Talitha Koum Institute nurtures local children

Children enjoy play time at the institute, which provides all-day care for children from eight weeks old to kindergarten-age.Courtesy Photo
Children enjoy play time at the institute, which provides all-day care for children from eight weeks old to kindergarten-age.
Courtesy Photo
By Abigail Loop
Staff Writer

The Talitha Koum Institute developed a new way to provide more support to Waco’s impoverished children.

Talitha Koum, a nonprofit organization that acts as a therapeutic nursery for Waco’s infants and toddlers in poverty, is hosting a new series of fundraisers called the Hottest Ticket in Town. Tickets can be purchased at talithakoum.org/hottestticket-list.

Susan Cowley, a Talitha Koum board member, said the fundraiser will consist of a number of parties open to the Waco and Baylor communities and will go on until Feb. 14. Cowley said she hopes that by having these fundraisers the public will become more aware of the needs of Waco’s children and support the organization.

According to the institute’s website, the parties started in October, with events such as a President’s Skybox Dinner Party, a No Show Party, which consisted of pizza brought to participants’ houses, and a meet-and-greet party with Louis Weiser Duval, the inspiration for Annelle in the story “Steel Magnolias.”

Upcoming events planned for this Saturday, Dec. 12, Jan. 17 and Feb. 14 are an extravaganza on the Bosque River, a Christmas soiree at the Hawkesdene Texas manor, a murder mystery event and A Night of Romance party, respectively. Each party is priced differently and the funds go to the Talitha Koum Institute to support their programs.

“These parties are a wonderful way to introduce people to us,” Cowley said. “We have a goal this year of raising $100,000 and it looks like it’ll be within reach. We plan to make this an annual fundraiser where there will be new friends and new fun for a good cause.”

Dr. Helen Benedict, a former Baylor professor of psychology, is the clinical director of the institute. Benedict said that by having these fundraisers and receiving donations, Talitha Koum is more enabled to help and support children in the Waco community.

“We’re a program for emotional, physical, social and cognitive needs,” Benedict said. “We have a huge problem with poverty here in Waco and I think we’re doing something quite remarkable and it’s containing the effects of poverty.”

According to data from the U.S. Census, in 2012, 30.1 percent of Wacoans lived in poverty, compared to the 17.4 percent of Texans living in poverty.

People interested in volunteering at the upcoming parties can visit talithakoum.org to register.

Lane Harbin, a communication specialist for the organization, said they are always encouraging people to volunteer at the institute.

“Whether it’s working with the classes or students or helping with our grounds and gardening, it’s super helpful,” Harbin said. “Our organization is unlike anything that exists in Texas, and we want to meet the needs of children to help them be successful in the future.”