Tag Archives: community

Wednesday:) Wisdom of Solomon, Patience of Job, and Kindness of a Stranger

16 Jan

“He who is right in his walk is sure in his steps, but he who takes the wrong way will be found out.”



Monday morning, I was on a mission of mercy, I went over to the Collin County Courthouse to help out my friend and neighbor, Mr. Mike. He had jury duty Monday morning, but he was stranded out of town and couldn’t get a flight out in time to get there. He had no way of calling or contacting anyone, so I picked up his yellow summons card and went over there to explain the situation and make sure he didn’t get arrested and sent to prison. (Just kidding… maybe not.)

I waited outside the closed double doors along with a throng of about one hundred other restless people. When I approached one of the deputies collecting summons cards, I asked who I could speak to about an emergency absence. Then, I waited in another long line until I reached a glassed window. I explained that I was there for my neighbor who was stranded out of town because of weather and couldn’t attend. The very nice clerk looked up the card number. I said, “He wasn’t sure what to do, and was in a panic because there was no way to call, so I volunteered to come down and explain. I said that if he got arrested and thrown in jail that I’d bake some brownies with a file in them.”

I’m not sure if she smiled or not, but she looked up and said, “Tell you what I’m going to do. We seem to have plenty of jurors available today, so I will just dismiss him.” I thanked her profusely and scurried out. Yay! (The kindness of a stranger.)

Seeing as I was already at this beautiful new courthouse, I decided to walk around, then see if I could sit in on a few cases in the courtroom of my friend, Judge John Roach Jr.

The last time I was at the courthouse, a couple of years ago, I caught Judge John in between cases, and he invited me to come up and sit in his chair, but I declined and settled for a selfie. This time, the cases were already lined up, so I just sat and watched the process. No selfie op.

As I sat in the front row, I couldn’t help but think that everyone should spend at least an hour in a random courtroom. So much goes on in our community that you have no idea about. I was so impressed with the entire court system, but most of all, with the exemplary decisions made by Judge John Roach, Jr.

The wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and the kindness of a stranger is what best describes what I witnessed in the courtroom. We are very fortunate to have people like Judge John sitting on the bench.


Judge Roach was elected to serve as Judge of the 296th District Court in 2006, taking office on January 1, 2007.

As a general jurisdiction judge he presides over felony criminal, family law, civil litigation cases and cases involving Child Protective Services. He has disposed of over 20,000 cases in the last 10 years. Judge Roach has the lowest reversal rate of any judge in Collin County according to Westlaw legal research website.

In addition to his regular duties as Judge, Judge Roach has made significant changes to the judicial processes in Collin County through the use of technology. He developed the Felony Video Plea Program, with the cooperation of many other officials and department heads, which uses videoconferencing technology to connect the secured jail facility and the courthouse. This connection eliminates the need to have felony prisoners transported to the courthouse for plea hearings. This has decreased the potential liability to the County, made Sheriff Department employees who transfer prisoners safer, has made the employees and general public using the courthouse safer and has saved in excess of $500,000. The Program has received national recognition. Judge Roach has the opportunity to consult other counties in implementing this technology and has worked with local Legislators to make changes in the law to keep up with technology.

Judge Roach also developed the Mental Health Managed Counsel Program which developed specific protocols in handling criminal cases involving mentally ill defendants. He was instrumental is applying for and receiving a four-year matching grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. Once the four-year grant had expired, the efficiency and cost-savings the Program has had for Collin County were so significant, the Program has now been established as its own Department in Collin County. The Program has received recognition throughout the country and is the model for how counties handle cases involving the mentally ill.

Judge Roach has also been chosen by his fellow judges to serve on the Collin County Purchasing Board. He also serves on the Collin County Technology and Security Committees.

Saturday:) Fire Safety Fair in McKinney

6 Oct

“The fire which enlightens is the same fire which consumes.”

