The Wrangler Gazette

2022 Barbara Jordan Media Award – Dion McInnis and New Danville’s Monthly Newsletter

June 27, 2022 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott today announced the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities’ (GCPD) winners of the 2022 Barbara Jordan Media Awards (BJMA) for media content created in 2021. The BJMA program was established in 1982 to recognize the respectful, accurate portrayal of people with disabilities by media professionals and students. Working in partnership with the University of Texas Arlington (UTA) College of Liberal Arts Department of Communication and Disability Studies Minor, the GCPD will host the 39th Annual BJMA program highlighting and honoring this year’s winners and their outstanding work.

Newsletter
Dion McInnis, Willis
The Wrangler Gazette posts New Danville’s monthly newsletters

Read More: https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-announces-2022-barbara-jordan-media-award-winners


From the CEO – June 2022

Eva Aguirre, president and CEO of New Danville nonprofit

“Somewhere, something incredible is to be known” Carl Sagan

Hard to believe that our Wrangler Gazette is celebrating one year this month!  What started as a “let’s see what we can put together,” has turned into a collection of incredible stories about our Wranglers, our staff, and our agency. These are stories that we are proud to tell and stories that we look forward to being known. 

Our goal has always been to share inspirational stories as we focus on the four pillars of our mission: Live, Learn, Work, and Grow.  Stories that portray our Wranglers as independent and productive; stories that reflect on their abilities rather than their disabilities; and stories that use their stories as “something incredible to be known” rather than as examples of their disabilities.

Likewise, we are proud to acknowledge all of our community partners and donors and the impact they have on our mission.  A healthy non-profit organization like New Danville strives for a wide network of partnerships to help it achieve its goals.  We are proud of our community and look forward to sharing this impact in every newsletter.

Our first year has also come with some amazing news. The Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD), in partnership with the University of Texas at Arlington’s Department of Communication and its College of Liberal Arts minor in disability studies program, put out a statewide call for nominations of outstanding media content for the annual Barbara Jordan Media Awards. The awards spotlight journalists who in 2021 portrayed people with disabilities through a positive, person-centered lens. Winners were selected by a panel of professional journalists, people with disabilities, and disability-service professionals. New Danville submitted Dion McInnis, Development Director, and the Wrangler Gazette for one of the categories.  I am very proud to report “something incredible to be known,” our Wrangler Gazette was selected as the 2022 winner in the newsletter category! Not too bad for our first year in print.

We hope that this past year we have kept you informed, enlightened you to understand the wonders of those we serve, and helped you appreciate how you are part of our success.  Here’s to many more wonderful stories to come.


Upcoming Events – June 2022

2nd Annual Play a Round for the Wranglers golf tournament is coming on November 7, 2022, at Woodlands Country Club.  Mark your calendar!  Information about registration and sponsorships will be shared soon.

Fundraising Factoid
In the mood for shopping?  New Danville has a wish list at Amazon that gives you an opportunity to help us fill some specific needs while you’re shopping at the site.  Please consider adding an item or two from our list to your cart.   https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/17IYL2UTXSLVS/ref=hz_ls_biz_ex


In the News – June 2022

Shade, water, food and fun at Water Play Day! via Woodlands Online

Times got you in a funk, Bunky? (to coin a phrase) Studies reveal that one of the best ways to feel better, cope with challenges and improve outlook is to help others. New Danville would appreciate your help!

We are looking for volunteers for our upscale home décor resale store, Jazzy Junque, as well as to serve on committees for our main fundraising events, Play a Round for the Wranglers golf tournament and Spring Thing. Our next golf tournament will be on November 7, 2022. Please let us know of your interest by filling out this form. You’ll be improving your day while changing lives.  Thank you.

Wranglers’ Ballad
New Danville’s new original song, Wranglers’ Ballad, debuted at the Spring Thing fundraising event. You can watch the music video here


Live – June 2022

From Nervous to Friendships in Short Order

Jessica was nervous when she first began to live on her own in Meadowbrook, New Danville’s residential community. “It was kind of like the first day of school,” she said. She said that she felt like she was going to “live in the middle of nowhere” when she saw the rural environment. But the nervousness faded away and the new environment became familiar quickly. Her family learned about New Danville thanks to her sister’s research and they had their eye on it for years before she moved in.

Having a busy life at New Danville has helped. In addition to living on-site, participating in the day program, and having a part-time job here, she likes to keep busy in her off times. She enjoys crafts and baking goodies like muffins, cookies and brownies. “Brownies are best with ice cream. Vanilla ice cream,” she said. As good as the yummies are, they are not the best thing about living at New Danville.

