Deep in the Heart Film Festival

The Deep in the Heart Film Festival has announced the film lineup for its sixth edition, which will combine in-theater screenings from July 21-24, followed by an online encore from July 24-30.

The event will open with a special presentation of short films. The Texas premiere of Juliet Landau’s thriller A Place Among the Dead will be the spotlight screening, and then the festival will close with the world premiere of Michael McNamara and Aaron Hancox’s documentary Catwalk 2: The Comeback Cats

The Festival will present 123 films (five features, 109 shorts and nine music videos).
Co-founders and directors Samuel Thomas and Louis Hunter said, “We recognize the impact this film festival increasingly makes on the Waco filmmaking ecosystem, just as it solidifies its place each year as a key stop on the map for filmmakers attending regional film festivals on the national tour. Giving our filmmakers more opportunities beyond the wonderful interaction with our Waco audiences to help with their development as artists, and maybe encourage them to come back to town to shoot their next project here is a central focus for this film festival. Of course, the sense of fun and love of cinema that Deep in the Heart FF will be omnipresent once again as our ability to spread the gospel of our films and what we do has become stronger and made us quite a force to be reckoned with.”

Leading the remaining trio of feature films presented this year is Aaron Hosé’s One Pint at a Time, looks at the heritage, history, and traditions behind American brewing culture. Today, Black-owned breweries make up less than one percent of the nearly 9,000 currently in operation. This documentary follows the Black brewers, brand owners and influencers across the country who are reshaping the craft beer industry and the future of America’s favorite adult beverage. Adding to Deep in the Heart FF’s genre offerings this year, Zachary Endres’ ghost story Home Body follows a shut-in who dies alone and returns as a housebound ghost, finding himself at the mercy of a world that didn’t even notice he was gone. Rounding out the features lineup is Micah Stathis’ The Sisters Karras, which focuses on two estranged half-sisters who must form a complicated bond in order to retrieve their rare and precious inheritance, which their late father inexplicably left to the mysterious man.
A major focus of this year’s Festival is the celebration of Waco as a film location. Given the proximity to both the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and Austin, Waco effectively serves as a connection point between these production hubs.

Those in charge of the Festival say that with a supportive community to filmmakers and filmmaking and the city’s beautiful and versatile location, it is easy to say that Waco is made for movies.

This year, the Festival will launch the “Made Deep in the Heart” screenplay grant. This grant is awarded to the winner of the Festival’s screenplay contest, and it provides a variety of elements for producing this screenplay in Waco. This includes: 

  • Up to four nights of complimentary hotel stay provided by the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau. These nights may be used for pre-production scouting or during the production.
  • Up to $2,500 in rebates provided by the Deep in the Heart Film Festival. These purchases must go toward McLennan County people, places, and things. This funding can pay for local cast, crew, catering, costumes, all sorts of filmmaking goodies. All the purchases must be made in McLennan County with receipts provided.
  • Camera and Lighting Package. The Festival has partnered with Vision Vehicle Studios, veterans of stage and screen, who will provide a suitable camera and lighting package for the winning filmmaker. 
  • Five hours of free filmmaking consulting with Vision Vehicle Studios. This could be on equipment, potential revisions, directing, and local production.

To promote the screenplay grant, the Festival wanted to illustrate Waco as a film destination. This led to a collaboration with Blanca Estefania, Will Saurez, and Skcoobavelli Treviño to develop a movie mashup campaign – mixing movie icons and Waco landmarks for a series of distinctive posters for this year’s edition of the film festival underlining how Waco is made for movies.

While visual imagery is an excellent way to connect the Festival to the local community, the best way to reach the film lovers of Waco is through personal connection. To this end, the Festival has enlisted a team of Festival Ambassadors to help us share the mission and purpose of the Festival.
They include:
Sam Brown, Senior Vice President – Commercial Business Development at The First National Bank of Central Texas
Jacob Green, Co-Owner of Stay Classy Waco
Katie Selman, Co-Owner of Stay Classy Waco
Michael Larsen, Larsen & Talbert Photography
Tracey Larsen, Larsen & Talbert Photography
Eric Linares, Founder of Eastside Market
Doug McDurham, Executive Director of Art Center Waco
Jillian Ohriner, Founder of We Grow the Co
Kennedy Sam, Marketing Director at Creative Waco
David Taylor, Co-Owner of Waco Surf
Ashely Bean Thornton, Founder of Act Locally Waco

The Festival is also teaming up with The Waco Trolley to make it easier for filmmakers to get here. Filmmakers can catch a free ride from DFW Airport to Waco, with a return trip at the end of the festival. 

