Around The Bend April 2017
SUGAR LAND CULTURAL ARTS FOUNDATION’S “IN HIGH GEAR” EVENT A HUGE SUCCESS
The Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation (SLCAF), along with presenting sponsor, Audi Sugar Land, as well as all of the other sponsors, patrons and art enthusiasts that contributed to the SLCAF Founders’ Ball on Jan. 21, has announced a successful event in support of the arts in Fort Bend County.
Gala Chairs for the event were Chip and Cindy Sutton, along with Honorary Chairs James A. and Gay Thompson. The evening opened with an upbeat performance by the Travis High School Drumline which revved up the entire audience. SLCAF honored John and Diana Null for their service to the foundation and presented them with the organization’s “Cultural Vanguard Award.”
Attendees were entertained by three high octane performances under the direction of Roy Hamlin, former artistic director of TUTS, with original arrangements by John Cornelius II. Keeping with the event’s “In High Gear” theme, the performances took the audience on an adventure across Texas with “Route 66” inspired music. After a highly successful live auction that raised $56,000, the evening closed with a final tribute to the evening’s honorees as the cast, along with performers from the Iconotheatrix Icons, sang Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” while a Jib Jab version of the music video featuring the Nulls played on the screens. The entire audience clapped along.
SLCAF appreciates the enthusiasm and the service of those dedicated to preserving and promoting cultural arts in Fort Bend County. For more information, visit slcaf.org.
INAUGURAL BARK FOR LIFE EVENT RAISES $4,500 FOR CANCER SOCIETY
(All Photos – Stephanie Cheney Photography)
Hundreds of pooches and their people gathered in Riverstone Feb. 25 raising thousands for the American Cancer Society. The inaugural Bark for Life walk of Riverstone presented by Lake Olympia Animal Hospital raised nearly $4,500, celebrating cancer survivorship — human and canine — and honoring the care-giving qualities of four-legged companions while supporting the mission of the American Cancer Society.
“We are very happy with this first year and hope continued online donations will help us reach our goal of $5,000 by the end of March,” said Nick Deacon, lifestyle director for Riverstone and the event leader for Relay for Life.
Bark for Life is a dog-friendly version of the annual Relay for Life, a signature fundraiser of the American Cancer Society that takes place from noon to midnight, Saturday, April 1, at Edward Mercer Stadium, 16403 Lexington Blvd., Sugar Land.
After the Bark for Life walk, event-goers enjoyed a performance by the Houston Disc Dogs, were able to meet dogs and deputies with the Fort Bend County K-9 unit, could meet with an onsite veterinarian and have their dogs’ nails trimmed by Pet Spa Mobile Grooming. Face painters, balloon twisters, bounce houses gave children plenty to do.
To register for Relay for Life, teams and individuals can go to the website relayforlife.org/greaterfortbendtx or call 1-800-227-2345.
THE GEORGE FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES A NEW SPECIAL PROGRAMS DIRECTOR
The George Foundation has announced Ammie Blahuta as Director of Special Programs. In this newly created position, Blahuta will be responsible for leading the Foundation’s special programs including Youth in Philanthropy (YIP), Leadership Excellence for Nonprofits, and the Foundation’s scholarship programs. She will also support the mission by strengthening the Foundation’s relationships with nonprofits and other community stakeholders through collaboration and community engagement. “We are thrilled to bring Ammie’s talent and passion for community service to the Foundation to help continue the George’s legacy of giving” stated Roger Adamson, CEO of The George Foundation. Ammie will work closely with long-time Foundation employee, Dee Koch, over the next year to transition leadership responsibilities of these special programs in anticipation of Dee’s retirement.
Blahuta is a Fort Bend County native and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Consumer and Family Science from Purdue University. Upon graduation, she served in a variety of marketing and management roles with Sysco Food Services and Strake Jesuit College Preparatory before joining Hudson Building Systems as the company’s Business Development Manager in 2009.
Blahuta is also the co-founder of Gigi’s Playhouse Sugar Land, a nonprofit organization with the mission to empower individuals with Down syndrome to reach their highest potential. Gigi’s offers 30 direct educational and therapeutic programs to individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the Fort Bend community in an inviting and uplifting environment – all free of charge. Blahuta lives in Sugar Land with her husband Keith and their two children, Keaton and Sadie.
GLOBAL SUPERSTAR AND 4-TIME GRAMMY AWARD WINNER KELLY ROWLAND PUBLISHES FIRST BOOK
Multi-talented recording artist, actress, and executive producer Kelly Rowland will add author to her long list of accomplishments with the upcoming release of her first book, Whoa, Baby!: A Guide for New Moms Who Feel Overwhelmed and Freaked Out (And Wonder What the #*@& Just Happened).
The book, co-authored by her personal obstetrician Dr. Tristan Emily Bickman, was published by Da Capo Lifelong Books and hits shelves on March 28, and is now available online at booksellers including the publisher.
“Dr. Bickman and I wanted to create an answer to what to expect after childbirth. No one told me what to expect physically, emotionally, or mentally,” Kelly explains. “The purpose of Whoa, Baby! is to comfort the mother and give her knowledge of what’s going on with her. We cover everything!”
When Kelly gave birth to her son Titan, it was love at first sight but she was also a little freaked out about what happened to her body – not to mention the overwhelming new thoughts and emotions. In Whoa, Baby!, Rowland and Bickman team up to cover everything a first-time mom needs to know: the gross physical stuff, the hormonal and emotional stuff, and the just plain weird stuff. Whoa, Baby! is often hilarious and always honest and down-to-earth. From falling asleep with the pump on to swollen legs and lack of sleep, Rowland and Bickman cover every surprising challenge that new mom’s face.
