CWJC: Nurturing Women, Transforming Lives in Waco

By Anna Hoffman

I first heard about Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) Waco 5 years ago when I joined “Women of Waco” for business networking. We often talked about the needs of CWJC and we regularly gathered items for the students. One WOW meeting 3 years ago the director told the group that they had a need for a volunteer to teach night class Bible Study. I had already wanted to be more involved and here was my chance. 

Here it is 3 years later, and it is clear that CWJC, the students and the leaders have had more of an impact on me than I have had on them. 

The reason I volunteer is to be a part of something that encourages and equips women. My goal with the Bible Study is to do these same things by reminding the students of two things that encompass a great amount of truth: 1) That there is hope for their future. 2) That God deeply loves them. I want to be involved with an organization that is doing this very thing. At various times in all of our lives, we need to be reminded of these two things. In a Bible Study or through a devotional reading this can be simply done. One of my favorite things to do is to remind others that God loves them and that He is for them. Not because of something we did or didn’t do, but because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This is what motivates me to be dedicated to the ladies of CWJC and to their mission to “Nurture Women & Transform Lives.” This is what motivates me to give of my time, resources, and money. The Baskets of Hope fundraiser is designed to give us ALL the opportunity to remind others there is hope for the future and that God seriously loves them. Accomplishing this mission day in and day out comes at a cost. 

If we all come together, teachers, mentors, staff, volunteers, donors, and students for this all-encompassing mission of “Nurturing Women, Transforming Lives” the impact will be immeasurable. We will have ladies who are educated with their GED and have the tools to find a good job. But more importantly these same ladies will know they have a community of people who support them and a Savior who loves them. Then they can pass that on.… Hope for the future!

Supporting CWJC Waco brings transformation and hope to women across McLennan County. Join our mission by exploring ways to give at or contact us at 254-757-0416 for more information.

Anna Hoffman has served for several years as a community leader and community relations director advocating for the care of the sick and elderly. She is the Community Relations Director for Visiting Angels where she has the privilege of serving local healthcare professionals and seniors. Because of her years of being the wife of a wonderful husband, the mother of two amazing kids, a grandmother, a pastor’s wife, and music director, she brings with her a compassionate heart to help connect her clients to the right services for their needs. Anna is actively involved in various community organizations – serving on the board of the Greater Hewitt Chamber of Commerce, chairing events for the Alzheimer’s Association, serving as the President of the Women of Waco, and teaching weekly Bible study at CWJC Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

CWJC: Igniting a Passion for Change

By Cindy Gough

My passion for this ministry started years ago. As a single mom for many years, I struggled with schedules, job, finances, family time and any type of “me” time that I could squeeze in. I always felt blessed to be where I was at that exact moment, but always in the back of my mind, I wanted to do more, provide more and be proud of my accomplishments. As important, I wanted to make my kids proud of their mom!

I see those same struggles with the women that come to Christian Women’s Job Corps. I see different backgrounds, different lost opportunities, different sacrifices made over the years and lots of hope in their hearts for a CHANGE!

All women, no matter what their age or situation, want to be proud of who they are and want to have self-esteem and confidence. So many of our women in this ministry are strong and brave and have already achieved so much. I got involved with CWJC Waco to provide that “helping hand” that we’ve all needed at some point in our lives. If we can help change a woman’s education, give her some courage and strength, skills to reach a level perhaps she never dreamed of, and bring her closer to God and renew her faith, then we have done our job at CWJC.

All of this is offered to our women free of charge. We provide that helping hand, a teacher, a volunteer, an education, computer training, a variety of curriculum, a relationship with Jesus Christ, and all at no cost to them. This is only made possible through our generous donors and those that have worked tirelessly over the years. Like every non-profit, we must have fundraisers and monthly donations to keep this ministry viable for the women in our community. Please join us in this campaign and see what you feel you can do financially to help women in their quest to be stronger, gain power in themselves and their families and see a renewed spirit in each of them.

