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updated 9:21 AM, Oct 22, 2020 America/Chicago

Polk County

Polk County Lifestyle

Childrenz Haven plans raffle, welcomes 2020-21 board


LIVINGSTON — Quarantines can squash a gala but not a Louis Vuitton purse raffle of two bags in a Facebook Live drawing during the Polk County Chamber of Commerce’s Diva Night on Nov. 5. The Childrenz Haven Board approved the fundraiser at their September meeting, led by new Executive Board members President Renee Vailes; Interim Vice President Beth Miller; Secretary Casey Flores, and Treasurer Marlo Brawner, M.D., F.A.A.C.P. 

The first of two raffle winners will choose from a tote or a crossbody, both valued at over $1,700. Only 200 tickets will be sold at $100 per ticket, with a limit of five tickets per customer. Tickets can be purchased online only at 

Local businesses and organizations can get involved in supporting Childrenz Haven by joining as a sponsor:

• $250 Silver Sponsor: 
Listing on the web, mention on Facebook.

• $500 Gold Sponsor: 1 Raffle Tickets; Link to their website, and mention at the Facebook Live Drawing

• $750 Platinum Sponsor: 2 Raffle Tickets, Plus same promotion as Gold Sponsor   

For more information on sponsorships, call Childrenz Haven at 936-327-4757.

The executive board members bring a variety of expertise and skills to their roles. Mrs. Vailes is in her fourth year on the board and is president at First Community Financial Group. Mrs. Flores is beginning her third year, is a Process Engineer with Georgia-Pacific Camden-Corrigan. Long-time board member, Dr. Brawner is with Livingston Pediatrics and continues as treasurer. Crystal Finegan continues as Executive Director.

“My commitment to the work of Childrenz Haven to reduce and even eliminate child violence in Polk County called me to step up this year,” said the new board president. “There is still much work to be done and our board is engaged and eager to help our Center extend the services they provide for trauma-based therapy and support to victims and their families through community fundraising and outreach.”

Childrenz Haven is one of 70+ Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas.  It seeks to facilitate a collaborative, multi-disciplinary team of law enforcement, CPS and prosecutors that meets regularly to discuss pending cases, so that no child’s case falls through the cracks. Additionally, Childrenz Haven is a healing center, offering licensed therapy for those who have been abused and their families. The center is currently working with nearly 50 children each month.

Those interested in more information about becoming a board member or a volunteer, or the services provided by Childrenz Haven, shoulf call 936-327-4757 or visit

Fashion is her passion

Former Livingston resident Latisha Darden-Taylor (left) and her husband, Billy Taylor. Latisha has her own cosmetic line, Classy Fashion Cosmetics. (Contributed photo)Former Livingston resident Latisha Darden-Taylor (left) and her husband, Billy Taylor. Latisha has her own cosmetic line, Classy Fashion Cosmetics. (Contributed photo)

Former Livingston resident has own cosmetic line

By Jason Chlapek
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Beauty has always been one of Latisha Darden-Taylor’s passions.

The daughter of Pastor Kenneth and Lady Janice Darden always loved to “put on her best face.”

“Anyone that knows me personally knows I love to fix myself up,” Latisha said. “It’s therapeutic and I am big on waking up, feeling good and putting on my face. I love to work on my face, hair and nails. It’s a passion and to be able to start a business is a blessing.”

An 18-year veteran in the medical field, Darden-Taylor now has her own cosmetic line, Classy Fashion Cosmetics. The married mother of two considers the cosmetic line to be her “third child.”

“I have two children, but my cosmetic line is one of my babies as well,” Darden-Taylor said. “It represents inner and outer beauty. We started off with lipstick only and that’s the main product. It’s offered in a variety of colors and for a variety of skin tones. We now offer a little more like skin care, oils, body butter and holistic herbs. It can be used by men as well, not just women. Everything’s all natural.”

Customers can purchase products on the Classy Fashion Cosmetics Facebook or Instagram pages, or on the website at Darden-Taylor also has a podcast called the Classy Lab Podcast.

“We discuss all things business, beauty, health and wellness,” she said.

After nearly two years of preparing for the business, Darden-Taylor launched her product line in February. A month later, Covid-19 hit, but her business didn’t suffer.

“I’m happy with it, especially in the middle of the pandemic,” Darden-Taylor said. “I launched it at the beginning of the year. I have very faithful customers and business has been steady. I’m very grateful to God for that. I prepped and got it together for a year-and-a-half prior to launching in late February. I have some very faithful customers that kept me going. It was a process and I’ve wanted to do it for years. It’s been great so far.”

Darden-Taylor graduated from Aldine ISD’s Nimitz High School in 2001, and started in the medical field shortly thereafter. Her career began as an intern at Livingston Memorial Hospital — now CHI Livingston.

