Towny Waco: Your New Best Buds at Baylor Flowers

(Welcome to the Act Locally Waco/Towny blog series. Towny is an app that connects consumers with local businesses. Through this blog series, the folks at Towny will be sharing the stories behind some of our high-quality, local products and helping you get to know some of our energetic local entrepreneurs. For more posts in this blog series, click here: Towny Waco.– ALW)

By Tori Freeman

When I walked into Baylor Flowers to meet with Owner Kim Anderson and Shop Manager Lauren, the last thing I expected to hear was a science lesson and an art lesson, but that’s exactly what I got. That, and a behind-the-scenes peek into the colorful history of this flower shop.

Can you tell me a little about the history of the shop?

Kim: “It started in the ‘70s, but I haven’t pinpointed the exact date from the original owners. Anyway, it started as John’s Craft Gallery – I don’t actually know what they sold there.

Owner Kim with the winner of their Bear Hug drawing

It eventually turned into Baylor Balloons. In the ‘80s there was a big balloon craze, and I believe they even dressed up in costumes and delivered balloons sometimes. Now, I don’t know that for a fact, it’s just something that’s been passed down as “store legend.”

When the balloon craze started dying out, they incorporated flowers and we became Baylor Balloons & Flowers. And then there was a helium shortage, maybe 5 or 6 years ago. So we decided that was a good time to drop “Balloons.” We had been wanting to shorten it to Baylor Flowers for a little while anyway, because that’s the majority of what we do.”

I never knew that there was a helium shortage!

Lauren: “There’s actually one again now!”

Kim: “Yes, there are only two sources of helium in the whole world. One is in Amarillo, Texas, and one is across the ocean somewhere. At the last helium shortage, it got so bad that the helium was only being provided to hospitals, because some of their equipment runs off helium.

Of course, we learned all this at the time. We had never thought about where helium comes from before, it just comes in tanks! So, we did a lot of research during the last shortage.”

Lauren: “Because it’s a natural occurring resource, it’s not made in a lab. So, you have to capture it from the ground basically.”

Kim: “Kind of like natural gas, you have to mine it and make it usable. Sometimes the demand is more than the supply.

So, there’s a shortage going on right now, we just got two tanks of helium. The price doubled, and we don’t know when this one runs out if we’ll be able to get more or is it eventually going to get to where it’s hospitals only again.

So that’s just a little trivia! But back to the history…I started working for Baylor Flowers in 2004 under a different owner. And then in 2017 she decided to retire, and I bought the shop. So, I’ve basically had it for a year and a half.”

You started out as a delivery driver, right? Did you know much about flowers?

Kim: “Basically, delivery driver, answer phones and sweep.

I had taken some adult education classes just for fun, they used to be offered at TSTC. So that’s the only experience that I had.

Whenever we get new girls, we try to see if they’ve got a natural talent for arranging. So, I don’t know if that’s what happened to me. I don’t even remember how I started designing, but I did, and I had a knack for it. So, I ended up being the lead designer.”

Obviously you liked it enough to take over as owner.

Kim: “Yeah,” (she smiles). “It’s a lot of work, I don’t get to design as much now that I own it because there’s so much other stuff that I have to take care of, so I kinda miss that aspect, but when we’re busy I do get in there and get busy making floral arrangements. And I enjoy it. I think I enjoy it more now, because I miss it.”

What goes into designing a bouquet? Do you look for certain elements?

Lauren: “Mhmm. There’s the elements of design, so you have to look at your line, color, texture, shape…there’s like seven of them. And also you get to add in that element of fragrance as well, so that’s nice. You always want to make it pleasing to the eye, so there’s certain things you look for and there’s definitely things that do not go together.”

Kim: “Yeah, I’d say balance is a big element. Because if you’re out of balance, your whole arrangement doesn’t work…and that could be balance of color, balance of design, balance of textures.”

So it really is an ART FORM.

Kim: “Definitely. And we are all creative in other forms of art, whether with handwriting or drawing or something else, so it seems like

is kind of part of that artistic sphere.”

Lauren: “It’s definitely a way to create art every day in your job. Not necessarily something you get to keep or hang in a museum, but it does bring joy to other people so that’s really nice.”

What’s something about Baylor Flowers that would surprise people?

Kim: “Well, some people put things on their card messages that could be very…sometimes maybe racey? Or maybe should be something private.

Because they’re doing everything on the website, I guess they think that they’re very anonymous and they don’t realize that hey, that prints out on a piece of paper! And we see it.”

Lauren: “And it’s not very often. Most messages are usually pretty innocuous.”

Kim: “Yeah it’s rare, like maybe once a year. But it’s like…do they not realize that real people see this and it’s not just some robot that’s attaching your message? So, I think that’s kind of surprising sometimes.”

Lauren: “And I think another thing is, almost on a daily basis we get people who come in and say, “Oh my gosh I didn’t realize you had so much different stuff in here!” They don’t realize that we have all these gift choices, candles, jewelry, little home decor items.”

I had no idea either to be honest. It seems like a lot of the stuff you’re selling is locally made?

