Prosper Waco: Moving Forward In 2016

by Christina Helmick

The start of a new year means starting new things, right? Prosper Waco is starting the new year by working on collaborative and partner-led projects, supporting and facilitating collaborative grant applications, and engaging the community each step of the way. The projects the Prosper Waco backbone and community partners are working on address the goals of the initiative’s common agenda.

What are the specific projects?

WFENThere are numerous collaborative projects the Prosper Waco backbone and community partners are currently working on, such as the Waco Foundational Employment Network, Community Health Worker program and Project Link. Skillpoint Alliance and Family Health Center Advanced Care Management are two partner-led projects we are currently working on.

As the backbone organization, we are currently supporting and facilitating two collaborative grant applications, which are the System of Care grant and the HOPES grant. Supporting the application process of these grants is an effort to capture resources for our entire Waco community.

Each project advances the common agenda of the Prosper Waco initiative and has been reviewed and discussed by Prosper Waco working groups and steering committees.

How can I learn more about the projects?

What to expectWe’ve created a “What To Expect In 2016” report for you to download to learn more about the projects the Prosper Waco backbone organization and community partners are currently working on. As an extra bonus, we’ve included in the report a master calendar of events for 2016 and Prosper Waco’s strategic plan for community engagement.

Download the report and contact us with your feedback, questions or comments. You can contact us by calling 254-741-0081 or sending an email to

How can I become involved in the Prosper Waco initiative in 2016?

There are multiple ways you can become involved in the Prosper Waco initiative. Here is a list of a few ways you can become involved:

Volunteer: There are various opportunities for you to volunteer in our community, from one-time events to weekly opportunities. Volunteer opportunities range from mentoring youth in Waco to facilitating financial literacy education classes with job training programs. Check out the Get Involved tab on our website to learn more.

Connect: The Prosper Waco Community Engagement Council wants to connect with YOU! If you are interested in having your voice heard, helping guide the work of the initiative, and want to know who you can reach out to in your neighborhood for information regarding the initiative, email and a community engagement council member from your neighborhood will contact you.

Attend: Our working group and steering committees are open to all community members. Visit the events tab on our website to learn about the meeting times, dates and locations. Don’t worry if you can’t make the meetings-we take notes at every meeting and would be happy to send them your way!

Subscribe: Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and stay abreast of the Prosper Waco initiative.

We know there isn’t a silver bullet to addressing the poverty issues in our community, but with the community voice guiding the work and the hard work of our community partners, collectively we can make Waco the best community it can be.

Contact us! Call us at 254-741-0081 or send an email to

Christina HelmickChristina Helmick is the director of communication at Prosper Waco. She is a recent graduate of Baylor University with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations & New Media. Originally she is from Washington, D.C., but has stayed in Waco post-graduation.  She is an active mentor at J.H. Hines Elementary School, enjoys spending time with her family and watching Baylor football. Sic ’em Bears!

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.



Don’t Let Arthritis Keep You Down

By Crystal Hernandez

Arthritis pain can be excruciating – it doesn’t have to be. We can help through EnhanceFitness®.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical activity can reduce pain; improve function and emotional well-being in those suffering from arthritis. Programs, such as EnhanceFitness, have been approved by the CDC to help those with the disease.

EnhanceFitness is a 16-week program that meets three times each week. The curriculum helps participants to improve cardiovascular function, muscular strength and endurance, balance, range of motion and flexibility.

Instructors are able to work with all levels and abilities because both the cardiovascular and resistance training can be performed seated or standing. To alleviate the need to grasp weights with hands and fingers, which can be difficult and painful, wrist and ankle cuffs are used. These secure around the limbs and as the participant becomes stronger they can gradually increase the weight by ½ pound increments.

Assessments are performed at the start of the program and again at the end of the 16-week program. This allows participants to see the improvements that they’ve made in their fitness.

EnhanceFitness classes require registration and can hold 15-25 participants. Classes are held at both the Doris Miller Family YMCA and the Waco Family YMCA. It is free to YMCA members. For non-members it is $100 for the full 16 weeks. The next program will begin on April 4. For more information, contact Chronic Disease Prevention Specialist, Crystal Hernandez at 254-776-6612 or .

crystal hernandez2This Act Locally Waco blog post was written by Crystal Hernandez. Crystal is the Chronic Disease Specialist for the Waco Family YMCA. She received her degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from the University of Memphis. She and husband Shawn are blessed to be the parents of 4 beautiful children. In her free time, she loves hitting the pavement and pounding out a good run.

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.



Game Plan for Super Bowl 50: Are You Drinking or Are You Driving? This is NOT the time for an option play!

By Meilana Charles

The Super Bowl is America’s most watched national sporting event. On Super Bowl 50 Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, there will be lots of game day socializing that may include drinking. That’s why the Cooperative Extension Program of Prairie View A&M University and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service “Watch UR BAC” program is urging football fans to call the play now: Drinking OR driving. If you plan on drinking on Super Bowl Sunday, designate a sober driver to get you home safely.

“Drunk driving is completely preventable,” said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent Colleen Follen “All it takes is a little planning. We want fans to remember that it’s a choice — drink or drive, but never do both. Law enforcement agencies will be out in large numbers to stop anyone who makes the dangerous decision to drive impaired.”

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 1,041 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2014, accounting for 29 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in Texas. Super Bowl Sunday is a risky day for drunk-driving crashes.The “Watch UR BAC” program advises that if you’re attending a Super Bowl party or watching the game at a sports bar or restaurant:

  • Designate your sober driver, or plan another way to get home safely before the party begins.
  • If you don’t have a designated driver, then ask a sober friend for a ride home; or call a cab, friend or relative to come and get you. If you are at a friend’s house, stay the night.
  • Never let friends drive if they have had too much to drink.

If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party:

  • Make sure all your guests have a non-drinking driver to take them home, or arrange for alternate transportation to see that they get home safely.
  • Serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks at the party.
  • Host your party just like they do at the stadium. Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter of the game, and begin serving coffee and dessert.
  • Take the keys away from anyone who has had too much to drink.
  • Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in a drunk- driving crash.

Cooperative Extension Program of Prairie View A&M University and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Watch UR BAC program is a free, statewide program to promote alcohol awareness, the dangers of impaired driving, and friends watching out for friends. Contact for booking information.

Meilana CharlesThis Act Locally Waco blog post was written by Meilana Charles. Meilana is a Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent at Cooperative Extension Program at Prairie View A&M University. Meilana’s priority areas for providing educational resources to McLennan County are general nutrition, money management and parenting. She has a M.S. in Child Development from Texas Woman’s University and is a certified Human Development and Family Studies professional through American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

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.