A Wrangler’s Tale – October 2021

“I wouldn’t trade this place for anything,” Luke said. His mom, Christina, nodded in agreement. “I remember the smile on his face,” she said, “after a visit here. It took us a year to decide, but we both knew it was the right place because it gives him a sense of independence.”

Independence is hard to come by, thanks to the many effects of a dozen brain surgeries. Luke continues to grow more independent, the journey bringing challenges to both Luke and his mom. She explained the challenges she has faced to make sure Luke has as many experiences as possible, like walking across the stage at high school graduation. Luke shared about facing the challenges of limited mobility and vision.

Among Luke’s favorite programs at New Danville are cooking and the “What’s Happening” class. When asked whether his reputation for liking to share his opinions on a variety of topics was true, he nodded, smiled, and replied, “Yes.”  His favorite topics? Politics, current events…life.

“I was his caregiver for eight years,” his mom said, “and I wanted to be sure that he would be safe and appreciated wherever he landed. The staff at New Danville are loving and understanding. It was scary when I heard that there were field trips to town for movies or pizza. Luke’s sister joined in and now she loves being a part of the fun. I was worried for his safety and about the responses of people. People can be cruel in what they say or how they act. Being around people with challenges who are growing more independent has been good for Luke.”

“We respect each other’s disabilities,” Luke said. Respect is at the heart of the journey for independence, self-esteem, and relationships.

Luke’s mom shared a moment that she and Luke are particularly proud of. A while back, there was a fellow Wrangler who was having a hard time drinking a soda because of his tremors. Luke, being personally familiar with the condition and its frustrations, put a straw in the can and held it so his friend could drink easily. Luke smiled at the sharing of the story. His mom re-emphasized that a lot of Wranglers have been through a lot, but they, along with the staff, are there for each other.

Guest Voices – October 2021

About a decade ago, several parents of residents in New Danville’s Meadowbrook community came together to build a concept that would provide New Danville residents with a variety of experiences that built relationships, expanded socialization opportunities, and furthered the concept of community in New Danville. The bricks of commitment, creativity, and conviction were bound together with a mortar of compassion. They built a nonprofit called Legally Authorized Representative Alliance (LARA).

L-R:  Diana Egley, Kathy Hertzog , Connie Mahaffey

LARA president Diana Egley said, “New Danville clients, like anyone else, want to feel valued and to be able to contribute, as well as develop strong relationships. LARA was created to help make that happen.” Diana was one of the founders of LARA. “We have been purpose-driven from the beginning,” she said.

Originally created to serve the needs of residents, LARA’s efforts have benefited both the residents and the day program attendees.

Connie Mahaffey, one of LARA’s founders, said, “The Wranglers (day program attendees) and residents see LARA members as friends. They come to us with ideas and sometimes come to us with questions. Those relationships are built by doing so much together. This year, we will take residents who are interested to Crighton Theater to see a production of Elf.

LARA has adapted the many things its volunteers do to the needs of New Danville clients and the conditions of the times. Needless to say, their plans, like everyone else’s, have changed significantly in 2020 and 2021. “We have kept our plans open for 2022,” Diana said, “until we know what conditions will allow.”

Adapting and being flexible have been a key element of LARA’s success. Kathy Hertzog joined LARA about a year after its formation. She said, “In the beginning, we held dinners in the residents’ homes so people could get to know each other and build a stronger sense of community. Residents realized that LARA volunteers were truly interested in their successful independence.”

Connie added, “The dinners in homes later became monthly birthday bashes. Each month we have a party to celebrate all the resident birthdays of the month. We have dinner, bingo, and various games that provide opportunities to win gift cards and other prizes.”

Kathy shared that many things people take for granted are new or unknown to the clients. “As friends to the clients, we provide a safe, accessible resource of information or outlet for sharing.”

Over the years, LARA has hosted parties; taken field trips to Buccee’s, Disney on Ice, and various theater productions; held Christmas Market events; and much more. “We want them to be able to do something they would never have the opportunity to do otherwise,” Diana said.

No matter what 2022 and beyond holds, it is clear that LARA and its supporters will continue to bring fun, socialization, relationships, and independence to New Danville residents and clients. The most important thing they always deliver is love.

Grow – October 2021

People grow at New Danville, and New Danville’s range of services grows to meet the needs of those who need us. A recent growth step includes the addition of respite service for the community of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Does your family member need to get away and spend a night or a weekend in an idyllic country setting? Or perhaps you need to go out of town for a night or two. New Danville is proud to announce its revived respite program to the community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities!

You will enjoy staying in a fully furnished “cabin” on the beautiful New Danville campus. Stays can be booked for a night, a weekend, or longer. The cabin is fully furnished with a twin bed, dining area, TV, and washer and dryer. Guests can also elect to participate in the day program for an additional fee. All guests must be able to take care of their basic needs without staff support.

New Danville takes pride in providing a safe, caring, and professional environment. Come for a visit, and stay for the night!

For more information and pricing, contact us at office@newdanville.org, or call Bryan Gill at 936-534-9111.

