Getting down to the Work of Art

By Luann Jennings

This fall Creative Waco, our local arts agency, will debut an eight-week course in business skills for visual, performing, and literary artists and arts students, along with three special professional development workshops.

The course is based on Work of Art: Business Skills for Artists, developed by Springboard for the Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota. I had the privilege of visiting St. Paul in July (where the high temperature was 83…) to be trained in the curriculum, and I’m excited to share it with Waco’s artists and creatives. I’ve been teaching arts business development and entrepreneurship for a number of years, and the Work of Art program is a terrific framework for starting your creative career or moving it forward. Springboard’s instructors have taught the Work of Art content “at arts organizations, libraries and colleges in over 80 communities in the Upper Midwest, and [it has been] replicated across the country by artists, arts organizations, and colleges and universities.”

The eight sessions will cover career and business planning, goal-setting and productivity, communicating about your work, pricing, record-keeping, legal issues, and more.

We’ll also hold three additional workshops using the Work of Art material. The first will be a free introductory session on Why Artists Need Business Skills, to help potential participants decide whether Work of Art is for them (date and location TBA).

Then, in November, we’ll hold two special workshops. On Saturday, November 3, we’ll cover Marketing, Branding, and Promotion; and on Friday evening, November 16, we’ll talk about Fundraising and Grantwriting, with a special emphasis on the Creative Waco AMP Grant and Texas Commission on the Arts grants. Those registered for the eight-week course may attend the Marketing and Fundraising workshops for free, but registration will also be open to those not enrolled in the course.

Work of Art will meet weekly beginning the week of September 23 and will conclude the week before Thanksgiving. Participants may attend either a morning or weeknight session. The days and location are still being decided, but if you want to learn more when we have the info, sign up for Creative Waco’s enewsletter, follow us on social media, or write to me at and I’ll send you the info as soon as I have it.

Luann Jennings is the Project Manager for Artist Professional Development at Creative Waco. She is a theatre director and has been working in arts leadership, entrepreneurship, and education for a long time. Luann and her husband Chuck, a jazz guitarist you can find playing locally, moved to Waco from New York City two years ago to invest in the arts community and cultural life here.

The War after the War – The Battle Within

by Tabitha Ferguson

Most people think of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, as being something that happens to someone after they return from war…but, the trauma that causes PTSD can be a lot closer than we think, and the PTSD caused by this kind of trauma is the most marginalized and stigmatized silent-growing epidemic in society. People are quick to throw out a diagnosis like bipolar disorder, depression, personality disorder, anxiety disorder, etc. without really doing a thorough assessment and understanding what physically happens to someone who experiences trauma.

Here are some examples of trauma that can cause PTSD: childhood trauma, abuse, neglect (not being wanted, verbal, psychological abuse and bullying, divorcing parents, growing up with substance abuse parents), sexual abuse, domestic violence, loss and abandonment through death or divorce.

PTSD is an invisible illness with symptoms including uninvited memories (flashbacks), deregulated emotions such as anxiety and fear, depression, anger, chronic heartache, insomnia, and night terrors all at once or sporadically. I’ve lived with this disorder my whole life and although I’m no longer broken or suffer with constant symptoms, I still have to address my bruises to maintain my freedom. There was a time, however, that my mind was plagued with uninvited memories and deregulated emotions. This paralyzed me.

I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety since I was as young as 10 years old. I smoked my first cigarette at the age of 11 years old and turned to food for comfort. I’ve suffered with eating disorders, drug addictions, nicotine addictions, self-harm and suicide attempts — all because I didn’t know how to cope with not being loved the proper way. People just assumed I was born with mental illnesses since my mother projected those lies on me to collect a disability check on me. The consequences of her actions retraumatized me, and I believed the lie that something was wrong with me for over 30 years.

When I was moved to two different treatment facilities the summer before my sophomore year, all I remember was the pain I felt because I blamed myself for all the mistreatment in my life. I couldn’t speak fluently about what all I experienced my 15 short years of life back then. All I could do was hurt, medicate, and misbehave. I also believed there was something wrong with me and the same message reverberated in my mind over and over until it took root. “I’m unworthy. I’m not lovable. There must be something wrong with me because my own family doesn’t even want me.” People just saw the behavior attached to those thoughts without knowing the depth of my pain and loaded me up on psych medication as they pushed me straight into the judicial system. I was raised by the systems, and I will never know what it’s like to have loving, supportive parents. I’ve had to grieve this reality as I learned how to parent my two boys alone.

