Local Dentist, George Jurek, improves communication system at Caritas

Press release – Dr. George Jurek, a retired dentist who spent years practicing in Waco before serving with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Department of MH-MR, understands the importance of making a connection when you are in need.   During his work with the TDMHMR office, Dr. Jurek oversaw eight hospitals and thirteen schools for people with developmental disabilities. He has a long history of caring for those facing hardships and uncertain futures. 

Caritas of Waco was suffering from an outdated phone system. Dr. Jurek recognized the critical importance of communication and made a gift to over the cost of a new system.  Before the new system, callers typically encountered numerous difficulties including busy signals, dropped calls, voice mail that was unable to record messages and other nagging problems that interfered with communications.  Such difficulties were not infrequent and created frustrations and inconveniences for everyone. 

“Caritas is extremely appreciative of the gift Dr. Jurek has made to us for a new communications system,” said Buddy Edwards, Executive Director of Caritas.  “Our existing system had been the source of concern to our clients, donors and the general public, and we are glad to have eliminated these problems.  Dr. Jurek really ‘saved the day’ for us!” Edwards added.

Dr. Jurek has a strong concern for the work of Caritas and its mission of serving those living in poverty and difficult circumstances.  He worked with senior staff at Caritas to identify the actions needed to rectify the telephone problem and agreed to provide the funds to make the “fix.” 

Today, as a result of Dr. Jurek’s generous gift to Caritas, the organization’s phones work smoothly and professionally—lost calls are eliminated and messages are clearly communicated.  Caritas operates much better as a whole because of his belief in the Caritas mission and his desire to be a difference-maker!  Caritas thanks Dr. Jurek for his spirit of compassion and generosity that extends beyond his profession to other underserved individuals in our community.

Caritas of Waco is a non-profit, 501(c) (3) organization that serves McLennan County and the surrounding area by providing individuals and families with urgent support and long-term solutions to poverty. 

For additional information about this story, please contact Ann Owen, Assistant Executive Director of Finance at Caritas at 254-753-4593, ext. 213 or [email protected].

Best-selling Author Stephen Harrigan to Visit McLennan Community College for Conversation and Book-Signing

Press release – McLennan Community College is proud to host best-selling author Stephen Harrigan for a wideranging conversation about the vast history of Texas. 

Harrigan, the author of ten books of both fiction and nonfiction, will sign copies of his latest book, “Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas,” which will be available for purchase. 

He will also answer audience questions after a public conversation event with Dr. Richard Driver, an associate professor of history of MCC. 

The free event is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 26 at the Conference Center at MCC. It is hosted by the McLennan Honors College, a program for MCC students taking specialized course work, exposing themselves to new educational opportunities, and participating in individual mentoring. Students in the program must apply and undergo an interview process for acceptance. 

MCC President Dr. Johnette McKown and Honors College Advisor Dr. John Spano will welcome guests and introduce the speaker. Free coffee and water will be available. 

“Big Wonderful Thing” has brought rave reviews for Harrigan. In a review for The Wall Street Journal, Willard Spiegelman noted that the book is “brimming with sass, intelligence, trenchant analysis, literary acumen and juicy details. . . It is popular history at its best.” And Michael Schaub, in his review for NPR, wrote that “It’s hard to think of another writer with as much Lone Star credibility as Stephen Harrigan. . . Harrigan, essentially, is to Texas literature what Willie Nelson is to Texas music.” 

He is a longtime writer for Texas Monthly, and his articles and essays have appeared in a wide range of other publications as well, including The Atlantic, Outside, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, Conde Nast Traveler, Audubon, Travel Holiday, Life, American History, National Geographic and Slate. He was a finalist for the 2015 National Magazine Awards for his commentary on film and television for Texas Monthly. “Off Course”, a piece for Texas Monthly about a trek Harrigan made to the mountain summit where his father died in a plane crash before he was born, won the Edwin “Bud” Shrake Award from the Texas Institute of Letters in 2016 for best work of journalism.

Harrigan is also the author of “The Eye of the Mammoth,” a book of essays which includes an examination of mammoth remains in Waco. 