Work – October 2021

Justin’s mother said prior to the interview with him, “If he seems reserved or withdrawn, just ask him about his job.” Not that he was, but he sure enjoyed talking about past and present jobs, and the many other ways he stays busy. “I like working and being busy,” Justin said.

He has been a resident at Meadowbrook (New Danville’s residential community) since it opened in 2009.

Justin works as an associate in the stationary department at Wal-Mart. He has been there 13 years. “A lot of customers know me,” he said with a smile. Helping customers is his favorite part of the job. He shared that he also works in the seasonal department and sometimes he has assisted in the toy section. “The managers like the way I keep the departments clean and neat.”  When asked if he has the same success at home, he again smiles with “Well, I try to.”

Justin began his work life a bit before he turned 17 when he was hired by Kroger. Working is not the only way he stays busy, despite the challenges of his cerebral palsy-like condition. “It is not CP,” Justin said, “but the doctors have to call it something.” Again, a broad smile follows his observation. While in high school, he was a member of both the swim team and water polo club. Fitness, particularly swimming, remains a key element of his busy schedule. On the days that he is not working, he goes to the rec center to walk, swim and lift weights. He swims between 1200 and 1600 meters each day that he goes to the center.

Justin keeps his mind busy, too. Always has. “I received a web design certificate. I learned Dreamweaver and Illustrator, and some other applications,” he said. “I wasn’t real big on English class in school so I had to find something else for a class. I have a lot of knowledge.” Again, the smile. Shakespeare said, “He is well paid that is well satisfied.” In Shakespeare’s view, Justin is rich, indeed.

Learn – October 2021

Wranglers are stepping into staff offices, engaging visitors, and stopping people in the halls to share the artwork they made in newly re-energized art classes. A variety of new art projects have already captured the interest of Wranglers and there is much more to come.

“Our team has always stepped up to help in any class in any way they can, but we are fortunate to have a new direct support professional whose career includes personal involvement in various art forms, as well as teaching art,” said new program manager, Bryan Gill.

Jamie Glass recently joined our team of direct support professionals, bringing years of experience immersed in the arts as a creator and teacher in both the performing and visual arts. She believes the objective is not to create ‘pretty’ art, but to create. She wants Wranglers to grow with the range of experiences while they use all their senses. “We might go for a walk on campus and do nature rubbings, or blow paint across a piece of paper. Creating art should be experiences the Wranglers enjoy,” she said.

Future plans include a ballet class, a campus art project of painted garbage cans and other exciting options that help art become a more active form of communication, expression and voice for Wranglers, as well as a lot of fun!

Live – October 2021

Odd wildflowers are popping up all over New Danville’s grounds. They aren’t really flowers, but they are a sign of new developments.

The red, yellow, and orange plastic marker flags that flutter in the wind actually mark underground utilities. Knowing where they are is critical when it comes to how much work is soon to take place as a variety of drainage projects are underway at New Danville. “Some of the projects have been necessary for a while, and some are in preparation for plans we have for the future. It only makes sense to fix all the issues since we now have the opportunity to do so,” said Randy Smyth, Director of Operations.

Residents, parents, guardians and day program participants are happy about the changes that will change water flow on the campus and eliminate the puddling issues in Meadowbrook, as well as minimize standing water in other areas.

“As we envision a future with more facilities for residents, classrooms, gathering areas, and more, we need to begin changing the shape of our terrain. The changes are important first steps,” CEO Eva Aguirre said, “and we are blessed to have the resources to begin making these changes.”

Development Corner – October 2021

Constancy in Giving Supports Constancy of Service

“We put our trust in New Danville. It is not a blind trust; it is well earned. We donate consistently to support consistency of community,” said Vernon Friday. His wife, Lois, nodded in agreement. She added, “It takes special understanding and patience with love, which is why we support the general needs of New Danville. Everyone there has those special traits.”

Vernon and Lois are the grandparents of Justin, a Meadowbrook resident since 2014.  Prior to living on-site in New Danville’s residential community, Justin attended the day programs. It is because of his growth and development over the years that the Fridays have made more than 50 contributions, ranging from automated monthly payments to donations of woodworking equipment.

They have been members of the Founders Circle donor recognition when they were able to use the automatic process to make monthly contributions.  Donors who use automatic payments are called “Sustainers” in the new, recently rolled out donor recognition program. “By being blessed, we try to pass it along,” Vernon said.

For those interested in becoming a monthly donor through automatic payments, click here.  If you have any questions about the fundraising and/or naming opportunities, contact Dion McInnis at Dion.McInnis@NewDanville.org or 936-253-5757.

We are pleased to introduce Live, Learn, Work and Grow:  Wisdom from Under the Windmill, an inspiring, motivational, immediately usable presentation by Dion McInnis, development director. Bring this to your organization, association, business or group; everyone’s life can be better with the 15 nuggets of wisdom for living discovered at New Danville. Contact Dion at Dion.McInnis@NewDanville.org to book the presentation for your event.

New Danville is a 501( c ) 3 nonprofit rural community in Willis, TX for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. New Danville provides our clients an opportunity to live enriched and purposeful lives; we proudly call them Wranglers.

