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Kathy Beazley
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Photo courtesy of NAMI North Texas

As the official first day of spring approaches on Tuesday, March 19th, there's a palpable sense of renewal and rejuvenation in the air. The longer days, warmer weather, and blooming flowers mark a time of transition and growth—a perfect opportunity to focus on our mental well-being and embrace the positive energy of the season.

The Promise of Spring

Spring symbolizes a fresh start, offering us the chance to shake off the winter blues and embrace new beginnings. Whether you're a fan of outdoor activities, gardening, or simply soaking up the sun, here are some tips to make the most of this season and nurture your mental health along the way

Tips for Mental Health During Spring

Soak Up the Sunshine: As daylight hours increase, make the most of the sunshine by spending time outdoors. Exposure to natural light can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle and boost your mood.

Engage in Physical Activity: Take advantage of the milder weather to get moving. Whether it's going for a walk, cycling, or practicing yoga in the park, physical activity is a powerful mood booster.

Connect with Nature: Surround yourself with the sights, sounds, and scents of spring by spending time in nature. Take a hike, visit a botanical garden, or simply sit in your backyard and enjoy the beauty around you.

Practice Mindfulness: Take a moment to pause and be present. Mindfulness techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and grounding techniques can help reduce stress and increase feelings of calmness.

Nurture Your Creativity: Spring is a time of inspiration and creativity. Whether it's painting, gardening, or writing, find an outlet for your creativity and allow yourself to express your innermost thoughts and feelings.

Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

While spring brings a sense of relief for many, it's important to acknowledge that some individuals may still experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during this time of year. If you're struggling with feelings of depression or low mood, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. Treatment options for SAD may include light therapy, counseling, medication, and lifestyle changes.

How NAMI North Texas Can Help

NAMI North Texas is here to support you on your journey to mental wellness. As a trusted resource in the community, NAMI North Texas provides essential education, advocacy, and support group programs for individuals and families affected by mental health challenges. Whether you're looking for information, support, or resources, NAMI North Texas is here to help. Check out our educational and support programming, call us at (214) 341-7133, or email info@NAMINorthTexas.org.

Embrace the Beauty of Spring

As we welcome the official arrival of spring, let's take this opportunity to prioritize our mental health and embrace the beauty of the season. By incorporating these simple tips into our daily routine, we can cultivate a greater sense of well-being, vitality, and joy as we embark on this journey of growth and renewal.

Remember, spring is a time of transformation and possibility—so let's make the most of it and bloom into our best selves!

If you are seeking support or need information on how to better manage a mental health challenge in yourself or a loved one, you are not alone. Reach out to NAMI North Texas, a chartered affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which offers outstanding peer-led programs and provides no-cost education, skills training and support in Dallas, Collin, Denton, and Rockwall counties. Visit www.naminorthtexas.org  or call 214-341-7133 for more information. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts and in need immediate of help, please call or text 988 or chat online at www.988lifeline.org.

Kathy Beazley
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It’s almost time to kick up your heels and dance a jig: The North Texas Irish Festival brings Celtic culture to Dallas’s Fair Park March 1-3, 2024. This family-friendly festival is a beloved annual event celebrating the best in music, dance, food and spirits, storytelling, art and more originating in the Emerald Isle and alive and well today in North Texas.

The largest cultural celebration in DFW, the North Texas Irish Festival is produced by the Southwest Celtic Music Association and is staffed by hundreds of volunteers, some of whom have volunteered for decades, often alongside generations of their families. This year’s festival theme, Circle of Life, acknowledges the dedication of volunteers present, past and future, and is symbolized by a Celtic-style art depicting the tree of life.

Bring your family, friends – even the family dog! – to Fair Park in Dallas to enjoy 10 stages of live music, Irish step dancing, chef demonstrations and more, indoors and outdoors. Guests will also enjoy beer and whiskey tastings (for 21+), shopping, horse shows, sheepherding demonstrations, animal rescue groups, child-friendly entertainment, and free arts and crafts for the kids. This indoor-outdoor festival takes place rain or shine.

“Our attendees enjoy being able to walk from stage to stage, settle into a comfortable chair, and enjoy the very best Celtic in the music in the world, live and right here in front of them in North Texas,” said

Sheri Bush, president of the Southwest Celtic Music Association Inc., the non-profit organization that produces the North Texas Irish Festival and provides music and dance scholarships to local students. “There is so much here for everyone, from children to adults and more. How many places can you sit and enjoy multiple concerts in a weekend with a beer, your family and your dog?”

