Around The Bend February 2017
SUGAR PLUM MARKET RAISES AN IMPRESSIVE $310,000 FOR CHARITY
The holidays are a little brighter for many charitable organizations in Fort Bend County thanks to a record-breaking year for the Sugar Plum Market. Presented by the Fort Bend Junior Service League (FBJSL) and Memorial Hermann, the 16th Annual Market raised $310,000. Those proceeds were presented to Fort Bend County charities on Dec. 9 at a Check Presentation Party held at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land.
The following beneficiaries each received a portion of event funds: AccessHealth; The Arc of Fort Bend County; Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston; Brookwood Community; Catholic Charities; Child Advocates of Fort Bend; East Fort Bend Human Needs Ministry; Fort Bend Family Promise; Fort Bend Habitat for Humanity; Fort Bend Rainbow Room; Fort Bend Seniors; Fort Bend Women’s Center; Gigi’s Playhouse; Hope for Three; Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land; Literacy Council of Fort Bend County; Lunches of Love; Parks Youth Ranch; SIRE; Texana Center; The First Tee; The Rose; and Fort Bend Junior Service League’s Community Assistance Fund.
This year’s “Making Spirits Bright” themed Sugar Plum Market focused on the amazing beneficiaries who have received grants from event proceeds through the years. Since its inception in 2001, the Sugar Plum Market has raised more than $2,200,000 for numerous local charities. The popular holiday shopping event continues to grow, and this year welcomed 8,000 attendees and over 100 unique vendors. Photos from the 2016 Market may be viewed on the Sugar Plum Market Facebook page. For more information about the Sugar Plum Market or FBJSL, visit sugarplummarket.com or fbjsl.org.
THE “IRIS” PROJECT SERVES VETERAN WOMEN IN NEED
Seven percent of the nation’s homeless veteran population is composed of women. The risk of women veterans becoming homeless is four times greater than for male veterans, and compared to other Americans, veterans are twice as likely to become chronically homeless.
Primary causes of homelessness:
- Lack of income due to limited education and lack of transferable skills from military to civilian life (especially true of younger veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan)
- Combat-related physical health issues
- Combat-related mental health issues
- Substance abuse problems that interfere with
- Weak social networks due to problems adjusting to civilian life
- Lack of available services to meet the needs
of veteran women
The Iris project is a multi-faceted project by Fort Bend County Social Services and Katy Christian Ministries, and is funded by the United Way of Greater Houston Veteran Service Grant Initiative. Project Iris will serve veteran women within Fort Bend and Waller counties. Eligible veteran women seeking assistance will be provided with short-term shelter, medication, food, and benefit participation assistance at Fort Bend County Social Services. Katy Christian Ministries will offer professional mental health counseling, job placement, resume building, interview skills, household necessities, furniture, and clothing with the purpose of helping veteran women regain their lives.
“Female veterans often do not view themselves or self-identify themselves as veterans,” noted Anna Gonzales, director of Fort Bend County Social Services. “Most veteran women are focused on their day- to-day survival. They are wives, mothers and daughters first. However, this lack of connection to the community makes them less likely to access veteran resources such as the Iris Project. Named after the Iris flower, which represents wisdom, valor, faith, promise, love and hope, this project will reach out to veteran women and help them tap into these resources.”
To help a veteran woman in need, provide her the contact information for Fort Bend County Social Services at 281-238-3502 or Katy Christian Ministries at 281-391-5261.
CHILD ADVOCATES OF FORT BEND RECEIVES FBJSL DONATION; TEXAS BAR FOUNDATION GRANT
Fort Bend Junior Service League members recently presented a check for a portion of the proceeds of their Sugar Plum Market to Child Advocates of Fort Bend (CAFB). The funds will be used to help with the agency’s WINGS program for teens aging out of foster care.