Among the many movies Harrigan has written for television are HBO’s award-winning “The Last of His Tribe,” starring Jon Voight and Graham Greene, and “King of Texas,” a western retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear for TNT, which starred Patrick Stewart, Marcia Gay Harden, and Roy Scheider. His most recent television production was “The Colt,” an adaptation of a short story by the Nobel-prize winning author Mikhail Sholokhov, which aired on The Hallmark Channel.

Event Details

What: Best-selling author Stephen Harrigan at McLennan Community College When: Thursday, March 26 at 7 p.m. Where: Conference Center at MCC. Inside the Community Services Center on campus, at 4601 N. 19th St. Waco, TX 76708

Tickets: Free tickets are available at: www.mcchonors.eventbrite.com. Tickets, which may be printed or downloaded on the Eventbrite app, must be presented at the door. Those without tickets will be admitted 5-10 minutes before the event starts. 

Parking: Free parking is within walking distance of the event. Lots N, Q, P, and S are closest. Check out a campus map here. 

This event is a gun-free zone, and MCC is a smoke-free, tobacco-free, and vape-free campus. 

Media Contact: Lisa Elliott, Director of Marketing and Communications.  254-299-8640 [email protected]  

Prosper Waco Welcomes New Director of Research and Community Impact

Press release – Prosper Waco is pleased to announce the hiring of Emily Hunt-Hinojosa as director of research and community impact. In this position, Hunt-Hinojosa will develop and expand a framework for assessing progress toward community goals and will benchmark progress in the Prosper Waco focus areas of education, health and financial security. Her duties will also include linking theory to practice across the community helping to create an overall culture of continuous quality improvement around the larger vision of flourishing that Prosper Waco seeks to promote.

“The story of Waco is increasingly complex. On one hand, there are so many wonderful things happening throughout our city. Strong institutions, increasing diversity, economic growth, development, and collective efforts to do good work are all indicators of progress and prospering,” said Hunt-Hinojosa. “However, too many community members continue to experience insurmountable obstacles to enjoying many of the good things Waco has to offer. I am thrilled to join the Prosper Waco team and look forward to telling Greater Waco’s story in a way that is honest about current social realities and hopeful about our progress toward being a community where all members can thrive.”

Hunt-Hinojosa was most recently employed as a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture where she pursued academic research regarding the cultural conflicts arising from different perspectives on the purpose of civic education. During her Ph.D. program, she served as a research analyst at Baylor University’s Center for Community Research and Development. In this role, Hunt-Hinojosa conducted a variety of qualitative and quantitative research projects for Waco organizations helping institutions across McLennan County use data to do good better. Prior to graduate studies at Baylor, Hunt-Hinojosa directed a service learning program at Creighton University where she connected college student volunteers with non-profits around the metro Omaha region. Hunt-Hinojosa’s sociological perspective and her previous experience related to assessment and evaluation make her uniquely qualified for her new role at Prosper Waco.

Hunt-Hinojosa has a Ph.D. in sociology from Baylor University specializing in community analytics. She earned a M.A. in sociology from Baylor University and a M.A. in higher education and student development from Taylor University. She also has a bachelor’s degree in social studies education from Taylor University.

“A vital precursor to collective impact is collective understanding,” Hunt-Hinojosa explained. “As a sociologist, I see much of my new role as using data to highlight the pathways and connections between problems and solutions that are not always obvious. Beyond reporting numbers and statistics, I am excited to collaborate with Waco’s leaders to discern our context, celebrate our assets, and imagine our possibilities.”

Prosper Waco is a collective impact initiative focused on addressing issues facing the Greater Waco community in the areas of education, health and financial security. As a facilitator and convener, Prosper Waco encourages collaboration amongst existing nonprofits, city and county governments, business, foundations and churches to build on and increase the effectiveness of current efforts and develop new strategies to bring about measurable and sustainable positive change within the focus areas for the members of our community. For more information, please contact [email protected].

