Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
What does it take to make a city special? Sometimes you look forward, and sometimes you look back. About a hundred of Irving’s most prominent citizens and business people came together Oct. 9 to focus on the past, shining a spotlight on about fifty of the organizations that have been a part of Irving for decades.
Following are some of the attendees’ thoughts and reflections.
“It’s just kind of a fun thing we’re doing to show appreciation,” said Chris Wallace, event co-chair and President of the Irving Heritage Society. “This is in honor of the 100th anniversary of Irving’s Heritage House. It is a wonderful landmark and historical museum in our downtown Heritage District.
“In March we did a similar event only with the city’s oldest businesses. This honors the oldest organizations. We’ll thank them one-on-one for what they’ve done for Irving.
“Many were founded long before the city of Irving. They’re really what makes the city tick.”
“These organizations have been aging along with the house,” said Mary Oberlin, event co-chair. “I think 46 – 47 organizations are here tonight. We’re delighted that all of them could come.”
“Let us praise the human instinct to improve the quality of life for others by seeing what needs to be done and doing it.
“Looking around the room you see people who have what?” asked event hostess, Diann Contestabile. “Spunk! None of this retiring and saying, ‘what am I going to do with myself the rest of my life?’
“Instead, you have become important to many people, to each other, and to Irving.”
State Representative Linda Harper Brown presented a proclamation; which in part read: “The effort to preserve and restore the residence began at the time of the nation’s bicentennial and helped spark a strong interest in local history that has continued into the present.
“Irving would not be what it is today without these organizations. Congratulations to all of the organizations represented here. You have made Irving a very special place to live.”
“Our group was established in Irving in 1968,” said Judge Bob Whitney, representing AmBucs. “About twenty years ago we started giving adaptive trikes to children with disabilities. And about two years ago we developed a trike for wounded warriors. In Irving our club gives anywhere between 125 and 150 trikes away each year.”
“We’re celebrating our fifty years anniversary next spring,” said Skip Wilson, Baylor Medical Center Irving. “Our lease with Baylor was renewed last year for thirty-five more years, so the Baylor name will stay on the hospital for a long time.
“I don’t think there are many hospitals that have the support from the community the way we do. That’s been remarkable: philanthropically and just saying ‘That’s our hospital’. We’re very lucky.”
“We were once known as Rotary Anns, and we’ve been in Irving since 1978,” said Flor Smith, Women of Rotary. “We’re the wives and widows of Rotarians and we meet three times a year.
“We have our own projects, and for the last two years, we’ve been giving to the residence for homeless teenagers.”
“We are 62 years old this year in Irving,” said Dave Ross, Irving Kiwanis Club. “We’ve narrowed our range of projects lately but still focus on children, priority one, and our school programs. Getting support for our Key Club program for high school students will be crucial.”
“I represent the young generation, stepping up to lead an older organization (established in 1964),” said Danny (“D.J.”) Rogers with the West Irving Improvement Association. “We’ve worked together through trials and tribulations in our community. We won’t advance unless we stick together. One person can’t do it alone. It takes unity, leadership, compassion and outreach.
“It is nice to be here, to see the history of these organizations and meet the people behind them.”