The Birth of A Clinic

By Gary Wardlaw

I was four when my pops left. I remember it being dark and there was yelling—a lot of yelling. A door slammed, the car started and it was four years before seeing him again. I didn’t know it then, but from that moment on, I would grow up in what our society calls a “broken family.” This meant that there would be no father in the home to teach me how to shave or how to respect women. No one to teach my sisters what respect and real love looked like from a male. The chances of experiencing a home with two loving parents became a faint longing. As a result…depression, low-self-esteem, anxiety, anger, insecurity, lack of self-acceptance, daddy issues, commitment issues, all of that and more ran rampant through our childhood. I did not know it then, but that night would go on to impact me in ways I could not have imagined.

I wish that was where relationship ruptures ended…but it wasn’t. Soon, bigotry and racism became another method that exacerbated the negative view I had accepted of myelf. It was sixth grade when the new girl moved to my hometown. She was smart, beautiful…and blonde. Her dad, well, he was the new head surgeon in town. While I won’t bore you with the nuanced details, I will share what I remember as “the phone call.” I ask to speak to her over the phone only to hear that their daughter could no longer speak to me. If she wanted to mess up her life when she is 18 then that is her choice. From then, to my freshman year in college, the same cycle repeated. I like girl…girl likes me…we date…parents find out…relationship ends because of my color, not my character.

How are the stories that I shared relevant to the Relationship Clinic of Waco? Well, they are my lived experiences, and these experiences are part of what made me want to establish a practice where relationships can be made whole and where people can heal from racism. Through my own counseling journey, I was able to discover that attachment injuries from my broken family system played a major role in the way I negatively viewed myself. Why did my dad not want me? Why was I good enough to be entertainment on the field or on the wrestling mat, but not good enough to date? The logical answers I was able to come up with were…”you are not good enough and you are not worth it.” These core beliefs opened up the flood gates of my mental health struggles.

Maybe your story is not that your dad left when you were a kid. Perhaps your story is that you are in a new romantic relationship and before saying “I do,” there are some things you want and should talk through. Or maybe you want to strengthen your relationship, or you are seeking to mend a relationship that has ruptured in the past but that you haven’t taken the time to repair. Whatever your story may be, whether it’s with a spouse, parent, sibling, boss or even relationship with God, I am fully-committed and well prepared to come along side of you in your journey of reconciliation, development and restoration.

My wife and I wanted to establish this practice here in Waco to be a resource for our community. We love Waco and we firmly believe that The Relationship Clinic will help our city become a stronger community by helping relationships thrive, bringing families closer, and by eradicating racism. If you or someone you know could benefit from seeing a therapist, take the next step and visit our website. There you can learn more about me and our practice. You can also schedule a free 15-minute consultation or book your appointment. Our website is

So now that you know how The Relationship Clinic was birthed from and why we started, I’d like to end by sharing our vision, mission, purpose statements and services:

Our Vision

To see:

  • Relationships live up to their fullest potential
  • Relationships strengthened and restored
  • Marriages, families, and other interpersonal relationships thrive

Our Mission 

To see relationships made whole.  We want to help people overcome the resistance and reservation often associated with counseling by helping them focus on living in healthy community with others.  As reflective in our marriage, we believe functional relationships are essential to anyone’s healthy well-being.

Our Purpose

We recognize that we live in a world that revolves around relationships. At some point in the circling of people in your life, it is inevitable that conflict will arise.  We are committed to personal resolve and conflict management.

Conflict can arise between a husband and wife, brother or sister, parent and child, a boss and employee, and even Christ followers and God.  No matter the dynamic, relationships are inherently woven in the threads of life.

Here at The Relationship Clinic, we specialize in facilitating the process of maintaining, creating, or restoring relationships in the following situations

  • Shaken to its core and couples are at a loss on how to bring it back (i.e. infidelity, loss of love
  • Have decided to embark on the journey toward marriage (i.e. engaged)
  • Have said “I Do”, but have recently lost the connection that was once there,
  • Walked away from the Christian faith,
  • Interested in exploring the potential for a new relationship.

Products and Services

  • 50-minute pre-marital therapy sessions
  • 50-minute marital therapy sessions
  • 50-minute individual sessions
  • 90-minutes group marital sessions
  • Relationship Enrichment Weekends (Marriage Lock-Inns)
  • Tele-mental Health or Therapy (Online Counseling)
  • Race-Relation Counseling
  • Workshops/Seminars

Gary Wardlaw is the founder and co-owner of The Relationship Clinic of Waco. He is licensed as a Professional Counselor in Texas and Virginia and is licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in Virginia. Prior to relocating to Texas, Gary served in a Christian group practice where he primarily saw couples and families. He also has experience working on adolescent, adult, and geriatric psychiatric units. Gary graduated from Liberty University in 2012, earning his M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy. He has recently developed a passion to combat racism through discussion and education, while helping those who have experienced racism outwardly or systemically though talk-therapy. He can be contacted at  or by calling 254-294-7572.