Super Bowl for folks with Special Needs

Press Release – No Limitations, a local organization that provides athletic and social opportunities for the special needs community in Central Texas, and D1 Waco, the home of athletic based training for adults and scholastics located in Waco’s elite state of the art training facility, team up for the 4th time to host the 2020 No Limitations Super Bowl IV. The No Limitations flag football and cheer league opens up volunteer opportunities to the community, local high schools, Baylor University, and other various organizations. The entire community is invited to attend the event. The season kicked off in early January with a Meet the Stars event, “Where athletes with special needs are seated at the table and the community comes out to get their autographs,” said Kevin Engelbrecht, GM of D1 Waco. “We treat them like the stars they really are.”

To wrap up a successful season, No Limitations will have their very own 2020 Super Bowl IV, hosted by D1 Waco. No Limitations was founded in 2014 and hosted its first Super Bowl in 2016. In 2017, a perfect partnership was formed with D1 Training – Waco.

On Saturday, February 15, four games will be played on the facility’s artificial turf featuring over 100 football players, cheerleaders, and celebrity quarterbacks from the community. The event will begin with a pre-game at 12pm and will offer food, fun, and games for the entire family. Kick-off for the first game will be at 12:30pm.

Special Guests include:

  • Title Sponsor: Red River Athletic Conference, Commissioner Tony Stigliano
  • Leon ISD State Championship Cheer Squad
  • Baylor University Spirit Squad & Mascots
  • Austin Underwood of Austin’s Underdawgs
  • Joy Pruitt with Waco Rocks
  • Baylor Helping Hands
  • Baylor Delta Phi
  • Challenger League Baseball
  • Troop No Limitations
  • Elite Therapy Center

…and more to be announced in coming days!

What: 2020 No Limitations SuperBowl IV

When:  Saturday, February 15, 2020

Where:  D1 Training – Waco (5100 Franklin Ave Suite B, Waco, TX 76710)

Time: Pregame 12pm, Kick-off 12:30

Cost: Free

For more information contact Coleen Heaton, Executive Director, No Limitations, Inc., ​254.723.3828 , [email protected]


Press Release – (January 28, 2020)  An unprecedented music and movie collaboration launches in Central Texas, Keep Waco Loud and the Deep in the Heart Film Festival present: the 254 Music Video Race. 

“We have such vibrant music and filmmaking scenes in Waco – we can’t wait for them to come together,” says Samuel Thomas, Deep in the Heart Festival Artistic Director.

Central Texas bands, musicians and musical acts (all genres, rap to rock, hip hop to country and everything in-between) are encouraged to meet up and team up with area filmmakers to create new music videos in the 254 Music Video Race.

Teams will have two weeks to plan, produce and edit new music videos.  Race officials will select three music videos to screen at the ‘Blood, Sweat & Beats’ World Premiere on February 22nd at the Waco Hippodrome. All participating artists are encouraged to attend, view the finalists and help select the winner. An audience vote will choose a winner who will receive cash prizes, a featured spot on the Keep Waco Loud podcast, and their video will be an official selection in the Deep in the Heart Film Festival in August.

Musical artists and filmmakers can start their videos on February 1 or find your collaborators at our Filmmaker/Musician meet-and-greet, 7:00 pm, February 3rd at Klassy Glass. To register a team for the race (FREE ENTRY!), read all the rules and requirements at our website, www.DeepInTheHeartFF.com  

About the ‘Blood, Sweat & Beats’ Premiere

The world premiere of ‘Blood, Sweat & Beats’ will showcase the top three videos of the 254 Music Video Race. The documentary is a story of music, money and murder – birthed in the Bronx, but raised here in Waco. The film sheds light on this thriving music scene in Central Texas, interviewing the foundational artists in Waco, exploring the journey of the genre, and meeting the creators whose musical passion drives their lives. 

It’s an evening celebrating Hip Hop in Waco with live music from Verbal Seed, DQ Hampton, Chyrie, Scratch Master T and Donna C, breakdance performances from Battle Grounds Crew, live street art from Skcoobaveli.  

