St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital held its 10th Annual Houston Golf Classic in partnership with iHeartMedia on December 4, 2023, exceeding its goal and raising $435,556. The event kicked off with a spirited 9:00 a.m. shotgun start, featuring a stellar lineup of participants, including Eddie Martiny of iHeartMedia, Michael Berry of KTRH Radio, and Doug Pike of SportsTalk 790. These esteemed personalities, along with scores of teams of four, navigated the picturesque 18 holes at the Golf Club of Houston, all with the shared goal of making a positive impact in the lives of children battling cancer. 

“Our Houston-based St. Jude team is very grateful for the generosity of our supporters and donors in Houston and for the partnership with iHeart,” began Angela Garza, Executive Director of the St. Jude South Texas region. “Every donation to St. Jude allows us to fulfill the vision of our Founder Danny Thomas to see that no family ever receives a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food so they can focus on helping their child live. Your tax-deductible gifts made by December 31st are especially appreciated this holiday season.”

Save the Date to attend or sign up to be a sponsor for the St. Jude Houston Gala on April 13, 2024 at The Revaire. For more information, please visit Photo courtesy of St. Jude Houston.


Moody Gardens concludes the 2023 United Way workplace giving campaign by surpassing its fundraising goal and raising a total of $11,769. The achievement underscores the organization’s commitment to community support.

Having initially set a target of $10,000.00, Moody Gardens employees made a positive impact on the local community by surpassing the set goal. This increase in funds, coupled with a 65% increase in donations and a 61% increase in participation, reflects the collective commitment of Moody Gardens employees to support the mission of United Way.

John Zendt, Moody Gardens President and CEO, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “As a long-time supporter, are thrilled to announce the outstanding success of this year’s United Way Workplace Giving Campaign. The increased donations and participation demonstrate our team’s dedication to giving back and making a meaningful difference in the community.”

Lindsey White, Executive Director of United Way of Galveston, expressed appreciation for the Moody Gardens employees, acknowledging the property as the exclusive hotel on the island involved in the United Way workplace giving campaign. She commended Moody Gardens staff on the significant increase in donations and support for the local community.  Photo courtesy of Moody Gardens.

The Woman’s Hospital of Texas and Alicia’s Angels Open Alicia’s Angels Family Care Room to Provide Comfort for Grieving Parents

The Woman’s Hospital of Texas held a ribbon cutting and room dedication for their new Alicia’s Angels Family Care Room made which was possible through a donation from Alicia’s Angels, a partnering non-profit organization that provides support and comfort to grieving parents who experience a pregnancy or infant loss.

Jona Sager, founder of Alicia’s Angels, lost her daughter, Alicia, shortly after she was born over 30 years ago. Since that day, Sager has worked to help families through infant loss in her work as a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse. She started Alicia’s Angels to help grieving families have a space away from the medical setting to create precious memories with their baby.

“Over the past 30 years as a NICU nurse, I have cared for many families who have had to say goodbye to their precious children without ever being able to take them home from the hospital,” said Jona Sager. “I wanted to be able to do more when there was nothing more medically we could do. This is how Alicia’s Angels was born. By creating these living areas in the hospital, away from the medical environment, we give these families a peaceful and beautiful place to say goodbye and create memories.”

This is the third Alicia’s Angels Family Care Room to be established in a hospital and the first one in Texas. Based in Connecticut, Sager was unsure how to help establish this resource in hospitals throughout the country until she received an email from Dr. Alana Carpenter from Houston, Texas who expressed interest in a space for families experiencing an infant loss at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas.

“As a neonatologist and pediatric palliative medicine physician, I wanted to provide a private space for families and caregivers to bond, make memories and say goodbye in those precious moments,” said Dr. Alana Carpenter. “I am honored and privileged to use my training and experience to work with the most fragile and critically ill babies and their families through their NICU journey. Through this project we have been able to work with a wonderful organization as well as the hospital senior leaders, physician leaders and the March of Dimes to help make the Alicia’s Angels Family Care Room more memorable and personal.”

To help draw inspiration and bring parts of the Texas scenery into the room, Dr. Sager worked with local artists and organizations including “Art for kids, by kids” to incorporate artwork into the room which hides the medical equipment. The Alicia’s Angels Family Care Room features a bed, sofa and crib, along with books and clothing donated by the March of Dimes for families to use and feel at home.

“The Woman’s Hospital of Texas is honored to work with Alicia’s Angels and to help Jona on her mission to honor Alicia and provide comfort to families,” said Jeanna Bamburg, chief executive officer of The Woman’s Hospital of Texas. “This new room will allow families to create important memories with their baby in a beautiful, peaceful setting.” Photo courtesy of The Women’s Hospital of Texas.


Immersive, Live-Action Gaming Experience Opens Its First Houston Location in Katy

Activate, an indoor, interactive gaming experience, announced the opening of its first Houston location in the Katy Fry Center. Elevating entertainment to new heights, Activate seamlessly blends technology and physical activity together to create live-action gaming experiences like never before. Activate will celebrate its official grand opening on November 16-17, 2023 but is now open with limited hours for its soft opening period from November 2 to November 15, with 10 percent of sales during such period being donated to Activate’s national charity of choice, Best Buddies International.

“After seeing great success in our other five markets, we are proud to announce the opening of our first Houston-area location,” said Bryce Anderson, partner of Activate. “As we continue expanding Activate across the United States, we are confident our concept will fill a void for interactive entertainment. We believe the Houston community will embrace this experience and find it both thrilling and challenging.”

Located at 20225 Katy Freeway, Katy, Texas 77450, Activate provides high-tech games that test your team’s physical and mental agility across a wide variety of real-life challenges. Participants have the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in realistic arcade games and compete alongside a team of at least two to five others. The state-of-the-art 9,600-square-foot space features 11 activity rooms with over 500 different games and difficulty levels to choose from, each lasting one to three minutes. The Houston gaming rooms feature a variety of games and genres such as Megagrid, Hoops, Press, Hide, Laser, Strike, Portals, Control, Grid and much more. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) wristbands track participants’ scores and progress throughout the experience, making it perfect for a casual night out or intense competition.

Each game has been designed with adults in mind, but children aged 10 and younger can join in the excitement when accompanied by an adult. For children aged 11-13, parental supervision within the facility is required. The full gaming duration is 75-minutes, with pricing set at $24.99 per person during weekdays and $29.99 per person from Friday through Sunday. Reservations are highly encouraged.

“Our mission is to fuse technology, movement and strategy to create a unique interactive gaming experience,” said Anderson. “We want guests to bring their closest friends, family or co-workers and leave with a feeling of achievement, ready to come back for more.”

To learn more and stay up to date, visit

Lone Star College offers fast-track classes in high-demand industries

Lone Star College helps employers recruit trained professionals through its Continuing Education (CE) program. CE offers state-of-the-art certificate programs to help students learn new skills for their current positions or retrain them for a different career field.

“Lone Star College’s Continuing Education program has over 50 workforce programs and many take six months or less to complete,” said Linda Leto Head, senior associate vice chancellor, External and Employer Relations. “These fast-track offerings prepare students to enter and excel in high-demand industries like computer programming, construction, energy, engineering, health care and technology.”

The college’s Mechatronics program, located at LSC-University Park, trains students to work on equipment integrating electronics, mechanics, pneumatics, hydraulics and computer controls. It gives individuals like Ben Harakal an opportunity to reinvent themselves. Harakal enrolled in the CE program because he wanted a hands-on career.

“I knew office life was not my cup of tea, but I enjoyed working with my hands,” Harakal said. “I was interested in Lone Star College’s Mechatronics program because it involved mechanical and electrical work, giving me a wide span of options.”

Harakal enrolled in LSC’s program in fall 2019 and learned career-related skills, including troubleshooting electrical wiring, schematics and basic hydraulic operations. He credits the program for succeeding in his first maintenance job and winning a skill-based electrical troubleshooting and mechanical precision competition. 

“Having the ability to read a schematic and troubleshoot off that knowledge is literally invaluable,” said Harakal. “I have encouraged multiple people to go through Lone Star College’s Mechatronics program. I always explain this type of work is difficult but rewarding, especially if they like logical, deep thinking.”

Harakal earned a Mechatronics Technician Certificate from LSC and works as an equipment maintenance technician at the Tesla Gigafactory in Austin.

Lone Star College Continuing Education workforce programs focus on technical and behavioral skills needed for specific occupations. Graduates receive certificates that are industry-recognized or have state or national occupational accreditation. CE also offers English as a Second or Other Languages (ESOL), General Education Development (GED®) and Academy for Lifelong Learning (ALL) programs. Learn more at

Gatherings by Curated Paperie Announces Official Launch that Elevate Celebrations with Party Goods

Gatherings by Curated Paperie, a one-stop destination for all your party and event needs, is thrilled to announce its official launch. Gatherings is a one-stop destination for all things party goods, offering a diverse range of high-end event decor and casual, intimate essentials that cater to every occasion.

Founded by Vanessa Sanchez, a visionary entrepreneur of Latina and Middle Eastern heritage, Gatherings is set to revolutionize the way we celebrate, emphasizing the beauty of diverse gatherings, both big and small.

Sanchez said, “Gatherings is a labor of love, a celebration of cultures, and a tribute to the joy of coming together. I believe that every gathering, regardless of its scale or style, deserves to be adorned with beauty and thoughtfulness. Our diverse range of party goods is a testament to the richness of our world and the beauty of shared moments.”

Gatherings by Curated Paperie is more than just a party supply store; it’s a celebration of diverse cultures and the shared joy of coming together. Vanessa Sanchez’s deep-rooted belief is that every gathering, whether grand or intimate, calls for a beautifully curated table. With this mission at its core, Gatherings is set to redefine the way we celebrate life’s special moments.

The heart of Gatherings lies in its commitment to offering an extensive collection of party goods that cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences. From custom high-end event decor to casual, intimate moments with loved ones, Gatherings can transform your event into a memorable and visually stunning experience. Gatherings by Curated Paperie is a celebration of life’s special moments and provides the tools to transform any event into a memorable and visually stunning experience.

Photos courtesy of Gatherings

Houston Kids of Incarcerated Parents Participate in Houston Area Angel Tree Sports Camp

Prison Fellowship®, the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families conducted a free basketball Angel Tree Sports Camp® benefiting more than 300 kids, ages 7 to 17, at the MI3 Center in Houston on Saturday, October 14, 2023.

Featured at this free basketball clinic was former University of San Diego standout Brandon Johnson who was being recruited by the Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards until he was later indicted and sentenced to six months in a federal prison in a sports betting scandal.

After his release, Brandon played six years overseas in a professional league and now works with his nonprofit, AWAKE Program, which provides a curriculum and youth mentoring program for Juvenile Detention Centers. Brandon was on hand, along with other coaches and players, to instruct the children of incarcerated parents at the free basketball clinic to be help at the MI3 Center.  Each participant received a free pair of Nike basketball shoes, a Wilson basketball, and a swag bag full of goodies.

About Angel Tree Sports Camps: Across the country, Prison Fellowship Angel Tree™ hosts sports camps where children with an incarcerated parent gain skills in various sports and learn about God’s love. Through lessons, drills, and fun competition, kids who might not otherwise have a chance to attend a day camp are treated like champions. It’s a unique opportunity for youth of all ages and abilities to learn from seasoned college players and former professional athletes.

About Prison Fellowship: Prison Fellowship is the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and a leading voice for criminal justice reform.  With more than 40 years of experience helping restore men and women behind bars, Prison Fellowship advocates for federal and state criminal justice reforms that transform those responsible for crime, validate victims, and encourage communities to play a role in creating a safe, redemptive, and just society. PHOTOS by Mixd Creative Co Wedding and Portrait photographers.

“Back to the Future” Senior Prom Gala Raises Funds for Great Age Movement

More than 250 supporters donned their gnarly neon and raced “Back to the Future” at The Ballroom at Tanglewood for a totally tubular fundraiser for The Great Age Movement’s Senior Prom Gala on September 15, 2023. The event raised more than $160,000 to fund Great Age Movement’s capital campaign to build senior fitness parks and support development of exercise programs in community green spaces, including the organization’s third Great Age Fitness ParkTM for senior citizens in the 5th Ward area of Houston.  

Emcee Courtney Zavala welcomed guests while introducing Co-Chairs Dr. Khaled and Amal Khalaf and Joe and Kirin Wells along with Great Age Movement Founder Fritz McDonald, who shared the mission and accomplishments of the organization. Zavala then introduced the highlight of the evening – celebrity guest speaker Joan MacDonald (IG: @trainwithjoan), a 82-year-old fitness influencer with more than 1.8 million Instagram followers and author of “Flex Your Age: Defy Stereotypes and Reclaim Empowerment”.

MacDonald transformed her body and life over the last decade – going from overweight and on medications to drug-free and fit with a muscular physique. Her fitness journey has been featured on Good Morning America, ABC News, MSNBC News and the Tamron Hall Show, and in People Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine, Glamour Magazine, Woman’s Day and many more.

For more information about Great Age Movement visit, and on YouTube here: Photos: Charlie Horse Photos

The Periwinkle Foundation celebrates 40 years at a special “birthday party in the park” at Levy Park

More than 300 Periwinkle Foundation supporters came out to celebrate 40 the nonprofit organization’s 40th birthday on Sept. 9 at a special “birthday party in the park” at Levy Park, which included board members, stakeholders, underwriters, pediatric cancer patients and long-term survivors from Texas Children’s Hospital, along with their families.

After the crowd sang “Happy Birthday,” The Periwinkle Foundation’s Executive Director Doug Suggitt welcomed attendees and introduced some special guests, including Dr. Paul Gerson, founder of The Periwinkle Foundation in 1983, who is still actively involved in the organization. He also welcomed board president Justin Goodman and Greg McLemore, a 50-year cancer survivor who gave encouragement and hope to all the cancer patients and long-term survivors in attendance.

The Periwinkle Foundation develops and provides programs that positively change the lives of children, young adults and families who are challenged by cancer and other life-threatening illnesses and are cared for at Texas Children’s Hospital. Funds raised through Periwinkle Cycle help support The Periwinkle Foundation’s mission of providing a community of healing for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses through emotionally-healing Periwinkle Camps, Arts and Survivor Programs.

“It was a magical day with our Periwinkle Foundation family celebrating 40 years of life-changing work,” says Suggitt. “Our mission has evolved into one of ‘creating a community of joy and healing beyond medicine.’ I think today’s event emphasized that – there was a lot of joy among our stakeholders and hopefully there were healing aspects for many.”

For more information about The Periwinkle Foundation, please visit Photo: Owen Gray

Lone Star College and Texas Workforce Commission offer training for small businesses

 Lone Star College’s partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) creates various opportunities to assist small businesses with their training needs.

The Skills for Small Business (SSB) program provides local employers with funding to pay their employees to take credit, continuing education, online and non-published courses offered at LSC. These offerings apply to business needs and operations. 

“The Skills for Small Business Program allows Lone Star College to help you educate and train your workforce,” said Linda Leto Head, LSC Senior Associate Vice Chancellor External and Employer Relations. 

The Skills for Small Business will give approved businesses $1,800 to cover tuition for each new employee and $900 for each current employee in a 12-month period. Only full-time permanent employees can participate in the program. The employer and employees can select the training offered at LSC that benefits the business and the worker through an application with TWC. Once approved, they can use funds at LSC to enroll in courses relevant to their business.

“I encourage local small business owners to take a look at the training that is available through this worthwhile program,” said Head.

The Lone Star College Skills for Small Business project is financed with $15,000 (40.81% of the total costs) of federal money. 0% of the total costs of this project are financed by nongovernmental sources. For more information on the Skills for Small Business grant and assistance with identifying training at LSC, email Christina Boutte at or call 832.813.6797.

Lone Star College has designated grants (federal, state and workforce) to help students pay for their college education. Visit for more information on those resources.


Concept Neighborhood – the Houston-based real estate investment, development and management company behind the authentic walkable neighborhood, The Plant in Second Ward – today announced three new leases totaling 12,000 square feet. The tenants joining the booming corridor include Kido International Preschool and DaycareSlowpokes and Crystal Yoga

“The Second Ward is a vibrant neighborhood with a strong mix of multigenerational and young, growing families,” said Jeff Kaplan, managing partner of Concept Neighborhood. “We are deeply committed to planning for the current and future needs of the community and remain very intentional about the tenant mix within The Plant in Second Ward, accordingly. Kido, Slowpokes and Crystal Yoga all fill a void within this pocket of the East End, and we are excited to welcome them to the neighborhood.” 

With locations in Houston, London, Dubai, India and Singapore, Kido International Preschool and Daycare is recognized for its play-based learning curriculum and proprietary STEM, art, literacy and numeracy programs. The concept combines classical philosophies like Montessori and Reggio Emilia with the latest research to deliver highly advanced early childhood education programs. Kido’s Second Ward outpost will feature nine classrooms and an outdoor play area in its new 7,600-square-foot space at 3302 Canal St., where it will serve children under the age of six.  

Slowpokes – the wildly popular community hybrid shop known for its in-house roasted coffee program, flatbreads, sandwiches, locally sourced craft beer and hand-selected wines – will open a 2,000-square-foot location with adjacent outdoor patio at 3401 Canal St. on the corner of Sampson. Formerly an iconic gas station and tire shop, owner Mazen Baltagi has envisioned this space as a Slowpokes for more than 10 years. Slowpokes at The Plant in Second Ward will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to featuring a happy hour menu.  

Crystal Yoga has signed a 2,500-square-foot lease at 201 Roberts St., bringing a holistic approach to healing and wellness to the increasingly health-minded neighborhood along with a wide array of yoga classes and styles, including aerial and chakra balancing. It will also offer crystal moon workshops, intuitive card readings, reiki massages and astrology readings at Crystal Yoga’s new location at The Plant in the Second Ward, its first outpost inside the loop. Crystal Yoga will have a retail shop with crystals, jewelry, home goods and apparel. In addition, they will host aerial yoga performances and public markets. 

The news comes as Aurora Picture Show – the Houston-based non-profit arts darling dedicated to expanding the cinematic experience and promoting the understanding and appreciation of moving image art – announced plans earlier this year to relocate its own headquarters to The Plant in Second Ward. In addition, James Beard Award-winner chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter and husband/partner Graham Painter announced plans to relocate their critically acclaimed, “unapologetically Thai” concept, Street to Kitchen, to 3401 Harrisburg Blvd. in late 2023. 

In 2022, Concept Neighborhood unveiled plans for The Plant in Second Ward, billed as Houston’s first authentic 15-minute neighborhood. Stretching from the light rails on Harrisburg Boulevard to the bayou trails along Buffalo Bayou East, The Plant in Second Ward will integrate the local community by connecting the right density of creatives, shops, restaurants, gathering places and public amenities.

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church holds ceremonial groundbreaking for a new Woodshop facility adjacent to its Westheimer campus

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church broke ground August 2 for construction of a new, modernized Woodshop, to be located at 2614 Edloe Street, directly across the street from the main church campus. A ceremonial “turning of the dirt” took place with the volunteers who make up this storied ministry, along with other church members and St. Luke’s staff.

The new 3,370 square-foot Woodshop, with both indoor and outdoor workspaces and office/meeting space, will replace the current, much smaller workshop located just down Edloe Street – a former storage shed – that the Woodshop Ministry had long ago outgrown. The St. Luke’s Woodshop Ministry was begun by senior church members who wished to lend both their wood crafting expertise and their tools, to an enterprise where their skills could be used to benefit not just the church, but the larger community.

Soon, the Woodshop Ministry was refinishing church furniture, building sets for church theater productions, making and distributing thousands of wooden toys annually for programs across the U.S. serving low-income children, and partnering with Kids Hope USA to build bookcases for children in mentoring programs in Houston schools. 

The new Woodshop is one project funded through St. Luke’s recent Transformed capital campaign.  Other projects funded by the campaign include a Community Youth Center currently under construction next door to its St. Luke’s Gethsemane church, at 6856 Bellaire Boulevard, in the Gulfton community;  partnership with Small Steps Nurturing Center to open a no-tuition, quality early childhood education program on the St. Luke’s Gethsemane campus; and restoration two years ago of the church’s then-60-year-old steeple at its Westheimer campus.

WellMed Donates $25,000 to Great Age Movement for Second Great Age Fitness Park for Seniors

More than 25 senior citizens along with supporters joined WellMed Medical Management executives recently for a ceremony to celebrate the company’s $25,000 donation to the Houston-based nonprofit Great Age Movement that will help fund the second Great Age Fitness Park at the Baker Ripley House in Houston’s Second Ward.

Great Age Fitness Parks offer seniors free scheduled workout classes using evidence-based fitness stations, led by trained volunteers, and other purposeful activities to promote routine exercise and socialization. The organization focuses on emerging neighborhoods to remove the cost of fitness as a barrier for seniors on a limited income. In addition, the nonprofit partners with private developers and community organizations to fulfill its mission to build senior fitness parks that promote health, learning and socialization in Houston and surrounding areas.

WellMed, a team of medical professionals dedicated to helping patients live healthier lives through preventative care, is partnering with Great Age Movement as one of their targeted charitable organizations that address underserved senior populations with social impact specific to preventative care.

WellMed is an official sponsor of Great Age Movement’s Senior Art & Exercise program at The Health Museum. They provide free healthy lunches and physician speakers for each class.

Houston Food Bank Welcomes New Member to Board of Directors

The Houston Food Bank welcomes the newest member of its Board of Directors. 

Troy Harding ~ Vice President of Operations, Kroger Houston, a division of The Kroger Co.: Harding is Vice President of Operations for Kroger Houston, a division of The Kroger Co. He is responsible for leading all aspects of operations for 108 Kroger stores across Houston, East Texas and Southwest Louisiana. Harding began his career with the Kroger Co. in 1993 as a Grocery Clerk in the Fred Meyer Division in Portland. From 2009-2016, he held a variety of leadership roles for the company, including store management, personal finance and retail operations. In 2018, he was promoted to Director of Asset Protection at Kroger’s general office in Cincinnati, where he led the company’s shrink and asset protection efforts. Troy then transitioned to Kroger’s QFC Division in Seattle in 2021 as Director of Operations before returning to Houston in his current role. Troy holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Portland State University in Oregon. He also participated in the University of Southern California and the Cornell University Food Industry Executive Development Programs.

