Category Archives: Community Events

Irving Historical Society celebrates Mary Schulze’s 100th birthday


A birthday party honored one of Irving’s most famous children on Sunday, July 16.

The Irving Historical Society celebrated the 100th birthday of Mary Schulze, daughter of one of the founders of Irving, C.P. Schulze, by opening up Mary’s Playhouse to a backyard birthday party. The playhouse, part of the Irving Heritage House, started off as a humble chicken coop and was later repurposed by C.P. Schulze into a playhouse for his daughter. Mary used the playhouse not just throughout her childhood, but well into her adult years as well.

“Mary used this [building] when she was a little girl as a playhouse,” Patty Caperton, chairwoman of the Mary’s Playhouse committee, said. “Then when she grew up, most of her career was in teaching and as a librarian in Corpus Christi. But when she would come home to visit, this would be sort of her quiet place of contemplation.”

Over time, the playhouse fell into disrepair. When the Irving Heritage Society decided to renovate it in 2012, the building was beyond repair. The old building was razed, and the new playhouse was recreated from the ground up, using much of the wood and materials from the original house.

Mary’s Playhouse was re-opened to the public in November of 2015 and has since been used by the Historical Society to help educate guests, especially children, about what life was like for children growing up in Irving in the 1920s. While the Heritage House offers tours of the playhouse every month, Caperton said that the birthday party is one of the first larger-scale events to be held at the playhouse.

“We like to show the children in the community about their history, and that there were little boys and girls around and having fun,” Caperton said. “For today’s event, we were trying to look at popular games in the 1920s.”

Children participated in games such as croquet, checkers, sack races and fishing. They also took tours of the playhouse and learned about the various toys and games children played in Mary’s time.

Gail Norris, an independent business owner and member of the Irving Heritage Society, brought her grandson, 13-year-old Jordan Davis, to the event.

“I learned more things about Mary’s Playhouse than I thought I knew,” Norris said. “It’s been a barrel of fun.”

Norris added that Irving schools should consider bringing more students to the playhouse so kids can learn about the city’s history first-hand.

“[We need to] get the schools to know about these events and come to the playhouse and learn the history,” Norris said. “A good way to learn about Mary’s Playhouse is as they show you around, really listen so you can tell others. The first Sunday of every month is a good chance for all the kids to start.”

Parents can help educate their children about local history by taking them to Irving Historical Society events.

“Our teachers have been great in telling the kids about their history,” Caperton said. “But I think if parents would just take time, like on a Sunday afternoon, and bring their kids over and let them see [history] first-hand, I think that gets kids excited, because then they have a memory of what toys were like and who these real people were back then.”

Joint Fire Training Facility promises improved firefighter, policemen training

The City of Irving and the Grand Prairie Fire Departments came together to host the grand opening of their joint Fire Training Facility, located at 4850 N. Belt Line Road, on Friday, July 21.

The new $4 million facility features a five-story burn tower composed of apartments, commercial offices, and a balcony. The burn tower also includes an elevator shaft, rappel panel and training access hatches. The facility will train incoming and current firefighters on various techniques involved in fire safety and rescue.

The Fire Training Facility also has a 4,000-square-foot building, which contains classrooms, kitchens and a break room for the firefighters.

“I want to thank the city council and the city manager for supporting this,” said Irving Fire Chief, Victor Conley. “We haven’t had a facility to train at since 1968.

“This facility is going to help our first responders to be better prepared to respond to emergencies where there is a lot of muscle memory that kicks in, because they go through the training on a regular basis. It’s going to help our community and our fire department be better.

“By the addition of this facility, the fire department was able to help the city of Irving achieve an ISO-1 insurance rating. It will reduce insurance rates, have a huge impact on economic development, and bring more corporate partners to our city while keeping taxes low for our citizens.”

“We bought this land years ago, and there is a whole master site to develop this property,” Conley said. “This is just the first component. There will be classrooms, and an emergency operation center. We plan to have a rifle and gun range for our police department.”

Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer feels cooperation was a key component in the creation of the joint Fire Training Facility.

