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Around The Bend February 2018


2017 Women in History honorees.

2017 Women in History honorees.

SUBURBAN SUGAR LAND WOMEN: REVIEWING A YEAR OF SERVICE

Suburban Sugar Land Women (SSLW) and Partners is celebrating 29 years of commitment to design, implement, and maintain service projects for the community’s infants, children, youth, adults and communities through six ongoing programs:

SENIORS ENRICHMENT: Installed smoke detectors, replaced batteries and provided pet food at three care centers and one hospital;

FAMILIES OUTREACH: Provided food, clothing, supplies, emergency and disaster relief, education and training;

INFANTS–YOUNG ADULTS DEVELOPMENT: Provided cradle-to-college-to-career support, adopt-a-schools and school/life incentives;

SCHOLARSHIPS AND SUPPORT: Hosted Fort Bend County College and Scholarship Fairs, awarded first-time and continuing scholarships, provided financial literacy programs and facilitated volunteerism;

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS: Secured individuals, families, organizations and corporate tax-deductible donations of $200 -$25,000 according to IRS guidelines;

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Con­tinued 30 collaborations in education, training, health, financial, civic, cultural and economic industries; provided direct human services and financial resources to infants, children, youth, families, fathers, homeless, veterans, disabled, military, Hurricane Harvey survivors and the economically disadvantaged.

2017 REVIEW:

January: Annual Fort Bend County competitive, academic and service scholarships are made available; provide school supplies and uniforms to adopted schools; offer academic and service incentives; financial literacy program; voters education and training; H & R Block referrals; and participation in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Parade along with a Thank You to military and veterans;

February: African American History Program; Adopt-A-Spot Quarterly Clean Up; H & R Block referrals; and volunteering with The Ensemble Theatre;

March: Honored 13 Fort Bend Women in History for community service; awarded five first-time scholarships for service and academic excellence; and H & R Block referrals;

April: Scholarship Recipients Luncheon; Dress For Success; and H & R Block referrals;

May: Girl Scouts Sleepover at Constellation Field in Sugar Land; Adopt-A-School Staff and Teacher Appreciation; Adopt-A-Spot Quarterly Clean Up; and Ensemble Theatre program.

June: Annual Fort Bend County Continuing Academic and Service Scholarships available to former recipients; Career Gear Houston for Men; YMCA Summer Camp; Ensemble Theatre program; and Summer Education and Service Enrichment program;

July: Awarded seven continuing scholarships; YMCA Summer Camp; and Summer Education & Service Enrichment;

August: School supplies delivered to adopted schools; Lamar CISD Counselors Pre-service Presentation; Park Youth Ranch school supplies delivered; Adopt-A-Spot Quarterly Clean Up; and Adopt Hightower High School;

September: National Voter Registration Day; Ensemble Theatre program; and Sassy Mamas play;

October: Five Fort Bend Colleges and Scholarships Fairs; Make A Difference Day (End Alzheimer Walk in Sugar Land; Pajamas & Treats in Rosenberg; and A Literary Café in Stafford);

November: Inaugural sponsor at Santa’s Village comes to Stafford Centre; Adopt-A-Spot Quarterly Clean Up; and Fort Bend ISD College and Career Readiness Advisors presentation;

December: Donated toys to Harris and Fort Bend children; fed the homeless; Delta Academic Artistic Philanthropic (DAAP) Foundation collaboration; Pet Food for Seniors Pets via Fort Bend Meals on Wheels; and Ensemble Theatre play A Soulful Christmas.

In 2017, SSLW members and partners also recruited four committed members and seven phenomenal partners.

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AVDA EXPANDS FREE LEGAL AID FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TO FORT BEND COUNTY

AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse) announces the expansion of its free legal aid for victims of domestic violence into Fort Bend County with offices at the United Way Fort Bend Center in Stafford and the Fort Bend County Women’s Center administrative offices in the Richmond/Rosenberg area.

