Editor’s note: This is the final part of a series profiling East Texas high school graduates.

Brinkley Bounds was born into a family who could help provide her therapy when she needed. However, she knows not everyone has such fortunate circumstances.

That realization helped the Hallsville High School senior start a business that helps people access mental health services.

Brinkley founded the LemonAid Foundation while in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Brinkley’s father and brother are business owners, and she said she has the entrepreneurship gene also.

“I knew I wanted to start a business, but I knew I wanted to bew more than ‘I’ll work and I’ll make money,’ “ she said. “I personally really benefited from therapy and counseling. I was blessed enough to be born into a family that can afford it and could actually access it, so I wanted to extend that opportunity to other kids who maybe weren’t born into the situation I was born into.”

From there, LemonAid was born. Brinkley found a trailer, decorated it and sold lemonade in July in Canton. Since then, she’s sold drinks at other shows, parties, weddings and other events.

Now, Brinkley is able to donate $1,000 to counseling services at LeTourneau University.

The campus has its own counseling center open to students and the community that cost between $40 and $120 for a session. Brinkley’s donation will be able to reduce the costs of those services, she said.

She said the counseling available at LeTourneau will be able to help people going through mental health problems the same way she was helped.

“My middle school years were pretty rough. That’s how I ended up in Hallsville,” she said. “I faced a lot of bullying, a lot of ostracism, was not treated very nicely. I had a lot of mental health issues because of that. I really struggled. But I decided I needed help. I talked to my parents, and we thought counseling was a good idea for me to see a professional.”

The counseling she received turned around her situation. Brinkley is yearbook editor, a member of the National Honor Society, played tennis and will attend Baylor University in the fall. She will be in Baylor’s Honors College studying entrepreneurship on a pre-law track and will minor in photojournalism.

“If you had seen me eighth grade, freshman year, I would not have been able to do all this,” she said. “It’s really a blessing to be able to help other people access what benefited me so much. Sometimes you just need to talk to someone.”

Brinkley said she wants to continue the business in Waco.

“I know I want it to last as long as I can keep it going, which I know I can,” she said. “Maybe one day I’ll have a permanent location like Shivers and expand to other cities and have more awareness for mental health — not just me selling lemonade, but me working towards personally getting my hands dirty and helping.”

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Kristen is the News-Journal's education reporter. A Longview native, she got a journalism degree and a graduate certificate at Texas Tech University. She covers a variety of issues, including school finance, board meetings and happenings at local schools.