Homeless families struggle in society
Mar06

Homeless families struggle in society

Battling discouragement and depression is a constant struggle for people who don’t have their own shelter over their heads. Mike Bergman,  executive director of Family Promise of East Bell County, finds himself often sharing an encouraging phrase with the homeless families he sees on a daily basis. “God’s far more interested about your future than your past, so let’s work on your future and leave the past behind.” Without a permanent address or a steady support system, it’s often difficult for homeless adults to find a job after they hit rock bottom. On top of that, society has developed a stigma about their being lazy, which stacks the chips even higher against those looking for employment. Bergman and his staff of volunteers find what a lot of homeless families need is someone to tell them they are capable of seeing their goals become a reality. “For a lot of them, it is a very discouraging thing to be in the situation they are in, so they begin to question themselves and what they’re worth. A lot of it is a matter of encouragement. I have to say ‘You can do this. You have what it takes to do this.’” Family Promise is located in Temple and can serve up to four families or 14 people at a time, whichever limit they reach first. “As families find us or we find them, we work with them providing case management and really help them try to address their issues that caused their homelessness in the first place. We help them find work, get additional training or education if that’s what’s needed and really try to get them back on their feet,” Bergman said. The program currently has four families and a total of 13 people. Because the staff consists of volunteers from local churches, they can only provide basic services to the families. For more complicated cases, other programs such as Family Crisis are referred as options. Being homeless today doesn’t mean living under a bridge, toting around a cardboard sign and collecting change. Homelessness in America has changed, and families are the fastest growing segment in that     population. “When we say homeless, we aren’t necessarily talking about living in a car or under a bridge. A family is really homeless if they don’t have their own roof over their head, like if they’ve moved in with another family temporarily because they’ve been evicted or something like that,” Bergman said. “There’s a variety of things that can get them into that difficulty. We call it doubling up, where one family moves in with another family.” The families he has seen come...

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Pageant’s purpose to let special needs kids shine

The dress, the makeup, the stage, the strut. The applause, the crown, the ribbon, the feeling of being noticed. It’s pageant life. But for children with special needs, the opportunity for this doesn’t often come their way. Participating in pageants can be stressful and competitive, as junior interdisciplinary major Tessanie Marek knows, but she wanted kids with special needs to have their moment in the spotlight too. Marek is working with her mother, Susie Marek and a friend Jamie Grisham to host the first ever Texas Angels Pageant, a competition only for children and young adults with special needs. “I have a brother with autism, and I was talking about how I wanted to do a pageant for kids with special needs, and it kind of took off from there,” Tessanie Marek said. “We started researching online, and we found another pageant like this in Arkansas called the Arkansas Angels pageant. We’re kind of modeling ours after theirs.” The event is set for Feb. 25 at the Lee Lockwood Museum in Waco and starts at 2 p.m. Because she wanted any child to be able to participate in the pageant, Marek knew it needed to be at no cost to the families. The price is about $50 per child and about $7,000 total. The team is still looking for sponsors and volunteers. “We have some volunteers that are going to man the  booths and activities we’re going to have in the morning, and there’s also volunteers for each child that will be that child’s buddy for the day. They’ll go around and help them play games or just help them out for the day. Then during the pageant, the buddy will sit with the family and be their fan section,” Marek said. The best way to volunteer at the event is to email the team at texasangelspageant@yahoo.com Sophomore nursing major Kaitlin Curry decided to volunteer as a child’s buddy after receiving an email from the nursing department about the competition. She said, “I thought it would be fun, and I am hoping to specialize in pediatrics, so I thought the experience would be nice.” Curry enjoys being around children because of their perspective on the world and expects not just to serve but also to gain a better understanding of children from helping out with the event. “I’m sure I will learn something from these kids that will have an impact on me. I love children because they see things so differently and enjoy the moment they are living,” she said. Senior nursing major Ryan Hilliard has known Marek’s brother Logan since last summer and will be his buddy...

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Expectations fall with Fray’s CD
Feb21