Supporting CWJC Waco brings change to lives across McLennan County. Join our mission by exploring ways to give at or contact us at 254-757-0416 for more information.

Cindy Gough is a Realtor with Camille Johnson, Realtors here in Waco, Texas. Cindy loves her business and helping clients as well as helping others in her community. She spends many hours serving her community and is involved in her church at Highland Baptist in Waco. Cindy has served on multiple Boards in different agencies across the Waco area. Cindy is a big Baylor Bear fan and loves spending her time off with her family and her 5 grandkids!

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

Partner with Communities In Schools to Grow Your Business

By Jillian Jones

Communities In Schools of the Heart of Texas (CISHOT) has been known for over 30 years for providing wraparound services to thousands of students and families in the many school districts across our Heart of Texas region. However, many people may not know that Communities In Schools serves youth beyond their school years and into adulthood as well. The Workforce Development Program at CISHOT provides case management, career advancement services, and real-life work experience to young adults to help them work towards post-secondary education and careers that provide stability and opportunity.  

CISHOT intern, Tiffany, settles into her new full-time position at Friends For Life after completing her 8-week internship through the Workforce Development program.

One of the more tangible ways young adults break into the job market is through internships. Internships provide the participant with valuable insight into a career field they may be interested in, as well as access to mentorship and guidance from more experienced workers. Employers can also use internships as vital training time that is needed before an intern can receive a full-time job offer.

While internships have tangible benefits for both the participant and the employer, we understand internships can be costly for an employer and unpaid internships are not as attractive to young people or as common as they used to be.

This is where the Workforce Development Program at Communities In Schools of the Heart of Texas plays a role. With funding and support from the Heart of Texas Workforce Development Board, Communities In Schools is able to provide internships on a year-round, rolling basis at dozens of local businesses across all sectors and industries. These short-term internships are completely free for an employer who volunteers to host an interested participant, as CISHOT acts as the employer of record and covers all wages paid to the intern for the duration of the internship.

CISHOT intern, Enrique, works on his kitchen skills in the food & Beverage Department at the Hilton Waco Hotel & Restaurant.

The job market is changing rapidly as we navigate through the pandemic. While some employers are downsizing or shifting to permanent virtual work, others may be having trouble finding enough qualified applicants to return to normal operations. If you’re an employer who is looking to hire or fill open positions amidst the uncertainty, please consider hosting an intern (or two!) through the Workforce Development Program at CISHOT. All interns participate in a four-hour New Hire Training course covering workplace basics and safety guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Our 2020 Fall cohort will start on October 12 and will work through December 11. We are looking to expand our employer base and would love to work with YOU on a partnership that can benefit young adults in our community and help your business grow through this season of change!

Jillian Jones is the Director of the Workforce Development Program at Communities In Schools of the Heart of Texas. Jillian is a Waco native and a graduate of Baylor University and the University of North Carolina. She enjoys reading, cooking, spending time with family, doing anything outdoors, and worrisome amounts of online shopping. She has a husband, Jenner, and a dog, Buddy.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.orgfor more information.

Renovation Complete at Historic Greenwood Cemetery

Press release, City of Waco. Additional Notes, Ashley Bean Thornton

The City of Waco is holding a Virtual Ribbon Cutting to mark the completion of the renovation of the Greenwood Cemetery.  The edited virtual ribbon cutting celebration ceremony will air on WCCC-TV (available on Spectrum and Grande cable channel 10 and on the web at at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 15.

Greenwood Cemetery is Waco’s second oldest cemetery, dating back to 1875.  While Greenwood is the final resting place for many of Waco’s famous and widely celebrated citizens, it has struggled with the legacy of a segregated past. 

The $435,000 improvement project was a collaborative effort to remove the boundaries that separated the “White section” from the “Black section” and place the entire cemetery within the City of Waco’s care.  Working together were families, citizens and former cemetery association members along with the Texas Historical Commission, Texas Department of Transportation, People’s Cemetery Association, McLennan County, Methodist Children’s Home and the City of Waco.

