Behavioral healthcare takes giant step forward with new MHMR certification

By Vince Erickson

It is official: The Heart of Texas Region MHMR Center has been awarded the distinction of becoming a Texas-Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic, or CCBHC, by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

The new certification greatly enhances the center’s commitment to delivering innovative and cutting-edge behavioral health, substance use disorder, and developmental disability services within its six-county region of McLennan, Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, and Limestone counties. 

The CCBHC model moves the 52-year-old agency from a performance or hour-based service model to an outcome-based model and incorporating physical healthcare, as well as the following:

  • Care coordination across settings and providers across the full spectrum of physical health services, both acute and chronic, and behavioral health care;
  • Availability and accessibility of services that are not based on the consumer’s ability to pay or place of residence; and
  • Customized care where the consumer is actively involved and has the ability to self-direct services, having maximum choice and control over their services

The Center is the 24th entity in the state to receive Texas-CCHBC certification. The State of Texas has encouraged all 39 Texas Community Centers to achieve CCBHC status before September 2021.

Our staff has worked diligently on this goal since applying for CCBHC status in March 2020. Our Center, as the local Mental Health Authority, will continue to lead the way through the CCBHC model to provide high-quality, coordinated care that is accessible and efficient.

The center was also recently awarded a nearly $4 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in anticipation of CCBHC certification. The grant will accelerate mental health and substance use services and staff expansion under the CCBHC model immediately.

The center’s CCBHC certification will be in effect from February 2021 through February 2024.

Vince Erickson directs the Public Information Office & #TexansRecoveringTogether Crisis Counseling Program for the Heart of Texas Region MHMR Center. You may also remember Vince as a former news and sports anchor and sports reporter in stops at KXXV-TV, KCEN-TV and KWTX-TV. He’s happy to call Waco home, along with his wife and two children.

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.

Waco ISD is not letting down its guard on COVID

By Rhiannon Settles, BSN, RN-BC

On March 10, 2020, I shared my first Facebook post about COVID-19. I had spent all week scrolling the CDC website trying to decide just how bad this virus could be. I met with other nurses, epidemiologists, and employees at the health district. I gathered as much information as possible to help our Waco ISD decide what this would mean for our students.

School supplies and COVID-19 prevention items

I learned that two weeks at home would be helpful in case anyone was exposed over spring break. Two weeks turned into a month, turned into three months. The next thing I knew, we were planning a socially distanced outdoor graduation for both of our Waco ISD high schools. 

Over the summer, I kept thinking, surely this is going to improve, surely we will not be rolling into next school year still battling this virus. It has now been one full year. ONE YEAR! I would have never guessed that we would still be fighting COVID-19 a year later. 

We have seen our share of tragedy and loss during this pandemic. The first death from COVID-19 in McLennan County was one of our own, Mr. Phillip Perry, the G.W. Carver Middle School principal for the 2019-2020 school year. We’ve lost employees, our students and employees have lost loved ones, have battled the virus themselves, and have experienced the dreaded two-week quarantine at home time and time again. Our nurses have spent countless hours after work and on the weekends contact tracing, making quarantine phone calls, answering questions, and providing a supportive and encouraging ear to fearful parents and employees.  

Waco ISD numbers mirrored the county numbers from the beginning. If the county had an uptick, so did we. If the county began to drop off, so did we. We knew we were doing everything in our power to control the spread of this virus within our walls. 

Masks were mandatory for all Waco ISD students, employees, and visitors. Everyone who comes through our doors has their temperature taken. Employees answer daily screening questions to check for symptoms of COVID-19 and potential exposures. 

Even with every CDC recommendation in place, we still experienced a number of cases on our campuses. When we noticed an increase of cases on a particular campus or area of town, we hosted free drive-through testing sites open to all students and staff. These sites would average 300-400 people in a few hours. 

When we returned from Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break, we held drive-through testing sites in hopes of catching as many people as possible before they returned to our campuses and exposed others.  

In January, we began conversations with Ascension Providence and Midway ISD to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to our eligible employees. We hosted four clinics during February and March and vaccinated over 1,000 employees from Waco, Midway, Bosqueville, Connally, La Vega, and West school districts. We currently have employees in series with their PCPs, local pharmacies, and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. We are confident that any educator who wants a vaccine will be able to obtain one very soon. 

