The Inside Scoop on Steppin’ Out

By Macy Warburton

Football team Steppin' OutIf you were out and about in Waco this past weekend, you may have seen large numbers of Baylor students in the community sporting tools and paint brushes.  What was happening, you ask?  Steppin’ Out – a day of service Baylor students participate in each semester.  Led and organized by the Steppin’ Out Steering Committee comprised fully of students, individuals clean yards, paint houses, and help meet various other needs by coming alongside homeowners and organizations within Waco.  This semester almost 2,000 students served at more than 60 locations around our community.

I have had the honor of serving as the advisor for the Steppin’ Out Steering Committee this semester, and I am simply amazed by their work and commitment to the Waco community.  These students run the entire program, working with our Baylor community on one end to recruit volunteers and working with our Waco community on the other end to pinpoint potential areas of service.  They spend countless hours building relationships with homeowners, raising money to purchase the necessary tools and paint, and coordinating all other logistics.  Along with the committee, we see the commitment from those students that choose to serve each and every semester, many of whom return due to the impactful relationships they have formed within the community.

Steppin' Out FoodWhat can seem like just a “day of service” is truly more than that.  Just this past weekend almost 20 house painting sites were postponed due to the rain.  Instead of taking the easy way out, most of the students and organizations assigned to those sites have asked to maintain their commitment by completing these paint jobs by the end of the semester.  These students have displayed their commitment not to Steppin’ Out, but to the people they are serving.

It is important to note that these connections are not made to be confined within the walls of Steppin’ Out.  Our Office of Community Engagement and Service continuously works to connect the Baylor community with the Waco community.  We work to showcase service opportunities, promote education and advocacy, and much more.  Many of our students are in the community doing great work through mentoring, volunteering, and more, but there is much room for growth.  We are dedicated to this growth and committed to empowering our students as residents of Waco.

KWB KayaksPeople and organizations within the Waco community can make a connection with us at any time.  Want to promote your volunteer opportunities on CONNECT, our online service database?  Want to plan an educational event with our office?  Want to develop a collaborative training for volunteers?  We would love to come alongside you in any way possible to help you reach your visions.  I personally would love to chat with you about our opportunities for connection.  Send an email to or give me a call at 254-710-7687 at any time.

macy Warburton-2Macy Warburton is the coordinator for community service in the Office of Community Engagement and Service at Baylor University.  She loves running, playing guitar, and drinking coffee.

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.

Creating Wellness – a collaboration of art and healing

By Jenuine Poetess

lady I have the immense joy of working with a professional colleague who is not only a gifted mental health clinician, but also a talented artist—across a number of disciplines.  As I joined Enrichment Training and Counseling Solutions we moved into a new suite of offices–a space which has afforded the creation of a therapeutic art studio.  In this month’s Arts & Culture Blog,  I share with you an interview I did with Salley Schmid, LMFT about her use of art in session with clients.

Jenuine Poetess: Please share a bit about yourself generally—as an artist, as a therapist, as a person with various roles/identities.

Salley Schmid:  I am a child of God, daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, therapist, student, trainer, business owner, and artist.  I guess since I have done three triathlon events, I can say I am a triathlete as well.  But that one is hard for me to believe.  That would fill a whole different article though so I will leave it at that.  I love being outdoors, music, long meaningful conversations, learning, drawing, painting, kayaking, cycling, swimming, the beach the mountains and living life out loud.  I once was silenced, but no more.

enoughI have not had formal training as an artist.  I grew up around constant expressions of creativity from my mother and my three older sisters.  My oldest sister studied art formally.  One of my greatest lessons in life came from a high school art teacher.  Ironically, one of my most painful moments came from the same place.  The great lesson was after making a mistake on a watercolor painting.  I was painting a face.  I dropped a huge blob of red paint in the middle of the face.  I asked my instructor for new paper so that I could start over.  She refused to let me start over.  She said I had to work with it and make it work with the painting.  I ended up painting only part of the face and making it look like someone behind a door peeking through the window.  I was pretty mad at my teacher for not letting me start over, but in the end this painting was much better, much more interesting.  It now had mystery and intrigue and became one of my favorite paintings.  The painful experience came from somehow walking away from that class believing that I had no talent based on a single letter on a report card.  I let go of art for a long time after that.  And I really missed that part of me.  To this day, I struggle to make the statement that I am an artist.  Never the less; I AM AN ARTIST.courage