“I have a lot of friends here.  I think I am popular. I am usually in a good mood. I think people like that. I am also nosey; I know that. I like to know what is going on. We have ears to listen, right?” she said with a broad smile.

She likes to participate in the many activities put on by the volunteers of Legally Authorized Representatives Alliance (LARA) which include birthday parties for residents and various other social activities. Jessica likes riding her bike around the New Danville campus, though you won’t find her with the animals like many of the other residents. “I’m not into farm animals. I like dogs, though. I like animals.”

“I was nervous moving here. Then I was excited. Now I have many friends and neighbors,” she said. She is also looking forward to the day when New Danville adds new houses, increasing the neighbors that she will have.


Learn – June 2022

On the Job Training…about People

“What strikes me,” Randy McCaffety said, “is that I have learned so much about people, particularly those with special needs. Everyone is different; everyone has ways they want to communicate.”

Randy started with New Danville in November 2021 as a driver. “I learned a lot about the Wrangler 2s and their lives while driving,” he said, “but now, being in the classroom with them all day, I have learned a lot more.” Randy recently stepped in as direct support professional to work with the group of those who need additional support and attention. While temporarily filling the gap, he felt that he grew.

Randy said that he loves to shake things up for the Wrangler 2s. He uses storytelling as an opportunity to improvise during parts of the storybook that he is reading from. “I like to interject jokes and add humor to their day. It is all part of having fun. They learn and grow during fun times, I believe.”

One of the characteristics that has most caught his attention is their innocence. “I think that makes it hard for them in society today.” Another is their desire to communicate. “They’re smart and they find ways to share when they want to get a point across. Even if they can’t verbalize, they find a way.”

“I’ve also learned that some doors are opened for you. Some are knocked down so you can enter. I was sent here for a reason. I am learning more about the reason every day.”

His growth came about because of the growth in New Danville enrollment.  With the recent addition of new direct support professionals, he then returned to his other roles. “People growing in different ways at different times is a sign of a committed team,” said Eva Aguirre, President and CEO.


Work – June 2022

Work, a Source of Happiness and Independence

Marlon moved to Meadowbrook, New Danville’s residential community, in 2018. While living on his own brings him a great sense of independence and satisfaction, he says that working at his job does, too. Sure, a paycheck is nice – “I bought my own iPhone 12” – but there is more to what the job provides him.

“I work hard; I like to take care of people; I follow directions very carefully,” Marlon said, listing three aspects of his work performance, which happen to be three things he likes most about work. He aspires to have a good day every day, but things don’t always work out as planned. When that happens, he likes to ride his bike around New Danville grounds to change his thoughts and attitude. “I ride the circle and it helps,” he said.

Thanks to his job, he has a DVD movie collection; he enjoys listening to music, too, in his time away from work. He works at a nearby Whataburger and has been there since 2019.

Marlon said he strives to improve himself every day. “No matter how your day is going, never give up,” he said, offering encouragement and wisdom to others.

“I feel good. I am happy,” Marlon said, and a good job plays a key role for him.


Grow – June 2022

“I Belong Here and I Grow Here…”

Trisha Woods started as a Direct Support Professional at New Danville in 2018. Trisha’s cousin has special needs, so she felt sure she would enjoy working in the field of special needs, though she had not considered it until she saw the job posting.  She was hired to teach sewing class although she didn’t know how to sew. That told her everything about the culture at New Danville and she knew she wanted to be part of it. “I belong here,” she said.

She taught herself to sew by watching online videos and listening to the lessons and tips offered by Wranglers. “The atmosphere here is welcoming,” she said as she revealed the many ways that people at New Danville empower others. Staff members, volunteers, Wranglers…everyone is happy to help others grow in their knowledge and skills, which is a good thing since there were many other things to learn as she continued to grow in her job.

The COVID situation led to layoffs. She was anxious to get back. When the call came for her to return, it came with an additional role, too:  production lead. Another challenge, another opportunity to grow. In that role she oversees the various products that Wranglers make for sale, such as the products sold at New Danville’s online store. “I am still learning about the business side of our production work, but I have great teachers.” Her successes as production lead positioned her for an additional role: woodshop lead.

