Monthly Archives: July 2018

Volunteer McKinney

Did you know McKinney was ranked #1 on Money Magazine’s Best Place to Live List in 2014? Every day, I discover new reasons why McKinney made the list AND why I love living here.

Today, I spent time with Dana Riley, Executive Director of Volunteer McKinney — which Dana describes as the “ for local nonprofits and community volunteers.” She’s right! Founded in 1998, Volunteer McKinney is a place for citizens to learn about volunteer opportunities, and for nonprofits to list their needs. Their newly redesigned website is easy to navigate and provides up-to-date information about organizations, with a monthly calendar for a quick overview of events.

Volunteer McKinney Mission Statement:

Connecting people to their passion through volunteerism and supporting McKinney area nonprofits through training and collaboration.

I’m looking forward to several events coming up this summer and fall, all hosted by Volunteer McKinney — specifically the Collin County Giving Day which features organization booths (and animals…if snakes qualify as animals….) in a fun, festival environment; Santa on the Square, which offers families one-on-one time with Santa at scheduled intervals in Santa’s Workshop; and McKinney Make A Difference Day, where hundreds of volunteers fan out to do projects to help the community. In fact, Volunteer McKinney recently received national recognition for Make A Difference Day, which included a $10,000 grant from Arby’s Foundation.

Volunteer McKinney Make a Difference Day. Image: Volunteer McKinney

Volunteer McKinney Make a Difference Day. Image: Volunteer McKinney

Volunteer McKinney conducts an annual Homeless Census. Dana explained they work with local organizations to collect numbers, but also conduct a survey on one night each year where teams work with the police and fire department in a grid pattern across the city.  Volunteer McKinney also hosts the McKinney Summit on Youth to provide resources and training materials for individuals and organizations working with at-risk youth. The Summit has an impressive list of collaborating agencies, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Job Corps The Samaritan Inn, Collin College, McKinney Education Foundation, and many more. Dana would love to provide the model for other interested communities. Reach out to her if you want to learn more.

Volunteer McKinney Summit on Youth

Volunteer McKinney Summit on Youth. Image: Volunteer McKinney

Dana is passionate about her job. It’s infectious. She’s part of the reason that McKinney is one of the Best Places to Live. I’m excited to learn more ways to contribute back to my new community through volunteering — now that I have more time. I’ve already found a few opportunities on the website that I plan to sign up for. Thanks Dana for sharing you wealth of knowledge with me.

T-shirt from 2017 Volunteer McKinney Make a Difference Day. Image: Beth Beck

T-shirt from 2017 Make a Difference Day.

This really is a wonderful life in small town USA!!

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July 11, 2018 · 11:35 pm

Exploring Life After NASA

In anticipation of saying goodbye to NASA at the end of my career in federal service, I packed up my life and moved across country to Texas. Though I was born and raised in Texas, I’ve spent nearly 30 years working in Washington, DC. working for the federal government. The transition was not easy.

Beth's NASA equipment on her final day before retirement.

My final day at NASA. I powered down my devices and left them in my office.

Why the big move, you may ask. Why not stay in luscious, green, heavily-treed Virginia? The answer: family commitments.

We packed everything into PODS, which went into storage four months while I lived and teleworked from a room in my sister’s house. My sister Aimee is a small business owner in McKinney. Her studio, Aimee Louise Photography, is located in the historic Cotton Mill. She graciously opened her home to me during the house hunt — which took so much longer than I anticipated. After putting down offers on two houses, I ended up with my dream home in McKinney’s historic district — only 15 minutes from Aimee’s house. It’s a 103-year-old Craftsman with 55 windows with original glass. We’re only two blocks from Town Square, so we can walk for eating, shopping, and town festivities. It’s truly a wonderful life in small town, USA.

Truckload of Beth's Treasures: the Big Move to McKinney.

Truckload of my Treasures: the Big Move to McKinney.

Most people ask what my plans are, now that I’m no longer at NASA. Right now, I’m thoroughly enjoying this “extended vacation.” I’m reading books, working in the yard, unpacking bins, and spending time with family.  I’ve enjoyed meeting interesting people and learning how McKinney operates. I’m looking forward to opportunities to contribute to the community, as the stars align.

My sister and I are collaborating on a “TEXploration” project. We’re taking one day a month (or more as Aimee’s schedule permits) to go back-roads cowboy-culture hunting in surrounding communities — historical sights, interesting people, good food, and great deals (yes, it’s really all about the shopping). Aimee will document our journey with her fabulous photography, and I’ll blog about what we find. We’ll begin sharing soon. Feel free to suggest interesting places for us to go.


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