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Around The Bend September 2016


(L-R): Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert with Fort Bend County Historical Commission members Charles Kelly and Don Brady.

(L-R): Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert with Fort Bend County Historical Commission members Charles Kelly and Don Brady.

FORT BEND COUNTY HISTORICAL COMMISSION RECOGNIZED BY STATE

On July 5, County Judge Bob Hebert recognized Fort Bend County volunteer historians and preservationists for their efforts in 2015. The Texas Historical Commission (THC) issued the THC Distinguished Service Award to the Fort Bend County Historical Commission for its accomplishments during the last calendar year.

Judge Hebert, himself an avid historian, said the award illustrates “continued great leadership and a superior work ethic demonstrated by the volunteers who make up the County Historical Commission.”

Hebert cited a few functions of the historical commission, among them the identifying, inventorying and protecting of historic cemeteries and structures; the recording and transcribing of oral histories given by key figures in the county; and recognition of outstanding accomplishments in historical and cultural preservation through the presentation of the annual Bert E. Bleil Heritage Award.

County Historical Commission chair Charles Kelly of Sugar Land voiced his appreciation for the honor by the Texas Historical Commission and stressed that the volunteers could do little without the unflagging support from commissioners’ court. Kelly said the work accomplished last year and every year by the county historical commission is a team effort.

In announcing the award, THC Executive Director Mark Wolfe emphasized that county historical commissions “are the backbone of historical preservation and education in communities across Texas. Wolfe added his agency “is proud to recognize the exceptional efforts” of the Fort Bend County commission and appreciates its high level of performance during 2015.

County historical commissions in Texas provided more than 480,000 volunteer hours in 2015, which the THC called an in-kind donation to the state valued at $11.3 million.

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Foster youth visited six Texas colleges as a part of the WINGS program’s Campus Crawl.

Foster youth visited six Texas colleges as a part of the WINGS program’s Campus Crawl.

CHILD ADVOCATES OF FORT BEND GIVE WINGS TO CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE

Many children in foster care do not believe college is an option, and even if they do, many head off to college without ever seeing the campus in person. Child Advocates of Fort Bend is changing that with its innovative WINGS Campus Crawl Program.

In July, Child Advocates of Fort Bend staff and volunteers took 21 foster youth ages 14 – 19 years old to visit six colleges including Texas State University, Texas A&M University, Wharton Junior College’s Wharton Campus, Houston Community College’s Stafford Campus, The University of Texas at Austin and Sam Houston State University. The youth toured the campuses and dormitories, learned about campus life, financial aid and other services available and the programs offered by the different schools. They also ate in the dorms. Former Fort Bend foster youth who had previously participated in WINGS Campus Crawl gave the students campus tours and shared information about their personal journeys at the University of Texas and Sam Houston State University.

“Every child should have the opportunity to explore their potential. Visiting college campuses to plan and prepare for the future is a milestone no child should miss,” stated Heather Rashid, Child Advocates of Fort Bend’s WINGS Team Leader. “The WINGS Campus Crawl provides this invaluable opportunity and instills a sense of hope and promise for the future in the lives of the youth whom our agency serves.”

Graduation rates of eligible foster youth in Fort Bend averaged 100 percent in the last three years (compared to 25 percent when the program started 10 years ago) and 80 percent nationally (according to the 2011 University of Chicago study). Metoyer Martin, CASA Program Director for Child Advocates of Fort Bend, said, “We believe that our WINGS program, particularly our WINGS Campus Crawl has a lot to do with that as it inspires these youth to imagine that they can achieve more.”

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Sugar Land Town Square glowed in purple and green during the Survivorship Night concert.

Sugar Land Town Square glowed in purple and green during the Survivorship Night concert.

MD ANDERSON’S SURVIVORSHIP NIGHT IN SUGAR LAND

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center recognized National Cancer Survivor Month during its annual Survivorship Night event in Sugar Land on June 25. Sugar Land Town Square was aglow in purple and green lighting during a concert to celebrate local cancer survivors, patients and caregivers. Guests enjoyed live music, glow necklaces, complimentary souvenir photos and free educational materials from MD Anderson staff who were on site to visit with attendees and join the celebration.