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.










Sustainable Waco: Happy America Recycles Day!

By Anna Dunbar

America Recycles Day (ARD) has its 21st anniversary this year. What many don’t know is that ARD has its roots in Texas, central Texas in fact. Texas Recycles Day began in 1994 as the idea of two Texas Commission on Environmental Quality employees, Kevin Tuerff and Valerie Davis. I met them while I was at the agency and have always been impressed with their creativity. They came up with the concept of designating a day to promote recycling in Texas, but then of course they had to wrestle with the question of what day. They wanted a day that was far enough away from Earth Day (April 22nd), but they did not want it to get mixed up in all the media in the run up to Election Day.  They picked November 15th .

Eventually, Texas Recycles Day was transformed into America Recycles Day. The first national America Recycles Day was held November 15th, 1997 and it has been celebrated annually ever since.

What about America Recycles Day in Waco? There is a lot of energy behind recycling in Waco because our Waco Landfill is running out of space for trash. If you want to recycle in and around Waco, here’s what you can do:

Do you want to get started recycling in your home?  First, Waco residents should note that up to 2 blue carts for curbside recycling and 1 green yard waste cart are available for no extra fee. Please call (254) 299-2612 with questions or to request a blue or green cart on Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 5 PM.  Para informacion en Espanol: (254) 299-2612.  You can also go to the City of Waco Recycling Service Website and complete a request form.  On the website you will find information about the recycling program including a calendar with “blue cart weeks” and “green cart weeks”.  You can also request a printed calendar be mailed to you.

Visit the Cobbs Convenience Center to recycle! Anyone from anywhere can bring the following items at no charge regardless of residency.   Please rinse items which have contained food or drink.

  • Plastics #1 – #7, all colors. We cannot accept Styrofoam.
  • Glass bottles and jars, clear, brown, blue and green.
  • Metal, including steel or “tin” cans, aluminum cans, and aluminum pie plates.
  • Paper, such as magazines, phone books, cardboard, junk mail, printer paper, envelopes with windows and stapled paper.
  • Cooking oil (liquid only, please no solid grease)
  • Household batteries

Waco residents can also recycle big items (such as scrap tires, appliances with Freon and electronics) at Cobbs. Some items may have a fee.

Become a part of the “blue bucket brigade!” – Mission Waco is asking the public to donate food waste for composting and is making buckets available for the process. One can obtain a blue bucket at the greenhouse, located on the corner of North 15th Street and Colcord Avenue, next to Jubilee Food Market. Instructions and sawdust are available to help you with diversion of your organics for composting.

Do you plan to fry a turkey for the holidays? Small quantities of cooking oil can be mixed with kitty litter, doubled bagged, and placed in your trash cart. Please do not pour cooking oil or grease down the drain; it can clog pipes and the City’s sewer system. You can properly dispose of the cooking oil or grease at 5 stations located around the city; go to or call 254-299-2612.

Recycle your live Christmas tree at the Chipping of the Green on January 6 at Paul Tyson field from 10 AM until 3 PM. Keep Waco Beautiful partners with City of Waco Parks and Recreation to turn your tree into mulch. See Keep Waco Beautiful’s Facebook page to learn more.

Replace your alkaline batteries with rechargeable ones. Newer models can charge in as little as 15 minutes! It saves you money and helps the environment at the same time.

Instead of disposable plates and utensils, serve food on real dishware. Get those dishes out and use them! Your mom and grandma will be so proud! Also, prevent food waste: Ask friends to bring containers for leftovers or get that blue bucket from Mission Waco!

Electronics and appliances: Waco residents can take electronics and appliances to the Cobbs Recycling Center with proof of residency. There will be a fee for appliances containing Freon. If you are not a Waco resident, you can take appliances without Freon to one of Waco’s metal recyclers. Appliances with Freon can be taken to the Waco landfill; again there will be a fee. Many electronics (except TV’s) can go to Goodwill. Best Buy accepts electronics for recycling; Best Buy will charge a fee.