As we look to the final 12 weeks of this school year, our case counts are lower than they’ve been since September.

We will continue to offer free testing on all Waco ISD campuses through the nurses’ offices and from 3:00-5:00 each day at GWAHCA for all WISD students and staff.

We will continue to require masks and social distancing as often as possible in classrooms.

We will continue contact tracing and quarantining on the same day we are notified of a positive case.

We are not letting our guard down. We are not taking any chances. We will continue to follow all CDC recommendations to keep our students, our staff, and our community safe. This isn’t over yet, but there is an end in sight. 

Rhiannon Settles, BSN, RN-BC, is director of health services for Waco Independent School District.

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.

Creative Waco founder talks art projects, involvement in community

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Clay Thompson 

After living in several different countries, Creative Waco founder Fiona Bond ended up in Waco, a move that might have surprised her friends overseas, but as she put it, both she and her family fell in love with the town and its potential. 

Fiona Bond of Creative Waco

“We followed our curiosity, and the rest is history,” Bond said. “When I saw Waco, I saw the green shoots of opportunity and creativity here.” 

What Bond said she loves most about Waco, aside from its cultural awakening, is the people. 

“Every place is made by its people,” she said. 

Bond saw Waco as a place that had not yet woken up to its full potential. She described it as being like a slightly gawky teenager who doesn’t yet recognize the extent of their true beauty and talent. 

“The thing I find most compelling is that it has truly world-class talent that has not yet been discovered by the wider World,” Bond said. “And we get to be the generation that cultivates Waco’s cultural identity for years to come.”

Bond recently earned a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Baylor University, which, along with running Creative Waco full time and juggling family life with husband Bruce Longenecker (a religion professor at Baylor) and two active teen sons, did not leave spare time for much else. With the pandemic restricting arts programming and no more MBA study, she now has a little more time to discover Waco’s other assets.  

“I go kayaking on the lake or rivers every opportunity I get,” Bond said. She also loves hiking Waco’s abundance of trails and cycling between downtown meetings. She and Bruce are active members of DaySpring Baptist Church, and she admires the work of her fellow nonprofit leaders. 

“I like to work with the nonprofits in the community. That happens mostly through Creative Waco. We love to get involved with things where we are not necessarily the lead organization, and we’re coming alongside to support and add value to amazing work that other people are doing.” 

Bond considers herself lucky to be involved in the “awakening” of Waco, as she describes it. By working at Creative Waco, she has led multiple cultural and artistic projects that are shaping the city. 

One of the early transformative projects was Waco 52, which showcased Waco as a newly designated State of Texas Cultural District. Fifty-two visual artists from Waco were selected by two international judges and had their work exhibited in the rotunda of the state capitol in 2017. 

The exhibition was accompanied by a publication with preface by former President George W. Bush, and Chip and Joanna Gaines. Bond laughingly points out that this may be “the only publication in which they have appeared together – but they are all local artists, after all.” 

The exhibition was turned into a deck of playing cards which is still sold to support arts programs in Waco. A second exhibition of the work back in Waco became the catalyst for the gallery that became Cultivate 7Twelve on Austin Avenue where Creative Waco’s office is now based.

“That project just gave and gave,” Bond said. “Everybody involved benefitted hugely, and so did our community. For the first time, a large cohort of outstanding artists were proud to link their professional reputation to Waco.” 

Bond founded Creative Waco, a nonprofit that serves as the “Local Arts Agency” (arts council or arts commission) and whose mission is “to grow and support a thriving cultural and creative community in Waco and McLennan County.” Bond said its goal is to bring together the elements necessary to grow a cultural hub where artists and creative professionals can be successful. 

Bond originally discovered Waco because her husband was offered a chair at Baylor. “It was definitely not on our top 10 list of places we thought we might want to live, but when we visited for the first time, we fell in love with Waco and that relationship has deepened over time.”

When her family moved here, she was surprised there was not an organization like Creative Waco that existed to develop strategy and resources for the arts. She eventually found a coalition of leaders who shared her vision that growth for the arts would mean growth and benefit for everyone.

