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FROM THE EDITOR: Grants, calendars and a dress code

On Wednesday, the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation gave away $55,000 to two dozen non-profits, but that wasn’t the best part of the morning.

This is the foundation’s 48th year handing out checks, but its bigger value goes much deeper. Twenty-two groups — from Paws Patrol to the Sahuarita Food Bank — received $1,000 or $2,000 to help keep the operations afloat. Two other groups — the Community Performance and Art Center and the GVR Foundation — each received $12,500 to help set up endowment funds with the goal of sustainability and attracting more donations in the future (donors like groups they know are going to be around a while).

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That’s the real value of the Community Foundation — coming alongside non-profits to help them strengthen everything from their boards to their bottom line through wise decision-making and support from like-minded organizations. Michelle Phillips, the foundation’s executive director, graduated 24 non-profits from its recent training series carried out by their Non-Profit Learning Institute. If you’re with a non-profit and don’t know about it, get ahold of her. NPLI is transforming the non-profit scene around Green Valley.

But the best part of the day? Michelle handed over the microphone to the non-profits to share what they’ve been up to. I wish everybody had been in the room. Board member Jim Nelson called it “one of the best days of the year.”

He’s right, because Green Valley rises and falls on its non-profits, and to hear how they’re serving the community is humbling and exciting.

The services cover everything from counseling to food banks, animal care to the arts. All non-profits serving you.

“We couldn’t do it without the support of this community,” Patti O’Berry said. She heads up Hands of a Friend, which runs Genesis House domestic violence shelter and other services, including DaZee’s consignment shop to support the effort. They receive zero public dollars.

Congratulations to Michelle Phillips, the Non-Profit Learning Institute and the Community Foundation. Great work in a community that truly appreciates it.

Calendar call

We received nearly 300 photos last year when we put out the call for our first — and very successful — calendar. Just 14 made the 2017 calendar, but every shot went into an online slideshow that had thousands of visitors (you can see it at

We’re ready to do it again. Our new 14-month calendar (December 2017 to January 2019) will be published in November, and we’d like to highlight your work.

Here are some basic rules:

•Think about the shape of a calendar and shoot for that hole. Ours is horizontal to squarish, so that’s what we’d like.

•Photos don’t have to be new. If you took a great shot last year, send it in. Still in love with the shot you submitted last year? We’ll take another look. If you were in last year’s calendar you can still enter — everybody’s welcome.

•All entries are going into an online slideshow, which launches with the arrival of the first photo. We might also use shots in our other publications.

•You’ll be credited by name in the calendar and online. Enter as many photos as you like.

•Everything must be emailed and we’ll accept entries through Sept. 17.

•Send entries to assistant editor David Rookhuyzen at:, and put “Calendar photo” in the subject line. Tell us who took the photo, where and when.

She did WHAT?!

We needed a good laugh out of Washington, and Rep. Martha McSally delivered.

The Speaker’s Lobby, a room next to the House chamber where lawmakers often meet reporters, has an unwritten dress code: dresses and blouses with sleeves for women, jackets and ties for men. No tennis shoes or open-toed shoes. They call it “appropriate business attire.”

Several women have been turned away over naked arms, including a reporter last week.

On Wednesday, Rep. McSally entered the kerfuffle, and from the House floor no less, in a statement directed at House Speaker Paul Ryan, who’d recently endorsed the dress code.

“Before I yield back, I want to point out, I’m standing here in my professional attire, which happens to be a sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes,” McSally said. “With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back.”

On Thursday, Ryan noted that the decades-old dress code likely needs updating and promised to get on it.

This isn’t the first time McSally has challenged a dress code. She brought a lawsuit against the Department of Defense in 2001 over the military policy requiring U.S. servicewomen in Saudi Arabia to wear an abaya — a body covering — while off base. She won that round, too.

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10:47 Publié dans Dress Code | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)


Some West Texas merchants donate wedding for Air Force groom

White linens, blue flowers and period piano music from the 1940s filled the Cactus Hotel on Saturday for a donated wedding to remember.

The San Angelo Standard-Times reports as bride Sarah Davenport walked down the historic aisle, lined with flickering candles and rose petals, groom Jeffrey Mercado, an active-duty military member stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base, couldn't contain the wide smile on his face.

Although the Cactus Hotel holds countless weddings every year, this one was unique, because it was entirely cost-free for the bride and groom.