A little over 10 years ago my life was forever changed when someone gave me Joyce Meyer’s book, “Battlefield of the Mind.” For the first time in my life the seed of hope was planted in my heart as I read someone’s story similar to mine. Joyce Meyer also offered a solution that wasn’t your typical quick fix this world tries to offer. At the beginning of my recovery, I was simply just learning how to self-regulate my emotions and function in society. I had no clue that I suffered with PTSD because I was trapped in all of the lies growing up. As I’ve mentioned before, everyone else minimized the abuse and trauma I lived through, so I minimized it as way to cope with it. This was not healthy. I found ways to escape the trauma by dissociation which caused suppressed memories that I’ve had to finally deal with as they’ve surfaced over the years. I also suffer with memory loss in certain seasons of my life growing up. Joyce’s book unlocked the prison in my mind I suffered with my most of my life. I began a new journey with God and I began to see change.

This was the beginning of my newfound life, and I began processing the hurt I kept locked away for so long. I began to take a look at the lost little girl within me and addressed the wounded child from within.

Here I am 10 plus years later moving past a painful past and traumatic childhood as I’ve grieved all my losses. All it ever boiled down to was this – I wanted to be loved and accepted. I wanted to hear something positive about myself instead of all the voices around me that kept restating that I wasn’t loved and valued. I’ve spent more years taking care of the mentally ill mother who abused me growing up than I did receiving love. I’ve also stood in the way of my mother who tried to commit suicide and visited her in mental institutions instead of being loved and supported throughout all of my own pain and suffering. This isn’t something medication can fix. This was a wounded soul that only God could heal. Since then, I have had to learn how to simply receive love from the godly women that God has put in my path of restoration.

The reality I lived in and survived is still happening to young ones today. Backgrounds like mine make one a prime target for human trafficking and the street life. Mental health agencies need to understand the depth of pain and suffering a person has gone through before just throwing a medication at dysfunction and abuse. I’m convinced our modern day slavery is mental health, and it’s evident that we have a crisis that needs to be addressed holistically if we ever expect to see real change and freedom. We weren’t designed to carry the burdens of this world. Because someone’s transparency changed the direction of my life, I share openly unapologetically to give others the same hope I received over 10 years ago.

My name is Tabitha Ferguson and I was born and raised in this city. I share my story openly to help others find the same hope, healing, and restoration I found 11 years ago from a traumatic childhood.

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.




Hope and Help for Cancer Survivors: The Cattleya Foundation

By Minister Sandra Henry

History and Birth of the Cattleya Foundation of Hope

May 22, 2015, I went to Baylor Scott and White Hillcrest Medical Center for my annual mammogram.  This time it was different, I was diagnosed with breast cancer!  My first reaction, as I tried to listen to the doctor explain medical procedures, was the fear of death but God spoke to me with the words, “Fear not, all is well.”  Throughout my traumatic experience, with the love of my husband Joseph, love and encouragement of family, friends, cancer survivors and my church, Abundant Love Fellowship Church, I was strengthened by faith to persevere.

In August 2015, I planned a Celebration of Life luncheon at the Spa at Canyon Oaks in Crawford, Texas, where my family, friends, local community partners and cancer survivors came to celebrate my life journey. I watched in awe as God’s vision and plan began to unfold in such a miraculous way.  So many people attended this event that I knew God was about to do an amazing work.  At that moment, I said yes to God’s Will for my life journey.

On February 15, 2016, I met with Sister Shelia Ross (who attended the event in August), Sister Toria Smith-Loughridge, Sister Lisa Ware, and Sister Sandra Montgomery at Panera’s in the Central Texas Marketplace Shopping Center.  We prayerfully discussed plans of establishing a local cancer foundation in Waco for all cancers.  We formed a board and started this foundation with our own money.  We have worked diligently to plant seeds of hope in cancer survivors and continue to passionately serve the McLennan County community. The Cattleya Foundation of Hope has now grown to twenty-two members.

