New Mayborn Museum Programs Reach Out to Underserved Zip Codes

By Rebecca Nall

In 2008, Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum Complex introduced a Free Sunday program that offered free admission on the first Sunday of every month, with the goal of reaching under-served audiences in the community. The success of Free Sundays continued to grow, in fact, last year the average attendance was around 1300 people. When you consider that this is during a four-hour period and the average visitation on other Sundays is 250, you begin to see the impact of this program.

Over the last several years, the museum began tracking the zip codes of attendees on Free Sundays to determine if we were reaching our target audience. Only 20% of our visitation on those days were from zip codes 76704, 76706, and 76707, which have the highest percentage of residents living under the poverty level. Considering this and the fact that Sunday might not be an ideal day for everyone to visit the museum, we started to wonder if we were doing our best to reach the audiences who need us most.

This fall, we said goodbye to our Free Sunday program and launched Mayborn Reach Out to reach new and under-served audiences. We believe this evolution will allow us to better serve our local community.  Through more strategic advertising, we plan to work harder to get the word out to low-income families. Mayborn Reach Out also allows people to visit the museum at their convenience, not just one day a month.

Mayborn Reach Out encompasses three new programs that provide visitors of all means access to the resources within the museum: Community Days, Borrow a Membership, and participation in Museums For All.

Community Days
Visitors can explore the Discovery Center, natural and cultural history exhibits, and the Gov. Bill & Vara Daniel Historic Village at no admission cost.

  • Monday, January 15, 2018
  • Wednesday, May 19, 2018
  • Saturday, September 24, 2018

Borrow a Membership
The Mayborn Museum has partnered with the Waco/McLennan County and Hewitt Public Libraries to offer library patrons the opportunity to borrow a museum membership at no cost. Interested families or individuals may visit their nearest branch to check out a pass for free admission to the museum.

Museums for All
The Museums for All program provides discounted museum admission for visitors that receive public assistance. It is a signature access program of the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to encourage families of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum habits. Effective October 1, the program enables low-income families to visit the Mayborn Museum Complex for a minimal fee. For $1 each, two adults and all children in the household are admitted with the presentation of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. EBT card holders are also eligible for a discounted membership of $10.

It is thanks to our loyal constituents, members, and friends that we are able to offer access programs like this. Thanks for helping us build a stronger community! Museums like ours are often the spark that encourages lifelong learning, and we believe that everyone has a right to access this informal extension to traditional classroom education.

Rebecca Tucker Nall is the Assistant Director of Exhibits, Communication, and Visitor Services at the Mayborn Museum Complex. She is a museum enthusiast, an avid reader, and a mother to two small, yet fierce girls.



Waco Calligraphy Guild: Creative People United by a Love of Letters

By Jeanne Dittman

Have you ever stopped in a store to appreciate a handlettered sign simply for its beautiful artistry and not just for what it was selling?  Do the shapes of letterforms intrigue and delight you?  Do you have a favorite pen that you must use for certain special occasions? Then the Waco Calligraphy Guild may be your kind of people.

Founded in 1988, the Waco Calligraphy Guild is a group of creative people united by our love of letters.  Some of us hang our shingles out as professional calligraphers, whereas some would just rather write and doodle on old shingles (or paper).  Some of us have mastered many different lettering styles over the years – from classical Roman capitals to contemporary pointed pen script – whereas some have just picked up a calligraphy pen for the first time in recent months.  Some of us teach calligraphy, some of us attend calligraphy workshops and conferences, and all of us are lifelong students of the lettering arts.

The guild currently has a membership of around 40 people, and we gather on the second Saturday of each month at 10am at St. Matthew Lutheran Church (800 North New Road in Waco).  We always serve snacks, since some of us are excellent bakers and some of us are excellent buyers of baked goods.  We begin with a short business meeting, share our 3×3 artwork response to a monthly prompt (a small “canvas” that can be chock-filled with inspiration), break for some conversation and treats, and then proceed with our educational program.  This hour-long program is usually led by one of our members, and most often is a hands-on lesson in something pertaining to the lettering arts.  We are sometimes writing a new lettering style or using a new tool.  We are sometimes learning a new book or card technique on which our lettering can be placed.  And, we are sometimes introduced to an entirely new art form to which letters may be added later.  No matter the topic, we leave inspired for having done something creative with a room full of creative people.