The festival gets off to a festive start with the North Texas Irish Festival Fun Run, a jaunt through the beautiful grounds of Fair Park on Saturday, March 2, at 8 a.m. Perfect for runners or walkers of any age or ability, this activity is perfect for the whole family (even the family dog!). All registered participants will receive a T-shirt, a “bottle opener” medal, one ticket to the North Texas Irish Festival, and two beers after the run (if they are of legal drinking age). This non-timed 5K fun run will benefit Friends of Fair Park and the Southwest Celtic Music Association. More information and a link to registration are available here.

NEW FOR THIS YEAR: Don’t miss the Big Idaho® Potato Truck and Tater Team, a 4-ton potato making a stop through North Texas on its national tour to spread potato love! (We Irish do love our potatoes!) This giant tater is not only something you simply must get a photo of, but it also has a non-profit component: Autographing the Potato’s “Big Helping” wall helps generate funds for the Southwest Celtic Music Association, the non-profit organization that produces the North Texas Irish Festival each year, and supports dance and music education initiatives year-round.

Also NEW this year is artist Rolando Diaz, who has painted for musician Amy Grant, First Lady Laura Bush and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He will do special caricature drawings at the festival to raise funds for animal rescue groups at the festival. 

Music

The roots of the North Texas Irish Festival are in its celebration of music and every year, the festival is able to bring some of the biggest names worldwide to Fair Park. This year, the North Texas Irish Festival is proud to feature the following musical headliners:

 Musical performers from the North Texas region will include:

Dance

If you have ever seen “Riverdance,” you know that the rhythmic magic of Irish step dancing is enchanting to watch and to tap your toe right along with. At the North Texas Irish Festival, Celtic music comes alive in the steps of dancers of all ages, including those from The McLane School of Irish Dance, Maguire Academy of Irish Dance, Inishfree School of Irish Dance-Dallas, McTeggart Irish Dancers of North Texas and the Shandon-O’Regan Irish Dance Academy, who will delight audiences. Irish step dancers perform on a dedicated dance stage and also with musical performers throughout the festival.

Chef Stage and Whiskey Tastings

Chefs doing their own modern take on traditional Celtic fare, or using traditional ingredients in new ways, delight audiences who love to learn and sample the fare on the chef stage. And don’t miss special mixology demonstrations on Friday night! Whiskey tastings are also available through a special ticketed event located inside the North Texas Irish Festival.

Kids

Urchin Street at the North Texas Irish Festival is a special place where kids can find child-friendly entertainment, education, play and fun, including crafts, music, dance, storytelling, magic and mystery. Storytellers -- or “Shanachie” – will tell traditional Irish stories in the way that the Irish learned of their history for hundreds of years. 

Pets

The North Texas Irish Festival is pet-friendly! From dogs to rabbits, cats and even a squirrel or two, guests bring leashed pets to the festival to enjoy indoor and outdoor festivities. Need a new best pal? Animal rescue groups at the North Texas Irish Festival are happy to introduce you to animals to see if you might have a new “fur-ever” friend.

Hours, Admission and Location

Gates open on Friday evening, March 1, at 6 p.m.  Hours are 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday, March 1; 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 2; and 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 3.

Admission is FREE on Friday from 6 to 7 p.m.; $15 after 7 p.m. A one-day ticket is $25 on Saturday or Sunday at the gate, while a weekend pass is $45. Discount tickets are available at area Tom Thumb and Albertsons stores for $20 for a one-day ticket starting February 1. Children under 6 are FREE when accompanied by an adult family member. Seniors over 65 or current military members (with valid military ID) receive $5 off all gate prices. Pets are allowed in on a short leash. Leprechauns (in full ceremonial dress and carrying pot of gold) are FREE.

Tickets are available online now, at Tom Thumb and Albertsons stores (starting February 1), and at the gates on the days of the event. 

Parking is available in and around Fair Park, or guests can take the DART (take the Green Line!) to the front entrance of Fair Park and the North Texas Irish Festival. Detailed directions and parking tips are available at ntif.org. Interesting in volunteering at the festival? Please visit ntif.org for more information. 

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Connect with the North Texas Irish Festival at:

Sponsors

In addition to the hundreds of volunteers who support the festival by volunteering their time, other local civic and corporate partners make this festival possible. The North Texas Irish Festival is presented by the Southwest Celtic Music Association. Additionally, the festival is sponsored by Guinness, Tom Thumb, Albertsons, NBC 5, Audacy, Visit Dallas and the Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District.