For premiere tickets, check out the Hippodrome website, www.WacoHippodromeTheatre.com

Deep in the Heart Film Festival announces world premiere of ‘Blood, Sweat and Beats’ – The Story of Waco Hip Hop

Press Release – It’s a story of music, money and murder – birthed in the Bronx, but raised here in Waco, the Deep in the Heart Film Festival proudly hosts an evening of live music, breakdancing and street art to celebrate the World Premiere of ‘Blood, Sweat & Beats’, the Waco Hip Hop Story.   

The documentary sheds light on this vibrant music scene in Central Texas, interviewing the foundational artists in Waco, exploring the journey of the genre, and meeting the creators whose musical passion drives their lives.   

“We’ve prayed for a day like this. A day to be recognized for the music game. The scene is so powerful here. We want the young kids to see where it comes from.” says DJ Precyse, Executive Producer.  

The World Premiere of the film “Blood, Sweat, and Beats” hits the silver screen February 22, at 7:00 pm at the Waco Hippodrome.    

The evening kicks off with the red carpet arrivals of the filmmakers and featured artists. Next, live music takes the stage with performances from Verbal Seed, DQ Hampton, Chyrie, Scratch Master T and Donna C, breakdance performances from Battle Grounds Crew, graffiti artist, Skcoobaveli creates a brand new piece at the entrance of the theater and the evening is hosted by comedian, Terry Bluez. This is truly a showcase for all facets of the hip hop scene in our area.   

The evening concludes with the World Premiere of ‘Blood, Sweat and Beats’ and a Q&A with filmmakers and featured artists including multi-Grammy-Award winning producer, Symbolyc One.  This famed, Waco-born producer has worked with Beyonce, Jay-Z, Lorde, Madonna, Eminem and many more.  

Tickets are now available for the premiere at the Hippodrome website, www.WacoHippodromeTheatre.com.   

“Keep Waco Loud aims to support and empower all genres of music, and we feel that sharing this rich history through film is the perfect way to shine a spotlight on the Waco hip hop community.” says Keep Waco Loud founder, Katie Selman.   

Director Lindsay Liepman, on why it was important to tell this story as a feature film, “You only get one chance to tell the story for the first time. I wanted to make sure we took our time and interviewed as many people as possible to best represent this thriving community in Waco.”   

Sponsors for this World Premiere event include, 25 News, 94.5 The Beat, Keep Waco Loud, One of a Kind Records and the Deep in the Heart Film Festival. 

About Deep in the Heart Film Festival

Set in Waco, Texas, the Deep in the Heart Film Festival (DitHFF) is an annual festival attracting artists and filmmakers from all over the world. Held across four days packed with entertainment and learning, DitHFF is a celebration of film as an artform for the people.

“The festival really has something for everyone: family films, horror films, rom-coms, documentaries… If you like movies, you’ll find something to love here,” said Louis Hunter, Festival Operations Director. 

In addition to the annual festival, Deep in the Heart is dedicated to promoting independent filmmaking in the Central Texas area, seeking to inspire local filmmakers and celebrating the stories they tell. 


About the Waco Hippodrome

The Waco Hippodrome Theatre is a 105-year-old theatre in the heart of downtown Waco. The theatre has survived many trials and tribulations including a fire and the devastating tornado of 1953. In 2012 the hippodrome was bought and renovated after sitting vacant and dilapidated for several years. It reopened its doors in 2014 as a dine-in movie theatre, bar, restaurant, and entertainment venue featuring live music. New additions to the facility make it a film destination in Waco. See what we have going on each day at www.wacohippodrometheatre.com and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: @wacohippodrometheatre.

Thank you, Buddy Edwards! Caritas of Waco Executive Director Retiring

Thank you for your service to Waco, Buddy!

The Board of Directors of Caritas of Waco is announcing that the organization’s Executive Director, Buddy Edwards, will retire effective May 31, 2020.  Edwards’ retirement comes after over twelve years of service with Caritas—first as Assistant Executive Director and then as Executive Director since December 1, 2008.  The Board will undertake a search for Edwards’ replacement.

