Essy Day: Libraries serve as ‘great equalizer’

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Logan Foust

Surrounded by books, Essy Day gets to do what she loves every day. Day is director of library services for Waco-McLennan County Library. 

Easy Day

Day found out about Waco libraries when she was visiting Waco on a trip and decided to stop and look around. She was formerly a library director in Kentucky, and when she heard the Waco Library was hiring a director she decided to apply. She then got called for an interview and landed the job. 

Day has lived in seven states. During this time she has lived in both big and small cities. She described what it is like to live in Waco and the qualities that drew her here. 

“Waco has the small town feeling of everybody cares, which you don’t get in a larger city,” Day said. “But yet it’s large enough that you can still have some of the anonymity that you get in a large city.” 

Day shared why she believes it is meaningful for people to visit libraries.

“Libraries are important because they are the great equalizer. They provide equal opportunity for everyone. As a child, I learned that in the library everyone was welcome and everyone had the same opportunities. No matter how poor I was or how young I was, the library staff treated me, and others, equally,” Day said. “The more I read, I learned that reading could transform and change a person’s life and books from the library were free. So, reading and libraries changed my life, and I believe that they can do the same for others. The library is a place where opportunities and choice and discovery are available to everyone.”

There are four library locations: Central, East, South, and West. The Central library is the biggest and main branch. Library cards are free to people who live in McLennan County and Baylor University students. Not only does the library card allow you to check out books, but the library also has a wide variety of literacy and sensory kits for kids, digital audio books, and blood pressure kits. 

One special feature these Waco libraries offer are museum passes for attractions throughout Waco. Card holders are allowed to check out these passes for seven days, and they allow you to get into places like Cameron Park Zoo, Dr Pepper Museum, and the Mayborn Museum for free. 

“Libraries connect people. So we connect people to information, we connect people to each other, and we connect people to ideas that they might not have thought of,” Day said. 

Day mentioned how libraries are not the same as they were a few years ago. She said instead of the librarians trying to quiet everyone who walks in the door, they now encourage families and kids to come and play with the books and toys they have available. 

“We believe in providing access to information to everyone, regardless of their age, gender, socioeconomic status, or religion,” Day said. “Libraries can transform and save lives.” 

Logan Foust is a sophomore at Baylor University. She is from Austin and is majoring in journalism, specializing in photojournalism, and minoring in studio art. 

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 Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waco Moms co-founder loves the city, loves the people

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Juliana Johnson

“We are more than ‘mommy bloggers.’ We are small business owners, therapists, nurses, and the list goes on. Many of us have full-time jobs outside of our role with Waco Moms and have so much to offer our city,” said Carrie Maddux, co-founder and owner of Waco Moms.

Carrie Maddux

Created by two mothers with a shared vision, Waco Moms launched in March 2017 with a dream to bring a positive platform that doubled as a resource specifically for local mothers. Now, Waco Moms has grown to a team of over 30 mothers and is making an impact on the local community more and more each day.

“It is amazing to see what can happen when you work together to make Waco a better place. … It is rewarding to see someone’s goal become a reality or a contributor’s story make a difference,” Maddux said.

To Maddux, the most rewarding part of running Waco Moms is being part of building the Waco community and seeing local and small businesses grow and flourish.

“Naturally, I would say that Waco is full of successful women-run businesses. They see a need and make it happen! The passion in Waco is infectious,” Maddux said.

Having lived in Waco since 2016, Maddux is passionate about the city and loves to work within her community. She said she is excited to see Waco continue to grow, which can only be achieved by supporting local efforts.

“I am excited to see dreams become a reality and Waco accept them with open arms. My hope is that more job opportunities open up in Waco and more Baylor students decide to call Waco home after graduation. Waco is a great place to build a family,” Maddux said.

Having started her college career at Baylor University, Maddux is a supporter of the Bears. In her eyes, Baylor has helped Waco in many ways, like offering opportunities not only for students, but for the Greater Waco community, as well.

“Baylor continues to offer quality education, community service programs and family-friendly activities. I was told that service is integrated into the fabric of Baylor, and I truly believe that,” Maddux said.

Waking up on Saturday mornings with her family to go to the Waco Farmers Market is one of Maddux’s most loved things to do in Waco. The Farmers Market allows her to see familiar faces and support the local community, overall being “very comforting in an unpredictable year.”

When asked what she likes most about Waco, Maddux said, “The people. Ask anyone and I am confident we will all say the same thing.”