The Festival will also host a panel with veteran filmmakers and Industry experts who will discuss film festival and film business strategies – including online distribution of short films and real world problem solving toward the challenges of taking the next step and making a feature film. 

The Festival has organized a locations-scouting tour around town to show what Waco has to offer. This year, representatives from the Texas Film Commission, as well as the Texas Media Production Alliance, join members from the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau to talk about the benefits and opportunities found by filming in Texas.

The Festival will kick things off with its Creative Waco Red Carpet Press Party on Thursday, July 21. Local press and photographers will be on hand along with the filmmakers, cast and crew, and attending industry veterans. The Red Carpet is an exclusive event for VIP passholders, sponsors and filmmakers. Each night of the festival will also concludes with an after-party, where local attendees enjoy a more casual connection with visiting filmmakers. 

These parties are hosted at locally owned Waco hot spots: Brotherwell BrewingSouthern Roots Brewing, and Stay Classy Waco, and include party games, free drinks (for VIP passholders), and a mechanical bull. 

The in-person portion of the Festival will conclude on Sunday, July 24, with the Waco Heart of Texas Awards Brunch – including the announcement of the winner of the Festival’s short screenplay competition – which is open to filmmakers, festival sponsors, and VIP passholders.

To purchase passes and tickets, you can visit For more information on the Deep in the Heart Film Festival, you can visit

Napier Changemaker Awards in Public Health, Health Care, Social Work, Nutrition, Housing Social Justice, Education and Unsung Hero Nomination

The “Henrietta Napier Changemaker Awards” will identify one outstanding person for their service and excellence in each of the following areas: Public Health, Health Care, Social Work, Nutrition, Housing, Social Justice, Education and Unsung Hero. The award winners will be recognized and receive a commemorative plaque to be presented at the Henrietta Napier Expo, which will be held July 16, 2022.  


Mrs. Henrietta Napier was hired as the first African American Public Health Nurse in McLennan County in 1954. She served in that capacity for 42 years for what is currently known as the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. She was well known by many as the school nurse who gave shots as well as the nurse who cared for so many pregnant women and children. She also worked in the areas of well child health, Tuberculosis Control, and home visiting. Her compassion and dedication to her community was exemplary. Many clients came to the Health District during her tenure and long afterwards seeking her assistance. She was always professional and compassionate in the care she provided clients and co-workers.

St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church, Prosper Waco and Waco-McLennan County Public Health District wish to actively recognize and honor the outstanding service, dedication, and excellence of individuals who serve their communities in addressing the Social Determinants of Health (Health Care Systems, Community and Social Context, Food, Neighborhood and Physical Environment, Education, and Economic Stability).  The awards will be given to individuals who work in the areas of Public Health, Health Care, Social Work, Nutrition, Housing, Social Justice Education and Unsung Hero. With the exception of Unsung Hero, the other disciplines are self- explanatory. The Unsung Hero award will be given to a representative serving as a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) or Medical Assistant (MA).

Nomination Process 
1. Nominations may be submitted by another individual or directly by the nominee.
2. Nominations are to be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. CST on Friday, May 27, 2022.   Late applications will not be accepted.
3. The Nomination Review Committee, made up of Prosper Waco’s Access to Healthcare working group and Henrietta Napier Expo committee members, will review the nominations using an evaluation score sheet to select winners.
4.  All submissions must be complete. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

All questions should be submitted to Dr. Carolyn Scott, Ph.D. at [email protected] and Sherry Williams at [email protected], Questions will be answered as quickly as possible.  

