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Finding balance

Equine cognitive therapy helps trauma victims

EquusLibrium founder Amber Quaranta-Leech, a licensed professional counselor certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, uses equine assisted psychotherapy to help her clients navigate through the traumas in their lives, past and present. She said working with horses helps people to overcome their obstacles and to process that trauma. By CATHERINE HOSMAN


Surviving katrina A family’s journey from destruction to rebirth



Habitat offers new beginnings

Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Ken Cates has been overseeing the continually expanding services offered to the community by the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity and the adjacent Habitat Restore for more than a year. By CATHERINE HOSMAN 


Walking into Rita’s Taqueria in Temple feels more like walking into your mom’s kitchen. Leomarie Elmaroudi, owner and self-appointed hostess, welcomes all who enter with a smile, and sometimes a hug. The dining room is a sensory experience with its colorful walls and décor, the aroma of freshly cooked food, two distinct languages being spoken: English and Spanish, and the lively sounds of Spanish music filling the air. One of her regular customers sits at a table, singing along to “Guadalajara.” Specials of the day are written in colored chalk on a blackboard. But most who enter already know what they want. “I always wanted to open a restaurant,” said Leomarie. By CATHERINE HOSMAN


CiCi’s Caring Closet

Teen spearheads clothing drive Ciara Stanke and her helpers unload boxes of new children’s clothing to be donated to CiCi’s Caring Closet at McLane Children’s Hospital. One by one the boxes are carried into a room to be sorted by size. By CATHERINE HOSMAN


Departments 11


TexTalk Neighbors Allison Dickson helps others reach college dreams


TexTalk FLAVOURS Hometown Diner in Temple


TexTalk SCENE Altrusa Holiday Luncheon and Style Show United Way ‘s Chrome and Carols Festival of Trees Sammons Senior Dinner


TexTalk CALENDAR Upcoming events in January

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OctOber 2013 tex AppeAl

ON the COVER Amber Quaranta-Leech and Red. 29 Photograph by JULIE NABOURS





TexTalk WELL-FED HEAD “Return to Joy” by Bev Desalvo


TexVOLUNTEERS CiCi’s Caring Closet at McLane Children’s Hospital


TexADVENTURES There’s a lot to see on a Vanishing Texas River Cruise




From the Editor

Tex Appeal Life & Style in Central Texas

Dear Readers,

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.

Catherine Hosman

Tex Appeal Editor 


Published by FRANK MAYBORN ENTERPRISES, INC. KILLEEN DAILY HERALD 1809 Florence Rd., Killeen, TX 76540

TEMPLE DAILY TELEGRAM 10 S. Third St., Temple, TX 76501

Publisher SUE MAYBORN Editor CATHERINE HOSMAN Editorial Director ROSE FITZPATRICK Photographers/Graphic Designers


Tex Appeal Magazine is published monthly by Frank Mayborn Enterprises, Inc. 10 S. Third St., Temple, TX 76501. The cover and content of Tex Appeal Magazine is fully protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced in any manner without prior permission. Subscriptions: For the United States, $24 per year, 12 issues. Mail check to P.O. Box 6114, Temple, TX 76503-6114.

Questions about subscriptions, call 254-778-4444.

Postmaster: Send address changes to: Tex Appeal Magazine, P.O. Box 6114, Temple, TX 76503-6114. How to contact us: Advertising: Call 254-778-4444 or 254-501-7500. Editorial: Contact Catherine Hosman at 254-501-7511 or email




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You can read back issues of Tex Appeal Magazine at Log on today to find the current issue and older editions of Tex Appeal. You also can connect with us on Facebook.

Share your thoughts with us

Email a letter to Please include your name and a phone number for verification. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

Contributors FreD AFFLERBACH is an award-winning writer and novelist, college graduate at age 50, and former long-haul trucker. His stories and columns have been published in daily newspapers across Texas. His novel, “Roll On,” debuted in 2012, and is an interstate odyssey about a man afflicted with an incurable wanderlust despite pressure from family and friends to settle down. Fred lives in Cedar Park with his wife, Diane, and enjoys perusing Central Texas backroads with a keen eye out for roadrunners, old trucks and lipstick sunsets.

MITCHEL BARRETT is an award-winning photographer and owner of Mitchel Barrett Photography. Although originally from the British Virgin Islands, for the past 12 years he has come to call the city of Killeen his home. He developed his love of photography while attending high school and the KISD Career Center, and has enjoyed life behind the lens ever since. When not busy taking photos, you can probably find him at the movies with friends or at home with his family and two dogs.

EMILY HALE is a newcomer to Central Texas, having lived for the past 10 years in Deep East Texas. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Texas A&M University-Commerce. She has a love of photography and believes that one amazing photograph can change your life. She currently works for a company that specializes in newborn photography.

KIM STOCK was born and raised in the Capitol of New York before she packed up her life and relocated to the “Live Music Capital of the World” in the summer of 2012. She has been a Central Texas resident for more than four years. She is an established and well-rounded photographer with decades of experience shooting everything from concerts, celebrities and real estate to sports, portraits, weddings and events. She lives in Lampasas with her family and many fur babies, including her long-awaited, first-ever horse, Merlot.

JOIN the Tex Appeal TEAM

Tex Appeal Magazine is looking for photographers and freelance writers with experience photographing and/or writing features for a newspaper or magazine. We are seeking candidates from the Central Texas area. Candidates must be detail- and deadline-oriented and good storytellers, and must be familiar with AP style. Ability for writers to take photos is a plus, but not required. Interested candidates may send their resumes and three to five recent stories and/or photographs for consideration to 10









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well-fed head


Undaunted by disability

Allison Dickson holds a sign showing one of her favorite mottos.



TexTalk neighbors

Helping others achieve new beginnings: Young lawyer creates endowments for others’ futures



ive months in the hospital. Six weeks in an intensive care unit. Allison Dickson spent the first half of 2014 fighting for her life. She suffered respiratory failure, went into shock, and her organs started shutting down. At age 34, she was put on life support three times. “I went downhill bad,” Dickson said, looking back. “I don’t remember much, which is a good thing. I don’t think it was pleasant.” But out of that difficult time, two endowed scholarships at Central Texas universities are now awarded annually in Allison Dickson’s name. Dickson had already spent much of her life in and out of hospitals. At 15 months old, doctors told her parents, Joe and Johnnie Dickson of Temple, their daughter had a rare form of muscular dystrophy; don’t expect her to live longer than another year. Her parents put braces on her feet and assisted her with a walker when she was a preschooler, but she has never been able to walk on her own. Today she gets around in an electric wheelchair she calls the “Jag.” She takes three meals a day through a feeding tube. Yet Dickson’s disability never defined her or impeded her academic career. She graduated third in the Temple High School class of 1997. Then she earned English and psychology degrees at Southwestern University in Georgetown, graduating with honors. Next it was off to Waco, where she attended Baylor Law School and earned a law degree in 2007, finishing first in her class. Afterward, Dickson passed the state bar exam. “I like to prove people wrong,” she said, with a smile and a bit of mischief in her eyes. Through it all, Dickson has coped with a life of adversity by employing good humor and tenacity with the help of loving parents. But this lengthy hospital stay was a 12


Allison Dickson holds one of the toy owls that were collected and distributed to children at McLane Children’s Hospital and foster children in Bell County.

serious setback even for a woman with enough grit and gumption to inspire the most dispirited person. Again she persevered. In June 2014, five months after she was admitted to the hospital, Dickson was strong enough to return home. That’s when she looked at the future through a new set of eyes. She had overcome another obstacle, but her mortality was

more tangible than ever. A woman with a serious disability, someone who had faced countless health problems and overcome them, was ready for a new challenge. So she went to work making a difference in the world. “That was an eye-opener, that I’m not going to be here forever,” Dickson said. “I started thinking about how am I going to be able to continue to help, uplift and

Allison Dickson with her late father, Joe, and mother, Johnnie.

“I started thinking about how am I going to be able to continue to help, uplift and inspire people after I’m not here. It really is about paying it forward.”