In looking to the future, Maddux’s dream for Waco is for the city to continue heading in a positive direction and to continue supporting local businesses, describing them as the “backbone” of the  community.

Waco Moms continues to grow along with Waco, and Maddux and Waco Moms continues to give back to their community and fellow Wacoans.

“We rise by lifting others up. It is amazing what can happen when you support one another. Whether that be sharing a new or struggling business, supporting local charities, providing a safe place to someone who needs community support, etc. Waco is full of generosity and [I am] grateful to call Waco our home,” Maddux said.

Juliana Johnson is a first-year journalism and theatre arts double major with a creative writing minor at Baylor University.

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 Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Remson follows path from student to banking & community involvement

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Emma Ethridge

Thousands of students move from the homes they grew up in to attend Baylor University year after year. How often is it that after four years, once the diploma is in hand, they remain in Waco for their next steps in life, striving to make a difference in the community? 

Caitlyn Remson

Caitlyn Remson, assistant vice president with Central National Bank Waco, is a Baylor alumna who is doing just that. She is an active member of the Waco community who is passionate about making a difference through her involvement at CNB, the Junior League of Waco, and Harris Creek Baptist Church in McGregor. 

Remson graduated from Baylor with a degree in finance and then became a part of local banking. Remson also is the president-elect for Junior League of Waco, a nonprofit organization of women “committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving our community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.”

“Growing up in Dallas I didn’t know anything different than being in a big city,” Remson said. “Now that I live in Waco, I much prefer a mid-size city. I feel like there is more time in my day that I am not spending driving a long commute to work and to my first grader’s school; it really is a great medium,” Remson said.

Remson said that even though Waco is smaller than Dallas, there is still a lot to do between the parks, zoo, and the unique things that only Waco has. 

Revival Eastside Eatery is “a family favorite” where Remson said she eats every Friday. Remson has learned a lot about Waco outside of the “Baylor bubble” since she graduated in 2011. 

“There is a lot of industry here that I did not realize,” she said. “Historically there is a lot of business here, organizationally there are so many nonprofits and for-profit businesses that work together to make our community a better place. I feel like that has to be rare, that we would all have our individual interests but still want to serve the community as a whole, meeting the greater needs together.”

Waco is populated by about 138,000 people, a portion of that number being a part of the Baylor community.

“Through COVID-19 I fear that some of the collaboration is going to suffer,” Remson said. “The way a community thrives is through the connections within it, despite the differences in our community. There is always going to be a disparity of wealth, but I feel like before COVID-19 we were really on a track to work together really well. I hope to see organizations and school systems continue to find ways to evolve and address issues such as inequity. I want to see us continue to thrive while taking care of each other.”

Waco has rapidly grown since 2014, despite the economic challenges that have occurred in the last 20 years, such as the financial crisis of 2008.

“There is so much growth that has happened here in terms of new shops and restaurants,” Remson said. “I even have peers that have gotten to put down roots and grow small businesses to help the community. I hope to see Waco continue to grow into the great city I know it can be.”

Emma Ethridge is a Baylor student studying public relations. She is from Austin.

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 Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Blevins: ‘Waco is in the process of becoming something greater’

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Danielle Skinner 

Brooke E. Blevins, Ph.D., associate professor of social studies education and chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Baylor University School of Education, said Waco is continuing to grow and become a home to many.

Brooke Blevins

After Blevins received her Ph.D., she began looking for a job that would allow her to have a stable career and start a family. She said Waco was the perfect place to do both, as the community is small, but continuing to grow. 

“A job opened up here at Baylor, I interviewed and I knew from that first interview that this was where I wanted to be,” Blevins said. “I came here in 2011 and have loved being here at Baylor, but especially Waco because it was better than I ever anticipated.” 

Waco is an interesting place at first glance, Blevins said. Waco is a nice size city with access to multiple amenities and services. Most importantly, Waco is a great place to raise and start a family, as there are many fun things to do. The city is also very diverse and allows for people to grow in the community.

“Waco has a lot of really great people in it,” Blevins said. “I love how Waco is being revitalized in a lot of different ways, not just economically but in terms of stories and the narratives being told in this community.”

Blevins said it is important to look into the history of places you are visiting, especially with a place like Waco. All towns experience good and bad times, and she believes Waco continues to reflect and grow as a community. 

Waco has a very interesting and challenging history, Blevins said. No matter where you are, you should know and understand your past. There is plenty of encouragement to learn more about Waco, its history, and how it shapes the Waco community today.