“Everyone naturally wants to have their piece of the pie,” she said. “Growing the arts is not about cutting that pie into smaller pieces to make it go further. It’s about sowing the seeds for a bigger harvest – so you can cook a bigger pie – and then make more of them.”

Clay Thompson is a freshman journalism major at Baylor. 

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.

A moment in time points toward a need to care & act

By Ferrell Foster

An encounter with a stranger haunts me.

Last month, in the midst of the winter storm, we decided to flee our powerless house for my daughter’s house in another town. It was Tuesday afternoon. We had been without power almost all of the time since 8 a.m. Monday. The temperature had dropped to 2 or 3 degrees outside Tuesday morning.

We motored northward and stopped a little north of town to get gas. Inside the store, I stood in a two-pronged line waiting to check out. 

A woman, shorter than me and probably not as old as me, took her place in the line adjacent to me. She smiled big and had a happy lilt in her voice.

“We haven’t had power in two days,” she said.

“I know. We’ve been without power, too,” I responded.

“It got down to 27 degrees in our house last night,” she said, still with a bit of mirth in her voice.

“Oh, my,” or something like that, was all I could say.

Lines advance. She checks out; I check out. We go our ways.

So why can’t I forget this encounter? For a simple reason.

The woman and I both lived through a powerless night when the temperature outside dropped almost to zero. She lived in a 27-degree icebox of a house. The temperature in our house never dropped below 52.

People with resources encounter some of the same challenges in life that those with less resources face, but we do not deal with these challenges on equal footing. Not only did my house keep my family and me much warmer than this woman’s, but we also had someplace to go.

One of my daughters stood in the line with me. After we left, I commented on the woman’s situation in contrast to ours, and Tabitha noted that the woman still seemed to have on her pajamas with a house coat on top. I hadn’t noticed.

This woman was not dressed for travel. Chances are she headed back to her icebox and had to wait who knows how long for relief. Still, she smiled.

Driving northward, Tabitha read me a news account of the power outages in East Waco. This story included a quote from my friend, Waco Council Member Andrea Barefield. She spoke to the importance of alleviating the infrastructure problems in East Waco.

Our neighbors who are most in need should be our highest priority. People in poorer neighborhoods should have the absolute best when it comes to streets, water, and power because they already have enough challenges. 

Why is it so often the other way around in cities across this country? It doesn’t have to be; Waco can be different. We can give our best to those who have the least.

We stand or sink together as a community from East Waco to North and South and West. We are Waco; we seek our best.

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

Jill McCall helps homeless in Waco find compassion

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Arden Huston

There are people in Waco who need a little more love, understanding, and compassion. It’s time we not only feel their pain but also be moved to help relieve it. We need to give the homeless a little more compassion.

Jill McCall of Compassion Waco

Compassion Waco is working to do that. Compassion is a transitional housing facility for homeless families with children where families can stay up to six months or a year until they learn effective ways to live on their own.

“I don’t know that I had a passion for Compassion when I came, because my image of the homeless was the guy on the street corner who needs a bath and a shave. But I now understand who we serve here is not necessarily that demographic,” Jill McCall, executive director of Compassion Waco, said.

Compassion Waco focuses on serving a specific demographic, which includes families and children. McCall mentioned how it’s important to consider the average age of the homeless in the United States today is 11 and 57% of the homeless are women and children.

“There certainly are those guys on the end of the street corner, but they’re not the majority of the homeless, and they’re not the homeless we serve here in Waco” at Compassion, McCall said.

McCall also shared that her father died when she was 4 and her mother had three kids to take care of. At the time, her mother was lucky enough to have the support of an extended family that was able to assist her emotionally and financially.

Then one day it hit her. “I could have been a child of Compassion, had my mother not had those things and had there been a Compassion, because there wasn’t one then,” McCall said.

When you put things into perspective in this way it’s easier to sympathize with the homeless. The reason many people become homeless is because of a lack of support and financial understanding.

“I think we all can agree most of us get out of high school or college and most of the time we haven’t been very accountable with our money. I mean we’ve never been made to be,” McCall said.

This is a common reason for homelessness. People that come to Compassion often haven’t had anyone to teach them how to budget their money, and they come to learn just that.