My first degree is a BS in Therapeutic Recreation.  Yes, that is a real degree.  I love the work I did in that degree.  I think it has made me much better as a therapist now because I am not afraid to tap into experiential ways of processing and wrestling with life’s challenges.  That’s why and how I began to takes risks with incorporating art and other creative expressive outlets into the therapeutic process.  Art has helped many of my clients tap into deep emotions that words could not connect with or give a voice to.

JP:  How did you first connect with art?  What about art as an expression drew you in?

SS:  I remember sewing by hand what my mother called yoyo’s while sitting on the ping pong table in the basement, my mother at the sewing machine and the TV filled with soap operas, often Dark Shadows.  That’s my earliest creative memory.  From then on, I was creating whenever I could.  I created in the kitchen, I would spend hours on the floor sketching.  I loved to decorate my room and come up with creative ways to paint an accent wall, which my mother thankfully indulged.  I can’t remember my life without art.  Art has always tapped into my soul and given life to emotion when words failed.  Art has helped me find, recognize and express emotions that I had hidden from myself.  Art has brought healing to me.  I often see the world in paint strokes, colors and shadows.  I catch myself staring at things, people, nature . . . sketching always in my mind, studying the lines, the light and the shadows.

JP:  How did you come to integrate creative process with your therapeutic process?

yellowSS:  Perhaps first through the use of art in my own healing process after a difficult emotionally abusive marriage, followed by a volatile divorce.  I painted my way through and out of the pain.  I found that I loved different mediums for different emotions.  Distressing emotions were best expressed in textured thick acrylic, where I preferred watercolor for hope and free spirited forward movement in my healing journey.  Oddly, my first divorce painting is acrylic but became an expression of hope contrary to my plan when I began the painting.  It’s an abstract expression of what feels like painful brokenness but is actually the pathway to the light and hope and living vibrantly.

waterI was convinced when I began private practice that art was to be a part of how I worked with people, but I was afraid to introduce it initially.  Gradually one person at a time, one step at a time, I began to incorporate art.  One of my first clients was a big burly man who was at a loss for words.  I handed him a pencil and a sketch pad and told him to put the pencil to the paper and see what came out.  It was profound and his insights were pivotal.  Each time I introduce art to the therapeutic process I am affirmed in this work and the therapeutic relevance and power of visual creative expression.

JP:  What do you see as the value of incorporating art into the therapy journey?

SS:  Because art has a way of giving a voice to experiences that occurred before the age of language and because the soul is more emotion than cognitive thought, art is the best matched medium for many to connect healing to pain.

knife neckJP:  What are some of the most significant moments/experiences you’ve had with art?

SS:  The experiences I shared earlier from high school for sure.  My “divorce” paintings as I call them were significant both in the power of expression, clarity and healing as well as reclaiming a lost part of my soul.  Those were very healing and the first time I let myself express myself through art in more years than I can count.  The artist in me was one thing stomped out by the emotionally abusive relationship.  I think because I became so numb and empty.  Now, giving others an emotionally safe place, space and opportunity to find healing through art, brings me joy and affirmation.  I water sidewayspersonally feel most full after sessions where a client gave expression, gained insight or found a path toward healing through art in therapy.  Additionally, I find I do my most emotionally honest work and healing through art.  My head swims with ideas.

JP:  What are your favorite mediums to play with?

SS:  Stained glass is actually one of my favorite mediums.  However, I have not done stained glass since my daughters were born 18 years ago.  The mood of what I am painting makes a big difference in what medium I like.  If I had to pick, I would say water color.

JP:  Would you share about a project you are working on or plan to work on in the future?

SS:  I have recently begun working on creating jewelry with therapeutic and inspirational meaning.  I am stamping words into metal, framing the metal with solder, and adding elements that capture mood, and meaning.   I hope to master this in a way that I can then engage my clients in creating their own pieces with what I call anchor words.  So for example, an anchor chicken wireword for me is PEACE.  I use this word by saying in times of distress “what would I be doing differently right now if I were acting from a place of peace”.  The jewelry is a beautiful reminder to use the anchor word.