— Allison Dickson

inspire people after I’m not here. It really is about paying it forward. So many people encouraged me along the way. So many people have given me that boost, that kind word, that prayer. It makes you think how do I want to spend the time I have left here. For me, I want to give back.” Dickson then contacted her alma mater about establishing a scholarship for a member of her sorority, Tri Delta. An annual gift would help one student with tuition. A great idea, said Taylor Kidd, associate director of annual giving at Southwestern University in Georgetown. But he suggested something bigger. So Kidd visited Dickson at her Temple home. “I looked at Allison and I said, you have lived this amazing life, one full of purpose and hard work and had such

an impact on so many people. I think we could do more. Let’s think about creating an endowed scholarship, which is at least $25,000. So forever there would be a scholarship in Allison’s name.” But raising the money was yet another challenge to a woman whose life was a series of obstacles, one after another. As it turned out, she need not have worried. “It was a little bit of everything. People wrote letters. We sent emails. People posted on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. It was all hands on deck,” Kidd said. “Once people found out we wanted to raise this money in Allison’s name, they just came out of the woodwork. It really was a grassroots effort that just blew us all away in terms of the number of people and how quickly we got

to this goal. Within two or three months, we had all the money we needed and then some to endow the award so it would be here forever.” In its first year, scholarship money was awarded to three students. Last year, one student earned the award. The number of winners is determined by the strength of the candidates, Kidd said. If two or three students have strong applications, the scholarship committee will find a way to help all of them. Now in its third year, the scholarship is poised to help students in Dickson’s name in perpetuity. “To those of us at Southwestern, Allison is an example of someone who has never given up. She puts her mind to something and she’s going to find a way to get there. The path from point A to point B for Allison may be winding, and it may be uphill or downhill, but she’s going to find a way to get there,” Kidd said. “She’s just a jewel and it’s a joy to get to know her. I feel really honored to be able to work with Allison because we’ve taken an idea she had and listened to it and found a way to make it more impactful for students at Southwestern.” Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


Allison Dickson enjoys the view on the porch of her Temple home. BELOW: Dickson was a member of Tri Delta sorority at Southwestern University in Georgetown. The Allison Dickson Delta Delta Delta scholarship was the first endowment created in her honor. Another endowed scholarship at Baylor University is awarded to aspiring law students.

Second Endowed Scholarship Word soon traveled north to Waco that Dickson had established an endowed scholarship at Southwestern University. Dickson recalls the friendly chiding she received from classmates. “My Baylor friends called and said, ‘Allison, what’s the deal?’” But Baylor had a minimum of $50,000 to establish a similar scholarship. She wasn’t ready to tackle another fundraising campaign, yet friends and classmates encouraged her to do what she has always done — amaze people with her infectious enthusiasm. Baylor gave her five years to raise the money. It took nine months. An anonymous donor wrote a $10,000 check. But the bulk of the money, $25,000, was raised through a fundraiser in Temple — a movie under the stars at the Cultural Activities Center. Allison’s friend from high school, Bill DiGaetano, had moved to North Texas and operated a chain of Alamo Drafthouses, a popular cinema that sells food and drinks. DiGaetano marshaled 14


the forces, and on an overcast evening in August 2016, one of Dickson’s favorite movies, “The Princess Bride,” played outdoors on a 46-foot screen for a crowd of about 1,500. A silent auction also

brought in more revenue for aspiring Baylor Law School students. Dickson said seeing the crowd and watching the movie was, “A dream come true.” Ethan Lange often sat beside Dickson

Allison Dickson is a self-professed perfume and lipstick addict. But don’t ask her to pick a favorite, she loves all her fragrances and colors equally.

in law school class at Baylor. He helped with fundraising for both scholarships. “She understands her story has an impact on other people. This is her legacy,” Lange said. “Every time you’re in her presence, life’s worries melt away. Everything you think is important, she turns it upside down. Somehow, she is just really positive.” While attending Baylor Law School, Dickson forged a relationship with one of her professors, Elizabeth Miller. After graduation, Dickson worked from home as a research assistant, proofreader and editor for Miller. “She just has such a tremendously positive attitude and mind over body in terms of her ability to apply herself and persevere,” Miller said. “Law school is challenging and rigorous for anyone, and it was just an incredible experience to see Allison go through law school and maintain such a positive attitude the entire time and finish with an outstanding record.” Miller said Dickson shines a little sunlight on everyone she meets, an inspiration to both faculty and students. “For her to be part of an effort to help future students achieve their dream of

going to law school, I think is a very fitting honor for her and a way of people to express their admiration and impact she’s made on them,” Miller said. “She has always been so civic minded and been a part of giving back. It’s really gratifying to see her name attached to something here at the law school that will keep giving for years to come.”

A philanthropist’s heart For the 2016 holiday season, Dickson collected donations that would buy stuffed owls for children at McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple. If anyone knows what it’s like to be in the hospital during holidays, it would be the girl from

Temple who touched people’s hearts with her unbridled enthusiasm and good cheer. “This is my passion, helping others,” Dickson said, “I think I have a philanthropist’s heart.” In 2008, Dickson lost her beloved father to cancer. His photo hangs on the wall near the front door of her Temple home, honoring the man who was at her side for almost 30 years. Dickson’s mother said her daughter’s story is a shining example of achievement for anyone with a disability. “When she sets her mind to do something, it’s done. Get out of the way. I can’t imagine it any other way. I wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s perfect.” Dickson stays busy these days keeping in touch with former classmates and friends through various social media outlets. Her virtual world is a vibrant and dynamic place. Although muscular dystrophy has affected her life, Dickson won’t allow the disease to define it. “I’m one third tomboy, one third brainiac, and one third girly-girl, with a healthy dose of pop culture thrown in,” Dickson said. “The greatest compliments I ever receive is when people forget I’m in a wheelchair.” TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


TexTalk flavours

Hometown Diner rises from the ashes



hen Wes’s Burger Shack & More burned in 2014, owner Wes Teeter didn’t blame anyone. He didn’t say, “Lord, why me?” Instead he said, “Lord, why not?” The interior the of Temple restaurant he owned for five years with his wife, Windy, was gutted by flames after a faulty electrical repair. But he considers himself a blessed man and said the community rallied to help him. One business owner even offered him the use of his building as a restaurant until Teeter could get his establishment back up and running. “It made me a stronger Christian, a stronger man,” he said. “It makes you realize what’s here today may not be here tomorrow.” A little over a year ago, Wes’s Burger Shack & More rose from the ashes on Main Street and reopened as the Hometown Diner. Teeter restored the upper outdoor front façade of the building to its original early 1900s design; inside a painted Texas flag covers the



IF YOU GO Hometown Diner Location: 4 S. Main St., Temple Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Phone: 254-721-9597 entire corrugated metal ceiling; café tables and chairs fill the center of the room and well-used booths line the wall. “Six months after the fire, I decided to rebuild,” Teeter said. “I can help people. Since I rebuilt, it allows me to give back to community.” “I’m so glad he did this,” Windy Teeter said. “It’s his passion. This is what he loves to do.” Teeter said he grew up in the 800 block of Main Street and considers this location his neighborhood. His diner sits across the street from the old two-story Woolworth’s that is now a parking lot, but retains the front façade of the building. Teeter started working in the restaurant business when he was 15. He opened his first place in Heidenheimer

in 2004. Five years later, he moved to the current location on Main Street in Temple. The Hometown Diner is open Tuesday through Saturday from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. and Teeter said he serves around 120 patrons every day. It’s not unusual, he said, for people to be lined up outside before he opens. Hungry diners can choose fresh, made-to-order breakfasts from a breakfast burrito to a five-egg omelet that can serve a small family, or a standard American breakfast — two eggs with choice of one meat served with home fries and toast — a breakfast chicken-fried steak with eggs, hamburger or ham steak with eggs and an assortment of egg sandwiches. For $1 more, you can ask for gluten-free bread. For customers who remember Wes’s Burger Shack & More, you can still order a hamburger or cheeseburger with your choice of sides, so long as you order before 10:30 a.m. He said he looks forward to coming to work every day because he knows he is going to see friends, family and friends who become family. “If you are not family, you will be soon,” he said.

Wes and Windi Teeters at the Hometown Diner in Temple.

Wes Teeter prepared a home-style omelet for Tex Appeal. Everything he used was fresh and when asked if he had a special ingredient that made his omelet stand out he said, “love.” “We make our food with love.”