Schools Need Trained Tutors to Help Students Catch Up, Free Tutor Training on 6/9

Interested in becoming a paid tutor? It's a HIT! High Impact Tutor Training, June 9, 9a-4p, Free to attendTo support educators in their efforts to help students catch up from learning loss due to COVID-19 interruptions in instruction and continue to progress, ESC Region 12 is looking for individuals to train in the High Impact Tutoring (HIT) program (opens external link in new window). The center, which provides professional development to educators and school personnel, is looking for people interested in serving as tutors in schools in person and/or virtually to attend a one-day training on Thursday, June 9, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at ESC Region 12, 2101 W Loop 340, Waco.

Through this one-day training session, ESC Region 12 specialists will prepare you to work as a school district tutor (remote or in-person). Start the day with Best Practices for Classroom Tutors, followed by your choice of break-out session specific to the tutoring curriculum from Amplify (RLA), BookNook (RLA) and Zearn (Math). Complete the day to receive a training certificate to aid your tutor job search, for the potential to make $15-50 per hour.

To register for free or for more information, visit (opens external link in new window).

Lemonade Day is coming to Waco!

Help us empower today’s youth to be tomorrow’s entrepreneurs!

Lemonade Day is a free, fun, experiential learning program that teaches youth how to start, own and operate their own business – a lemonade stand. Lemonade Day Waco is August 20th!

The foremost objective of Lemonade Day is to empower youth to take ownership of their lives and become productive members of society – the business leaders, social advocates, volunteers, and forward thinking citizens of tomorrow.

Each child that registers receives a backpack with an Entrepreneur Workbook that teaches them the 14 lessons of Lemonade Day like creating budgets, setting profit-making goals, serving customers, repaying investors, and giving back to the community. Along the way, they acquire skills in goal-setting, problem solving, and gain self-esteem critical for future success. They keep all the money they make and are encouraged to spend some, save some and share some.

Their mission is to help today’s youth become the business leaders, social advocates, community volunteers and forward-thinking citizens of tomorrow…one lemonade stand at a time! Register now Here!

Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program

What: Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program (a 4-month program to help those with high blood pressure learn to monitor and control their blood pressure.
Where: Tolivar Chapel Missionary Baptist Church
When: 10-11 am on Wednesdays beginning May 25th. 
Who: Open to the public
*Exercise programming to follow at 11 am. Open to all.’

For more information, please contact Crystal Hernandez at [email protected]

Happenings at Greater Waco YMCA

It’s summer time! Below is information regarding kids’ summer classes at the YMCA! For any questions, please reach out to Crystal Hernandez at [email protected]

Kids Art Classes for ages 3-6 will be held on June 13th from 5:30-6:30 at the Greater Waco YMCA. Cost is $15 and registration ends on June 6th. 
Kids Art Classes for ages 6-12 will be held on June 6th from 5:30-6:30pm at the Greater Waco YMCA. Cost is $15 and registration ends on May 31.
Kids Cooking Classes for ages 3-6 will be held on June 15th from 5:30-6:30pm. Registration ends June 8th. Cost is $20 per child.
Kids Cooking Classes for ages 6-12 will be held on June 8th from 5:30-6:30pm. Registration ends on June 1st. Cost is $20 per child.

It’s Not Just a Rocking Chair

by Lucas Land

“When I first visited the home, Naomi* couldn’t sit still. She was always moving and very agitated,” said Kimberly Witt, Advocate Supervisor for CASA of McLennan County.

Naomi was removed from her home due to abuse and neglect when she was two and a half years old. For the next year and a half, she went through several different foster families and was kicked out of her school and dacare because of her problems with aggressive and violent behavior. At two and a half years old Naomi had only recently learned to walk and talk. She had barely begun her life but was already experiencing so much difficulty just getting along and making it through each day. What was going wrong? What could be done to help her?

In these early years developing healthy attachment and emotional bonds with parents or caregivers is crucial for normal social and emotional development. Having adults that respond to an infant or child’s needs allows them to develop a sense of security and safety. This creates a base for the child to explore their world and continue to grow and learn. When children experience abuse and neglect, especially at such young ages and early stages of development, they can have difficulty forming attachments and emotional bonds with their caregivers. Naomi isn’t a bad kid. She just didn’t have the tools to cope with what the world had thrown at her. 

