elder care.  After his first job as a live-in provider, Jerry enlisted in the Army and served as a cook for several years.   

When he left the service, Jerry lived at the Temple V.A. Domiciliary because of poor health and weight.  Despite these issues, Jerry worked two jobs.  Since he had always loved the movies and theater, he also began auditioning for the Temple Civic Theatre and appeared in numerous productions. 

In 2002, Jerry moved to Austin.  While going  to Austin Community College for Customer Service Support certification, Jerry began to wonder if his label as a slow learner was correct since he excelled in that and other certificate programs.  He also continued his love of movies by appearing in “Man of the House” with Tommy Lee Jones and the television show “Friday Night Lights.” 

When Jerry moved back to Bell County in 2010, he became a Temple Housing Authority resident.  Jerry’s health was extremely poor at this point as a result of obesity; however, he had many friends and decided that with their support and his willpower, things were going to change.  Jerry enrolled in CTHC’s GED classes, determined to prove to himself and others that he could succeed.  In 2012, Jerry earned his GED.  He enrolled at Temple College and will earn his Associate’s Degree in Computer Data Entry next year with the assistance of the CTHC scholarship program. 

Another goal for Jerry was to reduce his weight.  At 360 lbs., he was approved by the V. A. for bariatric surgery if he could lose 50 pounds on his own.  Jerry accomplished this quickly; however, before the surgery could occur, he was diagnosed with a form of cancer.  Eventually, he was declared cancer free, the surgery took place, and he has lost over 150 pounds.  Jerry also returned to the Temple Civic Theatre and won the role of “Vinnie” in the current production of “The Odd Couple.” 

Jerry proved to himself and others that he has a great deal to offer and the willpower to see it through.  He serves as a shining example of what is possible if you believe in yourself.