STEPHEN HEMELT — Orange Living Magazine highlights best of community’s people and commitment

Published 12:08 am Sunday, March 12, 2023

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One of the most enjoyable conversations I had this year took place with Joe Bob Edwards, a Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School graduate who has since moved to the Houston area.

He related the story to me of his 80-year-old stepfather, Roland Guillot, who was in danger of celebrating his Christmas Eve birthday without any of his children around him — they all live in different cities outside of Orange County.

Well, Edwards had the bright idea of having members of the high school band deliver his stepdad with a special (and surprise) birthday performance on Christmas Eve morning.

Well, it worked, creating a special memory.

After Edwards shared the story with me, I was able to write a column about it, which ran this year in January.

Well, I was determined to learn the rest of the story, and that meant getting in touch with Israel Castaneda, the Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD band director.

How the heck did he take the idea from Edwards, a man he had never met, and corral a bunch of teenagers into giving up their “morning” time on a major holiday?

The quick answer is when a bunch of good people get together, they can do good things.

The long answer is a featured story in 2023 Volume 1 of Orange Living Magazine, which is out now.

Here are some highlights:

  • “It gets the kids more involved in the community and lets them know something they do during school can mean a lot for someone who is outside of school,” Castaneda said. “It is also something they can take forward into their lives once they graduated. I wanted to jump on that opportunity because it provides something for the community, means a lot for somebody, and gives the kids an opportunity to perform music for someone else’s enjoyment.”
  • “He just went through a couple of knee surgeries and is not getting around as well. My brothers, sister and I were talking one day and were feeling so bad for the guy. It’s a big round birthday; 80 is a big deal and no one is there. We asked, ‘how can we make his day?’ Edwards said.

The story is truly heart-warming and one of the reasons why we enjoy publishing Orange Living Magazine four times a year. I would actually like to see the product grow to six or 12 times a year. Our community certainly has the great stories and eager audience for it.

Advertisers? Can you hear me calling for you?

All joking aside, make sure you pick up a copy of the magazine, because it’s packed with great stories.

Writer Sierra Kondos learned Joel Robins’ childhood memories inspired “Tiger Tales,” an Orange, Texas history manuscript.

The research spans 1909 to 1977, chronicling high school sports in this part of Southeast Texas.

“This journey began in early 2016 during preparation for the 50th reunion of my graduating class from Orange Lutcher Stark High School,” said Robins, a retired chemical engineer. “I was reminiscing with my classmates about our times in school and realized my memory was not what it once was. So I decided to conduct research on certain events.”

Writer Shari Hardin attended the Orange NAACP chapter-led Stop the Violence march. She got a sense of what common causes united hundreds from our community and what their hopes are for the future.

There are numerous other stories in the current edition, including features on your next Easter Day meal favorite, an Orange County Sheriff’s Office patriotic presentation and a special look behind the scenes of this year’s successful Orange Mardi Gras fun.

There is a subscription service available to have Orange Living Magazine shipped directly to your house. Call 409-883-3573 for details.

In the meantime, you are welcome to come by The Orange Leader at 1008 Green Avenue in Orange to pick up a complimentary copy or two.

Stephen Hemelt is the publisher at Orange Newsmedia, which produces the Orange Leader, and Orange Living Magazine. He can be reached at