North Texas Daily

Joe Rivas adjusting to new home

Joe Rivas adjusting to new home

March 07
14:14 2016

Julia Falcon | Staff Writer


Joe Rivas said he’s finally getting settled into his new home.

The Denton City Council gave Rivas the newly renovated home, paid for by Denton Municipal Electric, as part of a plan to add a substation at the corner of Bonnie Brae and Hickory streets.

It will be a few weeks before he receives the deed to the home he now owns, but in the meantime, Rivas said he and his dog, Coca, will be adjusting to their new environment.

“The moving process was long and took a lot of hard work,” Rivas said. “I was used to moving around a smaller area at my old house, and now I have a much bigger area to get used to.”

Rivas said his old home was too small to hold all of his Star Wars memorabilia, which he fell in love with when he was seven. Now he can fill four bedrooms with his collection, though those rooms are currently stuffed with moving boxes.

“I was sad when I left the old house, but in the long run I knew it would be better for [us],” Rivas said. “Coca needed more room to run around, and it’s easier for me to take her outside now.”

Joe Rivas and his dog, Coco, in his new home. Courtesy | Facebook

Joe Rivas and his dog, Coca, in his new house. Courtesy | Facebook

Rivas isn’t a stranger to Denton. There is a city committee for him appointed by councilman Kevin Roden, and Rivas volunteers for the community. He graduated from UNT in 1998 with his masters in Rehabilitation Counselling, and now teaches online psychology classes at North Central Texas College and Eastfield College, in Mesquite.

“I like teaching a lot, it’s a lot of work but it’s a paying job,” Rivas said. “It took me years to find a job with my degree.”

Rivas worked some odd jobs before he got into teaching. He spent a little time as a nude model for UNT art students.

“A long time ago, I had a hard time with confidence and I wanted to be appreciated,” Rivas said. “I wanted to see how people would react when they saw me naked. They liked me because I wasn’t a typical model, I was more of a challenge.”

Rivas’ personal assistant, Shaunon Wolfe, said Rivas disserves the new home. She and Rivas have been good friends for about 10 years, and Wolfe said Rivas continues to support disabled people in the area.

“This move was stressful for Joe because he put a lot of work and money into his prior home and did a lot of upgrading to it,” Wolfe said. “The idea of letting go was hard, but the city was wonderful with him and took really good care of him.”

Rivas has a series of stories about a boy named Willy Wilmer, a child with cerebral palsy. The stories, which are posted on, are in the process of being published.

“Joe wants to educate kids about having a disability, which is just one of the small things he does. He also goes to local schools and gives talks to students,” Wolfe said. “He is also an advocate on the legal and political ends of disabilities by being on the board of R.E.A.C.H.”

Between teaching his classes and writing his stories, Rivas said that unpacking will take a while longer, but he’s happy to finally be in the new house.

“I hate unpacking boxes, but it has to be done,” Rivas said. “It will probably take me another week to unpack. My first night in the house was a huge sigh of relief.”

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