“Waco is in the process of becoming something greater,” Blevins said. Waco is not forgetting its past, but it is also “looking forward to seeing what we can do in the future, which seems very exciting.”

Blevins said she is happy to see progress Waco has made especially in the last 10 years. She said that she is noticing that the city is more of a destination spot where the community can come together as one.

Many initiatives are in process to improve Waco, such as the redevelopment of downtown, Chip and Joanna Gaines helping reshape the look of Waco, and how Baylor University has moved to care for its community and the people residing in the city, are ways that Waco is improving, Blevins said.

There will always be problems no matter where you are, but there are organizations like Prosper Waco that are helping out with really big problems and how Waco can tackle them, which Blevins believes is a great way to show what Waco is becoming. 

 “This is a time for change for the city,” Blevins said. “Waco is in a place of becoming who it is meant to be.” 

Danielle Skinner is a freshman at Baylor University majoring in journalism and pre-law. She is from Canada.

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 Ferrell Foster at [email protected]

Former CEO of United Way Waco values community

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Molly Farris

Barbara Mosacchio said one of her favorite things in Waco is the drive she takes past Lake Waco. Being a Chicago native, she said it brings back memories of her drive past Lake Michigan on her way to work. 

Barbara Mosacchio

“It’s so gorgeous. I love driving past it. It just makes me happy to do that,” Mosacchio said. 

Mosacchio was the CEO of United Way Waco for just over four years. After living in cities such as Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta, Mosacchio has “not looked back” since taking the United Way position in Waco. United Way is an organization that works alongside the community to address needs. 

“This opportunity came along, and it was such an incredibly enriching and exciting opportunity,” Mosacchio said. “It was the opportunity to really come in and help rebuild its presence in this community.” 

Leaving a big city for a small town is an unusual move, and Mosacchio said people did ask why she would want to come to a small city like Waco to work. 

“Because in Waco, you can touch and feel the work that you are doing,” Mosacchio said. “You can see the impact of it. You can make a decision, you can make a strategic plan, and you can see it in action. And it is very hard to do that in a big, large complex organization.”

During a conversation, Mosacchio continually brought up how important this community is to the United Way. The organization encourages involvement among the people that live in the area. Mosacchio said this is one of the factors that brought her to Waco and that keeps her in Waco.

“You see it every day with COVID and you see the way people are supporting each other and the way people are looking out for one another, and checking in on each other, and being respectful by wearing their mask when they’re in the grocery store,” Mosacchio said. “And you don’t see that in a lot of communities. That really is a big part of what I love about Waco.” 

Baylor University is a part of that strong community that Mosacchio often talks about cherishing in Waco. During non-COVID times, the university helped with awareness for United Way events. She described a time when there were big rallies and Baylor President Linda Livingstone would speak. Typically, every year one of the football games would be dedicated to the United Way.

“We would all go down on the field, we’d talk about the campaign kicking off, we’d inspire people to give, and we’d show our video. There would just be this high level of energy and enthusiasm,” Mosacchio said.  

Most people tend to see COVID as something that has ruined a lot of good things. Mosacchio said she does not see it that way, but rather she sees COVID in a positive light. 

“I think that COVID really brings out, in an unfortunate way, but it brings out the best in what a community is. I think that there has been a lot more intensity in terms of interaction with people,” Mosacchio said. 

Molly Farris is originally from Petal, Miss., and is a freshman journalism student at Baylor University. 

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 Ferrell Foster at [email protected]

Anna Futral is committed to Waco — all of it

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Emma Porter

Anna Futral, executive director of CASA McLennan County, came to Waco in 2004 as a Baylor University student. Sixteen years later, she still lives in Waco, now alongside her husband and three children. Initially, business kept Futral in town, however she said it didn’t take long for her and her husband to call Waco home. 

Anna Futral

“We liked it a lot, and we really chose to just dive into Waco and build our life here,” Futral said. 

As fresh college graduates and newlyweds, Futral and her husband found exploring Waco to be one of their favorite activities. In college, the couple worked with Habitat for Humanity, which Futral said prompted them to see Waco in a broader light than most students. 

From hiking in Cameron Park to eating at mom-and-pop shops, and even working with nonprofits, the Futrals did not hesitate to become a part of the community. 

“I go across the river to Lula Janes a whole lot more than I should. It’s too good,” Futral said.

Futral mentioned several local spots she loves to eat at, including Lula Janes, Helados La Azteca, Baked Bliss, and a number of taquerias. She said not only is the food amazing, but they also love to support local businesses, especially during the pandemic. 

