This month’s theme is new beginnings, and that means something different for everyone. A new beginning could be a trip you always wanted to take, the book you wanted to write, maybe going back to school, losing weight, volunteering more, starting a new job in a new city or just trying to be a better person.
For some people, it’s finding a new beginning after the loss of a loved one — that period of time when shock begins to wear off as reality sets in. It’s learning to put one foot in front of the other, taking baby steps and living five minutes at a time.
Whatever your new beginning might be, this issue will bring you stories of loss and survival, young philanthropy, overcoming obstacles to create opportunities for others and helping people realize the dream of home ownership.
Meet your neighbor, Allison Dickson, who knows no limitations, despite her diagnosis, at 15 months old, of a rare form of muscular dystrophy. She wasn’t expected to live more than another year past her diagnosis. But she survived, and in 2002 she graduated summa cum laude from Southwestern University in Georgetown. In 2007, she graduated summa cum laude, and the highest ranking graduate, from Baylor University of Law. When she faced, and survived, a life-threatening health crisis in 2014, she decided to help other students achieve their academic dreams and started the Allison Dickson Scholarship Foundation at both colleges, Page 12.
Youssef and Leomarie Elmaroudi understand what it means to start over. They were living in Metairie, La., in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit. They lost everything except each other and the surprise baby Leomarie was carrying. Like so many others, they migrated to Texas to begin again. As the years passed, Youssef became a businessman and father to daughter, Ritamarie. A little over a year ago, Leomarie took her passion for cooking and opened Rita’s Taqueria, Page 34.
“Return to Joy” with Temple author Bev Desalvo. Her new beginning started when she faced her past traumas and learned to have a closer relationship with God. “Return to Joy” will take you on a journey back to self through scripture and Bible study, Page 26.
Ken Cates, executive director of the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity helps people begin again by helping those who qualify become homeowners. A 27-year military veteran, Cates gives people a hand up, not a hand out, Page 43.
Bringing Balance to Life is the motto for EquusLibrium. Founded by Amber Quaranta-Leech, a licensed professional counselor certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, she uses equine assisted psychotherapy to help clients navigate the traumas in their lives, past and present. Her therapy program helps people learn about themselves and others by communicating with horses, Page 29.
Ciara Stanke is only 14, but has served a lifetime volunteering since she was 5 years old. Her latest endeavor is CiCi’s Caring Closet at McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple. Through her fundraising efforts, this future philanthropist collected more than $3,700 in new clothing ranging in size from infant to junior-plus for children of trauma who need to have their clothing cut away or kept for evidence, Page 51.
When Wes’s Burger Shack & More in Temple caught fire in 2014, the owner, Wes Teeter, didn’t give up. With the help of the community, friends and family, he reopened as the Hometown Diner, serving breakfast, as well as his famous burgers, Page 16.
Whatever your new beginning is in 2017, may it bring you to the place in life you want to be. For now, take a break, pour yourself a cup or glass of your favorite beverage and enjoy the January 2017 issue of Tex Appeal Magazine. Happy New Year.
Tex Appeal Editor