Shadow Cats’ TNR Heroes Give A Sad Story A Happy Ending

Shadow Cats Cat RescueWe all want sad stories to have happy endings, right? What makes a happy ending so powerful and so welcomed? I’ll tell you, it’s the long, nasty, depressing bit in the middle.  With a happy ending, the sad parts somehow get fixed, and the story is brought to a triumphant end. Simple, right?

It usually goes like this: First, you have some terribly unpleasant situation, a desperate and seemingly impossible situation, and then miraculously, out of the blue, something happens to make it not only right, but even better than you could have ever imagined. Think about most of the stories by Charles Dickens.

I am no Charles Dickens, and this story doesn’t have the wonderfully complex plot twists and turns of, say David Copperfield, but it is still touchingly sad, and it has that beautifully happy ending that would warm the heart of anyone. [Read more…]

The Round Rock Area Serving Center and Payless Shoes Partner To Provide Shoes 4 Kids

Round Rock Area Serving Center Payless Gives Shoes 4 KidsBen and Meredith moved to our community with their three children this summer to escape New England’s famously brutal winter weather. Ben, a native of Texas, and Meredith, born and raised in the frigid Northeast, were looking not only for warmer temperatures, but they were also hoping to take advantage of the even warmer local job market. Ben was able to find work, but Meredith, equipped with a college degree and years of management experience in the human services field, was less fortunate.

Her search has lasted six months so far, and although the loss of a second income has tightened the household budget, it has done nothing to Round Rock Area Serving Center Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kidsdampen her wonderful spirit. Please take a couple of minutes to listen to her beautiful story in the attached video.

I met this amazing mom and her three children last Friday at the Payless ShoesSource store here in Round Rock located at Louis Henna and I-35 where Payless Shoes and the Round Rock Area Serving Center were teaming up to provide free shoes for local children. [Read more…]

Round Rock Drums Reaches Out To The Special Needs Community

RoundRockDrumsLogo-Web3Nothing can dampen the enthusiasm burning in Ed Francis of Round Rock Drums, not even an ocean of water falling out of the sky onto his head, and all over his plans. This man and his amazing wife, Kim, have a mission in life and that is to teach people – anyone who wants to learn – how to play the drums, and nothing will get in their way. Rain on game day, no matter how much, isn’t reason enough to stop these two.

Ed and Kim had planned their “Shake, Rattle and Drum Roll” concert for months, and they poured hours and hours of labor into it. They enlisted their students, and the parents of their students, into Ed’s army of toy drum makers. These handmade drums were to be a huge part of the fun at “Shake, Rattle & Drum Roll,” and if there was no show, there would be no one to give them to. The show must go on. [Read more…]

Round Rock’s Backpack Coalition Fills Backpacks And Empty Stomachs

8681bc_60015f27c6da300e9f830eb04c4bd07eOf all of the stories I have written in this blog, this story has been the most challenging to write. How do you begin a story about hungry children that live in this community? This blog is designed to spotlight what is truly outstanding in the Williamson County area, and sadly this post calls attention to a problem that you just wouldn’t expect us to have here. It is hoped that this story and the attached video will also give us a lot of reason to be extremely proud of our community and the people who live here – people who saw a problem and are doing something about it.

Our schools are doing a marvelous job of stepping up to the task of dealing with the student hunger problem with breakfast and lunch programs. These programs are very important tools in helping educators do their job. It’s important and it’s simple, kids who are well nourished perform better academically and tend to have fewer discipline problems. Feeding an undernourished student is a win-win. [Read more…]

Hike For Hunger: The US Army And The Round Rock Police Department Team Up To Support The Round Rock Area Serving Center

US-ARMY_BIG“Giving back” is a phrase we hear a lot, and it is a very good thing. It comes from the heart and means that bounty is sharing with want. That is a great motivation to give, especially today with so many not able to make ends meet so well anymore. The US Army Recruiting Center here in Round Rock teamed up with the Round Rock Police Department and the Round Rock Area Serving Center to demonstrate the true meaning of that phrase.