For 37 years, AVDA has provided transformational, life-saving services to survivors of family violence in Harris County. In response to the growing need in Fort Bend County for free legal representation for abuse survivors, AVDA’s legal team of AVDA Paralegal Nelda Canales and Managing Attorney Kusum Warsi serve Fort Bend clients seeking divorce, child support, child custody, and protective orders. In addition to English, the team speaks three other languages (Spanish, Hindi, and Urdu), making them well equipped to serve Fort Bend County’s diverse population.

“Fort Bend County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States,” stated AVDA CEO Sherri Kendall. “Since one in four women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime, this exponential population growth indicates a serious need for domestic abuse advocacy in the county. AVDA is committed to ending the cycle of abuse in Fort Bend County.”

AVDA also provides crisis intervention, advocacy, and support; safety planning and referrals; and funds for education and training. Individual and group counseling for the survivor and her/his children are also available through AVDA’s Houston office.

Domestic violence survivors in Fort Bend County may call 281-207-2312 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, or request help online at avda-tx.org/victim-advocacy-pre-registration/

AVDA’s partners in providing referrals include Fort Bend County Women’s Center, Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, Fort Bend County Social Services, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department, and area municipal police departments, among others.

For more information, visit avda-tx.org.

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Representatives of the organizations receiving proceeds from the 2017 Sugar Plum Market joined members of FBJSL and representatives of Memorial Hermann on Dec. 15 to celebrate the Market’s success.

Representatives of the organizations receiving proceeds from the 2017 Sugar Plum Market joined members of FBJSL and representatives of Memorial Hermann on Dec. 15 to celebrate the Market’s success.

SUGAR PLUM MARKET RAISES $280,000 FOR CHARITY

The holidays are a little brighter for many charitable organizations in Fort Bend County thanks to a successful 2017 Sugar Plum Market. Presented by the Fort Bend Junior Service League (FBJSL) and Memorial Hermann, the 17th Annual Market raised $280,000. Those proceeds were presented to Fort Bend County charities on Dec. 15 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; Clothed by Faith; East Fort Bend Human Needs Ministry; First Tee of Greater Houston; Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center; Fort Bend County Women’s Center; Fort Bend Family Promise; Fort Bend Habitat for Humanity; 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; Rainbow Room, SIRE; Texana Center; Reining Strength Therapeutic Horsemanship; The Rose; and Fort Bend Junior Service League’s Community Assistance Fund.

This year’s “Believe in The Magic” 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 $2,400,000 for numerous local charities. The popular holiday shopping event continues to grow, and this year welcomed 7,000 attendees and over 100 unique vendors. Photos from the 2017 Market may be viewed on the Sugar Plum Market Facebook page. For more information about the Sugar Plum Market or FBJSL, please visit sugarplummarket.com or fbjsl.org.

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(L-R): Kelli Metzenthin, executive director; Beth Wolf, Literacy Council board president; Steve Wells, president, Exchange Club of Missouri City; Lee Ivey, Literacy Council tutor.

(L-R): Kelli Metzenthin, executive director; Beth Wolf, Literacy Council board president; Steve Wells, president, Exchange Club of Missouri City; Lee Ivey, Literacy Council tutor.

LITERACY COUNCIL OF FORT BEND COUNTY HOSTS HOLIDAYS AROUND THE WORLD

The Literacy Council of Fort Bend County hosted its annual Holidays Around the World party on Dec. 6. Volunteers, supporters, board members, students and their families came to celebrate the Holidays at the Literacy Center. Steve Wells, president of Exchange Club of Missouri City, attended the event and presented the Literacy Council with a check.

Students were asked to bring a homemade dish from their native country, which ranged from Venezuela to China to India. To make the party more festive, students, tutors and a Literacy Council board member provided a variety of enjoyable entertainment for all. Plus, kids enjoyed arts & crafts, wrote letters to Santa and were given “reindeer food” to take home.

