Honoring Amy, helping patients
Temple facility provides a place to stay for transplant patients, their families and their caregivers. PLUS: Downtown businesses among "best," and crafts help heal veterans.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2021
Amy died in November 2012, but she lives on in at least 70 other people who benefited from her donated organs and tissues.
Amy’s House, located at 2114 S. 15th Street in Temple, provides temporary housing for transplant patients and their families. The house is just blocks from Baylor Scott & White Medical Center. David Stone photos
New Amy’s House location can serve 8 transplant patients, families at a time
By DAVID STONE, Our Town exclusive
Amy Firth lived life to the fullest, and her generosity has saved or improved the lives of many fellow Texans.
Amy died in November 2012, but she lives on in at least 70 other people who benefited from her donated organs and tissues. Her decision to be a donor was just another example of her generosity.
In high school, Amy was a Copperas Cove cheerleader and honor student. After graduating from the University of Texas in San Antonio and earning her Master’s from Baylor, the mother of two worked with autistic children.
“After Amy died, her parents — John and Margaret Henderson — started Amy’s House through the local chapter of TRIO (Transplant Recipient International Organization),” said Jim Fly, executive director and chaplain of the facility.
Amy’s House offers temporary housing near Baylor Scott & White for organ transplant recipients, live donors and those who care for them.
“Amy’s House was established in 2014, and it was located in a trailer at the hospital’s RV park,” Fly said. “It was small and only served one family at a time, and it’s not uncommon for a family to need a place for eight days or more.”
At the urging of BSW officials, the Henderson’s began raising money for a larger facility. They received donations of money, supplies and services, and in January of this year, Amy’s House opened on city-donated land at 2114 South 15th, just a few blocks east of the hospital. The first family spent the night January 4.
“There are rooms for eight families, and each room sleeps three people,” Fly said. “We have a large community space, a large dining area and a kitchen with two of everything.”
Families are asked to provide their own food, but there is dedicated refrigerator and pantry space for each room.
There also is a large outdoor sitting area with a garden. Fly said barbecue grills will be added to the patio area.
“Sanitation is a big thing here,” Fly said. “Organ transplant recipients are susceptible to infection so we are constantly sanitizing the facility. We also have electronic sanitizers in the air conditioning system so the air is sanitized as it circulates.
Families are not charged a fee to stay at Amy’s House, but donations are encouraged.
Fly said most of the organ transplant patients that stay at Amy’s House live one to four hours from Temple.
“They can stay here while they are being evaluated prior to the transplant,” he said. “The evaluation can involve several days of lab work and studies. It’s a lot easier on the patient to stay close to the hospital.”
Patients also come to Amy’s House immediately after being discharged from the hospital.
“Doctors want the patient to be nearby for a few days in case of infection or another problem,” Fly said. “The stay at Amy’s House after the transplant can be several days.”
A BSW shuttle bus is available to provide transportation between Amy’s House and the hospital.
Those who have had transplants frequently return for follow-up visits at BSW, and these patients are welcome to stay at the house overnight.
To stay at Amy’s House, caregivers, family members, and vehicle drivers must be at least 16 years old, have no known communicable diseases and pass a Covid-19 screening, Fly said.
In addition to sleeping and dining quarters, Amy’s House is outfitted with a laundry room, exercise area and a huge pantry stocked with sanitizers, face masks and other supplies.
“Temple Fire & Rescue brings us bottled water and provides our three-person staff with first-aid training,” Fly said.
Amy’s House also has a natural-gas fired generator in case of emergency, and it didn’t take long before it was needed.
“It came in handy during the winter freeze,” he said.
For additional information, call (254) 598-2378 or email email@example.com.
Amy’s House executive director Jim Fly stands by a portrait of Amy Henderson Firth, an outgoing woman who died in 2012. Her organ and tissue donations saved and improved life for at least 70 other people.