HOMETOWN DINER 5-EGG OMELET WITH HOME FRIES AND TEXAS TOAST (This recipe can be reduced to a 2-, 3-, or 4-egg omelet.) 5 eggs 7 ounces of ham, chopped in small pieces, OR 3 ounces of pork sausage, OR

3 ounces of bacon Chopped onion to taste (optional) 1 tablespoon milk 2 ounces shredded cheese Diced tomatoes Brown meat and onion in a pan. Whip together eggs with 1 tablespoon milk and pour in pan with browned meat. Add cheese and other ingredients of your choice, such as diced tomatoes. Fold over cooked omelet and serve with home fries and Texas toast. Top with additional tomatoes for garnish. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


TexTalk scene


Altrusa’s 30th annual Holiday Luncheon and Style Show 2 3

4 5 1. The Temple High School choir performs during Altrusa’s 30th annual Taste of the Holidays Luncheon & Style Show on Nov. 16 at the Mayborn Convention Center in Temple. 2. Brandin Davis and Bennie Carroll 3. The Angel Tree Group: Debbie Emerson, Kay Ratliff, Lynn SheridanWelch and Sara Hector 4. Helen LeRoy fills out a raffle ticket. 5. Cindy Cashion, Barbara Chandler, Joan King and Patti Thrasher 18





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6 & 7. Altrusa President-elect Theresa Reese shows off fashions. 8. Peggy McNight models an outfit. 9. Altrusa President Dorothy Granfor addresses those gathered at the style show. 10. Altrusans Shirley Ewing and Traci Squarcette enjoyed the festivities. 11. Fellow Altrusans flank emcee Betty Thrasher at the podium during the 30th annual Holiday Luncheon & Style Show. Photos by KIM STOCK TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


TexTalk scene


Chrome and Carols Festival of Trees benefits United Way 2 3 4

1. Larry and Nancy Milligan in front of the Precious Memories tree during the Chrome and Carols Festival of Trees in Temple. Proceeds from the event benefit the United Way. 2. Donnie Ringler, left, with tree winner Steve Hubbard. 20


3. Drayton McLane III, left, and Walker McLane with tree winner Marsha Brown. 4. Kessler Tormey and Danielle Rutherford in front of the Johnson Bros. Ford tree.

scene TexTalk






5. Lori Walker and Shanna Goeke 6. Sarah Chivvis and Abbie Baros are members of the Student United Way of UMHB. 7. Tommy Gage and Donna Dunn 8. Aprille Mclaughlin, Summer Shine and Ashleigh Etheridge 9. Carrol White and Chelsey Pierce Photos by EMILY HALE Find more photos from the Chrome and Carols Festival of Trees online at TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


TexTalk scene


Sammons Senior Dinner celebrates holiday season 2


4 5 1. Kaylee and Deedee Eaton, Sheryl Sofge, Patty Meyer, Kay Hill, Gale and Charles Grant at the Sammons Senior Dinner. 2. Dean and Letty Rucker dance to music by the Kris Gorden Band. 3. Kathy Winter, Sandi Vos, Fredonia Seely and Dee Obermiller 4. Nan Ray and Barbara Loving 5. Joyce Dekock, Barbara Wilson, Pruitt Davis, VeAnne Stowell Photos by EMILY HALE 22




TexTalk calendar

Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum presents Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow: Living with the Atomic Bomb, 1945-1965 Now through Jan. 21 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday The exhibit explores the ways in which Americans experienced the Atomic threat as part of their daily lives — at school, in the home, and even at play. The show features more than 75 original objects from the era, as well as large-scale graphics, radio broadcasts and film. Although the threat of atomic annihilation eventually drifted to the background of American consciousness in the late 1960s, the Atomic Age left a legacy of governmental response and civic infrastructure that remains relevant today. Included with regular admission 315 W. Avenue B, Temple Call 254-298-5172 for more information. Bell County Museum presents Comfort and Glory: Two Centuries of Quilts from the Briscoe Center Now through Jan. 14 The museum’s new exhibition includes a collection of American quilts showcasing 21 quilts — dating from 1818 to 2005 — with historical essays about each quilt’s history and construction. The selections span more than 187 years of American quilt-making and represent a broad range of traditional styles and functions. 201 N. Main St., Belton Call 254-933-5243 or visit www. for more information. Bell County Museum presents The President’s Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office Now through Jan. 29 The museum’s traveling exhibition features iconic and rarely seen images of our presidents through the eyes of their official photographers. This exhibition offers a fresh and candid viewpoint on 24


life and work behind the famous facade of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. 201 N. Main St., Belton Call 254-933-5243 or visit www. for more information.

Belton Senior Center Jan. 5, Bobby Dean, Timeless Country Jan. 19, Good Ol’ Boys Dances start at 6:30 p.m. Bring a small food item for the snack table for the dances. Suggested donation: $5 Potluck dinner Jan. 23, 5:30 p.m. Schade Tree Band Performs 542 Mitchell St., Belton Call 254-939-1170 for more information. Akropolis Reed Quintet at the Temple Cultural Activities Center Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m. $25 adults; $10 students Tickets may be purchased at the door. Brought to you by the Central Texas Orchestral Society, the Akropolis Reed Quintet consists of sax, oboes and bassoons. For this concert, they are offering, “Under the Influence,” which includes works by Jean-Philippe Rameau, Marc Mellits, David Biedenbender and George Gershwin. 3011 N. Third St. Temple Call 254-773-9926 or visit www. for more information. Fourth annual Arches Resolution 5K Jan. 14, 2 p.m. Resolve to begin 2017 in motion. Run or walk a 5K to start the year off right. $20 pre-registration closes Jan. 8. $25 race day registration Register online at or at any Temple Parks & Recreation center. Call 254-298-5582 for more information. Seed and Plant Swap Jan. 14, 1 p.m. Exchange some of the seeds you don’t want for some you’d like to try. Activities Center 400 Indian Trail, Harker Heights Call Nichole Broemer at 254-9535465 or email nbroemer@ci.harker for more information.

calendar TexTalk

Jan Seger, left, and Teresa Hawkins, of Hidden Falls Nursery in Killeen, talk about flowers at the Spring Seed and Plant Swap last year at the Harker Heights Activities Center.

Belton Market Days Jan. 21, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Come see vendors and visit the farmer’s market in historic downtown Belton on Central Avenue. Enjoy food and entertainment every third Saturday of the month. Call 254-939-3551 for more information or visit www.

Joe Ely in concert at the Temple Cultural Activities Center Jan. 21, 7:30 p.m. Fire Street Pizza Food Truck, 6:30 p.m. Joe Ely kicks off the 2017 Texas Music Series at the CAC. Ely’s musical style is considered Texas country, Tex-Mex and rock and roll. $23 in advance $27 at the door

Have dinner, listen to music, browse the galleries, and shop the gift shop prior to the concert. Light concessions and beverages will be on sale as well. 3011 N. Third St., Temple Call 254-773-9926 or visit www. for more information. Email information about upcoming events to



TexTalk well-fed head

‘Return to Joy’: Find new beginnings through faith



veryone experiences grief, loss, pain and trauma in their lives at one time or another. For Bev Desalvo, author of “Return to Joy,” a NavPress publication, the trauma was so profound that it kept her in an emotional place of hiding for most of her life. Growing up, Desalvo said she suffered and witnessed physical and emotional abuse in her home, abandonment, as well as sexual abuse by someone she trusted. To survive, she learned how to tamp down the pain and wear a mask, a façade, and pretend everything was OK. “When you do that, you have to protect your heart,” Desalvo said. “I was so afraid of being hurt I hardened my heart and lived behind a wall. I was unable to be close to God or other people.” She met her husband, Gary Desalvo, senior pastor at Temple Bible Church, while they were both students at Louisiana State University. They raised two children together, but through it all she said her true self remained hidden behind her smile and aura of contentment; she was hiding the pain and grief of a lifetime, not knowing how to heal herself. “It was very hard to do, very tiring,” she admitted. Her journey back to joy didn’t begin, however, until her children were in college. “I was busy taking care of other people, I didn’t need or take care of my own issues,” she said, adding that the busyness was like an anesthesia. “Return to Joy” is a journey into the deepest part of one’s soul, a journey that can lead a person to a new beginning free from old wounds and suppressed trauma. Desalvo’s journey began when she heard God instill in her a passion to “get the word out to men and women that we don’t have to listen to the lies of the evil ones that say you are a loser, you are not special.” “You have to work really hard,” she said. “It’s a really hard journey, the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” The title of her book, she said, was inspired by a child psychologist who described what happens when a child falls and gets hurt. “Someone picks them up and cuddles them and they return to joy, like nothing ever happened. My journey was about learning that. I couldn’t believe I was special to any person until I knew I was treasured by God.” In her book, some of the places Desalvo takes her readers include “The Valley of Weeping,” “The Gateway of Hope,” “The Secret Place,” and “The Place of Forgiveness.” One of the most important things she said she learned, before embarking on her journey, was that she couldn’t do it on her own. She needed help, and the only true help she could find was in her faith and devotion to God and Jesus Christ. 26


“Return to Joy” is a journey for the person who is ready to admit their brokenness and let God in to “fill us up with his power so we can do it,” Desalvo said. The 10-week Bible study can be done alone or in a group. So find a quiet place where you can focus your thoughts on what you are reading and have your Bible ready. Keep a pad, pencil or pen and highlighter close by. You may want to highlight some of the passages in her book for easy reference. As you read her story, you may find some similarities to your own life. As you continue to read and work the exercises, read the scriptures and psalms she cites, you may find a path to self through a new relationship with God — a new beginning. “I was hiding behind a mask. I couldn’t believe when someone said they loved me. It was hard in adult life. I attached to the Lord and experienced that he is with me always. That made a huge difference to know that I am not alone,” she said. “The King of Kings is with me all the time.”



