11/25/2020 10:48 AM
ARTICLE AND PHOTO BY MONICA FARAM, CLEBURNE TIMES-REVIEW
To say 2020 has been a turbulent year would be an understatement. But for two Cleburnites, all the challenges from the year made them even more determined to help.
S.H.I.N.E. Together Founder Shana Peacock and Cleburne Railroaders President and Co-Owner John Junker both work towards filling the needs of Johnson County residents.
For those and other reasons, they have been chosen as the Times-Review’s 2020 Man and Woman of the Year.
About May, a new project launched by the Railroaders helps put food on the table for about 200-350 Johnson County families.
“Really that was when we knew we probably weren’t going to have our season,” Junker said. “Daryn and Amy Eudaly, our partners here, wanted us to think of something to do with the community. It really was an idea that came from Daryn and then everything kind of fell into place. We’ve been doing it ever since.”
Since they had partnered with the Shana and Jeff Peacock before, the Railroaders asked them to help with the birth of Homeplate Project, which provides food every other Saturday at The Depot for any one in need.
“The Peacocks became a big part of it,” Junker said. “Through the context of the community, there was a lot of people that helped us put it together.”
OpenDoor Church helps with getting the food, and various volunteers pitch in to help pass out the food.
“It was something we were just going to do for the summer but we want to keep it going and really build the foundation,” Junker said. “We want to be a good part of the community and really help.”
The HOPE Church, Cleburne Ford, Marshall Young Insurance, Pinnacle Bank, Cleburne Rotary Club and LaModerna are just a fraction of those that have participated in some capacity.
“It’s really been a big community thing,” Junker said. “We’re never short on volunteers.
“Everything that Shana and I do, there’s so many people that have helped. That’s what it takes. It takes a community like here to make everything you do successful, especially when it comes to giving and blessing people.”
As a child, Shana Peacock helped her mother cook and provide meals for the seniors at their church that didn’t have families. Once she became a parent, she did the same with her children.
From there, they began feeding the homeless on Lancaster Street in Fort Worth when she and Jeff Peacock were youth ministers.
As the owners of Peacock Transmission’s Inc. and Main Street Elite, the Peacocks began looking for other ways to give back.
“My husband thinks I’m crazy because I just want to do more and more,” she said. “He never stops me. If I have a dream, he lets me reach that dream and go past it.”
About 13 years ago they donated bicycles to children in Cleburne and then helped with Operation Blessing.
“I am so blessed that King Jesus allows us the privilege and honor to do what we get to do,” Peacock said.
Seven years ago they started a backpack drive and distributed 500 backpacks.
“My husband said, ‘Where are you going to get the money to do this all?’ and I said, ‘Out of your pocket.”
Over the years, the Give Back event, which is held the first Saturday of every August, grew exponentially.
There are free eye exams from Dr. Steve Bullard, free physicals and free dental exams.
Cleburne Police Department joined the effort three years ago in doing identity checks. CareFlite brings an ambulance and Johnson County Emergency Services District No. 1 brings a fire truck.
“So the kids get to learn about the fire trucks and ambulances and learn that these policemen and firemen are OK to talk to,” Peacock said. “That they’re there to help you.”
After founding the nonprofit S.H.I.N.E. Together, Peacock kept searching for more ways to help.
Peacock learned from one of the Cleburne ISD counselors that there are homeless students in the district.
“She explained to me that in the state of Texas that if you don’t live with your immediate family that you’re considered homeless,” she said. “Over these last four years we’ve been feeding these students.
“Right now we’re feeding 68 high school students for the 66 hours between their lunch on Friday and their breakfast on Monday morning. We make sure they have enough food that we can feed them, brothers and sisters, mom and dad.”
That encompasses four high schools in Johnson County, with a fifth being added from winter break.
Albertson’s helps the group provide all the fixings for Thanskgiving dinner for their students.
They also grant Christmas wishes for families that need help.
“We’ve helped with some medical bills for some people as well,” Peacock said.
But the picture’s even bigger. S.H.I.N.E. Together has given away four cars this year to struggling families.
In another partnership with the Railroaders, the nonprofit holds an ‘80s concert at The Depot every October for their main fundraiser.
“I watched what they did and it was out of their pocket and from their heart,” Junker said. “They knew what they wanted to do and they just did it. That’s kind of rare. They were just willing to do what was on their heart at whatever cost it was.”
The couple have been married for 30 years and have two children. They have been members of OpenDoor Church for about 18 years.
“Shana’s always looking for ways to serve the community,” Johnson County Sheriff Adam King said. “She and her husband both. I called on both of them recently to help out with the annual Shop with a Cop event and they were very generous and happy to help out.”
They are also members of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Posse and work with the rodeo team to help bring the JCSP Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Ranch Rodeo to Johnson County.
“We are just involved with a lot of stuff that Cleburne does,” she said. “We’re trying to help make Cleburne great again and support the people here in Cleburne.”
When the pandemic canceled the Railroaders’ season, Junker was not going to take it laying down.
“When the season didn’t happen we didn’t want the stadium to sit empty,” he said. “We wanted to keep things going and be relevant in the community and do things that help. So we opened it up for youth and the stadium is so large that it was a safe place to bring the youth.”
Games were played six days a week June 15 through Aug. 10.
“It was really good for families and kids when there was not a lot of places for people to play,” Junker said.
Junker also credits his parents for his foundation of giving back.
“My parents have always stressed the importance of caring for people and doing our part in making things better for those around us,” he said.
Junker and his wife, Dana, have three children. They made Cleburne their home when John came to the Railroaders in 2018.
“My wife is very supportive of everything I do,” he said. “Cleburne and Johnson County, this whole area, we really enjoy it. We were fortunate enough to get involved with the chamber and tourism.
“Our whole organization, we want to be more than just a baseball team. We want to be part of the community and find how we can give back and do things. We have a great stage with the stadium that the community built.”
Cleburne has a ton to offer, Junker said.
“There’s so much here,” he said. “I think it’s really important to get outside our community and outside Johnson County to come to Cleburne. There’s a lot to offer here.”
Plans are moving forward for the 2021 season to begin, hopefully in the spring.
“We met with the league, the schedules are coming out, everything is pressing forward,” Junker said.
Six teams played in a pod format for the 2020 season.
“The teams that played, the commissioner and the executive director, they all worked really hard so we’ve got kind of a footprint now on how to do it,” Junker said. “They let fans in depending on the state’s restrictions. They did it really well so we’re moving forward for 2021. We can use that footprint here based on where we are. We’re planning on going and we’re excited.
“With our new partnership with Major League Baseball, I look for really good things from our league.”
Junker has become integral in Cleburne’s community as a member of Cleburne Rotary Club, Tuesday Form and Cleburne Christian Business Club. He also serves on the board for the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce, Cleburne Tourism Advisory Committee, Cleburne Economic Foundation and Cleburne ISD Facilities Advisory Committee.
“John does so much more than just the Railroaders,” Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said. “He is involved in so many different aspects of our community and his quiet and positive attitude is always a joy to be around. While this past year was difficult, John saw opportunities to serve our community and make the most of them. I am so glad that John and Dana chose to make Cleburne their home.”
As for his partnership with the Peacocks? It’s a two-way street.
“John has an amazing heart,” Peacock said. “He loves the community he’s in and the people in the community.”