The calligraphic arts trace their roots to the medieval scribes who labored over their parchment and quills creating the exquisite manuscripts that now lie in museums and continue to inspire artists worldwide.  Their techniques with broad-edged pens and inks have been studied through the centuries, and many of our lettering styles (and typefaces and computer fonts) are based on the elegant combinations of strokes that they first created.  Even as technologies have changed the book arts – first the printing press and ultimately the computer – the elegance of hand-lettered artwork still holds a special place in the artistic world.  Calligraphers have served queens and presidents through the years, as well as institutions conferring degrees and brides mailing wedding invitations.  In recent years, the newest visual technologies of Instagram and Pinterest have sparked a renewed interest in the lettering arts.  Pointed pen and pointed brush calligraphy have taken on a contemporary feel that can be widely seen in advertisements, home furnishings, and even the offerings of Magnolia Market.

If any part of this expansive history of lettering intrigues you, you are not alone.  We invite you to visit the Waco Calligraphy Guild and find your people already gathered.  You can see what we are up to each month by viewing our colorful newsletters and other goodies on our website. We have participated in the Waco Cultural Arts Fest for years – perhaps you have stopped by our booth at the end of the Suspension Bridge and had your name lettered by us on one of our giveaways.  We also produce a full-color calendar each year with original artwork by 12 (or more) of our members – they are $10 each and available for a limited time through a guild member.  Feel free to visit a guild meeting on us – membership is only $25 a year, but you don’t need to be a member to attend the first time.  And please never let a lack of supplies prevent you from attending a program – we always have plenty to share. (calendar)

We hope that you will feel welcomed and inspired when you visit.  I have been a member of calligraphy guilds in several parts of the country, I’ve attended several calligraphy conferences over the years, and I have found calligraphers everywhere to be genuinely gracious and generous artists and delightful human beings.  We would love to have you join us.

Jeanne Dittmann is a calligrapher and graphic designer who has worked as a freelance artist in Waco for over 14 years.  She serves currently as President of the Waco Calligraphy Guild, and she teaches calligraphy through Baylor University Continuing Education.  Her day job is the Box Office and Marketing Manager for the Baylor University Theatre Jeanne and her family attend St. Matthew Lutheran Church, where she and DeAnna Toten Beard started the Fine Arts Ministry 8 years ago.  For more information, please contact her at


Who’s in your village?

By Maegan Bennight

Raising a child in today’s world is tough!  Every family has their own challenges they face whether it be financial difficulty, finding the time to get everything done, legal troubles, figuring out what’s for dinner, having that difficult conversation, health problems, our child’s behavioral issues… and sometimes it’s that last option on multiple choice tests, “All of the above.”

Growing up, I often heard the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child”, but it didn’t really hit home for me until recently.  Truth be told, I’m a bit of a control freak, and it’s hard for me to ask for help.  That wasn’t such a problem when I was a mom to just one child, but since I became a mom of two, even with the help of a super supportive husband, I’ve had to learn that having a village is critical to my family’s success…and my sanity.  But what does a village look like?  In reality, it has a lot of different faces.  For me, it’s the friend that periodically calls or texts reminding me that we need to hang out and that I still haven’t asked her to babysit my kids so I can have time to myself or to have a date night with my husband.  It’s my sister that I can call and vent to about anything knowing that she will empathize with me but just might challenge me to rethink my perspective on whatever issue I’m venting about.  It’s the app on my phone that gives me a daily Bible verse to help me tend to my spiritual needs and another app that provides me with ideas for activities to engage in with my kids.  It’s my daughter’s pre-school teacher that will give me suggestions on how to deal with a particular behavior my daughter is displaying at school. It’s a lady from the local WIC office that happens to engage in a conversation with me at a community event and then ends up helping me trouble shoot ways to get my infant to take a bottle.  It’s the mom I met at a Bible study group who friended me on Facebook and suggested I attend an event that connected me to other moms going through a similar season of life.  It’s the coworker that gently touches my elbow and asks me how things are going even when she’s dealing with her own struggles.  Our villages are all around us.  Sometimes our village members are obvious because they’re involved in our day to day lives.  Other times they aren’t so obvious for whatever reason, but they are there, waiting for us to recognize and call them to action.