Amber Quaranta-Leech with Koko.



Finding balance

Equine cognitive therapy helps trauma victims Story by Catherine Hosman Photos by Julie Nabours


quusLibrium founder Amber Quaranta-Leech, a licensed professional counselor certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, uses equine assisted psychotherapy to help her clients navigate through the traumas in their lives, past and present. She said working with horses helps people to overcome their obstacles and to process that trauma. On a cold, windy and overcast fall day, she meets with students from Texas A&M University-Central Texas — all members of the National Council Society of Leadership and Success program. An aquamarine sky played hide and seek behind the puffy gray clouds over the corral at EquusLibrium in Salado, but the unpredictable weather didn’t stop the group from participating in the three-hour session where they learned about their own communication style by working with horses. Before introducing the group to the horses, Quaranta-Leech, her business partner and equine specialist Becky Page, and business manager Nicolé Stalker convene with the students in the living room of the bungalow that serves as the organization’s headquarters. Each participant receives an evaluation to determine their personality style and are then observed through their interaction with the horses. This session is based on the DISC theory method created by Charles Moulton. Participants are recognized as people who are dominant, an influencer, steadfast, analytical and detail oriented, or a combination. Once the evaluation is complete, the next step is to meet the horses. “The horses are free in the pasture and the students/clients choose a horse then stand in place to watch how the

LaTreice McClellan makes contact with Koko after waiting patiently for him to walk over to her.

horses will respond to them,” QuarantaLeech explained. Because horses are prey animals, she said they live ready to move into survival mode, which is similar to how someone with trauma lives. The horses learn how to react according to their environment and level of trust. In the pasture, App, Koko, Red and Puzzle, a pony-mule, watch as the humans enter their space. Minutes tick by as the two species stand still and look at each other. Curious at first, the horses slowly walk up to the group then turn and walk away to hang out under an oak tree. “As a group, we go out for a few minutes and learn what horse has what

communication style,” Quaranta-Leech said. The horses are accustomed to strangers walking into their pasture, but the individual person may not be familiar with horses, and that each has its own personality. For example, Puzzle is a bit of a loner, not sticking too close to the herd. App, an appaloosa, seemed to be the most curious and would walk close to the people, poking his head over the shoulder of an unsuspecting participant. Koko doesn’t like umbrellas, and Red seemed happy just to be in his element. But one thing they all had in common, they were Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


Koko, Red and App rendezvous with the students after a period of observation between humans and horses.

Amber Quaranta-Leech puckers up for Red. 30


as busy observing the humans as the humans were observing them. “They can’t be dishonest,” QuarantaLeech explained while standing on the sideline watching the group interact with the animals. “They are congruent. They need to know what’s going on around them, and watch for predators.” If a person is showing his or herself one way on the outside, but is different on the inside, Quaranta-Leech said the horse’s response is going to be toward what is going on inside that person. “Horses can read non-verbal better because that’s how they communicate,” Stalker said. The next step is for the group to find a way to get the horses to come to them willingly. Although halters are available, group members chose not to halter their horses. “From the horses’ perspective, people are potential predators. The horses are not forced into participating. We let the horses come to the humans,” QuarantaLeech said. Each participant chose a horse

Aaron Mandzak, Karlye Stapleton, Sara Fox and LaTreice McClellan discuss their strategy to draw the horses to them.

they wanted to draw near himself or herself. As time passed, the horses stayed steadfast under the tree. When the horses didn’t come closer, the humans moved in slowly. “Now the group is responding, but how will the horses respond?” QuarantaLeech whispered. During another exercise, each student created an obstacle to draw their horse nearer. What was interesting is that each student, knowingly or unknowingly, expressed a part of their personality in communicating with the horses. Where one person was patient, another was more outgoing and loud, another tried to attract attention by moving a blue barrel from place to place to entice the horse’s curiosity. “It’s very interesting, what we are doing,” said Aaron Mandzak, a graduate student in counseling, who chose Koko. During the exercise he said he couldn’t get Koko to come to him at the tree. “He was more into the CrossFit gym,” he said, referring to the obstacles that one participant set up to attract a chosen horse. “The one thing they sense is that

Thinking there are treats waiting for him in the empty green bucket, Koko walks toward LaTreice McClellan.

we are more like them,” said LaTreice McClellan. None of the group chose the small Puzzle. When asked, their collective answer was because “he wanted to be by himself and it made us not want to go by him.”

No stranger to trauma Quaranta-Leech is one of three siblings. Her father was a minister and her mother was a nurse who home-schooled the children. The family lived in West Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


Sara Fox and Karlye Stapleton finally get Koko’s attention.

Amber Quaranta-Leech and business partner Becky Page observe the students observing the horses. 32


Virginia and when she was 13 she learned firsthand the healing power of horses. She grew up in an unstable environment that she describes on her website ( as having “extreme levels of stress,” and “abuse by someone close to me.” When a World War II veteran and congregant of her father’s church invited her out to his farm to ride horses, she found a peace she couldn’t find at home. “Horses were my stabilizing factor during the chaos in my life,” she said. “My escape with everything and it allowed me to fully become who I was meant to be.” When she was 15, her family moved to Oklahoma. When she was 17, she was able to buy her first horse, but ended up getting two, Koko and Red, who she uses in her practice today. “When we went to get Koko, he wouldn’t get into the trailer,” she recalled. “When Red walked into the trailer, Koko followed and the owner gave us a deal on the two horses. Koko and Red are related; uncle and nephew by blood, born 20 days apart.” Home-schooled through high school, as soon as she was able to drive she would go to see her horses. “I spent most of my time with them,” she said. “Many a time I’d be crying in Koko’s mane. They have such unconditional love and support.” Quaranta-Leech knew what she wanted to be when she grew up — a large animal vet. But before she attended college, she wanted to be on her own. She took a two-year missionary detour in Lubbock where she did mission work and biblical studies. One of those years was spent in Hilo, Hawaii. “It was a lot of just being,” she said. “I did volunteer work, met people, helped and served.” When she returned home, she entered Abilene Christian University and majored in pre-veterinary medicine, but struggled with the chemistry and biology classes. So she took a psychology class and her destiny was set. “Psychology just made sense to me — it was common sense.” One day, not long after she graduated from college, Quaranta-Leech read a story in Reader’s Digest about Last Chance Kids and Last Chance Horses. It caught her attention and gave her the idea for an equine therapy class. “They were putting inner-city kids with large horses — (the kids) learned respect, compassion and empathy — that’s

LaTreice McClellan, Sara Fox, Karlye Stapleton, Aaron Mandzak and a friendly feline gather for a post-session meeting to analyze the class.

when I realized it. I started researching what was out there for equine therapy work. I knew I made the right choice (psychology) when I graduated,” she said.

Bringing balance to lives Equus (equine) and Librium (balance) are two words that define Quaranta-Leech’s work using horses to help her clients find a new balance, a new beginning, from the trauma that has gripped their lives. She works with groups and individuals, including soldiers, veterans and their families. “I have so much respect for what they do, to be able to support and help their families,” she said. In addition to her equine assisted psychotherapy groups, she also sees clients in her Killeen office. Helping clients navigate the maze of trauma is a lesson in learning how to stay in the present, she said. “Our motto is Bringing Balance to Life. If people are staying in the past, they lose balance; if they are stuck in the future, the lose balance. But to be in the here and now, that will take them to a new place where they are supposed to be.”

Karlye Stapleton, a psychology major at Texas A&M University-Central Texas, lays out an obstacle course in the hopes of attracting her horse’s curiosity. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


The Elmaroudi family, from left, Rita, Youssef and Leomarie, owners of Rita’s Taqueria.

Surviving Katrina

A family’s journey from destruction to rebirth 34


Owner Leomarie Elmaroudi serves customers Curtis Smith and Dan Scott at Rita’s Taqueria at 2510 S. Fifth St., Temple.