James M. Bell, Jr. ~ President & CEO of Viking Cold Solutions: James Bell has more than 30 years of experience building and leading teams in energy services, finance, and the U.S. Military.  He is a recognized expert in energy storage and the cold chain.  With leadership positions at several global companies, Bell created and realized value for private as well as public companies and took many companies through the IPO process.  He graduated from Texas A&M University and deployed for more than a decade around the world as a Marine Pilot and Forward Air Controller.  Bell then went into finance and investment banking on Wall Street and, while there, earned a joint TRIUM MBA from NYU Stern, HEC School of Management in Paris, and the London School of Economics.  Bell currently lives in Houston with his wife Kimberly where he serves on the board of the Houston Symphony, Houston Food Bank, and the Hope and Healing Center and Institute.

Communities In Schools of Houston announces Society of Petroleum Engineering scholarship recipients

Communities In Schools of Houston, an educational nonprofit, announces recipients of the Society of Petroleum Engineering (Guff Coast Section) scholarships for students starting the 2023-24 academic year. The scholarships will provide $12,000 to each recipient, renewable for eight college semesters ($1,500 per semester) to help fund their higher education in an energy-related field.

This year’s scholarship recipients include Dylann Garcia from Milby High School in Houston ISD; Zoe Velasquez, Spring Woods High School in Spring Branch ISD and Kimberly Villalta, Northbrook High School, also in Spring Branch ISD. The winners are all females.

Communities In Schools of Houston serves at-risk students in the Greater Houston area through direct services and resources, including academic support, community referrals and mental health services. SPE partners with CIS to provide scholarship funding for outstanding students to aid them in their college careers.

Without this funding, many of these students would not be able to afford to go to college. Several recipients are the first in their families to attend a college or university.

“CIS is thrilled that our generous partner SPE has chosen to expand the scholarship program to fund three students this year,” says Lisa Descant, CEO of CIS of Houston. “This financial support is critical in furthering the education of these wonderful students who have worked diligently throughout their academic careers. We are also excited that many more females are now interested in careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Each of these young women has a bright future ahead.”

For more information about Communities In Schools of Houston and its programs, visit

Photo: Courtesy Communities In Schools of Houston

Houston Arboretum’s Master Plan receives Merit Award from prestigious World Landscape Architects competition

Collaborators Design Workshop and Reed Hilderbrand honored for design in the “Built-Large Design” category

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center’s Master Plan received a Merit Award from the World Landscape Architects (WLA) international competition for 2023, announced from Melbourne Australia. Arboretum partners Design Workshop and Reed Hilderbrand were honored for their design work in the “Built – Large Design” category. The Arboretum’s Master Plan was one of 250 entries in nine categories in this highly prestigious awards competition for landscape architecture.

The 2023 World Landscape Architecture Awards celebrate the best in landscape architecture from around the world. These international awards attract the most innovative design firms, and 2023 was no exception. This year’s awards showcase the exceptional work of landscape architects who have used their expertise and imagination to transform ordinary landscapes into extraordinary environments that inspire and delight. From large parks to urban streetscapes and private estates to small installations, the projects submitted represent the finest in landscape architecture design.

The winner in the “Built – Large Design” category was Pier 26 at Hudson River Park in New York City, designed by OLIN. WLA winners included projects in the United States, Russia, China, Columbia, The Netherlands and more, giving it a true international flavor.

“The Houston Arboretum is thrilled to be recognized in this way and to have our Master Plan in the company of the best landscape design projects in the world,” says Debbie Markey, Executive Director of the Houston Arboretum. “Our partnership with Design Workshop and Reed Hilderbrand proved to be a stellar example of sustainability, resilience and preservation in an urban environment.”

The Master Plan was formulated between 2013-2016 and implementation took place from 2017-2021. More than $26 million was raised to complete the project. Elements include:

  • Construction of the new 610 Entrance and Parking Loop
  • A new Conservation Center to support the Arboretum’s conservation and restoration initiatives
  • Renovation of the existing Woodway Entrance with expanded parking
  • Creation of two educational wetlands that double as storm water retention and irrigation
  • Landscape restoration of the northern third of the property
  • New trail experiences including signage, ADA accessible trails, and educational Field Stations
  • Renovation of the existing Nature Center building to expand educational programming
  • Construction of a new Administration Building to house staff and volunteers
  • A state-of-the-art Nature Playscape

For more information about the Houston Arboretum, visit Photos: Anthony Rathbun.

Texas Bar Foundation grants Communities In Schools of Houston $10,560 for Summer Legal Internship Program

Grant to support 2023 summer program students

The Texas Bar Foundation, based in Austin, has awarded Communities In Schools of Houston (CIS) a grant of $10,560 for the Summer Legal Internship program for three Houston-area students in CIS schools. Since 2009, CIS has partnered with the Houston Bar Association (HBA) to provide the HBA/CIS Summer Legal Internship Program. 

This eight-week job readiness and enrichment program places academically outstanding CIS high school students in paid internships with Houston-area law firms, corporate legal departments, and public agencies during the summer months. The Texas Bar Foundation’s generous grant of $10,560 will support this year’s program. Grant funds provide stipends to the three student interns who will serve at public agencies and non-profits this summer

The $10,560 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation represents a significant investment in the HBA/CIS Summer Legal Internship Program and comes at a time when many Houston-area families face financial challenges. This year’s HBA/CIS Summer Legal Internship Program will provide 20 students with paid employment experience, including the three who receive the TBF stipends. This is a valuable opportunity to develop transferable professional skills that will prepare them for life after high school.

CIS of Houston Alumnus, Larry Sorto, who participated in the CIS/HBA Legal Internship Program during his high school years, cites this opportunity for allowing him to provide for his family while in school and for setting him up on a successful post-graduation trajectory.

The law firm where Sorto interned hired him after the program ended, and he continued to work in the legal field for three years. Today, Larry is a college graduate and a member of the CIS of Houston Board of Directors, with plans to give back to the community and help set the next generation of students up for success in school and life.

Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $25 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably funded bar foundation.

Katy ISD’s Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) hosted their annual Volunteer Celebration on April 28th honoring the thousands of school district volunteers who give the gift of their time and talents to Katy ISD students and teachers.

Dreams Do Come True – Nora’s Home Gala Benefits Transplant Patients and Families   

The Houston transplant community and its supporters spent a night under the stars for the 2023 Nora’s Home “Wish Upon a Star” Gala on Friday, March 24, 2023, at the McGovern Centennial Gardens.

Co-chairs Carla and Cole Dawson and Neva and John Dawson welcomed 600 guests to the annual gala raising more than $1.1 million in celebration of Nora’s Home 10th Anniversary of providing care, education, support, and housing for more than 1,600 families and 50,000 nights for the transplant community.

After a brief video introducing Nora’s Home and highlighting the story of Nora Gaber and her parents’ love for their daughter, Drs. Lillian and Osama Gaber were applauded by the audience for the conception and success of Nora’s Home.

The song “Chapel of Love” suddenly played overhead and the spotlight turned to Bobby, a heart recipient, kneeling on one knee in front of Faith, a lung recipient, to propose. They two met while staying at Nora’s Home. She said yes! 

Cole Dawson then shared his story of how he joined the transplant community when in 2018 he underwent a heart transplant at Houston Methodist after being hospitalized for heart failure for several months. The heart failure was the result of his chemotherapy treatment in his early 20’s. He expressed his gratitude for the second chance and support he received from the transplant community.

The focus of the night drew attention to the needs of transplant patients and the proceeds benefitted the Adopt-A-Family fund, which provides financial support for families who cannot afford to pay the minimal nightly fee.

Photos: Daniel Ortiz 

The Women’s Fund Accepting Nominations for  5th Annual John P. McGovern Foundation  “Champion in Women’s Health and Wellness” Award 

The Women’s Fund for Health Education and Resiliency, a nonprofit providing Houston area women and girls with the tools needed to be advocates for their health, is seeking nominations for the 5th Annual John P. McGovern Foundation “Champion in Women’s Health and Wellness” Award. 

The award honors Dr. John P. McGovern, who devoted his life’s work to encouraging humanitarian practice over technology and medical science. Dr. McGovern, through his foundation, The John P. McGovern Foundation, has supported The Women’s Fund and its initiatives since the early 1980s. 

“We look forward to continuing the tradition of recognizing the Houston champions that make a critical impact on the health of women and girls while honoring Dr. John P. McGovern’s legacy,” said Linda Rhodes, Executive Director of The Women’s Fund. “Our success can be directly linked to the Foundation’s consistent and generous support for The Women’s Fund.”

The award acknowledges individuals who serve as direct providers to care and are dedicated to providing exemplary and compassionate service in the field of adolescent girls’ and women’s health and wellness. In addition to providing health resources, which reduce the information gap, individuals working to promote health equity and the elimination of health disparities for women of all ages will also be considered.  

To nominate a candidate for the “Champion in Women’s Health and Wellness” award, complete and submit the award nomination form: on or before 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 20, 2023. For further information contact The Women’s Fund offices at  

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston fills record number of wish lists for 14th annual Santa Project 

Nearly 2000 Club members received gifts for Christmas 2022

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston’s 14th annual Santa Project has set a record in 2022, fulfilling Christmas wish lists for nearly 2,000 children and teens. The event’s success was due to the participation of lead sponsor Kroger and the generosity of individuals and companies who sponsor Club members and families to guarantee they will enjoy a happy holiday season. 

From Nov. 30 – Dec. 9, sponsors dropped off hundreds of holiday gifts for their assigned Club members to the Boys & Girls Clubs administrative offices at 815 Crosby St. The building’s multi-purpose room was transformed into Santa’s Workshop where Boys & Girls Clubs staff, aka “Santa’s Helpers,” spent hours sorting and wrapping toys for boys and girls at 23 Clubs in a five-county area.

In addition to Kroger, stand-out sponsors this year included Pappas Restaurants (largest volume sponsor) and GSFS Group (biggest impact). Unique holiday experiences have grown out of Santa Project to benefit Club families, including Pluckers Holiday Family Dinner, Houston Rockets Game Day, Houston Texan Nico Collins shopping spree, RG3 Foundation shopping spree, Academy Give Back and United Airlines Fantasy Flight to the North Pole.

“Through the Boys & Girls Clubs Santa Project, we are able to give parents that extra boost so they can share in the joy of Christmas morning,” says Kevin Hattery, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston President & CEO. “Kroger has long been a valued partner, and through the leadership of Laura Gump, Kroger President Houston and Louisiana, and her entire team, we surpassed all other years in terms of children and families served.”

“We are extremely grateful to our many corporate and individual donors who stepped up this year to help spread some holiday magic,” continues Hattery. “The community continues to support the Boys & Girls Clubs mission to help our Boys & Girls Clubs members and their families.”

Santa Project recipients who receive gifts are considered the most in need by Club Directors in 23 Clubs in a five-county area. The Directors work with parents or guardians to obtain wish lists for holiday gifts for each child or teen – both needed and wanted items. Individuals and companies then to go the Santa Project website to choose wish lists to fulfill.

This year, requested items included bicycles, electronics, sports equipment, games, toys, clothing and much more. Club directors deliver the gifts to parents in time for Christmas, which will be placed under their trees. The presents are designated to be given by either Santa Claus or the parents, depending on the age of the child, so that the parents are vested in the process.

To learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, please visit

Photo credit: Boys & Girls Clubs Greater of Greater Houston

 Lone Star College Foundation raises more than $150,000 at annual golf tournament

Lone Star College Foundation raised $154,010 at its 29th annual Drive for Scholarships Golf Tournament on Nov. 14. Proceeds will fund 53 scholarships plus add $14,376 toward educational programs and $21,324 to scholarship endowments. 

“Last year, Lone Star College Foundation awarded 2,000 students with more than $2 million in scholarships,” said Nicole Robinson Gauthier, CFRE, LSC Foundation Executive Director. “This event is one of the many efforts that play a significant role in funding scholarships, and the Foundation is grateful to our many loyal donors for their continued suppo­rt.”

LSC Foundation Golf Tournament had more than 200 golfers and 51 volunteers who braved inclement weather to raise funds and establish resources to help change students’ lives. Additionally, 57 sponsors and underwriters supported the event, including Master sponsors Caldwell Companies, CCS Presentation Systems, Netsync and Invitational sponsor TDIndustries. 

“PBK is proud to support Lone Star College and LSC Foundation as we partner in shaping the next generation of future learners,” said Alan Stilts, PBK Principal and 2022 Golf Tournament Chair. “As we celebrate Lone Star College’s 50th Anniversary, it is a great time to reflect on how LSC has helped students and the community thrive over the years.”

LSC Foundation Golf Tournament took place at The Woodlands Country Club on the Palmer Courser and the Tournament Course. Players enjoyed competing in hole-in-one, putting, chipping, longest drive and closest to the pin contests. There were two raffle drawings and a dinner and awards ceremony after the tournament.

Photo courtesy of LSCF

Kid’s Meals’ 14th Annual Harvest Luncheon Feeds Our Future with Country Music Star Jimmie Allen

Kicking off the season of holiday giving, Kids’ Meals along with Luncheon Co-Chairs  Kathleen Pennington and Julie Applegate gathered more than 1,400 guests for the Annual Harvest Luncheon on Friday, November 11, 2022 at the Marriott Marquis. Supporters helped raised much needed funds that will help Kid’s Meals reach its goal of making and delivering 1.7 million meals in 2022.

Guests gathered early for a VIP experience meet and greet hosted by VIP Co-Chairs Nancy Lisenby and Lynn Johnson with featured guest CMA’s 2021 “New Artist of the Year” and 2022 Grammy nominated Jimmie Allen, a as well as a Mimosas & Market, a curated group of 20 vendors offering a collection of unique items to kick off holiday shopping, with Kathy Bennett and Debbie Blume as the Market Co- Chairs.

KPRC’s Khambrel Marshall welcomed guests to the Texas Ballroom and shared Kids’ Meals mission and accomplishments in their dedication to working towards a future where no child goes hungry in Houston. As the only program of its kind in the nation, Kids’ Meals has made and delivered more than 11 million meals since 2006.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner took the stage and shared stories of growing up with a father that taught him and his siblings the importance of community by delivering their home-grown food with neighbors, instilling the belief that we all should share our bounty with those in need.  

Kids’ Meals Board Chair Neil Russell joined CEO Beth Braniff Harp on stage to announce the purchase of five acres in the Spring Branch neighborhood with the goal to build a facility that will feed 26,000 children per day by 2031. The organization expects to be move-in ready by 2024.

Luncheon Honorees were highlighted via video and included: Valero as the Corporate Honoree, Kroger as the Collaborative Corporate Honoree, The Astros Foundation as the Volunteer Group of the Year, Drs. Nicci and Chris Greeley as the Burrelle Legacy Honoree, and Brandy and Zach Dworaczyk as the Golda & Gill Baker Honoree. Kids’ Meals also recognized Volunteer of the Year recipients Vanessa Gobel, Donna Jett, and Helen Pung for their ongoing, dedicated support.  

Katie Ellington of RSM presented a gift of $40,000 from their 90 offices and 400 employees that raise funds annually for local charities through the company’s charity giving program, which will continue feeding the children who face debilitating hunger due to extreme poverty in Houston. Following the luncheon, RSM increased their donation to $50,000.   

Allen then joined Marshall onstage for an intimate Q&A and shared his story of moving to Nashville with $21 in his bank account. While at times living in his car and working three jobs – at Walmart, a gym, and fish grill – Allen relied on organizations in Nashville, much like Kids’ Meals, for food and sustenance during his early days. Now, as a rising country music star, Allen and several friends provide food and conversation to young people in need in the Nashville area on a regular basis. Allen said he believes food is the gateway to help change lives and is personally investing in the next generation.

Photos courtesy of Kids Meals


The Fire Fighters Foundation of Houston, the only official charity of the Houston Fire Department, has launched a new website to focus attention on their mission of providing life-saving equipment for the Houston Fire Department.  The website was designed as a pro bono account by American Fortune Cookie, an internet marketing firm. 

To date, the Foundation has purchased over $2.6 million in equipment for the Fire Department.  “The website has much information about the type of equipment that has been purchased and what is currently needed, while providing a way for the general public to be a part of the effort,” Lee Vela, foundation chairman, said.

“Being able to work with an outstanding firm like American Fortune Cookie to design the site, is a turning point for our all-volunteer organization,” Vela said.    “A total of 96 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to purchase equipment.”

“It is such an honor to work with this organization that helps our fire fighters be healthy and strong,” Basya Benshushan, owner of American Fortune Cookie, said.  “Our company gives back to the community in which we operate and what better way to do that to help this organization raise the necessary funds to purchase equipment.” 

The new website will be promoted through donated billboards by Clear Channel Outdoor.  Ten billboards will travel around the city for the next year featuring real Houston Fire Fighters within the designs.  Additionally, iHeart Media and Cox Radio will air 30 second radio spots as public service announcements. 

“The Houston Fire Department is truly blessed to have the Foundation helping us with the purchase of equipment that is simply not covered by the city of Houston budget,” Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena, said.  “The purchase of this equipment has been essential to the wellbeing of the nearly 4,000 men and women of the Houston Fire Department.  The Foundation coordinates with us to provide the equipment that we need and that is why they are the only official charity of our department.” 

The Fire Fighters Foundation of Houston is a 501C3 non-profit organization with a mission of providing equipment to the Houston Fire Department.  The new website address is:  

Houston Earns Top Placement in 2023 World’s Best Cities Ranking 

America’s fourth largest city hailed as “educated, diverse, and hard-working” 

 Houston has been named one of the world’s best cities, according to a 2023 World’s Best Cities Report. Stirring global curiosity with its economic might and consistent presence on Google searches, the city ranked 42 out of 100 and is the highest-ranking Texas city on this year’s list. In total, only 25 U.S. cities earned selection to the 2023 report.  

“Houston has been called a world in a city and a city of the world thanks to the rich culture and ethnically diverse backgrounds of our residents,” Houston First Corporation President and CEO Michael Heckman said. “To continually be recognized as one of the world’s most welcoming and diverse cities is something to be proud of and we invite all to discover for themselves what makes Houston such a great city to experience.”  

Earlier this year, Houston earned the moniker as “America’s stealthy powerhouse on the rise” after climbing six spots on the 2022 list of America’s Best Cities. In February, 13 Houston chefs were recognized by The James Beard Foundation and just this week, the city garnered global attention after the Houston Astros won the 2022 World Series for a second time, drawing in thousands of fans to the city over the course of the series.      

The World’s Best Cities Report is an annual ranking conducted by Resonance, a leading advisor in tourism, real estate, and economic development. Regarded as the world’s most thorough city ranking, findings in the report also quantify and benchmark the relative quality of place, reputation, and competitive identity for the world’s principal cities with metropolitan populations of 1 million+.  

To learn more about the methodology and key statistics generated by Resonance or to view the complete 2023 list in its entirety, visit   


The Howard Hughes Corporation® has recently shown its support with a substantial five-year financial commitment for the community conference center in the new South Tower at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. Named “The Howard Hughes Corporation Community Conference Center”, it houses nine areas for educational seminars and meeting space within the new hospital addition.

The new tower represents a $250 million expansion to enable the hospital to meet the needs of the area’s growing population. Memorial Hermann The Woodlands originated over 30 years ago as The Woodlands Hospital, an independently-owned small community hospital and the first healthcare provider for the community. Today, it has evolved into a top-tier, full-service medical center.

“Memorial Hermann is grateful for The Howard Hughes Corporation. We are honored to receive their generous support of the new South Tower at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center, and are continuously touched by their true friendship,” said Justin Kendrick, SVP and CEO of Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. “Their employees have supported our employees these past two years with donations of meals and notes of encouragement as well. They are a true partner in every sense of the word.”

“By extending our partnership to provide long-term financial support for the conference center in Memorial Hermann’s new tower, we are demonstrating the mission of our HHCares initiatives, which strives to take care of the local community by giving back,” said Jim Carman, President – Houston Region for Howard Hughes. “The Woodlands is recognized as a highly coveted, nationally-acclaimed master planned community. Superior quality healthcare is a strong element that draws residents and companies here. Today, we are home to a top regional medical hub that offers convenient access to advanced healthcare for those who live, work, and visit in The Woodlands area.” 

Photos courtesy of Howard Hughes Corporation

HISD sports icons to be commemorated at Athletic Hall of Honor induction ceremony

The HISD Class of 2022 Athletic Hall of Honor includes NFL legends, Olympic medalists, renowned coaches, high school record holders, collegiate standouts, and those who have given back as mentors to student-athletes.

“This is our annual opportunity to memorialize some of the best people associated with HISD sports,” said Athletic Director Andre Walker. “They’re not just legendary athletes and coaches; they are people who have used their talents to guide others through life’s challenges.”

Every year HISD will add the names of 14 individuals and one team to the Athletic Hall of Honor at Delmar Field House for their lasting impact on HISD and the world of sports.

Among those honored in the Class of 2022 are Olympic track star Jackie Washington of Yates High School; NFL Hall of Fame member Mike Singletary of Worthing High School; three-time Olympic swimmer Cynthia Potter of Lamar High School; and professional basketball player Eddie Owens of Wheatley High School. 

The complete list of inductees will be released soon. The induction ceremony is Saturday, August 13, at 4 p.m. at Delmar Field House. Tickets are available now.

HCDE Board approves $172.9 million 2022-2023 budget

The Harris County Department of Education Board of Trustees approved a $172.9 million budget for the 2022-2023 school year during its monthly meeting in July.

The HCDE budget, adopted annually in July, is designed to allow the agency to be responsive to the needs of area school districts and the communities it serves. Additionally, the budget provides ongoing support for Department employees through competitive compensation and benefits.

The budget features recruitment and retention plans and salary increases for eligible employees, which includes raising the starting teacher salary to $63,600—the highest starting teacher salary in Harris County.

The budget allocates funding for 25 new positions. Among the new positions created are teachers, educational aides, licensed counselors, and school-based therapists to support HCDE’s special schools, programs, and services supporting students, educators, and districts in Harris County. 

Also included in the budget is phase two of the Department’s capital improvements plan, which accounts for the continuation of major capital projects and the construction of HCDE’s Equine Therapy Center. The facility is planned to be built in Barrett Station and will offer programs serving students in HCDE schools and area districts.

HCDE predicated the budget on a proposed estimated tax rate of .004990 per $100 of taxable property value, the same rate adopted in September 2021. 

Property tax revenue, which amounts to less than $9 for the average Harris County homeowner annually, makes up $27.2 million of the overall budget. Grants, fees, and revenues from HCDE’s business endeavors, including its purchasing cooperative, fund the rest of the budget.

#SeeTheImpact at

Applications Open for Nonprofit Partners, Volunteers, Food Vendors and Live Entertainment for 50th Annual Bayou City Art Festival Downtown

Bayou City Art Festival, produced by the Art Colony Association, Inc., has opened the applications for nonprofit partners, volunteers, food vendors, and live entertainment for the 50th Annual Bayou City Art Festival Downtown on Saturday-Sunday, October 8-9, 2022.