“It’s a great day for the city of Irving and the city of Grand Prairie,” Stopfer said. “To the community, it shows the spirit of cooperation we have between our two cities. I think regionalism is important, because it shows the responsibilities of both cities working together to bring one city together, so we can share those costs and be mindful of the citizens’ dollars.

“For the future, it shows we’re committed to having the facility and the tools our firefighters need for our future growth and development for the city. As we grow it’s becoming more and more evident that the firefighters have to be well trained.”

Mark your calendar!

Blood Donation
July 30, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Thousands of people have responded to the emergency call for blood donations issued by the American Red Cross in early July, but there continues to be a critical summer blood shortage. Eligible donors of all types are urgently needed.

After issuing the emergency call, the Red Cross has experienced a 30 percent increase in blood donation appointments through mid-July. Despite this improvement, blood products are still being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in, so more donations are needed to meet patient needs and replenish the blood supply.

A blood donation drive will be held at Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Parish, 2323 Cheyenne Street, Irving.

Free Genealogy Classes
August 4 – 18, 12:30 p.m. 

Free genealogy classes are available to the public provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, who has created the largest collection of family records in the world. A three part course will be offered at The Summit Active Adult Center in Grand Prairie.

Topics that will be covered include Genealogy for Beginners, Sources for Genealogical Information and Search Techniques for Genealogical Information. Instructors for the course are Elder and Sister Grieve, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints.

Classes will be Fridays at 12:30 pm. The class is free for all Summit members. Nonmembers may be charged a $5 entrance fee by The Summit.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints collection of family records includes more than 3 billion deceased people and has 5,003 family history centers in 138 countries.



Blaze burns through warehouse

At 12:07 p.m. June 21, the Irving Fire Department (IFD) responded to a structure fire at 1720 E. HWY 356 (Old Irving Blvd). The business name is New World International (NWI). This building consists of NWI, another warehouse business and several retail stores.

The fire was confined to the NWI warehouse. A second alarm was requested by the Incident Commander due to the size of the building, difficulty in reaching the fire through debris, and the high ambient temperature, which greatly affects the rehab process for our firefighters.

DFW Airport Fire Department was also requested to assist by providing their truck mounted high-volume ventilation fan capable of ventilating large buildings in a short amount of time. This worked well and allowed the smoke to be cleared from the structure permitting crews to continue digging through debris and extinguishing hot spots.

Two people were affected by light smoke inhalation; both were treated and released by IFD EMS crews. No injuries to IFD personnel were reported.

IFD crews mitigated the fire in a short amount of time.

The bystanders in the area are to be commended for calling 911 immediately, allowing for quick dispatch of IFD equipment. In the age of social media, often, bystanders become focused on obtaining video for social media and 911 calls are delayed. This was not the case today, and quick 911 calls helped the IFD in getting there quickly and limited the property damage.

SOURCE Irving Fire Department

Non-profits join forces for Irving Kids Charity Golf Classic

CORRECTED: The golf classic was postponed due to weather to Friday, July 21 at 12:30pm.

Local charities teamed up to support kids during the 5th annual Irving Kids Charity Golf Classic Kickoff Party, hosted at the Cool River Club in Irving on Thursday, June 8.

Originated by David Pfaff and Andy Nadel, the event is a collaboration between five different Irving charities: Irving YMCA, Irving School Foundation, Irving Healthcare Foundation, Irving-Las Colinas Rotary Club, and the La Buena Vida Foundation. Attendees raised funds for these charities by participating in silent and live auctions throughout the evening. The proceeds from the event and the golf event will be divided equally between all five organizations. Last year, the event raised over $200,000 and this year the goal is $250,000.

Crystal Scanio, executive director of the Irving Schools Foundation, feels this event is unique because the charities are working towards one common goal instead of competing against one another.

“Usually charities compete for money,” Scanio said. “Asking five charities to work together to raise money for one great cause was very different. But it’s completely worked out, and it’s a great partnership between these different charities to raise money for one great product, which is our children.”

For some organizations, the Charity Classic is their biggest fundraiser of the year. John Munoz, executive director of the Irving YMCA, explained that his charity’s portion of the funds will be used to ensure everyone can participate in YMCA programs.