The WINGS program for teens ages 14-18+, was developed to prepare older foster care youth for independent living after they “age out” of the foster care system. Support from FBJSL will help these teens learn critical life skills, make connections with healthy adults to ensure a support system and graduate from high school with an attainable plan for pursuing college, vocational school or employment. CAFB’s WINGS program has been tailored to fit the needs of the children with annual events and activities to promote education, health and self-sufficiency.
Prior to the WINGS Program, many of these teens dropped out of school, often experiencing homelessness or incarceration for illegal activity. They had no clear path to a successful future. The WINGS program has been a key factor in changing outcomes for these youth.
The Texas Bar Foundation recently awarded CAFB a $5,000 grant that will be used to support the Multidisciplinary Team Enhancement Program (MEP). MEP began in late 2015 as a way of identifying children who are victims of abuse and would otherwise fall through the cracks of the child welfare system.
CAFB is the only agency in Fort Bend County exclusively dedicated to providing critical services, all free of charge, to abused and neglected children and their non-offending family members. A CAFB Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) staff member reviews all state intake reports of child abuse, assesses whether they meet criteria for sexual abuse or severe physical abuse and, if so, refers the case to CPS and law enforcement.
For 25 years, CAFB has been providing a voice, healing the hurt and breaking the cycle of abuse and neglect in Fort Bend County. Through its Court Appointed Special Advocates program (CASA), Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) and more than 200 trained community volunteer advocates, Child Advocates of Fort Bend improves the lives of more than 400 children each month and has served more than 14,000 children since opening its doors in 1991. Volunteers are needed to help in the Children’s Advocacy Center and Court Appointed Special Advocates program. For more information or to become a volunteer, go to cafb.org or contact Lauren Jordin at email@example.com or 281-344-5258.
L.E.A.F. GRANT AWARDS $339,455 TO LAMAR CISD TEACHERS
For the 17th year, the Lamar Educational Awards Foundation (L.E.A.F.) delivered pre-holiday surprises to help delight boys and girls around Lamar CISD.
L.E.A.F. awarded $339,455 in November to 173 grant winners. Since 2000, the Foundation has given out $2,929,355 to teachers providing innovation in the classrooms.
“This is always my favorite day of the school year,” said L.E.A.F Executive Director Janice Knight. “The teachers are always so grateful and once the kids realize what types of things their teachers can now buy, it really creates some excitement.”
The Lamar Educational Awards Foundation is a nonprofit community-based organization dedicated to securing and distributing resources to Lamar CISD that will enhance educational programs.
Men Who Cook, presented by Johnson Development, L.E.A.F’s major fundraiser, is
scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18. For more information, call Janice Knight at 832-223-0334 or visit leafgrants.org.
BAGLEY PECAN HARVEST FESTIVAL ATTRACTS THOUSANDS TO INAUGURAL EVENT
Richmond’s historic district experienced the Bagley Pecan Harvest Festival on Nov. 20 and everything came together for a perfect day for this inaugural event. Promoted as an afternoon of fun for a variety of ages, it did not disappoint. The weather was perfect for the several thousand who attended. This festival was staged on the north side of the railroad tracks, using Wessendorff Park for its acoustically sound gazebo and grassy knoll, over to Decker Park, owned by the Fort Bend Museum, which provided historic buildings as the backdrop for the presentations and the Kids Area.
Rob Quarles of Morton Street Music scheduled a variety of music all day, from local School of Rock out of Katy, to Josue & Mariachi Tradicion de Jalisco band. A musical highlight for some was popular Chris Welch and the Cicada Killers out of Austin. Food trucks and a beer garden satisfied all tastes and as the theme of the festival was the pecan, patrons could find an extensive pecan variety display at the Depot at Decker Park. People walked away amazed by how many pecans are native to this area.
The Pecan Bake -Off had over 30 entries with Turtle Brownies made by Sarah Tankersley declared the winner. Sarah received a $100 gift card for Bagley Pecans.