Located in Sam Houston Park and along Allen Parkway, Bayou City Art Festival will celebrate 50 years of providing unique art experiences and education for the Greater Houston area, while supporting local organizations and promoting the impact that art has on the Houston community. As one of the top art festivals in the country, the outdoor gallery provides patrons with the opportunity to meet 250 artists, view original works, and purchase one-of-a-kind art, world-class paintings, prints, jewelry, sculptures, functional art and more. This year’s featured artist is Cindy Olmes, a mixed media artist from Cincinnati.

The weekend festival features two entertainment stages, a food truck park, beverage stations throughout the festival, and art installations. Guests will enjoy Houston’s skyline views while enjoying the festival’s wine garden, craft beer garden, and Art Bar. Bayou City Art Festival will also premiere a new Collegiate Art Collective, a collection of art composed of six Houston-area college art students.

Bayou City Art Festival has raised over $3.6 million in support for nonprofits in the Greater Houston area. For each festival, Bayou City Art Festival selects up to 10 local charities to receive a portion of the proceeds from the event. Each nonprofit partner provides volunteers and has the option to host a crafting station in the Active Imagination Zone. Local nonprofit organizations interested in becoming a nonprofit partner for the 50th Annual Bayou City Art Festival Downtown can submit an application here. The deadline to apply is July 8, 2022.

This fall, art-loving foodies will swarm to Bayou City Art Festival Downtown and their senses will lead them to the onsite food truck park. Food vendors interested in serving up delicious eats to patrons at Bayou City Art Festival Downtown can submit an online application here.

Festival volunteers have the option to choose various roles and shifts for Saturday and Sunday. After every shift, volunteers are entered into a raffle and have the chance to win prizes, such as gift cards to local restaurants, movies, museum tickets, and more. All volunteers will receive a complimentary t-shirt and can enjoy the festival at no cost before and after their shift. The minimum age to sign up is 13 and group volunteering is also available. Volunteer registrations will open on August 1, 2022.

Lone Star College honored for diversity efforts

The Houston Business Journal (HBJ) has named Lone Star College as an Outstanding Supplier Diversity organization. This recognition is awarded to companies and organizations that successfully seek out and do business with minority suppliers.

“Lone Star College understands the importance of ensuring that minority businesses are able to bid and be awarded contracts,” said Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., LSC Chancellor. “This acknowledgement confirms that those efforts are successful.”

LSC was one of four organizations to receive the Outstanding Supplier Diversity recognition. Honorees will be featured in a special publication and recognized at an awards ceremony on June 23.

In all, 30 companies were selected as HBJ honorees and divided into three awards categories: Outstanding Diverse Organizations, Outstanding Supplier Diversity and Outstanding Diversity Helping Hand. The Outstanding Diverse Organizations were also subdivided by company size.

In fall 2021, LSC welcomed more than 37,300 Hispanic students representing 45% of the total population. LSC also opened its doors to more than 23,800 White and 11,700 Black students representing 29% and 14% of the student population respectively.

“Lone Star College reflects the community it serves and this recognition acknowledges the work the college does when working with local businesses,” said Carlecia Wright, LSC Chief Diversity Officer. “Lone Star College will continue to promote and champion the business case for diversity.”

LSC has also been recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education. An HSI is defined as a higher education institution with an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic students.

Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston’s 9th Annual Wags & Whiskers Brunch and Pet Fashion Show

Wheels were up at the Lone Star Flight Museum as more than 250 philanthropic animal lovers took flight with the Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston crew for the 9th Annual Wags & Whiskers Brunch and Pet Fashion Show with Event Honoree Ann Kaesermann and Event Chair Melinda Wineinger on Saturday, February 26, 2022.

With table décor representing the Bahamas, Italy, Mexico, India, Egypt and more, the “Around the World with Animeals” themed event raised more than $109,000 for the Animeals program that provides free pet food and vet care to the dogs and cats of Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels homebound seniors.

Casey Curry served as Emcee and welcomed guests onboard to fly around the world on Animeals Airline, Flight 2022. Curry introduced Marie Magee, Interfaith Ministries Chief Development Officer, who thanked the pet-loving sponsors, board members, and attendees. A multi-faith invocation was offered by Interfaith Ministries’ Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships Program Manager the Rev. Kim Mabry and Nadia Tajalli, Interfaith Ministries’ Development Chair. Animeals supporters enjoyed all the flight perks while hearing remarks from Wineinger. 

Interfaith Ministries Board Chair Charlene Chuang presented Kaesermann, a longtime Animeals donor and volunteer, with the 2022 Animeals Champion Award. Curry introduced Animeals Support Specialist Alexis Haynes who shared heartwarming stories about the Animeals program.

With their passport stamped, pet parents and pets headed down the runway showing off their “world traveler” attire. The title of Animeals “Top Pet” from the fashion show judged by local media judges was awarded to Melanie Baxter with her two travel partners Janet and Sally.

The Brunch was made possible with the support of the following sponsors: Private Plane Sponsor – Fred G. Marshall in loving memory of his wife Linda; Business Class Sponsor – Saranne and J. Livingston Kosberg; Premium Class Sponsors – Charlene ChuangMarian and Paul ConesMaureen Quirk and Lesley Harris, and Don A. Sanders; Frequent Flyer Sponsors – alliantgroupJen and Purvez CaptainPolly and David RothPaula Sutton & Bill GrossNadia Tajalli and Dr. Shahin TavackoliDr. Kim Tran and Dr. Vasant Garg, and Tracy and Connie Williford; Prosecco Sponsor – Total Wine & More; and Media Sponsors: Bellaire Connect, CultureMap, Cypress Living Magazine, Hedwig Village, Hot in Houston Now, Houston Woman Magazine, Key Magazine, PetTalk Magazine and Swoon Memorial.

Photos: Quy Tran

Buffalo Bayou Partnership Members Take First Meeting with New Neighbor, Regent Square

For their first meet up of 2022, Buffalo Bayou Partnership Members enjoyed an intimate first look of one of Buffalo Bayou Park’s newest neighbors: Regent Square.

The Allen Parkway corridor mixed-use district, which unveiled its second phase during the holidays, selected the community non-profit for their inaugural sip and see, hosting several dozen participants for a spirited happy hour at The Sterling, the project’s just debuted luxury apartment midrise.

Amidst the stylish backdrop of Thirty-Five Fifteen, one of several one-of-a-kind amenity areas surpassing the specs of many a five-star hotel, guests mixed and mingled while sipping on signature Gentle Ben blackberry mules and noshing on delectable, savory cones from Charcuterie Board HTX.

And the fun didn’t stop there. Members were then whisked back to street level to Regent Square’s newly opened Flight Club, where they were treated to more refreshments and an introduction to the British-born brand’s social darts concept.

Photos: Daniel Ortiz

Blue Sprig Pediatrics Addresses the Great Blue Pumpkin Debate

 With Halloween festivities right around the corner, Blue Sprig Pediatrics, an autism therapy clinic with locations throughout the country, is taking an opportunity to address the significance of the blue pumpkin some children carry as they trick-or-treat.

Similar to the teal pumpkin, which calls attention to children with food allergies, the blue pumpkin is designed as a symbol of autism meant to signify that a person trick-or-treating may require specific or different needs.

“Our team at BlueSprig recognizes that there are various opinions about the blue pumpkin. We’ve observed that some families like the idea of the blue bucket. They feel it helps educate others about small changes that can be made to allow their child to enjoy their Halloween experience. Others feel it perpetuates stereotypes and calls unnecessary attention to their child’s diagnosis on an occasion that is supposed to be inclusive of everyone,” said Sharyn Kerr, PH.D, and chief clinical & administrative officer at BlueSprig.

BlueSprig Pediatrics supports inclusion and acceptance of all children and realizes there may be many reasons why Halloween activities can be challenging for some children. Communication challenges, social anxiety, and sensory issues can make the trick-or-treat experience negative. We understand that children may need different types and levels of support to fully enjoy their Halloween experience. The goal should be to provide the least restrictive support to create the most positive experience possible. To that end, the use of a blue pumpkin should be an individual decision made by the child and/or the parent, with the child’s best interests in mind.

“The bottom line is that a child’s diagnosis should not impact their ability to participate in part of the Halloween tradition. All children should be accepted, celebrated, and loved,” added Kerr.  “Whether kids are carrying an orange, blue, or rainbow pumpkin, we hope our community will embrace the idea of acceptance for all children this Halloween and embrace inclusion, regardless of the color of their trick-or-treat pumpkins.”

This Halloween, BlueSprig encourages families to do what is best for them and what makes them the most comfortable. Whatever it is they choose to do, we just hope they have fun.

BlueSprig Pediatrics has the mission of changing the world for children with autism. They are laser-focused on providing individualized, high-quality applied behavioral analysis therapy for children needing this specialized therapy. For more information, visit


American Heart Announces 2022 Honorees and Campaign Theme at Heart Ball Kickoff

On Tuesday, October 12th, the American Heart Association (AHA) Houston Chapter officially kicked off its 2022 Heart of Houston campaign with a fabulous evening at the River Oaks Country Club. After last year’s virtual campaign, guests were thrilled to safely gather and mingle in-person to celebrate the organization’s collective success in driving change, funding science and improving behaviors.

Partygoers delighted in cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and had the opportunity to preview luxury auction items such as luxury trips to Dubai, Hawaii, and Fiji, and expertly curated cases of exclusive wine packages, as well as make their table selections for the upcoming Heart Ball. This year’s chairs, Joanne Houck and Tim Singletary, introduced the theme, “Journeys of the Heart,” and spoke about their vision and goals for the campaign. The pair made impactful remarks, emphasizing the importance of AHA’s mission, and opened up about Tim’s personal journey as a survivor, recounting their experience after Tim suffered a cardiac arrest in August.

The night was full of exciting announcements and surprises, the first of which was an appearance from George Glauser, the man who gave Tim CPR on the scene immediately following his cardiac arrest. After George and Tim shared a heartfelt reunion, George shared his account from that day and left guests with a compelling message about the importance of CPR. Later, Tim and Joanne announced the honorees for the 2022 Houston Heart Ball, The Fluor Family – Ann and Peter Fluor and Lacey and Matt Goossen.

The festivities continued as the chairs dedicated a special thank you to Russ Labrasca who leads the wine auction and is celebrating his 10th anniversary of volunteering with AHA. It was estimated that Russ has supported the campaign with over 1,500 volunteer hours and has helped raise at least $800,000 through the auction. To thank Russ for his passion and longtime support of the American Heart Association, Citi Private Bank will sponsor the Wine Auction this year, with special guest Steve Trauber announced that he and Citi Corporate and Investment Banking will be matching Citi’s support for a total of $50,000 in sponsorship made in his honor.

The inspirational kickoff event set the stage for what is sure to be a successful Heart of Houston campaign, culminating in their most fabulous gala yet, which will be back in-person on February 12, 2022.   

Photos: Daniel Ortiz


The Association of Zoos & Aquariums Recognized Moody Gardens with an Esteemed Award as Staff is Credited for 25 Years of Service and Standards 

The Rainforest and Aquarium Pyramids at Moody Gardens were recognized with the Quarter Century Award by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums at the AZA Annual 2021 Conference on September 24. Moody Gardens has been AZA accredited continuously since 1996. 

AZA serves as an accrediting body for zoos and aquariums and ensures that accredited facilities meet the exceptional standards of animal care that exceeds those required by law. The Quarter Century Award is an outstanding and rare achievement only given to facilities that have been AZA-accredited for 25 consecutive years. AZA accreditation is the highest standard of excellence in animal care attainable in the zoo and aquarium industry.

Every 5 years, the accreditation process requires participating zoos and aquariums to undergo a rigorous inspection and review to ensure it meets ever-rising industry standards in animal management and care, that includes living environments, social groupings, heath and nutrition. The AZA Accreditation Commission also evaluates an institution’s veterinary program, involvement in conservation and research, education programs, safety procedures, security, physical facilities, guest services and the quality of staff.

“We are honored by this award. Moody Gardens has an outstanding team without whom this achievement would not be possible,” said John Zendt, Moody Gardens President and CEO, who added how fortunate the facility is to have such a seasoned staff of professionals. “Their knowledge, passion and standard for excellence is what has created such a great workplace, home for our animals and a fantastic venue for our visitors for the past 25 years.”

A total of 39 employees from numerous departments ranging from Curatorial and Maintenance to Education and more have been employed by Moody Gardens for over 20 years and contributed to this achievement through their areas of expertise.

For more information please call 409-744-4673 or visit www.moodygardens.orgPhoto courtesy of Moody Gardens.


The Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza at the Houston Public Library Downtown will open Wednesday, September 8. Renamed in honor of Mrs. Barbara Bush in 2016, the beautifully transformed, versatile plaza features a water wall, an adult reading area, a children’s reading room with shade structure and fans, a performance stage, a jumbo video display screen for engaging programming and events, new pavers, an artificial lawn, planters with trees, new furnishings and other special amenities .

“The City of Houston remains extremely grateful to the Bush Family and the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation for their longstanding commitment to ensuring Houston is a city where all can thrive and reach their full potential through the power of literacy,” said Mayor Turner. “I thank them for their partnership and that of the Houston Public Library and its Foundation, along with major donors – the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, the Brown Foundation; Downtown Redevelopment Authority (The Main Street/Market Square TIRZ #3) and Phillips 66, who helped to make the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza’s grand opening possible. The Plaza will serve as a point of light and place for all people while preserving and advancing the former First Lady’s legacy.”

“Mom and Dad are surely looking down on this day with humbled pride and delight,” said Neil Bush, son of President George H. W. Bush and Co-Founder of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. “On behalf of the entire Bush family, we are deeply grateful to Mayor Turner and the City Council members for honoring Mom in this most special way. It is our desire that the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza not only serve to pay tribe to her incredible life and legacy, but also that it will foster a love of reading in children and families and encourage others to help someone else receive the life-changing gift of learning how to read.”

In addition to the Plaza opening, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation Board of Directors have commissioned a bronze statue of Mrs. Bush sitting on a park bench with her beloved dog, Millie by her side. The Ladies for Literacy Guild is also donating benches to complete the plaza’s outdoor décor. The statue and bench additions will make their debut at a date to be announced next year.

While the plaza ribbon-cutting is a private ceremony, the Houston Public Library-Central Library will also reopen for the public to enjoy on September 8. The newly reimagined Central Library has made exciting updates to its spaces and services and is eager to share its changes with the community.

Later in the month, HPL Central Library will once again host public programming and events starting with its Hispanic Heritage Fiesta on Sept. 18 from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. Those wishing to see the full realization of the newly developed plaza and reopened facility will have the opportunity to participate in educational and engaging activities, events and exhibits celebrating Houston’s rich Hispanic heritage.

Upcoming events on the plaza include:

o Wednesdays on the Plaza!-Sept. 15

o Nature Walk Story Time-Sept. 21,28

o Family Storytime-Sept. 11, 25

For more information about the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, visit For more information on the  exciting events and programs coming to the HPL Central Library and Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza, visit or call 832-393-1313.

HCDE, Education Foundation of Harris County partner to offer $200,000 in classroom supplies for teachers

Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) and the Education Foundation of Harris County (EFHC) have partnered to create Tools for Teachers, a program designed to support Harris County independent school district teachers with classroom supplies for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

Starting Monday, Aug. 2, up to 2,000 Harris County public school teachers registered for a $100 coupon from EFHC that can be used to purchase classroom supplies through a local online vendor. The $100 credit will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. In total, the EFHC will offer $200,000 for this initiative, which the HCDE Board of Education allocated from its annual budget. The program aims to mitigate the personal costs teachers incur as they purchase materials necessary to set up their classrooms for the first day of school.

“Teachers are facing very long hours, taking on the needs of all of their students, and reaching into their own pockets to sustain their classrooms,” said HCDE Trustee Andrea Duhon, who represents Precinct 3. “A program like this will not only positively affect the teachers that are receiving these supplies, but it’s going to affect the students in those classrooms and the community surrounding them.”

Eligible teachers who register will receive an email with a coupon code and instructions for buying the supplies online. The credit may not be used towards furniture, electronics, or clothing.

To qualify, educators must register with a valid work email from a Harris County independent school district. Teachers from charter schools, private schools, or schools outside of Harris County are not eligible for the credit.

Purchases over the $100 credit will be the responsibility of the individual teacher. All supplies will be shipped directly to the teacher’s school free of charge. Items will not be shipped to a residential address.

Eligible teachers may register from Aug. 2 to Sept. 7 at

Lone Star College-Houston North receives National Endowment for the Arts NEA Big Read grant

Lone Star College-Houston North is the recipient of the 2021-2022 National Education Association (NEA) Big Read Grant.

The NEA, in partnership with Arts Midwest, awarded 61 grants totaling $1,070,000 to support NEA Big Read projects in 2021-2022. These grants, managed by Arts Midwest, will support dynamic community reading programs designed to encourage conversation and discovery, all inspired by a book from the NEA Big Read library.

“The Big Read initiative brings together two important concepts for LSC-Houston North, literacy and community” said Dr. Quentin A. Wright, LSC-Houston North president. “We have long recognized that our service area college attainment goals will not be reached without a concerted, collaborative effort to increase literacy levels.”

NEA Big Read grantees are located in 28 states, with 43% of the organizations located in communities with populations under 50,000. Each organization is receiving a matching grant ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 with LSC-Houston North being fully funded receiving $20,000. The book of focus will be Sandra Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street”. LSC-Houston North will host the author Monday, Nov. 8. 

“For 15 years the NEA Big Read has supported opportunities for communities to come together around a book, creating a shared experience that encourages openness and conversations around issues central to our lives,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We congratulate all of the new NEA Big Read grantees and look forward to seeing the range of meaningful activities they create for their communities.”

LSC-Houston North will host several events coinciding with Hispanic Heritage Month. This will include a kick-off event book discussion and a block party Sept. 18 with LSC-Houston North partnering with the Houston Public Library and the Alley Theatre.


The START Now Project links persons living with HIV to immediate treatment and care

Beginning May 3, 2021, AIDS Foundation Houston, Inc. (AFH), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, launched a rapid start anti-retroviral treatment project as a service to people diagnosed with HIV.  START Now (Strategic, Targeted, Anti-Retroviral Treatment Now) is designed to provide linkage to care and treatment medication to persons newly diagnosed with HIV within the first seven days of their diagnosis.  The project will also assist persons with linkage to care who have a previous HIV diagnosis who either have never been in care or have not been in treatment and care in the past twelve months.  START Now aims to support patients in achieving sustained viral suppression, which prevents the transfer of HIV to another person through sex. 

“We are proud to be one of 15 organizations across the nation that are funded by HRSA in this Special Project of National Significance (SPNS) to support this activity that is directly linked to our mission to end the HIV epidemic in the greater Houston area,” said John Huckaby, CEO of AIDS Foundation Houston.  “START Now allows us to assist people living with HIV to be linked to care and helps patients reach viral suppression as soon as possible, which is a key goal in the CDC’s Ending the HIV Epidemic:  A Plan for America.” 

Persons wanting to enroll in START Now should contact the Linkage Case Manager, Antonisha Alves, at 713-623-6796 x 295.  In addition, individuals can be referred to the program by other HIV prevention service organizations, Urgent Care facilities, Emergency Departments or other hospitals and clinics.  The START Now team will ensure that patients get their treatment medication within 7 days of enrollment and schedule the patient for their first appointment with their long-term HIV treatment provider.

Additionally, AFH now offers a number of services online, including HIV and STI testing, as well as consultations and prescriptions for PrEP, nPEP and START Now. AFH has also partnered with Mistr and Sistr to make PrEP more accessible. Patients can talk to a doctor virtually, handle the lab work at home, and get prescriptions delivered to their homes for free. Learn more about all services provided or make an appointment at

The Women’s Fund for Health Education and Resiliency Hosts 6th Annual Wine Dinner

After last year’s event swiftly turned virtual due to COVID-19, more than 130 supporters brought an appetite to experience an intimate in-person event with exceptional wine, culinary delights, and entertainment to benefit The Women’s Fund’s mission at the 6th Annual Wine Dinner on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at Tony’s.

Chairs Joanna and Brad Marks, generous sponsors and guests raised more than $135,000 to ensure Houston-area women and girls have free access to tools they need to be advocates for their health through classes, workshops, lectures, and publications focused on physical, mental, financial, emotional, health, and wellness.

President of the Board of Trustees Kathy Johnson highlighted The Women’s Fund’s accomplishments and its commitment to continue providing free and virtual health presentations and services to Houston-area women and girls during unprecedented times.

Johnson introduced Victoria Balderas, a “What About Me?” class participant, who shared how The Women’s Fund has personally impacted her life and taught her resiliency skills through its free programs.  

The Marks then introduced the evening’s dinner host famed Houston restauranteur Donna Vallone who guided guests through an exquisite four-course meal with wine pairings.

 The Marks recognized the Wine Dinner’s entertainment sponsor Plains Capital Bank while introducing Houston’s own    American Idol Season 12 finalist Vincent Powell along with the Houston Ensemble Band.

 For more information, visit, call 713-623-6543, or follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Photos: Michelle Watson

 After Pandemic Delay VITA LIVING Hosts 6th Annual Pearls of Wisdom Fundraiser

Over 200 guests helped to raise over $140,000 for Houston-area citizen with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) at the Pearls of Wisdom Dinner benefitting Vita Living. Event Chairs Kristen and Drew Perrin welcomed Gold Level sponsors such as O’Donnell/Snider Construction, Architectural Floors, and Westwood Wealth Management.

The featured speaker was one of Vita Living’s own clients, Wade Washington, a champion bodybuilder with cerebral palsy, his wife BJ, and their coaches and mentors, Pro champion bodybuilder Tina Chandler and Carl Ducena. Wade’s inspiring story brought gusts to tears and inspired one guest to issue a $20,000 matching gift challenge to encourage fundraising.

Monies raised support of the nonprofit’s mission to provide lifelong services and supports for children and adults with IDD to promote personal growth toward a safe, satisfying, and meaningful life in their community.

For more information, go to 

Photos Steven David , courtesy of Vita Living.

San Jac baseball finishes third in the nation

Sabin Ceballos named to Outstanding Defensive Player

The San Jacinto College baseball team ended the 2021 season finishing third at the Alpine Bank Junior College (JUCO) World Series last week in Junction, Colorado. 

San Jac finished the season 51-15overall after winning the Region XIV Tournament. The team’s JUCO world series appearance is the 27th in program history. 