“It has been the highest of honors to have served with Caritas of Waco and to have played a part in helping to meet the needs of people who face the difficulties of poverty and homelessness,” said Edwards.  “It has been a pleasure to work with an exceptional board of directors, an outstanding staff and many committed volunteers all of whom believe in the mission of Caritas,” Edwards added.

Among the enhancements to Caritas that took place during Edwards’ tenure include a major capital campaign resulting in a significant upgrade to the agency’s facilities; creation of the organization’s Case Management Program that provides pathways out of poverty for Caritas’ clients; implementation of a “Healthy Pantry Initiative” that offers an array of nutritional food items in the Caritas Pantry and a dietitian to provide guidance on healthy eating; and provision to Caritas clients of a variety of educational programs such as GED classes, financial literacy classes and nutritional education classes.

“On behalf of the Caritas Board of Directors, we congratulate Buddy on his well-deserved and earned retirement,” said Colin O’Neill, Immediate Past President of the Caritas Board of Directors. “Caritas has benefitted mightily from his steadfast leadership and compassion for the vulnerable of our community,” O’Neill added.

Caritas of Waco is a non-profit, 501(c) (3) organization that serves McLennan County and the surrounding area by providing individuals and families with urgent support and long-term solutions to poverty. 

A New Performing Arts Center in Downtown Waco? Your input is requested.

Press Release

The Waco Auditorium brought internationally renowned performing artists to Waco in the 1920’s. Is it time for a new Performing Arts Center in downtown Waco?

WACO, TX (January 9, 2020) – The City of Waco, with input from Creative Waco, has engaged Keen Independent Research to examine the feasibility of creating a center for performing arts in Downtown Waco. This study requires a thorough exploration of the market for arts in the region, needs of local organizations, operating/capital costs and revenue potential, operating models, potential synergies and collaboration between organizations, components of a potential multipurpose facility, and a plan for implementation.

 To best serve the Waco community, the feasibility study welcomes rigorous public participation. Keen Independent requests that residents from Waco and its surrounding communities complete a virtual workshop. The virtual workshop takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete and a direct link is available here until January 31st, 2020.

Keen Independent also invites you to participate in an open house where you can meet with study team consultants, learn more about the project and share your insights. This open house on January 13 will be hosted at The Cooper House, 1801 Austin Ave., and will go from 6:15pm to 7:15pm.

If you are unable to participate in the virtual workshop or open house, Keen Independent encourages interested participants to reach out to the study hotline at 254-307-2669 or email [email protected].

For more information about this feasibility study, visit the Keen Independent website. Keen Independent is a national research firm with expertise in arts and culture. Alex Keen, Keen Independent COO and Senior Consultant is leading the study. Keen Independent is joined by Victor Gotesman Performing Arts Facilities Planning, Theatre Consultants Collaborative and Venue.

Women United Partners with MCC Foundation to Award Scholarships to Underserved Women

Press release – July 19, 2019 –The United Way of Waco-McLennan County (UWWMC) is pleased to announce its affinity group, Women United, has awarded scholarships to two female graduates from the Adult Literacy and Education Heart of Texas. Both recipients are working mothers pursuing nursing degrees at McLennan Community College.  

“Women United mobilizes a diverse network of women in McLennan County to strengthen the community by investing in local programs that enable women to achieve their goals and positively impact their lives,” said Women United Waco Chair Kris Kaiser Olson. “Money raised by Women United through membership dues and fundraising events provides funding to support education scholarships for women.”

Data from the Global Partnership for Education shows educating women has a multiplier effect. According to research, educated women tend to be healthier, earn more income, and provide better health care for themselves their children. These benefits also are transmitted from generation to generation and across communities at large, making  women’s education one of the best investments a community can make. 

Women United scholarship funds are managed in partnership with the McLennan Community College Foundation. MCC Foundation staff will manage the disbursement of the scholarship funds for the recipients to oversee tuition payment, books, uniform and equipment purchases as needed. Any remainder of the scholarship will be available to the student through an emergency grant application for unexpected barriers.