Sometimes we have to be intentional about adding members to our village.  MCH Family Outreach offers services to those who are interested in expanding their village.  Join us for food, fellowship and fun as we come together to support one another through our parenting journeys. 

MCH Caregiver Empowerment Groups

2nd Tuesday of the month

Held at the MCH Family Outreach office, 1111 Herring Avenue, Waco 76708

Next meetings: October 10th & November 14th

Two times to choose from: 11 am-Noon or 6-7 pm

Call 254-750-1263 with any questions

Hope to see you there!


Maegan Bennight is a case manager in the MCH Family Outreach office providing support to parents, grandparents and other caregivers raising children in and around the Waco community.  She is a wife, a mother to a 3 year old daughter and 5 month old son, a graduate of Texas A&M University, and a Central Texas native.  You can contact her at


Plugging in to Waco

The mission of AVANCE is to unlock America’s potential by strengthening families through effective parent education and support programs. The AVANCE  Parent-Child Education Program empowers families to break the cycle of poverty through proven two-generation approach combining parent education and early childhood development.   We envision our families as the child’s first teacher, as advocates for their children engaged in their child’s school, and as leaders for their families and their communities.  We want to give our families hope for the future. One of my favorite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11,” For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Isn’t that what we want for our families and our community?

This past week I was able to involve myself in two new endeavors that I hope will help me be a better advocate and leader for my community and more specifically the AVANCE families I serve.  I was accepted for LeadershipPlenty Institute. A training program for people interested in developing and improving their leadership skills to allow them to work more effectively within their communities and the organizations they attend. What a blessing for Waco to have this program! My first thought was this is a great opportunity in which we need to involve our Latino community. It is designed for individuals of various backgrounds, occupations, and experiences. Diversity makes us stronger and together we can achieve more. I hope you take time to explore and consider participating.

My second new experience here in Waco is that I signed up to be a mentor with LEAD. LEAD  stands for Leadership, Education, and Development.  It is an educational partnership that pairs high school students with business leaders to foster mentoring relationships that educate and expose students to various business fields. It is a truly powerful program sponsored by our local Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. Having a mentor allows young students to visualize a successful future. It gives them a vision , someone they can identify with.   As a Latino Executive Director of a non-profit here in Waco I feel that I can serve as a role model for Latino youth as they navigate their journey to adulthood. It is my way of making a difference. My way of giving hope and a future here in Waco.

Felipe Benecio Garza  graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University with an MSW.  He has over 40 years experience working with children and families in various leadership capacities. He is on the Board of Texans Care for Children and the Board of Advocates for the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work.  He is Executive Director of AVANCE Waco.

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.

Five things I wish everyone knew about having an Anxiety Disorder

By Lauren Paczynski

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and talking about it is never easy. Not only is it hard to explain anxiety to someone who’s never experienced it, but the nature of the disorder means that I am often nervous about speaking up in the first place. I think it’s important for people struggling with this disorder and others like it to talk about it, though— because if we want our condition to be understood, if we want more and better resources to become available, we first need to create more awareness about what anxiety is, exactly. Having said that, I’d like to share with you five things that I wish people knew about my disorder.

1.”Anxiety” is not just a fancy word for feeling “stressed out.”  –  Not only do I feel “normal” stress to a greater extent than most, I sometimes feel anxiety that is totally unrelated to anything actually going on in my life. I have whole days where I’m anxious and uncomfortable for no discernible reason, and nothing I do to try to alleviate the feeling seems to work. I often describe it to people this way: it’s like playing a video game or watching a movie and hearing the menacing music that signals something bad is going to happen, except it happens at random times, sometimes constantly. The threat isn’t actually there, but that signal in my brain that something is very wrong (or about to be) won’t go away.