“I am extremely proud of what this team has accomplished,” said Head Coach Tom Arrington. “They were a team that faced many adversities, but remained diligent in the work ethic and support of one another. Win or lose, they will always be a championshio team. ”

San Jac, seeded third in the national tournament, defeated eighth seed Miami Dade 11-3 to kick off the tournament. They then knocked off ninth seed, Shelton State 11-10 to advance against Central Arizona, defeating the Vaqueros 7-4. San Jac then fell 13-10 to McLennan Community College and 11-10 to Central Arizona to end their national title run. 

Infielder Sabin Ceballos was presented the Jay Tolman Outstanding Defensive Player Award. Ceballos along with outfielder Mason Auer and catcher Chase Adkinson were named to the all-tournament team.

Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston’s 8th Annual Wags & Whiskers Brunch and Pet Fashion Show

Wheels were up as more than 200 philanthropic animal lovers took flight with Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston crew to the 8th Annual Wags & Whiskers Brunch and Pet Fashion Show with Event Chair M.A. Shute as the Captain on May 8, 2021.

The virtual “Jet Set Pets” themed event raised more than $70,000 for the Animeals program that provides free pet food and vet care to 1,300 dogs and cats of Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels homebound seniors.

Using its home-delivered meals expertise, Interfaith Ministries’ team of Meals on Wheels drivers delivered a carry-on lunch from Phoenicia Specialty Foods for guests to enjoy at home similar to what they do for homebound seniors in its Meals on Wheels program.

Guests at home donned their best jet set or vintage attire along with Delta Airlines slippers, which were included in their carry-on. Interfaith Ministries Board Chair and Co-Sr. Captain Jay Harberg prepared guests with virtual boarding passes to fly to the Brunch and Pet Fashion Show while Lead Flight Attendant Casey Curry served as Emcee and welcomed guests on board to fly on Jet Set Pet Airline, Flight 2021.

Puppy love and cat fever took over the internet when viewers watched jet set pets on the runway of a lifetime during the “pupular” Pet Fashion Show at the Lone Star Flight Museum.

The title of Animeals “Top Pet” from the fashion show judged by local media judges was awarded to Rachel Feiertag with Zim (cat) and Kuma (dog). Viewers swooned over Coco and pet parent Ali Al Sudani, Interfaith Ministries’ Chief Programs Officer, who won the People’s Choice Award.

Photos courtesy of Interfaith Ministries

Houstonians Rally Behind Crime Stoppers of Houston to ‘Keep our City Safe’ and Honor Distinguished Community Members at Annual Houston’s Heroes Awards Luncheon

Over $183,000 raised to fund critical public safety initiatives combating the increase of crime in Houston and offering support to victim’s families

After more than a year of cancelled in-person events in Houston, 220 guests, were happy to be out lending their support to Crime Stoppers of Houston at its annual Houston’s Heroes Awards Luncheon, which was held May 4, 2021. The long overdue fundraiser honored and celebrated outstanding community members who have made incredible contributions to make Houston and Texas a safer place to live, work, learn and play. Due to COVID-19 protocols, the event was also livestreamed via ZOOM for virtual supporters.

The uplifting celebration served as a vital fundraiser for Crime Stoppers and raised over $183,000 to directly fund the critical public safety and crime prevention initiatives delivered by the non-profit in local and statewide communities and schools.

The following 2021 Heroes were presented with distinguished awards for being positive contributors to the community through their long-standing support of crime prevention and public safety initiatives that make Houston, and Texas, safer for all:

§  The Johnny Klevenhagen Award – Houston Police Department Commander James Dale: Recognized for his 26+ year career at the Houston Police Department and his significant contributions to fighting crime, specifically human trafficking and his work with non-profits like Crime Stoppers.

§  The Fenner Weller Award – State Representative Jim Murphy: Recognized for working tirelessly to pass bills, including the Parole Bill HB 3387 and Summer Camp Bill HB 4372, that make Texas a safer place to live. Rep. Murphy’s heart and passion has changed victims into victors.

§  The Leiv Platou Award – Hazem Ahmed: Recognized for his significant contributions to public safety as a volunteer, board member and tireless advocate for Crime Stoppers of Houston for over 9 years now, providing a wealth of knowledge and guidance to the organization.
§  The Corporate Citizen Award – H-E-B: Recognized for their commitment to public safety, especially the Crime Stoppers Safe School Institute which educates students, teachers and school personnel on the Tip Line and critical safety issues to keep them safe while at school. They have been instrumental in the Crime Stoppers rewards committee for many years and have assisted to curb crime in all community retail community retail stores through the Greater Houston Loss Prevention Alliance.

§  The Safe School Award – Jerri Duddlesten Moore: Recognized for her enormous heart for the children of today and an unmet compassion to reach all students in all communities. Her tremendous support of the Crime Stoppers Safe School Institute has allowed the program to grow and reach over 1 million students with critical safety information related to reporting weapons on school campuses, cyber safety, teen dating violence and much more.

§  The Women Who Shape Houston Award – Brigitte Kalai: Recognized for her incredible philanthropic contributions, specifically her history of championing causes that uplift women and children. She has been instrumental in bringing Crime Stoppers into many of her personal events and connecting the organization within many communities.

§  Partner of the Year Award – Lawrence and Linda Levy: Recognized for their incredible support of the Crime Stoppers anonymous Tip Line and their work to help the organization launch an anti-terrorism community task force, as well as creating many new connections that have directly impacted the growth of the Safe Community and Safe School Institute.

While the focus of the afternoon was to honor incredible heroes, Crime Stoppers was able to raise additional funds to continue their critically important crime-solving work through the famed 713-222-TIPS Tip Line and expand their free crime prevention and safety education which is provided through their Safe Community Program and Safe School Institute.

Photo credit: Quy Tran Photography

Lone Star College awards record number of degrees and certifications during spring commencement ceremonies

Lone Star College awarded 9,295 students with a degree or certificate during spring 2021 commencement celebrations, representing a 5% increase from 2020.

“This past year has presented students with unprecedented challenges,” said Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., LSC chancellor. “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the winter storm and the general disruptions in their lives, Lone Star College students were able to remain focused and accomplish something that will change their lives for the better.”

In addition to conferring more than 9,000 associate degrees and certifications, LSC also awarded 23 Bachelor of Arts degrees for the very first time.

“Attaining my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Lone Star College is the highlight of my educational journey and a valuable achievement for me and my family,” said Stella Bishop, RN, LSC-Montgomery BSN graduate. “I feel very confident knowing that I’m receiving a high-quality education from a well-respected college that also allows me to maintain an essential work-life-school balance.”

Lone Star College ranks second nationally in conferring associate degrees among all community colleges, according to data from the National Center for Educational Statistics. The ranking is from the 2018-19 academic year, the latest complete data available. There are approximately 1,100 community colleges nationwide.

LSC graduates were recognized in virtual graduation celebration videos which can be seen at

“What these students accomplished is a testament to their hard work and determination,” said Mariam Saldívar, LSCS Board of Trustees chair. “I would also like to recognize the extraordinary work of our faculty, staff and administration to ensure students had the tools and resources necessary to earn their degree and be prepared for the next step in their journey.” 

Summer and fall registration are currently underway. Visit to explore all the opportunities available to learn a new career, or update your current skills.

 “Starting out at Lone Star College has given me the chance to look at all my options and has helped me determine a path that I am passionate and excited about,” said Autumn Hildebrand, LSC-CyFair graduate. “I learned that it’s okay to step out of your comfort zone and that communication with others is the key to all success.”

Two HISD schools ranked among the most challenging in the nation by Challenge Index

 The nation’s only index that ranks high schools’ ability to challenge their students will be published soon, and two Houston Independent School District campuses made the list in more than one category.

Carnegie Vanguard High School is ranked number five on the latest Challenge Index list of top 20 high schools, as well as number 2 on the Index’s list of Top 10 Magnet Schools and number 3 on the list of Top 10 Southern Schools. 

Additionally, Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy is ranked number 10 on the list of Top 10 Magnet Schools.

The Challenge Index 2020 will be published in the May 2021 edition of Education Next. It is also available online.

“We are extremely proud of Carnegie Vanguard and YWCPA for being recognized as the most elite schools in America,” said HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan. “It requires hard work of administrators, teachers, and students to obtain such an impressive achievement.”

Carnegie Vanguard serves grades 9-12. As a Vanguard Program, all students are gifted and talented, and all students take Advanced Placement core classes as part of the curriculum. The school consistently has been ranked as a top public high school in the United States by several major magazines and journals. 

Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy was named a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School in 2020. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes high student achievement and exemplary progress in closing achievement gaps.

YWCPA provides a unique learning environment for female students in grades 6-12. It focuses on college readiness and science, technology, engineering, and math. All core curriculum classes are Pre-Advanced Placement or Advanced Placement. 

First published in 1998, the Challenge Index has appeared in Newsweek and The Washington Post. It is the only list that compares private and public schools. It does not rely on test scores. It ranks high schools by a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or Cambridge tests given at school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year.

Education journalist Jay Matthews compiles the list. He believes participation in college-level AP, IB, and Cambridge tests is a measure of learning depth. 

CenterPoint Energy Foundation contributes more than $500,000 to support hunger needs following severe winter weather 

Company’s commitment helping those who are hungry or at risk of hunger

CenterPoint Energy, through its charitable foundation, contributed more than $500,000 to organizations focused on supporting food needs following the recent severe winter weather event. CenterPoint Energy’s contributions include a $500,000 commitment to the Houston Food Bank.

The Houston Food Bank provides food assistance to those in need in all counties within CenterPoint Energy’s Greater Houston area electric and natural gas service territory, including Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller.

“The need for food assistance had already increased dramatically because of COVID-19, and the severe winter weather exacerbated that need,” said Alicia Dixon, Director of Community Relations for CenterPoint Energy. “The Houston Food Bank plays a critical role in addressing food-insecurity across our area and supporting the well-being of our neighbors in need. We are proud to support the Houston Food Bank’s mission to serve community members who are hungry or at risk of hunger.”

The CenterPoint Energy Foundation is also making a $50,000 contribution to Kids’ Meals, an organization focused on ending childhood hunger in Harris County by feeding kids under six who do not have access to school-supplies lunches due to extreme poverty. Since 2006, Kids’ Meals has been making and delivering free, healthy meals directly to the homes of hungry children. Since inception, Kids’ Meals have given more than 8 million free meals to food insecure children in 42 Houston-area zip codes. 

“While the storm may be over, the effects of this disaster on many of our neighbors will last for months to come,” says Brian Greene, president/CEO of Houston Food Bank.  “CenterPoint Energy’s recent contribution and continued support of the Houston Food Bank illustrate their core value of commitment to community, and allows us to provide food for better lives. We could not do this work without partners like CenterPoint Energy.”

These contributions are in addition to the CenterPoint Energy Foundation’s $1 million contribution to the Houston-Harris County Winter Storm Relief Fund aimed at supporting low-income Houstonians without insurance who were impacted by the recent extreme winter weather.

Lone Star College, RigUp to offer free training for solar professionals

The solar energy industry is experiencing massive growth but is facing a severe shortage of skilled solar professionals. Lone Star College and RigUp have announced a partnership to provide free training for students interested in joining the growing renewable energy industry.

 “This is a wonderful opportunity for those who have lost jobs in the oil and gas or construction industries to retool and learn new skills,” said Ken Kral, executive director, Lone Star Corporate College. “We are honored to partner with RigUp as they help build the solar industry in Texas and support tremendous job growth.”

RigUp is a leading workforce management solution for the skilled trades, serving the renewables, oil & gas, construction and defense industries. 

Students will learn the basics of installing utility scale solar racking and modular equipment, and will earn Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10 certification. The free Solar Installer Training Course, including an online OSHA Training and two-day, hands-on course, will take place in the El Campo area where the Aktina Renewable Power Project solar farm is being constructed. The facility is expected to take two years to complete and will consist of 1.4 million solar modules. 

Once students complete the program, they will be offered employment to work in the solar industry to construct, assemble and maintain commercial solar systems. 

“RigUp is committed to helping people get back to work,” said Ron Nickelson, head of solar at RigUp. “Our partnership with Lone Star College gives local residents access to the training they need to secure good jobs with low barriers of entry, whether they are simply looking for short-term work or a long-term career in the solar industry.” 

The weekly course offering is expected to begin in mid-February and continue through the spring. Visit to learn more. 

“The solar power industry is booming, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting an over 50% growth rate of solar installations through 2029,” said Kral. 

About RigUp:  RigUp is the leading workforce management solution for the skilled trades. We make it easier for skilled laborers to find work and for companies to find in-demand, trained workers. RigUp operates across the oil & gas, wind, solar, construction and defense industries. Through people and technology, we provide the staffing, training, and professional services to empower the people who get hard work done. For more information, visit

Holiday Meal Distribution Event Serves Up 5,000 Meals to Third Ward Families

Lucille’s 1913, Kinder Foundation and Emancipation Park Conservancy to distribute 5,000 meals to 1,000 families

Sarah and Doug Foshee underwrite 1,000 H-E-B gift cards valued at $100

Simone Biles and mother Nellie assist with distribution

families from throughout the Third Ward area picked up delicious, free holiday meals and H-E-B gift cards at Emancipation Park. Prepared by Chef Chris Williams’ non-profit Lucille’s 1913 Conscious Community Collective, the drive thru-event provided 5,000 meals for 1,000 families from the Greater Third Ward area. In addition, families also received a $100 H-E-B gift card, generously donated by Sarah and Doug Foshee.

The event was facilitated by Lucille’s 1913 in collaboration with Emancipation Park Conservancy and sponsored by the Kinder Foundation, Sarah and Doug Foshee, and Deshaun Watson Foundation. 

Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and her mother Nellie Biles, former Houston Rocket Steve Francis, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and Councilwoman Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz (District D) were all on hand to assist with distribution. Recipients remained in their cars for distribution, either popping open their trunk or lowering their passenger side back window to receive their meals. Chef’s Produce provided a refrigerated truck to keep the meals throughout the day. Covid-19 measures were in place to ensure safety amongst staff, volunteers, and guests.

Lucille’s 1913 has donated more than 100,000 meals to Houstonians in need since the start of Covid-19, an effort primarily self-funded by Chef Chris Williams and Lucille’s. Each meal is thoughtfully created with regard to the palate of the communities which Lucille’s 1913 serves. The individually packed meals for Wednesday’s holiday event featured chicken breast, giblet gravy, macaroni and cheese, and Virginia-style green beans. 

Photo credit: Jenn Duncan

Delta Dental Community Care Foundation Marks Giving Tuesday with $350,000 to Texas Food Banks

Houston Food Bank receives $100,000, which will provide 300,000 meals

The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation today announced that it is giving $350,000 to food banks in Texas. This announcement falls on Giving Tuesday, a global generosity movement that encourages people and organizations to do good, which has deeper resonance amid the challenges presented by COVID-19.  

“As a result of the pandemic, food insecurity rates and reliance on food banks are skyrocketing like never before,” said Kenzie Ferguson, vice president for foundation and corporate social responsibility for Delta Dental of California and its affiliates. “Fighting food insecurity is not only the right thing to do for our communities during these trying times, but it also aligns with our mission to promote oral health.”

Dental caries, or the disease that causes tooth decay, has been linked to food insecurity – a disruption in food intake or eating patterns due to a lack of resources – in numerous studies. Delta Dental of California and its affiliates, through the Foundation, employee support and corporate giving, have strengthened food banks across its enterprise states for years. As the economic crisis caused by the pandemic continues, it became clear it was time to increase that support exponentially.

Food banks receiving grants include:

  • Houston Food Bank in Houston – $100,000
  • North Texas Food Bank in Dallas – $75,000
  • San Antonio Food Bank in San Antonio – $75,000
  • Central Texas Food Bank in Austin – $50,000
  • El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank in El Paso – $50,000

Today the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation is announcing $2.5 million in funding to food banks across 15 states and Washington, D.C.  This is in addition to $11 million in previously awarded grants in response to COVID-19. Foundation support in 2020 totals nearly $15 million, including nearly $1.3 million to nonprofits in Texas.

The Women’s Fund for Health Education and Resiliency Hosts 10th Annual Rockin’ Resiliency Luncheon and Celebrate COH Proclamation for Rockin’ Resiliency Day

Daylight savings ended and more than 60 households and close to 250 virtual guests were up and rocking the house by dancing and singing along with Houston’s very own and Season 12 finalist of American Idol, Vincent Powell on Sunday, November 1st in support of The Women’s Fund for Health Education and Resiliency. If that wasn’t enough to get guests at home excited and inspired by The Women’s Fund’s mission, the Rockin’ Resiliency luncheon was officially kicked off when partnerschools singers, Emma Fulton, Emilia Haymon and Bridget Gray joined Powell and performed “Count on Me.” The song was a tribute to the work The Women’s Fund provides to the Greater Houston community. 

With support from Luncheon Chairs Christine and Steve Johnson, the lively event raised close to $180,000 while celebrating the thousands of women and girls that count on The Women’s Fund for health education information.

Just an hour before the luncheon, The Women’s Fund hosted over 90 participates for an Educational Panel Discussion sponsored by Dr. Elizabeth Grimm, PHD. Led by Drs. Wanda Mott and Frene’ Lacour-Chestnut, Denise Bates, Chau Nguyen, and Centrell Reed, the discussion focused on the luncheon’s theme: “Your Voice Matters” and explored how women and girls of all ages can speak up and do something important with their thoughts, ideas and opinions, and be the change they wish to see in the world. The participants also received goodie bags sponsored by Veritex Community Bank.

Lead underwriters and participants were treated to a viewing boxed lunch sponsored by Katherine and Chris Gillman and curated by Phoenicia Specialty Foods. Delivery of lunch and a goodie bag with face mask and swag was made possible by delivery sponsor Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. 

Emceed by KTRK-ABC 13’s Gina Gaston Elie, the luncheon continued to engage guests as they celebrated and snapped photos via the virtual photo booth sponsored by Allegiance Bank from the comfort of their homes. Houston City Council Member Sallie Alcorn made a surprise appearance and presented The Women’s Fund with a proclamation from the City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner that proclaimed November 1, 2020, as Rockin’ Resiliency Day.

The Women’s Fund presented Edna Meyer-Nelson as the recipient of the Sue Trammel Whitfield Award for Resiliency Award and The John P. McGovern Foundation “Champion in Women’s Health and Wellness” Award to Kathleen Schmeler, M.D. PlainsCapital Bank presented a lively interview with the face and voice of HEB Scott McClelland by Luncheon co-chair Steve Johnson of the famed Walton and Johnson Syndicated Radio Show. 

Thirty Model Homes Open to Interested Buyers, Realtors® and Guests 

The top selling master planned community in Texas is inviting guests to experience 30 of the best model homes in the Greater Houston region. The Howard Hughes Corporation® (NYSE: HHC) announced that Bridgeland® will host the Model Home Discovery Tour during two weekends in November. Potential homebuyers, families, Realtors® and builders are invited to participate in the free event held Saturday, November 7 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, November 8 and 15 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free to all ages.

Bridgeland’s Model Home Discovery Tour is designed to showcase the many different architectural styles, home features and amenities throughout Bridgeland. Whether purchasing an existing inventory home or purchasing a homesite on which a builder will construct a home in the fast-growing, award-winning master planned community, this is an opportunity to leisurely view the many different options for those looking for their new home or curious as to what Bridgeland has to offer.

Whether looking for a new home or simply curious as to the variety of design options and products available, the Model Home Discovery Tour is a great way to see all that Bridgeland has to offer,” said Heath Melton, Executive Vice President of MPC, Residential for The Howard Hughes Corporation. “Our wide variety of award-winning homebuilders are second-to-none throughout the Greater Houston region and we know that there will be something that interests everyone that visits our stunning model homes.“

Thirty model homes from a variety of acclaimed builders will be featured, food trucks will be on hand to provide refreshments, and all participants will have a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize – $2,500 Visa card. The Model Home Discovery Tour includes models by Beazer Homes, Chesmar Homes, Coventry Homes, Darling Homes, David Weekley Homes, Fredrick Harris Estate Homes, Highland Homes, Lennar, M/I Homes, Newmark Homes, Partners In Building, Perry Homes, Ravenna Homes, Taylor Morrison, Trendmaker Homes, Village Builders and Westin Homes.

Guests will be provided a map and a tour card at the Bridgeland Welcome Center, located at 16919 North Bridgeland Lake Pkwy., Cypress, TX 77433, or at any of the model homes. They are invited to visit as many model homes as they wish but will have an incentive to visit six or more. Guests that visit two models at the model home park, one custom model in Sheldon Lake, one model in Parkland Square, one model in Lockhart and one model at Copper Breaks will receive a $15 gift voucher to be used at participating businesses at Lakeland Village Center by the end of 2020. Guests that visit ten or more models will be entered to win a $2,500 Visa gift card in addition to the $15 Lakeland Village Center gift voucher.

Learn more about Bridgeland, a development of The Howard Hughes Corporation, at 

FARIS FOUNDATION Raises $750,000 for Campaign in Honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

This year, The Faris Foundation—a Houston-based nonprofit focusing on childhood cancer research, creative arts programs at children’s cancer centers and public engagement and awareness around childhood cancer—raised $750,000 for its “Let There Be GOLD” campaign in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Every September, the Faris Foundation hosts the campaign with public education and fundraising endeavors with Prime Communications, AT&T’s largest authorized retailer, along with celebration events at childhood cancer centers and gold-themed public art initiatives. 

This year, over 55,000 customers at nearly 2,000 Prime Communications stores in 46 states contributed to the campaign to raise funds for childhood cancer research and creative arts programs at children’s cancer centers.


Looking for just the right thing for the person who has everything? Need a corporate gift idea for employees, co-workers, clients or business associates? This year spread holiday cheer and do something good with your gift-giving with the Houston Food Bank’s Holiday Cards with Hope.

The Houston Food Bank’s holiday card program makes gift-giving easy, all while providing food for better lives. Just make a donation in honor of friends, family, colleagues, clients, or anyone special to you and the Houston Food Bank will send them a card on your behalf. Holiday Cards with Hope are perfect for Christmas, Chanukah or New Year’s.

Your donations will make a big impact – for every $1 donated to the Houston Food Bank, they can provide 3 full meals to a child, family or senior in need.  Simply select a card type, pick your favorite design, and place your order.

Card types to choose from:

Honor Cards – minimum donation of $10 each
Make a donation in someone’s honor and the food bank will personalize and send a printed 5” x 7″ card on the donor’s behalf. Honor cards are printed with, “In the true spirit of the season, a gift has been given in your honor to the Houston Food Bank by”, personalized with your name or company name. To expedite, please complete order details right away or food bank can mail cards directly to you, just select which mode.