“People have to want the help; they have to be at that point in their lives where they’re ready to accept that help. Sometimes people are too proud to accept it,” McCall said.

Compassion has a variety of volunteer opportunities for people who want to help, especially those who like working with kids. They are always in need of people to provide after school care and monitor the children in the computer room.

McCall mentioned a challenge of the job is not being able to see the people while they’re on the other side of things, when they’ve gotten their lives together and aren’t in need of help anymore.

She cites a popular proverb of uncertain origin. “We are planting trees knowing full well, we will never see the shade,” McCall said. “That, on the other hand, says the shade will come. We may not see it, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that they find the shade.”

Arden Huston is a sophomore at Baylor University from Houston double majoring in psychology and professional writing.

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.

Dr. Macik connects with patients & Waco

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Samuel Lamkin

Dr. Felicia Macik is the owner of Uncommon Healthcare and has practiced medicine for more than 20 years. She says the best part about her job is the “technical challenge” and the relationships she creates with patients. 

Dr. Felicia Macik

Macik has seen the medical field change for women in recent years. She recalled serving as first assistant in a bilateral knee biopsy when she was in her residency. She was one of only a few women in the operating room. For the 6½ hours of the procedure, she said the lead doctor talked about how women should not be in the medical field because they would eventually have children and choose to stay home with them. 

“Women have come a long way,” said Macik. And she does now have children — two sons, one in college and one in high school.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Tarleton State University before attending medical school at the University of North Texas Health Science Center/Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth, according to the Uncommon Healthcare website. She completed family medicine training at UTMB Family Medicine Residency at Conroe. 

Macik and her husband, James, then relocated to Memphis after she was selected for fellowship training at the University of Tennessee at Memphis. Upon completing her fellowship in 1999, the Maciks “hurried home to Texas to ensure that their firstborn would receive a proper birth certificate,” the website says. 

In 2003, they moved to Clifton, northwest of Waco, and she now commutes to Waco. 

“I love Waco so much. Ever since we moved here in 2003 there is so much pride and enthusiasm about the community, and there are people that want to make it better,” said Macik.

“Back when we moved here, downtown Waco was not a good place to be. Now I feel safe walking around at night,” Macik said.

One thing Macik appreciates is the community. She said it is “not homogenous.” Not everything is the same; there is a good variety of people in the community. As a family medicine specialist, this diversity is reflected in her practice. She sees people from all backgrounds. 

Macik also appreciates that Waco has multiple educational campuses. With Baylor University, McLennan Community College, and Texas State Technical College nearby she thinks it makes Waco more likely to have a population increase.

“You have a lot of young families, second generations, and people that have lived here a really long time that use these educational resources and in turn help the community,” said Macik. 

Being a business owner and juggling patients, Macik said she has less time to be actively involved in Waco than she would like. With the little bit of time she does have, she is involved in the nonprofit, 40 Days for Life, which is a pro-life organization.

“If I had enough time to be more involved in my community, I can see myself participating in pro-life events or doing something creative,” said Macik.

In the time Macik has lived in Waco she has noticed a flourish in the city and the surrounding areas, saying Waco has “blossomed” with Magnolia and Fixer Upper. 

“I like the size of Waco right now, but we are very close to overgrowing,” Macik said. “I like that I can recognize people around downtown, but it is happening less and less.”

Samuel Lamkin is a Baylor University freshman journalism student.

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.

Experts warn of impending mental health epidemic; there are things we can do

By Tiffiney Gray

One year ago, on Sunday, March 8, 2020, I attended church service with my family, drove to MILO to have brunch, then went to Michael’s to pick up some crafting materials. With two little ones (then 5 months and 3 years old) along for the ride, it was no small decision to add two more stops to our outing. Looking back, I’m glad I braved the possibility of a nursing infant meltdown and toddler restlessness to see smiling faces at church, enjoy brunch, and pick up supplies. Little did I know that day would be my last in-person church service, Sunday brunch, and in-store shopping experience for a very long time. 

In two weeks, our community will mark one year since our local shelter-in-place order. One year of hunkering down, wearing masks, travel restrictions, canceled parties, rescheduled family events, and modified birthday celebrations. For many of our neighbors, this past year has brought on much more than mere social inconveniences, but instead has meant financial, occupational, and family hardships like never before. 