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(L-R): Hasana Ali, event chair Monica Riley, honoree Mable Scott Austin, Cynthia Ginyard, State Rep. Ronald Reynolds, and honoree Mose Austin embraced the evening’s nautical theme.

(L-R): Hasana Ali, event chair Monica Riley, honoree Mable Scott Austin, Cynthia Ginyard, State Rep. Ronald Reynolds, and honoree Mose Austin embraced the evening’s nautical theme.

SUBURBAN SUGAR LAND WOMEN AND PARTNERS HOLD FUNDRAISER

Suburban Sugar Land Women and Partners’ “Sail Into 28” fundraiser on July 28 was a sterling success. The purpose of the event held in Sugar Land was to acknowledge and honor Mose and Mable Austin’s long-term commitment and dedication; to raise funds for SSLW scholarships and programs; and to “Sail into 28” years of service in 2017. In keeping with that anniversary, the 50+ members, partners, and guests were asked to donate $28 or $280 or $2,800. Funds raised so far total over $3,000.

The nautical theme of the evening was apparent everywhere: the guests’ attire; decorations; and the food and beverages.

State Rep. Ronald Reynolds read a resolution congratulating Suburban Sugar Land Women on the organization’s nearly 28 years of service to Fort Bend and beyond.

Event chairs Larry and Monica Riley presented a dozen red roses to the Austins. The red rose is SSLW’s official flower, symbolizing the organization’s belief, “Love GOD first, others second, and self last.” The Rileys also gave the Austins a unique Certificate of Honorable Service thanking them for their commitment to glorify God and serve others.

SSLW also welcomed its new Phenomenal Partners: Darryl and Laverne Pilate; Ben Dixon; Earl and Sharon White; and Ronald and Jonita Reynolds.

Thanks and appreciation were offered to Vice President Monica Riley, and committee members Tonia Johnson, Etta Bell, the “Radical Rileys” (Cerina, Chirelle, Celia, CeNai and Chyla), and Monica Riley’s father, John Glover, who worked tirelessly behind to scene to make the event a success. Cerina Riley helped set up, registered guests, took photos, then cleaned and packed up.

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(L-R): Hasana Ali, event chair Monica Riley, honoree Mable Scott Austin, Cynthia Ginyard, State Rep. Ronald Reynolds, and honoree Mose Austin embraced the evening’s nautical theme.

(L-R): Hasana Ali, event chair Monica Riley, honoree Mable Scott Austin, Cynthia Ginyard, State Rep. Ronald Reynolds, and honoree Mose Austin embraced the evening’s nautical theme.

LITERACY COUNCIL OF FORT BEND COUNTY STUDENT NAMED ADULT LEARNER OF THE YEAR

A Literacy Council of Fort Bend County ESL and GED student has been named Adult Learner of the Year by Literacy Texas. Literacy Texas is a statewide literacy coalition, supporting community-based service providers through training, networking, and advocacy. Each year, providers are able to nominate an adult learner deserving of special recognition at the state level because of the outstanding work he or she is doing.

This year, the prestigious award goes out to Literacy Council student Yanle “Lele” Liu, who was chosen because of her hard work and commitment to learning. In 2012, Lele enrolled with the Literacy Council and began ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. She worked diligently, meeting in group ESL classes with volunteer tutors each week. After improving her verbal and written English proficiency, Lele began studying for her GED exam. Her GED classes emphasized math, English language arts, social studies and science instruction. After completing GED classes, Lele was matched with a 1 x 1 volunteer tutor to refine her skills before completing her exam. In 2015, after three years of hard work, she passed all sections of her GED exam.

In May 2016, Lele was a recipient of the Jan Schiff Memorial Scholarship. She opted to donate her scholarship back to the Liter­acy Council, contributing to the success of future programs.