Tribute Inserts  minimum donation of $5 each
Already have a holiday card picked out? Include a 4×6 tribute insert with your cards to let your recipients know a gift has been made in their honor. Tribute inserts are printed with, “A gift in your honor is helping the Houston Food Bank provide food and hope to thousands of hungry people this holiday season.” Tribute inserts will be mailed directly to the purchaser/donor.  

To see design options and place an order, visit Please allow 10 days for processing and delivery so that recipients receive cards in a timely manner. To expedite your Honor Card order, complete your order details as soon as you place your order.

For questions and additional information, please contact Abby Trahan, annual giving coordinator at or 832-369-9220. 

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston members celebrate Jackie Robinson Day and 100th anniversary of Negro Leagues Baseball 

Event spearheaded by Bank of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston (BGCGH) gathered to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day and the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues with special programming culminating in a live virtual event on YouTube with ESPN called “Courageous Conversation,” in collaboration with Bank of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Club members, many of them teens, participated in “Courageous Conversation,” which dovetailed with the teen social and racial justice initiative launched by BGCGH this summer, “Be the Change You Want 2 See.”

The discussion, moderated by Clinton Yates of ESPN’s “The Undefeated,” featured Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Chris Archer, Pittsburgh Pirates™ player and Del Matthews, VP of Baseball Development for MLB™. There were special appearances by former and current MLB™ players who spoke to the next generation in an open dialogue about the intersection of baseball and race and the role sports can play in advocating for change and furthering the cause of social justice and racial equality in America. The discussion was particularly poignant given recent events, reinforcing why it is important for all ages to engage in candid conversation about diversity and inclusion.

The event is part of Bank of America’s recently launched Let’s Rally program, an effort in partnership with MLB™, that benefits Boys & Girls Clubs of America and complements Bank of America’s $1 billion commitment over four years to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, with a particular focus on helping create opportunity for people and communities of color. Boys & Girls Clubs in eight cities from coast to coast, including Houston, were invited to join in the activities honoring Jackie Robinson and the Negro Baseball Leagues.

“We are honored to be one of the cities chosen to participate in this national event that recognizes sports icon Jackie Robinson and addresses important questions and issues surrounding racial equality in sports, as well as in America,” says Kevin Hattery, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston. “Our Club members and staff who participated in ‘Courageous Conversation’ and other related programming were truly uplifted by the positive dialogue and the promise of a more just and equitable world. Social justice is a value of ours, which is why we launched our program for teens in June, ‘Be the Change You Want 2 See.’”

“Sports have long served as a platform for racial justice, and as part of Bank of America’s commitment to advancing racial equality, economic opportunity and social justice, we’re excited to partner with Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston on Jackie Robinson Day and the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues in professional baseball to inform our youth and provide meals and activity kits for families and Club members,” says Hong Ogle, Houston Market President, Bank of America.

In addition to the ESPN event, Club members at several Boys & Girls Clubs in the Houston area were able to take a virtual field trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame where they learned about the impact of cultural diversity on baseball. They will build upon the learnings with take-home activity bags. The kits include:

  • Jackie Robinson Activity Sheets: Educational materials, including a Jackie Robinson fact sheet, writing prompt and word search
  • Negro Leagues History Resource Guide to learn about the significant contributions of the Negro Leagues
  • Branded Popcorn Box with Baseball Card: Each student received a branded box of caramel popcorn with a Negro Leagues Baseball card inside   
  • Branded foam baseball keepsake
  • The activity bags, which were scheduled for widespread distribution at Houston area Club locations this week, will now be available to members and their families the week of Aug. 31. The delay is due to the anticipated effects of Hurricane Laura. Other Club events planned include a viewing of the classic movie “The Sandlot” and a baseball-themed lunch for members, courtesy of Bank of America.

For more information about Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston programming and its mission, visit

Michael Heckman Named Acting President & Chief Executive Officer at Houston First Corporation

Mayor Sylvester Turner has appointed Michael Heckman to the position of Acting President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective August 6, 2020. Heckman will oversee full operations of the corporation and will guide Houston First through its next growth phase.  

Heckman was recently appointed Chief Operating Officer of Strategic Initiatives, charged with developing a new strategic direction for the corporation. Prior to that he served as the Senior Vice President of Partnerships and Event Development, most notably developing Comicpalooza, Texas’ Largest Entertainment and Pop Culture and serving as the President and CEO of the 23rd World Petroleum Congress. He has been a part of the Houston First Corporation for six years and prior to that, spent five years with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Michael has the experience and ability to lead Houston First as we conduct a national search for a permanent president and chief executive officer. During his leadership, I want Houston First to continue moving forward and start reimagining itself to promote Houston throughout the world. We cannot wait until the pandemic is over. I know Michael will serve well in the interim position,” said Turner.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to lead the team at Houston First. We are a unique organization with an awesome responsibility to market and brand Houston. As we all know, the tourism and meetings industries are facing historic challenges as a result of the pandemic. Fortunately, we have the best of the best selling and marketing Houston in all areas. My associates and the Board are keenly focused on reimagining our business operations. The team will focus on developing new, innovative strategies that drive growth and stability while continuing to support our hospitality stakeholders,” said Heckman. 


The Ronald McDonald House Houston (RMHH) Board of Directors announced the appointment of Cristina Vetrano as the new Chief Executive Officer of the organization, effective August 17, 2020. A highly respected leader with more than 25 years of nonprofit experience, Vetrano joins RMHH from CanCare where she served as President and CEO. 

“Ronald McDonald House Houston is thrilled to welcome Cristina Vetrano as our new CEO,” said Maggie Stacy, president of the board of Ronald McDonald House Houston. “We were impressed by her thoughtful leadership at both CanCare and Kids’ Meals, as well as the invaluable experience she brings from her 13 years with the American Red Cross. Cristina is a highly-accomplished leader with a proven track record that will be critical in leading our organization forward in its mission.”

Vetrano is a leader in the Houston nonprofit community having most recently led CanCare in its efforts and prior to that, serving as Executive Director of Kids’ Meals. Her work with CanCare included strategic planning, fundraising, and project development. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vetrano oversaw the creation of the CanCare Support Phone Line and Email System, which connects cancer patients and their caregivers to a volunteer for one-on-one support during this time of social distancing.

“I am honored to join Ronald McDonald House Houston as their next CEO,” said Vetrano. “I look forward to finding new and meaningful ways to apply what I have learned over my career to enhance our ability to welcome and support families with critically-ill children seeking treatment in our Texas Medical Center. I am impressed and inspired by what Ronald McDonald House Houston has accomplished and am eager to continue building on those successes.”

Vetrano also spent 13 years with the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., where she held multiple positions and ultimately served as Director, Project Support. Her time with the American Red Cross involved working in the technology, disaster services, and health and safety departments. Notably, she led the implementation of the organization’s learning management system to its more than 600 nationwide chapters. With approximately 5,000 users and comprising over 5 million records, this launch marked the fastest nationwide technology deployment in the organization’s history.

Vetrano also served in the Peace Corps as a small business volunteer in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia where she designed a business curriculum and trained teachers at a local college. She is currently a Senior Fellow in the American Leadership Forum program. Vetrano earned her MBA from the University of Iowa and her Bachelor of Science in Finance from San Diego State University. 


Positioned within walking distance to The Woodlands Waterway®, the 179,338-square-foot project will offer 163 new residences with one-, two- and three-bedroom plans as well as townhomes with direct street access. 

Currently under construction, the seven-story urban luxury multifamily community will feature walk-up townhomes as well as apartments in The Woodlands Town Center®, set on 1.67 acres at the southeast intersection of Six Pines Drive and Timberloch Place.

The urban development will feature impressive contemporary finishes with quartz countertops, simulated wood flooring, stainless appliances, walk-in closets and nine-foot-plus ceilings. Nest Themostats and keyless entries are among the features of these new residences.

Co-working spaces for those residents who work from home will be a unique and convenient amenity to this multifamily community.  Private offices will be offered to residents at an additional monthly charge.

“The unique elements of these multifamily residences, coupled with walk-up townhomes, which are available for lease, make The Lane at Waterway a terrific complement to our portfolio,” said Crystal Bledsoe, National Multifamily Asset Manager for The Howard Hughes Corporation. “With its resort-style amenities and access to the beautiful walkable setting of The Woodlands Waterway, this new community is designed to promote health and wellness within a convenient lifestyle. We are excited to debut The Lane at Waterway later this year, and we are currently taking inquiries from interested parties.”

With an abundance of amenities to indulge a healthy and fit lifestyle, The Lane at Waterway will include a clubroom, state-of-the-art fitness center, third-floor amenity deck, outdoor cooking areas and bike storage, all within a walking setting to The Woodlands Waterway, an award-winning, 1.8-mile water amenity, transportation corridor and linear park highlighting a mixed-use urban center. The Lane at Waterway is also within walking distance to shopping and dining and entertainment at Waterway Square®, The Woodlands Mall, Market Street and The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Additional amenities include a gated entrance to the residential parking garage as well as a pet-friendly environment.

Lone Star College-Houston North and Comcast team up to provide free internet access to students and families during pandemic

Lone Star College-Houston North and Comcast’s Houston Region have announced a business partnership to provide free internet access to approximately 200 LSC-Houston North students and families in need. The new agreement will ensure these students can continue their education through the school’s distance learning offerings as many in-person options are on hiatus.

The college is partnering with Comcast’s Internet Essentials, a program designed for low-income families and individuals to acquire access to the internet. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Comcast is offering two free months of internet access to qualifying low-income families through the end of the year. The college is purchasing an additional four months of service, enabling six months of free internet access.

“We are here to help our students any way that we can, whether that is in the classroom or outside of it,” said Dr. Quentin Wright, LSC-Houston North president. “When COVID-19 caused us to close our buildings it was apparent that some of our students would not be able to finish the semester – not because of lack of desire and intellect but because they did not have the technological resources at home. We are thankful for our partnership with Comcast because we were able to fill that gap and help our students persist with their educational career.”

“During this unprecedented time, it is vital for Houstonians to stay connected to the internet – for education, work and personal health reasons,” said Comcast’s Ray Purser, vice president of External Affairs, Houston Region. “We’re proud to partner with Lone Star College-Houston North to help keep their students connected through our Internet Essentials program.”

“Thank you Lone Star College-Houston North for helping me get Comcast Wi-Fi for school, my anxiety was at ease with your help,” said Montoya Thomas, Lone Star College student. “It helps me a lot with my schoolwork and continuing being successful in my career. Thank you so much.”

Fall registration is underway. Visit to more learn more about all the opportunities Lone Star College has to offer.

Since 2011, Internet Essentials has connected 396,000 low-income households in the Houston region. The regular cost for Internet Essentials is $9.95 per month. Those that qualify for a broad range of federal assistance programs including Pell Grants, Medicaid, HUD-assisted housing, SNAP and SSI, among others, are eligible to apply for Internet Essentials. Interested students and families are encouraged to learn more at and talk to their school counselor about enrolling.


Friendswood Eagle Scout candidate, Jacob Alford donates depository to the museum 

Jacob Alford focused his Eagle Scout project on raising money to purchase and design an official American Flag depository, which he has now donated to the Lone Star Flight Museum, making the museum an official flag depository location.  An official presentation of the depository and flag retirement ceremony took place at the museum on June 14, Flag Day.

The United States Flag Code states, the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

As an official flag depository location, residents are encouraged to bring their worn/retired American flags to the museum and place them in the depository during normal museum hours. 

Friendswood Scout Troop 445 will periodically collect the flags and conduct safe and appropriate offsite ceremonies burning the flags.  It is not required to purchase a museum ticket to deposit a flag, nor does depositing a flag including entry to the museum hangars or exhibits.

The Women’s Fund for Health Education and Resiliency Announces 6th Annual Barbara Devetski Scholarship Essay Contest Winners

The Women’s Fund for Health Education and Resiliency, a nonprofit providing Houston area women and girls with the tools needed to be advocates for their health, has announced Spring High School graduate Sarah Elizalde and Lamar High School graduate Emma-Sophia Notzon as the two winners of its 6th Annual Barbara Devetski Scholarship Essay Contest. Elizalde and Notzon will each receive a $2,500 scholarship towards tuition for the 2020 fall college semester.

“The Women’s Fund is proud to award scholarships to two individuals who understand the importance of resiliency,” said Linda Rhodes, Executive Director of The Women’s Fund. “Both recipients have used tools to work through personal difficult situations and overcome their challenges.”

Elizalde struggled with weight loss and when she overcame her stubbornness and other challenges along the way she learned how to live a healthy lifestyle. She will adapt her resiliency skills to her studies when she attends Texas A&M in the fall and majors in Kinesiology. Notzon’s journey to self-love wasn’t easy, but with determination and the help of her support system she was able to gain resiliency and a positive lifestyle. She plans to maintain resiliency as she enters the animal science department with a focus in veterinary medicine at Texas Tech.

The scholarship was created in loving memory of Barbara Devetski, the organization’s first Executive Director who served in that capacity for over two decades. The Women’s Fund received a record number of entries from Houston area, college-bound, graduating high school senior girls, who plan to enroll in a minimum of nine college credit hours in the 2020 fall semester. Each participant was asked to submit an essay that included the importance of resiliency, a time or situation in which the applicant was resilient, and explain what they learned from the situation and how it has prepared them for college. The winners were announced on The Women’s Fund Facebook Page in a live presentation on Monday, June 1, 2020.

For 41 years, The Women’s Fund has educated girls and women in the Houston area through classes, workshops, lectures and publications that teach resiliency skills and relate those skills to current health risks. Dedicated to ensuring positive health outcomes for individuals and communities, The Women’s Fund serves close to 12,000 women and adolescent girls and distributes 9,913 publications each year.

 Howard Hughes Corporation Members and The Woodland Hills Show Appreciation for Frontline Workers

Team members from The Howard Hughes Corporation® (NYSE: HHC) and its master planned community, The Woodlands Hills®, recently delivered lunch to over 550 daytime medical personnel and frontline team members at HCA Houston Healthcare® Conroe. The lunch from Sorriso Modern Italian Kitchen in The Woodlands was to show appreciation to the medical personnel and was part of the HHCares initiative of The Howard Hughes Corporation.

The George Foundation Awards Special Grants to Non-Profits

The George Foundation recently awarded special grants totaling over $1.3 million to support nonprofit organizations serving Fort Bend County residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of Trustees directed an initial round of funding of $195,500 to provide technology enhancements to fifty (50) local nonprofit organizations to support the evolution of their operations and the adaptation of how they continue to serve the community in the challenging environment of social distancing.

A subsequent round of funding of over $1.1 million was released to twenty-one (21) nonprofits currently providing critical services to Fort Bend County residents experiencing crisis due to COVID-19. The Trustees prioritized funding to support the increased demand for immediate basic needs including food assistance and financial support for rent and utilities. Additionally, investments were also directed to nonprofit partners serving our community’s most vulnerable residents experiencing abuse, neglect, and mental health conditions, which regrettably, have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

The George Foundation encourages all Fort Bend County residents to join the COVID-19 relief effort by supporting the dedicated network of nonprofit organizations serving our community with your time, talent, or financial resources during these difficult times. The George Foundation was established in 1945 by Albert and Mamie George with the mission to partner with the community to leverage the Foundation’s resources to positively impact Fort Bend County and its residents.

Since inception, the Foundation has invested in excess of $220 million in our community.

Lone Star College student receives prestigious scholarship

Lone Star College student Humberto Leal Acosta was awarded the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Transfer Scholarship. The grant makes it possible for Acosta to complete his bachelor’s degree at a selective four-year college or university. 

“Receiving the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is an incredible accomplishment,” said Dr. Stephen C. Head, LSC chancellor. “I congratulate Humberto and wish him the best as he continues his education.”

Acosta is one of 50 students nationwide who will receive up to $40,000 per year for up to three years to cover a substantial share of educational expenses including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees. Acosta will also receive all-inclusive educational advising from foundation staff to guide him through the processes of transitioning to a four-year school and preparing him for his career.  

“Since I was little, I’ve dreamed about making new discoveries. I want to specialize in research to develop technology that improves human well-being,” said Acosta, LSC-CyFair and Honors College student.   “Bioengineering is a relatively new field with many mysteries to uncover. So far, we have discovered ways to allow paraplegics to run, the blind see, the deaf hear and we can do so much more.”

Acosta is the fourth LSC-CyFair student to win this national undergraduate scholarship. Previous winners include Thanhphuong Le in 2012, Rey Laurencio in 2016 and Michael Aguilar in 2018. In all, 22 LSC students have been awarded the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship since 2012.

“We could not be more proud of Humberto for being selected as a recipient of the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship,” said Dr. Seelpa Keshvala, LSC-CyFair president. “This achievement is a testament to his hard work and determination. We at Lone Star College-CyFair are thrilled to have been a part of his academic journey.”

This year, Acosta led the LSC-CyFair C.R.A.T.E.R. (Cultivating, Retrieving, Analyzing and Testing Experimental Rocks) team to a first-place wins in the Top Design Team category at the Texas Space Grant Consortium Fall 2019 Design Challenge. In addition, his team placed first in three of the four categories in the Spring 2020 Design Challenge. The Texas Space Grant Consortium is funded through a NASA Training Grant.

“We know this is a very uncertain time for many students and their families. We remain deeply committed to supporting high-achieving community college students to ensure they have the resources to reach their full academic potential,” said Seppy Basili, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation executive director. “We are excited to welcome this new class of Cooke Transfer Scholars to our community and looking forward to seeing the many amazing things they do as they continue on their transfer journey.”

Incarnate Word Academy Takes Its Prom Online

Coronavirus might have cancelled an in-person celebration for Incarnate Word Academy’s senior prom, but the students there still found a way to host this rite of passage for high school students everywhere. Members of the school’s student council planned an online “Pajama Prom,” hosted on Zoom. 
Students held a trivia game about their four years at IWA, awarded prizes for best pajamas, best prom snacks and best Zoom background, and even crowned a prom queen. Kennedy Trahan ’20 was selected as IWA’s 2020 Prom Queen.
IWA’s dean of students, Mrs. Leslie Flickinger, and athletic director Rick Perez, clad in masks and gloves, and carrying roses and a tiara, made a surprise visit to Kennedy’s home to crown her. All of it was live on Zoom, Instagram and Facebook Live. 
“I was so lost for words [when Mrs. Flickinger and Coach Perez arrived], I had no idea what to say except thank you,” Kennedy said. “I almost cried because I was so overwhelmed with emotions because they care so much about the students, and it just made me realize how much I will be missing IWA next year.”

Following her IWA graduation, Kennedy is heading to the University of North Texas to study sport management and business.

Houston Arboretum’s Tapas on the Trails was most successful to date, raising $48,000 for Arboretum programs

Houston Arboretum’s annual “Tapas on the Trails” on Feb. 15 welcomed more than 500 people for a romantic, post-Valentine’s evening getaway where they enjoyed a softly-lit walk through the Arboretum’s 155-acre nature sanctuary.

This unique and highly popular event, which was sold out, allowed guests to pause along a beautiful, mile-long trail to indulge in four delicious courses and a few other treats from Cotton Culinary, paired perfectly with carefully selected wines and Saint Arnold’s beers. Ticket proceeds netted $48,000 for the Arboretum’s conservation and education programs.

The evening ended at the large, newly remodeled Event Lawn, where guests enjoyed vermouth spritzers, dessert, a coffee bar provided by partner Katz Coffee and the opportunity to meet a live owl. Each guest received a commemorative Arboretum glass to take home.

Photo: By Anthony Rathbun

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston elects Julius Young, Jr. as Chairman of the Board of Directors

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston (BGCGH) announced that Julius Young, Jr. is the new Chairman of the Board of Directors for the nonprofit.

Henrich Perez photo

Young, who is Market Executive for Wells Fargo & Company within Government and Institutional Banking, is the first African American as well as the first former “Club kid” to serve as board chairman in BGCGH history. He was a Club member at a Boys & Girls Club when he was growing up in California.

“Julius Young, who has been an invaluable member of our board and executive committee, will be a strong and steady leader for our growing organization,” says Kevin Hattery, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston. “His business acumen, his passion for our mission and his vision for our youth make him ideally suited to assume the chairmanship of this organization.”

“Being a Club member during his youth, Julius brings a unique perspective to what we are all about and why we say “Great Futures Start Here.’” Hattery continues. “We know that Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston is in the best of hands with Julius charting the course for our Board.”

As Chairman, Young will lead the Board and the Executive Committee in carrying out their governance functions, ensure overall sound management of the organization and partner with the President and CEO to ensure the Board’s directives, policies and resolutions are carried out. Additionally, he will serve as an ambassador of the organization and advocate its mission to internal and external stakeholders.

“For a kid who once leaned on this organization for support, to now be in a position to lead one of its flagship regions is an extremely humbling opportunity with emotions that are indescribable,” says Young. “I’m excited for the future of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston and our ability to make an ever-increasing impact on the kids that need us most.”

In his professional life, Young leads a team of industry professionals at Wells Fargo (in an 18-state region) to support the comprehensive banking needs of government entities. In addition to his current role, he has a diversified financial services background covering Corporate Banking, Middle-Market, International, Financial Institutions and Asset Management. Young has served as region leader of Wells Fargo’s Global Banking business, credit officer within Corporate Banking and senior credit officer of Global Financial Institutions. 

Originally from Los Angeles, Young holds an undergraduate degree in economics from Oregon State University, where he also played football. He currently lives in Houston with his wife, son and twin daughters. He has previously served on the Board of Regents for Oregon State’s Honors College.

To learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, please visit


The 5-Star Accredited Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce held the Chairman’s rock-n-roll Gala on Friday, January 31, 2020, in the Infinity Ballroom at Safari Texas Ranch. The annual event paid tribute to the leaders and volunteers of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce who served the chamber in 2019 and welcomed the new leadership for 2020.

Immediate Past Chair, Rehan Alimohammad, Partner of Wong Fleming, presented the Community Spirit Award to retiring City Manager, Allen Bogard who has served the City of Sugar Land since 1995.  Mayor Joe Zimmerman accepted the award on behalf of Mr. Bogard and made kind and heartfelt remarks about his tenure with the city. Mr. Bogard has seen the city more than double in population, with his implementation of the City Council’s vision for Sugar Land resulting in numerous state and national recognitions, including “Best Place to Live” and “Safest City.” The City of Sugar Land now boasts more than 66,300 jobs and is home to high-profile regional and international corporations.

The Chairman’s Award was presented to Lane Pearson, a fifth-generation Texan, and native Houstonian and long-time Fort Bend county resident with a track record of exceptional support for our chamber. Lane Pearson with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene has been a champion of the chamber for decades. 