About the Southwest Celtic Music Association Inc.

The Southwest Celtic Music Association Inc. (SCMA), a 501(c)(3), is the producing organization for the North Texas Irish Festival. Approximately 600 volunteers will help in organization, promotion and execution of this year's festival. The first such festival was held on March 5, 1983, at the legendary Nick Farrelly’s Lounge on Oak Lawn and was billed as the First Texas Céilí. This event was so popular that it has continued every year since on the first weekend in March as the North Texas Irish Festival. Shortly after the first festival, the all-volunteer Southwest Celtic Music Association Inc. was formed to promote the study, performance and preservation of traditional Celtic music, dance and culture. In 1984, the event was moved to Fair Park and its name changed to the North Texas Irish Festival. The Southwest Celtic Music Association Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit cultural corporation headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and serves a five-state regional area. The organization maintains a web site at www.scmatx.org.

Kathy Beazley
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Photo Credit Peterson Management Group Blue Goose Cantina's famous margaritas

Blue Goose Cantina is turning up the heat on National Margarita Day, Thursday, February 22, 2024, with irresistible drink and queso specials across all seven of its locations in locations in Frisco, Plano, Highland Village, McKinney, Grapevine, Fort Worth, and Grand Prairie. Celebrate this festive day with a fiesta for your taste buds. For a wallet-friendly $3 each, patrons can enjoy both the house frozen and on-the-rocks margaritas, wells, and the beloved queso dip. It's a celebration of flavors that won't break the bank.

But that's not all – Blue Goose Cantina is introducing a limited-time drink special, just in time for the occasion. Say hello to "Mi Cariño," a cranberry-champagne margarita that will steal your heart. This delectable cocktail boasts Astral Blanco tequila, cranberry juice, a champagne floater, a splash of Blue Goose's special Diablo juice, and is garnished with lime and cranberries served on the rocks. Mi Cariño is available exclusively from February 1 to March 31 for $13, offering a delightful twist to the traditional margarita.

Whether you're a margarita aficionado or simply looking for a reason to indulge in some cheesy goodness, Blue Goose Cantina's National Margarita Day celebration promises an unforgettable experience. Gather your friends and head to your nearest Blue Goose Cantina location to savor the flavors of this special day without burning a hole in your pocket. Cheers to margaritas, the unforgettable Mi Cariño cocktail, queso, and good times!

Established in 1984, Blue Goose Cantina brings together fantastic made-from-scratch Mexican food, legendary cocktails, top-notch service, a fun atmosphere, and a kick-ass attitude. A division of Peterson Management Group, a family-owned and operated restaurant management company, Blue Goose currently has seven North Texas locations in Frisco, Plano, Highland Village, McKinney, Grapevine, Fort Worth and Grand Prairie. For more information, including menu and locations, visit BlueGooseCantina.com. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news and promotions. #bluegoosecantina

ABOUT PETERSON MANAGEMENT GROUP

Peterson Management Group is a family-owned and operated restaurant management company with 12 restaurants located across North Texas. Founded by Bob Peterson and Scott Holyfield, two guys with larger-than-life personalities, it all started in 1983 with eclectic seafood shack restaurants, Aw Shucks and Big Shucks Oyster Bar. They are the best places in North Texas to get raw oysters, shrimp, catfish, crab legs, po'boy boy sandwiches, a nice cold beer, and some tasty crawfish when in season. In addition to Aw Shucks and Big Shucks, Peterson Management Group opened Blue Goose Cantina in 1984, where fantastic made-from-scratch Mexican food, legendary cocktails, top-notch service, a fun atmosphere, and a kick-ass attitude come together. The restaurant chain has repeatedly been voted the best in North Texas for its winning combination of food, fun, and signature margaritas. Today, Nick Peterson, son of Bob, leads the family business, serving as its CEO. For more information, visit PetersonManagementGroup.net.

Kathy Beazley
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Aw Shucks and Big Shucks Mardi Gras_7_Photo courte

The life of the Mardi will be at all five Shucks locations, which include food and drink deals, prizes, and live bands!