Henri Frederic Amiel


I was honored when I received a message this morning from my Facebook friend Merit Ossian-Jaeckel, asking if I’d help to spread the word about today’s Fire Safety Fair at the Kroger shopping center this afternoon. I got to meet Merit in person on 9/11 when Linda Grossman and I were delivering my homemade cupcakes to all the stations. Before that, we were only Facebook friends, as we mutually commented on McKinney FD activities. Merit, the public information officer, coordinates publicity, events, and other activities related to the McKinney Fire Department.

Eager to assist, I posted information about the event on my Facebook page and a couple of the neighborhood websites that I’m on. She also asked if I might have any time to volunteer manning one of the many information tables for the event. Not only did I happily agree to assist, but I also enlisted my friend Helene to help out.

The interesting thing about bringing cupcakes, cookies, and brownies to your local fire stations all the time is, after a while, you become friends and part of the bigger family known as “community.”

Captain Desiree and the crew from station 9 arrived, and I was greeted with hugs and handshakes. They were on hand to answer questions and show the children the workings of a real fire truck. Kids love to look at the shiny red fire truck and to have their pictures taken with the firefighters. (Me too!)

The Fire Safety House trailer gave youngsters and adults a chance to tour simulated home hazards and learn fire safety procedures. It’s so important for children to learn to keep calm, locate exits, and learn how to handle emergencies. If even one life is saved by someone taking the tour, it is more than a blessing.

Another cool thing about our McKinney community is, for such a large city, we still have that small town feel. The captain and her family also attend St. Gabriel’s Church, and I often bump into other firefighters at the grocery store, on the square, or local restaurants. We are on a first name basis, and we are community. How cool is that!

It was a fun and informative afternoon at the Fire Safety Fair in McKinney. 👨‍🚒

Happy Saturday my friends. And… be safe out there.

Tuesday:) Talking Community

15 Aug

“It’s never too late to learn something new, live life to the fullest, or love with all your heart.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


“If you believe you can make a difference, then you will make a difference. Believe in yourself, your family and your community and you will win.”

~Lindsay Fox


My little town is a big city with a small town atmosphere. McKinney Texas has grown exponentially in the fourteen years that I’ve lived here, but the people and the spirit of my friends and neighbors is still as charming as ever.

We have a bustling little artist community, too. Pretty much everyone knows everyone. I’m not just talking artists who paint on a canvas, but musicians, dancers, writers, entertainers, and all around free spirits.

The second Monday of every month, a fun and friendly group of above mentioned characters meet over at The Cove just north of the square for a potluck gathering. We share food and fellowship, laughter and ideas, but most of all, we share a special kind of community love. We love our town, and we support each other.

Yesterday, instead of a guest speaker, we had a basic “show and tell.” Just time to tell everyone what is going on in our lives, show recent projects, or talk about upcoming shows or classes. The best part is, everyone is so willing to help and promote the other. It’s like a family, without the sibling rivalry and drama.

Everyone is welcome. You don’t have to have a specific art or talent. Maybe you just want to learn something new or meet some really awesome people.


9 Aug

“Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.”

~ Albert Einstein


This morning was our first Art Club of McKinney monthly meeting after our summer break. We are very proud to be the oldest continuing art club in the state of Texas. Way back, in the day, members had to be invited artists, and their possible membership was voted on by the members. Today, anyone and everyone is welcome to join or just visit the group. All are welcome. You don’t have to be an artist, or even a student of art. You just need to enjoy friendship, camaraderie, and learning and sharing wonderful art.

The first meeting of the season is my favorite. I like to call it “show and tell.” Members are asked to bring a few examples of their art and talk a little bit about their work.

So, I’m just going to “show and tell” with some photos from this morning…

Now, a few of my artistic friends…

I’m sure you can see that we have quite a talented community of artists. Come join us sometime and share in the fun.

Montage Monday:) A Week in a Peek

21 May

To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.

~Douglas Adams


This was a great week for honoring men and women in service to their community and others. I like to think if we support our local community and city with time, integrity and service to others, we would have a much better world. One little town at a time.