“The money we raise from this event goes to help us provide scholarships and financial aid to individuals,” Munoz said. “That way, they can take part in the YMCA programs, whether they are kids getting free swim lessons, or cancer survivors coming to the Y for a free 12-week program so that they can find their new self, or members who need help because times are tough for them. We provide scholarships so they can all be part of the Y and the community.”

Joy Goodrum, executive director of the La Buena Vida Foundation, hopes the funds will go a long way toward providing new housing for young at-risk women in Irving.

“Irving Schools are telling us that there are female students who have no place to go,” Goodrum said. “As of right now, we don’t have the funds to be able to start a new apartment for them. This [event] could mean the start of a new apartment, which could change the lives of at least four young ladies who are enrolled in our Irving high schools.”

But it is not just one night out of the year that these five charities work together. Many of them collaborate on events year-round. Laura Manning, senior officer of the Irving Healthcare Foundation, said her organization has been working with the Irving Schools Foundation to help fight childhood obesity and this event will be a big help.

“We need the money to help support programs to fight childhood obesity,” Manning said. “Our main focus right now is diabetes. We’re trying to catch people early when they’re young, learn healthy eating habits, learn about fitness, and try to keep that from being a problem later in life.”

John Munoz of the YMCA said collaborating with these other non-profits throughout the year is part of what makes Irving so unique and it is the kids that matter most.

“Irving is really one of the most unique places in that all of the non-profits all year long work together,” he said. “We’re not very territorial. We all know that we’re here to service the kids and the community, and so we all band together to do whatever we can to help each other.”

Crystal Scanio added other cities can learn from Irving about how non-profits co-operate and not just compete.

“I think this could be a really great case study for other cities to see that you can work together, as long as you have a common cause,” Scanio said. “We’re all working for the best that Irving can be.”

Young men graduate high school with a little help

They could have easily been forgotten. Instead, a group of four young men celebrated a milestone at the La Buena Vida High School Graduation Party held at the Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce building on Monday, June 5th.

“All four were looking at having to drop out because they had no way to get to school,” said Joy Goodrum, executive director of La Buena Vida. “They had nowhere to live to get ready for school, and they had no transportation to get there.”

La Buena Vida is an Irving-based non-profit organization that helps homeless and at-risk students by providing transitional housing as well as skills to succeed in school and life.

The organization also operates La Buena Vida House, the first homeless shelter specifically for teens in Irving, which opened its door back in 2015.

La Buena Vida has provided over 17 students with transitional housing. This year’s graduating class consists of three young men from MacArthur High School and one from Irving High School.

Members of the Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as members of the community all came out to congratulate the graduates, many bearing graduation gifts. J.C. Gonzales, chairman of the board for the Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, explained how the chamber became involved with La Buena Vida.

“Joy serves on our board and last year there was not one dry eye in the board meeting when she was sharing what her experience was with two of the young men graduating,” Gonzales said. “Those two young men were on the telephone trying to find relatives and trying to get a hold of someone so that they could attend and watch them cross the stage, but no one answered the phones. The only person there was Joy.”

Gonzales personally wanted to help the kids out, as he understands a little bit about the situation these kids face.

“I come from a challenging background and sometimes growing up, I felt alone and no child should feel that way,” Gonzales said. “When we see these young men go through those challenges, I want to help them out and be the person that I needed when I was growing up.”

Marquis M. and Brandon D. were two of the four graduates of this year’s class. Both graduated from MacArthur High School. Marquis is currently working at Tom Thumb and wants to compete in the Special Olympics, while Brandon is planning on studying to become an electrician.

“It’s really a blessing,” Marquis said. “I’ve just met a lot of people like Miss Joy and her friends and they really helped me to get there. It’s changed my life forever.”

“It’s meant a lot to me, because they helped me get through some tough times throughout high school and they help me finish it when the time came down to it,” Brandon said.

Michael W. graduated from Irving High School last year and is currently working at Whataburger while looking at attending classes at North Lake College. He talked about the challenges he faced that led him to La Buena Vida.

“Me and my dad, we had some problems,” Michael said. “He had to kick me out of his house, and I ended up homeless on the street. But then, the rec center told me, ‘We’d like for you to join this program.’ They gave a call to La Buena Vida, and I met Miss Joy and Mr. Ben. They gave me a talk and they said I was in.”