Aw Shucks and Big Shucks Oyster Bar will be celebrating Mardi Gras as big as New Orleans on Fat Tuesday, February 13, at its five locations in Dallas, Richardson, Lewisville, and Frisco. Shucks will offer free beads for the early birds, as well as food and drink specials (all day) and will be jamming with live bands at all locations from 5:30 pm - to 9:00 pm. Bands include The Members Only Band, The Big Daddy Band, Treble Hook, Mars Hill, and The Decades Trio. In the evening, there will be fun prizes given away at each location including Aw Shucks gift cards and Shucks Mardi Gras t-shirts. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Shucks specials include:

  • $5.00 house margaritas
  • $3.00 draft beer
  • $8.00 Sandia Swirl and Rojo Ritas
  • $5.00 shrimp cocktail mugs
  • Crawfish platter specials by the pound, with corn, and potatoes

Since 1983, Aw Shucks and Big Shucks Oyster Bar have been the best places in North Texas to enjoy raw oysters, shrimp, catfish, crab legs, po'boy boy sandwiches, a nice cold beer, and tasty crawfish when in season. With its seafood shack atmosphere, guests are guaranteed to have a great time. For more information on Aw Shucks and Big Shucks, visit awshucksdallas.com. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news and promotions. #shucksdallas

ABOUT PETERSON MANAGEMENT GROUP

Peterson Management Group is a family-owned and operated restaurant management company with 12 restaurants located across North Texas. Founded by Bob Peterson and Scott Holyfield, two guys with larger-than-life personalities, it all started in 1983 with eclectic seafood shack restaurants, Aw Shucks and Big Shucks Oyster Bar. They are the best places in North Texas to get raw oysters, shrimp, catfish, crab legs, po'boy boy sandwiches, a nice cold beer, and some tasty crawfish when in season. In addition to Aw Shucks and Big Shucks, Peterson Management Group opened Blue Goose Cantina in 1984, where fantastic made-from-scratch Mexican food, legendary cocktails, top-notch service, a fun atmosphere and a kick-ass attitude come together. The restaurant chain has repeatedly been voted the best in North Texas for its winning combination of food, fun, and signature margaritas. Today, Nick Peterson, son of Bob, leads the family business, serving as its CEO. For more information, visit PetersonManagementGroup.net.

Kathy Beazley
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Photos courtesy of NAMI North Texas Lakeesha Browne (left); Khadijah Ibrahim and Lee Pierson (top row); Monserrat Mata and Felecia Wadsworth (bottom row)

NAMI North Texas, a chartered affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and NAMI Texas, has announced its 2024 new leadership and members. Joining the NAMI North Texas board are the following:

Lakeesha Browne is the CEO and Principal Accountant at LV Browne, CPA.  She has more than 25 years of experience as a CPA.  During her professional career, she has spent seven years as Controller for two well-known local nonprofits, CitySquare and Catholic Charities of Dallas.  Ms. Browne has participated in NAMIWalks, advocated for the rights and vulnerabilities of the mentally ill, and currently serves on the steering committee for the Mental Wellness Alliance of North Texas. Ms. Browne will be serving as treasurer for NAMI North Texas.

Khadijah Ibrahim is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner for Medical City Green Oaks where she is currently serving as a Program Director.  Ms. Ibrahim brings with her more than 12 years of experience in a mental health clinical setting and has supported NAMI North Texas through her participation in NAMIWalks, the signature fundraiser for the nonprofit.

Lee Pierson is the Chief Attorney over the Dallas County District Attorney's Office Mental Health Division. Since 2011, he has handled cases involving competency, sanity and defendants who have a mental health diagnosis, many times co-occurring with substance abuse disorders.

Monserrat Mata is currently a Parent Educator and Case Worker at Avance North Texas where she provides advocacy and social support services for under-served and under-resourced families in the Dallas area.  Ms. Mata has been a key player in facilitating a partnership between NAMI North Texas and Avance to strengthen mental health education and awareness among the people they serve.

Felecia Wadsworth is a passionate family member, retired teacher and former NAMI North Texas Board Member and Youth Programs Coordinator.  Since leaving her position as Youth Programs Coordinator at NAMI North Texas, Mrs. Wadsworth has continued to be a strong legislative mental health advocate and champion volunteer for NAMI North Texas.

Elected for one year terms, the 2024 officers were also elected and confirmed. Returning to the board as president is Dr. Joseph Guillory from the University of Texas at Southwestern and Dr. Mohammad 'Pasha' Rahman was re-elected as vice president. Rahman is the Director of Pharmacy Services at Medical City Green Oaks Hospital in Dallas. Newly-elected officers include ShaRonda Young Calderon, the program director for Blue H.E.L.P. will serve as secretary, while Alyse Ferguson, an attorney with Rosenthal, Kalabus & Therrian, will serve as treasurer. Other returning board members include Heather Bianchi, Phyllis Finley, Officer Todd Gyure, Courtney Jaimes, and Isaac Padilla.