I know I’m being irrational. There’s usually some part of my brain that understands that I’m worrying about something minor. That doesn’t mean that my emotional responses are any less real, or any less scary for me, and that doesn’t mean that telling me I’m overreacting is going to help.

2. Anxiety is “all in my head”— but that’s the problem.  I can’t even count the number of times that someone has said some form of this to me— “It’s all in your head, just don’t worry so much!” At this point, I have a hard time responding politely anymore. Telling someone that their anxiety is “all in their head” is about as helpful as telling someone with a broken femur that it’s “all in your leg.” I know that my brain is messed up. That’s the whole problem with mental illness, and implying that because something is psychological it should be easy to fix is frankly a little ignorant. Just like any physical illness, mental illnesses require constant management and care. They can’t be fixed by just wishing them away or ignoring them— believe me, I’ve tried.

3. Anxiety affects everything I do. Not everyone feels this way about their anxiety, but for me it is a core part of who I am. Ultimately it has an effect on everything that I do. Even simple things, like ordering food or answering the phone, get filtered through my anxiety and become ordeals. Speaking up in class gives me a rush of nervous energy. I get nauseous just thinking about giving a presentation. For better or worse, this is my normal, and I live with it daily.  As good as I usually am at staying on top of my anxiety, I will always have bad days. It’s on those bad days that the understanding and support of the people around me really makes a difference.

4. It’s not always laziness— sometimes it’s anxiety. Something I didn’t understand about myself for a long time— and something that my parents and teachers have long been frustrated by— is that anxiety can come with additional complications that don’t seem like they’d be related. elaborates on this, saying “a number of studies have found that high anxiety individuals, such as those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), have a decreased ability to ignore irrelevant information, especially when that information is threatening, and greater difficulty switching attention between tasks.”

What this means in practice, at least for me, is that occasionally I have a hard time focusing enough on a task to complete it. I have spent many long evenings at the library staring at an open textbook and trying desperately to make sense of it, or even manage to read it at all. This means that I sometimes have difficulty completing and submitting assignments on time. I had a hard time with this in high school. After years of developing coping strategies and learning how to work around this issue, I am now generally able to do what I need to do even if it’s hard to get started at first, but others may have more difficulty with this than I did.

I’m not arguing that you should ignore your anxious child or student’s failing grades because it isn’t their fault, but I am saying that a little understanding can go a long way. Instead of assuming they’re just lazy, talk to them. Figure out if this is something they might be struggling with, and see about getting them the help they need to overcome it.

5. I can’t “just get over it.” Unlike some physical problems – a broken bone, a fever – an anxiety disorder isn’t something that’s necessarily going to go away. I might be able to control it most or even all of the time, but it’s always going to require time, energy, and effort to do that. When my anxiety is bad, I can’t always just “push through it.” When it is under control it’s still taking up a sizable amount of my energy. That means that I may have to cancel plans sometimes, or miss out on something that I needed or wanted to experience, and that can be frustrating for both myself and the people around me.

If it comes down to a choice between another person’s feelings and my own mental stability, I’m always going to pick myself— I have to. This is something that anyone who loves someone with anxiety, or really with any mental illness, needs to understand. I love my friends, and my family, and my boyfriend, but sometimes self-care and solitude are the only things keeping me afloat. If someone with anxiety cancels on you, try to understand that it’s not that they don’t like spending time with you. It’s just that they may need some time alone to decompress.

Let me be clear that my experiences are not universal. Anxiety comes in many forms and presents itself in a bunch of different, often very personal ways. What I’m talking about here is my anxiety, my experiences. Every individual with anxiety has different needs. If someone you love has anxiety, I encourage you to talk with them about it. Ask them what it’s like for them, and what you can do to help. Not only will it help you understand them, I promise they’ll appreciate the effort.

If you think you or someone you love might be struggling with anxiety, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has an extensive list of resources for identifying and managing various anxiety disorders:

This Act Locally Waco Blog post was written by Lauren Paczynski. Lauren is a Senior at Baylor University, studying Professional Writing. A Virginia native, she moved to Texas in 2014 to attend Baylor and intends to stay here (at least for a while). After graduation, she hopes to work in editing & publishing. 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.