Bubbles and bright lights filled the air Thursday evening as people came out to celebrate goodness and kindness on the square in downtown Tyler.

Booths, featuring nonprofits and artisans along with food truck vendors, lined the square for the Shine: Tyler kickoff event to celebrate completing acts of kindness and lifting people’s spirits.

Shine: Tyler, an advocacy group, is made to thank community members and organizations for their efforts to make Tyler and East Texas brighter.

Shine: Tyler founder Suzy Stjernstrom Shepherd said all of the nonprofits, artisans, food truck vendors and attendees were warm and cheerful, and were excited to have some social interactions and see the good in their community.

“I just appreciate everybody that’s come out,” she said. “Even though it’s windy and chilly, I’m super proud of them for coming out.”

Organizations present included The Harbor, Fostering Collective, Literacy Council of Tyler, Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County, CARE, Hospice of East Texas, Meals on Wheels East Texas, Bethesda Health Clinic, Champions for Children and the Christian Women’s Job Corps – Tyler.

To benefit area nonprofits, attendees could purchase luminaries to display at their homes with the proceeds going to the charity of their choosing.

“I hope people that are here will see the light and give something back,” Shepherd said.

The next step is then to encourage family and friends to get involved with community service projects and do good deeds.

After the kickoff, it is hoped that guests will share their shine over the weekend by completing acts of kindness no matter how big or small.

To promote community service, participants had the option to register either as a team or an individual for a social media competition, using the hashtag #SHINEtyler to gain points.

Shine: Tyler volunteer Roxi Pinkerton called the kickoff event awesome as it helped people find places and ways they can give and help one another.

“2020 has been a depressing year for me,” she said. “There’s so many things we can do to make 2020 positive.”

Pinkerton said an organization like Shine: Tyler promotes many things for people to learn and take with them, such as good citizenship and community service.

“It gets people to see all the nonprofits in Tyler because nonprofits do a great job in the community,” Pinkerton said.

Seeing the work Shepherd was doing to bring positivity made Pinkerton want to volunteer to join her friend’s efforts.

“We need good in this world,” she said. “We need good in Tyler.”

Attendees Kaitlyn Carroll and Ryan Allen said the event gave something to do and see good in the area.

“It seems like there’s a lot of nonprofits out here and it’s beautiful fall weather,” Carroll said.

Allen said it provided an excuse to get outside and be social after a lack of interactions due to COVID-19.

Megan Riaz, marketing and community relations manager for Bethesda Health Clinic, visited with attendees at the clinic’s booth Thursday evening to share their services.

Bethesda Health Clinic in Tyler provides affordable medical and dental care to low-income, working uninsured East Texans.

“The whole purpose is to highlight good things,” Riaz said. “We see a lot of good in the community at the clinic and we want to spotlight that.”


I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.

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