The Best of McKinney, Texas, Coming Soon to ‘Shark Tank’ on ABC Television

By Holly Becka, holly@horsepowercommunications.com

One of our favorite clients, Dr. Suzanne Hales of CCA North Texas and the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center, was interviewed by a crew from Shark Tank this summer.

A longtime marriage and family counselor, Dr. Hales was asked to review a new product by McKinney entrepreneur Jason Adams. His product, called Elephant Chat, encourages couples to communicate better. Because she has devoted her life to helping families and couples communicate more effectively, Dr. Hales liked the product and endorsed it.

“Elephant Chat serves as a wonderful visual reminder that couples need to actively work on communicating with each other. That’s why I really like the idea,” says Dr. Hales, a licensed professional counselor, a licensed marriage and family therapist, an Imago therapist and a Jungian analyst-in-training.301097_6637

HorsePower Communications issued a news release this week in advance of the Friday, Oct. 25 Shark Tank episode in which Elephant Chat will appear. The Shark Tank connection also provided an opportunity to promote the couples’ retreat that Dr. Hales scheduled in February 2014 for anyone whose relationship could use strengthening (or for anyone whose relationship would benefit from better communication).

We are thankful to our friends in the local media for helping us spread the word about this fun story that sheds a little light on the remarkable entrepreneurial spirit in lovely McKinney, Texas. We’re a bunch of go-getters — and the city is among the best places to live in the United States!

Here are links to the media coverage thus far:

TownSquareBuzz.com (hyperlocal news site for McKinney and the surrounding area)

McKinneyOnline.com (McKinney Chamber’s community news site)

NeighborsGo (community edition of The Dallas Morning News)

McKinney Bubble Life (online community news site/content curator)


Dr. Suzanne Hales of CCA North Texas Interviewed by ‘Shark Tank’ Crew about McKinney Entrepreneur’s Product to Promote Communication

Register for an Upcoming Couples’ Retreat to Strengthen Your Communication Skills

By Holly Becka, holly@horsepowercommunications.com

Honest communication – it’s one of the most important elements for long-term, successful, rewarding relationships and marriages.

In her more than two decades as a marriage and family therapist at CCA North Texas in McKinney, Dr. Suzanne Hales has encouraged couples to talk openly to each other. She’s also taught couples how to effectively communicate and practice active listening, so that each partner better understands what their loved one is saying.

Dr Hales-portrait lowresThis summer, Dr. Hales was asked to review a new product by McKinney entrepreneur Jason Adams, who will be featured on ABC’s Shark Tank on Friday, Oct. 25. Dr. Hales enjoyed the product, called Elephant Chat, because it encourages and helps remind couples to speak openly.

“Elephant Chat serves as a wonderful visual reminder that couples need to actively work on communicating with each other. That’s why I really like the idea,” says Dr. Hales, a licensed professional counselor, a licensed marriage and family therapist, an Imago therapist and a Jungian analyst-in-training.

Dr. Hales was interviewed by the Shark Tank camera crew about the product and is looking forward to watching the TV show Friday.

The product’s founder notes on his website that Elephant Chat “cannot replace great advice from professional counselors” and says that “Elephant Chat tools are a great way to remember and utilize the things you have learned” from licensed professional counselors.

CCA North Texas, founded by Dr. Hales in 1986, prides itself on offering the widest variety of counseling services and the most diverse group of specialists in Collin County – all conveniently housed under one roof. CCA North Texas provides confidential, comprehensive mental health services to North Texans of all ages, and its staff includes a vast array of licensed counselors, social workers, play therapists, art therapists, psychologists and a psychiatrist offering care for individuals, couples, children and families.

“Counseling enables people to learn the skills necessary to lead healthier and more productive lives, to solve problems that may have existed for 200x200 CCA Logogenerations, and to heal from emotional wounds both old and new,” Dr. Hales says. “We at CCA North Texas are wholeheartedly committed to this process by which individual’s lives are changed, couples’ relationships are fortified, families are strengthened, and communities enhanced.”

The services that CCA North Texas offers for couples includes premarital counseling, marital counseling, couples’ counseling, couples’ w

Dr. Hales and noted psychotherapist and author Dr. James Kitchen will conduct a couples’ retreat on Feb. 14-16, 2014, at the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center near the Texas-Oklahoma border. For details or to register for this event, please call CCA North Texas at 972-542-8144.orkshops, and couples’ retreats.