Story by CATHERINE HOSMAN Photos by JULIE NABOURS and courtesy photos of Katrina damage


alking into Rita’s Taqueria in Temple feels more like walking into your mom’s kitchen. Leomarie Elmaroudi, owner and self-appointed hostess, welcomes all who enter with a smile, and sometimes a hug. The dining room is a sensory experience with its colorful walls and décor, the aroma of freshly cooked food, two distinct languages being spoken: English and Spanish, and the lively sounds of Spanish music filling the air. One of her regular customers sits at a table, singing along to “Guadalajara.” Specials of the day are written in colored chalk on a blackboard. But most

who enter already know what they want. “I always wanted to open a restaurant,” said Leomarie, who was born in Puerto Rico. “I love cooking and I want people to enjoy my tastes.” Leomarie calls her food a fusion of Mexican, Puerto Rican and Moroccan flavors, a blend of cultures. Named for her 10-year-old daughter, Ritamarie, the Taqueria has been open a little more than a year — a lifelong dream of Leo’s. It is just another leg of the journey that Leomarie and her husband, Youssef Elmaroudi began together 27 years ago, a journey that was fraught with challenges that were met with faith, love, family and friends. It all began in New York when Leomarie was 17. Her mom died six years earlier and she wanted a change so she moved from her tropical island to

Manhattan Island to live with her Aunt Leida. She wanted to become a pharmacist, but when pharmacy school proved too expensive, she opted for pharmacy technician, working at a drugstore just a few blocks away on Broadway from where she lived with her aunt. Leomarie enjoyed walking to work every morning to her job at 96th and Broadway, stopping at the 24-hour deli to pick up chocolate and a bagel. One day she noticed a handsome young man working behind the counter. “The first time I saw him, I fell in love,” she said. When she asked a mutual friend about the young man in the deli, his response was, “You mean Morocco?” referring to Youssef. Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


When Leomarie learned Youssef worked the night shift she made sure to get to the deli extra early in the morning for her breakfast before he left for the day. Eventually, her friend introduced them but it took Youssef three months to ask Leomarie out on a first date — dinner and a movie. “He was charismatic, outgoing, with an incredible sense of humor,” said Leomarie, her eyes sparkling. They dated for a year before they married in Morocco with his family present. In 1996, while still living in New York, Youssef was offered a job in New Orleans, where they lived until 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit.

Katrina’s aftermath Leomarie was used to hurricanes. Growing up in Puerto Rico, she said she and her family always rode out the storms, turning the occasion into a party. “We’d barbecue with neighbors, we had hurricanes all the time,” she said, matter-of-factly. But August 2005 was different. The Elmaroudis were living in Metairie, La., a suburb of New Orleans, since they moved from New York in 1996. Metairie is in Jefferson Parish and sits between Lake Pontchartrain, a canal and a levee that arched around the city to protect it from floods. When they heard the storm warnings, their first response was to ride it out, despite federal recommendations to evacuate. But the storm was growing. While they watched the weather reports on TV, Leo called her father, Jose, in Puerto Rico, for his advice. “He said, ‘Gather your things and leave,’” she recalled. “He doesn’t usually get scared with hurricanes, but he said, ‘just leave. The eye is coming directly toward you.’” To complicate matters, she was one month pregnant with their first child, a miracle in itself as the couple had been hoping to have a baby for 15 years. Previously, she suffered two miscarriages; one was a set of twins who were six months old in the womb. “I didn’t want to jeopardize my baby,” she said. So she packed three sets of clothes for herself and her husband, “three pants, 36


Youssef and Leomarie Elmaroudi

Damaged row houses are seen in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina destroyed a large swath of the city and surrounding suburbs in 2005. (Shutterstock photos)

“The water mark in the house was eight feet high. Everything we cared about was gone. Our house was looted, cash and jewelry was taken, photos...”

— Youssef Elmaroudi

An American flag sits with what’s left of a house in Louisiana in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina wreaked New Orleans.

three shirts, and three pair of underwear each.” “I thought we would be coming back,” she said. In the early morning of Aug. 27, a cloudless, sunny day, the Elmaroudis packed their truck, grabbed their dog, Joey, and embarked on what they thought

would be a quick turnaround journey. Before they left, Youssef put all their valuables on the second floor of their home, thinking it would be safe. Two of his sisters (one who was expecting), his brother-in-law and a friend followed in a second vehicle. “I thought we’d go to Baton Rouge

and be back in three days,” Leomarie said. “We dodged hurricanes like bullets on Puerto Rico.” Somewhere between 8 and 10 a.m., the convoy left Metairie, traveling on Interstate 10, thinking all along they were heading toward Baton Rouge. “We got stuck on I-10, it was at a standstill,” said Youssef. “The police sent us off in a different direction from Baton Rouge.” To make matters worse, Leomarie was having complications with her pregnancy. “I thought we would lose the baby,” Youssef said. Stuck in an evacuation route, Youssef started talking to himself, silently asking questions about what he should do. “Should we get a helicopter to transport her to a hospital?” he asked Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


himself. “We were bumper to bumper. Everyone was anxious. People were pulling off the side of the road to sleep.” It took them 15 hours to get to Jackson, Miss. By the time they arrived, all the hotels were booked. At the last hotel they stopped, a cancellation opened up one room with two beds and Youssef booked it for the families. The families made it to the room and the moment they set down their bags, he said all the lights and air conditioning went out. Six adults shared one room, including two expectant mothers. The men gave the beds to the women and they slept in their cars overnight. “We spent four nights in that hotel room that had no lights or A/C,” he said, adding that it was hot and humid. Eventually they made it to Columbus, Miss., where they stayed the night with a friend in a one-bedroom apartment. The next day they moved onto the Columbus Air Force Base that opened its gates to evacuees. The families were offered an empty house that base volunteers furnished with appliances, beds and groceries. “They cooked for us every single day. They brought us clothes, baby clothes, even carriages for the (unborn) babies, diapers, you name it. Columbus Air Force Base was a godsend,” said Youssef, who grew up on an air force base in Morocco. The two families stayed in the house for three weeks. During that time, Youssef and his brother-in-law, Delwyn, drove back to New Orleans to assess the damage and try to recover some of their belongings.

Feeling anxious A representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency met Youssef and said he could check his house, but couldn’t take anything with him. When he got to his home, there was nothing left to take. “The water mark in the house was eight feet high,” he said, raising his arm to the ceiling to illustrate the depth. “Everything we cared about was gone. Our house was looted, cash and jewelry was taken, photos...” Including their wedding photos from Morocco. For the first time in his life Youssef said he felt anxiety. “My mom was in Morocco, watching 38


Ritamarie and her dad, Youssef Elmaroudi.

Hurricane Katrina’s winds and flooding wrecked boats and homes from Mississippi to Louisiana, including Youssef and Leomarie Elmaroudi’s home in Metairie, La., seen below. (Top photo Shutterstock. Bottom photo contributed by Youssef Elmaroudi.)

the television and recognized the street I worked on. She called me and I felt anxiety for the first time. It hit me: the city was falling apart, what am I doing here?” he said he asked himself. As someone who takes his responsibility to his family very seriously, he said he felt helpless. Through it all, however, he never lost faith and it was his faith, love and friends that helped the Elmaroudis come through the fog of despair. A friend who owned a business in Dallas invited Youssef and his family to come to Texas. In Dallas, he learned the gas station business with his friend. Eight months after leaving their home in Louisiana, Leomarie gave birth to a healthy daughter, Ritamarie, a child they thought they’d never have. “She drained it (the stress), all the anxiety, took it away from us,” he said of his daughter’s birth. Things continued to look up for the family, and in 2007, the Elmaroudis moved to Temple when Youssef, who now Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


Rita’s Taqueria is a family-owned restaurant. Staff are (from left): Lupe Hernandez, cook; Jose Rivera, Leomarie’s father; Leomarie; daughter Ritamarie; Jose Garcia, cook; Maria Rodriguez, cook; and Youssef Elmaroudi.

owned two Central Texas service stations, took ownership of a third service station in Troy. “It was the same gas station we stopped at when we traveled from Louisiana to San Antonio to see family,” he said.

Another loss All seemed to be going well for the Elmaroudis, they were both hands-on workers, but loss came once again to the family who had already lost so much. Their business in Troy was taken over by imminent domain and Youssef was forced to close it. In time, things began to settle back into a normalcy for the couple — Youssef still had his other two businesses to maintain — and they decided to try for another child, a brother or sister for Ritamarie. But additional children were not an option for the couple, despite their hopes of growing their family. In 2008, a visit to her doctor in Dallas revealed that Leomarie was in the early stages of uterine cancer. A 40


“We believe in God. Believe in family and faith. We have good neighbors and good friends. No matter how bad we have got it, we know that someone else has it worse.”