Founded in 1982, NAMI North Texas, a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit organization, advocates for equitable access to mental health services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raise awareness and build a community of hope for all of those in need. Serving Dallas, Collin, Denton, and Rockwall counties, NAMI North Texas provides essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs. For more information, visit www.naminorthtexas.org.

Kathy Beazley
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Photo credit Peterson Management Group

Dive into a sea of delicious options this Lenten season with Aw Shucks and Big Shucks Oyster Bar! From Ash Wednesday on February 14 to Easter Sunday on March 31 at any of the locations in locations in Dallas, Richardson, Lewisville, and Frisco, Aw Shucks and Big Shucks have got a lineup of mouthwatering specials that will make your Lent experience a flavorful one.

For those looking to reel in the Lenten season with a special Friday lunch or dinner, Aw Shucks and Big Shucks have you covered with a limited-time price on their Grilled Tilapia Plate. Available for an incredible price of $8.99 on Fridays from February 16 through March 29, this mouthwatering dish features two filets of grilled tilapia served with rice and a vegetable medley. It's a perfect way to add a touch of variety to your Lenten menu.

Aw Shucks and Big Shucks have a variety of options to choose from throughout Lent. Whether you're a fan of shrimp, crawfish, crab legs, salmon, catfish, or oysters, Shucks has got you covered, prepared your favorite way—boiled, grilled, or fried.

If you're in the mood for something lighter, dive into one of the tantalizing soups. Maria's Clam Chowder, a New England-style chowder topped with bacon and parsley, or Caldo de Mariscos, a fish and head-on shrimp concoction with vegetables in a spicy broth, will warm you from the inside out. Served with cilantro, onion, lime, rice, and bread, it's a satisfying option for those looking to stay on the lighter side of Lent.

And for those who prefer their seafood between slices of bread, Aw Shucks and Big Shucks offer the ultimate fried catfish, shrimp, or oyster po' boys. It's a taste of the South that will have you coming back for more.

This Lent, make a splash with Aw Shucks and Big Shucks Oyster Bar. Your taste buds will be thanking you, and you'll be counting down the days until next year's Lenten dining. Get ready for a seafood celebration that's simply shell-tastic!

Celebrating 40 years, Aw Shucks and Big Shucks Oyster Bar have been the best places in North Texas to get raw oysters, shrimp, catfish, crab legs, po'boy boy sandwiches, a nice cold beer, and some tasty crawfish when in season. With its eclectic seafood shack atmosphere, guests are guaranteed to have the best shuckin’ time. A division of Peterson Management Group, a family-owned and operated restaurant management company, there are five locations in North Texas. For more information on Aw Shucks and Big Shucks, visit awshucksdallas.com. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news and promotions. #shucksdallas

ABOUT PETERSON MANAGEMENT GROUP

Peterson Management Group is a family-owned and operated restaurant management company with 12 restaurants located across North Texas. Founded by Bob Peterson and Scott Holyfield, two guys with larger-than-life personalities, it all started in 1983 with eclectic seafood shack restaurants, Aw Shucks and Big Shucks Oyster Bar. They are the best places in North Texas to get raw oysters, shrimp, catfish, crab legs, po'boy boy sandwiches, a nice cold beer, and some tasty crawfish when in season. In addition to Aw Shucks and Big Shucks, Peterson Management Group opened Blue Goose Cantina in 1984, where fantastic made-from-scratch Mexican food, legendary drinks, top-notch service, a fun atmosphere and a kick-ass attitude come together. The restaurant chain has repeatedly been voted the best in North Texas for its winning combination of food, fun, and signature margaritas. Today, Nick Peterson, son of Bob, leads the family business, serving as its CEO.

Kathy Beazley
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Photo courtesy of Metrocrest Services

While Santa may reside at the North Pole, the epicenter of holiday magic was brightest at Metrocrest Services, where the community shared donations, time and care with those in need. Through the Metrocrest Services Holiday Program, 1,031 families who might not have otherwise had a reason to celebrate felt remembered and valued this past holiday season.

“It is remarkable what we can do together,” said Caitlin Hardegree, marketing and communications director of Metrocrest Services, “and this past holiday season was proof that we can make a difference for our friends and neighbors, ultimately providing them with services that put them on a path to self-sufficiency. Some holiday magic along the way also helps, too!”