When the Futrals adopted their children in 2015, they knew they wanted their kids to be immersed in their community. The Futral kids love the Mayborn Museum, the Cameron Park Zoo, and hiking with their parents at Cameron Park.

“Waco has a wonderful entertainment and education scene for children,” Futral said.

Like many, the Futral family loves to visit Magnolia Market. The company has brought more business and tourism to Waco, but Futral said one of the best parts is that the Magnolia Foundation has donated to many local organizations, including CASA. 

As a female leader in Waco and a Baylor alumna, Futral said she has seen great strides in the city’s economy over her 16 years, however there is still much to be done.

“There are so many folks that genuinely love Waco, and I would encourage them to remember that there are individuals in Waco, members of our own community, that are hurting in some way,” Futral said. “Whether that’s folks experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, or low-income families, we need to consider that there is more to Waco than the business scene or tourist and outdoor parks scene. Those things are all wonderful, but remember that at the heart of our city there are still a lot of folks that need you to tune into their situation and remember that they’re there.”

Futral has worked for CASA for five years. CASA is a nationwide nonprofit that recruits, supports, and trains volunteers who advocate for the safety and best interest of children in foster care.

“We have a really healthy nonprofit scene in Waco. There are groups serving the various populations so there is no lack of ways to get involved,” Futral said.

One way to get involved with the Waco community is through the CASA Christmas store. Each year, Futral said CASA gathers Christmas lists from the 230 children that CASA serves. If someone signs up to be a donor they get matched with a child and given their Christmas list, the donors then have the opportunity to shop and wrap the gifts for their partnered child.

Emma Porter is a freshman journalism major at Baylor University, who fell in love with journalism while writing blog posts about mission work in Guatemala. 

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 Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Being involved in Waco community is rewarding for Angela Tekell

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Gabby Sherwood

When attorney Angela Tekell was offered jobs in Austin and Houston, Tekell said it didn’t take her long to realize her family had a good life in Waco and that it felt like home. Tekell said being involved in the community and spending her free time riding her bicycle has made her time in Waco fulfilling. 

Angela Tekell

As Waco ISD Board of Trustees president, Tekell works closely with the Waco ISD superintendent to help set the agendas and move the mission and vision of the school district forward.

“I believe my role has a very positive and significant impact,” Tekell said. “In the past, we have suffered from a culture of low expectations. I believe it’s unacceptable and as the president of the board I am in a unique position to push expectations even higher.” 

Along with volunteering her time in the school district, Tekell has been involved in St Alban’s Episcopal Church, the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, and the Junior League of Waco. Tekell said at one point she was on 10 different boards but has gotten “better at saying no” as she’s gotten older. 

Tekell said one of the most influential volunteer opportunities for her was being president of the Junior League. Its mission is to promote women leadership and community service. 

“The opportunity to be with other professional women really made a positive impact on my life,” Tekell said. “It influenced a lot of the choices I’ve made.” 

Tekell said finding a way to get involved in Waco is important and is not only rewarding but helps build up the community. 

“There’s a lot of opportunities to find something you’re really interested in and there’s no better way to meet people,” Tekell said. “I do know it makes living here much more fulfilling when you get to know the people who shape what kind of community we have.” 

Whenever she isn’t volunteering or working in her community, Tekell said she most enjoys riding her bicycle in Cameron Park on the mountain bike trails almost every weekend. 

“I ride my bike a lot. I have four bikes,” Tekell said. “Lately I’ve been gravel biking up in Clifton. There’s a lot of beautiful country there, a lot of wildlife, no cars. That’s my favorite thing to do.” 

After Tekell studied law at Baylor University, she decided to stay in Waco and has now lived here for 37 years. Waco is a very unique place to live, full of friendly and welcoming people, Tekell said. 

“My experience at the law school was the most influential,” Tekell said. “I think it does a really good job emphasizing the importance of leadership in the community and public service.” 

Tekell said her most memorable experience living in Waco and being on the Waco ISD Board was being invited by former president George W. Bush to mountain bike at his ranch in McLennan County in 2019. 

“The first thing he said after greeting me was ‘I just want to thank you for your service to our community,’” Tekell said. “I was very appreciative that he took the time to extend an invitation and then to express his gratitude. If not for living in Waco and serving in that capacity, I would have never gotten that opportunity.” 

Gabby Sherwood is a freshman journalism major at Baylor University from Austin.