Couples who would like to strengthen their relationship or their communication skills are invited to contact CCA North Texas to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hales or another therapist on her staff. To schedule an appointment, please call 972-542-8144. CCA North Texas proudly partners with the employee assistance programs (EAPs) of many agencies and businesses throughout North Texas.

Crescent Moon Logo 200 x 200Additional upcoming workshops at the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center will provide encouragement, support, information and assistance to help clients achieve the life changes they seek. If you have an idea for a retreat or workshop to be conducted there, please send an email to innkeeper@crescentmoonlodge.com or click here to access the online form.

 

About the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center:

Join us for a retreat into nature. The Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center is a relaxing, tranquil respite for groups, families and friends. The 5,000-square-foot lodge stands on 160 acres of wooded hills in the town of Rattan, Oklahoma, near the Texas-Oklahoma border. The Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center provides comfort and quiet reflection amid natural beauty. For more information, please go online to www.crescentmoonlodge.com.

About CCA North Texas:

CCA has provided counseling services to residents from McKinney and the surrounding area for more than 25 years. Founded by Dr. Suzanne Hales, CCA offers a staff that includes licensed professional counselors, social workers, therapists and a psychiatrist who provide counseling, psychotherapy and psychiatric care for adults, children, couples and families. CCA is located at 2750 W. Virginia Parkway, Suite 104 in McKinney. To make an appointment, please call 972-542-8144. For more information, please go to www.ccanorthtexas.com. CCA’s therapy provides encouragement, support, information and assistance to help you in the changes and transformations you seek in your life. We are honored to be a part of your process of change, and we applaud your courage in seeking assistance to make changes in your life.


Too Much Candy? McKinney Smiles Offers 5 Tips for Healthy Teeth after Halloween

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By Holly Becka, holly@horsepowercommunications.com

With Halloween fast approaching, North Texans are stocking up on candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters and parents are already worried about their kids gobbling too much sugar.

Dr. Paul Lawrence of McKinney Smiles Family and Cosmetic Dentistry is a parent too, so he understands the challenges that families face at Halloween – you want your kids to have fun but you don’t want them to overdo it. As a dentist, Dr. Lawrence has treated children with cavities caused by too much sugar and too little dental hygiene.

The good news, he says, is there are ways to sensibly approach Halloween so that everyone enjoys themselves – and avoids cavities.

Dr. Lawrence’s top five Halloween tips:

  1. Avoid sticky, extra-chewy candies, such as gummy bears, taffy, Starburst, Airheads, caramels and sugar-infused gum. “These types of candy not only stick to the teeth, but they stick between the teeth and can cause issues if you don’t properly brush and floss,” Dr. Lawrence says.
  2. Avoid hard candy, lollipops and treats that stay in your child’s mouth for a long time. “This type of candy bathes the teeth in sugar for an extended period,” Dr. Lawrence says.
  3. Limit Halloween candy and sugary foods so that your children are eating only a few treats – and always with a full meal that includes plenty of water to drink. “Eating a small amount of candy as dessert is important because saliva production increases when you eat a full meal, which helps neutralize acids and rinse away food particles,” Dr. Lawrence says. “Drink plenty of water with your meals, which also will help rinse food from your mouth.”
  4. Stock up on packets of gum with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Or, hand out alternative treats, such as scary stickers, shiny pennies, mini temporary tattoos, ghostly backpack pulls, spider rings or colorful pencils.
  5. Take your child on your Halloween shopping trip to stock up on alternative treats and let them pick out a fun, new toothbrush and color-coordinated interdental cleaners. Children and adults should brush their teeth at least twice per day with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and then floss as well. Interdental cleaners are often easier for children to use than floss. Be sure to have an adult supervise the child’s tooth-brushing habits to be sure they’re brushing their molars along with their front teeth.

halloween candyDr. Lawrence says that a limited amount of candy is OK, as long as children know their family’s established ground rules for Halloween – they must eat their treats with a meal and brush well afterward.

Parents with concerns about their child’s teeth are welcome to contact McKinney Smiles to set up an appointment to see Dr. Lawrence.