Like Santa’s workshop come to life, the Metrocrest Services Holiday Store opened its doors to clients of Metrocrest Services December 9-20. Toys and games for children of all ages, bicycles and helmets, clothing, personal care items and much more were available for caregivers to select from for their children, at no cost to them. The store was stocked with donations from generous community members.

A fun, festively decorated space complete with Christmas trees, holiday music and spirited volunteers made the experience bright for Metrocrest Services clients. In all, 2,402 children received gifts chosen just for them – children who, otherwise, might not have had anything under the tree – and caregivers experienced the joy of selecting and gifting something their child would love.

“Thank you for making my kids’ Christmas special!” Claudia, a client of Metrocrest Services, remarked to volunteers and staff.

In addition to the holiday store, Metrocrest Services also offered a senior gifting program that allowed the community to create and donate gift baskets with specific local senior citizens in mind. These elaborate gift baskets held everything from soft and cozy items like new robes, slippers and blankets, to delicious cookies snacks, items for the home, gift cards, personal notes and cards, and much more. The baskets were then delivered to seniors’ homes, giving volunteers an opportunity to visit and spread holiday cheer. In all, 69 seniors from the Metrocrest community who otherwise might have felt forgotten over the holidays received holiday spirit and some special gifts.

“Best Christmas we’ve had in a long time,” remarked a senior who received a basket.

Making this holiday season sparkle was the dedication of Metrocrest Services staff, donors to the program and volunteers. Seven hundred and thirty-two volunteers gave of their time and energy during this past holiday season to help those in need, contributing 2,135 volunteer hours.

“We are grateful that people took time out of their busy holiday season to help us make magic for those in need,” Hardegree said. “The smiles on the faces of the people who came through our doors are proof that we are making a difference, and that is truly because of the support our organization receives from the community. We hope everyone keeps the holiday spirit in their hearts throughout the year as we help individuals on their path to self-sufficiency.”

Now headquartered in Carrollton, Metrocrest Services has welcomed even more clients into its new home this year – people who are in need of everything from food to feed their families to help with rent and electrical bills, job training and other needs. In the last four months of 2023, the non-profit agency experienced a 50 percent increase in new food pantry clients – people who have never asked for help from Metrocrest Services before – over the same timeframe last year.

Metrocrest Services provides wrap-around services all year long – meaning it helps clients with the many aspects of getting on the road to independence, including providing assistance with food, rent, job skills, financial education and much more. Metrocrest Services is well-positioned to help area residents in need. The non-profit agency relies on donations of funding and volunteer time from the community. To get involved, visit metrocrestservices.org/donate

Metrocrest Services, Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing programs for individuals, families and seniors that lead to self-sufficiency and foster independence. Programs include rent and utility bill assistance, financial and budgeting assistance, food pantry, employment coaching and transportation, minor home repairs and home-delivered meals to benefit seniors. Additionally, Metrocrest provides programs focused on children including holiday gifts and summer food. For more information, visit metrocrestservices.org.

Kathy Beazley
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Photo credit Texas Woman's University Fashion design students at Texas Woman’s University with 8-year-old Serenitee Jackson, a scoliosis patient at Scottish Rite for Children

Texas Woman’s University Students Create Specially Designed Clothing Line for Patients with Scoliosis at Scottish Rite for Children

The patient-friendly ensembles were presented to Scottish Rite for Children on Dec. 8.

Fashion design students at Texas Woman’s University (TWU) have created yet another line of “help couture” to address the specific needs of different people — in this case, patients at Scottish Rite for Children who are being treated for scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine. TWU’s Mass Production Techniques class designed and created 16 stylish ensembles that consider the experiences of patients undergoing treatment with the use of medical devices. On December 8 at Scottish Rite, they presented the fashion-with-function garments, which includes three different types of tops and three different types of bottoms that are all interchangeable, even down to the packaging.

Approximately two to three percent of the population in the United States is diagnosed with scoliosis, or about six to nine million people. While many children diagnosed with scoliosis only require observation or minimal treatment, some develop significant curves that cannot be corrected without surgical intervention. Severe cases are treated by gradual decompression and lengthening of the spine in preparation for surgery, which can involve a patient being placed in halo-gravity traction. In halo traction, a metal ring is held in place by pins affixed to the skull. This device is then attached to a pulley system that connects to the child’s bed, wheelchair or walker and uses weight to slowly stretch the spine.