Expectations fall with Fray’s CD

When The Fray released the single “Heartbeat” at the end of 2011, expectations rose for the release of their newest album Scars and Stories. The band was known for its simple melodies, acoustic guitar leads and piano choruses but has now moved into the rock realm. Most of the songs are more upbeat than those on their previous albums, making it a fun collection of songs to listen to. The band worked with Brendan O’Brien to produce the work, and his experience in the music industry played a big part in Scars and Stories. O’Brien has worked with well-known bands like Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen in the past so he knows rock music. The Fray’s partnership with him insured that they had a good chance of creating a successful rock album. Even though this CD is different from what their previous albums were, it’s not enough to really impress. Just because the songs are faster and have more instruments in them doesn’t necessarily mean they are better. The love and heartbreak theme of the album is something that most people can relate to, but The Fray isn’t the only band writing songs about that love, and they didn’t do it well enough to catch a lot of new attention. People who weren’t previously fans don’t have much incentive to jump on that bandwagon now with the release of this album. It’s difficult not to tune out after the beginning tracks, the first of which was the single “Heartbeat.” It might end up being the biggest hit on this record. None of the other songs really have the potential to overcome current chart toppers. The album is more of the same band that’s been heard before. For fans, that’s great, but for the music industry or those seeking new music, there are more interesting and catchy songs to devote listening time to. The guitar strokes on different songs start to blend together pretty quickly, making listening easy but not thrilling or enticing. The Fray may be bearing their bruises, losses and some triumphs through the lyrics of Scars and Stories, but the depth and involvement of the music just doesn’t match up to the purpose of the songs. The band will probably sell as many copies as they have with past releases, but The Fray didn’t hit it big with this album release and most likely won’t grow their fan base much because of it. Listen to this album as background music while studying? Sure. Star it on Spotify? Probably not....

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Campus calendar outdated

Wondering when Cru Knights is? Check the campus calendar. Click month. Pretty sure it’s in February. Let’s see, softball practice, Antioch Community Church, CON Testing – whatever that is men’s golf workouts. Maybe it would be easier to just Google it. Type UMHB Cru Knights 2012 in Google search bar. The first three links to the UMHB Master Calendar don’t work. Back to the calendar. Pretty sure it’s Feb. 17. Click on link that says “14 more.” Scroll down past sports practices, past MUSI 3381, keep scrolling … there it is at the bottom of the list right above Chinese Bible Study. The title is a link. Click for more information. Waiting. Still waiting for the white pop -up box to load. Stop here. The box will never load. It will just say “This webpage is not available.” Finding an event on the campus calendar online will take you quite a bit of time and a lot of determination. So many events on the calendar apply to only a small group of students that the bigger, more important events fall to the bottom of the list into oblivion. If students are in softball, or golf, in a certain class, or go to a particular church, it’s safe to assume they are observant and responsible enough to know when their practices or meetings are. The online calendar should be for events that apply to a bigger population on campus. If an alumni, community members, or students who aren’t very involved on campus went to the calendar to search for an event, it’s probably more likely they would give up and not come than that they would find what they are looking for. Why are the events scheduled on the calendar they way they are? Is there not a priority setting to allow the bigger events on campus to jump to the top? True, you can filter the calendar by five color-coded topics but even then, some events don’t make it on the main page. When you finally do find the event you are looking for, don’t bother clicking for more information. If the links in the titles aren’t going to work when people click on them, they should be taken out instead of staying in and causing people frustration. The bottom line is that the online calendar doesn’t accurately display all that UMHB has to offer. It should be redesigned to be easier for people to find out what events the university has going on and to encourage attendance....

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Housing changes for growing population
Feb07

Housing changes for growing population

For most of the country, it’s a great time to be a buyer in the housing market. But many college campuses struggle with having enough bed space for their student population. It is an issue that UMHB now has to face. The prime real estate for the university, the apartments, will now be open to lower classmen. And this isn’t the only change residence life has come up with to accommodate the growing number of students. Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Donna Plank heads up the housing process and believes the new system is one that will work well for the current state of the school. She said, “We anticipate through housing projections that we might have a shortfall of bed space for everybody that approaches us and wants housing. We had to look at that and say OK, if these projections were to be true, and we had a shortfall, how are we going to handle that?” The solution was to allow students with more than 48 hours to move off campus and to allow more underclassmen to occupy the apartments that were previously forbidden to those with less than 60 hours. “The group of people that we have to make sure get on campus are the people we require to live on campus. That’s anybody with less than so many hours. It used to be 60; we changed it to 48.We’ve decided 48 hours represents four semesters on campus, potentially, and that’s a good standard to use for readiness to live off campus,” Plank said. Even though the students with a lower number of hours are now allowed to live in apartments, that does not mean that upperclassmen with more hours will be forced to move off campus. Plank said, “We’re going to be careful that the people in the under-48 stack aren’t just taking over everything that’s considered primary real estate. And we’re going to try to portion out things so that everyone has a shot at housing options.” All housing applications will be processed online this year, another new element to help facilitate the mass amount of people trying to get information in. There will be two different days for the two groups to apply for their choice of housing. The first day, the students with more than 48 hours will be allowed to apply starting at 5 a.m. Feb. 15, then at the same time Feb. 16. Those with fewer than 48 hours will get their chance to apply. The applications will be automatically dated and time stamped, and then the two stacks will be sorted and assigned simultaneously. “We’re...

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