VOLUNTEERS PLANT 2,000 TREES AT BUFFALO RUN PARK IN TWO HOURS
Close to 300 volunteers from across the Houston area gathered at Missouri City’s Buffalo Run Park on Feb. 11 for the Houston Area Urban Forestry Council’s 2017 Regional Tree Planting Competition. Eleven-person teams, including a team from Missouri City Green, the Keep Texas Beautiful Affiliate for Missouri City (missouricitygreen.org), planted 100 trees per team in friendly competition with one another.
A total of 2,000 trees were planted by volunteer teams in just over two hours, transforming a newly created retention basin area. “The purpose of the Tree Planting Competition is not only to plant more trees within the community, but also to help educate volunteers and citizens on how to plant trees properly and to educate them on the importance of trees and their benefits,” said HAUFC’s Staff Forester Matt Weaver.
A variety of tree species were planted including sycamore, American and cedar elm, live oak, bald cypress, Shumard oak, bur oak, sweetgum, mulberry and green ash. Following the tree planting, volunteers were treated to a BBQ picnic lunch provided by CenterPoint Energy who also supplied the trees for this event. Mulch was donated by Living Earth.
Over the past 10 years, this competition has resulted in 10,000 trees planted by over 1,000 volunteers in locations across the Houston area.
DELTA KAPPA GAMMA CHAPTER HONORS RITA DRABEK
Rita Drabek, Fort Bend County long-time educator and champion of school children, was honored February 11 by Delta Kappa Gamma, Lambda Sigma Chapter, with a luncheon at Sugar Land First United Methodist Church. Drabek is a 50-year member of Delta Kappa Gamma, International Society of Women Educators, and founding member of Lambda Sigma Chapter which was also celebrating its 35th birthday. She has resided in Sugar Land for 62 years.
Delia Garcia, retired FBISD administrator and Drabek’s long-time co-educator and friend, honored her with an account of how her character was shaped growing up in (Corrigan) East Texas, earning a degree from University of Houston, and coming to Fort Bend ISD in 1957 as a fourth-grade teacher at Sugar Land Elementary on Third Street in Old Sugar Land. In 1957 the city renamed 3rd Street as Lakeview, where Drabek taught for 16 years as well as serving as assistant principal. She transferred to the new Meadows Elementary in 1974 and served as principal until 1984 when she was appointed Assistant Superintendent of Instruction for FBISD. Working with Delia Garcia she helped write the first comprehensive curriculum for the district completed in 1990. The district was opening new schools yearly and one of these was named Rita Drabek Elementary to honor her insight and dedication.
Rita Drabek retired in 1990 from the district but only in name. She was elected to the FBISD Board, serving from 1992 to 2001 including terms as president, and again in 2005 to fill out a vacancy. She served on the board of Region IV, State Department of Education, two years as secretary and two as vice chairman, retiring in 2008.
At the luncheon, Scotty Hightower Bass also gave an account of appreciation for having Ms. Drabek as her fourth-grade teacher, and Mary Willis spoke about having her as a teacher of Bible studies in Merry Ministries, an interdenominational Bible study. Lambda Sigma chapter president, Salethia Morris, presented Drabek with a writing pen of polished wood by Jamie Larson, a son of James Larson, long time FBISD band director. Drabek’s daughter, Linda Marshall, was a special guest at the luncheon along with Frances Ziegenhals, Texas Delta Kappa Gamma Area IV Coordinator, and Charter Members of Lambda Sigma Chapter, Margaret Dzierzanowski, Vicky Hemme, Rene Lamb, Peggy Norman, Shirley Hopper Renfrow, Peggy Horton Wood and Carolyn Zaskoda. .
Delta Kappa Gamma Society International was founded in 1929 at the University of Texas to promote professional and personal growth of key women educators and excellence in education and now has chapters in 17 countries around the world.
TEXANA CENTER RECEIVES $10,000 FROM FAIRMOUNT SANTROL
Texana Center was very pleased to receive a $10,000 donation from community partners, Fairmount Santrol. The funds will be applied to the purchase and construct a new playground specifically designed for children age 2-5 years who attend its applied behavior analysis autism program in Rosenberg.
For most children, the playground is typically the first place where they engage with other children and with the world at large. Play is important for developing language, appropriate emotional responses, problem solving and creative skills in children as well as the social skills that are the foundation for all relationships.
Children with autism may enjoy playing but can find some types of play difficult. It is common for them to have very limited play skills; playing with only a few toys, or playing in a repetitive manner. Play often does not come naturally to them, so they have to be specifically taught these very important play skills that seem to come easily to most typically developing children. The Children’s Center for Autism uses applied behavior analysis to carefully assess each child’s individual skills and then develop a program to specifically teach these important activities.
Ellen Catoe, senior manager, Children’s Center for Autism, said “We are very excited about the possibility of having a new playground for our younger clients diagnosed with autism. The current playground has little that interests them and is very outdated and in poor condition. We plan to have a grand opening of the playground as soon as it is built.”
Fairmount Santrol has been supporting Texana’s programs since 2014 following an introduction by Fort Bend Cares Foundation. Fairmount Santrol believes in making investments in the communities where they live and work, and Texana has become a beneficiary of that investment.