Saturday at Fire Station #9

19 May

“But sound aloud the praises, and give the victor-crown
To our noble-hearted Firemen, who fear not danger’s frown.”
~Frederic G.W. Fenn, “Ode to our Firemen,” 1878


It was a warm McKinney morning, and after a long walk, I went over to the new Fire Station 9 just about a mile from my house. I’ve been there a few times already, but today, they were hosting an open house to meet and greet their new neighbors.

The halls and inside the walls were busy with small children with big eyes, excited to see real firemen and giant red trucks. Oh, when they got to sit behind the wheel of the big truck, and ring the bell, now that was elation.

Captain Novatzyk and I had a brief conversation. I told her the reason I stop by the fire stations with brownies, cookies and cupcakes all the time. Over fifteen years ago, my mother had a stroke and collapsed in my arms. The paramedics and fire fighters were there in a matter of minutes. They saved my mother’s life, and for that I am eternally grateful. We had her with us for many more years. So when I bake for any occasion, I make a double batch and share with my local fire station. I also bake for 9/11, Christmas, and gosh, sometimes I just because I feel like baking and sharing. The Captain also was kind enough to search through all the cabinets for my plastic bowl that had my name on it from when I brought a bunch of food for Cinco de Mayo. It was on top of the middle fridge. Found!

The entire station was busy entertaining the guests, children and a few want-to-be dads.

There were games and snacks for the kids, and of course, every child wanted to shake hands with a fireman and wear an official red plastic firefighter helmet.

It’s so nice to have the community participate and see what our local fire stations are like. I saw a few young boys and girls there that might just grow up to be one of our finest in blue.

Thankful Thursday:) Thankful That An Empty Bowl Can Be Filled

28 Apr

“An empty stomach is not a good political adviser.” 

― Albert Einstein


This evening, the annual McKinney Empty Bowls event took place on the square at the McKinney Performing Art Center. This is the sixth year, and each year it has expanded and better attended. 

Hundreds of people, comprised of volunteers, sponsors, artists, vendors, and visitors packed the square for a beautiful evening of community support. Proceeds for today’s event will provide support for Community Lifeline Center.

I’ll just show you some pictures, as they will tell the story better than my words. 

I am very thankful to be a part of such a loving community.

 My donation that I created was a featured bowl for the Showcase Collection raffle. I was honored.



Sunday Sermon and a Special Visitor

22 Feb

“I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.” 

― Ralph Waldo Emerson


I always look forward to Sunday and going to 9 o’clock Mass. As a kid, going to church was not always my favorite thing to do. Going to Catholic school back in the 50’s and 60’s, that meant daily Mass before school every morning AND Sunday Mass. It meant fasting, running to school on an empty tummy, and trying to get through the day without fainting until lunch. I just wanted to sleep a little longer, eat breakfast, and not have to rush off to church six days a week.

But now, I’ve had the opportunity to get a little more involved in my church, in my faith, and my own personal growth. It was recently wrought in pain and confusion, but it brought me closer to my faith and the sense community that I had been missing. And plus, I only attend on Sunday and holy days, not six days a week.

Today was going to be a special day at St. Gabriel the Archangel. Newly ordained just last week, Bishop Kelly, was returning to his old parish to celebrate the 11 o’clock Mass. Everyone was excited and honored to welcome him back home for a visit. I didn’t know Father Kelly, the original pastor of St. Gabriel’s, but I felt wrapped up in the excitement of the parish. I always greet before 9 o’clock service, but my friend Mary and I decided that we would still go to Mass at 9, and just stay afterwards to greet for the special 11 o’clock Mass. Actually, people started arriving before 10.


Mayor Loughmiller (L) visited with Father Don, awaiting the Bishop’s arrival. He would later present Bishop Kelly with a certificate declaring today Bishop Kelly Day in McKinney. Sort of like getting the key to the city for the day.

There were many greeters today at 11, when there are usually none. The church was packed, and bursting out the doors well before the service started. It was standing room only, even in the vestibule, with folding chairs and crammed like sardines attendees. Mary and I just wanted to hear the Bishop’s homily after the Gospel, then leave, as we had already gone to Mass and had communion. We stood way in the back by the doors where we had greeted. 

