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Leadership Rockwall reveals class projects benefitting local nonprofits

(ROCKWALL, TX – May 7, 2018) The Leadership Rockwall Class of 2018 unveiled not one but two class projects last week during a dual ribbon cutting and open house event presented by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall.

Leadership Rockwall 2018 class members invited the community to the Rockwall County Helping Hands Health Center to reveal its first project: “Rockwall Information Resource Hubs” specifically designed to assist local families that find themselves in the middle of a crisis or transition. The class installed these dedicated computer resource stations at the Health Center, Women in Need, and the Children’s Advocacy Center for Rockwall County to provide those in crisis served by these local nonprofits with the ability to apply online for housing, work, education, SNAP, WIC and Veteran’s Assistance.

Each station comes equipped with a refurbished laptop courtesy of Atmos Energy and a stable internet connection, with six stations installed at the Helping Hands Health Center, one at Women in Need, and two at the Rockwall CAC.

Women in Need Executive Director Connie Pettit said the project will help bring much-needed sustainability in the lives of those seeking the services of Women in Need.

“When the individuals we serve come to us, their lives are not going smoothly. They’ve never had tablets or if they did, they’ve been left behind in the middle of the night. When they come to us, our responsibility is to help them get to a place of sustainability, and these resources hubs will help to get them there,” Pettit said.

On its first day of class in October last year, Leadership Rockwall toured the facilities of several nonprofits in the area including Rockwall County Helping Hands, Meals on Wheels and Women in Need, which provided them with an expanded awareness of the need for services in the community.

The tours really hit home for class member Daniel de la Torre, who serves as the Director of Radiology at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall. He recalled a time as a child when his mother had taken him and his little sister and walked out of an abusive relationship one night, and how a center much like Women in Need had helped given them shelter for the night and treated them to breakfast at Denny’s the next morning.

“To realize all of this is happening here made me think back to that moment and realize that this was an important project that we needed to do here in Rockwall County,” said de la Torre.

Attendees of the first ribbon cutting at the Health Center were then invited to drop by the Open House event at the Women in Need campus, followed by a second ribbon cutting to reveal Leadership Rockwall’s second project – service enhancements to the Rockwall CAC. Thanks to a donation by Baylor Scott & White – Lake Pointe, the class had the hallways and doors of the CAC wrapped in beautiful, stress-reducing artwork designed by Rockwall High School junior Chloe Fritz, and purchased upgraded camera equipment for use in the CAC’s counseling and therapy rooms.

The Children’s Advocacy Center for Rockwall County CEO Patricia Mejia (left) with Rockwall High School Junior Chloe Fritz

Rockwall High School junior Chloe Fritz’s design on the hallway wall of the Rockwall CAC

“When these kids come into our CAC, what they’re here to talk about is nothing to be happy about, but the fact that they feel a lower threshold of threat or fear when they walk through has made a huge difference in the quality of our interviews,” said Rockwall CAC CEO Patricia Mejia.

The camera equipment will aid the CAC staff in peer reviews, where they can evaluate the services they’re providing and ways they might be able to improve on those services. Mejia explained that the equipment will also be beneficial to the CAC’s clinical director in providing a very specific kind of counseling known as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.

“Our clinical director is fully staffed right now in terms of her caseload, so we will be quickly bringing in interns. As those interns are coming into the practice and learning the new methodology, it’s really important for her to be able to coach and guide them on how to apply these different techniques. With parental consent, the sessions that take place in each of our therapy rooms can be viewed and she can coach the interns to help make them better professionals. It also helps us make sure we’re grooming more professionals on how to do this type of work,” Mejia said.

The CAC Service Enhancements were made possible by the support of the Title Sponsor, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Lake Pointe, and In-Kind Silver Sponsor, Signature Signs, which wrapped the hallways and doors with Fritz’s artwork.

Additional sponsors that made both Leadership Rockwall projects possible include Atmos Energy, Farmers Electric Cooperative, Interstate Battery, and Crystal Widman – North American Title.

Leadership Rockwall will hold a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2018 on Wednesday, May 16, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the San Jacinto Plaza in downtown Rockwall. The ceremony will feature keynote speaker James Apra of Front Line Leadership Group, with dinner and spirits provided. Register online at rockwallchamber.org/events.

Members of the Leadership Rockwall Class of 2018 are:
Tommy Baugh, NTX Indoor Digital Billboards
John Beaman, City of Heath
Garrett Bothun, Garrett Bothun Consulting
Bethany Browning, City of Rockwall
Kevin Clark, City of Rockwall
Lacy Deckward, Regal Realtors
Melody Hail, Rockwall County Helping Hands
Jean Laswell, Rockwall ISD
Patricia Mejia, Children’s Advocacy Center for Rockwall County
E.J. Pipkin, American National Bank of Texas
Megan Riddle, Rockwall County Meals on Wheels
Daniel de la Torre, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall

Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.

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