"Except for them buying their own personal items, like garters and toasting glasses, they haven't been out one penny," said Tinker Keeney, owner of local wedding-planning business Happily Ever After.

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Keeney, the organizer of the event, had been trying for several years to coordinate a donated wedding for a local military member, when the base put her in touch with Mercado and Davenport in November 2016.

"They had planned on getting married, but they couldn't afford much," Keeney explained. After hearing the couple's love story, and learning about Mercado's service in the military, Keeney selected the two as recipients for the free wedding.

"(Mercado) put his life totally on hold ... all he had was the service until he met her," Keeney said. "If they're going to put their life out there, risk their life for us ... why can't we do something for them?"

As Keeney began garnering support from local businesses, the community was more than willing to help.

Southwest Florist donated floral arrangements and bouquets, Eclipse Mobile DJ and Terry Mikeska supplied music, Kenny Blanek's Village Cafe catered the event, the Cactus Hotel donated space, and several other local businesses chipped in as well.

When Mercado and Davenport first heard they would receive the free wedding, they thought it was too good to be true.

"At first I thought, 'is this real?' I was very skeptical (because) it's a lot to do for someone. It's unheard of," Mercado said."Once I found out (it was real), I was very grateful that the community was able to do that for a military member."

When the bride saw the venue and decorations, which totaled about $20,000 in donations, she was "taken away. It was really beautiful. It was better than what I had imagined in my head."

At the wedding, guests were given toy soldiers, as tokens to remind them to "pray for our men and women."

The wedding also featured a Missing-In-Action ceremony, which included a table with five empty seats remaining untouched. The five hats resting on the table represented all branches of the military, and those members who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Various items also rested untouched at the table, including a lemon, representing the bitterness of the prisoners-of-war, salt, to honor of the tears cried by family members, a rose, in remembrance of those lost, and a yellow ribbon, to signify that the military has not given up on them.

Approximately 130 individuals attended the wedding, and although it was formal, guests also danced, laughed and ate cake, all while dressed in attire from the1940s .

"There was not a place I could call home until I met you," Mercado said to Davenport during the couple's wedding vows.

Mercado currently serves as a medic in the Air Force and has been stationed at Goodfellow AFB for three years. Mercado met Davenport while dancing with friends when he first moved to San Angelo.

"I'm a workaholic ... and Sarah was a single parent at the time ... We were out dancing and I saw Sarah's friend who I know. Long story short, Sarah and I danced a few times, sat down to exchange numbers ... and went out on a date," Mercado explained.

To propose, Mercado cooked Davenport one of their favorite meals. "After dinner, he ... dropped down on one knee and said 'I love you and I love your kids. Will you please marry me?' I started crying and said 'Yes,'" Davenport said, smiling.

Mercado joined the military at 19 years old while living in New Jersey, and has been active-duty for the last 16 years. Although he has many military stories, his most memorable occurred while stationed overseas in Afghanistan.

When an injured man needed an emergency blood transfusion and the medics ran out of donated blood, Mercado gave his own blood for the patient.

"(My blood) was given right back to me to put in my patient," Mercado said. "I was able to tell him at the end that we'll be connected for life because (he has) some of my blood ... and he was very grateful."

"That was my most memorable moment in my entire career," Mercado added.

While he's been stationed in a variety of locations during his time in the service, Mercado said San Angelo has been the most hospitable.

"(San Angelo) has been one of the best places that I've served. To be honest, when I first got here, I was a bit skeptical about this place because I'm from a big city ... but everybody is so nice here and so grateful for our military and our police," Mercado said. "Let me tell you, I fell in love with this place ... and I will retire here."

For local businesses, the wedding was an opportunity to give back to members of the military.

"(Military members) are good to us ... and we should be good to them," said Karla Stemple, owner of Southwest Florist. "I just think it's the right thing to do."

Keeney, whose father served in World War II, felt personally invested in putting on the wedding, and hopes to give one annually to members of the military or individuals who have experienced personal tragedies.

"I hope that it shows that everybody has something they can do. (The sponsors) didn't have a million dollars to donate, but they had something they could do," Keeney said.

In a few weeks, when Mercado is given leave, the bride and groom will travel to the Dominican Republic for their honeymoon.

"I am thankful for everybody's kindness and for taking care of our service members. I've never seen that anywhere else in my life, so I'm very grateful to be (in San Angelo)," Mercado said.