— Youssef Elmaroudi

hysterectomy was performed, and she escaped chemotherapy. Two and a half years later, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, this time more aggressive, and surgery was followed by chemotherapy. “I’ve been cancer free for two and a half years,” Leomarie said. Once again, it was their faith that got

them through the dark days. “We believe in God. Believe in family and faith. We have good neighbors and good friends waiting for this one (Ritamarie) to grow up healthy, for Leo to be healthy,” Youssef said, as he hugged his daughter. “No matter how bad we have got it, we know that someone else has it worse.” Keeping with their positive attitudes and faith in God, and looking for a new adventure that would share Leo’s passion for food, she said, “Let’s open a Taqueria.” In 2015, Rita’s Taqueria opened in Temple. “When you watch natural disasters, accidents and stuff on TV, any bad thing that happens in life, you say, Wow. But you don’t see it until it happens to you,” said Youssef. “Once it happens to you, you realize not to get attached to anything material in your life, just your family. There is no guarantee for tomorrow, just live the moment and make sure you do good with God and with people so when things like that happen, it comes back to you in a good way.”



Ken Cates, executive director of the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity, in the Habitat Restore in Killeen. 42


Helping others find a new beginning through

homeownership Story by CATHERINE HOSMAN Photos by MITCHEL BARRETT, with contributed photos from CRAIG LIFTON and ERIC J. SHELTON


etired Army Sgt. 1st Class Ken Cates has been overseeing the continually expanding services offered to the community by the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity and the adjacent Habitat Restore for more than a year. As executive director, he runs the everyday operations while his staff and volunteers stay busy in the outer offices fielding phone calls, checking in donations for the Restore, or helping customers load their vehicles with repurposed goods. For a low price, the public can buy construction materials, furniture, cabinetry, electrical supplies, windows, decorative cabinet handles, recycled non-oil based paints, appliances and commodes — lots of commodes — just to name a few of the items available. “We are the best kept secret but we don’t want to be anyone’s secret,” Cates said. All donations are welcome at the Restore except for bedding, linens or oil-based products, which creates a hazmat issue when it comes to disposal. All revenues from the Restore cover the operational costs for the organization. Habitat for Humanity, an international organization, has been helping people find their new beginnings through home ownership since 1976, but its concept actually began in 1942 (www. “It’s not only a new beginning, they are building a future,” Cates said. “We are providing a hand up, not a hand out. The parents will pass this knowledge onto their kids and 70 percent of them will become homeowners.”

Ken Cates, executive director for the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity, thanks Doug Naegele for the donated roof from his company, Bird Creek Roofing, during the dedication of Home No. 69 in April.

To qualify, candidates must prove a genuine need and fill out an application for consideration. “We are not just going to give you a home because you want it,” Cates said. “You must meet the financial criteria. If

you can qualify for a home loan (without HFH’s help), then that is not what we want.” People who qualify for consideration of an HFH home must have shown a Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


Assistant Manager Jorden Cockrell, left, assists Quincy McKennon in moving some supplies that he is donating to Habitat for Humanity.

Dick Chapin, president of the board of directors for the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity, speaks outside home No. 69 during a dedication ceremony in April in Killeen. 44


struggle to maintain their basic needs and pay their rent and cannot qualify for traditional loan, he said. “If a person qualifies, we provide a loan with 0 percent interest and a mortgage payment that can be anywhere from 50 to 60 percent less than rent. But they must be willing to partner and cooperate,” Cates said. Candidates must be willing to put in the required hours of sweat equity for their home. This includes attending finance, home ownership and maintenance classes as well as hands-on hours helping to build their house. “A family of four is required to put in a minimum of 300 hours. Kids 16 and older get their own number of hours with remaining hours going to family, friends, and working fundraisers,” Cates said. “Through the process of sweat equity, once we get the house going, they need to be there everyday. They have personal sweat in the building.” And by learning the basic

Ken Cates, executive director of the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity, sits on the stoop at House No. 70, which is near completion.

components of construction and maintenance, Cates said new homeowners do their own repairs, saving a lot of contractor costs and giving themselves financial peace. Since Cates took over last year, the number of homes built has increased from 1¼ a year over a five-year period to eight houses in 2016. Since 1994, the Fort Hood Habitat for Humanity has built 70 homes. House No. 70 in Killeen is built but

“The people I work with and connect with have giving hearts and a passion for servitude.”

— Ken Cates

still needs to be finished on the inside. House No. 71, one lot over from House

70, is scheduled to break ground in January along with two more homes in Temple. Cates’ first year was not without challenges, including a robbery of their construction trailer and portable construction tools in early 2016. He admits he almost walked away. But when they closed on House No. 69 and he heard the speeches at the home’s dedication that recognized those who Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


Capt. Amanda Goldman, with the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade at Fort Hood, moves glass doors while volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Killeen.

To advertise, call 254-501-7500 in Killeen or 254-778-4444 in Temple 46


partnered, volunteered or donated food, and when he saw the faces of people who were approved for a new home, that’s what kept him coming back. “It’s the people,” he said. “The people I work with and connect with have giving hearts and a passion for servitude.” Since taking over the position, Cates said he has reduced operating costs by 15 percent through partnerships he has formed with local businesses, and in 2017 he hopes to see another 30 percent reduction in its electrical costs through its partnership with Oncor Electric. “Oncor is paying 70 percent of the cost to replace all the lighting throughout the building, which will result in the 30 percent savings,” he said. He said he also reached out to other communities including Temple and Nolanville, as well as other area nonprofits to “further expand where we help.” Working in partnership with the city of Nolanville, a new initiative to house homeless veterans breaks ground in March for two of 12 approved homes. The Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity ( touches the lives of 1,000 people weekly, Cates said.

This includes assisting with housing classes, repairs and opportunities at the Restore. It gives people a place to work or volunteer, shop, save money on home repair supplies, and donate goods. In addition, the community outreach extends the arm of Habitat for Humanity to other areas to help people. HFH has partnered with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in Temple that assists with down payment for homeowners that don’t qualify for HFH. They have also partnered with Keep Temple Beautiful and the City of Temple Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative and are revitalizing east Temple.

A life of service Cates grew up in a family that was service minded. His father, Jay Cates, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, and who retired from the U.S. Coast Guard, taught his son the value of service to others. “Whatever we have or don’t have, always help others in whatever we can do,” he told me. “And whatever job you have, excel at that job. Always excel and do the best you can.”

House No. 70 in Killeen is nearly complete and will soon be ready for its new owner.

Cates’ military career spans nearly three decades and includes 18 months in the Army Reserve; four years in the United States Coast Guard where he served on the USCG Cutter Bramble, an ice breaker and buoy tender, in the Great Lakes — the last boat his dad served on before retiring as engineering officer 3rd command and Cates’ first boat clearing ice on the Great Lakes. He also patrolled the waters off Miami, intercepting drug runners and participating in search, rescue and sometimes recovery missions for civilians and fishing boats in trouble. “The most rewarding was the rescue portion,” Cates said. “Everything after that is recovery.” The Haitian Boat Lift during the early 1990s was his second most rewarding assignment. People would Continued

Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity volunteers pray during a home dedication in Killeen last year. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


Spc. Lawrence Holmes, member of the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, organizes glass windows and doors while volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

pile onto rowboats and sailboats seeking asylum in the United States. Cates said they were safe as long as they stayed in the Gulf of Gonâve, but the moment they left the calm waters of the gulf to venture into the open sea, they risked going under. People were pulled to safety from the choppy waters onto the Coast Guard cutters and taken to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (Gitmo) for processing, where those who genuinely needed political asylum were retained while others were deported to Haiti. With his Coast Guard career ending, he joined the U.S. Army where he served in various capacities. One year before retiring from the Army he started searching for a civilian job. He needed a position that would use all of his skills and intelligence and support his growing 48


family. Cates and his wife, Melissa, are parents to an extended family of seven daughters, one son-in-law, and two grandchildren. “It’s a ‘Yours, Mine and Ours’ scenario,” he said, smiling. His goal was to stay in the Killeen area so he took a job with a company that repairs faulty cars for vets. But their training program fell through and just as he was about to expand his job search to Arizona, where his parents live, and New Mexico, his home state, Dick Chapin, board president for the Killeen Area Habitat for Humanity gave him a call. “The full-time executive director we had left Habitat for another job and we were in need for a highly qualified, motivated person to take over the helm as executive director,” Chapin said. “Ken had a number of children in various

organizations who did not want to leave Killeen.” Chapin pitched the job to Cates, but because of their personal relationship, he had to recuse himself from the selection process. Chapin said he suggested Cates to the board because of his energy, his Christian beliefs and straightforwardness in his approach to everything that he was involved in from the military to church. “The vice president, secretary and treasurer conducted interviews of three different people, Ken being one of them,” Chapin said. “Ken was selected from the three as being the most highly motivated, and his aggressiveness to want to make Habitat a better organization.” “The day before losing my active-duty pay I was hired,” he said. “God has a sense of humor.”



