By State Representative Tan Parker
There is something majestic about a Christmas tree wrapped in twinkling bright lights and draped with colorful ornaments. At your Texas Capitol, there are beautiful trees on display whose evergreen branches welcome the thousands of visitors starting in late November through the new year. In the Texas House of Representatives, the beauty of the annual Christmas tree offers something unique for our state – 150 hand-painted ornaments created by selected residents from each Texas House District across the Lone Star State.
This wonderful annual tradition begins just prior to the holiday season when each Texas House member is given a clear, glass ornament and invites someone from their constituency to decorate it. The inspiration and imagination behind each carefully crafted piece of art illustrates a story from a special place in Texas.
In preparing for my final Texas House ornament project as your state representative, I learned about an incredible adaptive art program being launched by young adults with disabilities.
In Roanoke, just off James Street is a bright blue cottage that has been rejuvenated with new life. It is here that the nonprofit organization, New Transitions Center, found a home and opened its doors. Their day habilitation program is specifically designed to foster new opportunities for differently-abled Texans who have aged out of the public school system, restoring a place of friendships and belonging.
This program exemplifies how God-given talents open our abilities for a purpose. The participants have found ways to express their own skills and individual talents through an adaptive art program called, pARTnership. The program is described “as a tool to nourish as art can be used in many facets of life to communicate and engage with others. Such expression enlightens understanding which propels acceptance, moving forward to change. When things are perfected to the highest level, they become ART.”
The members of The Center are contributing to the 2022 Texas House Christmas tree and sharing their story of finding new ways to create possibilities through painting. The rich green and red colors speak to the season and were created by adapting traditional paintbrushes and allowing various members to contribute in their own special way. This beautifully painted ornament will be placed on the tree on December 3, joining the other remarkable ornaments in showcasing our great state in the Texas House of Representatives.
It is my hope that during this holiday season we can all strive to invest our time and talents to lift-up others just as the young artists are doing at the New Transitions Center. I look forward to seeing their pARTnership creations shine in other places in our community soon.
Also, please remember that there are so many nonprofits working hard to ensure our neighbors in need have a merry and bright holiday season. While there are far too many to list, here are just a few in need of time and talent this month:
Santa Cops is a program area law enforcement departments traditionally launch to gather new, unwrapped toys for children. Please inquire with your local police department for opportunities to support toy donations and other needs our dedicated first responders are working to fill this holiday season.
Children’s Advocacy Centers serve a critical need for our communities by helping restore healing, hope, and justice for abused children. Locally, you can find the Children’s Advocacy Center for North Texas (serving Denton and Wise counties) at www.cacnorthtexas.org.
While the holidays are a time for good cheer, sadly there are Texans that feel a heightened sense of loneliness. Area Meals on Wheels programs go beyond standard meal delivery by addressing the needs of vulnerable, homebound neighbors. Locally, you can find Metroport Meals on Wheels at www.metroportmow.org. Please be sure to inquire about their special Santa and Angel Tree programs.
On Dec. 8, I joined Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford for the 2nd Annual First Responder Toy Drop at Valley Ridge and I-35E in Lewisville where we collected new, unwrapped toys or gift card donations for families in need.
If I can be of service in helping you find a need in your community, please drop me a note at [email protected]. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn for updates across Senate District 12.
Wishing you and your family a wonderfully blessed Christmas season and happy, healthy New Year!