Act Locally Waco brings people together

By Ferrell Foster

This has been a shocking week in our national history. Act Locally Waco is focused on Waco, but most of us have been a bit stunned this week as Americans.

In such divisive times, a communication tool like Act Locally Waco is more important than ever. Those of us involved in ALW — the board members, volunteers, and interns — believe in Waco and the people of this great city. We are so committed to Greater Waco, that we invest our time in service to it and want to help it achieve its great potential.

Waco has its various neighborhoods, religious bodies, businesses, and nonprofits, but we also need to promote our connectedness as we pursue the common good. Act Locally Waco is committed to that common good.

This has been the first week in ALW’s history that Ashley Thornton has not been at the head of Act Locally Waco. She has stepped down as executive director, but she is still our founder and very much a part of the heart of ALW.

I will serve for a time as acting executive director, and all of us involved with Act Locally Waco will be working to uphold its trusted place in our community.

So, while some things divide people, I’m confident we can also come together and continue the work of building the best Waco possible. 

It is the community members who contribute to ALW that make it what it is, so please help us tell the stories and share the information about what is happening in our town. I’m an email away — ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

Ferrell Foster is acting executive director of Act Locally Waco and senior content specialist for care and communication with Prosper Waco.

MCC continues with modified class formats for spring semester

By Candice Kelm

McLennan Community College’s has remained diligent in monitoring the restrictions set by federal, state, and local governments as the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the globe.

MCC faculty and staff returned to campus Monday following the winter break and are preparing for the beginning of the spring semester Jan. 11. Guidelines established before the start of the Fall 2020 semester to ensure a safe environment for students, faculty, staff, and all campus visitors will remain in place for the foreseeable future. These guidelines include smaller class sizes, face covering and social distancing requirements and increased cleaning procedures. 

Additionally, the college will continue to offer classes in blended/hybrid and online formats along with some traditional face-to-face skills-based classes. Students in blended/hybrid classes experience instruction both in a traditional classroom setting and online formats, including through videoconferencing. These classes will be accessible to all students through MCC’s online platforms.

Campus computer labs will continue to support students with technology needs, and most services will continue to be offered through online and in-person formats.

For more information about the College’s COIVD-19 response, visit www.mclennan.edu/covid.

Individuals interested in becoming a MCC student this spring should visit https://www.mclennan.edu/admissions/become-a-student/index.html . Registration continues through Jan. 9 with most classes beginning Jan. 11. Second 8-Week Class registration will continue through March 14 with classes beginning March 15. For more information, contact Highlander Central at 299-8622 or highlandercentral@mclennan.edu.

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 Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

Men can volunteer, too – The need for male CASA volunteers

By Lucas Land

With the new year beginning, people around the world take on the practice of making resolutions and goals about what they want to accomplish in the upcoming year. Resolutions can range from trying to eat better, exercise more, or spend more time with friends and family. But one resolution that should be directed toward the men in McLennan County is to consider becoming a CASA volunteer and help make a difference in a child’s life. 

While men and women can both be CASA volunteers, the numbers of male volunteers are particularly low for McLennan County. Only 21% of CASA volunteers in McLennan County are male, while 53% of the kids in need of an advocate are male. And though women make wonderful CASA volunteers, they aren’t able to completely fill the hole of a positive male role model. 

CASA volunteers not only advocate for the child throughout the entire court case, but they also meet with the child and provide a consistent positive influence for them during a very stressful time. They are the positive role models that children need when they are in foster care. Women are often seen as being more compassionate and caring toward children in difficult situations, but men are able to be just as compassionate and are equally as essential toward the growth and development of a child. 

Growing up, every child wants to have a chance to spend time with a father figure and nurture a relationship that contributes to their development, but this is particularly important for young men. Male children with a positive male role model are more likely to perform better in school and have more career and economic success. Male role models foster more confidence in male children and contribute to stronger communication skills, as men often communicate in different ways than women. 

CASA volunteers are required to maintain a year-long commitment to their case, and most volunteers meet with their child at least once a month and research the case for around 15 hours a month. During this new year, men should consider becoming CASA volunteers to help shape and contribute to the lives of children who need them in McLennan County. 

If you are interested in supporting the work that CASA does to serve children in this situation, consider becoming a CASA volunteer. You can learn more about it by visiting https://casaforeverychild.org/volunteer/become-a-casa/

Lucas Land is director of communication and development for CASA of McLennan County. He loves living in Waco and finding ways to connect, get to know, and give back to this community. Lucas lives in the Sanger Heights neighborhood with his spouse, three kids, and their dog, Jayber.

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 Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.