Lauren: “We try really hard to keep it local if possible and different and unique. There are soo many shops in Waco that sell a lot of the same type of stuff. So, it’s nice to try to have stuff that’s different.”

Kim: “And that’s very hard to do. Sometimes we get things because we like the philanthropy behind them. I wouldn’t say that’s the only reason, but it helps us.

Like our Pinch Me therapy dough – it’s like a play dough for adults, I mean kids can use it too, but it’s infused with essential oils. So when you play with it, it kind of has a calming effect. A lot of our student workers get it and roll it around while they’re studying for a test or something.”

Lauren: “We’ve had several teachers, counselors and therapists that come in here and get it and have it in their office where they meet with clients. And part of the proceeds from that go to help veterans with PTSD.

And then our neighborhood candles, they’re actually made in South Carolina or North Carolina—I can’t remember which one—but the lady who owns the company is actually from Waco.

They have different scents in their catalog and then you pick a certain scent and you say, I want to call that “Wacotown” or “Austin Ave.” As far as I know, nobody else in Waco carries those candles, at least under those names. And they’re soy so they burn clean.

Those are just a couple of our items with stories behind them, but we try to have a good mixture of gifts in here!”


Whether you’re looking for a pick-me-up bouquet for you or yours, a gorgeous arrangement for your wedding, or the perfect gift for your new little, Baylor Flowers is worth a trip. To explore more local Waco businesses (and get rewarded for it!) be sure to take a peek at our online guide to locally-owned business in your community! Or download the Towny app to your phone for a free on-the-go guide!


Tori Freeman is a Colorado native turned Texan and a graduate of Baylor University. She works as a part-time paralegal and creative freelancer with expertise spanning writing, editing, and photography. Tori knows firsthand how local businesses can change lives—she met her husband, Braden, while working at the Hippodrome! They now happily live in Waco with their spoiled golden-doodle and their even more spoiled baby boy.

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.org for more information.

Mentor Waco: Enhancing Young Minds

By Jeremy Davis

Mentor Waco is a collaboration of like-minded individuals coming together to guide and further enhance the young minds of Waco, Texas, and the surrounding areas. I founded Mentor Waco with the vision of providing guidance, motivation, support and a role model for students while also assisting with academic achievement.  

I was inspired to start Mentor Waco after reviewing the academic reports for the Waco area and seeing how poorly young boys were performing compared to their peers. After continued research I felt compelled to help bring about a positive change.

Mentor Waco is geared toward building each individual boy’s character whether it’s academically through tutoring or book club; professionally, through “We can do both” public speaking/research assignments; socially by creating a brotherhood within Mentor Waco, or a combination of all three.

In February of 2018, I started out with seven young men.  After working with them academically and socially, they began to show growth very quickly. After experiencing this success, I decided to fully launch Mentor Waco. It is open to 6th through 12th grade students who attend school in or around Waco. Despite being a fairly new organization, Mentor Waco has already made an impact within the area by volunteering for numerous events.  We partnered with Mission Waco and “The Hanger” to assist with constructing a garden for the local homeless community.  We donated and gathered goods, and then sorted donations at the drop off location for Food for Families. Last year at Christmas we volunteered at Brookdale Lakeshore Senior Living Community.  The boys helped set up a Christmas party for the residents and their families.  They assisted residents to their seats and served dinner.

Students participating in Mentor Waco have already shown an increase in academic achievement and improved behavior at school. As the program continues to grow, the foundation and core principles will remain the same — to have a positive impact on the students as they prepare for a successful future.

This year Mentor Waco will participate in a new program which we hope will quickly become a tradition. It’s called “We can do both.”  The idea for “We can do both” came about because of a lesson with the students on how they should conduct themselves appropriately in different situations. The title “We can do both” is meant to get across the idea that Mentor Waco students should always look their best whether they’re in casual settings or professional settings. I wanted to teach them how to dress and act appropriately in professional settings. I wanted them to be equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to be versatile and to conduct themselves well in any situation. That idea grew into an event and “We can do both” day was born. The primary purpose of this event is to build confidence, expose the students to the world of professional development and dress, and to introduce the critical skills needed for speaking in a professional setting.

During the whole school day, on February 20, 2019, the students of Mentor Waco will dress in business professional attire. Throughout the day, students will be asked preselected questions by Tennyson Middle School faculty and staff.  This will give the students a chance to practice appropriately introducing themselves in a mock professional setting.

After the school day is completed, the professional etiquette portion of the event will begin. The students will share a meal during which they will receive training on proper etiquette such as setting the table, selecting the appropriate silverware for the various dishes, and acceptable table manners. The speaker for the event will be Waco police Officer Stan Mason.

We invite you to learn more about Mentor Waco. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, donating professional attire or making a donation please send us an email or click the donation box on our website and on our social media sites:


Jeremy Davis is the founder of Mentor Waco.  He is the son of a preacher which is where he learned how to serve and make a difference in people’s lives through actions. He has been a mentee in various programs that taught servanthood, etiquette and the importance of character and integrity for young men. He is a 2013 graduate of Midway High School, attended Stephen F. Austin, and pledged to be a member of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity. He was awarded The Presidential Volunteer Service Award in 2018.  He was a part of Black Men For Bernie, one of the largest grassroots organizations during the 2016 presidential election. He taught at Standing Rock Indian Reservation School during the pipeline standoff, and he is currently a Behavioral Specialist Aide at Tennyson Middle School. The word he hopes people would use to describe him is “servant.”  