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12:17 Publié dans wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)


More hemp-themed weddings hitting the aisle

Every bride-to-be wants her wedding to be special. And trying to incorporate cannabis into your festivities is about as unique as it gets.

With the increasing popularity – and legality – of hemp and cannabis products, trend watchers are predicting that we’ll start to see more of these elements in mainstream weddings.

From gowns crafted out of hemp to sprigs of marijuana plants in floral arrangements to offering adult guests not only alcohol, but also legal recreational marijuana products, brides are finding more ways to make cannabis a part of their special day.

One bride who went this direction last summer was Spokane native Teresa Foster, who started with the goal of wanting something environmentally friendly.


“At first I didn’t even think about a hemp gown; it was more about doing away with the extra plates and cups that are used at receptions,” she said. “We were at the age where we were going to several weddings every summer, and the excess garbage really turned me off having a big wedding.”

So she searched for ways to make her event as eco-friendly as possible, including finding a gown made of natural hemp fibers, and designing a sustainable menu.

Foster and her husband Paul decided to get married in Colorado since that state was a little ahead in the overall acceptance of hemp and related products. They remain Colorado residents.

The couple used Teresa’s mother’s china instead of disposable tableware, which also added more of a personal touch, plus less waste.

“I think it made her very proud – if not a little more uptight that something might happen to it though,” she said.

The couple made the food simpler to cut down on leftovers. Instead of a formal sit-down dinner, they offered multiple appetizers.

“Whatever wasn’t eaten, which wasn’t much, my sisters packaged up in recyclable containers and gave to guests who wanted to bring food home,” she says. “After several hours of dancing and partaking, we had many takers.”

Along with providing alcohol, the Fosters also chose to have a hemp and cannabis bar, where guests could enjoy hemp-infused drinks such as Hemplify, a beverage flavored with essential oils, and other non-psychoactive hemp plant ingredients. They also served THC-infused foods and elixirs to guests who enjoy partaking.

“We told our friends to feel free to bring their vape pens, since a lot of them prefer to party with cannabis rather than drink,” she said. “We just wanted everyone to be as chilled and comfortable as possible.”

The first step, however, was the dress. Foster wanted to go with a material that was environmentally safe and also know where the fabric came from. She chose a hemp-silk blend fabric gown processed without chemicals from the Hempist, an eco-friendly online retailer. Her mom enhanced it with pieces from her grandmother’s wedding gown.

“I got married in August, so my comfort in the heat was essential,” she said. “Hemp gowns are just as uniquely beautiful, not to mention comfortable and cool.”

It’s not hard for cannabis enthusiasts to show their love of the herb – and their special someones — with hemp gowns, infused drinks, vaping stations and pot-leaf bouquets.

The, an online resource for brides-to-be, recently asked members how they felt about cannabis at weddings.

More than 67 percent of the 1,000 survey-takers voted “Yeah! I’d love to go to that wedding,” whereas 22 percent voted “No! Drugs don’t belong at weddings.” The remaining 11 percent stated “I’m not for or against it.”

Proponents say that, in places where weed is legal, pot’s presence is no different than alcohol. Open bars are often a staple at weddings and some even have designated smoking sections.

However, before you invite your guests to smoke ‘em if they’ve got ‘em, make sure you’re abiding by state and local laws.

The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board said consumption is illegal if it’s at a public venue, like a park. It’s also illegal if it’s at a private venue but can be seen by the public, like a patio.

Banquet permits allow temporary liquor sales, but cannabis is prohibited. Caterers also aren’t allowed to provide cannabis-infused menus since this could be considered selling marijuana without a license, and event hosts/guests who want to provide marijuana to guests may quickly exceed their individual possession limits.

But even with the restrictions, which vary from state to state, the wedding industry is trying to offer more services and products.

“Every year there are more and more weddings where cannabis is incorporated,” said Philip Wolf, CEO and co-founder of the Cannabis Wedding Expo, which holds annual bridal shows in San Francisco, Denver and Portland.

At Denver’s first expo last year, Wolf said 35 companies offered hemp gowns and “420”-themed bouquets, plus infused catering and bud-tending services and plenty of other elements. It was so successful that 1,500 attendees and 75 companies participated at expos in the other cities last year, and twice that many at the 2017 expos.

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05:18 Publié dans wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)