Amy’s House has eight guest rooms that sleep three people. The house is located at the corner of South 15th Street and Avenue U.
The spacious kitchen at Amy’s House has two ovens with burners, two sinks, two dishwashers and two sets of cooking accessories.
“It’s exciting to see downtown become a place where unique, locally owned businesses can thrive. Treno Pizzeria and Fire Base are two of the many establishments that have opened downtown in recent years. These businesses make Temple a destination point in Central Texas.”
Treno Pizzeria & Tap Room/First Street Roasters (left) and Fire Base Brewing Company are two of four finalist named for Best Downtown Business in Texas in a city with more than 50,000 residents.
Treno, Fire Base up for “best in Texas” award
By DAVID STONE, Our Town exclusive
There’s a 50-50 chance that a Temple establishment will be selected as Texas’ best downtown business in a city with more than 50,000 residents.
That’s because two of the four finalists up for the statewide honor are from right here — Treno Pizzeria & Tap Room/First Street Roasters and Fire Base Brewing Company.
Treno and First Street Roasters were listed as a single entry because they are in the same building and are in the same ownership group.
The awards are part of the Texas Downtown Association’s President Awards, and the winners of each category will be announced Nov. 4.
The other two businesses in the best downtown business category are also from the Central Texas area. They are The Golden Rule in Georgetown and West Pecan Coffee + Beer in Pflugerville.
“We are very surprised that we got selected,” said J.D. McBride, who owns Fire Base Brewing Company along with Stacy Zemp. “We are definitely humbled.”
McBride served in the Marines and the Army, and he said the idea of opening a brewery “was one way we could provide an atmosphere for veterans and others to feel welcome and comfortable.”
“We are happy and excited to be part of the revitalization of downtown Temple and look forward to continuing our community projects in the years to come.”
Treno Pizzeria and First Street Roasters are side-by-side businesses on First Street owned by Jacob Bates, Bo Harvey and Bruce Bates, partners in several downtown ventures.
Cody Weems, a spokesperson for the city of Temple, said downtown development has been a key focus of city leaders for years.
“It’s exciting to see downtown become a place where unique, locally owned businesses can thrive,” Weems said. “Treno Pizzeria and Fire Base Brewing are two of the many establishments that have opened downtown in recent years. These businesses make Temple a destination point in Central Texas.”
Temple is a finalist in the Texas Downtown Association’s best public improvement category for cities with a population greater than 50,00 for its South First Street project.
Weem’s said the project was designed to tie into the new Santa Fe Plaza and Santa Fe Market Trail.
“The project is complete and features a reconstructed streetscape, new landscaping and lighting, pedestrian amenities and rehabilitated utilities,” he said.
“As the city continues to invest in downtown redevelopment, projects such as this enhance walkability and pave the way for new businesses.”
Other finalists in this category are the cities of Tyler, Midland and Mesquite.
Temple’s“Love Where Your Live” campaign also made the finalist cut in a promotional category. Tyler and its “Hit the Bricks” project was the only other finalist selected.
Weems describes “Love Where You Live” as a campaign to identify and focus on neighborhood development in the city’s 18 neighborhoods that make up most of Temple’s residential areas.
“The city is developing long-range plans for each neighborhood,” he said. “Each neighborhood plan includes extensive community input and recommendations. Over the past year, the city has completed six of these plans, and all 18 are scheduled for completion by October 2023.”
For additional information or to see the plans, visit templetx.gov/lovewhereyoulive.
“We try to be part of the healing process. Veterans can come in and have camaraderie with others, and we use therapeutic crafts to help them improve their quality of life.”
Veterans participate in crafting activities at Help Heal Veterans in Temple. The center is located at 819 S. 5th in Temple. Courtesy photos
Center uses crafts to help heal local veterans
By DAVID STONE, Our Town exclusive
Veterans in Temple are getting therapeutic help and learning crafting skills at the same time.