“I worked at CHI Livingston when I first started for a year,” Darden-Taylor said. “Through school and internships, I went to Physicians Emergency Room for seven years, special education department at Humble ISD filing medicare and Medicaid claims, and now I’m at the Cancer Center. I’m very grateful to be at the Cancer Center.”

Darden-Taylor is now an in-patient administrator at the cancer center where she works. She has a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration from Pima University Online and will obtain her master’s degree from Walden University Online in February.

Family has always been a big part of Darden-Taylor’s life. Her daughter is a senior at Summer Creek High School and her son is a seventh-grader at Humble Middle School — both part of Humble ISD.

Although Darden-Taylor lives in the Greater Houston Area, she is grateful for her Livingston roots. Her father, Kenneth, is the pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.

“My family is from Livingston and it’s a connection that I’ve had since birth,” Darden-Taylor said. “During (Hurricane) Harvey, we were there for seven days because we couldn’t get back home from the family reunion after the hurricane.”

Darden-Taylor said her daughter plans to enter the medical field and become a respiratory therapist. She looks forward to a bright future for not just her children, but also her business.

“I’m enjoying this health and beauty ride,” Darden-Taylor said.

After all, it’s her passion.

Getting into business

State Representative James White (left) attended Thursday’s meeting to help potential business owners. Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy (right) helped facilitate the meeting.State Representative James White (left) attended Thursday’s meeting to help potential business owners. Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy (right) helped facilitate the meeting. 

By Brian Besch
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Polk County-A group of potential business owners were provided information and insight from financial and political leaders at the Minority Entrepreneur Information Session held Thursday in the Polk County Courthouse.

Local resident James Dunn organized the meeting and said the idea behind it was economic opportunity for the community. 

“It is just to push our community forward,” Dunn said. “It is ownership and business and the opportunity. I thought it was important because I want our community to know that we can succeed and we can build our own community with business and we don’t have to depend on anyone else to be successful. We have it within ourselves to do for ourselves.”

The meeting began with a businessman who had been laid off from a job held for a dozen years. Wondering where to turn, he began his own business in the food industry and has found success in the town of Timpson. He told of his successes and vexing moments starting the new company.

State representative James White had a message of preparation and having businesses ready for when the economy pulls out of its current slump. He spoke about talking with a friend in business who had told him there will be bargain-basement opportunities once the economy recovers.

“I drive around my district and I notice a lot of talent,” White said. “People are doing things with wood or making tables or making art and it is just fabulous. During holiday times, these folks, instead of making one cake, they are making 15 cakes. I remember about this time five years ago I was in a meeting sort of like this with a group of pastors in Jasper. What if you started capitalizing on that talent? I talked to them about the tax code and the tax code — believe it or not — really favors people that are in business, because you get to write off.”

White encouraged all to pursue a DBA (Doing Business As), which Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy explained could be obtained at the clerk’s office. He also encouraged all to go to the governor’s economic development webpage.

Among those in the audience were entrepreneurs interested in beginning businesses in food, fitness, a nonprofit and a barber.

Corky Evans, president of First National Bank of Livingston conveyed the message that banks in the area currently need loans.

“That’s what we do,” Evans said. “We need to make loans. Small-business loans — I think — are the foundation of community banks. The most important thing that you are going to need is a plan. In that plan, you need to have your market, your research, your resumes your ownership group and experience, what kind of funding you are going to need, or if you are going to buy a building or lease a building. That should be in your plan. 

“You need to put together some financial projections, because if you come to see one of us, we are going to ask you the same thing. The first question is going to be, ‘How are you going to pay for it?’ You need to include that in the plan. We both need to make loans and we will take your plan and work with you to fine-tune that or expand it to do what we need to do to get to a point where it can work for both of us.”

The president of the town’s competing bank echoed those thoughts and added that projections and budgets should be reasonable.

“You want to be conservative on your estimates because you don’t want to think you can just open the doors and people are just going to flood in,” First State Bank of Livingston’s Robert Sebaugh added. “Be ready to grow and grow slow. It would be great if it grows fast, but just be honest with yourself.

Sebaugh said that those starting businesses should be familiar with their field and know what to expect as related to growth. 

Both presidents also said those looking to go into business should have somewhere between 10-20 percent of their own capital to begin a new venture.

Murphy said statistics show anytime there is a recession economically, whoever is positioned at the front of the recovery is more likely to experience success. 

“Even if you just position yourself and are taking baby steps, when the economy comes back, you are going to be ready as opposed to people who have been sitting back and waiting,” she said. “You have to create the opportunity and be ready to spring forward.”

Dunn said there are additional gatherings planned for the future, with a focus on implementing plans and pushing the idea of new businesses forward.