Since obtaining her GED, Lele has enrolled in Wharton County Junior College but continues to be a resource to these students through mentorship and translation. She now volunteers to help new Literacy Council students register for classes and feel comfortable in their new learning environment. Lele was presented with an award at the Literacy Texas Annual Conference in San Marcos on Aug. 2.

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THRIVING MUNICIPAL VOLUNTEER PROGRAM OFFERS RESIDENTS A HOST OF OPPORTUNITIES

Now in its second full year, the Missouri City Municipal Volunteer Program (MVP) has grown exponentially. In the first five months of 2016, more than 60 volunteers were added to the program’s roster, and more than 2,000 volunteer hours were recorded. City Staff values the many citizen partnerships that have allowed MVP to grow and contribute to municipal operations.

Successes are evident throughout the initiative. In the Animal Shelter, the program has grown to the point where at least one volunteer is able to assist City Staff on a daily basis to help socialize shelter dogs and cats, which has led to happier, better adjusted animals, who are then easier to adopt. Volunteers in the shelter have partnered regularly with outside organizations to adopt pets in the shelter and can be frequently seen at many City and community events.

Earlier this year, the Friends of the Missouri City Animal Shelter, a nonprofit formed by shelter volunteers, raised money to purchase special UV lights that kill viruses in the shelter, which the City installed. Past collaborations have included artwork painted on the shelter’s walls for free by volunteers, and future program plans are in place to continue the expansion of the program.

For more information, contact Cory Stottlemyer at 281-403-8532. Residents can also fill out the volunteer application at missouricitytx.gov

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(L-R): Virginia Hodges, Charlotte Etgen, Mary Burger, Shirley Renfrow and Jane Thompson.

(L-R): Virginia Hodges, Charlotte Etgen, Mary Burger, Shirley Renfrow and Jane Thompson.

WCMC RECOGNIZES MEMBERS’ 30-PLUS YEARS OF SERVICE

The Woman’s Club of Missouri City (WCMC) celebrated its 60th Anniversary on May 2. Among the day’s events, the gathering honored members who have been in the organization 30 years or more with certificates of recognition.

Recipients included Mary Burger, 40-year member; Jane Thompson, 37-year member; Virginia Hodges, 36-year member; Shirley Renfrow, 33-year member; Mary Delmar Crochet, 32-year member and Charlotte Etgen, 31-year member.

The legacy of the organization and its members is to support the community through the decades with donations and good deeds that carry the baton of service forward.

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PAIR teens and chaperones at the Skeeters game.

PAIR teens and chaperones at the Skeeters game.

PAIR REFUGEE TEENS ATTEND SKEETERS GAME

The Sugar Land Skeeters and “Deacon’s Dugout” donated tickets to PAIR refugee teens to attend a baseball game on July 8, which was the first time for many of them. The teens were chaperoned by PAIR staff, volunteers and Holy Child Charity board members.

PAIR (Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees) empowers refugee youth to navigate American society, reach their academic potential, and become community leaders through educational mentoring programs. Participants who have escaped war and persecution at home, come from all over the world.

Holy Child Charity’s mission is to feed, educate and help children around the world.

Deacon’s Dugout at Constellation Field is a testament to Deacon Jones’ love for baseball and the community. A former Major League Baseball player and scout, Jones provides 16 deserving children per game (ages 4-16) the opportunity to create their own baseball memories, complete with on-field recognition, a game ticket, and refreshments through Deacon’s Dugout. The event was presented by IronMan Memorial Hermann.

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Cindy Schmidt

Cindy Schmidt

FORT BEND COUNTY FAIRNAMES INTERIM FAIR MANAGER

Cindy Schmidt has been named interim fair manager of the Fort Bend County Fair. She is a familiar face and a long-time supporter of the Fair. Schmidt and her husband, Darren, have been involved with the fair since 1990.