We don’t always know the reason or how to help, but every child’s behavior is an attempt to meet a need that they have. In Naomi’s case she might be needing to feel safety and security. Perhaps her acting out was a way to test whether the adults in her life would stay or leave. We can also imagine that there are a lot of feelings going on for a child who has experienced abuse and neglect, and not had a stable home environment so early on in their life. Without healthy attachment and bonding with caregivers, Naomi also didn’t have the tools to deal with and process these feelings.

Thankfully, Naomi’s grandmother, Rose*, was able to bring her into her home at four years old. “It’s been very challenging having them at home. It’s going to take a while. She had tantrums that lasted an hour and a half to two hours, and she would lose her voice. This happened two or three times a day,” Rose explained about the difficulties she has faced providing a home for Naomi.

Rose found that the only thing that would calm Naomi was for her to hold her and rock her. There is research that rocking and swinging stimulates the body’s vestibular system which helps alleviate stress and anxiety and helps with sleep and cognitive functions. Because of her age, Rose found it difficult to rock Naomi for longer periods of time. She explained this to her CASA volunteer and asked if there was any way that CASA could help provide a rocking chair since she was unable to afford one herself. 

CASA trains ordinary people to advocate for children in the foster care system and help keep them from falling through the cracks. Part of CASA’s advocacy work is to notice needs of the families they serve and advocate for ways that those needs can be met. In this case, CASA used funds earmarked for direct needs to purchase a rocking chair for Rose.

“Since that rocking chair came and when I started rocking her, we haven’t had any tantrums in two weeks. I never knew it could make such a difference. She’s healing now and I can talk to her and work with her now,” Rose shared getting emotional about the difference this piece of furniture made for her. “It’s not just a rocking chair. It’s the stuff they never got from their parents. That rocker is huge and opened the door to let her love me.”

If you are interested in learning more about CASA and how you can become a volunteer advocate, please visit

*All names have been changed to protect privacy

May Classes at YMCA

Check out the below classes being offered to kids for the month of May through the YMCA!

May 2: art for kids ages 6-12 from 5:30-6:30 pm. Cost is $15 per child and registration ends on April 28th. The theme is ‘summer’ and we’ll be making seashell turtles, lava lamps and more!

May 9: art class for kids ages 3-6 from 5:30-6:30pm. Cost is $15 per child and registration ends on May 2nd. The theme is ‘summer’ and we’ll be making several projects including wind socks.

May 10: Kids in the Kitchen for ages 3-6 from 5:30-6:30 pm. Cost is $20 per child and registration ends May 3rd

May 16: Kids in the Kitchen for ages 6-12 from 5:30-6:30pm. Cost is $20 per child and registration ends May 9th.

For more information, please reach out to Crystal at cherna[email protected] or 254-776-6612

Pre-K Registration Roundup Fun Fest

You child may be eligible for free prekindergarten! Want to learn more? Check out the above flyers and attend the WISD Pre-K Registration Roundup Fun Fest on April, 23!

McLennan County Master Gardeners PRESENTS


Wednesday, April 20, 2022, noon to 2 p.m.
at MCC’s Emergency Services Education Center, 7601 Steinbeck Bend Dr, Room 105.
The Lake Waco Wetlands and its partnership with the Heart of Texas Master Naturalist Chapter
Presenters: Nora Schell & Rebecca Simanek

Nora Schell, who is thelong-time Program Coordinator of the Lake Waco Wetlands and is President of the Heart of Texas Master Naturalists, will explore the projects local Master Naturalists are involved in at the Lake Waco Wetlands, 180-acre is working, living lab, full of educational opportunities for all school aged children and adults.

Nora will be joined by Rebecca Simanek, who prior to moving to Texas, worked as a gardener at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville for two years. She is both a Master Naturalist and a Master Gardener, who will talk about flowering plants like those in the wetlands garden, host plants and general garden practices that are good for pollinators and birds.

Be sure to bring your lunch to this free session. Everyone is welcome,

For more information: visit or call the Texas AgriLife extension office,