I have a list of ideas that is constantly growing.  Images come to me in sessions from what client say sometimes.  When that happens I jot down a quick note.  Sometimes it becomes an assignment for the client, it inspires a page in the art journal I hope to publish.  Sometimes it becomes a piece that I create and give to the client.

JP:  What is something you wish more people knew about with regards to art and the therapeutic process?

SS:  The therapist does not always have to know the meaning in the client’s work.  We do not have to put words to every single thing.  Words matter, meaning is important.  As long as the art touches the client’s soul, has meaning for them, inspires them, creates a needed shift for them, it is worth doing.  It is a wise investment of self, both the self of the therapist and the self of the client.

JP:  What do you love about Waco?

SS:  When I first arrived in Waco, I thought, “Oh my gosh, where have I landed?”  In short order, however, I learned to love the community.  The small town feel, the entrepreneurial spirit, the friends, the ample opportunities to be involved in activities of all kinds from athletics, to art to food, to music, the list goes on.  I can’t see myself living anywhere else now.  I think we have such a gift in Cameron Park, Woodway Park, downtown.  I love to kayak and cycle, we have so many places and opportunities to engage in outdoor activity here.  We are a generous community too.  I see so much giving going on.  We are a community that creates opportunity, growth, and we are learning to embrace diversity.  I love my Wacotown!

be meJP:  What would you like to see more of in/around Waco?

SS:  More art of course.  I am super excited about the efforts being made to recognize Waco as a cultural arts hub.  I am about to launch my children into adulthood.  Scary, but also brings opportunities to get involved in things that I held back from in order to be home more.  I would love to see more draw to our community from surrounding areas and even out of state around the arts.  Opportunities to see art as it’s created, to buy local art, to hear local art – music and spoken.  I would love to see Waco on the map as a place for great food, music, art and opportunities to have a great day, great evening, great weekend, both indoors and outdoors.

JP:  Anything else on your heart to share?

SS:  I hope this inspires people to get involved in Waco, put some color on paper, engage in expressing themselves, and both invest in and indulge in the opportunities that abound here.

*All photos are of Salley Schmid’s original artwork, shared with permission for this blog.  Please do not copy or use without permission of the artist.

Jenuine Poetess August 2014Jenuine Poetess is an artist, visionary, and community organizer. In 2010, she founded In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW)an international, grass-roots, written and spoken-word arts project with chapters throughout Los Angeles, CA; Waco, TX; and Lebanon.  Jenuine is the founder of Waco Poets Society and co-founder of the Central Texas Artist Collective.    She writes, organizes, and creates rooted in the fierce conviction that holding intentional space, access, and opportunity for all people to foster their creative health is a matter of justice and is a vital asset to the sustainable thriving of communities.  She currently lives and poems in Central Texas where she enjoys finding new ways to disrupt the homeostasis of her city.  You can contact her at:

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.



We’re Exploring Questions that Matter to our Community – Join us for Scholar Day!

By Fred Hills

Inquiry. Research. The ability to come up with questions and actively, rigorously pursue answers to those questions is at the heart of education.  It is the key to life-long learning, to new inventions, to solving problems, and to improving the way we live and work together in our community and in our world.  Just as important as being able to find answers is the ability to communicate findings clearly so that they can be of use to the wider world.  At McLennan Community College, students practice inquiry and research throughout the academic year.  We would like to invite you to hear about some of their findings and to see for yourself how well they communicate what they have learned in their explorations.

scholars fairEvery fall and spring semester McLennan Community College conducts an event to showcase student research projects.  The event, called Scholar Day, is an opportunity for students from across campus to share the results of their inquiry and the impact it has on our community.  Participating students come from a wide variety of disciplines including Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Management, Marketing, Music, and Respiratory Care, among others.