We adopted the orchid as our symbol because of its strong roots and its ability to persevere through adversities, its beauty, and grace.  We adopted the color purple because of its royal heritage; the color gold because it represents courage and passion; and the color ivory/cream because it represents elegance, warmth, and tranquility (peace).

Our core values are Christ first, compassion, commitment, communication, courage to be steadfast and unmovable, excellence in all we do, integrity, accountability and transparency, service, and teamwork (unity).

Our mission statement:  We are a team of Christian women and men who understand the plight of those recently diagnosed, cancer survivors continuing on their journey, and those who are in the fight to regain their health and wholeness.  We stand together to provide spiritual and emotional support for those who have been diagnosed with cancer and are continuing on their journey.  We stand together to give hope, faith and life to men, women, and children cancer survivors and their families.

We are unique because spirituality, prayer, and love are the essence of our foundation and our service to cancer survivors in this community.   In Cattleya, our cancer clients are not alone!

Cattleya Whispers of Hope Programs

After completing a confidential assessment application, we may provide transportation and/or bus passes for doctor appointments and treatments.  We may sit with cancer clients to give relief to their primary caregiver, which is important to everyone affected by cancer.

How do cancer survivors learn about our services?  We receive our clients through Scott and White Hillcrest Medical Center – McClinton Cancer Center; Community Cancer Association, and through word of mouth.

Cattleya has partnered with McClane Children’s Hospital in Temple, Texas, because it is the nearest facility available to McLennan county children who have been recently diagnosed with cancer and our children cancer survivors continuing on their life journey.

Last year, Cattleya was able to visit the children at McClane Children’s Hospital during October for the October Harvest and December for Christmas expressions of love.  On both occasions we were inspired by the smiles and their willingness to grasp life with all she has to offer.  These courageous children and their families are why we are in this fight to end cancer in our world.

We brought socks, gloves, blankets, newly donated books and gift cards.  During Christmas we also brought donated snowmen outfits for the children to wear and have fun!

This summer, through fundraising, we were able to give a monetary donation to their Dreamcatcher Camp.  This is a week-long camp that allows the children to spend time in an environment where they can be a kid, have hope and enjoy having fun.  If any of you readers would like to contribute to Dreamcatchers, please contact McClane Children’s Hospital or go on their website.

Celebration of Life

Each year, Cattleya hosts “A Celebration of Life” through fundraising and donations.  This event is to honor those recently diagnosed with cancer, cancer survivors continuing on their life journey, family members of those who stand with cancer survivors, and family members of those courageous warriors who have transitioned home.

This is a night we celebrate life, plant seeds of hope, and inspire one another to continue the fight.  We welcome our community to come and support our courageous women and men as we continue our life journey.  We offer a catered dinner, inspiration from a local speaker, and gifts for our cancer survivors.  It is a special time set aside for us to pamper cancer survivors in a special way.

It is also a time for us to reach out to our community in support for the programs and services that we provide throughout the year for our cancer clients.

Cattleya’s wish list is simple.  We need a facility where women, men and children cancer survivors can come and read a book, write a journal, enjoy a time of serenity. A place we can transform into a tranquil setting and build programs for cancer survivors in Waco, Texas.   If you have a place to offer to us, please contact Min Sandra Henry at

And finally a quote from Maya Angelou

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

This Act Locally Waco blog post was written by Minister Sandra Henry.  Min. Henry serves as associate minister of Abundant Love Fellowship Church, Dr. E.L. Ross, Pastor.  She has been a member for 3 years. Min Henry preached her first sermon at the New American International Baptist Institute and Seminary in Harker Heights, Texas in December 2012 and received her license in March 2013 at Pleasant Olive. She received her Master of Theology and Doctor of Theology at NAIBI Seminary. She is an honorably discharged veteran from the United States Army with four years of active service. Min Henry and her husband, Joseph Henry, relocated to Waco, Texas in 1985 after he retired from the United States Army with 20 years of service. Min Henry is retired from Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office with twenty-four years of service. They have four children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Bro and Min Joseph Henry love the Lord and they serve Him together. Min Henry’s focus is a faithful and humble servant rooted in the word of God.

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.