All of this change, not to mention the duration, can take a toll on mental, emotional, and physical health. I’ve been checking in with colleagues, family, friends — and myself — to see how we’re doing. How we’re trudging along. It seems like many of us need a little more help, more support, and more grace these days. And our recent deep freeze hasn’t made this marathon of calamity any better. For many of our Waco neighbors February’s icy, snowy storm dealt yet another blow to a long haul of health concerns, economic uncertainty, lost income, social isolation, and all kinds of distress. Being in the dark, being in the cold, wanting for running water, and watching your groceries (bought with hard-earned wages) spoil right before your eyes has a way of layering on the pressure and testing our ability to cope. 

These pressures can accumulate, and experts are warning of an impending mental health epidemic that could sweep across the country, but especially impact communities of color. 

Last spring, we witnessed the disproportionate physical health impacts of COVID-19 in Black and Hispanic communities brought on by historical social and economic inequities. Changes in the way families interact, commune, socialize, celebrate, and mourn have aggravated existing traumas, brought on separation distress, grief issues, anxiety, and a host of other mental health challenges. But what can we do reduce the impact of this looming storm?

Check on your neighbors, family, and friends. 

Use every safe communications channel at your disposal, including digital and traditional ways of engaging. Think Zoom, FaceTime, Google Meet, What’s App video calls, and good old-fashioned land lines. A carside-to-front yard meet up (with masks in tow) is also a family favorite. Maintaining relationships and social connections is more important than ever to keep spirits high. 

Tell your health provider what’s going on. 

When we have back pain, we don’t hesitate to see a spine doctor or a physical therapist. The same should be true of emotional pain. Connect with a mental health provider or schedule an appointment with your family doctor to ask about more specialized support from a mental health practitioner, therapist, or counselor. 

Talk with a trusted advisor. 

Whether it’s a pastor, a community elder, a professional mentor, or in my case another mom of toddlers, extend an invitation to pray together, to share a devotion through FaceTime, or to have virtual coffee to talk and catch up. My hope is that the outpouring of grace, prayers, and encouragement flows both ways. 

Call for immediate help. 

The Heart of Texas Region MHMR is home to emergency counseling services for anyone impacted by the pandemic. MHMR is a huge local resource with a host of counseling and therapeutic services in addition to social support and wellness resources. Whether it’s a crisis or you simply need to talk to someone, MHMR is available to help.

MHMR Crisis Line 866-752-3451

MHMR COVID Help Line 866-576-1101

Advocate for better coverage of mental health care. 

I’ve been on the search for mental health support and therapy for my family and me for several months. With my own health consumer hat on, navigating insurance coverage and which providers even accept my (really good) insurance, or accept insurance at all, has been both surprising and disappointing. We need collective advocacy to demand better. Better payor coverage of mental health services and better acceptance of insurance by mental health providers. There is undoubtedly a need – a market – for mental health care, and marketplace vendors (practitioners and payors) should better respond to consumer needs. 

A year ago, I wrote a post about minding your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s hard to believe that we’re still riding out this storm 11 months later and my hunch is that this ride of ours isn’t over yet. Our resilience has been tested, tried, and tested again, but we’re in this together to support our neighbors when they need us and to lean on our neighbors when we need them. 

Tiffiney Gray is senior content specialist for health with Prosper 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 Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

Essy Day: Libraries serve as ‘great equalizer’

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Logan Foust

Surrounded by books, Essy Day gets to do what she loves every day. Day is director of library services for Waco-McLennan County Library. 

Easy Day

Day found out about Waco libraries when she was visiting Waco on a trip and decided to stop and look around. She was formerly a library director in Kentucky, and when she heard the Waco Library was hiring a director she decided to apply. She then got called for an interview and landed the job. 

Day has lived in seven states. During this time she has lived in both big and small cities. She described what it is like to live in Waco and the qualities that drew her here. 

“Waco has the small town feeling of everybody cares, which you don’t get in a larger city,” Day said. “But yet it’s large enough that you can still have some of the anonymity that you get in a large city.” 

Day shared why she believes it is meaningful for people to visit libraries.