Ciara Stanke unloads boxes of new children’s clothing she collected for CiCi’s Caring Closet at McLane Children’s Hospital. 50



Teenager’s clothing drive helps stock

CiCi’s Caring Closet Story by CATHERINE HOSMAN Photos by MITCHEL BARRETT


iara Stanke and her helpers unload boxes of new children’s clothing to be donated to CiCi’s Caring Closet at McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple. One by one the boxes are carried into a meeting room to be sorted by size. Colorful articles of children’s clothing ranging in size from infant to junior-plus are removed from the boxes and placed on the tables, waiting to be transferred to the bins in the closet named for the young volunteer. More than $3,700 worth of new clothing was donated to replace a child’s clothing that must be removed when a child comes into the emergency department. Child Life Specialist Ashley Hobbs said children come into the ER daily with trauma, sometimes multiple times during the day. “Sending a child of trauma home with new clothing is very important,” Hobbs said. “Lots of kiddos come in for trauma or abuse, or even a broken arm, and have to get their clothes taken off. For a child, ER is a scary place. Clothes are a safety net. We have these clothes for them so they don’t have to go home in a bloody shirt. It’s better to give them a Ninja Turtle shirt, something colorful, to make them smile.” And it’s not just the ER nurses calling for new clothes. Floor nurses call for the clothes as well if a child soils his or her clothing. Hobbs said the clothing drive increased the inventory “exponentially.” “We would run out of sizes,” she said. “Now we have sizes for all ages. This is amazing.” Continued

Ciara Stanke unpacks and sorts clothing by size before it is taken to the closet to be stored in bins. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


Ciara Stanke restocks CiCi’s Caring Closet with some of the clothes she collected at her Halloween Bash fundraiser. 52


Stanke is the youngest member on the Teen Advisory Board at McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple. The Advisory board helps make decisions about how to keep the youthful patients comfortable during their stay, and raise funds for needed equipment and supplies. She was 12, and already a veteran volunteer, when she became the board’s historian (her sister Caitlin, is the president). Last March, after one of the TAB meetings, she overheard two ER nurses talking about the clothes they purchased for a little girl because the closet didn’t have her size. When Stanke learned of this need she went to work. She asked Nurse Jaylee Hilliard about the discussion and Hilliard told her about the closet and why it was needed. When Stanke, a freshman Belle, shared her thoughts with her friend and mentor, Cynthia Clark, the Community Service Chair for the Wildflower Belles, Clark suggested a Halloween Bash clothing fundraiser for the closet. The admission price: One new article of clothing. “That was all she talked about for weeks,” said her mother, Misty StankeSmith. “She made a business plan which started with a list of contacts at the hospital to get started.” “I wanted to get more knowledge on it (fundraising), how it worked,” Stanke said. She met with Ellen Hansen, chief nursing officer and CEO, and asked her who worked with fundraising. Hansen introduced her to Rachel Clark, foundation director for the hospital, and the idea of the clothing drive was born. “It was all up to her,” said Rachel Clark, about plans for the clothing drive. Stanke, a lifelong Girl Scout, had a hard time getting people to call her back about the project. “I wasn’t taken seriously at first,” she said. “When I got in touch with some people through the Girl Scouts, Rachel started getting some feedback of what to do.” On Oct. 29, Stanke hosted the first Halloween Bash Clothing Drive at the Ralph Wilson Youth Center. Community leaders, local businesses, family, friends and the Wildflower Belles all stepped in to help. Stanke coordinated the event; she and her mom made all of the signs, and game booths to entertain the children. The booths were staffed by volunteers

Ciara Stanke, a.k.a. CiCi, places the CiCi’s Caring Closet name plate on the closet door where children’s clothing is stored at McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple.

from the Belles. “The Wildflower Belles is a big part of growing as a person, having a social life,” said Stanke, a freshman Belle. “Just doing things for other people has taught me things I need to know.”

Understanding trauma The idea for a clothing drive came from Stanke’s own experience with trauma. She was 8 years old when she had an accident that landed her in the ER with dirty and bloody clothes. It was while playing kickball with her sister, Caitlin, on the family’s land where her parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle each had their own home just hundreds of yards away from one another. She was wearing slippery bottom shoes and during one of the moves she slid head-on into a piece of rebar that was sticking out from the rear of a flatbed truck on the property, embedding the piece of metal partially into her forehead. Fortunately, it didn’t go all the way through her skull — she knew it could have been worse. When she realized what happened, she pulled herself away from the bar and was taken to the hospital where she received 21 stitches in her forehead and sustained nerve damage in her left eye; she has to wear a contact lens in that eye now. She was treated, stitched up and sent home, still in the dirty and bloody clothes she came in with, and missing one shoe. Continued

Teen volunteers helped Ciara Stanke collect clothes at the Halloween Bash held at the Ralph Wilson Youth Center. Pictured, from left, are Cameron Taylor, Hayley Fitzsimmons, Katherine Meyers, Stanke and Seth Little. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


Clothing in sizes from infant to teen is given to children of trauma who must have their clothing removed in the emergency department at McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple.

“I didn’t want to see other children have to go through that,” she said.

A philanthropic heart Stanke was 5 when she experienced her first volunteer service when her Daisy Scout Troop was working at a food pantry drive where “they let me sort cans.” “I love to sort. If you give me a pile of change, I don’t want the change. I want to sort the pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters,” said Stanke, an avid coin collector. Her resume — just for 2016 — is four pages and covers her school co-curricular activities, leadership positions, service activities, community involvement, work experience, recognitions, awards and hobbies. She is an honors student taking preadvanced placement classes because she “loves classes that make me disciplined enough to know what to do.” She studied algebra in the eighth grade so she could take geometry her freshman year at high 54


“You can do something to make a difference even if it’s just a small piece of the puzzle to fit a hole in the (larger) puzzle, so long as you do something to make a difference.”

— Ciara Stanke

school. “I like to challenge myself in learning new things,” she said. Her insatiable curiosity about life is inspired by her mother’s stories about how hard her grandparents worked at their professional careers, limiting them to any outside opportunities. “She pushed me to have those opportunities,” she said. “It was eyeopening. You can do something to make a difference even if it’s just a small piece of the puzzle to fit a hole in the (larger) puzzle, so long as you do something to make a difference.” Stanke said she wants to be a philanthropist when she graduates from college, and she is well on her way. Some

of her other volunteer activities include making sandwiches at Feed My Sheep; preparing and delivering meals with Meals on Wheels; and helping to pack 500 backpacks with food for kids who get their daily meals through their school’s lunch program, but may not have food to carry them through the weekend. “I remember it was so fun,” she said, about filling the backpacks. “When they told us we were finished, I was looking for my next challenge in volunteering.” She didn’t have to look far. The Teen Advisory Council at McLane Children’s Hospital was raising money for the McLane Innovation Fund Continued



Ciara Stanke presents Rachel Clark, foundation specialist for McLane Children’s Hospital, with a check for $150, from the Halloween Bash, to be put towards the purchase of a much-needed item for the hospital. BELOW: Teen Advisory Board Historian Ciara Stanke and her sister, Caitlin, board president, fundraise for McLane Children’s Hospital.

that donates dollars toward the hospital’s greatest needs. Their goal was $18,800 to purchase a Blanketrol and a vein finder. Through fundraisers at local businesses, and the Children’s Miracle Network, the board raised $26,451, enough to purchase the needed equipment, plus extras. “We looked at the numbers for the group. Most kids would say, ‘OK, we raised $25,451, let’s go home.’ Instead, Ciara said, ‘This is a good thing. But I want to do more.’” So she decided to do the clothing closet,” Rachel Clark said. Stanke said she hopes to hold three clothing drives a year, including the Halloween Bash. “She has so much going on,” Rachel Clark said. It’s amazing that she has the heart to keep‑ collecting donations through the Teen Advisory Council.”