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.org for more information.

East Waco Voices: Serving One’s Own Community as a Community Health Worker

By Khristian Howard

What sense of mission drives you? Where does it lead you? Away from home? To a zip code or group of people that are unknown to you?  This is a common tendency when it comes to service. We sense a connection to an issue even though we’ve never been directly affected by it.  We look at communities that face challenges, like poverty and a lack of resources, and we intervene from the outside.

But what happens when your sense of mission leads you to your own backyard, and you choose to focus your service on your own community and family? This was the case for Domonique Corsey, a Community Health Worker (CHW) in East Waco.  She answered the call to serve the very community she and her family have lived in for generations. A candid chat with her reveals her path as a community influencer and organizer, as well as valuable details about what is needed to improve the quality of life in East Waco.

If you have been around Waco for the past couple of years, you will likely remember the new program implemented by Prosper Waco and the Waco-McLennan County Health District that placed Community Health Workers in a handful of local zip codes with the highest needs.  “Community Health Workers” are individuals from selected neighborhoods who are trained to help make their neighborhoods healthier. The workers don’t provide medical health care services themselves, but they receive extensive training in how to connect residents to resources and how to provide health education.  They serve as health advocates in the communities where they live.

Domonique was living in Estella Maxey Place in the 76704 zip code when she first got involved with the CHW program. She summarizes her motivation for being a Community Health Worker this way, “My main interest is seeing everyone be their best self, we are all different, and my best self might not be the next person’s best self…so just helping people be their best selves, and [to] know who they are.”  Shirley Langston, a neighbor and organizer in Estella Maxey, nominated Dominique for the CHW program because of her work with young girls in the community. “When this program was introduced to me, I think it was just in the works. Ms. Shirley Langston is who told me about it originally…from what I understand, she recommended me…In September 2017 we started class and went through 160 hours of training.”

Waco Area Community Health Workers, Domonique Corsey front row, center.

What led to this recommendation? What was Corsey already doing that made her a good fit for community health work? She shared that prior to becoming a CHW, her work in the community was, “…not so much health as far as nutrition, eating healthy, and exercise, but I was a community person and that ties into a lot of what we [CHW’s] do because we are planning and connecting with people to help them walk through steps.” Domonique’s community work before becoming a CHW entailed connecting to young women with a girls’ workshop – which will take place again this spring – that focused on teaching them about their bodies, self-esteem, and peer pressure. Through this work, she found herself often acting as an advocate for people needing help with navigating processes with Child Protective Services (CPS) as well. Corsey believes that her connections and rapport with the community influenced her placement in the ’04 zip code as a CHW.  “The way they chose our zip codes was based on seeing what was beneficial for us and the community.”

So, what has her work as a CHW uncovered about health needs in East Waco? After a moment of thought, she responded, “One need I do see in East Waco a lot is mental health. That, and a lack of food access. But what I see [overall] is that there’s more of a need for resources…there’s not enough resources to compare with the need. So that’s the main thing. If I could build more resources…that’s what I would work on.” 

According to Corsey, other barriers to health and wellness in East Waco include a lack of public transportation and simple, practical education on how to buy and eat healthy. “[For example] showing simpler ways to cook healthy – and having someone to help you budget and show you how you can save your SNAP,” she stated.

Corsey went on to discuss the new developments that are popping up in East Waco, and how this holds the potential to benefit the community. “So, for East Waco, a lot of people want work and I would want to see how to bring our people in [to get] jobs at some of these new development places that are coming in.”

As Community Health Workers, Corsey and her colleagues seek to build on the resources that are in the community. This calls for accountability and transparency from them when building relationships with clients. Corsey says openness and honesty are her policy,  “…let them know what you can and can’t do…connect to them in a way where you let them know, ‘hey, I’ve been where you are’ or ‘this is how I overcame this issue’…give them and open mind, confidentiality, and trustworthiness [so that] they know they can come to you with things, no matter what they are.”

Reflecting on the community, Domonique pointed out that East Waco fosters a lot of great energy, history, and unity. As far as how Community Health Workers affect change in East Waco, she stated, “I believe we have to come together and educate each other and build on our history…That’s where the work begins and ends… with the community. We listen to them, feed off them, feel their energy and then come back and do what we have to according to what they need and want. That’s what we do.”

If you live in 76704, 76705,76706, or 76707 and want to connect to with a CHW, please contact: Health District Education Department (254)-750-5631. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WacoCommunityHealthWorkers/

Khristian Howard is an Atlanta native and a recent graduate of Georgia State University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. She has a passion for empowering communities through service, and seeks to connect advocacy to creativity. Currently, she is serving as the AmeriCorps VISTA for Texas Hunger Initiative Waco, where her work focuses on fostering collective impact to improve health and eating habits in East Waco. When she is not working, you may find her sharpening her culinary skills or exploring new poetic and artistic pathways.  

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.org for more information.