Research projects at MCC are student initiated with faculty helping guide them through their exploratory work.   Students then present findings through scholarly presentations, exhibits, poster boards, art work, music, and prototypes with the campus and the community.   Research not only prepares the student for their chosen career path, but will help them if they choose to further their education beyond MCC.

scholars fair 2This semester’s program includes over 20 presentations that address timely topics affecting our world today, for example undocumented students in higher education, using vitamin C to fight cancer, and the effects of violent video games on gamers.  Several presentations tackle medical topics, like adult respiratory distress syndrome, interstitial lung disease, and LSVT BIG and VOICE therapy on Parkinson’s disease.  Scholar Day will also include a few unique items, such as sculptures, painting, and pottery from the Fine Arts department, and inventions and “Rube Goldberg” machines from the Engineering department.  Last fall saw over 300 students participate, a number that continues to climb each semester.

Come join our students in the excitement of academic inquiry and exploration!  If you would like to attend MCC’s Scholar Day, it will be at Highland Gym on Friday, April 22 from 10 to 1 PM.  All students and community members are invited to join us.  If you need any more information, please contact Dr. Staci Taylor at


Fred HillsDr. Fred Hills is the current president of the HOT P-20 and Dean of Arts, Science and Business at McLennan Community College. He has worked and lived in the Waco community for over 20 years and has served on the HOT P20 for the last four years.

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.

A Sanger Heights Shout-Out

by Kristen Bulgrien

I live in Sanger Heights, and I love it. I moved to Waco three years ago as a graduate student at Baylor, and was pretty clueless about where to find housing in this town. Thankfully I had a roommate-to-be who did some great legwork for us (literally, she was in Waco, driving and walking around to different places while we communicated over email and skype), and we found ourselves in a great little house right in the middle of Sanger Heights.  Three years later, we have yet to leave.

So I’d like to dedicate this post to Sanger Heights, and all the things about it that are dear to me. I hope it will cause you to reflect on all the things you love about your little corner of town, and that it might inspire you to pay us a visit here in Sanger Heights.

Let’s start at an obvious place: the food. You can grab a gyro at D’s Mediterranean or some really delicious pancakes at World Cup Café. But you probably already knew that. My favorite little gem that you might not know about is the Paleteria La Nueva Michoacana at 1201 N. 25th. From popsicles to ice cream to horchata to strawberries and cream, this little ice cream shop has something for everyone. Bring cash for your treats, and don’t worry – you can order in English or Spanish.

The next thing is a place I admittedly have a vested interest in – it’s my church, Calvary Baptist, at 18th and Bosque. We’d love it if you joined us on a Sunday morning, but you can also plant veggies in the community garden, get your groove on at zumba (Tuesdays/Thursdays, 7 pm, $2), or sell your wares at our Community Yard Sale (next one is April 23).

Sanger Heights is also home to some great organizations doing great work. Mission Waco and Waco Community Development are full of people who love their community and are doing great work on its behalf. Building affordable homes, mentoring kids, providing jobs, even opening grocery stores and eradicating food deserts – these are just a few of the things they do.

Lastly, if you’ve never experienced Halloween on Colcord…well…you’ve never truly done Halloween. Where I grew up, if you wanted to trick-or-treat, you walked up front steps, knocked on doors, and waited patiently for the residents to come to the door with a candy bowl. That’s not how this works. A section of the street gets closed off to motorists, and it is a heyday of kids, costumes, hot dogs, and candy. If you’re handing out candy on Colcord, don’t even think about going inside your house and waiting for kids to come, because you will never close your door. You might as well don a costume, grab your candy, and gird up your loins for the steady stream of trick-or-treaters on parade through your neighborhood. It is crazy, and it is so much fun.

So, there you have it, a quick ode to Sanger Heights. It is not at all comprehensive – there is so much more to love about this place! But I hope it brings you to our neck of the woods sooner rather than later. I hope it also gets you thinking – what is great about your neighborhood? What are the hidden gems? How can you share them with someone who may not know about them? I hope you take some time today to revel in this little Waco-town we call home.  It’s a pretty beautiful place.

Kristen BulgrienKristen Bulgrien is a proud Pennsylvanian who can’t decide how she feels about Texas as a whole, but really, really loves Waco. She moved to Waco in 2013 to pursue a Master’s Degree in social work and is now the Director of Community Partnerships at Helping Hands Ministry in Belton, Texas. When she’s not working, you can probably find her at the farmer’s market, the dog park, or Lula Jane’s.

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.