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 Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

CWJC: Nurturing Women, Transforming Lives in Waco

By Anna Hoffman

I first heard about Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) Waco 5 years ago when I joined “Women of Waco” for business networking. We often talked about the needs of CWJC and we regularly gathered items for the students. One WOW meeting 3 years ago the director told the group that they had a need for a volunteer to teach night class Bible Study. I had already wanted to be more involved and here was my chance. 

Here it is 3 years later, and it is clear that CWJC, the students and the leaders have had more of an impact on me than I have had on them. 

The reason I volunteer is to be a part of something that encourages and equips women. My goal with the Bible Study is to do these same things by reminding the students of two things that encompass a great amount of truth: 1) That there is hope for their future. 2) That God deeply loves them. I want to be involved with an organization that is doing this very thing. At various times in all of our lives, we need to be reminded of these two things. In a Bible Study or through a devotional reading this can be simply done. One of my favorite things to do is to remind others that God loves them and that He is for them. Not because of something we did or didn’t do, but because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This is what motivates me to be dedicated to the ladies of CWJC and to their mission to “Nurture Women & Transform Lives.” This is what motivates me to give of my time, resources, and money. The Baskets of Hope fundraiser is designed to give us ALL the opportunity to remind others there is hope for the future and that God seriously loves them. Accomplishing this mission day in and day out comes at a cost. 

If we all come together, teachers, mentors, staff, volunteers, donors, and students for this all-encompassing mission of “Nurturing Women, Transforming Lives” the impact will be immeasurable. We will have ladies who are educated with their GED and have the tools to find a good job. But more importantly these same ladies will know they have a community of people who support them and a Savior who loves them. Then they can pass that on.… Hope for the future!


Supporting CWJC Waco brings transformation and hope to women across McLennan County. Join our mission by exploring ways to give at www.wacobaskets.com or contact us at 254-757-0416 for more information.


Anna Hoffman has served for several years as a community leader and community relations director advocating for the care of the sick and elderly. She is the Community Relations Director for Visiting Angels where she has the privilege of serving local healthcare professionals and seniors. Because of her years of being the wife of a wonderful husband, the mother of two amazing kids, a grandmother, a pastor’s wife, and music director, she brings with her a compassionate heart to help connect her clients to the right services for their needs. Anna is actively involved in various community organizations – serving on the board of the Greater Hewitt Chamber of Commerce, chairing events for the Alzheimer’s Association, serving as the President of the Women of Waco, and teaching weekly Bible study at CWJC 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 [email protected] for more information.

CWJC: Igniting a Passion for Change

By Cindy Gough

My passion for this ministry started years ago. As a single mom for many years, I struggled with schedules, job, finances, family time and any type of “me” time that I could squeeze in. I always felt blessed to be where I was at that exact moment, but always in the back of my mind, I wanted to do more, provide more and be proud of my accomplishments. As important, I wanted to make my kids proud of their mom!

I see those same struggles with the women that come to Christian Women’s Job Corps. I see different backgrounds, different lost opportunities, different sacrifices made over the years and lots of hope in their hearts for a CHANGE!

All women, no matter what their age or situation, want to be proud of who they are and want to have self-esteem and confidence. So many of our women in this ministry are strong and brave and have already achieved so much. I got involved with CWJC Waco to provide that “helping hand” that we’ve all needed at some point in our lives. If we can help change a woman’s education, give her some courage and strength, skills to reach a level perhaps she never dreamed of, and bring her closer to God and renew her faith, then we have done our job at CWJC.

All of this is offered to our women free of charge. We provide that helping hand, a teacher, a volunteer, an education, computer training, a variety of curriculum, a relationship with Jesus Christ, and all at no cost to them. This is only made possible through our generous donors and those that have worked tirelessly over the years. Like every non-profit, we must have fundraisers and monthly donations to keep this ministry viable for the women in our community. Please join us in this campaign and see what you feel you can do financially to help women in their quest to be stronger, gain power in themselves and their families and see a renewed spirit in each of them.

Supporting CWJC Waco brings change to lives across McLennan County. Join our mission by exploring ways to give at www.wacobaskets.com or contact us at 254-757-0416 for more information.



Cindy Gough is a Realtor with Camille Johnson, Realtors here in Waco, Texas. Cindy loves her business and helping clients as well as helping others in her community. She spends many hours serving her community and is involved in her church at Highland Baptist in Waco. Cindy has served on multiple Boards in different agencies across the Waco area. Cindy is a big Baylor Bear fan and loves spending her time off with her family and her 5 grandkids!