Here are some brief notes about just a few of the notable people who are buried at Greenwood.

Robert Bevis (1889 – 1972)

Robert Bevis was born in Austin. He attended Tillotson College there.  He later received a Master of Arts from Denver University in Colorado.  He organized South Waco Colored Elementary School (later named Oakwood School) in 1914.  He was the first principal and served in that role for for 44 years (1914 – 1959), minus one year for serving in WWI.  In November of 1915 South Waco Colored School moved into the first brick school for Negroes to be erected in Waco.  

Jules Bledsoe (1899 – 1943)

Even as a young child, Jules Bledose loved to sing.  He gave his first performance, age five, at New Hope Baptist Church. In 1918 he Graduated Magna Cum Laude from Bishop College.  In 1920 he began studying medicine at Columbia University.  After taking voice lessons, career plans shifted. In 1924 he made his professional music debut at the Aeolian Hall in mid-town Manhattan.  In 1927 his portrayal of Joe in Jerome Kern’s Showboat launched him into the spotlight. His version of  “Ol’ Man River” became a classic.  Known internationally, he performed across the United States and in Europe.  Despite racial discrimination his immense talent and skill earned him the right to perform with BBC Symphony in London, the Royal-Dutch Italian Opera Company, and the Cosmopolitan Opera Association in New York.  He was also a composer. He composed several songs and an opera titled “Bondage” based upon Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Andrew “Lefty” Cooper (1896 – 1941)

Born in Waco in 1896/1898, Andrew Cooper attended A. J. Moore High School and Paul Quinn College.  Prior to the 1940s, Black people could not play baseball in the American Major Leagues.  Cooper had successful careers in both the The Negro National League, and the Negro American League. He played for both Detroit and Kansas City. Cooper was known as one of the best pitchers in baseball.  He became player/manager of the Monarchs in 1937. By 1940 he had led Kansas City to three championships. Cooper died in 1941 only a few years before Jackie Robinson integrated the major leagues 1946.  In 2006 Andrew Cooper was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Estella Maxey – (1904-1948)

Estella Maxey was an orphan.  She was adopted by Gussie Moore and raised on South Second Street near Baylor.  Even as a child she was fascinated with music and would slip away to pick out tunes on the piano.  She had perfect pitch. During the depression she organized an orchestra to accompany her on the piano and began to play and sing to make a living.  Gradually she began playing dance music.  Soon she was “all the rage” playing at private parties for all the rich people in town. A generation of young people in Waco learned to dance to the sound of Stella singing “My Blue Heaven,” “Lover, Come back to Me,” “You’re my Everything” and other hits of the time.  When she died in 1948, the Waco Tribune-Herald ran her obituary on the front page.

Dr. Vivienne Malone-Mayes (1932 – 1995)

Vivienne Lucille Malone grew up in Waco and graduated at age 16 from A.J. Moore High School, not far from the Baylor campus. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Fisk University. She chaired the math departments at Bishop College in Dallas and then Paul Quinn College, which was in Waco at the time. Because she wanted to take more graduate-level classes courses, she applied to Baylor in 1961, but she was rejected because of her race. In 1962 she enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, which had been required by federal law to integrate. She persevered to become the second African-American and the first black female to earn a PhD in mathematics from the University of Texas.  After earning her PhD, she returned to Waco where she was eventually hired as the first African-American faculty member at Baylor University in 1966.  By 1971, Baylor Student Congress named her as an Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year. 

Civic Insights: Who Pays for that Pipe? Part I

(City council, school board, planning commission, county commissioners – these groups and several others represent us.  They do the day to day work of running our community. It is our responsibility to keep informed about their work so that we can help them represent us effectively.  “Civic Insights” by Jeffrey Vitarius is a regular feature of Act Locally Waco.  Its purpose is to help us understand decisions that shape our community so that we can participate effectively as informed, engaged residents of Waco. – ALW)   

By Jeffrey Vitarius

What is a fair way to pay for the infrastructure improvements required for new developments? That is the question at the heart of a policy the city has been considering since January 2019: impact fees.