The Kids Area had a variety of crafts and activities for all ages and served more than 700 children with take-home crafts, as well as a petting zoo and various jump houses. The Skeeters mascot, Swatson, entertained with his antics as he wandered the grounds, while the festival provided a variety of vendors for Christmas shopping. Decker Park was bordered by the Car Show which had car enthusiasts showing all day. The hayride tours into Morton Cemetary and around the event grounds were packed the entire afternoon – the epitome of a Fall Harvest Festival. The 2017 event is sure to be bigger and better, so set your calendar now for the Sunday before Thanksgiving to explore the pecan harvest season with an old-fashioned festival.
RICHMOND ROTARY CLUB BRINGS HOLIDAY SEASON TO RICHMOND HEALTH CENTER
Because Richmond Health Center’s director Erika Parrish is now a Richmond Rotarian, it made it that much more special for the Richmond Rotary Club to bring a bit of holiday spirit to the residents at Richmond Health Center on Jackson Street. The Richmond Rotary Club has been singing to these residents several times a year for many years.
This holiday event also gave the club an opportunity to introduce some of its Interact kids from Terry High School and Travis High School to the Rotary experience.
Rotary International is the largest International Service Organization in the world, responsible for the eradication of polio (though not yet completely gone as two new cases occurred in Pakistan this year). It was begun in 1932 in Chicago and is now current and relevant in almost every country on the globe.
Within the organization, many clubs involve themselves with young people to teach them the Rotary motto: Service Before Self. At the middle school and high school level these clubs are called ‘Interact’ clubs hosted by a local Rotary club collaborating with an on-campus sponsor.
At college level (actually ages 18- 30) these organizations are called Rotaract and the members work in their communities. When a club like the Richmond club has Interact clubs on campuses in the community, it becomes the Rotary Club’s responsibility to pull them into everything it does in the community – whether serving Thanksgiving dinner to the current residents of the Fort Bend Women’s Center, cleaning out the flooded homes along the river this past spring/ summer or singing at the assisted living homes in the community.
TEXAS BAR FOUNDATION PARTNERS WITH LOCAL AUTISM ADVOCATES
The Texas Bar Foundation recently presented $5,000 to Hope For Three to assist with Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for area law enforcement. The goal of CIT is to inform, empower and equip officers with the best practices of interacting with those on the autism spectrum.
In May 2014, Hope For Three along with Lieutenant Scott Soland of the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department implemented the program to its first class of officers. Since then, more than 1,200 officers in Fort Bend, Harris and surrounding counties have received training through CIT.
“We are honored to have the Texas Bar Foundation partner with Hope For Three and the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office,” said Samantha Katchy, Hope For Three Executive Director. “This funding will allow us to expand our program as well as provide reinforcements and tools for our officers to have on hand when they interact with children on the spectrum, such as pocket cards for quick reference or stuffed animals to help comfort a child with autism.”
Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $16 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.
Hope For Three and the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department will begin the 2017 series of CIT in January. If you would like to schedule Crisis Intervention Training, call 281-245-0640 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope For Three Autism Advocates is a non-profit organization providing help and creating hope for families living with autism. For information on resources or how you can BE the Difference through volunteering, Circle of Hope or sponsorship, visit hopeforthree.org.
DEW HOUSE HOLIDAY WASSAIL
Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen presented recently retired Elkins music teacher and Knightbeats director Russ Clark with a baby grand piano ornament to be hung on the DeWalt Heritage Center (Dew House) Annual Christmas Tree in appreciation of Clark’s support of the Holiday Wassail with his musical talents each year since its inception in 2010. Clark and his talented troubadours performed for a wide variety of charitable and philanthropic audiences all over Fort Bend County for over a decade bringing smiles to many hearts. This year’s Wassail sponsored by HEB-Sienna Market, Leonetti Graphics and Starkey Mortgage hosted 157 guests and a myriad of talented school groups performing holiday music and entertainment.