We are pleased to announce the completion of our first-ever annual report. It provides an overview of New Danville’s busy 2021 and a glimpse into what is on the horizon. We are proud of the great work of all the Wranglers and residents, the staff and volunteers, and our board to make the year as successful as it was.
Wranglers line up to fill their water bottles at the new water-and-ice machine located in the Classroom Building. A new water station has been placed in the ETC Building, too, for the Wrangler IIs. The purchase of both machines was made possible by a grant from Montgomery County Community Foundation. Thank you, Montgomery County Community Foundation.
As a man who loved Boy Scouts and camping as a kid, Brad believes New Danville’s Meadowbrook community is a great place to live. Having lived in a variety of places over the years, being “in the country,” which is a first for him, suits him fine. Leaving the temperatures of Illinois behind, his solution for the heat of Texas is simple: “Don’t go out.”
Brad likes being able to take walks and enjoy nature. “It is healthy. It is good for you,” he said about his jaunts. He has always enjoyed walking, recalling his walks to school and church when he was younger. Walking is not his only way of getting around.
“I drive,” he said. “I go to the grocery store, my mom’s and the library. I don’t go on the highway though. That would be dangerous.”
Brad remembers first learning about New Danville when there was little development on the campus. He didn’t move here until years later. “I have seen a lot of changes. There is a lot here now,” he said.
Brad enjoys cooking a lot and is happy to share with others his menu of the day or day before. When asked whether he took the culinary class at New Danville, he shook his head. “No, I have been cooking a long time. I enjoy it.”
Does New Danville’s environment inspire him to try camping again? “I like camping. Tent camping, like in Scouts. Not big trailer camping. I don’t think I could camp outside like I used to. It is too cold.” Part of life is leaving behind some activities and learning new ones, which Brad embraces fully at New Danville.
New semester: New classes and popular favorites return
A new semester for the day program at New Danville started on March 14. Wranglers will be welcoming back some classes they haven’t seen in a while and a new one. “We get input from the Wranglers,” said program coordinator, Nicole Martinez, “and pick up a vibe of the type of things they are looking for. We want to be sure they get plenty of choices that are fun, exciting and different. ‘Blushing Beauty’ is one such new class.”
“Blushing Beauty” brings New Danville’s experiences in the production of bath and beauty products to Wranglers for their own supplies. Class attendees will be able to concoct and make their own products, as well as design their own, unique label for the products’ containers. Wranglers working in the production department create a variety of products that are sold at New Danville’s online store, as well as at Jazzy Junque. Now, that expertise will benefit participants in the new class.
Several popular classes are returning — “Back by popular demand,” as the old saying goes. Included in the new schedule are scrapbooking, golf cart driving, Trivial Pursuit ™, American Sign Language and Giving Back. The latter class offers Wranglers a chance to help with the needs of nonprofits and organizations in the community. Their efforts to help Keep US Fed-Montgomery County caught the attention of local media in October as this story reveals. Wranglers keep coming up with ideas. They are going to have a busy, fun spring.
Michelle Willie fondly remembers when Jazzy Junque, New Danville’s upscale home décor resale store in the Outlets in Conroe, first opened for business. She never expected to be working there, but is excited about the opportunity.
“I worked at Dress Barn in the Outlets in Conroe for 14 years. When they closed their stores, I figured I would retire. A year and one-half later, I wanted to get back to the retail world. I got the itch to be back around people. I started at Jazzy Junque as a part-time cashier. In February, I became the retail manager and couldn’t be happier.”
Michelle was pleasantly surprised at the number of her former customers who are also Jazzy Junque shoppers. “It is wonderful to see old acquaintances as well as meet new people every day,” she said.
Michelle has exciting plans to continue to improve processes and the shopping experience at Jazzy Junque. She also intends to get out in the community to help share the good news about the store and all that it offers. “We always welcome shoppers and volunteers,” she said.
Anyone interested in volunteering at Jazzy Junque can fill out this form. To learn more about the store or to sign up for its newsletter, contact the store at 936-441-4500.
“We never make guarantees when it comes to gardening,” volunteer Mike Bodman said with a laugh. “It is an iffy business.”
Mike has been behind New Danville’s aquaponics program since its inception. Direct Support Professional James Scott oversees the gardening classes. Their shared goal is to have herbs available for sale at the upcoming Spring Thing event’s Marketplace. Jazzy Junque also sells New Danville herbs when they are available.
Wranglers work with a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs, propagating plants in different ways. The greenhouse and outside gardens become home to lettuce, collards, tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, strawberries and much more, including herbs such as basil, cilantro, oregano, garlic and others. The produce is also shared through the on-site General Store for residents.
“There are other ways that plants are becoming part of Spring Thing,” Mike said. His wife, Ginnie, is painting butterflies from the seed pods of butterfly vines. “You’ll see the ‘butterflies’ in the Marketplace. We hope to see you there!”