Why all of this discussion of recycling during the holidays, you might wonder. It’s because Americans produce more trash during the holidays than any other time of year! It’s estimated to be 25% more. Between the wrapping paper, disposable plates and cups, Christmas advertisements and cards, and plastic shopping bags – it’s hard to keep track of everything we dispose of during those busy months. And, we pile it all in a bag, tie the bag, and put it in the grey cart to be set out and “disappear” forever.  But, it doesn’t really disappear, does it?  With some effort, we can all do a better job of recycling. The future generations will thank us!

Anna Dunbar is the Environmental Programs Manager for the City of Waco Public Works Department. She has been working with the City of Waco since August, 2012. Anna has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at Dallas.  She and her husband live in Woodway, where she recycles as much as she can! She is also active in the Central Texas Audubon Society and Waco Rotary.

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.



Holiday gifts that help Waco’s artistic community thrive

By Bradi Zapata

The holiday season is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to start stuffing stockings and wrapping presents. This year, get creative by giving a gift that helps Waco’s artistic and cultural community flourish. A number of local arts organizations offer memberships, local art and fundraising projects that make great presents for the art fanatic on any shopping list. Here are a few Waco treasures that’ll look great wrapped in a glimmering bow and placed under the tree.

  1. Local Art

Local art may be slightly challenging to wrap in decorative paper, but with ample sizes, colors, textures and techniques, there’s a piece for any wall needing a revamp. Purchase local art at a variety of places including Anthem Studios on Franklin Avenue, Christi’s Interiors on Austin Avenue, Cultivate 7Twelve on Austin Avenue, Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits on Austin Avenue, Interior Glow on Franklin Avenue, Klassy Glass on Austin Avenue, Stanton Studios on Rogers Hill Road, Studio Gallery on West Waco Drive, The Art Center of Waco’s traveling exhibition and The Findery on South Eighth Street.

  1. Cultivate 7Twelve Membership

Since its opening in 2017, Cultivate 7Twelve gallery and event venue has helped further curate a fine arts audience in Waco. Cultivate offers two membership programs: Sower and Culturist. Sower memberships begin at $12 a month and provide one, three and six month payment options. The membership benefits include 15 percent off prints and notecards, two reserved seats at “Cocktails with the Curator,” a newsletter with special event information and access to exclusive events. Culturist memberships begin at $35 a month and also provide one, three and six month payment options. Culturist members receive all the benefits from the Sower membership, an exclusive back patio party every First Friday, 20 percent off all classes and workshops, reserved seating at “Sound Sessions,” 20 percent off “Palette” Art-to-Table dinners and discounted pricing when renting spaces. More information is available at

  1. Waco 52 Playing Cards

Waco 52 began in 2017 as an art exhibition in Austin, Texas, which showcased the talents of 52 artists from Waco and McLennan County. After the exhibition, the pieces were printed on decks of playing cards, many showcasing signature people and locations in Waco like Doris Miller and the Alico Building. Waco 52 allows residents to hold a piece of home in the palm of their hands and take it with them wherever they go. Retailing for $19.99, Waco 52 playing cards can be purchased at locations including Common Grounds, Dr Pepper Museum, Cultivate 7Twleve and Interior Glow. All proceeds go toward the growth and development of the creative sector in Waco. Purchase them online and see the full list of retailers at 52.

  1. Waco Symphony Orchestra Tickets

One of the oldest arts organizations in Waco, the Waco Symphony Orchestra enriches the local creative community by bringing live classical music to Central Texas. Conductor Stephen Heyde leads performances, working with musicians from Waco and surrounding cities. Performances following the holidays include Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Martinez, the Waco Symphony Orchestra, Henry Winkler, and Haeun and Hayoung Moon, a talented brother-sister duo from a Waco-area high school. Tickets to all season concerts and special events are available at

  1. Waco Civic Theatre Membership

Waco Civic Theatre provides the heart of Texas with a wide range of theatrical productions and a platform for education. The theater produces six main stage productions each season, including classic dramas, Broadway musicals and comedies. 2018-2019 season memberships begin at $85 and are valid until May 20, 2019. If purchased before Nov. 8, the membership includes admission to “Once,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “Mamma Mia.” Individual performance tickets start at $16. Waco Civic Theatre also produces Season Extras and Children’s Theatre performances. More information is available at

Bradi Zapata has been working with Creative Waco as the Marketing and PR intern since May. She is a senior at Baylor University majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Business Administration. She has a passion for writing, marketing, designing and photographing, because these platforms share the unique stories of inspirational individuals. Bradi has enjoyed being a part of Waco’s flourishing creative community, as it is continually growing, adapting and thriving.