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STEPHEN HEMELT — Much to be thankful for, including Holly Days fundraiser

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Wow, the time has flown by. Christmas and 2020 will be here before you know it.

Time has moved considerably faster this year in our family household because of our move to Texas. My employment with The Port Arthur News, which began in June, has been a dream come true for myself, professionally, and for my family, due to the many opportunities this community provides.

It is why my wife, Candace, son Dominick, daughter Mallory and I are so lucky to live in Southeast Texas.

I was born in New Orleans in 1980, but left the Big Easy for college when I was 17 and have never lived there since, splitting my time with college in Ruston, La. (Louisiana Tech University) and across the U.S. in cities that offered a rung up the journalism ladder: Ennis, Texas; Jonesboro, LaPlace and New Iberia, La.; Natchez, Miss.; and Roanoke Rapids, N.C.

Even though I’m lucky enough to be blessed with an understanding wife and two dutiful children, the time is now to quit moving and establish roots.

We are so grateful to Southeast Texas for welcoming our family, which includes a third grader and a sixth grader.

My thanks goes to my daughter’s new teachers, who have guided her to two straight honor roll marking periods. This is especially noteworthy in our household because my daughter needs medication for attention struggles and never before earned honor roll twice in an academic year.

My son quickly found a new troop for Boy Scouts, which fostered his ability to rank up to Second Class this month and earn the vote of his peers to Patrol Leader.

As all the parents out there can tell you, children sacrifice a lot for their parents. When they are happy and excited each day, life can be so much easier.

As part of a Citizenship in the Community badge, Dominick had to attend a public meeting and tagged along with me as I covered a Nederland City Council measure concerning food truck allowances.

Many thanks to Councilman Talmadge C. Austin, who took time before and after the meeting to speak with my son and ask about his Scouting, schooling and work to earn his badge. It meant a lot to my son to be seen as having value in front of adult and was especially important to me because it marked the first time I had ever spoken with the councilman.

That encounter and many more like it have made our time in Port Arthur and Mid-County so enjoyable. There is so much to be thankful for, but simply enjoying a new home with a great family tops it all.

It’s with an understanding of those many blessings that I’m glad to be part of something as special as our newspaper’s annual Holly Days fundraiser.

The group effort involving the Rotary Club of Port Arthur and Retail Merchants Association has taken place for 30 years plus, providing more than $310,000 to community organizations and nonprofits dedicated to making our community a better place.

Beginning Dec. 3 each donor will be listed and celebrated as our community fills the stockings for those in need.

We raised $15,000 last year and there is no reason to think we can’t do even better this holiday season.

Thank you Port Arthur, Mid-County and all of our friends in Southeast Texas for welcoming a new family home. We plan to earn that good will in the many years to come.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at 409-721-2445 or stephen.hemelt@panews.com