Kris knew New Danville when it consisted of a tent and a couple of buildings. He was among the first to be on the scene in the day program (2005) and among the first to move into New Danville’s residential community, Meadowbrook (2010). He left after about five years but has recently returned to the day program. He is impressed with what has changed.
He has been busy and successful over the years. He has grown, as has New Danville. “I saw things were different (when I visited again). There is so much here now,” he said. Time has not diminished his many memories of New Danville, particularly the people. His mother said that he inherently connects to people and likes to know about others. “I’ve known James for a long time,” Kris said, “and Sherry. She made those pens.”
His mother was active with Jazzy Junque, the upscale home décor resale store that benefits New Danville, at its inception. She was the store’s first part-time manager. She is again helping out as a volunteer. “We’ve been fans of New Danville since the time we first heard about it,” she said.
Kris likes to be active, recalling times when he helped with yard work on site; currently, his favorite day programs are active, too: bowling, basketball and gardening.
He has had several jobs over the years and now serves as a custodian at a preschool for children with autism. When asked about his favorite part of the job, he said, “I like cleaning up after the little kids.”
Another favorite activity is going to high school football games which he drives himself to. As for sports, he declares baseball as his favorite after saying, “The strike is over now. Now they will start their games again.”
From his perspectives of New Danville over time, what would he like to share with others? “It is a good place to live.”
I came to New Danville five years ago when I looked for a new job after my husband and I came to the area for his job. I looked at their website and loved what I saw, especially the job opening notice for a direct support professional. It provided a way to stay in a field that I love, but in a different environment with wonderful conditions.
I have been in the special needs field for many years, something I knew I wanted to do since high school. While in Colorado, I worked in schools with students who were medically fragile or were violent/aggressive. Even after a student injured me so that I needed surgery, I could not ever see myself doing anything else for work other than working with special needs. These people are my heart. I could see myself in a different environment though, and New Danville was it.
One of the most incredible things about New Danville is how empowered the staff is to develop the classes and programs in ways that accommodate the various ability levels of the Wranglers. No one is left behind. We are able to align our own interests and abilities with the classes we teach and how we teach them. We can use visuals, discussion and hands-on projects which provides a way of learning no matter what type of learner each Wrangler is.
I never stop thinking about the Wranglers. I seek input from family members and friends on different classes to offer and how to deliver them in ways that the Wranglers will enjoy, and benefit from. When the Wranglers leave happy, proud and have a better sense of self-worth at the end of the day…well, that’s a good day and why New Danville does what it does in the way it does it.
Early on I knew that someway, somehow, I would be in this field. And then I had a son with special needs. My work in the field has made me a better parent, I believe. If I were to cross-stitch a sampler for the wall with words of wisdom, it would say “Patience is key.”
One of the most meaningful aspects of fundraising is being able to help people honor loved ones, legacies and memories. We are humbled by those who choose New Danville for memorial gifts. One donor recently told me after his second memorial gift, “Sadly, there will be many more, I’m afraid. I’m an old man, you know.” I believe he felt comforted that Wranglers would benefit from his gift that honored his friends who passed away.
We will soon be sharing several new ways that you can honor others at New Danville, ranging from benches to live oak trees, and more. It is an honor to help preserve the names and stories of others.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about ways to honor others with options ranging from benches to named buildings and many options in between. You’ll be empowering lives of Wranglers while honoring the life of loved one…or call if you simply want to hear a cool New Danville story. I can be reached at 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.
“A good life is a collection of happy moments.” Denis Waitley
Like the quote states, it is time to create happy moments. Dust off your hats and best heels! Spring Thing, formerly known as Tea on the Lawn, is back. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, we are back! Spring Thing will be held April 22nd at the Woodlands Resort and Conference Center from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. We are very excited and anxious to see all of our old friends.
This year we are delighted to have Troy Ball as our featured speaker. Originally scheduled for the events that were cancelled, 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. She also co-founded Thoughtful House Center for Children (now named the Johnson Center) in Austin, Texas, for children with autism and other developmental disorders.
As you may know, Spring Thing is New Danville’s major fundraising event. Funds from the event allow us to continue to carry out our mission and make a meaningful impact on the lives of those we serve. New Danville is excited about its future plans and your attendance at this event help make that happen. We are so grateful for all of our long-time supporters and look forward to making new friends. You truly do make our work possible.
Gather your friends and make a day of it. Purchase of tables and sponsorship opportunities are available now. Don’t wait as things are filling up quickly! For more information visit: https://spring-thing.org. Individual tickets will be coming soon.
REMINDER: The day program will be CLOSED on Monday, February 21st for ‘In-Service’ staff training.
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.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a presentation by members of New Danville’s Drama Club. Open to the public, this show will begin at 2:00 p.m. See this classic as you’ve never seen it before and have a great time with the New Danville Wranglers. Contact Lili at 936-344-6200 for more information.
It costs, on average, $100 per day for various transportation costs. The fees that our clients pay cover only a portion of the actual cost. Please consider adopting a day, a week or a month. You can make recurring gifts if you prefer or donate gas cards. Just note “transportation” with your donation. Donate.NewDanville.org