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 [email protected] for more information.

Sunshine Recovery House supports women in recovery. Now you can support them.

By Summer Shine

Most people are affected by alcoholism or addiction in one way or another, whether it’s their own struggle, or a family member or a friend.  The disease of addiction and alcoholism has infiltrated our everyday lives. It’s become so prevalent that the CDC proclaimed the opioid crisis in northern states is becoming a national crisis. According to a recent study by the Surgeon General’s office, 1 in 7 Americans suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. Many are touched, but few know what help there is for people who have this disease.

When I decided to get sober in 2013 I, fortunately, had previous experience with recovery and family and friends who were still willing to help. Not all who are afflicted are as lucky as I was. Many find themselves without resources or on long waitlist to get into any sort of treatment facility. Another challenge is that after a short term stay, typically 30-60 days, clients in recovery are expected to figure out a new lifestyle, housing and a recovery plan, with very little assistance. This becomes a major turning point for many people who are seeking long term recovery. What are they to do? Where are they to go? Who is their new support system? These can be stressful and confusing times.

Sober living communities are popping up all over the country as solution to this problem. These homes offer safe, affordable housing in an environment where a recovery lifestyle is commonplace, and mistakes are used as learning tools.  Most Sober Living Houses (SLH) require participation in 12-step recovery programs, have straight forward house rules and adhere to probation requirements.

Another study by National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that people in recovery who live in short-term housing for 6-9 months after treatment have a 70% better chance of staying sober for 2 or more years than people who go straight back into old environments.

In 2015 when Sunshine Recovery House opened its doors, there were 5 sober living houses for men in the Waco area and none for women. Historically women are underserved both in addiction recovery and in mental health services. Being a woman in recovery and having many close female friends who are both in recovery and have mental illness, I found the lack of resources disturbing and appalling.

Not being one to take the sidelines when there is a problem to be solved, I addressed the issue and opened a sober living house here in Waco for women! We currently rent 2 small houses close to the old Hillcrest.  We have nine beds and are usually full with a waitlist. We recently formed as a nonprofit organization and are raising money to purchase one large house close to downtown that will house 12-14 women and host a live-in house manager.

Waco has been an amazing advocate for Sunshine Recovery House! We’ve seen people come out of the woodworks (figuratively and literally) to show us support and help us expedite the process. It’s been both heartwarming and awe inspiring to see the amount of love people have shown us. More importantly we have been privy to seeing the lives of women in this community radically changed. We’ve seen miracles happen and that is the real game-changer. Women get their kids back, pay off debt, find wonderful careers, go to school, finish probation or clear CPS cases. THESE ladies are the reason we fight through the hard times, and trust me, there are hard times.

I am lucky. I’m lucky to have women in my life who are fighting the same fight I am, who show up to support me and who make the simple, yet hard decision to allow God to change them completely.  I’ve learned along the way that I can only keep what I’ve been given, freedom from active addiction, by giving it away.

If you, or someone you love is suffering from addiction or alcoholism, know that there is help. There are 2 treatment facilities in the Central Texas area and a whole host of them in DFW and Austin. More sober living houses are being opened and often I am seeing young people get sober before they have had to suffer some of the same consequences that many have. It’s hopeful and magical and God induced. Some may say it’s a lofty goal to want to eradicate addiction and alcoholism all together, but why not try?

Rollin’ 4 Recovery

Join us March 23rd for a night of laughter, music, food, fun and friends. Comedian Shayne Smith is unapologetically goofy and recants his experiences through hilarious rants about life as a real gangsta….er, geek! Hear some sick beats laid down by Waco’s own Ryan Thomas as he takes us on a lyrical journey through interpretive spoken word, also known as rap. Enjoy a delicious meal provided by Waco’s #1 food truck Club Sandwich and signature mocktail beverages provided by Luna Juice Bar. Not to mention the savage live auction items up for grabs. Trust us, you won’t want to miss this night! If you’d like to mail a check for sponsorship or tables please mail to: Sunshine Recovery House 1516 Austin Ave Suite 3 Waco, TX 76701 Rollin’ 4 Recovery

  • March 23 – 7 PM
  • Brazos Event Center, 520 Elm Ave.
  • General admission $50 – $70.  VIP and Table Sponsor opportunities available. Click here for Tickets: Rollin 4 Recovery.

Summer Shine is Owner / Operator / General Juice Slinger at Luna Juice Bar and a  Hip Hop Dancer at God’s Great Kingdom.

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 [email protected] for more information.