“This partnership is breaking new ground for us at the MCC Foundation,” said Executive Director Kim Patterson. “Our Adult Education students have shown tremendous perseverance and are perfectly suited to succeed in college. With this new funding from Women United, we can now provide scholarship support for these women, giving them the opportunity to change the social and economic trajectory for their entire family.”

The Adult Education and Literacy program provides English language, math, reading, writing and workforce training instruction to help adult students acquire the skills needed to succeed in the workforce, earn a high school equivalency certificate, and enter and succeed in college or workforce training.  

“Attaining your GED as an adult and pursuing college can seem like a daunting task for women already juggling busy lives,” said Adult Education and Literacy Transition Specialist Michelle Telg. “Scholarships like the Women United Scholarships help traditionally underserved students overcome the barriers that keep them from an education to better their lives and the lives of their families.”

As an integral part of UWWMC, Women United is committed to creating an effective female-driven philanthropic force to improve life for women in McLennan County. The Waco Chapter is part of a growing, global network of women leaders, over 70,000 strong across more than 165 communities in six countries.

The work of Women United Waco is aligned with UWWMC’s Impact Framework, by providing women with access to education and job skills training needed to obtain a sustainable job and increase their family’s financial stability and economic status.

Scholarship recipients will also participate in financial literacy training classes taught in partnership with First National Bank of Central Texas. Participants will receive customizable financial literacy training based on their personal needs and financial interests.

For more information about Women United Waco, visit www.UnitedWayWaco.org.


Houston…we have a party!” In honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 moon landing, Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum will host a 1969-theme party from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on July 20.

The event will include 1960s-themed hors d’oeuvres and mocktails. Guests are encouraged to dress in 1960’s-era costumes and will be treated to a performance by Austin’s premier Motown tribute band, Groove Knight. Party tickets are $35 each for adults, $25 for museum members and Baylor students and can be purchased at the front desk or online at www.MaybornMuseum.com

During the event, both the SpaceX and Be the Astronaut exhibits will be open at the

museum with available photo ops for guests.  Designed in consultation with an advisory panel of NASA experts, Be the Astronaut exhibit gives visitors a sense of real astronaut pretraining with the use of touch screen stations, artifacts and interactive simulator pods built to look like space capsules.

SpaceX: This is Rocket Science exhibit features a rocket model and thruster engine, projection video, vibrant scale representation of our solar system along with historic facts of rocket development and testing facility located in McGregor, Texas. 

“We are inviting all of our interested adult patrons to slip into their Nehru jacket or maxi skirt, tuck the kids into bed, and join us for an evening to commemorate mankind’s greatest leap of the 20th century,” said Charles Walter, director of the Mayborn Museum.

The historic event occurred on July 20, 1969 when Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin famously made “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” by landing on the moon.

“July 20th represents one of man’s crowing achievements when Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon,” Walter said. “We hope this party will be a fun and playful way to celebrate one of the most historic moments our country witnessed during the 20th century.”

About the Mayborn Museum – The Mayborn Museum Complex at Baylor University provides a wide spectrum of

learning opportunities to engage visitors of all ages.  The exhibits and education programs encourage families to learn together and design their own museum experience. This complex features a natural science and cultural history museum focusing on Central Texas with walk-in dioramas including one of the Waco Mammoth Site. The Mayborn Museum Complex also encompasses a multi-floor science discovery center encouraging hands-on learning for all ages and the Gov. Bill & Vara Daniel Historic Village. The nine wood frame buildings that comprise the village provide a glimpse into the past, bringing to life a community in the 1890s.

The museum’s hours are:     Monday-Saturday 10 am- 5 pm

                                                Thursday 10 am-8 pm

                                                Sunday 1 pm-5 pm  

The Mayborn Museum is open all year long except for the following: New Year’s Day, Good Friday through Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and all Baylor University home football game dates. The museum is located at 1300 S. University Parks Drive, Waco, Texas 76706.  For more information, call 254-710-1110 or visit www.MaybornMuseum.com.