“Libraries are important because they are the great equalizer. They provide equal opportunity for everyone. As a child, I learned that in the library everyone was welcome and everyone had the same opportunities. No matter how poor I was or how young I was, the library staff treated me, and others, equally,” Day said. “The more I read, I learned that reading could transform and change a person’s life and books from the library were free. So, reading and libraries changed my life, and I believe that they can do the same for others. The library is a place where opportunities and choice and discovery are available to everyone.”

There are four library locations: Central, East, South, and West. The Central library is the biggest and main branch. Library cards are free to people who live in McLennan County and Baylor University students. Not only does the library card allow you to check out books, but the library also has a wide variety of literacy and sensory kits for kids, digital audio books, and blood pressure kits. 

One special feature these Waco libraries offer are museum passes for attractions throughout Waco. Card holders are allowed to check out these passes for seven days, and they allow you to get into places like Cameron Park Zoo, Dr Pepper Museum, and the Mayborn Museum for free. 

“Libraries connect people. So we connect people to information, we connect people to each other, and we connect people to ideas that they might not have thought of,” Day said. 

Day mentioned how libraries are not the same as they were a few years ago. She said instead of the librarians trying to quiet everyone who walks in the door, they now encourage families and kids to come and play with the books and toys they have available. 

“We believe in providing access to information to everyone, regardless of their age, gender, socioeconomic status, or religion,” Day said. “Libraries can transform and save lives.” 

Logan Foust is a sophomore at Baylor University. She is from Austin and is majoring in journalism, specializing in photojournalism, and minoring in studio art. 

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.

Waco Moms co-founder loves the city, loves the people

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Juliana Johnson

“We are more than ‘mommy bloggers.’ We are small business owners, therapists, nurses, and the list goes on. Many of us have full-time jobs outside of our role with Waco Moms and have so much to offer our city,” said Carrie Maddux, co-founder and owner of Waco Moms.

Carrie Maddux

Created by two mothers with a shared vision, Waco Moms launched in March 2017 with a dream to bring a positive platform that doubled as a resource specifically for local mothers. Now, Waco Moms has grown to a team of over 30 mothers and is making an impact on the local community more and more each day.

“It is amazing to see what can happen when you work together to make Waco a better place. … It is rewarding to see someone’s goal become a reality or a contributor’s story make a difference,” Maddux said.

To Maddux, the most rewarding part of running Waco Moms is being part of building the Waco community and seeing local and small businesses grow and flourish.

“Naturally, I would say that Waco is full of successful women-run businesses. They see a need and make it happen! The passion in Waco is infectious,” Maddux said.

Having lived in Waco since 2016, Maddux is passionate about the city and loves to work within her community. She said she is excited to see Waco continue to grow, which can only be achieved by supporting local efforts.

“I am excited to see dreams become a reality and Waco accept them with open arms. My hope is that more job opportunities open up in Waco and more Baylor students decide to call Waco home after graduation. Waco is a great place to build a family,” Maddux said.

Having started her college career at Baylor University, Maddux is a supporter of the Bears. In her eyes, Baylor has helped Waco in many ways, like offering opportunities not only for students, but for the Greater Waco community, as well.

“Baylor continues to offer quality education, community service programs and family-friendly activities. I was told that service is integrated into the fabric of Baylor, and I truly believe that,” Maddux said.

Waking up on Saturday mornings with her family to go to the Waco Farmers Market is one of Maddux’s most loved things to do in Waco. The Farmers Market allows her to see familiar faces and support the local community, overall being “very comforting in an unpredictable year.”

When asked what she likes most about Waco, Maddux said, “The people. Ask anyone and I am confident we will all say the same thing.”

In looking to the future, Maddux’s dream for Waco is for the city to continue heading in a positive direction and to continue supporting local businesses, describing them as the “backbone” of the  community.

Waco Moms continues to grow along with Waco, and Maddux and Waco Moms continues to give back to their community and fellow Wacoans.

“We rise by lifting others up. It is amazing what can happen when you support one another. Whether that be sharing a new or struggling business, supporting local charities, providing a safe place to someone who needs community support, etc. Waco is full of generosity and [I am] grateful to call Waco our home,” Maddux said.

Juliana Johnson is a first-year journalism and theatre arts double major with a creative writing minor at Baylor University.

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.