He added that finally getting to walk across the stage was a surreal experience.

“It was pretty crazy, seeing everybody congratulating you,” Michael said. “High school was a great experience, but you got to move on from it. It’s just part of life.”

Wounded warrior race supports veterans


More than 3,000 runners from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area woke up early Sunday morning, June 11, to race around the Urban Center as part of the ninth annual Wounded Warrior Military Miles half marathon, 10K, and 5K.

A post-race party followed the race with food, drinks, and live music. The race is put together by Dallas Athletes Racing and the money raised goes to three military charities: Wounded Warrior Project, Fisher House and Team Red White and Blue (RWB).

“There’s not a singular purpose, there are multiple purposes for this event,” said executive producer for Dallas Athletes Racing (DAR) Tom Ryan.

“If you look at one, it’s the whole energy that surrounds the military support here in the United States that’s the glue, but at the same time we’re heavy into health and fitness,” he said. “You combine high profile, active, benefitting charities along with health and fitness in a very active city; it’s a great recipe.”

DAR has partnered with Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) since the beginning of this event.

“Our original partner is Wounded Warrior Project, and then we added Fisher House, and last year added Team RWB,” Ryan said.

WWP provides a variety of services, programs, and events for wounded veterans of the military following 9/11. Fisher House helps military families by providing them a place to stay at no cost while a loved one receives treatment. Team RWB is the newest partner charity to benefit from this event. They supports veterans making the transition from military to civilian life.

Members from all three of the organizations actually ran the course and participated in the race. Jim Theisen, a member of Team RWB, ran the race before Team RWB became a partnering charity.

“I’ve run this race ever since its inception,” Theisen said. “I do this race every year because it supports the military and I’m a Vietnam veteran. I run it for the people overseas who cannot run it.”

The race grows bigger each year and brings more awareness to the partner causes. For the first time, Exeter Finance, a subprime auto finance company, gathered a group of their employees to volunteer and participate in the race.

“We have a program in our company called Xvets, so we recruit a lot of veterans to come work for our company,” said Hart Jackson, executive assistant for Exeter Finance. “When we found out about this run, we wanted to make sure some of our veterans and our employees got out here and participated.”

Jackson said it is important to show support for the veterans and military and he hopes to participate in all future Wounded Warrior races.

“I hope this is definitely something we continue doing, because this is who we recruit to work for us, our veterans,” Jackson said. “We are really big on recruiting veterans in our company. It’s just a great cause to support.”

Next year, the Wounded Warrior race will celebrate its 10-year-anniversary and Ryan is glad that the event continues to grow.

“This year we had more runners, the most vendor support we’ve ever had, and we’ve raised thousands and thousands of dollars for our three charity partners,” Ryan said. “The event is a win-win because it helps the charities, it helps the athletic community, it brings awareness to the charities, and it brings awareness to health and fitness in the community.”

The city of Irving will once again host the race next year for the 10-year-anniversary. Ryan said he hopes to go ‘big’ to celebrate the milestone.

“I don’t know what ‘big’ means today, but it will certainly give us more of an opportunity to celebrate 10 years,” Ryan said. “It has its own kind of buzz, so we have to support that buzz somehow.”

Kona Ice now serving Irving

Bringing tropical tunes and cups of shaved ice everywhere it stops, Kona Ice is introducing Irving to its distinctive blend of entertainment and gourmet frozen treats.

“The communities’ first taste of our cool treats and colorful truck will keep them coming back for more,” said Cynthia Sanchez, the local resident and entrepreneur who has teamed up with her family to launch her new food truck franchise in Irving. “It will only be a matter of time before our Kona truck captures the hearts, minds and taste buds of the neighborhoods we serve.”

Kona Ice offers ten tastes on the truck’s Flavorwave, an interactive dispensing system in which individuals select from one or more of the flavors to pour over their fluffy snow, or the additional 20-plus flavors and 500 different combinations available.