For nearly eight years, Dr. Lawrence has offered top-quality, comprehensive dental care for children and adults at McKinney Smiles, located at 2780 Virginia Parkway, Suite 201, in McKinney. A full screening of each patient’s oral health is among the first orders of business at McKinney Smiles.

Among McKinney Smiles’ services:

  • comprehensive dental care for adults and children;
  • preventive care;
  • orthodontics, including clear aligner orthodontics;
  • cosmetic dentistry;
  • whitening;
  • sedation dentistry;
  • restorative care;
  • one-visit root canals;
  • dentures;
  • and much more!

For more information, visit McKinney Smiles online at www.McKinneySmiles.com and on Facebook. Call today to book your appointment, 972-542-8400. New patient specials are ongoing.


New ManeGait Program Boosts Brain Development and Delivers Unbridled Hope

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Belle rides her favorite horse at ManeGait in McKinney, Texas. Photo courtesy of Lori Wilson Photography.

We were honored to tell the story of “GaitWay to the Brain,” a groundbreaking program at ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship in McKinney, Texas, that is having wonderful successes and making an incredible difference in the lives of so many families.

Here is the story, printed in the September 2013 issue of McKinney Magazine, which is published by the McKinney Chamber of Commerce.

New ManeGait Program Boosts Brain Development and Delivers Unbridled Hope

By Holly Becka, holly@horsepowercommunications.com

When it’s time to mount up, Belle Gordon enthusiastically climbs into the saddle on her favorite horse. Blond braids peek out of the 6-year-old’s riding helmet as she takes the reins and starts around the ring. Anyone watching sees a smiling, confident young rider.

Her parents see a miracle.

Belle is one of 23 participants making great strides in a new program that began last fall at ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship in McKinney, a nonprofit facility that provides equestrian skill-based lessons and services for North Texas children and adults with disabilities.

Called GaitWay to the Brain, the new program builds upon and amplifies the benefits that participants receive through therapeutic horseback riding. It’s based upon a growing body of scientific evidence that performing certain tasks and exercises can help form fresh neural pathways in the brain, leading to new cognitive connections that improve focus and understanding. Participants work on daily therapeutic activities at home to further boost the GaitWay program’s benefits.

ManeGait is the only therapeutic horsemanship program in the North Texas area to offer this unique “brain-building” program.

Amazing Progress

Belle, who has been diagnosed with Autism, was seeing a bevy of specialists when she started the GaitWay program in January 2013. Her parents hoped GaitWay – and therapeutic horseback riding in general – would augment Belle’s ongoing therapies, allow her to be surrounded by an accepting community and let her develop a new skill.

They didn’t expect that Belle would make astounding improvements in just six months.

“This is a different child than she was six months ago,” says her father, Ben Gordon. “Being in the GaitWay program – I think it’s the only way to explain the progress she’s made.”

Crystal Gordon, Belle’s mother, says the 6-year-old’s overall happiness has increased, she has a better sense of self, and her use of language “has just exploded.” Her parents explain that Belle’s new ability to use sentences and different words to communicate has made a world of difference because Belle feels far less frustrated than she had just six months ago.

“Belle has learned to read, write, do simple math, express her feelings as never before, to speak in sentences – not just in one-word communications – and desire pretend play and really take it far,” Crystal says.

Because Belle’s attention span has tripled, the 6-year-old now has the ability to self-regulate and can be around crowds and loud sounds. It’s been life-changing, her parents say. Their daughter now enjoys eating in public and going shopping at a grocery store or the mall. She even sat with rapt attention through her older brother’s band concert.

Crystal’s eyes well with tears when she talks about the positive changes she’s witnessed in her daughter. Perhaps one of the most important things that GaitWay has provided, she says, is hope.

An Organic Beginning

ManeGait Executive Director Patricia Nelson and Donor Relations Manager Landon Darling Schneider know that hope means a great deal for parents seeking to help their children with disabilities, and they are honored that ManeGait is known for providing it.

Founded in November 2007, ManeGait is a testament to the healing power of the horse. Riders with various disabilities learn to control a horse, gaining body strength, flexibility, better balance, improved range of motion and physical endurance, as well as improved cognitive, emotional and social skills. Riders receive assistance from Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International-registered instructors, more than 300 dedicated volunteers and carefully screened, calm horses.

