2020 has been a year of change; we’ve seen it across our community and in this year’s Charity Champions applications. Central Texas organizations have been working overtime, bridging the gaps left in the wake of COVID-19, social distancing, and economic loss.
When it came time to select our Charity Champions winners, we chose seven deserving organizations, rather than our usual six. We also extended all the recipients’ benefits to last for two years, rather than one. We believe, now more than ever, these organizations deserve greater visibility and support for the incredible work they do.
Our Charity Champions will each receive a full marketing awareness campaign (including an interview on local KWTX-TV and recognition at a Baylor University football game), world-class leadership development training, and a team of interns — all at no cost to them.
The winning organizations this year run the gamut, bringing real change to the areas of art education, literacy, mental health resources, and more. Below, learn more about each of our winners, their mission, and why they more than deserve the title of “Charity Champion”:
The Art Center of Waco
Art encourages us to view different perspectives and express our own. Since the 1970s, the Art Center of Waco has helped bring these perspectives to the public. They cultivate accessible, public visual arts events and education throughout the Waco community. Their programs include after-school art classes for children, the “Art Expedition” — a traveling art experience for students (filled with high-quality works inside a large cargo trailer “gallery”) as well as adult and teen art classes.
The Art Center recently purchased new buildings near two expanding and popular downtown districts in Waco: the Silos District and the Cultural District. Their new location will offer more space to spotlight art, culture, and arts education for Central Texas residents. It is also right down the street from our 8th Street location in downtown Waco!
Dr Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute
In a building that was formerly the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company, the Dr Pepper Museum has been a fixture of downtown Waco since 1989. The historic building, once the home of Dr Pepper, now houses an incredible collection of vintage soft drink memorabilia and the Free Enterprise Institute: a place for educating Texas students and adults about the economic system that underlies American life.
The museum preserves an important piece of Waco and American history, keeping our city’s past alive and well even after 135 years.
Nailing a job interview starts with feeling confident. And nothing makes you feel more confident than looking your best. Esther’s Closet is a Waco-based “self-sufficiency program” that offers unemployed women a hand up through access to a professional wardrobe. Clients of Esther’s Closet receive one outfit to attend their first job interview. After securing employment, they receive 7 to 10 days of clothing to wear while on the job. To refresh their wardrobe, each client receives two new outfits every quarter.
Esther’s Closet also provides training and mentorship to help women learn how to get and keep a job.
Klaras Center for Families
For a child with mental and behavioral health issues, finding the right resources can feel daunting. Klaras Center for Families gives Texas families in McClennan, Bosque, Hill, Falls, Limestone, and Freestone counties a safe place to turn. The Center (known as KCF) assists children and adolescents, ages 3 through 21, with significant emotional and/or behavioral difficulties. They are dedicated to providing comprehensive services in the most trauma-sensitive and safe healing environment. Their services include:
- Crisis Intervention
- Counseling (Individual and Family)
- Parent Education and Support Group
- Psychiatric Services
- and more
Legacy Family Ministries
Planting relationships that last a lifetime; that’s what Legacy Family Ministries hopes to achieve through its programs for 20-somethings, engaged couples, newlyweds, and families. The Christian ministry focuses on five essential areas of marriage prep: biblical, experiential, authentic, relational, and practical. Legacy then brings these areas to life through weekend retreats, marriage prep courses, and small group studies for married couples.
Homeownership is more than putting down roots. Research shows homeownership also provides social benefits like increased volunteerism, improved health, and less crime. NeighborWorks Waco helps build stronger Waco neighborhoods through homeownership, quality rental housing, and community-building initiatives. Their lending program, one-on-one counseling, and group workshops help more Wacoans achieve their dreams of owning a forever home.
STARS Book Clubs
One in four children in America grows up without learning how to read. It’s a fact that drives one Waco organization: STARS Book Clubs.
Made possible by a network of volunteers from Waco churches, the group helps every student in Waco ISD learn to read and succeed in school. Each week, volunteers meet with small groups of students, providing them with a positive role model who offers focused reading support.
The group has numbers to show their program works. In 2013, Provident Heights Elementary School was the third-lowest performing school in Waco ISD. After six years of weekly support from STARS volunteers, where a majority of Provident Heights students were placed in a reading small group, the Texas Education Agency reported Provident Heights showed more growth than 99.5 percent of all public schools in the state of Texas.
TFNB is Proud to Call These Central Texans “Charity Champions”
While it’s always difficult selecting just a few recipients each year, we are proud to add these seven organizations to our growing list of local heroes.
Interested in donating or volunteering for one of the organizations listed above? Click the links above to access each website and learn more about opportunities to get involved.