In 2016, the City adopted a comprehensive twenty-five year plan that noted that “the question is not whether Waco will grow, but what form will this growth take. It is important that Waco grow in a manner that is economically, environmentally, and culturally sustainable.” One of the critical challenges this plan identified was that of “increasingly dispersed development,” development occurring farther and farther away from the city’s core. 

Why would this be a challenge? Let’s start with the basics. Imagine a set of new homes on a few acres of land that used to be a farm. This new development will need a few things to thrive, for example, roads to connect it to the rest of the city, and pipes to carry water in and wastewater (also known as sewage) out.

Even if there are already roads and pipes in the area, it may not just be a matter of connecting the new development to the existing network. Our new batch of homes will mean increased volume of cars, water, and wastewater in that part of the city. The roads and pipes around the development may need to be upgraded to handle the increased volume. We call these kinds of projects –  to construct new roads and pipes or upgrade existing roads and pipes for more volume –  “infrastructure improvements.” There are plenty of other kinds of infrastructure improvements, but for the purpose of discussing impact fees, we will focus on these.

It is one of the city’s jobs to construct these pipes and roads. The challenge comes in how to pay for these projects. The city already has a substantial inventory of roads and pipes that it needs to monitor, repair, and eventually replace.

How can the city pay for all of its current obligations much less the additional demands from new development? As the twenty-five year plan identifies “given the limited capacity and deteriorated condition of existing infrastructure, the City cannot afford to provide subsidies to encourage development at suburban densities in rural areas.” In plain English that means: our new set of suburban houses on what used to be farmland creates a financial difficulty for the city. Enter the impact fee.

The concept of the impact fee is fairly straightforward though it can get complicated in implementation and practice. The twenty-five year plan explains that impact fees serve as “a means of ensuring new development pays an equitable share of the costs associated with the construction and expansion of public infrastructure needed to service new development…Impact fees shift some of the cost of financing public facilities [roads and pipes] from the general taxpayer to the direct beneficiaries of these facilities [roads and pipes].”

In other words, impact fees move the cost of improvement from the city generally (where it is paid by existing taxpayers) to the developments that are more directly served by those improvements. If we think back to our former farm, theoretically impact fees would require that the developer pay part of  the cost of the roads and pipes. The use of the phrase “equitable share” in the quote above hints at the large complicated question around this simple policy idea. At what amount is an impact fee fair?

Within that question are two considerations, the first is a matter of analysis and the second is a matter of policy. First the city has to determine how much impact fees could be to cover the cost of anticipated development. Then the much more difficult question of how much the impact fees should be can be addressed. In Waco we are in the transition from the could part of this process to the should part of this process. 

In July of 2019, the city formed the Capital Improvement Advisory Committee to review the impact fee question (among other things) and make recommendations to the City Council on how to best proceed with this policy.  That committee met this week to discuss the conclusion of the could part of the process (maximum fee calculations) and the start of the should part of that process (policy considerations). 

Like many of the topics we take a look at in Civic Insights, this one is complicated and will take a few posts to get through. It looks like the City Council will be holding a public hearing on this question on October 6th. I will aim to get us caught up with the could part of the process by then. 

Meeting notes:

  • Waco Capital Improvements Advisory Committee met on 09/09/20 – For the full agenda click here  

Jeffrey Vitarius has been actively local since early 2017. He lives in Sanger Heights with partner (JD) and his son (Callahan). He helped found Waco Pride Network and now serves as that organization’s treasurer and Pride Planning Chair. Jeffrey works at City Center Waco where he helps keep Downtown Waco clean, safe, and vibrant. He is a member of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church and graduated from Baylor in 2011.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.orgfor more information.