Interestingly, Robin Harwell, the certified speech pathologist with 35 years of expertise who now directs the GaitWay program, initially was a ManeGait volunteer. She has a private practice, teaches fellow therapists how to integrate a neurobiological approach into work with their patients, and she formerly worked with a therapeutic horsemanship program in Louisiana.

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Therapist Robin Harwell and GaitWay to the Brain participant Belle are shown in the ManeGait barn. Photo courtesy of Lori Wilson Photography.

ManeGait’s board approved the GaitWay to the Brain pilot program, which began in fall 2012 with ManeGait donors’ support. The program is now being expanded thanks to a CoServ grant and additional donor funding.

Harwell explains that humans learn and interact as the brain receives information along three major sensory pathways – auditory, visual and vestibular (balance). Usually, the brain seamlessly processes this information. A disability or injury can negatively affect the receptive pathways, but the right tools can help improve brain function, especially since new brain cells are created every day, Harwell says. The old belief that someone is born with a certain number of brain cells and those cells die off over time is simply wrong, according to the latest scientific research.

“With brain-building techniques, you can change the architecture of the brain,” Harwell says. “We are literally laying down wiring that adds RAM to the brain.”

GaitWay participants arrive a half-hour before their regular riding lesson in order to work with Harwell. In a cozy gatehouse that is being transformed into cognitive brain-building center, riders take part in structured, specific exercises individualized to their needs. They listen to music designed to stimulate their brains and balance systems while being gently spun. They perform exercises, sing songs and even drink water to activate “brain buttons,” as the children call them. Goals are set, progress is noted and adjustments are made for each rider, who then works at home on activities designed to reinforce the brain building.

Harwell also works with the participants during their therapeutic horseback riding lessons. The result has been that GaitWay participants are more focused during their riding lessons so they get more from them. And that progress has been carrying over into everyday life.

Parents Rejoice

Holly Sanchez’s 4-year-old son, Christian Pietersz, has been working with Harwell since the GaitWay program began. The youngster’s speech and gait issues have improved, and he’s much more focused and calm.

One side of Christian’s body is weaker than the other, and GaitWay exercises along with therapeutic horseback riding have helped him grow stronger, Sanchez says. “It’s helping both sides of his brain to be retrained to work better together,” she says.

Sanchez and the Gordons watched their children play and dance before huddling together in front of a computer screen where a ManeGait volunteer had been working. When 6-year-old Belle noticed that a visitor was taking notes, she happily pointed at her name written on a notepad. Both she and Christian said the best part about visiting ManeGait is getting to ride their favorite horse.

Their parents say ManeGait and Robin Harwell have earned special places in their hearts.

“Robin was key in our success,” Crystal Gordon says. “She has changed our lives. The GaitWay program has allowed Belle to become a truly happy kid. We are forever grateful.”

For more information on ManeGait and the GaitWay to the Brain program, visit ManeGait.org. For more information about Harwell’s approach, visit BuildTheBrain.net. ManeGait attributes much of its success to its dedicated volunteers but notes that more volunteers are always needed. To volunteer at ManeGait, click on the “Volunteer” tab on ManeGait.org.

About the author: Holly Becka is the owner of HorsePower Communications, a public relations, marketing and business writing firm in McKinney. Email her at holly@horsepowercommunications.com.


Gotta Love that Organic Public Relations When Consumers Tweet Positively about Clients

Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to take part in a wine tasting and vineyard tour at Mitas Hill Vineyard in McKinney, Texas, which I’m proud to say is a new client.MitasHill_Logo_Brown_RESIZED

One of the things I’m helping the vineyard with is their social media. During the tour, I started receiving Twitter notifications on my phone indicating that someone on the tour was live Tweeting. It turned out that a gentleman on the tour with his lovely family was Tweeting and snapping photos — and he has since put his thoughts about the tour/wine tasting on his blog.

You can read him here: http://ciscosmissives.blogspot.com/2013/09/on-top-of-ol-smokey-mitas-hill-vineyard.html?m=1

He’s an engaging writer and his blog post about Mitas Hill is fun to read. I am thrilled with all the wonderful (and true!) things he has to say about the Mitas family and their beautiful vineyard and winery. The family’s goal is to make each valued guest’s experience the absolute best — treat them well, teach them new things and make the Texas wine that they grow and craft by hand as accessible as possible to longtime wine enthusiasts and those who are new to wine tastings. From this gentleman’s blog post, it’s obvious that the Mitas family accomplished all of that and more — he says his family will now measure other vineyards by the high standards set by Mitas Hill. Love it!