Help Heal Veterans —founded on the national level in 1971 — helps injured and recuperating military men and women improve fine motor skills, increase cognitive functions and manage stress. The program also helps veterans who are dealing with substance abuse, PTSD and mental health issues.
“We try to be part of the healing process,” said Trish Alger, manager and lead craft specialist at the Temple location. “Veterans can come in and have camaraderie with others. We use therapeutic crafts to help them improve their quality of life.”
Temple’s Help Heal Veterans serves 250 to more than 400 veterans each month, even during the pandemic.
Alger, a Minnesota native who has lived in the Temple area for seven years, had planned on a career in art when she became involved with Help Heal Veterans.
“I was going to school online while trying to decide where I wanted to finish my art-history degree,” she said. “I needed a job, and I saw an ad for Help Heal Veterans. A friend said it sounded like me, so I thought I’d apply for a job as a crafter.”
During an hour-long interview, Alger learned that the manager of Temple’s Help Heal Veterans was retiring.
“I didn’t realize I was being interviewed for manager,” she said. “It was a great interview — I thought I’d just be helping veterans do crafts, so I wasn’t under any pressure. I got the job.”
Temple has had a Help Heal Veterans organization for about eight years. It started at the VA center providing crafting opportunities for hospitalized veterans. After relocating to 819 S. 5th Street, the group changed its focus and became a place where veterans could go for camaraderie and therapeutic activities.
“We offer all sorts of crafts, including jewelry making working with wood and leather, needlecraft, building models — all sorts of things,” Alger said. “We give veterans a chance to develop hobbies. When your mind and hands are engaged, it’s easy to shift thoughts away from your problems.”
“You never know what kinds of problems people may have,” she said. “We had a veteran who came to the center almost every day. He told me crafting kept him sober.”
The crafting opportunities are almost endless. Woodworking projects include making birdhouses and feeders, wooden models of tanks and helicopters, pen barrels and clocks.
“We usually make clocks, but right now — because of COVID-related supply issues — we can’t get the mechanisms,” she said. “When supply lines improve, we will make more. Clocks are very popular.”
Leather-craft items include wallets, coin purses, drawstring bags, moccasins and dreamcatchers.
“We even make leather footballs,” Alger said. “The Elks Club, Lazy Boy and Southwest Airlines are big supporters of Help Heal Veterans. We make footballs and moccasins out of leather donated by these groups. The moccasin leather is made from deer leather that the Elks Club provides.”
Help Heal Veterans provides craft kits to veterans free of charge.
“We don’t charge for anything we do,” Alger said. “This is the best job in the world, and I feel privileged to hear about our veterans’ lives and their stories. They share things here they don’t even share with their families. It’s an honor being a part of their lives.”
Lazaro Camarillo III, Texas vice commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, takes a moment with Trish Alger, manager of the Temple chapter of Help Heal Veterans.
U.S. Army veteran Robert Bardin takes break from making a sign during a crafts session at Help Heal Veterans.
TRAIN-THEMED MURAL IN SOUTH TEMPLE
The city of Temple received 211 design submissions in August for the new Market Loop mural project. The mural will have train theme and will greet patients and their families en route to McLane’s Children’s Hospital. The purpose of the new mural is to create a distraction for children with chronic conditions who are on their way to treatment. Experts say distractions such as murals help reduce fear and anxiety for young patients.
September 21, Tuesday - Body of Christ Community Clinic’s Together We Heal Banquet, UMHB, Jimmy Dorrell, keynote speaker. 5:30 p.m.
September 22, Wednesday - Open Mic Comedy at Corky’s. 8 p.m.
September 24, Friday - Maxx Carter live at Fire Base Brewing Company, 6:30 p.m.
September 24, Friday - Belton Bacon, Blues & Brews Festival, noon to 9 p.m.
September 24, Friday - Aaron Watson, Cotton Country Club, Granger. 9:30 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Littlest Wildcat Cheer Camp, Temple High School. 9 a.m.
