With schools and businesses closed and spring events cancelled, Highland Park residents tried to stay well and stay positive.  Neighbors put teddy bears in their windows so families could spot them while taking walks. Families got away to ranches and lake houses to enjoy wide open spaces. Family members and the community as a whole came together in unexpected ways to get each other through the time of crisis.  Estate Life thanks all of our resident reporters and the residents who responded to our request to share their stories and photos of hope for this issue!

Peter Merrill enjoyed “bear hunting” in the neighborhood.

Artist Liana Yarckin said that having more time allowed her to do more painting, capturing the beauty of all the beautiful spring blooms she saw outside.

Preston Talley enjoyed more time at the family ranch for fishing and just enjoying wide open spaces.

Our hearts go out to the young residents, in particular, who missed special birthday parties, spring sports events, graduation parties and other events that were cancelled.  Clarice Owsley, a HPHS freshman, had her 16th birthday on March 23rd, the first day of the “shelter in place” edict.  Her mother, Jennifer, shared the story with us about how, since she could not have a party with her friends, her big sisters decided that they needed to add all the family pets to the birthday party invite list.  The revised guest list included family cats and also the nine puppies and momma dog that the Owsleys are fostering for Operation Kindness.

Gillian Owsley, HPHS senior, recruited the family cat, Figi, and the other family pets and foster pets to celebrate her little sister Clarice’s 16th birthday.

Donna Letier, Julie Eggers and Doug Platts of Gardenuity believe it’s the little things such as nurturing your own garden and connecting with nature that will keep us grounded and growing gratitude.

Staying in and cooking at home became the new normal, while residents were also generous in supporting their local restaurants with their take-out orders.  Between Netflix binging and board games, homes got organized and residents took up new hobbies.  For some that took up gardening, Donna Letier made things easier.  “Every patio, balcony, terrace, and porch can inspire the love of farming and eating fresh foods,” Donna says. In March, she formed a new alliance between her company, Gardenuity, and another Highland Park-owned business, Alto, to keep families across DFW growing and enjoying the benefits of gardening while at home. Alto, an on-demand ride and delivery service founded by Alex Halbardier and Will Coleman, delivered Gardenuity’s complete customized container gardens with fully rooted seasonal plants, plant nutrients, custom compost and a year of Grow Pro Membership—a personalized guide and growing partnership that makes each gardening experience better.  Favorites during this time have been the Wellness Tea Plant Collection, Cocktail Herb Collection, and Taco Toppings Garden of lettuce and herb varieties.

SMU Freshman-to-be Sophie McGuire and SMU Grad Nicoloe Musselman collaborated to spread love (and fashionable face masks)

Kathy Fielder with 3ply mask - R

Kathy Fielder utilized her resources and contacts in the field of manufacturing to make crucial PPE products and 3-ply disposable masks.

Sophie McGuire, HPHS 2020 Senior and voice behind her fashion and lifestyle blog, MuchLoveSophie.com and Nicole Musselman, founder of clothing brand Koch and owner of The Koch House in Dallas share a common goal– to spread joy and kindness to those in need during this difficult time.  When the Declaration of Local Disaster required all residents over the age of 2 to wear face-coverings when visiting essential businesses, the duo designed non-medical grade face masks using Koch’s fabrics from the Dallas factory. “Much Love Koch” masks were delivered to the frontline workers, restaurant employees and more in the Dallas area.  Ten percent of the proceeds of masks that were sold went to the North Texas Food Bank.  It’s also noteworthy to know that 99 percent of all Koch products are 100 percent American made—with 99 percent of everything made in Texas.   The mask-making kept Koch’s contractors working and inspired and helped keep their paychecks coming.

“Much Love Koch” masks

Like many business owners, Kathy Fielder was faced with furloughing her staff and halting operations when shelter-in-place mandates were issued. Instead, she and her team went all-in and in 3-weeks reworked the entire business model of Kathy Fielder Boutique and Isabella Collection by Kathy Fielder to utilize her resources and contacts through her illustrious 20-year career in the field of manufacturing, making crucial PPE products and 3-ply disposable masks for frontline defenders.

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