HOW TO HELP If you would like to donate to McLane Children’s Hospital, a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, go to donate/ or CiCi’s Caring Closet on Facebook. 56




Fall Creek Falls on the Colorado River north of Lake Buchanan continued flowing even during recent drought years. 58



Ancient waterway

Lots of adventure on a Vanishing Texas River Cruise Story by FRED AFFLERBACH Photos contributed by ROB PEOPLES


he Texas Eagle, 70 feet long and 19 feet wide, glides through murky Colorado River water. Twin 165 horsepower engines hum along as they propel the craft through willow trees and past a logjam. Bird watchers clutch binoculars and peer through large glass windows. Sightseers on the upper deck pull up their collars against the cool, November drizzle. Tour guide Tim Mohan points out a massive bird that has just taken flight. “A great blue heron, at two o’clock, just took off from the shore. Look at the beautiful, blue feathers on his chest. They’re blowing in the wind.” The Vanishing Texas River Cruise takes you on a three-hour, 26-mile boat ride from a Lake Buchanan marina into a remote river canyon you won’t see from an automobile. Ochre-colored cliffs grow steeper and more rugged the further the craft churns upstream. Oak, juniper and sycamore trees grow horizontally out of limestone outcroppings. Civilization melts away like river fog evaporating under bright sunlight. “The main thing is how satisfied people are just going up and seeing nature as it is on a major waterway in Texas. It’s about the vanishing wilderness, just so natural and beautiful up there,” Mohan said. “You’re going to see a river valley like it was 400 years ago. No boat docks. No bridges. Very few homes up there, all natural ranch land that has been in those families for generations. It’s just so spectacular. Unspoiled. If you’re down by Austin on Town Lake, you get very little nature. There’s so much history up here. It just makes this area more personal. It’s amazing how impressed people are going upriver.” Continued

Matt and Karen Murrah, of Dallas, enjoy the view from the front deck of the Texas Eagle. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


Cruise Guide Tim Mohan weaves threads of history, folklore, geology and biology to create an educational and enlightening trip along the Colorado River.

Eagle spotting The Texas Eagle rounds a river bend and several ring-billed gulls hover above the boat as if to hitch a ride. An American Coot scoots across the water and into the safety of thick willow trees. Mohan points out a pair of great white egrets landing in a green oak tree canopy. “There are so many different bird stories, it’s incredible. It’s just amazing, the things these birds can do to impress you,” Mohan said. 60


About a half hour after The Texas Eagle leaves the marina, folks on the upper deck point out a bald eagle soaring above the eastern shore. Mohan explains, majestic as the American symbol of freedom is, the great bird has some peculiar hunting habits. “We’ve seen them chasing osprey. And the osprey dropped the fish and the eagle swooped down and got it before it hit water,” Mohan said. “The American Bald Eagle is kind of a lazy fisherman. It will harass

Archaeologists have found evidence of human ritual sacrifices performed by ancient Native Americans near this rock.

osprey to dropping fish.” A little further upstream, most of the 50 or so sightseers scramble for a better vantage point to photograph Fall Creek Falls. The boat inches along and camera shutters click in rapid fire. The waterfall is about 80 feet across and cascades 30 feet down a granite outcropping. In summer, boaters often anchor their craft near there and swim underneath, letting the freefalling stream massage their heads and backs. Just offshore, a granite pinnacle

looking like the Rock of Gibraltar juts out of the river. Mohan says Native Americans called it Ceremonial Rock and performed human sacrifice rituals there. As the boat continues upstream, the rock’s silhouette stands testament to the powers of nature: first, the rumbling subterranean forces that created the Llano Uplift and formations such as this monolith, second, the slow, artful work of erosion that has carved this granite masterpiece through eons of time. Writer

Norman Maclean called rocks such as these that jut out of a riverbed as coming from “The basement of time.” About 22,000 folks venture annually into the wilds of the Colorado River Canyon via the Vanishing Texas River Cruise. Sitting at a table with a front row seat to a meandering river, Teresa and Carl Crosby sipped coffee and said they drove down from Granbury to see the birds and fall foliage. The chauffeur was a Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM


bonus “That’s what I like, somebody else is driving,” Teresa Crosby said. “And very few people will get to see this, because you have to be on a boat on a river to do it. That’s what impressed me. It’s gorgeous. It’s like Big Bend to me. We’ve been to Buchanan Lake a bunch, but were stunned. We never saw anything like this. You don’t see a bunch of houses or boat docks.” Throughout the morning, Mohan shares the history, geography and geology of the Colorado River. He explains there are two Colorado Rivers in the United States. One flows west of the Continental Divide, through the Grand Canyon, and empties into the Gulf of California. The other begins and ends within Texas, flowing about 900 miles. It is the eighteenth longest in the United States and the longest that begins within the state. If not for a clerical error, it would have been named the Brazos River. Spanish mapmakers flipped the two river names while recording their explorations and the mistake was never rectified.

With a wingspan of nearly four feet, a great white egret flies along the shoreline of the Colorado River upstream from Lake Buchanan. 62


Enchanted Lake Buchanan The first cruise, in 1982, was on a Viking deck boat that held 12 people. It was captained by Ed Low, a rancher from Llano. Low was enchanted by the river upstream from Lake Buchanan while convalescing at a fishing camp after hip replacement surgery. Entranced by this relatively undiscovered wilderness, he took a couple of exploratory trips. With the idea of piloting a cruise boat upstream, he studied fluctuating lake levels and then took the plunge, launching his first cruise 34 years ago. Ironically, the first bald eagle sighting was not by Low, but by a reporter on one of the early cruises. Before then, Low was unaware that eagle activity on the river had been recorded by the state several years earlier. Through the years, Low and his crew members have had to cope with an unruly river. A few years ago, the cruise was shut down for several months because of an extended drought. “Going through floods and droughts on the Colorado River is what made our cruise so special,” Low said for the official guidebook sold in the marina gift shop. “The river is wild up here, and its natural ebb and flow contribute to the natural beauty and splendor of each cruise.”

If you go The Vanishing Texas River Cruise is about a 90-minute drive from the Temple-Belton-Killeen area. The boat departs from the marina at 443 Waterway Lane in Burnet. From the Hill Country town of Burnet, drive west on Texas 29 three miles to Farm-to-Market 2341 and turn right; travel 12 miles, turn left on Ed Low Drive and look for the sign. Visitors should bring a pair of binoculars, a hat, sunscreen and jacket. The best chance to see the bald eagles is from the upper deck because you have an unobstructed, 360-degree view. Tours typically operate Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The American Bald Eagle runs through March. You can choose between a two- or four-hour trip. Scenic Wilderness Cruises run from March through September, and Sunset Lake Cruises run from May until September. Depending on lake levels, wine cruises to Fall Creek Vineyards may resume later in 2017. For current prices and dates and more information, go to

Matt Murrah and his son, David, are on the lookout for bald eagles during a November cruise. The Vanishing Texas River Cruise has been transporting wildlife sightseers up the Colorado River Canyon since 1982.



ADVERTISERS INDEX ACT Central Texas..........................................................................27 Affordable Insurance.......................................................................27 Atmos...............................................................................................55 Bell County Museum.........................................................................7 Bell County Women’s Bar Association...........................................41 CCA Bartlett State Prison...............................................................10 Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home.....................................................64 Crotty...............................................................................................41 Curtis Cook Designs.......................................................................27 Davis, Dr. Philip................................................................................9 Devereaux Jewelers...........................................................................57 DocuMaxx........................................................................................24 Ellis Air Systems...............................................................................25 English Maids..................................................................................60 Extraco............................................................................... Back cover Forest Trail.......................................................................................23 Giebel, Dr. Shelley/Healthy Success.................................................7 Grand Avenue Theater....................................................................60 Greater Central Texas Federal Credit Union..................................57 Hallmark Service Co..........................................................................5 KDH Bridal Showcase.....................................................................55 Killeen Overhead Doors..................................................................64 Lampasas County Higher Education Center..................................10 Lastovica...........................................................................................49 Lochridge Priest Inc...........................................................................2 Metroplex Health System..................................................................3 My Therapy Cloud...........................................................................41 Old Man Scary Cellars....................................................................46 Pazmino Dentistry...........................................................................49 Purifoy..............................................................................................23 Seton Medical Center......................................................................65 Shoppes on Main.............................................................................41 Solar CenTex....................................................................................23 TDT Day for Women........................................................................5 Temple Cultural Activities Center..................................................49 Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum............................................57 Total Retirements.............................................................................57 Truecore Fitness...............................................................................67 Union State Bank..............................................................................7 United Way......................................................................................23 Wisener’s Auto Clinic.......................................................................5 The Advertisers Index is published for reader convenience. Every effort is made to list information correctly. The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions. 64





“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.” – Buddha

Happy new beginnings in 2017! 66


Tex Appeal Magazine | January 2017  

January 2017 issue of Tex Appeal Magazine | Life and Style in Central Texas |

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