For more information, contact Alisha Procter at aprocter@ftbendliteracy.org or 281-240-8181.

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(Front row, l-r): Child Advocates of Fort Bend Development Officer Jessica Jubin, and CEO Ruthanne Mefford with Fluor Event co-chairs Tracey Mooney, April Nemec, Fluor Senior Manager of Community & Public Affairs Barbara Jones, and Jennifer Smith; (back row): Kurt Wendt, Rebecca Schoenherr, Victor Vann and Paul Miller.

(Front row, l-r): Child Advocates of Fort Bend Development Officer Jessica Jubin, and CEO Ruthanne Mefford with Fluor Event co-chairs Tracey Mooney, April Nemec, Fluor Senior Manager of Community & Public Affairs Barbara Jones, and Jennifer Smith; (back row): Kurt Wendt, Rebecca Schoenherr, Victor Vann and Paul Miller.

GOLF FOR GREATER HOUSTON AND FLUOR IMPACT FOSTER YOUTH

Fort Bend foster youth will receive thousands of hours of specialized services provided by Child Advocates of Fort Bend (CAFB) thanks to the generosity of Fluor Corporation and all of those who took part in the 10th anniversary Golf for Greater Houston Golf Tournament. Event co-chairs April Nemec and Tracey Mooney led employees of Fluor in the year-long effort to raise more than $400,000, with $73,000 going toward CAFB’s NEST and WINGS programs for aging-out foster youth. Nine other Fort Bend charities received a share of the proceeds.

“It’s been such a challenging year for everyone in Fort Bend County, which is why this incredible gift means so much,”  said CAFB CEO Ruthanne Mefford. “With so many needs and deserving charities, we are especially grateful to Fluor and the tournament participants for remembering the children. More than 1,200 foster youth across Texas were displaced by Hurricane Harvey. While many of them are now back in stable environments, we are here to make sure each child has his or her needs met for the long-term, as they continue to move past hurdles on their path toward healing.”

“Fluor has supported the WINGS and NEST Programs for foster youth for a very long time. This year, we had the opportunity to do something special by providing for them in an extraordinary way,” said Barbara Jones, senior manager of community and public affairs at Fluor.

“We do whatever it takes to help each child succeed in life,” stated CAFB CASA Program Director Metoyer Martin. “As the only CASA Program in the state of Texas that is able to match every child in foster care with a CASA Volunteer to advocate for their needs, we have eyes and ears on every child and are able to identify their individual needs. We model healthy choices, encourage them in school, teach life skills, guide them toward stable employment or careers and help them with whatever else they may need to keep them from becoming a statistic. Thanks to Fluor’s generosity, we are able to continue these efforts and ramp up these programs to ensure that they are able to find success.”

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pet-adoption

FORT BEND PETS ALIVE! REPORTS SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITY EVENTS

Fort Bend Pets Alive! is committed to carry out its mission to raise awareness of pet adoptions and save lives. In 2017 the group continued to foster relationships with private citizens and local business owners and was able to identify more community interests to adopt homeless pets and more local business owners wanting to participate in saving pets’  lives.

In 2017, the number of community and outreach events doubled from previous years. Eighteen of them were pet adoption events. One event was at Half Price Books in Sugar Land. The store manager and staff enthusiastically helped promote the “Meow Book Buddy” Read to a Cat/Adopt a Cat program. The store hosts the event every first Saturday afternoon of the month, and recently Congress­man Pete Olson stopped by to help the homeless felines find homes.

Fort Bend Pets Alive! has an all-volunteer staff and solely depends on donations to continue its mission of making Fort Bend County a no-kill community. For more information visit fortbendpetsalive.org.

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(Front row, l-r): Jean Shelledy, Mary Burger and Milly Smith; (back row): Nancy Thurmond, Valerie Langdon and Jo Butterfield.