Halo traction can make independent dressing and wearing typical youthful styles quite difficult, so the TWU students designed fashions featuring widened necklines, snaps and zippers in non-traditional locations, fun colors, and mix-and-match sets of tops and bottoms.

To inform their designs, TWU students visited the world-renowned Scottish Rite to learn more about the wants and needs of the pediatric patients being treated surgically for scoliosis. The project required a fundamental shift in the design, patterning and assembly process.

"Fun colors, fun gadgets on there, where they can actually feel independent, even though they're dependent on the hospital for a lot of their needs," said Remy Odukomaiya, Fashion Design lecturer at Texas Woman’s University. "The students started brainstorming. How are you to get a top over the halo? How do they open it up? What if there's no nurse and they need to get that off on their own and you want to give them a sense of independence? So, we started drafting and redrawing and redrafting and redrawing till we got to a point where I said, I think we got the answers.”

The clothing donated to Scottish Rite is the most recent example of TWU students designing innovative lines to create solutions for people in different circumstances. In 2022, TWU designed garments donated to Denton community organizations serving men without housing, with each design offering thoughtful features like generously sized pockets, reflective fabric and adjustable drawstrings.

"It's a whole different level of thinking," further states Odukomaiya. "It's not only about the aesthetics anymore; it's about the function. You're designing it, but what's the function of it? Is it useful? Is it needed? Those questions have to be answered."

About TWU:

Texas Woman’s University is the nation’s largest woman-focused university system with campuses in Denton, Dallas and Houston. Founded in 1901, TWU has built a reputation on contributions in nursing, healthcare, education, the arts and sciences, and business. TWU’s inclusive culture prioritizes experiential learning, leadership, service, discovery, and health and wellbeing, and national media have recognized the university as a top college for student-parents, veterans and social mobility. In 2023, TWU publicly launched Dream Big, a $125 million fundraising effort to support programming, equipment, scholarships and faculty. To learn more about the campaign or the university, visit dreambig.twu.edu or twu.edu, or connect with TWU on Facebook @TexasWomansUniversity, Instagram @txwomans, Twitter @txwomans, and LinkedIn @texaswomansuniversity.

About Scottish Rite:

Scottish Rite for Children has been dedicated to giving children back their childhood for more than a century. The institution is a world-renowned leader in the treatment of pediatric orthopedics, such as scoliosis, clubfoot, hand differences, hip disorders, sports injuries and fractures, as well as certain related arthritic and neurological disorders and learning disorders, such as dyslexia. The organization conducts innovative research and provides high-level education opportunities for medical professionals around the world. Scottish Rite operates two campuses, including a hospital in Dallas and an ambulatory surgery center in Frisco, Texas, and is known for being a bright, child-friendly place that does not look, feel or smell like a health care institution. Patients receive treatment regardless of their family’s ability to pay. For more information about services available at the Dallas or Frisco campuses, volunteering or donating, visit scottishriteforchildren.org.

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Photo courtesy of NAMI North Texas

NAMI NORTH TEXAS INSTALLS 30 NEWLY-CERTIFIED LEADERS IN IN ITS MENTAL HEALTH OVERWATCH PEER SUPPORT PROGRAM FOR FIRST RESPONDERS

Peer Support Program provides a no-cost, in-person, stigma-free mental health support network 

NAMI North Texas recently held a 16-hour mental health Overwatch Peer Support (OPS) certification class for 30 first responders across Dallas/Fort Worth. The two day course was held at the Flower Mound Police Department. The newly-certified leaders represent first responders located in Denton, HCA Healthcare, Flower Mound, Garland, Cleburne, Johnson County, Colleyville, UT Southwestern, Grand Prairie, Richardson, Dallas Veterans Affairs, Texas Woman's University, Trophy Club, and Haltom City. OPS is an innovative program that provides a private option to take the first step towards mental health care, making it easier for first responders to seek help, prioritize their own well-being, and connect with vetted, culturally appropriate clinical care when necessary. Intended to be supplementary to intra-agency support teams.

Leading the training were instructors Officer Todd Gyure from the Garland Police Department, Detective Michelle Horridge from the Flower Mound Police Department, and Officer Carlos Henderson of The Colony Police Department – all mental health liaisons within their own city’s department. 

“The certification of these leaders allows OPS to provide even more peer support and mental health resources to first responders within our community,” states Detective Horridge, who also serves as the NAMI North Texas Frontline Wellness Coordinator. “It’s truly inspiring to witness how the first responders exemplify excellence in representing their respective departments. Their dedication and unwavering support are a shining example of what it means to be leaders and what it means to make a positive impact in the Overwatch community!”