So, thank you @paacojavi712! It was great meeting you and your family. Thank you for all the kind words about Mitas Hill Vineyard.

Do me a favor and follow this gentleman on Twitter. I know I am!


Experts from CCA North Texas Offer Tips to Reduce Back-To-School Stress in Children

By Holly Becka, holly@horsepowercommunications.com

The start of a new school year is both exciting and stressful to children – even for those returning to familiar ground but especially for those going to a new school.200x200 CCA Logo

Experts from Counseling and Consulting Associates of North Texas (CCA North Texas) say parents can help reduce their children’s back-to-school stress and even make school preparations fun with the following five tips.

1. Start or continue back-to-school traditions. Ideas include letting your child choose their own school supplies during a back-to-school shopping trip, planning for special breakfasts kids can enjoy during the first week of school, or preparing special lunches together that students can take to school.

“Back-to-school traditions are rituals, and any shared ritual is an experience that grounds and strengthens families,” explains Dr. Suzanne Hales, a licensed professional counselor and founder of CCA North Texas. “Traditions are great because they provide an overall sense of belonging and establish the building blocks of trust in a family.”

2. Book an appointment to do a walk-through of your child’s school, especially if it’s a new school, and let your child create a special back-to-school photo book prior to the start of school. These creations can be made with colorful construction paper and photos you snap on your phone, says Todd Lawhorn, a licensed professional counselor and certified family life educator who works in private practice at CCA North Texas and serves as a counselor with the McKinney school district.

Todd Lawhorn“Let your child create a page showing them in each room of the school they’ll visit daily,” recommends Lawhorn, who has worked with children for more than two decades. “On each page, they can write down or draw examples of the things they’ll be doing in each room and what they’re most looking forward to doing as a positive affirmation. By visiting the school and becoming familiar with it, and then creating a book that visualizes their entire day, students will have less anxiety because they’ll already know what to expect. Children like routines and they like to have a plan.”

3. Create opportunities for play dates with peers where conversations can be shared about going to school, Lawhorn advises. Play dates may include meeting at the school playground to allow for peer-to-peer interactions that normalize and validate many feelings – such as fears or excitement – that come with the “first-day jitters.” It may even be fun to practice car pool procedures to alleviate any concerns about where to enter the school or where pick-up will occur at the end of the day.

“A combination of facilitated communication, practice and role play events, creative story writing and peer socialization can help minimize the anticipation of transitioning to school and can even maximize your child’s comfort level and confidence,” Lawhorn says.

4. Talk as a family about the new school year in the days leading up to the start of school. Parents can share stories about their school days and help their children strategize about ways to have a successful school day.

“If your child is expressing concerns about school, listen closely and validate their concerns,” Lawhorn says. “Then ask for your children’s opinions about how they might best address that concern – and work together to write out a plan.

“If your child has trouble offering insight into their feelings or needs, it is important to provide a sense of approachability,” Lawhorn explains. “One way to encourage openness is a non-directed approach by providing expressive art activities, cartoon strip writing or interactive play as teacher or student. Get involved, have some fun, and be a kid again modeling your excitement for school.”

5. Establish a routine. In the days leading up to school, students going into second or third grade should begin waking themselves up with their own alarm at a time that will allow them to be ready for school on time. Parents should heavily praise young children for waking themselves up. Older children should begin getting up at a time to ensure they’re used to getting ready for school on time.

“Depending on a child’s maturity level, children in second and third grade are old enough to be responsible for waking themselves up and getting ready for the day, with some assistance from their parents,” Dr. Hales says. “This teaches children they can rely on themselves, which will help their confidence as they navigate the school day.”

Both counselors say parents should keep the lines of communication open and let their children know that they are always there to support and love them unconditionally. On the first day of school, parents should ensure their actions mirror the positive messages they give their children – that school is a wonderful place and they will have a great day.

Lawhorn notes, “Parents need to remember that if they want their child to be brave and strong as they go into the classroom, they need to be able to model the same on the emotional-filled day.”