(Front row, l-r): Jean Shelledy, Mary Burger and Milly Smith; (back row): Nancy Thurmond, Valerie Langdon and Jo Butterfield.

WOMAN’S CLUB OF MISSOURI CITY CHRISTMAS LUNCHEON

The Woman’s Club of Missouri City held its Christmas luncheon in December at Greatwood Country Club.  Members brought toys for the Missouri City Police Department’s Blue Santa Program as well as blankets for Home Instead.

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(L-R): FBISD Police Chief David Rider, CAFB CEO Ruthanne Mefford and Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey; (back row): Meadows Place Police Chief Gary Stewart, Sugar Land Police Chief Doug Brinkley, Regional Director of Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Jarita Wharton, Fulshear Police Chief Kenny Seymour, Rosenberg Police Chief Dallas Warren, Arcola Acting Police Chief Anthony Bingham, CAFB Children’s Advocacy Center Program Director Fiona Remko and Katy Police Chief William Hastings.

(L-R): FBISD Police Chief David Rider, CAFB CEO Ruthanne Mefford and Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey; (back row): Meadows Place Police Chief Gary Stewart, Sugar Land Police Chief Doug Brinkley, Regional Director of Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Jarita Wharton, Fulshear Police Chief Kenny Seymour, Rosenberg Police Chief Dallas Warren, Arcola Acting Police Chief Anthony Bingham, CAFB Children’s Advocacy Center Program Director Fiona Remko and Katy Police Chief William Hastings.

LOCAL AGENCIES JOIN FORCES TO FIGHT CHILD ABUSE

In an effort to combat the injustices of child abuse and neglect, more than 20 agencies recently signed an agreement renewing their commitment to work together on behalf of child victims. The ceremony, hosted by the Child Advocates of Fort Bend (CAFB) Children’s Advocacy Center, was held at CAFB’s offices. The Protocol and Memorandum of Understanding details the importance of the CAFB Children’s Advocacy Center and lists the responsibilities of each agency in working child abuse cases.

“The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is an important piece in the collaboration of agencies working to reduce the trauma to children going through the civil and criminal systems,” said Fiona Remko, CAC Program Director. “The Center helps to bring together those agencies charged with the civil and criminal investigations of child abuse to ensure that the unique needs of abused children are being addressed in a child friendly manner. The Fort Bend community is very fortunate to have such a strong commitment from police chiefs and agency heads in fighting against child abuse.”

The CAC provides forensic interviews, case management services, therapy and criminal court advocacy services for free to families of abuse victims and to partner agencies. Child victims are referred to CAFB’s Children’s Advocacy Center by law enforcement or CPS where trained specialists, social workers and therapists conduct forensic interviews, coordinate the criminal investigation, facilitate resource services, offer criminal court support and provide therapy to help children heal from their trauma.

“We value our collaboration and are most grateful for all of our partners who work very hard to make sure hundreds of children receive the services and treatment they deserve,” said CAFB CEO Ruthanne Mefford.

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(Back row, l-r): Tonya Justice; Jamie Harris, Sherri Ebarb; (front row): Kimberley Camp; Jen Rizzo, president FBJSL; Sarah Kuehl; Kate Johnson-Patagoc, Texana Director Specialized Services; Monica Henderson and Heather Brown.

(Back row, l-r): Tonya Justice; Jamie Harris, Sherri Ebarb; (front row): Kimberley Camp; Jen Rizzo, president FBJSL; Sarah Kuehl; Kate Johnson-Patagoc, Texana Director Specialized Services; Monica Henderson and Heather Brown.

TEXANA CENTER RECEIVES $10,300 GRANT FROM FORT BEND JUNIOR SERVICE LEAGUE

Texana Center has received a $10,300 grant for its autism program in Rosenberg. These funds will be used to purchase a shade for a playground structure which the Fort Bend Junior Service League donated to Texana Center in 2013.