Bishop Kelly visited with old friends before entering, changing, and putting on the big Bishop hat. I was able to snap a picture and shake his hand.

The Knights of Columbus were all decked out and ready to prosess the Bishop into the sanctuary.

Bishop Kelly presented a fine homily, even making several jokes about his ordination. He said, when he called his mother to tell her the exciting news that he was nominated and would be ordained a bishop, she said, “You?” Everyone laughed. He said that his mother could barely believe it, nor could he. 

It was a good service and a proud day for the members of St. Gabriel’s.

Tuesday:) Time to  Take a Stand, Time to Honor Good People

6 Jan

“When you stand up for what’s right, you never take a back seat.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


“Giving up doesn’t define you, but how you stand in every choice and fight in every decision you’ve made reflects your character.” ― Carl Lomer Abia


The residents of McKinney, Texas have a strong sense of community. It’s a large city with a small town feel. Named the #1 place to live, and ironically, one of the fastest growing cities in the country, the reason for this honor has little to do with money. It has everything to do with the people who live and work here.

Today, I attended the McKinney City Council Meeting along with a packed room of concerned citizens. I was there to voice my concern about the council possibly rejecting a parade street closure permit for the 14 Annual Krewe of Barkus Parade on the square. My friend, Blynda Christian, had called me and asked for my support. Blynda, the founder of the very popular doggie parade, asked her friends to speak at the council meeting, and also stir up some support on Facebook. She is a good friend and has done a lot for the city. 

What was exciting is, before the regular session started, the Mayor had awards and proclamations to present. There was a large police and firefighter presence standing in the back of the room. Officer Maureen “Mo” Messner was presented a certificate and Decemebr 5th was officially proclaimed Officer Maureen Messner Day. Officer Messner saved many school children at a crosswalk when an out of control car went over the sidewalk towards the children. She ran over, leapt into and stopped the moving car, helping the unconscious pregnant woman, breaking a rib during the rescue. 

Officer Messner received a standing ovation. (Sorry, blurry picture. I was busy applauding.)

The fire department was also honored for their rescues during the recent flooding. 

When it was time for resident comments, there was a stack of cards of those wanting to speak. Mayor Loughmiller said he would randomly call names to come to the podium. Guess who gets called first? Moi! I started by thanking the council for their support and always listening to the concerns of the residents and voting accordingly. I didn’t have any notes, nor read from a well rehearsed script. I just spoke my mind, and explained how the parade is part of the many things that makes McKinney so special. Blynda and several others spoke, and I believe the council will fully support the venue. 

My voice didn’t shake, and I believe I spoke well, but my face always flushes a bit when I speak in a crowd. Not because I’m afraid, but rather because I am fervent about my subject.  I think it’s important to support your friends, your city, and speak your mind. That’s the definition of community.  

Blynda Christian knows that Mayor Brian Loughmiller supports the Krewe of Barkus. He and his family often bring their dog to watch the parade. 

Tuesday:) Time For Community and Funny Faces

11 Nov

“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.” 
― Jean Vanier, Community And Growth


The second Tuesday of every month, a talented and fun group of people gather for McKinney Creative Community potluck. It was out first meeting at DIGGIN’  IT on Tennessee just north of the square instead of SPARC. We share more than great food, we share friendship. 

As we gather in a circle to introduce ourselves and tell a little bit about what we do, we also share what’s new and good in our lives. Sometimes we share our sad news and sorrows. It’s like an extended family. We often have new people join us, and they become part of the family. The group members are writer’s, painters, sculptors, musicians, and all around creative folks. I love these people!

 Oh yes, I always bake brownies for my potluck contribution. Being a creative person, I usually make a funny face in the mix before I start mixing. “I got a million of  ’em!”

Don’t forget about MAST this weekend. McKinney Artist Studio Tour.

Saturday and Sunday. Google for more info.