There are few business owners in the Cy-Fair area who are more dedicated to improving the community than Mark McShaffry, owner of the Backyard Grill and Backyard Smokehouse.
McShaffry, who moved to the Cy-Fair area in 1996, has been serving up burgers and sandwiches at The Backyard Grill since 2001, but it has been his nonstop work with local nonprofits and education groups that sets him apart from the average business owner.
Several years ago, McShaffry's was involved with delivering meals on Christmas Eve to families in the city of Houston. Over time, he grew inclined to focus his efforts more locally.
"All I could think about was the distance I was driving and all the people in Cy-Fair who needed those meals and could have easily received them," he said.
Since that time, McShaffry has made helping children in Cy-Fair the main focus of his charitable endeavors. He serves as a board member for local nonprofit Cy-Hope, where he is involved in the group's backpack program, delivering backpacks filled with meals to lower income students.
"This year we delivered to Millsap Elementary," McShaffry said. "We do around 30–45 meals, but Cy-Hope does more than 2,000 for 60 schools as a whole."
McShaffry has made Cy-Hope his charity of choice since it was founded four years ago. His business, the Backyard Grill, hosts regular charity events to raise money for Cy-Hope, including an annual golf tournament called BYG Bash.
"Anything we do as far as donations is done to help children in Cy-Fair," he said. "People in the community know Cy-Hope is important to me."
McShaffry is also involved in education as a board member with the Cy-Fair Educational Foundation, where he helps with fundraising and organizing events such as the BF Adam Golf Tournament and Cy-Hoops basketball tournament.
"We broadened fundraising two years ago by selling raffle tickets outside of the actual golf tournament so anyone could win," McShaffry said. "In the first two years we raised an extra $2,000 just by selling tickets at our restaurants."
Apart from his work with students and education groups, McShaffry has also been an active member of the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce. His work with the chamber and his dedication to helping other businesses connect with the community earned him the "Chairman's Award" in January. He was also named a Cy-Fair ISD "Friend of Education" for the 2013–14 school year.
McShaffry said he recognizes the importance of helping other business owners connect with the Cy-Fair community. His favorite memories have been watching businesses start out and grow more involved in the community over time. Among the businesses McShaffry took an interest in helping, Consolidated Mills—run by brothers Keith and Scott Vrana—was named small business of the year by both the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber and Lone Star College System in 2013.
"We met Mark about three years ago and right off the bat you can't help but be impressed with his energy and his dedication to the community," Keith said. "I believe that good people gravitate toward good people. We saw what Mark was doing and wanted to follow in his footsteps."