The awards continued with Alimohammad acknowledging the leadership and service of immediate past Chairman, Malisha Patel (SVP and CEO of Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital and Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital); retiring Board Members, Raj Basavaraju (Principal – Transcend Engineers & Planners, LLC); Khori Hunter (Business Director – Sweetpea Smiles); Linda Huynh (Doctor – Sugar Mill Chiropractic and Acupuncture); Jessica Jia (Senior Associate – Traffic Engineers, Inc.); Cindy Picazo (Senior Vice President – BancorpSouth); and Jana Williams (Financial Representative – Dearborn & Creggs); and retiring Division Chairs, Dee Koch (Lifetime Member); Christy Medlin (Business Development Director – Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sugar Land); and Rob Thompson (Owner/Founder – TruCore Business Development).

Photo: Toman Imagery



The Howard Hughes Corporation® recognizes first 50 founding families with a tree in their honor,
complete with a plaque bearing the family name

The Howard Hughes Corporation® honored its first 50 founding families in The Woodlands Hills® during a dedication ceremony held on Saturday, December 7, with a tree dedicated in their honor, complete with an individual plaque bearing the family name.

The Woodlands Hills is Houston’s newest master planned community in Conroe and Willis, located 13 miles north of The Woodlands®. The Woodlands Hills joins The Woodlands and Bridgeland® as one of the award-winning master planned communities in the portfolio of The Howard Hughes Corporation.

“We are extremely proud to have the opportunity to honor the first 50 founding families who chose The Woodlands Hills as their new community and home,” said Heath Melton, Executive Vice President of Master Planned Communities, Residential, for The Howard Hughes Corporation. “These very special Founders Club members have established a solid foundation for future neighbors to form connections, or rather to ‘meet their neighbors’ as this wholesome community continues to evolve.”

The Founders Club was established to honor the first 100 families.

An additional dedication ceremony honoring the next 50 residents with be held in the first quarter of 2020. With trees dedicated to these first families, the 17-acre nature-laced park bears the name Founders Park.


Readers Joined Local Author at Release Party for “Power Lies” at Scout & Molly’s West U

Melanie Johnson,  & Jana Laird Phillips

Over 50 of Houston’s avid readers gathered at Scout & Molly’s West U to celebrate the release of author J.L. Phillip’s first-ever fiction novel, Power Lies, a captivating thriller about power lines that kill and a corrupt industry that knows it.

Power Lies was released on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, by, and reached number one International Bestseller in six categories, including Teen & Young Adult Technology, Adventure & Adventurers, Politics & Government, and Business & Economics in the US and Mystery Reference & Nature in AU.

Before the night was over, Phillips read a passage from the novel and shared her heartfelt thanks to the crowd and those that have supported her through her writing journey, including her editor and publishing team at Elite Online Publishing.

Photo credit: Daniel Ortiz


Ronald McDonald House Houston (RMH Houston) 2019 Trafigura Run for the House raised $622,785 for RMH Houston thanks to a $300,000 match from The Trafigura Foundation. The 10th annual Trafigura Run for the House, held on Saturday, December 7 at Sam Houston Park in downtown, welcomed more than 1, 054 charitable runners, volunteers, families and dogs for a morning of fun, family-friendly activity.

After the conclusion of the USATF-certified 5K/10K race, the celebration continued at the Mogie After-Party, where everyone enjoyed free activities, such as cookie decorating, games, food and more.

The annual event celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Race which includes over $4M funds raised since the beginning. At the after-party, attendees had the opportunity to celebrate with Ronald McDonald and many of his friends.

All proceeds, with the Trafigura Foundation generously matching dollar for dollar up to $300,000, will help support RMH Houston’s mission of providing a home away from home for families with seriously ill children receiving treatment in the Texas Medical Center.

For more information please visit

Photos courtesy of Ronald McDonald House

2019 Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market, Clara’s Dream Hosts Hugely Successful Year

That’s a wrap! More than 107,240 shoppers made their way to NRG Center for the 39th annual Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market. With merchandise sales exceeding $20.4 million, it was another exceptional year for the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market. The 2019 Nutcracker Market was chaired by longtime Houston Ballet supporter, Sara Wright Parr.

The four-day holiday shopping extravaganza hosted large groups of shoppers donning matching holiday themed outfits sipped on the signature Nutcracker Market mimosa while perusing the more than 540,000 square feet featuring more than 260 merchants from across the nation. 

In its 39th year, the Nutcracker Market continues to provide support for the Houston Ballet, its Academy and scholarship programs. Eleven percent of merchandise sales and proceeds from ticket sales directly benefit the Houston Ballet Foundation. Since its inception in 1981, the Nutcracker Market has contributed more than $74.2 million for the Houston Ballet Foundation, including the $5.4 million contribution from the 2019 Market.

Photo credit: Fulton Davenport, PWL Studio

Lone Star College breaks ground on LSC-Houston North Fallbrook

Lone Star College officially broke ground on its newest location, LSC-Houston North Fallbrook.

“This partnership between Lone Star College and Fallbrook Church is a shining example of what can happen when institutions work together,” said Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., LSC chancellor. “I want to personally thank Pastor Michael Pender for his commitment to provide accessible higher education in this community.”

LSC-Houston North Fallbrook, which is scheduled to open fall 2020, will be part of LSC-Houston North, the newest college in the Lone Star College system. LSC-Houston North incorporates four locations consisting of LSC-Houston North Fairbanks, LSC-Houston North Greenspoint, LSC-Houston North Victory and LSC-Houston North Fallbrook.

“This will benefit many generations for years to come,” said city of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Thank you Lone Star College for your vision and for bringing education where the students are.”

LSC-Houston North Fallbrook joins its sister locations, bringing highly-developed programs to each site in addition to core courses to earn Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees.

“This is a direct result of Lone Star College and Fallbrook Church working together in spirit and with a vision,” said U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee. “You are making sure our young people have access to education.”

LSC-Houston North Fallbrook students will have the opportunity to take courses in morning, afternoon or evening block schedules as well as weekend programs that will allow them to complete degrees with classes Friday afternoon, Saturdays and online.

“This is a great day, not only for Lone Star College, but for this community as well,” said Quentin A. Wright, Ed.D., LSC-Houston North president. “These students will be able to take advantage of small class sizes with no class having more than 20 students.”

Lone Star College, University of Texas Petroleum Extension to launch collaborative relationship

Lone Star College and The University of Texas at Austin Engineering Executive Education, Petroleum Extension (UT-PETEX) announced  a reciprocal agreement to further advance each other’s services for customized training in the oil and gas upstream, midstream and downstream industry.

“Lone Star College is the preeminent workforce training institution in the greater Houston area,” said Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., LSC chancellor. “We look forward to working with UT-PETEX in this new endeavor to help companies maintain a trained workforce.”

UT-PETEX, a unit of The Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, is headquartered at the university’s J.J. Pickle Research Campus in North Austin and has been at the forefront of global learning solutions powering the oil and gas industry.

“We train industry professionals at all experience levels around the globe in new technologies, cutting-edge equipment, and current industry standards and practices that help build a more competent, prepared workforce,” said Eric A. Roe, Ph.D., UT-PETEX executive director. “This concerted effort between our institutions will help address the substantial workforce needs in the oil and gas industry.”

The collaborative relationship also includes UT-PETEX leasing office and instructional space at LSC-University Park.

“The synergy between Lone Star College and UT-PETEX will pave the way to a stronger energy workforce which will lead to greater energy independence for our nation,” said Head.


Redeem rewards at area restaurants and retailers

After a student lost his life from a driver texting in College Station, TX, Marci Corry decided to make an impact on safe driving in communities throughout Texas. After researching behavior change and observing that her young children responded well with positive reinforcement, Corry decided to encourage people in a positive way to stay off their phones while driving. She founded SAFE 2 SAVE in October 2016.

In just a short time, the app has gained a lot of popularity with over 200,000 users. Businesses on the app are in many cities throughout Texas, with plans to expand across the entire state of Texas and go nationwide in 2019.

SAFE 2 SAVE continues to share about safe driving initiatives through conferences, schools, businesses and various organizations. To book a speaker, please fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

Joining the app is easy! Create an account or Login with Facebook.

Fill out your information to create your register your account and start earning rewards.-

HOW TO EARN POINTS: Two points are earned for every minute of safe driving starting at 10 mph. Click on the star icon to view accumulated points.

HOW TO REDEEM YOUR POINTS: Click on the present icon and then select your favorite business. Choose a reward, click yes and then employee selects, “Cashier Accept.”

HOW TO ORGANIZE A COMPETITION: Who can drive the safest? Competitions are great ways for communities to be engaged in non-distracted driving. Points are earned in the competition alongside family, friends or co-workers.

 Incarnate Word Academy Student Named a Semifinalist in the 65th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program   

Ursula Buchwald, a senior from Conroe, is the sole IWA student named to the list

Buchwald, an excellent student, is active in extracurricular activities such as Falcon Theatre program and competing with the school’s Quiz Bowl club at events around the state. She is one of 16,000 students from across the country to be given the honor, and will go on to compete for one of the coveted National Merit Scholarships that will be offered next spring.

More than 1.5 million juniors in more than 21,000 high schools across the U.S. entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The pool of semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

“I’m so very proud of Ursula’s achievement,” said Sister Lauren Beck, C.V.I., president of Incarnate Word Academy. “She is a dedicated student, a kind young woman and an emerging leader. She is co-directing our fall play with one of her fellow students, stepping up to a tremendous challenge. Ursula has brought her great gifts to IWA and is a true Woman of the Word. We’re thrilled to see her recognized in this way.”

photo courtesy of IWA


Premier Pet Resort & Training Center Reflects on 10 Years of Outstanding Pet Care 

Meadowlake Pet Resort & Training Center Pearland is celebrating 10 years of the highest-quality care for Houston-area pets. After a decade of improving people’s lives through top care for their furry friends, founder and president Carroll Robertson Ray reflects on what makes Meadowlake so unique and unlike any other pet resort.

“I grew up riding bikes and playing in my neighborhood with all the other kids on my block. The mothers of Meadowlake Street constantly made sure we were well fed and kept us out of trouble,” said Ray in reference to how she came up with the pet resort’s name. “That’s the exact feeling I created through Meadowlake: a fun place for pets to play in a ‘neighborhood fun zone’ surrounded by good, caring people.”

Since its inception in 2009, Meadowlake Pet Resort & Training Center has continued to grow. Meadowlake’s $700,000 expansion at the Pearland location in 2016 doubled the previous indoor play area, increased play yards significantly and added amenities such as splash pads and slip resistant flooring.

Recently, the pet resort officially opened its second location in the Galleria area in January 2019. Now with two locations and over 19,000 clients and 27,000 dogs in their database, the pet resort prides itself on its team spirit and exceptional services.

Meadowlake continues to create happy, healthy, active and social pups through their Dog Daycare program, and the center has earned several accolades including Houston PetTalk’s “Best Lodging Facility,” “Best Doggie Daycare,” and “Most Friendly Staff” and is recognized as an accredited business by the Better Business Bureau.

Ray’s interest in the pet care industry began shortly after watching her husband’s daughter graduate from vet school. What started as a mere idea to help her stepdaughter open her own vet clinic became a reality after Ray’s interest was piqued at the thought of opening a pet resort.

Although she had no experience in this industry, Ray proceeded with her plans and thus Meadowlake Pet Resort & Training Center was born. Now, 10 years later, Meadowlake is home to over four acres of land for dogs to run freely. The staff proudly boasts a combined 100 years of animal care experience and is known for reaching beyond their required duties to help wherever needed.

“Pets bring something into our lives that is so needed in this world,” said Ray. “They fill our hearts and homes with unconditional love and pure joy. Every pet deserves the best care available, and that’s what we will always strive to give at Meadowlake.”

photo by Meadowlake Pet Resort and Training Center

American Heart Association’s 2019 Shop a With Heart Card Campaign a Huge Success

All the guilt-free shopping using American Heart Association’s Shop With Heart Card paid off!

This year, the heart healthy organization broke their record for the number of cards sold at 2,650. The sixth-annual Shop With Heart Card campaign raised $166,186 and counting, beating out last year’s total funds raised by more than $16,000.

Photo credit Alexander’s Fine Portrait Design

100 percent of proceeds from Shop With Heart Card sales go directly to AHA’s mission to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

This year, Houston shoppers helped raise critical funds that will go directly toward research, education and community programs right here in Houston.

This cause hits home for many Americans as heart disease and stroke are the number one and number five killers in both men and women.  
“Nearly every person can think of a loved one, friend or acquaintance that has been affected by heart disease or stroke,” said Roz Pactor, 2019 Shop With Heart Card honoree.  “The Shop With Heart Card gives Houstonians the chance to do good and support something bigger while they are simply out shopping or headed for a bite to eat. It starts a conversation and gives people the opportunity to educate others and spread awareness about the organization and its mission.”

 Texas Wetlands debuts just in time for Summer at the Houston Zoo

Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands at the Houston Zoo the Texas Wetlands, which brings together three native Texas species—bald eagles, whooping cranes, and American alligators—in a lush wetland habitat. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act and the efforts of Texans, these three species, once close to extinction, now thrive in the Lone Star State.

photo: Houston Zoo

In the heart of the zoo on the site of the former duck pond, the Houston Zoo has created a true wild wetland. Designed with living plants to filter the water for the Texas Wetlands’ animal residents and to flood and slowly release water to the bayous during heavy rains, the habitat demonstrates the importance and resilience of this valuable environment.

Guests will be able to enjoy a boardwalk stroll and experience a close-up view of these beautiful animals that Texans have helped save from extinction.

More information, go to

Arms Wide Adoption Services Celebrates Families Fulfilled At Annual Luncheon

A crowded Houston ballroom learned about what it takes to be an adoptive parent 

The 2019 Fulfilling Families Luncheon benefiting Arms Wide Adoption Services started with a crowded Houston Country Club ballroom listening to KPRC-TV Channel 2’s Chief Meteorologist, Frank Billingsley, talk about the importance of family. Billingsley, an adoptee who recently defeated prostate cancer, spoke intimately about the importance of family, especially during trying times. There are more than 7,200 children in the Texas foster care system waiting to be adopted, who have no one to turn to.

Dr. Jay Tarnow, Vikki Finley, Michele Mendenhall Buckley, Emily Kelley, Frank Billingsley

Keynote speaker was Dr. Jay Tarnow, M.D., a board-certified Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and of the American Psychiatric Association.

Dr. Tarnow spoke on the importance of attachment, how mothers and infants form this emotional bond, and its implications on the development of personality, future relationships, and society as a whole. Guests walked away knowing that in the absence of biological bonds, adoptive parents must mold to their adopted children’s needs to help them feel safe and nurtured. As Dr. Tarnow noted, this takes a special person who can be selfless, incredibly empathic, and can persevere no matter the challenges.

The fifth annual luncheon raised more than $125,000 in support of the organization, thanks to the leadership of Co-Chairs, Michele Mendenhall Buckley and Emily Kelley, and the Luncheon Host Committee. The funds raised will allow Arms Wide Adoption Services to finalize at least 10 adoptions and celebrate more families fulfilled.

Trees For Houston 25th Anniversary Root Ball

Excitement was in the air as 480 Trees For Houston supporters toasted to the organizations’ 25th anniversary Root Ball on April 4. Coming full circle, chairmen Kyle and John Kirksey Sr., and Joanie and John Kirksey Jr.–who also chaired the first Root Ball event in 1994–returned to chair the special event alongside Shawn and Bill Jackson.

The event raised a record breaking $470,000 to support Trees For Houston’s mission to plant, protect, and promote trees throughout the Greater Houston area.


Welcome to Theatre Under The Stars 50th Anniversary Season Gala, an incredible and intimate celebration this past Saturday, March 23rd with Broadway star Idina Menzel and more than 600 TUTS family and friends. Many guests said it was the “best gala” they had ever attended.

The gorgeous event designed by Taylor DeMartino of Blooming Gallery not only turned The Post Oak Hotel grand ballroom into a supper club “under the stars” that night, but guests experienced the magic of live musical theatre while supporting a great cause. 

A private meet and greet with Menzel was given to top sponsors along with gifts donated by David Peck. This historic event raised more funds than any other Gala in TUTS history – $1.37 million for “Houston’s Home for Musical Theatre.”

The magic continued as musical theatre icon Idina Menzel (known as the voice of “Elsa” from Disney’s Frozen) took the stage. She not only wowed the crowd with her hits, but involved audience members, creating an immersive theatrical experience.

photos: Priscilla Parish Dickson

Wheeler Avenue Inner City Visions, Inc. – Women’s Guild Embraces Vision with Style While Raising Sizeable Scholarship Funds for High School Seniors

For decades, the Women’s Guild of Wheeler Avenue Inner City Visions, Inc. has uplifted their community through service, including fundraising to send graduating seniors to college.

This year, The Women’s Guild celebrated 56 years of service at the 2019 Audrey H. Lawson IMPACT Awards Luncheon & Fashion Show. Named after its beloved founder, Audrey Hoffman Lawson, the iconic, SOLD-OUT event took place March 23, 2019 at the Hilton Americas-Houston.

This year’s IMPACT Awards Luncheon exceeded its fundraising goal, raising over $100,000 in scholarship and community service funds. Men, women, and families from all over the city comprised of a diverse group of nearly 1,100 attendees, including business professionals,  community leaders and partners, dignitaries and external partners for an afternoon like no other.

Included were top-notch vendors, a delectable three-course, chef-prepared meal, musical selections by world-renowned jazz guitarist and music educator, Joe Carmouche, culminating with an exciting style show featuring fashions from Dillard’s Post Oak.


Tex-Mex Favorite Partnered with Camp Hope to Spread Awareness  of PTSD at Annual Tournament

Lupe Tortilla, founding sponsor of the Clays Classic,  hosted its annual fundraiser for the fourth consecutive year on February 5, 2019 at the Greater Houston Gun Club  and raised over $165,000 in proceeds.

Kies Solutions Team
photo by Leah Wilson Photography

Owners Judson and Peter Holt hosted guests for some friendly competition for a good cause, and the day was locked and loaded full of shooting games and multi-course clay shooting competition.

Since its inaugural year, the Clays Classic has raised  over $750,000 for the PTSD Foundation of America  and Camp Hope, an outstanding organization dedicated to helping veteran’s and their families find healing and hope through mentoring programs for PTSD.

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation names 21 Lone Star College students semi-finalists for prestigious scholarship

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has named 21 Lone Star College students as semi-finalists for its Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Students who receive this scholarship are able to complete their bachelor’s degrees at a selective four-year college or university. The finalists will be named in April.

“This is an amazing accomplishment,” said Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., LSC chancellor. “Lone Star College had three times the number of semi-finalists compared with other Texas community colleges. This is a testament to the incredible work our faculty does to prepare students for success.”

Each scholarship recipient will receive up to $40,000 per year to cover a significant share of educational expenses including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees.

In addition to the monetary award, recipients will receive all-inclusive educational advising from foundation staff to guide them through the processes of transitioning to a four-year school and preparing for their careers. In addition, they will also be eligible to apply for $50,000 annually for graduate school.

Many of the students recognized as semi-finalists attend the LSC Honors College, which offers a wide range of opportunities for honors students—from incoming freshman wanting to graduate with an Honors Associate of Arts or Honors Associate of Science degree.

“The Lone Star College Honors College really prepares high-achieving students seeking to improve their college transcripts and transferability with challenging coursework provided across a broad range of disciplines,” said Katharine Caruso, Ph.D., LSC associate vice chancellor, Honors and International Education. “Honors College students also have access to develop new skills with opportunities to travel, attend off-campus educational and cultural events, conferences and special seminars.

“Lone Star College has worked extremely hard to increase the amount and quality of targeted honors related resources, including significant additional undergraduate research and International Capstone Project opportunities,” said Brian Kyser, LSC lead director, The Honors College.


Progress Continues on New Amenities in The Woodlands Hills with

Highly-Anticipated Activity Center to Open in Spring 2019

The established bike lanes are a major milestone in the progress of new amenities including the highly-anticipated Activity Center, set to open this spring. The Woodlands Hills will continue to add lanes throughout the neighborhood connector roads as future development unfolds.

“Dedicated bike lanes provide a segregated lane for cyclists,” said Heath Melton, Vice President of Master Planned Communities, Residential for The Howard Hughes Corporation.  “The Woodlands Hills promotes an active, healthy lifestyle and those who cycle as a hobby or serious athletic sport can enjoy peace of mind along a beautiful and peaceful nature-laced setting. These are a great complement to the nine-and-a-half miles of leisurely hike-and-bike trails. Moreover, The Woodlands Hills is one of the only communities in the area to feature dedicated, protected bike lanes for cycling.”


There is a new chick in town at Moody Gardens whose arrival has made an important statement.  

The King Penguin proud parents are Everest, one of Moody Gardens original King penguins and Mother, Simone.

The new chick is doing just fine and is Moody Gardens first hatch of the season. “Our staff is very excited to start the new year with a new penguin chick,” said Assistant Curator Diane Olsen.

Every successful hatch that Moody Gardens has adds to the mission of education, conservation, recreation and research that the organization values.

“Every chick that is hatched at Moody Gardens adds to the sustainability of penguins in zoo and aquariums all over the world,” said Olsen.

Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid is one of the largest and most diverse aquariums in the United States.

In addition to the King penguins, five other species including Gentoo, Chinstrap, Macaroni, and Rockhopper penguins also call the South Atlantic Exhibit home.

For more information, visit

Ronald McDonald House Houston Raises $970,000 at 2018 Boo Ball at Hilton Americas-Houston 

The “Hocus Pocus” themed soiree brought together and celebrated the generosity of more than 700 of RMH Houston’s biggest supporters for a spooktacular evening that raised $970,000 for the House.

Longtime RMH Houston supporters Stephanie and Anthony Milam served as event chairs, while KHOU Channel 11’s Chita Craft emceed the festivities. The night’s event called for black tie or Halloween-inspired attire.

Funds raised through the 2018 Boo Ball will support RMH Houston’s mission to provide a home away from home for families of seriously ill children being treated in the Texas Medical Center.

For more information on RMH Houston, go to  

Photos by Dave Rossman

The Periwinkle Foundation and Texas Children’s Hospital team up with H-E-B to release limited-edition reusable shopping bags

The tote bag will feature Making A Mark artwork created by pediatric cancer patients to help raise childhood cancer awareness

The Periwinkle Foundation and Texas Children’s Hospital have teamed up with H-E-B to offer limited-edition reusable shopping bags featuring original Making A Mark artwork created by children touched by cancer and blood disorders at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers.

Just in time for the holidays the bags will be sold in various H-E-B locations in the Houston and McAllen area as an effort to help raise awareness about childhood cancer.

