Class of ‘92 reunite to aid Gingerbread House

Waxahachie High School class of 1992 members are shown at the Gingerbread House children’s advocacy center

When members of a class reunite for a class reunion, they typically want to get together in order to re-acquaint themselves with one another. However, this year, members of the class of ’92 celebrated their 20th high school reunion by making a donation to the Gingerbread House’s Therapy Playroom.

Class member Deena Harvanek was the one who suggested the class give back to the community, other members of the class said. Harvanek said she thought it would be better motivation for other members to attend instead of the normal reason people gather for reunions.

“I thought in the place of allowing partying to be our only reason for gathering that we should do something other classes don’t do,” Harvanek said. “This city means a lot to all of us and we thought it would be great to perform an act of service.”

Stephanie Singleton, a member of class of ’92 said when Harvanek made the suggestion; she thought it was a great idea. She said the goal was to provide for an organization in Waxahachie with a true need. After being given a tour of the Gingerbread House, Singleton said they realized that was an organization with a real need.

“I knew they were an advocate for children,” Singleton said. “But my eyes were really opened during the tour.”

She said the main thing that stood out to her about the center were the demographics. The thought never crossed her mind that younger children can’t often vocalize what they’ve been through, Singleton added. Sometimes they need to relay their message by acting things out or playing. Realizing that the Play Therapy Room would serve that purpose, Singleton said donating items for the room was a no-brainer.

Another member of their class, Brian Ford said he was only familiar with the Gingerbread House from a business perspective. Again, the tour was somewhat of an unveiling for him.

“I didn’t know all the stuff they did here until we took the tour,” Ford said. “You hear the words advocacy center, but you don’t fully grasp the concept of what an advocate they truly are until you see if for yourself.”

For Alisha Cleveland, her enthusiasm concerning the donation stemmed from the fact that one of their classmates served as the architect for the building of the center. Mark Odom spoke very highly of Executive Director John Wyckoff and that was enough for her to want to get involved.

Wyckoff said that when he received the phone call about the class wanting to make a donation, he was elated.

“For these guys to want to spend their reunion providing for our needs really meant a lot to us,” he said. “So naturally I embraced the idea and went above and they went above and beyond our expectations.”

Counselor Jamie English echoed Wyckoff’s comments by saying they sat down and made a list of the items they needed. And the class purchased the majority of the items on that list.

“The more specific the toys, the better the children can act out life’s situations,” English said. “We needed things like a sand tray, puppets and live play items and the class really came through for us.”

English said the sand tray is a much-needed item in their line of work, because it allows the children to arrange the scene to tell the story. She also said it serves a very therapeutic tool for children.

The children were also provided with puppets, games, a cash register and other live play items to help them better relay their situation to the counselor.

About Gingerbread House

The Gingerbread House saw its inception in 1998, when its board was formed. The center opened for services in December 1999 in office space at the Texas Baptist Home. John Wyckoff was named executive director in May 2001 and in 2004, with the need for additional room, the Gingerbread House relocated to an office suite at the Comerica Bank building.

A capital campaign was launched, with the center moving into its own building at the corner of Ross and Farley streets in December 2007. A counseling program for the children was implemented in October 2010. And a play therapy room was added in 2012.

Used with permission from the Waxahachie Daily Light.

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