“It’s an opportunity to enjoy a unique, tropical treat,” Sanchez said. “For a couple of dollars you can experience the excitement of the truck, flavor your own Kona Ice, donate to an organization you care about, and kick back for a few minutes enjoying the sounds of the tropics. It’s an escape that everyone can enjoy.”

Equally as appealing about the launch of Kona Ice of Central Irving is its philanthropic commitment. Sanchez is continuing the mobile franchise’s tradition of donating money each year to local school groups, teams and community organizations, and gives back a percentage of the proceeds from each stop. Nationwide, Kona Ice has donated more than $40 million to community-based organizations since its launch in June 2007.

“Cynthia shares our commitment to giving back,” said Tony Lamb, founder and president of Florence, Ky.-based Kona Ice. “She wants to have a positive influence on the people in their community, whether it’s new text books, sports uniforms or, simply, a smile. We are proud to have her on-board. Together, we are excited to make a difference in the lives of those around us.”

Beyond fundraisers, popular spots for the food truck franchise include fairs, festivals, corporate events, neighborhood socials, church events and birthday parties. Sanchez’s truck also maintains regular weekday and weekend routes.

To learn more about Kona Ice of Central Irving and to book your next event, contact Cynthia Sanchez at or (682) 222-6447.

Irving police department honored with barbeque

Just in time for summer grilling season, the Open Door Church in Irving hosted a barbeque to show their appreciation for the Irving police department on Tuesday, June 6.

“Last year, we had our first event after the police shootings in Dallas,” Open Door Church Pastor Phil Durham said. “We wanted a way to honor the police here in Irving.”

Food and drinks were donated to Pastor Durham’s group. A dozen volunteers passed out meals to the officers to show the church’s support for everything the officers do for the community.

The church is only a year and a half old. One way they have started making an impact is by having a strong youth group presence. The barbeque is another way they hope to bring the community closer together.

“We wanted to not forget,” Durham said. “Just because there’s no tragedy going on, we’re not going to forget the police. We really want to serve those who serve us, and certainly let the officers know that we care about them.”

Lit’s Alive program brings classic literature to life

Children and their parents spent a stormy afternoon at the South Irving Public Library enjoying the Lit’s Alive: Little Prince Tea on Saturday, June 24. The Lit’s Alive program brings classic literature to life.

“We pick classics that we celebrate,” teen services librarian Kristin Trevino said. “Those of us who grew up loving it, introduce it to the new generation. The program is designed to be multi-generational for all ages to enjoy.”

For this event, the librarians along with members of the Young Adult Action Council (YAAC) offered craft stations relating to Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s novel. The event included snacks and a screening of the film adaption.

“We decided to do Little Prince in the summer because it went with our teen summer theme which is, “Out of this World.” The Little Prince and the asteroid seemed like a perfect tie in,” Trevino said.

YAAC is a group of young adults who have a passion for reading and help create programs for the community.

“We like to organize book themed events for the community,” Erick Adame, a member of YAAC, said. “Everything is free. We always have snacks and a bunch of activities for everyone to do.

“We have little activities for people to do that correlate to the movie. We thought they would be fun for the whole family and easy for everyone to do.”

The stations included building an airplane magnet out of craft sticks, making a headband with fox ears, and creating a flower pen.

Irving resident and avid reader Kim Kirk brought two of her children, Ethan (11) and Katelyn (6), to the event.

“We like all of the programs, but we like the Lit’s Alive one because we really like classic literature,” Kirk said. “My older ones, although they enjoy the movie, they mostly come for the snacks. My little one especially likes the crafts, but it’s a great family event.”

Kirk is subscribed to the library’s newsletter in order to keep up with their events. She tries to make time for her family to routinely visit the library.

“I love books,” Kirk said. “From the time they were born, I’ve tried to share my love of books with them. My oldest son literally took his first steps at the library’s story time when he was a year old, so it’s just a part of our family.

“The library is really evolving, and the way that I see it, Irving is ahead. They’ve got their finger on the pulse when it comes to what the community wants and really meets those needs.

“I think probably 30 years ago when I was just a little girl, they had some neat things to do, but nothing like what my kids are getting to experience. Back then, the library was a place to go and check out books. It’s not just a place to come check out a book any more, it’s more of a community center.”