The NAMI North Texas OPS program is the first of its kind, in-person, no-cost, confidential, community-based, inter-agency peer support network for first responders. This innovative program provides a private option to take the first step towards mental health care, making it easier for first responders to seek help, prioritize their own well-being, and connect with vetted, culturally appropriate clinical care when necessary. Intended to be supplementary to intra-agency support teams, OPS serves as an additional resource to optimize first responder wellness and professional performance.

After more than a decade of experience working with law enforcement, NAMI North Texas developed the 16-hour, high quality, peer support certification course in 2021-2022 with the help of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. During the summer of 2023, the OPS program expanded to all first responder professionals, including communications/dispatch, corrections, and civilian employees of law enforcement agencies, and fire/EMS personnel.

Because of the high success rate of the Dallas/Fort Worth program, NAMI National has adopted and expanded the program across the U.S. through their Frontline Wellness Initiative, making OPS available for implementation at more than 600 local NAMI Affiliates nationwide.

Founded in 1982, NAMI North Texas, a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit organization, advocates for equitable access to mental health services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raise awareness and build a community of hope for all of those in need. Serving Dallas, Collin, Denton, and Rockwall counties, NAMI North Texas provides essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs. For more information, visit www.naminorthtexas.org.

 

 

Kathy Beazley
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Photo courtesy of Laughter League Tiffany Riley and Dick Monday, founders of Laughter League.jpg

In jubilation, local nonprofit Laughter League marked its Sweet 16 anniversary on Saturday, December 2. The festive celebration, hosted by board members Rhonda Thompson and Kathy Beazley, was a lively affair that brought together supporters, partners, and friends to toast to the incredible journey of this laughter-filled organization. Notable guests in attendance included Dr. Raymond and Martha Quigley, Dr. David and Amy Podeszwa, Krys Boyd and Matt DeMoss, M.T. D’Avignon, Dana Garnett, Tonya Ward, Karl Schaeffer, and many more.

The party was ablaze with joy as guests indulged in the evening's delights, which included margaritas and cerveza, tacos and fajitas sizzling from Blue Goose Cantina, and delectable mini-birthday cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes. The celebration wasn't just about the delightful treats; it was a testament to the remarkable work of Laughter League over the past 16 years.

Founders Tiffany Riley and Dick Monday took center stage to welcome the spirited crowd, providing a heartwarming update on the nonprofit's growth across the United States. The duo announced a groundbreaking initiative: the launch of the Joy Family. Leveraging their unique skills in physical comedy and music, this new project aims to bring lightness and laughter to people living with dementia. A noble endeavor that promises to spread joy in unexpected places.

Exciting news echoed as it was revealed that in Spring 2024, Humorology Atlanta, HA!, is set to join forces with the Laughter League. The merger promises to amplify the impact of these laughter ambassadors, expanding their reach and influence to bring laughter to even more communities.

Laughter League, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, has been on a mission to improve the lives of families through the transformational power of laughter for more than two decades. Their impact is far-reaching, touching the lives of more than 100,000 children and families annually through initiatives in pediatric healthcare, schools, libraries, and family-friendly performances.

The organization's partnerships with esteemed institutions like Bath House Cultural Center, Arts Mission Oak Cliff, Big Thought, Moody Fund for the Arts, City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, The Dallas Children's Theatre, Galleria Dallas, and the Texas Commission on the Arts underscore the widespread recognition and support for their mission.

In the healthcare sector, Laughter League has pioneered professional Healthcare Clown programs at Cook Children's Hospital in Ft. Worth, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, Parkland Burn Unit, Camp John Marc, Seattle Children’s, Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone, Boston Children's Hospital, and Hasbro Children's Hospital. Their commitment to spreading joy knows no bounds.

Circo Metropolis, a free neighborhood circus presented by Laughter League, exemplifies their dedication to community engagement. Collaborating with teachers, medical staff, and other theater groups, they discover that the true magic of laughter lies in these partnerships.

For those inspired to join this laughter crusade, Laughter League invites you to visit www.laughterleague.org. There, you can find more information about their impactful programs and, if you're feeling particularly generous, make a donation to help fuel the laughter revolution.

As Laughter League steps into its Sweet 16 year with exuberance, the echoes of laughter they've created over the years reverberate louder than ever, promising even more joy and mirth in the years to come.