Schmidt said, “Darren encouraged me to join the Livestock Committee helping mostly with the commercial heifers and residue avoidance. A few others and I helped start the Freezer Sale Committee and participated there for many years. Next, it was off to the Fair Club Committee, Hospitality Committee and Decorations Committee, leading me to become a Life Member in 1996. I started working here in 2008 as the Fair’s secretary and have loved my time here ever since.”

Committee chairmen often hear from Schmidt year-round. She explained, “Preparing for the Fair is a year-long effort. When I came to work here, I felt that being involved with the Fair for so long would make it easy for me to step into place…boy was I wrong. There are so many behind the scenes things that have to happen to make this Fair run smoothly. Getting everything ordered and entered and set up doesn’t magically happen, that’s for sure.”

Schmidt stays connected through countless emails, phone calls and texts. Her requests for committee member lists, office supply needs, golf cart and radio inquiries are just a few things that she has done effortlessly in her role with the Fair.

“Cindy will be valuable as we continue to plan and prepare for the 2016 Fort Bend County Fair. We are all working on it to be the best,“ says 2016 President Neil Yelderman. The search for a permanent fair manager continues. The 2016 Fort Bend County Fair runs from Sept. 23-Oct. 2.

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Harvest Green Has Laid The Groundwork For Its Farm Club, Which Will Be Offered To Residents Later This Year.

Harvest Green Has Laid The Groundwork For Its Farm Club, Which Will Be Offered To Residents Later This Year.

HARVEST GREEN INTRODUCES RESIDENT FARM CLUB

With all the program features in place, the time is almost ripe for the launch of the Harvest Green Farm Club, one of the back-to-earth tenets of Houston’s first farm-centric community. The resident-only Farm Club gives homeowners a chance to farm a plot of land at the Village Farm, receive discounts to educational classes open to the public and attend monthly agricultural events and weekly Saturday breakfasts.

Club members will be able to grow their own produce on an approximate 18-foot by 18-foot raised, ready-to-plant bed prepared by Agmenity. Members can choose what to plant and will be responsible for maintaining the beds. Participants also will have access to provided hand tools, and sustainable amendments and fertilizers will be included in club membership. In keeping with rules of the National Organic Program, pesticides will be prohibited.

“While club members will be farming their own plots, they will have access to our farmers during designated hours to ask advice,” said Scott Snodgrass of Agmenity, which manages Harvest Green farms.

Village Farm encompasses 12 acres within Harvest Green and will include classroom space, an event area and room for a farmers market. Currently, four acres are being farmed, which includes half-acres for wine grapes, a citrus orchard and vineyard grapes.

Home prices in Harvest Green start from the $250,000s. For more information, visit harvestgreentexas.com.

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Ray Aguilar, Amy Matthews and Robert Wills.

Ray Aguilar, Amy Matthews and Robert Wills.

FORT BEND CARES NAMES NEW BOARD MEMBERS

Fort Bend Cares’ Board of Trustees recently elected three local community leaders to the board. Each will serve three year-terms that started in July. The new board members are Ray Aguilar, Amy Matthews and Robert Wills.

Aguilar is with Classic Chevrolet Sugar Land. He is heavily involved in the community, serving on multiple boards and committees, including Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels, Central Fort Bend Chamber and the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce.

Matthews has been active with the Fort Bend Cares marketing committee. She lives in Katy and is a recent graduate of the Leadership for Nonprofit Excellence class. Matthews is active in a variety of community organizations including K-9 Angels and Strut Your Mutt (2016 event director).

Wills is the General Manager of Silver Eagle Distributors in Rosenberg. He’s been involved in Fort Bend Cares since he started his position with Silver Eagle, including serving on the Golf Tournament Committee. Wills also enjoys youth sports with his children and helping Fort Bend Cares get creative.

Fort Bend Cares is a charitable foundation that has raised over $1.5 million in the past 11 years for approximately 60 different organizations that serve disadvantaged children and youth in Fort Bend County.

Visit fortbendcares.org or call 832-819-2005 for more information.


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