“I have big shoes to fill (Sherry Franklin retired in 2021), but, again, everyone is helpful and positive. I heard the story about the ‘ooops box’ and that describes the culture here. There would sometimes be mistakes made when Wranglers made pens that we sold. Sherry would tell them to put the pen in the ‘ooops box’ and forget about it. Mistakes happen. Move on. I love that and that attitude runs through the New Danville culture. Everyone grows!”


A Wrangler’s Tale – June 2022

“I Already Made a Million Friends…”

Jeff joined New Danville about two months ago. It didn’t take him long to become part of the family. “I’m really glad to be part of y’all,” he said with a smile. “I already made a million friends,” he added proudly.

He attends the day program twice a week and enjoys painting in woodshop and bowling – “I’m a good bowler, but you already know that.  I told you before.” He enjoys the animals, too, but most of all he enjoys hanging out with his friends. Even in the heat of summer, he likes going outside, as well.

He has two sisters, one of whom found out about New Danville. “I’m the youngest of the family so I get more than they do,” he said. His sense of humor permeates all of his conversations.

Jeff doesn’t follow sports much, but his favorite football team was the Houston Oilers. Love ya, Blue!

Ever present are his Camaro cap and a genuine smile. His dad owned a Camaro; though he no longer owns the car, Jeff enjoys wearing the cap.

He admits to a good sense of humor and enjoys helping people find a reason to smile or laugh.  He succeeds because of a characteristic he wishes everyone knew about him:  “I’m a nice person and kind,” he said, “but you already knew that.”  Pretty much everyone that meets him knows it, too.


Guest Voices – June 2022

With Joy to Spare, It’s Bowling Day

Hanna Thacker is the event coordinator for Time to Spare in Conroe. Though she has only been in that role for four months, the relationship between the lanes and New Danville extends about four years.

I can speak for everyone here: The days that the Wranglers come to bowl bring a special joy. We all look forward to New Danville’s bowling days.

I was told about New Danville when I started the job. I soon knew the days they came; I knew the price arrangements; I knew that the Wranglers were special needs adults. It wasn’t until I looked around on the New Danville website that I began to understand how much is done there. I was blown away by everything the people at New Danville are doing. I realize there is still a lot for me to learn.

One of the things you can’t help but learn when watching them bowl is joy. They are so excited with whatever they accomplish. I am a bowler. I’ve noticed how I sometimes get too caught up in the competition of the sport instead of the joy of being able to play. The Wranglers remind me of that. I usually find an excuse to go to the area they are bowling in so I can pick up on their happiness and energy.

The team here feels the same way. A lot of the staff members know the Wranglers by name and know what their favorite drinks are. They like it when the Wranglers arrive.

Words can’t express how it feels to watch the Wranglers play, having so much fun and such pride in their accomplishments for the day. I watched the bowling scene in the music video of New Danville’s original song, Wranglers’ Ballad, and couldn’t help but smile. It captures the Wrangler joy very well. Time to Spare is proud to be part of that happiness.


Development Corner – June 2022

A Year of Stories:  Inspiration for the Future

As much as I try to be cool, calm and collected about it, I am beyond excited for having been awarded the 2022 Barbara Jordan Media Award in the Newsletter category for my work creating and producing New Danville’s Wrangler Gazette. The back of the medallion award states, “For excellence in the communication of the reality of people with disabilities.”  I’m proud of the recognition, but mostly I am humbled and honored to have been able to learn so much about all the people who comprise the New Danville family as each issue was produced. More information about the award, the official award event video, and an invitation to the virtual after-party to which the public is invited can be found here.

Our clients (Wranglers), parents, providers, team members, volunteers, board members and donors share with the heart that they bring to their respective roles, and I learn from them every day. As I mentioned at the award event when it comes to sharing the many great stories, “That is the point, isn’t it?”…to share, to learn, to appreciate and to understand through the stories of those with special needs and those who love them.

In those marvelous stories is another ingredient:  inspiration. As we hear and share the hopes, dreams, needs and concerns of our Wranglers, we are inspired to do more. What if we had more homes for residents looking for independent living? What if we were able to add assisted living? What if we could build a new classroom building, a community/recreational center, and more, to serve more adults with special needs? We can.  How soon?  That is the question and the purpose behind a new initiative that you will hear more about very soon.  We call it Growing…for Living.

If you would like to learn more advance information about the initiative, please feel free to contact me at 936-253-5757 or Dion.McInnis@NewDanville.org.

Thank you for the many ways you make it possible for Wranglers to live, learn, work and grow.

Dion McInnis, Development Director

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.