Bidtellectual Spotlight: Katie Broussard Makes a Difference for Dallas Children This Holiday Season

Bidtellectual Spotlight: Katie Broussard Makes a Difference for Dallas Children This Holiday Season

Where’s your current remote work setup? For Bidtellect’s Katie Broussard , it is surrounded by half-decorated gingerbread houses at Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. As Chair of the hugely popular annual Cookies & Castles fundraiser, she’d usually be gearing up for a big day of decorating. Instead, they’ve adapted to the pandemic with a drive-through gingerbread house pick-up operation.

We asked Katie about her amazing work as Chair of the event, her connection to Scottish Rite for Children, and how they’ve adapted to this year’s unusual circumstances.

Scottish Rite for Children is one of the nation’s leading pediatric orthopedic centers and gives children and patients a chance to live their dreams with state-of-the-art prosthetic needs and services no matter the cost. 

Katie Broussard and Co-Chair Cookies & Castles Event Scottish Rite

Thanks for sharing with us Katie! What is the Cookies & Castles event and whom does it benefit?

Cookies & Castles is a Gingerbread Extravaganza! It’s typically a weekend long fundraiser at Scottish Rite where the community comes together to decorate gingerbread houses and gingerbread men. Typically, attendees select delicious decorations from our famous “Candy Bar” filled with 6,000 pounds of sweet treats.

This year is our 13th year, and our first-ever drive-through only event due to safety precautions. It’s still an “extravaganza” in every sense of the world: 2000 gingerbread houses (the most houses we have ever ordered ) and 6500 pounds of candy (the most ever). Last year we raised over $140K… this year (even with the pandemic) we are on track to meet that again.

When did you first get involved with the event and Scottish Rite for Children?

I started volunteering with Scottish Rite through Cookies & Castles 6 years ago. 

Tell us about your role as Chair of the Cookies & Castles Event!

I lead a team of 40 women alongside my co-chairman. Our main goal is to make friends for the hospital and share the joy of what they are doing for kids around the world. (Yes, from around the world – not just Dallas!)  All while raising money for the Prosthetics Department.

Together, we start planning the weekend-long event early in the year, securing corporate sponsorships, creating marketing campaigns, recruiting volunteers, organizing event registrations and logistics, and liaising media relations. We have a fantastic group of volunteers that work all year with us to make this event possible. We sell out QUICK every year. This year required a lot of problem solving and reimaging how things would look due to increased health and safety concerns caused by the pandemic. We shifted to a drive-through only event instead of in person. 

The event has been so successful that this year we helped launch a satellite event in Frisco, Texas. There are now three Cookies & Castles events throughout the Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex with talks of expanding even further.

child decorating gingerbread house Cookies & Castles event
child playing guitar prosthetic arm Scottish Rite
child decorating gingerbread house Cookies & Castles event
Katie Broussard Cookies & Castles Event in Mask
gingerbread houses Cookies & Castles

What is Scottish Rite for Children?

Scottish Rite for Children is one of the nation’s leading pediatric orthopedic centers and treats a wide range of orthopedic conditions from injuries to neurological disorders. 

The Orthotics & Prosthetics department at Scottish Rite provides state-of-the-art, custom-made orthoses and prostheses for patients with special orthopedic needs. But did you know that the cost of one prosthetic can range from $5,000 to $30,000, depending on the complexity? Patients receive treatment regardless of the family’s ability to pay. The team at Scottish Rite for Children is on-site (in both Dallas and Frisco) and has the ability to collaborate with doctors, therapists and other medical staff during the child’s visit. There are only a few facilities like this in the country!

What drew you to the cause?

My cousin was a patient years ago and I have had many friends be the beneficiary of the life-changing treatments from Scottish Rite.

My first time visiting the hospital I was hooked. It is filled with joy and hope. From the security guards to the VPs on staff, everyone here is sweet and caring. You walk through the doors and feel welcomed and at home… and that’s just me walking in as a volunteer. Can you imagine how calming and encouraging that would feel if you were a patient walking in feeling that way?

This hospital gives kids the chance to live their dreams… no request is too big. The prosthetics department makes speciality devices for kids to run, be artists, play the violin, archery, cheer.. You name it! That is what makes this place so special… all of this and at no cost to the families. 

Events like our Cookies & Castles come in to help support the Prosthetics department and give the kids the opportunity to literally ‘chase their dreams’ 

Favorite part?

Easy: the joy you see from the patients here. Hearing their stories and how they’re living their best life now thanks to Scottish Rite makes all the long hours and hard work putting together this fundraising event worth it. 

Oh! And the endless amount of Chewy Sprees + Hot Tamales don’t hurt either 🙂 

Finally, how can we help?

We just launched a new campaign called the Wagon of Hope to help raise $5,000 to gift 12 specialty prosthetic devices to patients this holiday season. We have 2 of 12 fulfilled. These specialty prosthetics allow patients to participate in sports, play instruments, and participate in other dexterous activities.