Texana recognizes the importance of fresh air and exercise for a child’s healthy development. However, it is also essential that children are protected from the sun and the risk of burns. Although the playground structure is made from plastic, it can become dangerously hot as it is in direct sunlight. Over the past year the media has reported an increasing number of thermal burn injuries from plastic slides. As part of the proposal to the Fort Bend Junior Service League, Texana staff ran a test to see how hot the equipment got at midday. The recorded temperature on the plastic slide was 176 degrees without shade and a much cooler 99 degrees with shade.

Kate Johnson-Patagoc, Texana Director Specialized Services said, “We are excited that the Fort Bend Junior Service League continues to make grants to our autism program through the proceeds from their Sugar Plum Market. Having a shade structure for this playground equipment will mean it can be used all year round, and not just in the cooler months. It is not easy keeping children away from the playground in summer because the equipment is too hot to touch. I would like to thank the Fort Bend Junior Service League for all the work they do to raise and distribute these funds. We really do appreciate the members and the difference that they are making for children with autism in Fort Bend County.”

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claras-tea7 claras-tea5 claras-tea4

CAPTION FOR ABOVE PHOTOS: Katherine Lingenfelter of Sugar Land with the Rat King. • “Clara’s Tea” guests Agnes Marie Furnish (left) and Lucy Johns (right), both of Sugar Land, show off their Nutcracker dresses while taking photos with “Clara,” played by Natalia Flores of BalletForte dance company .• Madelyn and Avery Donaldson of Sugar Land in their matching dresses with their matching nutcrackers.

“CLARA’S TEA” PRESENTED BY THE BALLETFORTE GUILD

More than 550 guests dined on delicious treats and enjoyed The Nutcracker in a Nutshell, presented by BalletForte, on Dec. 3 at Safari Texas during the BalletForte Guild’s “Clara’s Tea.”

Guests posed for photos with “Clara,” shopped at the guild’s Nutcracker Boutique, bid on silent auction items and won big in a raffle. The BalletForte Guild supports BalletForte, Fort Bend County’s premier pre-professional dance company. BalletForte presents Swan Lake April 7-8 at the Stafford Centre. Visit balletforte.org for more information or follow the Guild at facebook.com/TheBalletForteGuild/

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Hightower High JROTC Presentation of Colors under the instruction of Major James Jones and First Sergeant Melvin Lovelace at the Literary Cafe event in Stafford.

Hightower High JROTC Presentation of Colors under the instruction of Major James Jones and First Sergeant Melvin Lovelace at the Literary Cafe event in Stafford.

Hightower High School’s African DanceTroupe at the Literary Cafe event in Stafford

Hightower High School’s African DanceTroupe at the Literary Cafe event in Stafford

SSLW PARTICIPATES IN MAKE A DIFFERENCE DAY

Suburban Sugar Land Women (SSLW) and its partners provided three community service projects in three different cities in Fort Bend County on “Make A Difference Day,” held each year on the fourth Saturday in October when individuals, families, schools, organizations and corporations complete a community-needed project.

The group held an “End Alzheimers Walk” in Sugar Land at the University of Houston on University Blvd. Fort Bend County was one of more than 600 communities nationwide to hold an event of this type – the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Alisa Laddie was SSLW’s project chair.

As part of its Infants-Toddlers programs, SSLW donated pajamas, diapers, wet wipes, books, crayons and coloring books to the Pregnancy Medical Resource Center Parking Lot on Avenue I in Rosenberg. SSLW project chairs were Monica Riley, Donisha Smith, Judeene Edison and Mose and Mable Austin.

A Literary Cafe event was held at HCC-Southwest Campus in Stafford to showcase local authors, unique vendors and talented student performers. This event, attended by 300, was hosted in collaboration with the Arts and Letters Committee, Suburban Houston–Fort Bend Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Serena Wright-Bostic is the Arts and Letters chair. All three events were free and open to the public. For more information, visit sslw.org.


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