Staff Sergeant Michael Wallace of Yazoo City, Mississippi, is the Assistant Center Commander at the US Army’s Round Rock Recruiting Center, and he was the spearhead for this good work. Sgt. Wallace decided that it would be a good idea to give back by collecting for the Serving Center’s food pantry.

Obviously, it would start by collecting non-perishable canned goods. Next, you need to get that food over to the Round Rock Area Serving Center. All of that makes sense, but Sgt. Wallace decided to get that done in a rather unconventional way. [Read more…]

Round Rock’s Own The Rockin’ City Rollergirls

Rockin City Rollergirls (3)We may not be as weird as Austin but Round Rock is certainly just as interesting. You’ve just got to dig around and keep your eyes open, but there are some really cool people who live, work and play here. I stumbled across the Rockin City Rollergirls at the Round Rock Centennial Celebration a while back, and I knew I had to post an article on our blog about them. I knew it would be personally interesting getting to know these warm and friendly women, and I wasn’t wrong. Warm and friendly, you say? Yep. But I thought Roller Derby women were supposed to be mean and tough. Well, I’m pretty sure they are tough after watching and filming their practice, but mean people don’t smile, laugh and kid around like the roller derby women I saw. These ladies were working really hard but they were having a great time.

roller+derbyWomen’s Roller Derby has changed a lot from the days when as a kid I watched the Bay Area Bombers skate in the late 60’s and early 70’s. There are a lot of similarities between then and now, but the attitude is totally different. In those days you kind of got the impression that it was all a little like professional wrestling with staged fights and lots of drama. It was a lot of fun to watch, and it was one of the few sports on TV during that dreadful period in the winter between the end of football season and the beginning of baseball. Today, it is a legitimate and very athletic sport that has gained enough credibility to be considered as an Olympic sport along with Roller Hockey and Roller Speed Skating. Skating and Roller Derby have come a long way.

Women’s Roller Derby leagues, both professional and amateur, are not only in all 50 states but they are world wide with hundreds of thousands of individual women participating in the sport. It’s not all women participating too. Men have their own league play, and even in Women’s Roller Derby, there are thousands of men who join in as managers, volunteers and referees, not to mention fans. The sport is one of the only full-contact sports open to women, and from what I saw; these ladies are not too shy to throw down. [Read more…]

Round Rock Serving Center Provides Computers For Kids

ServingCenterLogoI got my first personal computer as an adult in the early 1990s, and I thought I was on the cutting edge of business technology. I knew that these crazy things were going to be a big part of our future, and I didn’t want to miss out. It was just fine for those days. It had an amber monochrome monitor, a dot matrix printer, no windows, and I could only run one program at a time. For me it was okay, I guess. However, I later came to believe the real impact of that little Epson computer was not on me but on my four year old son, Alex. He was still a little guy then, and he would crawl up in my lap while I was working and just stare at the screen and its blinking curser. He just had to fiddle with it, so I would unplug the keyboard and he would bang on the keys. He seemed to be transfixed with interest.

This carried on to the next computer I got, but this one was a game changer for Alex. It was pretty cool, I guess. It had a color monitor, Windows 95, a mouse, and some games on board, but for Alex, now eight, his interest level in computers went through the roof. At just about the same time, Alex got introduced to computers at school. For him I think this was a perfect storm. His interest level in computers took off like a rocket, and it became a passion for him that would eventually direct his choice for a college degree and provide him with his first job after graduation. You can’t tell me that computers in school and at home are not important. I saw them change my son’s life.

It’s just a fact now that computers are as important to kids in school today as Big Chief note pads, crayons and number 2 pencils were in my day. Do schools still require that stuff anymore? Anyway, I saw it first hand while I was substitute teaching. Computers were in every class room and a part of almost every subject. Children who don’t have a computer at home, and there are many who don’t, are at a huge disadvantage. The kids in our schools who don’t have a computer at home are still required to do homework that requires a computer. What that means is that mom or dad has to find some place where they can get access to a computer for their kids. This task is usually accomplished someplace like the library, and done late in the evening or on the weekend. For some kids what this really means that the homework probably won’t get done at all. [Read more…]

Round Rock’s Sam Bass Community Theatre – More Hidden Treasure

18ca31_4e42fdcfefa149abf4bcb3a7bf4aeb62.gif_srz_p_175_162_75_22_0.50_1.20_0It has always been tough being a kid. I know, everyone’s experience is a little different, but learning how to become an adult is just not easy. Someone always seems to be there with a clipboard and a stop watch to measure how a child is doing based on some arbitrary standard set by a bunch of experts who we all assume know what they are talking about. If a kid doesn’t live up to these standards when it is believed they should, they seem to have to start all over again and they can’t move on until a box is checked. That has to be unbelievably frustrating.