The one-of-a-kind shopping bags highlight artwork from past Making A Mark artists, Bethany and Blanca. Lost in the Sunflowers by Bethany (age 12) showcases a young boy in a cowboy hat admiring a vibrant sunflower in a sea of rich foliage while Untitled by Blanca (age 15) depicts the different outlooks on life by showcasing the positive and negative through bright and dark colors.  

These limited-edition bags will be available for sale at more than 30 H-E-B locations across Houston while supplies last. For more information, please visit

2018 MPAC Film Festival Awards Special Recognition to National and International Filmmakers in Houston 

 Theme this year was ‘Intersections of Entertainment & Activism’ 

Independent filmmakers from around the world gathered for the Festival October 11-13, 2018 witha kick off by Grammy-Nominated Award-winning Singer, Songwriter, Pianist Marsha Ambrosius.

“MPAC is dedicated to performing artists and aspiring talent in Houston by bringing in established entertainment professionals to share their path to success and expertise. It’s a unique educational and inspirational organization that positively contributes to the cultural fabric of our community,” Rick Ferguson, Executive Director, Houston Film Commission.

Films chosen as the best films at the 2018 MPAC Film Festival are:

  • Best in Fest, Best Suspense/Thriller, and Best Director: David, by Lakisha Lemons (Texas)
  • Best Student Short: Snack List, by Alyce Rogers (Florida)
  • Best Family Film: Connected, by Christopher Satola(California)
  • Best Foreign Language Film: Fifo, by Sacha Ferbus(Belgium)
  • Best Documentary Short: Him by Daniel Montoya (Texas)
  • Best Original Screenplay: The Salvation, by Christopher Satola (California)
  • Best Comedic Short—Romantic Comedy: Mixed Signals, by Tracie Laymon (Texas)
  • Best Comedic Short—Dark Comedy: White Pickett Fence, by Jacqueline King-Howell (Texas)
  • Best Dramatic Short: Tapferkeit, by Joseph (Tim) Quinn (Utah)

The Festival gives three special recognition awards to films themed around race relations and social awareness. Those films were:

  • MPAC Activism: Documentary Him by Daniel Montoya (Texas)
  • First-Time Filmmaker: Gloomy Green, by Forouzan Jalail(Iran)
  • Young Filmmaker Spotlight: Beast Factor, by Michael Myles Hayes, 9-year-old writer and director (Texas)

Learn more about MPAC and view full list of winners and honorable mentions at  For more information about MPAC’s founder, visit

Real Beauty Real Women (RBRW) celebrates the official launch of the RBRW Innovation Hub located inside the Social Graces Social Club’s clubhouse

Celebrities and entertainment executives lend their support

Real Beauty Real Women (RBRW) celebrates the official launch of the RBRW Innovation Hub located inside the Social Graces Social Club’s clubhouse. The venue is one of the newest additions to GreenStreet, a more than 500,000-square-foot complex located in the heart of downtown Houston.

Luis Guzman,Sheila Jackson Lee and Jacqueline Aluotto
*photo courtesy of Jacqueline Aluotto

Celebrities and influencers included:

    • Award-winning Hollywood actor Luis Guzmán 
    • United Nations ambassador for sex trafficking, Tiffany & Co. spokesperson, and supermodel Farah Zulaikha.
    • TV personality and former foster child Ashlee Ray who appears on Shade 45, the popular SiriusXM uncensored hip hop music channel 
  • RBRW Innovative Impact Creators Awards honorees include:
      • Anti-sex-trafficking activist Kathryn Griffin-Griñán
      • Bishop James Dixon
      • Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
      • Anika Jackson Redick
      • Filmmaker Jerri Duddleston Moore
      • Talk show host Dr. Shellie Hipsky
      • NBA legend Tracy McGrady and wife CleRenda
    • Constable Alan Rosen Precinct 1

Real Beauty Real Women director, Jacquelyn Aluotto founded the event space along with RBRW VP, Anika Jackson Redick. The Social Graces Social Club was started by Redick as a way to connect civic-minded social entrepreneurs who believe in the collective and collaborative power of working together to create change.

RBRW Foundation, a subset of the RBRW brand, creates direct community impact with a focus on poverty, civil rights, domestic violence, and anti-trafficking work. The RBRW Innovation Hub hosts free workshops with community partners to teach women and children to look at the world through fresh perspectives and hope for their futures. 

For more information, go to

2nd Annual Gala Kick Off Party Benefiting A Place for Peanut Draws Huge Support

A Place for Peanut, Inc. and its supporters saddled up for the 2nd Annual Gala with a kick off party hosted by Lori Hood and Kathy Griffin on Wednesday, July 18, 2018.  

Co-chair Christine Johnson along with Honorary Chair Michelle Maresh welcomed more than 100 guests to a private home in Bellaire to celebrate the upcoming horse sanctuary and equine therapy foundation’s 2nd Annual Gala on August 17, 2018 at Kirby Ice House.

A Place for Peanut Founder and President, Megan Cardet, shared the story about how she found Peanut, a 29” miniature foal, in a Texas kill pen. Newly orphaned, Peanut inspired a new foundation that has saved more than 150 horses and donkeys since it was established in January 2016.

The fun-filled evening will honor Michelle Mantor for her work as an animal activist. Mantor is the Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of Houston PetTalk Magazine, where she has been publishing and participating in Houston’s vibrant pet community for more 15 years.

For ticket information, go to 

photo credit: Daniel Ortiz

Houston’s Becker’s Books Now Has Inventory Online at Amazon

Becker’s Books, who sells used/rare bookstore on 7405 Westview Drive in Houston with over 90,000 titles, now has items available on Amazon at    All orders placed will be fulfilled by Ann Becker or her boss, Dan. 
For more information on Becker’s Books, go to or visit on Facebook at!. 

4th Annual Houston Astros George Springer All-Star Bowling Benefit Kick Off Party  

It was a home run as SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young opened its 4th season in Houston with the Houston Astros George Springer All-Star Bowling Benefit Kick Off Party on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

Co-chair Lara Bell and Honorary Co-chair Dr. Carolyn Farb, h.c., welcomed over 50 supporters at Masraff’s restaurant in the Uptown District to celebrate the upcoming main attraction – the 4th Annual George Springer All-Star Bowling Benefit, which will be held on Sunday, July 8, 2018 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Bowlmor Houston.

Bell encouraged the crowd of fans to load up the bases and join Co-chair Melissa DeAyala, Junior Chair Matthew DeAyala for a memorable evening of bowling with Springer, fellow Astros and other professional athletes and local celebrities. 

George Springer, a Houston Astros Outfielder, 2017 World Series Champion and MVP, is a person who stutters and is the national spokesperson for Camp SAY, a life-changing and empowering summer camp for young people who stutter. The annual benefit supports the George Springer Kids Fund.

The event will take full swing with a cocktail reception followed by bowling fun with fellow Astros and celebrity lane captains, with an open bar and dinner. The Bowling Benefit will also feature sports-themed items, experiences, and memorabilia in a silent auction.

To join Springer for his All-Star Bowling Benefit, visit

photo credit: Gabby Garcia

The Great Age Movement 2nd Annual Jazz Luncheon Honors Buzz Aldrin, Mercedes Ellington and Joanne King Herring

Houston philanthropists, artists, designers, and loyal supporters attended the Great Age Movement’s 2nd Annual Jazz Luncheon on Sunday, June 3, 2018 at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston.

Mercedes Ellington, Carolyn Farb, Fritz McDonald, Joanne King Herring

More than 200 guests helped the Great Age Movement pursue their goals this year to help fund senior playgrounds in green spaces and develop programs led by volunteers who will promote health, learning and socialization.

Joanne King Herring, Buzz Aldrin, Anka Faur

Great Age Movement Founder Fritz J. McDonald shared a few words about the organization’s commitment to mobilizing the senior population through sustainable community projects in Houston and surrounding areas. Honorary Chairs were Dr. Carolyn Farb, hc and Peter Martino along with Co-chairs, Staci Henderson and Barbara Reyna.

International socialite, global political activist and Honoree, Joanne King Herring, former astronaut, Buzz Aldrin and Mercedes Ellington, a legendary choreographer and granddaughter of Duke Ellington, were honorees of The Great Age Movement for their example to inspire, lead by example, and live with purpose.

Mercedes Ellington and Antonio Conde of River Oaks School of Dancing dazzled the crowd with a special ballroom dance performance which left everyone on the edge of their seats.

For more information on The Great Age Movement, go to

photo credit: Quy Tran

Aggreko Houston Donates Time and Money to Ronald McDonald House Houston

60 members from Aggreko’s Houston office visited for a day of service and activities

Aggreko volunteers helped with outdoor landscaping, made and served lunch and dinner for families staying at RMH Houston’s flagship facility, Holcombe House, as well as provided entertainment with bingo and ice cream. Additionally, volunteers delivered meals and helped move families at Texas Children’s Hospital West Tower PICU into newly constructed rooms at Legacy Tower PICU.

To further support RMH Houston’s mission to serve families of children with life-threatening illnesses receiving treatment in the Texas Medical Center, Aggreko presented RMH Houston with a $4,500 donation.

Photos courtesy of Ronald McDonald House Houston


Susan and Fayez Sarofim honored with Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award 
 Linda and Jim McIngvale receive Global Community Hero Award 

Honoree Susan Sarofim, Rose Cullen, Margaret Alkek Williams, honorees Linda McIngvale and Jim McIngvale (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for UNICEF)

On May 4, 2018, the Southwest Regional Office of UNICEF USA hosted the fifth annual UNICEF Gala Houston at the Post Oak Houston.The event, emceed by Great Day Houston host Deborah Duncan, celebrated UNICEF’s lifesaving work and honored Susan and Fayez Sarofim with the Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award. Linda and Jim McIngvale received the Global Community Hero Award. 

More than 320 guests attended the gala raising more than $900,000, which will support UNICEF’s lifesaving work for children around the world. Notable attendees included Margaret Alkek Williams, Buzz Aldrin, The Honorable Joanne King Herring, Rosanette Cullen, Maria and Neil Bush, Sara Beth and Pierce Bush, and Jeff Bagwell (Former Astros Player).

(L-R) Sippi Khurana, Brigitte Kalai, Margaret Alkek Williams, Emma Kathleen Hepburn Ferrer, Rose Cullen and Susan Boggio (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for UNICEF)

Over the course of the evening, guests enjoyed remarks from theUNICEF USAManaging Director, Southwest Region Nelson Bowman and Chair of Southwest Regional Board Susan Boggio. Special guests included Mayor Sylvester Turner and Emma Kathleen Hepburn Ferrer, Audrey Hepburn’s granddaughter and UNICEF advocate, both of whom spoke about their personal connection to UNICEF USA. 

Gala Chairs include Brigitte and Bashar Kalai, Sippi and Ajay Khurana, Leticia and Stephen Trauber and Ileana and Michael Treviño. 

Huddle Up with Coaching Legends, Mack Brown and Gene Stallings Dinner Raises More Than $400,000 Benefiting Camp Aranzazu

Tuesday Night Lights were ablaze during the “Huddle Up with Coaching Legends Mack Brown and Gene Stallings” dinner on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, at the Post Oak Hotel. The evening recognized Brown and Stallings for their legendary work as football coaches and as clear advocates for people with special needs and chronic illnesses.

Gene Stallings, MC Ed Clements and Mack Brown at “Huddle Up with Coaching Legends Mack Brown & Gene Stallings” at The Post Oak Hotel

Emcee Ed Clements from KLBJ Newsradio in Austin welcomed more than 365 guests who helped to raise more than $400,000 to help underwrite the cost of attending Camp Aranzazu, which is located in Rockport, Texas. The camp has provided therapeutic recreation-based programming to more than 22,000 campers since it opened in 2006.

Brown and Stallings answered questions from life at the gridiron, to why they are advocates of camps and programs for people with special needs and chronic illnesses.

From left: David Eller Gene Stallings, Jackie Sherrill and Mack Brown

Brown and his wife, Sally, have earned numerous honors for their significant efforts to improve the health and education of children. Stallings co-wrote A Coach’s Story of Raising an Exceptional Son, which details life as the father of a son who was born with Down syndrome and a serious heart defect. Stallings and his wife, Ruth Ann, are strong supporters and advocates for people with special needs.

Stallings touched the crowd when he spoke of his late son, Johnny, who was born with Down syndrome. Stallings said: “When he was younger I prayed to God that He would change Johnny. That He would make him right. But you know what God did? God changed me. That happens every once in a while.”

The HUDDLE UP dinner was supported by many individuals, community partners and generous underwriters.

To learn more about Camp Aranzazu, visit or call 361-727-0800.

photos by Dave Rossman

Casa de Esperanza’s 36th Annual Gala raises close $1 million to help children and families in crisis

The Moore Family

The Casa de Esperanza Building Hope for Children Gala raised just under $1 million to support their mission, which is to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect for at-risk infants, children and their families, by providing comprehensive residential and aftercare programs that transform people and communities.

Michael and Lucia Cordua, Jeb Bashaw

Over 650 attended the event at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts on April 22, 2018.

Casa de Esperanza has been serving the needs of children in crisis from the greater Houston area for the past 36 years.

The State of Texas, and Harris County in particular, have among the highest rates of childhood risk factors in the nation – infant homicide, infant mortality, infants prenatally exposed to drugs, infants born to mothers who were HIV-positive or at risk, low-birth weight infants and child and family homelessness.

Monies raised from the evening’s events directly support the programs provided by Casa de Esperanza to care for the children. Casa de Esperanza does not charge fees for any services and does not receive government funding.


STCL Houston Celebrates 95th Anniversary with Illuminations Gala

Over $300,000 Raised for Student Scholarships

South Texas College of Law Houston (STCL Houston), which opened its doors in 1923 with seven part-time instructors and 34 students, recently celebrated its 95th anniversary as the first and only law school in downtown Houston at its Illuminations Gala.

Hosted at the Ballroom on the Bayou, more than 300 guests attended, including 152 alumni, 21 faculty and staff members, 16 judges, and two city officials. The evening raised more than $300,000 toward student scholarships.

STCL Houston President and Dean Don Guter presented alumnus and former board member Richard Anderson ’82 with the 2018 Dean’s Medal – the highest honor awarded by a South Texas dean in recognition of an honoree’s outstanding contributions to his or her community, the legal profession, and the law school. Anderson was the 2010 recipient of the law school’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in honor of his lifetime service to STCL Houston.

In his remarks, Guter recounted key historical moments in the law school’s history, including the fact that early classes were held in the basement of the downtown YMCA – with wooden ceiling fans to battle the Texas heat – as the city’s first airconditioned building came later in 1923. He shared that tuition at the school’s outset was $85 a year.

Guter shared with attendees that South Texas was the first law school in the state to offer the Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) degree. He also noted that the first African-American student graduated from the law school in 1968, and today, minorities comprise approximately 44 percent of the student body – leading the National Jurist in 2016 to name STCL Houston as one of the most diverse law schools in the country.

“Perhaps the school’s most impressive achievements, however, occur on a one-on-one basis,” Guter said. “I’m speaking, of course, of the tremendous impact of our 19 Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics. Our students – under the direction of faculty and staff attorneys – daily improve the lives of families in need while gaining real-world lawyering skills along the way.”

He noted that, over the past year, approximately 270 South Texas students contributed more than 35,600 hours of direct client service in the Clinics – equating to nearly $1.8 million of pro bono legal representation. And – for clients in the Civil Practice Clinics alone – the school obtained more than $1.23 million in benefits in the last academic year.


Student success shines bright at LSC Foundation StarGala 2018

The Lone Star College Foundation raised more than $490,000 during StarGala 2018, its annual signature event

Pictured (left to right): Faiza Khoja, Ph.D., UH-D associate vice president of Academic Affairs; Rachel Perez; and Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., LSC chancellor.

“StarGala is a wonderful opportunity for supporters of the Lone Star College Foundation to see firsthand the powerful impact they have on student success,” said Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., LSC chancellor. “I was especially moved in hearing the story of our featured scholarship recipient Rachel Perez.”

“My biggest dream is to help those that face horrible diseases,” said Perez, LSC-CyFair student and LSC Promise Scholarship recipient who will graduate this May. “Thank you for taking the time to help me reach my goals and for being a piece of my puzzle.”

Perez, who is majoring in biology with the goal of becoming a pediatrician or an emergency room physician, was presented a scholarship certificate to attend the University of Houston-Downtown (UH-D).

This year’s event, held at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center, included more than 600 guests in attendance.

“These funds will go a long way in helping to make a college education possible for many hard-working and deserving students,” said Head. “In many cases 20 or more students will apply for just one scholarship so every dollar raised is important.”

Founded in 1991, the Lone Star College Foundation has expanded its initial investment of $20,000 into an extensive portfolio of over $27 million. Since its inception, the Foundation has provided over $13 million in scholarships to nearly 13,000 students, as well as more than $4 million in program support.

Visit for more information.


Chesmar Homes’ Model is Now Open in The Woodlands Hills with Models Coming Soon from Five Additional Homebuilders

The Howard Hughes Corporation® announced the opening of the first model home in The Woodlands Hills, a new master planned community located 13 miles north of The Woodlands® in Conroe and Willis. With the opening of its decorated model, Chesmar Homes is now selling single-family homes in The Woodlands Hills.

“The Woodlands Hills is being designed as a community that grows with each and every person and inspires neighborly connections. We invite the community to visit The Woodlands Hills, to tour the Chesmar model and discover the beginning stages of how this amazing new community is taking root and growing to become a wholesome place to live and enjoy,” said Heath Melton, Vice President, Master Planned Communities, Residential for The Howard Hughes Corporation.

Blue Plate Special Kickoff Party for The Thread Alliance Aims to End Cycle of Child Abuse

Sheila Aron, Founder of The Thread Alliance
photo by Daniel Ortiz

A strong thread of love was created to fight against child abuse at The Thread Alliance’s Blue Plate Special Kickoff Party on Monday, April 2, 2018. The Thread Alliance Founder Sheila Aron welcomed more than 30 attendees eager to end the cycle of child abuse at Houston’s new hot spot Emmaline restaurant.

Guests were inspired to join the 6th Annual Blue Plate Special, a month-long and citywide fundraising campaign bringing child abuse to the forefront during the month of April 2018, which is child abuse prevention month. During the month of April, participating top Houston restaurants will feature an exclusive “Blue Plate Special” dish or drink and a portion of the proceeds will benefit The Thread Alliance.

The Thread Alliance is dedicated to ending the cycle of child abuse. The Blue Plate Special is The Thread Alliance’s citywide public awareness and education campaign encouraging Houstonians to take action against child abuse and towards healing. Local restaurants support the cause by offering a “Blue Plate Special” during the month of April, and donating a minimum of 20 percent of the proceeds to The Thread Alliance.

For a complete list of participating restaurants and more information on The Thread Alliance, go to

Young professional groups, RedBuds and Flock plant 40 trees and herbs for animals at Houston Zoo on March 31

photo by Randi Koening

Trees For Houston and Houston Zoo’s young professional groups got an early admission to the Zoo to plant 40 native trees and a variety of herbs to feed the animal residents. Gorillas, elephants, and many of their zoo neighbors will benefit from the trees and herbs which include chives, basil, stevia, lemon verbena, patchouli, rosemary, banana peppers, and for those who prefer a kick of spice, jalapenos. Following the planting, the volunteers enjoyed an educational tree tour of the Zoo led by Trees For Houston.

Trees For Houston young professional group, RedBuds, is a group of environmentally conscious Houstonians committed to aiding in the reforestation of the city’s urban spaces through volunteer plantings and partnerships. Redbuds is proud to partner with Houston Zoo’s young professional group, Flock, to plant additional foliage and herbs that will benefit Houston’s lovable animals. 

Flock is the Zoo’s donor club for young professionals and philanthropists, ages 21 and up, and encourages involvement for Zoo enthusiasts. Flock members enjoy exclusive events at the Zoo each year, including the annual Beastly Brunch.  Each event provides a unique opportunity to connect with the Houston Zoo and learn more about animal care, education and wildlife conservation programs. 

For additional information about RedBuds click here. For additional information about Flock click here.



Philanthropy went into overdrive Thursday night at the 9th Annual “Keels and Wheels Uncorked” event benefitting Today’s Harbor for Children, formerly known as The Boys & Girls Harbor at Post Oak Motor Cars.

Famed businessman, lawyer, public servant and guest of honor, Bill King, alongside the Master of Ceremonies, Sam Malone, joined over 300 guests to help raise funds for children and families in crisis while enjoying a variety of classic car and boat inspired gourmet hors d’oeurves and exceptional wine.

Six of Houston’s top restaurants tested their head chefs’ creativity by requesting custom dishes and wine pairings to complement a classic vehicle or boat to be featured in the upcoming Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elegance May 5-6 at the Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, TX.

All six restaurants, car and boat owners were recognized for their tremendous efforts and generous contributions to the event.

photos by Kim Coffman

Meet the 2018 Board of Directors for The Ronald McDonald HouseSally Bell Rutherford, Marilyn Mogas, Lesha Elsenbrook, Gary Wilson, Lawrence M. Hanrahan. M.D., Agatha Brann, Debbie Bauer

STCL Houston Named a Top Law School for ADR and International Law by preLaw Magazine

South Texas College of Law Houston (STCL Houston) is known historically as a national leader in Advocacy training, but a recent ranking by preLaw magazine – a National Jurist publication – names the school’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and international law programs among the best in the country.

The magazine graded law schools on the breadth of their curricular offerings to determine this ranking.

“We were delighted to learn that one of the nation’s preeminent publications for pre-law students ranks South Texas as a national leader in ADR and international law,” said Don Guter, president and dean of South Texas College of Law Houston. “Our ADR teams, representing the Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution, continue to accrue national championships – with three in the last year alone, and 14 national and international wins in the past five years. And our faculty comprises some of the nation’s most distinguished scholars in international economic law, national security law, and public international law.

For more information about ADR, international law, and other key areas of legal training at STCL Houston, please visit


The Learning Experience®, one of the nation’s fastest-growing Academies of Early Education for children six weeks to six years old, announced that its newest center in Texas is now open at 30016 Aldine Westfield Road in Spring.

“We are excited to serve the families of North Spring and surrounding community by offering quality early education to our littlest citizens,” said Qudsia Taqvi, Center Director of The Learning Experience in North Spring.

The Learning Experience brings to North Spring its one-of-a-kind L.E.A.P.® (Learning Experience Academic Program) curriculum and enrichment programs that have been developed from more than 30 years of experience in the early childhood education industry.  For more information, visit

The Woodlands Hills, Houston’s Newest Master Planned Community, is located 13 Miles North of The Woodlands®

courtesy of Westin Homes

Ravenna Homes and Westin Homes are the first homebuilders to be announced in The Woodlands Hills, a new master planned community located 13 miles north of The Woodlands®. The Woodlands Hills joins The Woodlands and Bridgeland® as the newest development in the portfolio of The Howard Hughes Corporation.