September 25, Saturday - Name That Tune Bingo: Belt it Out Edition. Fire Base Brewing Company, 7:30 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Belton Bacon, Blues & Brews Festival, noon to 9 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Baxley & Acadian with special guests Ghost Republic at O’Briens Irish Pub. 9 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Fun at the Fair! Join us at the museum to for fun at the fair! View the newest exhibit and take part in fun activities - explore symmetry by decorating a popcorn bucket, build your own mini rollercoaster, race your family in duck races, and visit our petting zoo! Bell County Museum. 11 a.m.
September 30, Thursday - TLC’s Celebration of Crazy, Sexy Cool with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Bell County Expo Center. 7:30 p.m.
September 30, Thursday - Funniest Comic in Texas semi-finals. Corky’s.
October 1, Friday - Randy Rogers Band, Johnny Steaks and Bar-Be-Que, Salado. 6 p.m.
October 3, Sunday - Keys for the Kingdom, a concert with four pianists on four grand pianos. First Baptist Church in Temple. Free admission! 6 p.m.
October 3, Sunday - Temple Civic Theater’s annual Bazaar Thrift Sale & Blood Drive. Rummage through racks of clothes and tables packed with fun finds. TCT facemarks, wristbands, mugs and memberships also will be on sale. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
October 5, Tuesday - Temple’s National Night Out. 6:30 p.m.
October 7, Thursday - The Spazmatics, Schoepf’s BBQ, Belton. 6 p.m.
October 8, Friday - Painting with a Twist, 3 Texans Winery. 6:30 p.m.
October 9, Saturday - Pre-Historic Fundraiser, Tiny Hooves Rescue & Petting Zoo. Seaton Star Hall. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
October 9, Saturday - Shinyribs, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
October 9, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 11-17 - Hocus Pocus, The Beltonian Theatre, Belton. Noon.
October 16, Saturday - Van Cliburn Recital featuring Yekwon Sunwoo. Sue & Frank Mayborn Performing Arts Center, Belton. 7:30 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - West Temple Oktoberfest. 3 West Alehouse & Grill. 11 a.m.
October 16, Saturday - St. Luke Fest 2021, raffle, petting zoo, live music, carnival games, food vendors, silent auction, bingo and more. St. Luke’s Catholic Church. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - Michael Salgado at Schoepf’s BBQ in Belton, 6 p.m.
October 18-23 - The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Beltonian, Belton. 6-8 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - Don Gregory Memorial Lions Club Golf Tournament. Sammons Golf Course. Contact Jeffrey Thigpen Thigpen.firstname.lastname@example.org to register or for sponsorship opportunities. 4-person scramble begins at 8:30 a.m.
October 23, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 29, Friday - Uncasing of the Colors for the 607-member 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment of the 3rd Squadron, 36th Infantry Division, now headquartered at the Texas Army National Guard on Airport Road in Temple. Santa Fe Plaza, 10 a.m.
October 29, Friday - Season closing event, Domestics vs Imports, Little River Dragway, 7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Barktoberfest, Dog costume contest at 5:30; adoptable dogs on site. Barrow Brewing Co., Salado. 1-7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Bulls & BBQ, Live bull riding followed by concert with Jake Worthington and Keith Braxton. Schoepf’s BBQ, Belton, Noon.
October 30, Saturday - Tablerock’s Fright Trail. One-half mile walking trail presents thrill, chills and haunting skits. Salado. 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - BooCru at Crusader Stadium. UMHB in Belton. Wear your Halloween costume to the UMHB v. Belhaven game. Trick or Treat at 10 locations inside the stadium during the first half. Halftime parade of costumes on the football field. Noon.
October 31, Sunday - Halloween! Have fun, be safe.
Have an event you would like to promote? Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com with “What’s Happening” in the subject line. Keep it short and sweet — what, when and where. You may include a short description. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. The phone number will not be published unless requested by submitter.