Share our Strength Youth Ambassadors Pour Energy into Waco

By Craig Nash

Through the No Kid Hungry Campaign of Share Our Strength, the Waco Regional office of Texas Hunger Initiative has had the benefit of two Baylor Students serving as Youth Ambassadors (YAs), charged with the task of providing support for and increasing participation in the Summer Food Service Program. This summer’s YAs are Keyanna Taylor from San Antonio and Steven Kuipers from Reading, Pennsylvania. Both Keyanna and Steven have hit the ground running and are providing tons of creative energy to summer meal sites. I wanted them to have an opportunity to share with the Act Locally Waco community about themselves and what they are learning this summer.

Keyanna Taylor

My name is Keyanna Taylor. I am from San Antonio, Texas, and a sophomore at Baylor University studying Public Health on the Pre-Medical track. I am passionate about learning how hunger and overall poverty impacts the health of communities and the individuals that make up these communities. I love being a part of the Texas Hunger Initiative and Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, because it allows me to make a difference towards improving the health of children, adults, and whole communities from a unique angle.

Since being a Youth Ambassador, I have been exposed to a lot of different parts of Waco, and I have learned about many different organizations and efforts that work for the community. It has been so eye opening to truly see how big and diverse Waco actually is. Before this experience, I thought it was a tiny town with not much going on. But I have learned that it is very large and active. This intrigued me and made me even more excited about my role this summer, because now I feel a calling to give back to this community.

More specifically, we recently visited the YMCA of Central Texas to see what its meal sites look like and to propose implementing some of the programs Steven and I are creating to increase meal site attendance. While visiting the YMCA, I got to see how many kids participate in the different camps and programs over the summer, and I was amazed. I was surprised to see how many kids they have in different summer camp programs, and it got me thinking. Would these children make it to meal sites if it weren’t for these programs here? Would they still be involved in physically and mentally engaging activities without the YMCA? This stood out to me as interesting and formed a connection in my thinking of how summer meal sites work alongside other organizations to impact the overall health of children. The children in these programs have access to healthy breakfast and lunch. They have access to games and activities that keep their minds stimulated, and they are being physically active to also keep their bodies healthy. I now see hunger being directly related to the holistic health of individuals.

After this experience at the YMCA, I realized how excited I was to be doing this work with the Texas Hunger Initiative. It is a way for me to explore the connections between hunger and mental and physical health of individuals and their communities. I would like to encourage others in the community to actively seek out ways they can learn more about different organizations in Waco. I believe that efforts from all different avenues must work alongside each other to improve the health of all citizens. So whether it be volunteering at the YMCA, Caritas of Waco or visiting a summer meal site, there are many ways to improve the health and quality of life for all here in Waco.

Steven Kuipers

Hello! My name is Steven Kuipers, and I am from Reading, Pennsylvania. Currently my studies revolve around Economics, Chinese, and Religion during my time as a student at Baylor University. I am also a community leader at Arbors apartments and a proud member of the Baylor Men’s Choir!

This summer I had the opportunity to travel with the Men’s Choir to sing and minister in Kenya. While there, I was taught a valuable lesson that I hope to bring to my work here in Waco. I learned it after we finished serving in the Pokot Village: a remote area about seven hours from Nairobi. Immediately after we arrived, we worked tirelessly to improve the living condition for the people there; we built water irrigation systems, painted classrooms, planted gardens, and even opened a medical clinic to treat the ill and infected. For nine hours, we served until the sun set and it was time to go home.

During our dinner at the hotel, we shared some of our feelings about the day. Surprisingly, there was a common feeling among the group: a sense of helplessness. We felt that even after all the time we spent working, we didn’t even scratch the surface of the problems there: hunger, illness, and poverty were still going to be present in the village after we left. After hearing this, our choir director stood up and gave us some encouragement. He explained to us that attacking something as big as third-world poverty could not be done in a single move. He explained that this kind of thing takes time and consistency, and that we did our part faithfully. He concluded by saying, “You cannot do everything, but you can do something.”

Those words resonated with me as I thought about my work here this summer addressing hunger. A lot of hunger in our community stems from the multi-rooted tree of poverty, and trying to chop down the tree by myself is an impossible goal. That is why it is not my responsibility to obliterate poverty in its entirety because, “I cannot do everything. But I can do something.” For me, my “something” is addressing hunger. I find great contentment in doing my part here at the Texas Hunger Initiative, because I realize that my work is part of a bigger picture of our community effort. Our organization focusing on hunger allows other groups and organizations in Waco to specialize in their own areas. And everyone chipping in to do their part will be the effort that makes a serious impact on our city.

That is why I want to encourage you, the reader, that when you want help your community, you alone don’t have to take down poverty. All you have to do is something. It can be anything, big or small, to address the cause. And when we have a community that collectively chips in to do its part: serious change happens in our lives and in our communities.


Craig Nash has lived in Waco since 2000. Since then he has worked at Baylor, been a seminary student, managed a hotel restaurant, been the “Barnes and Noble guy,” pastored a church and once again works for Baylor through the Texas Hunger Initiative. He lives with his dog Jane, religiously re-watches the same 4 series on Netflix over and over again, and considers himself an amateur country music historian.

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.