With bike share stations at Rice University, HCC and UHD, and more coming to University of Houston and TSU, Houston BCycle now offers $25 per semester Student Memberships.

Houston Bike Share, City of Houston Planning & Development and Rice University have partnered together to bring bike share to the Rice University Campus. In late October, Houston BCycle stations were installed at Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center, West Lot and Greenbriar Lot.

Five additional stations will be added to the Rice University campus in the coming months, along with stations at the   University of Houston and Texas Southern University. With so many new campus stations, Houston BCycle has rolled out Student Memberships for only $25 per semester. Student memberships allow unlimited access to Houston BCycle’s 400 bikes across 51 stations, 24 hours a day.

Details at 

First phase of Museum of Fine Arts Houston Campus Project opens in May 2018


The Museum of Fine Arts Houston announced that the first phase of the MFAH campus redevelopment project will open in May 2018. The school will be inaugurated in June with summer classes for the Junior School. Classes for all Glassell students, including the Studio School, start in the fall.

The opening of the Glassell School of Art, its BBVA Compass Roof Garden, and the adjacent Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza, brings the first public access to the newly imagined Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim Campus, slated for completion in early 2020.


Destination Moon now open at Space Center Houston

In a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit, see the Apollo 11 command module as part of Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission. The Apollo 17 command module and other artifacts from the last mission to land astronauts on the moon are in Starship Gallery and part of Space Center Houston’s permanent collection.

Space Center Houston is the first of four stops of the new Destination Moon exhibit and marks the first time the Apollo 11 command module from the first mission to land astronauts on the moon has left the Smithsonian on a national tour since 1971. Houston is where the Apollo astronauts lived and trained for their missions.

The new exhibit dives into the rich history of the Apollo program. This rare tour showcases more than 20 one-of-a-kind Apollo 11 artifacts, some of which flew on the first moon-landing mission including the crew module hatch, the Saturn V F-1 rocket engine injector plate, a lunar sample return container, astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s extravehicular visor and gloves, astronaut Michael Collins’ Omega Speedmaster Chronograph watch, a star chart and survival kit. This incredible display features stunning, interactive learning experiences for space enthusiasts of all ages.

The center also is featuring an array of Apollo artifacts such as training spacesuits worn by Apollo 13 Astronaut Fred Haise and Apollo 9 Astronaut David Scott as well as a flown toolkit, a lunar module controller and more. Guests will see new detailed images of the landing sites for Apollo 11 and 17.

Tickets at

Lone Star College welcomes record number of students

Lone Star College opened its doors to a record 89,413 credit students for fall 2017, representing a 4.4 percent increase in credit student enrollment over fall 2016.

“Education is even more critical today as our area continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey,” said Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., LSC chancellor. “We are honored so many students selected Lone Star College for their higher education needs.”

LSC has grown its student population from 49,267 to 89,413 over the past 10 years, representing a 81 percent increase. Enrollment figures are recorded each fall on “Official Day,” 10 days after the start of fall semester classes. This year’s official day numbers were impacted by Hurricane Harvey due to LSC-Kingwood delaying the start of fall semester classes at that campus.

LSC-Montgomery and LSC-University Park recorded the largest percentage of increase – 10 percent – welcoming 15,914 and 13,273 students respectively. LSC-CyFair continues to be the largest LSC with 22,125 students enrolled for fall 2017 classes.

LSC-Kingwood, which had six of its nine buildings destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, registered a 5 percent increase year to year, helping 12,950 students start close and go far.

The Thread Alliance Donates $15,000 to  Rebuild Texas Families

The Thread Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending the cycle of child abuse and founded by Sheila Aron, has awarded $15,000 to organizations that are rebuilding Texas families in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

In efforts to support communities devastated by the recent hurricane, The Thread Alliance donated $10,000 to the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation’s Rebuild Texas Fund. The Dell’s are both Texas natives and have been helping children and families across Texas for more than 18 years. Through the coming years, the Rebuild Texas Fund will be supporting the communities along the coast of Texas on the road to recovery.

To help local families recover from physical and emotional damage, The Thread Alliance awarded $5,000 to Jewish Family Services, a non-profit human service agency for people of all ages and all walks of life. The non-profit’s goal is to provide light, hope and help to individuals struggling with life challenges.

Wondering Where to Take Your Harvey Relief Donations?

The Harvey Relief Hub, a “one stop shop” for those who need help and those who want to help. Donation intake and distribution. Volunteer coordination and deployment. Information and resources.

Taking ALL volunteers and ALL donations. Offering direct, hands-on assistance to those in need in the entire region. With the capacity to store donations for days, weeks, months and transport them to shelters in need.

Centrally located at 2500 Summer Street, drop off is located on Crockett St, just next to Target Stores.

Email or call 281-635-4387 whether you need help or want to help. You can also drop your donations off at Studio Fitness Gym at 2215 Lawrence.


The Woodlands® and Bridgeland®, two award-winning Texas developments received a combined total of seven wins at the 2017 Texas Association of Builders (TAB) Star Awards in Dallas on August 3.

The Woodlands took home the top award for “Best Mixed-Use Community” in the multifamily category for Hughes Landing® while Bridgeland won for “Best Social Media Marketing”. The Woodlands also won awards for “Best Landscape Design”, “Best Email Message”, “Best Online Advertisement” and “Best Direct Mail Piece” while Bridgeland rounded out the evening with “Best Special Promotion.”

The awards also come as Bridgeland, which has won TAB’s Grand Award for “Developer of the Year” three times (2010, 2011 and 2016), introduces the next chapter of living in the award-winning community with Parkland Village, which will carry forward Bridgeland’s focus on community and neighborhood connections, maintaining the overall theme of locating a park no more than a quarter-mile from every home in the community.


Greater Houston Area Health Care Group Takes Home Prize For Top Minority Owned Business; Joins Past Winners Apple, Procter & Gamble, Samsung

Sterling Staffing Solutions in Sugar Land announced it has won one of the world’s most coveted prizes in business – the Gold Stevie Award – in the category of Minority Owned Business.

Sterling Staffing Solutions was recognized in one of the Stevie Award’s seven international categories in The 15th Annual American Business Awards. 

“It is an honor to be among such a high caliber of business winners,” said Stephen Carter, CEO and partner of Sterling Staffing Solutions.“The Stevie Award is special for us. Our existing clients speak highly of our work, and now the Stevie award gives us a platform to expose potential clients to our quality services.”

The Stevie Award trophy is one of the world’s most coveted prizes. Since 2002 the Gold Stevie Award has been conferred for achievement in business to organizations and individuals in more than 60 nations. 

Sterling Staffing Solutions provides contract employment opportunities for physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, nurses and social worker positions throughout Texas and Oklahoma. 

photo courtesy of Buffalo Bayou Partnership

Buffalo Bayou Partnership Announces Launch of Buffalo Bayou East Sector Master Plan

Revitalizing the waterway east of downtown from US 59 to Port of Houston Turning Basin

Houston’s Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) is launching a major planning effort along Buffalo Bayou’s East Sector that will continue the non-profit organization’s legacy of transformative parks, trails and open space.  In revitalizing the waterway east of downtown (from US 59 to the Port of Houston Turning Basin), BBP seeks to establish a pioneering precedent where green space can be a catalyst for inclusive growth and community development.

“At its heart, Buffalo Bayou Partnership is about creating parks, trails and bridges to bring Houstonians outdoors,” says Tom Fish, BBP Board Chair.  “Here in the East Sector, we have an opportunity to bring together communities north and south of Buffalo Bayou that have long been disconnected from the waterfront and each other.”

BBP is committed to a plan that is based on:

  • Authenticity –Creating unique park spaces that reflect the cultural and industrial legacy of the east sector
  • Connectivity – Rethinking how parks and neighborhoods interact, activating and connecting the waterfront and surrounding neighborhoods
  • Inclusivity – Establishing a pioneering precedent where green space can be a catalyst for inclusive revitalization.

“We not only want to reinvigorate the waterfront, but bring equitable revitalization opportunities to the East Sector neighborhoods,” said Anne Olson, BPP President. She also pointed out that the Second Ward has been designated one of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s “Complete Communities.”

More information is available at 


Houston Nonprofit Celebrates Three-Year Anniversary with Three Area Chapters

The nonprofit Modern Widows Club (MWC) has announced the opening of a new chapter serving women in the Northwest Houston and Katy areas. This brings the number of chapters in the Houston area to three, with one in central Houston and another in The Woodlands. Modern Widows Club Houston celebrates its three-year anniversary, having been founded here in 2014. 

Modern Widows Club Houston is part of a national organization which provides widow mentoring, leadership and empowerment through member services, active social media sites and an inspirational blog. The organization aspires to be a bridge of understanding, comfort, compassion and positive change between a widow and her community and is non-denominational. 

The Northwest Houston/Katy chapter of MWC will meet the third Wednesday of every month at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 15015 Memorial Dr. near Eldridge Road at 6:30 p.m. Women of all ages, faiths and backgrounds are invited to attend. 

“Modern Widows Club serves to empower widows to lean into life, build resilience and make a positive difference in society,” says Natalie Lancaster, Regional Leader over the Houston chapters of Modern Widows Club. “We welcome women of diverse backgrounds and beliefs into our organization. It’s not a grief counseling group, but women find comfort and solace in sharing their stories with others, in building fellowship and even in job networking.” 

Lancaster explained that education is an important aspect of the Modern Widows Club, especially in the area of finances. 

“Money and money management can be big issues for many women, and now they no longer have the husband’s income to support them,” says Lancaster. “Guest speakers can help educate on financial topics. We also brainstorm jobs and new careers that women might consider if they are returning to the work force after a long absence.” 

The MWC chapter for central Houston meets the second Tuesday of each month at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church at 2450 River Oaks Blvd. Meetings for The Woodlands chapter are held the third Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at The Canopy in Memorial Hermann Woodlands Hospital, Medical Plaza 1, 1120 Medical Plaza Drive, Suite 250 in The Woodlands.

For more information, go to or email


Moody Gardens welcomed a new addition to the North Pacific Exhibit this month with the arrival of harbor seal Siku, who comes to Moody Gardens from the Milwaukee County Zoo.

After his 1,230 mile trip, 2-year-old Siku settled into his new home in the Aquarium Pyramid, joining harbor seal Porter and two California sea lions, Squirt and Sam.

“Harbor seals are very social animals. We’re excited to have Siku join Porter, Squirt and Sam in the North Pacific Exhibit. His arrival will now give us two harbor seals for guests to see and learn more about,” said Diane Olsen, Moody Gardens assistant curator of seals and penguins. 

Harbor seals, also known as common seals, are found throughout the arctic and temperate marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere. They are often found along rocky shores in small groups.

Guests can see Siku in his new habitat at the Aquarium Pyramid, but also on the live seal cam at which is available 24 hours a day seven days a week. For more information please visit or call 800-582-4673.

photos courtesy of Moody Gardens

George Springer and SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young hit the ball out of the park at the George Springer All-Star Bowling Benefit

The Benefit, held on Sunday, June 11, 2017, at Lucky Strike Houston hosted Springer along with fellow teammates, other celebrities, Co-chairs Lara Bell and Melissa DeAyala, Junior Chair Matthew DeAyala, Honorary Chair Dr. Carolyn Farb and almost 300 fans to raise more than $150,000.

Proceeds from the event will send children from families-in-need to Camp SAY, a life-changing summer camp for young people who stutter.

Springer, a person who stutters, hosted the Bowling Benefit to provide financial aid help and ensure that children from all socio-economic backgrounds have access to Camp SAY.

Springer, national spokesperson for Camp SAY, stepped up to the plate to voice his support for young people who stutter welcoming the kids in attendance and all kids who stutter to become a part of his team.

He encouraged them to embrace their stutter and find their voice, and was followed by special performance by Director of Programming Travis Robertson and an inspiring speech from SAY teen Reuben Polanco.

For more information on Camp Say, go to

photo credit: V. Sweeten


Off the I-10 highway, the magic of brewing Bud Light continues to satisfy the thirst of beer drinkers throughout Texas and beyond.

The Bud Light Brewery, opened in 1982, continues to thrive with their employees’ dedication to their crisp, clean light lager and customers.

See their story here on YouTube at For more information on a Bud Light Brewery Tour, go to


Linbeck Group announces the completion of the Evelyn’s Park, a project that transformed Teas Nursery, Bellaire’s very first business, into a beautifully designed iconic green space.

Named after the late longtime Bellaire resident and philanthropist Evelyn Rubenstein, the five- acre park located at 4400 Bellaire Boulevard is now a blend of community spaces, gardens, trails and an event building and cafe.

During construction, Linbeck sought to develop the Park’s new identity while respecting the history of the site and scale and character of the surrounding neighborhood. A house from the 1900s that was occupied by the Teas Nursery is now a cafe/restaurant, and the firm constructed a new event building and office adjacent to an event lawn.

In keeping with its technology-driven methodologies, Linbeck Group applied BIM 360 to the Evelyn’s Park project to track any construction issues, distribute drawings to the field, and create and manage punch lists.

“Evelyn’s Park is both historically referential and iconic,” said Carolyn Carona-Ireland, Senior Project Manager, Linbeck Group. “With the completion of this project, Bellaire has state of the art facilities for recreation and events with restored green space rich with native trees and flora.”

The Evelyn’s Park Design Team consisted of award-winning architecture firm Lake Flato based in San Antonio, and internationally known landscape architecture firm SWA.

Sugar Land ‘Best City’ Award for Tourism

The Texas Travel Counselors awarded the city of Sugar Land with the “Best City” award, tying with popular tourist destination Galveston in a vote of top cities along the upper coastal region of Texas during Texas Travel Counselors Conference in Amarillo, Texas.

Texas Travel Counselors — an organization of industry professionals from the Texas Travel Industry Association and the Texas Department of Transportation — selected Sugar Land and another popular tourist destination, the city of Galveston, after a five-day tour of 12 Texas cities along the upper Gulf Coast.

The tourism and travel professionals recognized Sugar Land with the prestigious award after action-packed visits to Sugar Land’s historic locations, the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land, the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center, Constellation Field and a behind-the-scenes tour of Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land. The attendees also enjoyed Sugar Land’s local eateries like Jupiter Pizza & Waffle in Sugar Land Town Square.

“It’s an exciting time in Sugar Land,” said Bob Phillips, Texas Travel Industry Association’s consultant, whose father started the site visits more than four decades ago. “Sugar Land offers an impressive mixture of old and new with the historic Imperial refinery and the new performing arts center. With city hall being located in the downtown development, it’s a testament of the city’s commitment to business.”

Sugar Land’s economic development and tourism initiatives enable the City to provide quality services while maintaining one of the state’s lowest tax rates. As an example, the newly opened Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land is projected to provide an annual benefit to the community of $26.1 million while Constellation Field is projected to provide a return of $169 million to the local economy over 30 years. No general fund dollars were spent to create either project.

“We’re excited to showcase Sugar Land’s rich history, family-friendly attractions and global culture,” said Tourism and Destination Services Administrator Teresa Preza. “The award from the Texas Travel Industry Association and the Texas Department of Transportation is a real honor and validates the outstanding work that’s occurred in Sugar Land to promote tourism.”

Theatre Under The Stars Raises Nearly $700,000 with One Night Only 2017 Gala

photo credit: Priscilla Dixon

Bart & Becky McAndrews, Margaret Alkek Williams & Paul-David Van Atta

The Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) One Night Only 2017 Gala, which honored Margaret Alkek Williams for her many contributions to the arts community in Houston, was held on Saturday night at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The evening raised nearly $700,000 with all proceeds from the evening benefiting the TUTS Education and Community Outreach Programs.

TUTS One Night Only gala and Grand Finale after party was supported by longtime partners who provided items for the evening’s festivities including Zadok Jewelers, Elaine Turner, Kendra Scott, Van Cleef & Arpels, Gillman Automotive Group, West U Travel and Katz Coffee.

photo credit: Priscilla Dixon




International  Mothers Day Soiree Kick off Party announces 12 Houston women to be honored at May 11 event

Neiman Marcus in the Galleria hosted LCA Houston’s 5th Annual International Mothers Day Soirée Kickoff Party on Wednesday, February 22nd. Host/ Founder, Ruchi Mukherjee, along with Stacey Swift put on an amazing event ahead of what is sure to be a spectacular Soirée.

Shawntell McWilliams and Ruchi Mukherjee

2017 Honorees include Merele Yarborough, Dr. Monira Kundi, Toni Tate, Denise O’Brian, Ishwaria Mohan Subbiah, Shabnam Shaikh, Jill Shull, Carrie Brandsberg Dahl, Brigitte Kalai, Jane Seam, Ping Sun and Rekha Muddaraj.

Spotted at the kick off: Bashar Kalai, Vipul and Geeta Anand, Howard Tate, Nancy Marcus Golden, Tracy and Harry Faulkner, Ella Markovsky, Rebecca Brinkley, Mario Gudmundsson, Darin Davis, Dr. Monica Patel, Brian McCulloch, Carl Hahn, Sobi Qazi, Colin Gildroy, Stephanie Von Stein.

LCA Houston’s International Mothers Day Soirée will be held at the Asia Society Texas Center on May 11, 2017.

photos courtesy of LCA Houston


Lone Star College and Sam Houston State University form partnership to create program to program agreements for students wishing to transfer between  two institutions 

“Sam Houston State University is one of our closest partners,” said Dr. Stephen C. Head, LSC chancellor. “This agreement provides a clear pathway for students to start at Lone Star College and finish at Sam Houston State University.”

The newly signed agreement allows the institutions to create program to program agreements, affording students the opportunity to transfer credit hours in a variety of different programs such as nursing, business and criminal justice. The partnership also helps eliminate the risk of taking unneeded courses which could slow down completion.

More than 1,900 LSC students transferred to SHSU in fall 2015, ranking it as the third largest transfer partner.

LSC has agreements with many other universities in Texas and nationwide to create seamless transition from a LSC associate degree to bachelor’s degrees. For more information go to


Moody Gardens is hosting “Growing Together, ” the first of a seven part series, this week at the Moody Gardens Education Center to help people living in the early-stage of Alzheimer’s remain mentally and socially active post diagnosis.

“We are very excited to debut a program like this at Moody Gardens,” said Jennifer Lamm, Education Curator, who added what the impact of this series will symbolize. “It’s important to build a sense of community and we’re eager to do so by having participants engage in the many resources we have right here on property.” IMG_20161030_131752961_HDR.jpg

The Alzheimer’s Association Early-Stage Social Engagement Program offers a fun and comfortable way for people in the early-stage of the disease to get out, get active and get connected with one another through a variety of community-based activities and events. This month’s activity will focus on the biology and characteristics of various bird species found all over the world via presentation by a Moody Gardens Biologist. Participants will then engage in a painting session to create a self-portrait of which bird most defines them.

Participants in last summer’s pilot programs indicated a high level of satisfaction and interest in joining in these types of programs again. Early-Stage Social Engagement Program participants commented, “The group provided me with a feeling of acceptance and a sense of normalcy” and “The focus isn’t on our illness or being a caregiver; just having fun.”

Programs will be held on the first Tuesday of every month beginning on October 4, 2016 and ending on April 4, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. to coincide with Senior Tuesdays at Moody Gardens.

Senior Tuesdays offers guests 65 and older $5 admission per attraction including the Rainforest Pyramid, Aquarium Pyramid, Discovery Pyramid, Colonel Paddlewheel Boat and movies at both the 3D and 4D Theatres. Additional details at

TUTS and The River Celebrate Disability Awareness Month

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As part of the 20th anniversary celebration of The River Performing and Visual Arts Center (The River), Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is celebrating National Disability Awareness Month with special events and a public fundraising campaign.

20th Anniversary & River Background Story: This year marks the 20th Anniversary of The River, which began in 1996 when a three-year-old girl named Samantha wanted to take ballet lessons, but was denied access because she has cerebral palsy which affects her vision, balance, speech and movement. Samantha’s mother, Cathy Binstock – who was also a clinical social worker – took it upon herself to see that no child would ever be denied access to arts education because of a disability.

“The River believes in the power of the arts and inclusion. We see ability and use the arts to share it with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. It’s amazing what individuals with disabilities can accomplish when the bar is set high,” said Eileen Edmonds, Assistant Director of Education at The River.

With the help of arts instructors and other friends, Binstock, started with one Creative Movement class for seven little girls and The River was born. To date, The River has provided fine arts education for more than 25,000 children with special needs and their siblings.

In 2010, TUTS merged with The River to achieve a common goal of extending arts access to children of all abilities. To learn more about The River, contact Eileen Edmonds at

The River Celebration : On October 27th, The River will celebrate its 20th anniversary with its annual gala – The River Celebration. This year’s honorees will be Bob and Cathy Binstock. The gala will be chaired by Michele Womack with Robin and Danny Klaes as honorary chairs. This year’s Sammy Award recipients are Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien and his wife, Colleen. The event will be emceed by Sunny 99.1 DJ, Dana Tyson.

In addition to dinner, there will be live and silent auctions. The evening will also feature a dynamic musical program by students in The River’s Performance Troupe and Humphreys School of Musical Theatre. Tables and Tickets are still available. Contact Katie White Wisian at for details.

No Boundaries Program: In addition to all the things happening throughout October, TUTS is also happy to introduce a new accessibility initiative – the No Boundaries program. Through the No Boundaries program, TUTS is providing unique and inclusive ways to enhance musical theatre for individuals with disabilities. The program includes touch tours, rhythm, dance and voice workshops, as well as Audio Described, Open Captioning and American Sign Language Interpretation performances. To learn more about the No Boundaries program, contact Elizabeth England at

FamilyTime hosts sixth annual Purple Ribbon Luncheon   


Community members have joined hands to help committee chair and FamilyTime board member, Kathy Adkins, make the sixth annual Purple Ribbon Luncheon a huge success. The annual event, hosted by FamilyTime Crisis and Counseling Center, will be held on Friday, October 14 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Kingwood Country Club located at 1700 Lake Kingwood Trail, Kingwood, Texas. The Purple Ribbon Luncheon is held each year in October in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and in honor of FamilyTime’s Women of Achievement 1990-2015.

The featured speaker at this year’s Purple Ribbon Luncheon is slated to a powerful message on the implications of domestic violence. FamilyTime provides services and shelter to victims of domestic and sexual violence. It is also a resource and safe haven for victims of human trafficking. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the speaker’s compelling story. Tickets for the event are available online at  or can be purchased by e-mail at

The individual tickets to the luncheon are $60. Individuals can also be a “Friend of FamilyTime” and reserve a table of 10 for $600.