It just seems like it is a lot more complex now than when I was a kid. I don’t understand all of the causes, but kids seem a little more stressed out and anxious than I remember from my own experience in school and the experiences of my friends.

imagesI saw it when I did substitute teaching for a year in the Austin schools. I saw a lot of frustrated and sullen kids who appeared to have just given up. These kids were where the adults said they needed to be, and that seemed to be the extent of their commitment to the entire process. A lot of kids I worked with seemed to have just given up. It was very sad to see and experience. I was also stunned by the behavior I saw, and although I chalked a lot of it up to how kids treat subs, it was often stunningly offensive and dehumanizing; I wondered how this could have happened. When did this become okay?

I saw something quite different this past week at the Sam Bass CommunityTheatre here in Round Rock.Sam Bass Community Theatre (16) I saw motivated, relaxed and happy children who treated each other with kindness and respect, and they treated the adults who supervised and instructed them with the same level of care. It was wonderful. After my experience substituting in Austin, this really was one of the most uplifting experiences I have ever had. I left with a new appreciation for the adults who take time to work with children. On top of that, all of the adults who were there were not getting paid a penny for their time. This really was a labor of love. [Read more…]

Your Neighbors at the Round Rock Area Serving Center

RRServingCenterTimes are tough all over and nobody seems to know for sure when they are going to get any better. Things are generally good here in Williamson County, but there are still many people who live among us that are experiencing great need. There are many of our friends and neighbors who are desperate to find a way to feed and clothe their families.

“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” Ebenezer Scrooge cynically asked the men who entered his counting house the Christmas Eve he experienced his famous change of heart. “Both very busy, sir,” was the reply he got from the men who were there to collect for the poor. “Oh, I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course.” Ouch! We all know that Scrooge would later bitterly regret those cruel words.

I don’t believe that there are many Ebenezers in our community. However, it is possible that we can grow complacent because we are doing well and are comfortable knowing we are able to make ends meet with some to spare. It’s easy to ignore or even forget want that keeps to itself and hides from our sight. After all, we Americans are bootstrappers who can “get ‘er done.” If I can do it why can’t he? [Read more…]

Round Rock’s Shadow Cats – Past, Present and Future

Shadow Cats Cat RescueWell, this is the second part of an interview that I did with Shadow Cats’ Director of Sanctuary Operations, David Murphy. We had a great chat the first time and there was so much material that I thought a second post was right there under my nose. David and Jacki Quaile, a Board Member and Volunteer, gave me such a great amount of information on volunteer opportunities in that first interview, but there was so much more.

David also provided me with a lot of very interesting information on the past, present and future of Shadow Cats and on the tremendous amount of effort that has gone into making the sanctuary the remarkable place that it is. The vast majority of the information in this second video interview was not included in the first. While I was deciding on how to treat the remaining material, I wondered just how many of Shadow Cat’s friends and supporters really knew about how it got started and where it planned to go in the future. Shadow Cats really has a great story to tell and a great future to live out. Please watch the video to learn about Shadow Cats’ past, present and future.

The famously camera shy President and Founder of Shadow Cats, Sheila Smith, won’t go on camera to toot her own horn, but thank goodness that we have David Murphy who has an encyclopedic memory of past milestone events for which Sheila is responsible. This amazing woman has done so much to improve the quality of life for these forgotten and abused animals, and by doing so, she has improved the quality of all our lives as well. I am a happier person knowing someone like Sheila Smith exists. The equally selfless and devoted David Murphy also talks about the great future plans that Shadow Cats has to give cats with feline leukemia. [Read more…]