CCA North Texas offers an extensive staff of experts who provide confidential, comprehensive mental health care for children, adolescents, teens and adults. CCA’s staff is more than happy to meet with parents who would like to gain more effective parenting skills or need help breaking down communication barriers with their children. And, CCA works with children of all ages.

For more than 25 years, CCA has prided itself on offering the widest variety of counseling services and the most diverse group of specialists in Collin County – all conveniently housed under one roof. Its staff includes a vast variety of licensed counselors, social workers, play therapists, art therapists, psychologists and a psychiatrist offering care for individuals, couples and families.

Dr. Hales opened McKinney’s first family therapy center in 1986.Dr Hales-portrait lowres

“I opened CCA so that families or anyone needing a counselor’s care could find help in one place,” she says. “We recognize that for people who need help, it can be exhausting and overwhelming to seek different specialists for all of the different psychological and social needs an individual or family might have. That is why we provide so many specialties under one roof.”

CCA’s experts realize that life is hard and change is difficult, so their goals are to tailor their approach to each individual situation, Dr. Hales says. “We will listen, offer learning, help uncover your strengths, provide a respite, and allow you to discover what matters most in order to lead a healthier, more productive life,” she says.

Services include:

  • Individual, couples, family and group therapy
  • Diagnostic testing and therapy for autism spectrum disorders and ADD/ADHD (including drug-free therapies)
  • Play/art therapy for children
  • Art therapy for adults
  • Equine and pet therapy
  • Addiction therapy (alcohol, chemical, food, gambling, Internet, relational, etc.)
  • Grief counseling
  • Trauma/post-traumatic stress counseling
  • Attachment counseling
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) psychotherapy
  • Bilingual counseling
  • Psychiatric evaluation and medication
  • Crisis intervention
  • Bedside counseling for the terminally ill and their families
  • Consultations
  • Workshops/presentations

For weekend/week-long retreats and family or group gatherings, CCA offers the new Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center on 160 wooded acres in the beautiful Kiamichi Wilderness near the Texas-Oklahoma border, a pleasant drive from Collin County. To book a stay at the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center, please call 214-926-2074.

To make an appointment at CCA, please call 972-542-8144. CCA accepts most types of insurance, and CCA is proud to partner with the employee assistance programs (EAPs) of many agencies and businesses throughout North Texas.

About CCA North Texas:

CCA has provided counseling services to residents from McKinney and the surrounding area for more than 25 years. Founded by Suzanne Hales, CCA offers a staff that includes licensed professional counselors, social workers, therapists and a psychiatrist who provide counseling, psychotherapy and psychiatric care for adults, children, couples and families. CCA is located at 2750 W. Virginia Parkway, Suite 104 in McKinney. To make an appointment, please call 972-542-8144. For more information, please go to http://www.ccanorthtexas.com. At CCA, our therapy provides encouragement, support, information, and assistance to help you in the changes and transformations you seek in your life. We are honored to be a part of your process of change, and we applaud your courage in seeking assistance to make changes in your life.

About the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center:

Crescent Moon Logo 200 x 200Join us for a retreat into nature. The Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center is a relaxing, tranquil respite for groups, families and friends. The 5,000-square-foot lodge stands on 160 acres of wooded hills in the town of Rattan, Oklahoma, just across the Texas-Oklahoma border. The Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center provides comfort and quiet reflection amid natural beauty. For more information, please go online to http://www.crescentmoonlodge.com.


Sharing the Love: Kindness Pays in Business

One of the things we most love about owning our business is the opportunity to work with the people we choose to work with.

heartWhen talking with prospective clients and business partners, we recommend considering whether they’re a good fit both business-wise and personality-wise. Are they passionate and excited about what they do? Are they friendly and helpful? Do they treat others well? Will they treat you well? Do you want your business name associated with theirs?

Several months ago, we started working with Megan Hickman, an account manager at TownSquareBuzz.com, an engaging local news site in McKinney, Texas, one of the fastest-growing communities in the nation. Megan is the kind of person you enjoy working with — super nice, helpful at keeping our various client accounts organized, and just all around great at her job. She had sent a note sometime back to provide the latest statistics about stories and ads we helped coordinate for clients — so we dashed off a quick note of thanks and expressed gratitude for all of her help. When she asked if she could use it as a testimonial online for prospective advertisers, we added to what we had already written so that it more fully expressed our thoughts.