 

 

Waco History: Lovers’ Leap

A picturesque limestone bluff situated high above the Bosque River, Lovers’ Leap is as dangerous as it is beautiful.

On June 28, 1917, the Cameron family purchased a tract of sixty acres featuring the cliff area known as Lovers’ Leap. Though it had been the site of many picnics and romantic excursions, Lovers’ Leap had yet to receive formal designation as a park site. The Camerons originally leased the land to the federal government with the understanding that when Camp MacArthur troops no longer needed it as a recreation space, it would be added to Cameron Park. On September 3, 1920, the Cameron family acquired the remaining 191 acres between Cameron Park and Lover’s Leap, thereby ensuring the bluff would remain a central attraction in one of Texas’ largest municipal parks.

Associated with the cliff is a folktale involving two star-crossed Native American lovers. As recounted by Decca Lamar West in her popular 1912 booklet The Legend of Lovers’ Leap, Waco Indian maiden Wah-Wah-Tee secretly accepted a marriage proposal from a handsome Apache brave despite the enmity between their tribes. The two hoped to elope but were thwarted in their effort to run away quietly at night by Wah-Wah-Tee’s father and brothers who objected to the union. Cornered at the edge of a steep cliff above the Bosque, Wah-Wah-Tee and her brave chose to embrace one another and leap into the swollen river below rather than face a lifetime apart. The bodies of the two, still holding tightly onto one another, found a final resting place on the banks of the river close to the site of their first meeting. While stirring, no historical basis exists for the tale. It is most likely a byproduct of late-Victorian romanticism and efforts to promote one of Waco’s natural wonders to outsiders.

Since its establishment as an official outlook, Lovers’ Leap has presented a genuine safety concern. In an effort to safeguard the public from the cliff’s edge while not obstructing the splendid view of the surrounding countryside, park authorities constructed short stone walls. However, select visitors in pursuit of a better vantage point sometimes ignored these barriers, leading to personal injury or in certain cases death. In order to improve safety at the outlook and spruce up its appearance in time for the park’s centennial, the city of Waco constructed new fences in 2009 and removed foliage on the cliff face to enhance the view from the designated overlook plaza.

For close to one hundred years, Wacoans and tourists alike have been drawn to the dangerous beauty of Lovers’ Leap.


Waco History is a mobile app and web platform that places the past at your fingertips! It incorporates maps, text, images, video, and oral histories to provide individuals and groups a dynamic and place-based tool to navigate the diverse and rich history of Waco and McLennan County. It is brought to you by the Institute for Oral History and Texas Collection at Baylor University.  This post: Prisca Bird, “Lovers’ Leap,” Waco History, accessed June 21, 2017, http://www.wacohistory.org/items/show/38.

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.

Calling Central Texas “Home”…Long-Term!

By Trey Crumpton

Did you know that people have always loved living in Central Texas?…and I mean ALLLWAAAYS!  There are archaeological sites in the Waco area which appear to have been continuously occupied by humans for at least 12,000 years.  One of those is a rock shelter on the banks of the Brazos River in Bosque County.  Naturally carved out of bedrock by the river, the Horn Rock Shelter contained one of the most completely preserved records of human habitation ever discovered. From roughly 1966 to 1989, avocational archaeologists and locals Frank Watt, Al Redder, Robert Forrester, and L. T. Francis accomplished the huge task of excavating and mapping the site.

The Smithsonian has taken a keen interest in artifacts associated with two skeletons found at the site, and much of the material is now under the care of the Division of Physical Anthropology in Washington, D.C. The burial of an adult male and a teenage girl appear to be some of the oldest documented remains in North America.

For a worthwhile daytrip out of Waco, visit the Bosque Museum in Clifton.  They have a great exhibit on the Horn Shelter, and also focus on the vibrant Norwegian settlement and heritage in this area. This facial reconstruction (see picture at left), displayed at the Bosque Museum, was derived from a reproduction of the adult male’s skull discovered at the Horn Shelter by Al Redder and Frank Watt in 1970. Examination of features of the skull establish that the Horn Shelter Man could not be related to the American Indians. A date has been determined for the site of approximately 11,200 calendar years ago. This makes the adult male skeleton found at the Horn Shelter the first known inhabitant of Bosque County.

Ongoing DNA analysis could reveal a lot about our collective history, and our assumptions about the first Americans.  Artifacts from the site, including stone and bone tools, and human-modified remains of several animals, can tell us about the landscape before our memory.  We learned through this excavation that giant armadillos roamed along with bison, beaver, deer, badger, coyote, hawk, and giant tortoises (yes, they lived here too—maybe not as big as the Galapagos ones, but still pretty huge). Humans hunted and used many parts of these animals to survive in their harsh environment.

Come visit the Mayborn Museum and the Bosque Museum to see artifacts from the Horn Shelter, and you might learn a little more about yourself!


Trey Crumpton is Exhibits Manager for the Mayborn Museum Complex at Baylor University, where he has been on staff for 11 years.  He has lived in Waco since 2001, is working on his Ph.D. in Leadership Studies, and has two energetic kids who help him discover.  His beautiful wife Ashley is an early childhood educator, and together they are proponents of all things enriching and fun.  Trey loves family, friends, the outdoors, the lake, pizza, good books, and good film.