You can donate on any of our social media channels (@cookiesandcastles) or online here

For more information about services available at the Dallas or Frisco campus, volunteering or donating, visit scottishriteforchildren.org

Scottish Rite for Children Stats on Cookies & Castles

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Bidtellect Charlotte Otremba employee photo

Charlotte Otremba ​is the Sr. Manager Marketing & Communications at Bidtellect

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5 Tips to Manage Stress and Avoid Burnout

5 Tips to Manage Stress and Avoid Burnout

We’re all adjusting to the new normal: working from home, helping the kids with school, and handling the challenges of everday life while change is constant. Here are five tips to manage stress and avoid burnout.

Tip 1: Be grateful for the things you already have and constantly remind yourself how lucky you are.

Every night, before going to sleep, I mentally list three things I am grateful for today. For example, I am grateful that I have a job that I love (we know that many people lost their jobs or cannot continue working due to the health crisis); my kids continue going to school and learn new things (YAY!), and they can still do most of their after-school activities and sports; all of my family members are alive and healthy.

Tip 2: When you feel overwhelmed, take a step back and reset your priorities.

Working in a fast paced startup company, we all have an unending list of tasks to complete at work. Then add to the list all the everyday household chores like cleaning, cooking, picking up and dropping off kids, etc. I try to keep a TO-DO list handy and take advantage of services that make my life easier. I am very grateful for grocery delivery services that save me time and a trip to the store. Our grocery list doesn’t change that much from time to time, so reordering go-to items is super easy. I keep quick, 15-minute meal recipes on hand for easy lunches or dinners when time is short.

Taking a quick moment to write out a list and prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency works wonders to clear the mind, streamline your approach, and determine what actually deserves your focus at that moment. Also, if your life is under distress because of dissatisfaction in your professional life, give it a proper focus. You can also consider looking for a job change where you can manage your priorities better without it affecting your work or personal life. And if it feels overwhelming, I’ve learned to ask for help. People are usually kind and willing to help.

Otherwise, if it’s a job-related issue, for instance, searching for a new job or exploring better opportunities, look for additional resources such as Web 3 jobs, especially if you have a special interest in cryptocurrency or blockchain. Life is too short to live a life that doesn’t make you happy, be it on a personal or professional end. So, build yourself a satisfying life with a job that you love and people that you love.

Tip 3: Take care of yourself – mentally and physically.

Throughout quarantine, I tried (and continue to try) to stay active: go for walks around the neighborhood one or two times a day, ride my bicycle, take online yoga classes. Prolonged inactivity can cause mood swifts and low energy. Stressful lifestyle changes can even cause ED in men. Of course, you can remedy it by consulting a doctor who might prescribe sildenafil. However, for overall wellness goals, it is better to follow a routine physical activity.

And at night, having a sound sleep can be helpful in managing stress and other physical and mental tensions. Having a proper bedding, in which you can fall back and take a lengthy sleep without much tossing and turning is what you would ideally need. In case you have a bedding that is worn out, and is not aiding to your quality sleep, it’s probably time to change it. You can take a look at The ultimate guide to John Lewis mattresses or any other such guides and find a mattress that fits your needs. It’s best for you to not compromise on your bedding and sleep quality.

Furthermore, finding some quiet time for yourself is important too. In the morning before work and just after the kids leave for school, I enjoy drinking my coffee and catching up the news or scrolling through Facebook. Every weekend, at least once, I try to go to the beach with my family. I love the ocean; we have a special bond. It helps me to recharge my batteries. Before bed, I like to read a book to relax. Lately, I’ve enjoyed the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, which are filled with inspiring short stories. Well, all these work for me. If you are someone who always wanted to try some cannabis or shroom chocolate, try them! Because destressing doesn’t have to be always about the conventional means.

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Tip 4: Try to keep up with social interactions. They’re super important.

Since we stopped going out during the pandemic, I got a chance to really bond with some of my neighbors. We enjoy having drinks outside on the weekends (while keeping our distance), and share news and even plan future events (“when everything goes back to normal”).

I also enjoy virtual zoom happy hours with my wonderful colleagues or my friends out of town. Those are always fun! And a great way to manage stress 😉

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Tip 5: Get a good night’s sleep, cut back on screen time, and make time for your hobbies.

Sleeping can be hard at the moment with there being so much to worry about. Try to find the time to do the things that make you happy. In my free time, I am always trying to find time for my hobbies or trying to learn something new. Lately, I enjoy painting and baking. Luckily there are lots of Youtube videos and tutorials for both. I also enjoy reading books and playing tennis. I have a friend who loves to play poker online in her spare time on websites like https://casinomartini.com/nz/new-online-casinos/, she doesn’t find it stressful as she only puts a little bit in, she gets excited when she wins, and any money she does get she puts it towards something she really wants. It all depends on who the person is and what they love doing!

These are my 5 tips for managing stress and preventing burn-out. Being a working parent is hard. We are all trying to do our best at work and at home. But .. we are not perfect and it’s totally fine. Enjoy the little things in life because those are the most important.

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Yulia Khudzik ​is the Quality Lead at Bidtellect.

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