TownSquareBuzz just revamped their website, and it looks great — and our testimonial is featured here, on the main advertising page under “Testimonial.”

We love that they’ve shared our gratitude and given us some love in the process. Thanks, TownSquareBuzz!


Excited to See Mitas Hill Vineyard in McKinney Receive Much-Deserved Publicity

We were honored to have been asked to help Mitas Hill Vineyard in McKinney increase the public’s awareness about this beautiful family-owned/family-managed vineyard and winery.

HorsePower Communications was happy to reach out to a small group of area news outlets to invite them to attend Mitas Hill’s annual public grape harvest, and we were delighted and gratified that Mitas Hill received well-deserved media attention.

MitasHill

The Mitas family are grape-growing and Texas wine experts, and they are about to embark on a huge construction project that will lead to the 2014 opening of a new 15,000-square-foot special events center. The center will offer an elegant venue for weddings, corporate events, wine education seminars — and all kinds of fun stuff. Members of the public will also be able to buy special memberships with unique perks that will allow them to experience the art of winemaking and enjoy the lovely, exclusive wines created and bottled on-site at Mitas Hill (and only available there).

Thank you to our friends in the news media for helping us tell the great story of Mitas Hill Vineyard.

More to come about Mitas Hill Vineyard! Stay tuned!


McKinney Ladies Association to Provide $50,000 for Scholarship Fund Benefiting Children of First Responders

McKinney, Texas – The McKinney Ladies Association (MLA) presented a $50,000 check Friday that will fund college scholarships for the children of McKinney’s first responders during the next 10 years.

“The $50,000 check we gave represents MLA’s commitment to provide $5,000 in scholarship funds each year for the next decade,” MLA President Becky Smeltzer said. “For the past several years, MLA has proudly contributed to this scholarship fund benefiting the children of McKinney’s police officers and firefighters. Our presentation Friday formalizes the commitment we have to continuing our support of this wonderful scholarship fund.”

The scholarship fund was founded by Bob and Sheila Johnson of Johnson Insurance & Financial, a financial service company in McKinney that has served the North Texas area for decades. Sheila Johnson is also an MLA member.

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MLA members presented a check on June 14 to benefit a scholarship fund for the children of McKinney’s first responders. State Rep. Scott Sanford and McKinney Police and Fire Department officials took part in the check presentation.

Also on Friday, MLA donated $5,000 to the scholarship fund from proceeds raised during MLA’s Spring 2013 Yard Sale, which was held in May. The Johnsons plan to present scholarships to deserving graduates this summer.

“MLA is so honored to provide this scholarship money because we feel it’s a way we can give back to the public servants who provide crucial services for our community and who rush to help us all at a moment’s notice,” Smeltzer said.

MLA is already preparing for its Fall 2013 Yard Sale, set for 7 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 21 in the parking lot of Stonebridge United Methodist Church, 1800 S. Stonebridge Drive in McKinney.

Registration is ongoing for anyone who would like to sell items during the sale, which will also raise scholarship funds for children of first responders. To participate, members of the community may reserve a space to sell items (except concessions) by contacting coordinator Connie Hollstein-Drexel at cjhollstein[at]aol.com. The cost to reserve one of the 126 available spaces is $45. Sellers’ reservations must be received by Sept. 16.

Shoppers are welcome Sept. 21, and the sale will occur rain or shine. Adults are asked to donate $1 in order to browse and shop.

About MLA:

The McKinney Ladies Association (MLA) is dedicated to supporting the children and families of our community through special events and fundraising efforts organized by MLA. For more information about MLA or to find out how to become a member of this exciting women’s organization, please visit www.mckinneyladies.org. Look for us on Facebook at McKinney LadiesAssociation and on Twitter at @McKinneyLadies.

 About HorsePower Communications:

HorsePower Communications is a firm in McKinney, Texas, that specializes in public relations, public participation, business writing/editing and marketing. The firm is owned by Holly Becka, a former news reporter with more than 20 years of communications experience and expertise in public/media relations consulting, project management, writing and editing.


Ad for CCA North Texas and Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center Featured at Cooper Aerobics Center in McKinney, Texas

The ad for Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center and CCA North Texas that we have running on a continual loop at the Cooper Aerobics Center in Craig Ranch, in McKinney, Texas.

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