Upcoming Events – October 2021

Hold the Dates For:

Wine and Food Week, partly benefitting New Danville, will be held on October 21. Covering three blocks of Market Street and jammed packed with a cornucopia of culinary creations, wine displays with industry experts, craft beers, live music, and incredible wine experiences. More than 40 wine tasting tents, 40+ craft beer selections, and dozens of culinary offerings from area restaurants, chefs, and caterers will be featured on Market Street. Bring your thirst as tasting stations will offer choices from 250+ beverages.

Wrangler’s Halloween Party:  While this event isn’t open to the public, we are proud that our Wranglers will be having their own “treat or treat” Halloween event. Nothing but fun and every moment is a treat. Halloween Bingo, costume contest, and pumpkin decorating competition are some fun treats for the event. Please consider supporting clicking the following link:  https://newdanville.networkforgood.com/projects/127081-client-party-time  Your gift will help cover the expenses of competition prizes and yummy goodies for the party.

“Into the Woods” Halloween Party: Join the Into the Woods Halloween Party on October 30, presented by The Woodlands Charities. Part of the proceeds will benefit New Danville. Please remember to identify New Danville as your chosen nonprofit.

Charbonneau Family Building ribbon cutting November 17, 10 a.m. to noon. The Charbonneau family donated the building, materials, and tools for the pallet production program. The goal with the new building is to expand our capabilities. Read more about this partnership in this article in the June 2021 edition of The Wrangler Gazette.

Spring Thing, April 22, 2022, To hat or not to hat, that is the question. Mark your calendars! The Spring Thing (formerly known as Tea on the Lawn) is back!  Troy Ball will be our speaker. Originally scheduled for the events that were canceled, Troy will share her story of life and resilience while raising two children with special needs, and also starting a distillery in North Carolina. She has attracted audiences around the country and her story is detailed in her book Pure Heart: A Spirited Tale of Grace, Grit and Whiskey.

Reminder: Prior editions of the Wrangler Gazette Newsletter can be found here: newdanville.org/newsletter

In the News – October 2021

You may have seen this article about New Danville and its upscale home décor store, Jazzy Junque, teaming together to help victims of Hurricane Ida. Not only do we thrive because of volunteer assistance, but we also give back by volunteering. 

Please help us continue growing our culture of volunteerism. We desperately need volunteers at Jazzy Junque, particularly as we head into the holidays. Sales from Jazzy Junque play a significant role in New Danville’s budget as well as with increasing awareness in the community about New Danville.  JJ, as we call it, also employs some Wranglers.

The store has expanded a couple of times in recent years, now taking a significant space in the Outlets at Conroe shopping center on the south end.

For more information about volunteering at Jazzy Junque, please drop a note to info@JazzyJunque.org or contact Linda Deloache at 936-441-4500. 
Thank you!

Volunteers Make it Happen!

Ivan Scheier, a legend in the field of volunteer management, said, “The broadest, and maybe the most meaningful definition of volunteering:  Doing more than you have to because you want to, in a cause you consider good.” The New Danville family is humbled by the number of people who consider us a cause worthy of their time, talent, and energy.

In recent months, New Danville had volunteers from Sterling Construction come out for their second visit within six months to help with painting the large lunchroom in bold, colorful patterns.  New Danville was also chosen as a Welcome Week volunteer opportunity for the students at Sam Houston State University who assisted with painting in our ECT Building shortly after returning to campus for the start of the fall semester. We are looking forward to the return of ExxonMobil volunteers who will help out in October.

Volunteers provide great relief to the human and financial resources of New Danville, but they also provide another important benefit: their engagement with our clients (Wranglers) provides a wonderful sense of normalcy and friendly socialization, which are very important in the life of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Thank you, volunteers!

Volunteer from Sterling Construction
Volunteers from ExxonMobil

From the CEO – October 2021

October is set aside as the month to recognize the value of employees with disabilities, including adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  This month we highlight the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), as well as the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

People with disabilities have too often been excluded from participating in basic civic activities like using the public transportation system, serving on a jury, voting, or simply attending a high school sports event with family and friends. The ADA is a federal civil rights law that was passed in 1990 and went into effect beginning in 1992. Its purpose is to protect people with disabilities from discrimination in employment and in accessing needed services in their communities. The integration of people with disabilities into the mainstream of American life is a fundamental purpose of the ADA.

NDEAM is held each October to commemorate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy.  This year the theme for NDEAM 2021, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In doing our part, we would like to highlight the many wonderful faces of some of our adults who are a thriving force in their respective places of employment.  We are very proud of their accomplishments and dedication to their jobs.  We’d like to see this number grow!  If you’d like more information on the value of employing adults with disabilities, I am but a call away.

Some of our clients that have jobs in the community or at New Danville
Some of our clients that have jobs in the community or at New Danville

We have plans for expanding our Job Readiness and Support Program for the benefit of our clients and area businesses. I would like to thank the Woodforest Charitable Foundation for their support of this initiative which you will be hearing more about in the future.

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