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Around Town May 2015

(L-R): Lee and Shirley Pruitt, honorees of the Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala, with Young Texas Artists Music Competition Chair and Executive Director Susie Pokorski, and gala co-chairs Tim and Shana Arthur.

(L-R): Lee and Shirley Pruitt, honorees of the Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala, with Young Texas Artists Music Competition Chair and Executive Director Susie Pokorski, and gala co-chairs Tim and Shana Arthur.


Susie Pokorski, chair and executive director of the Young Texas Artists Music Competition (YTA), reports that the fourth annual Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala, held March 14 in a Texas-themed tent just outside the historic Crighton Theatre in downtown Conroe, raised more than $100,000 to benefit the competition that provides career development opportunities to deserving young classical musicians.

“The success of this event helps sustain our efforts toward assisting up-and-coming classical musicians, giving them access to cash prizes and performance opportunities that they might not otherwise have,” said Pokorski.

Pokorski credits gala co-chairs Shana and Tim Arthur, the YTA committee, YTA Circle members, the Conroe Service League and generous donors, including Streater Smith Honda Nissan, Carol and Doug Aycock, and a long list of generous patrons for the successful evening. Honorees for the evening were long-time YTA supporters Shirley and Lee Pruitt.

It was Texas all the way, with Bill Mock and the Texas Fiddlers entertaining as guests mingled, danced and enjoyed Texas-style barbecue with all the Lone Star trimmings. The “Texas Forever” live auction was filled with Texas-chic items. After the gala, the Texas evening moved into the Crighton Theatre where eight finalists performed before a panel of globally connected jurists and an enthusiastic audience at the Finalists’ Concert and Awards. The celebration continued with an After-Party in the gala tent with dessert, champagne, live music, dancing and a chance to meet and greet the Young Texas Artists. For more information, visit youngtexasartists.org.



Montgomery County Youth Services recently honored community and MCYS leaders with the presentation of the 2014 Bridge Builder Awards at their annual meeting.

John Bracken, MCYS executive director, named Anthony Goulet as MCYS Staff Bridge Builder, Joyce Bolt as MCYS Volunteer Bridge Builder and BMW of The Woodlands as Community Partner Bridge Builder. The recognition was given in response to their exceptional service to Montgomery County Youth Services and the community.

Dave Waxler, MCYS counselor supervisor, recommended Goulet who serves as street outreach coordinator for the award, noting “Anthony spreads a uniquely authentic passion for the lives of youth and their families.”

Bolt volunteers for the MCYS funded “Strengthening Families” program that provides information for children on how to avoid usage of drugs, alcohol and tobac­co. She was nominated by program coordinators Jamie ParkerLinda Collins and Ana Sierra due to her “tireless volunteerism.”

Lonny Soza, general manager of BMW of The Woodlands along with BMW Community Liaison Coordinator Annabelle Carillo were recognized with the Community Partner Bridge Builder Award. Carillo serves on the MCYS Ladies Night Out, Golf Gala and Advancement committees.

The Bridge Builder Award was created to recognize those who contributed their time, talent and/or treasure to MCYS during the nomination year in a way that supports and reflects the MCYS vision of being “A Child’s Bridge from Challenges Today to Achievements Tomorrow.” For more information about MCYS, please call 936-756-8682 or visit youthmc.org.



After more than three years as a “church plant” within the United Methodist Church (UMC), Covenant United Methodist Church has made it official: on Sunday, March 1, the church’s growing membership officially chartered itself into the UMC fold.

“We are declaring a permanent presence in this community,” said Reverend Jason Burnham, founding pastor of Covenant UMC, which worships in the Village of Creekside Park in The Woodlands. “In just over 36 months of regular worship, we have reached the point of self-sufficiency with our systems, structures and stewardship. Charter Day is a day of celebration – we are the newest church in a long line of United Methodist Churches.”

Burnham, along with almost 200 members of Covenant UMC, signed the official charter rolls during last week’s service, and the congregation posed for a group picture following the service.

As a chartered church, Covenant UMC no longer is reliant on financial support from the Texas Annual Conference or its area sponsor churches – The Woodlands United Methodist Church and Christ Church Methodist.

Covenant UMC’s charter service came exactly 231 years and one day after the very first UMC church was chartered in the United States in 1784 by John Wesley.

“As much as we embrace our Methodist heritage, our roots really go back 2,000 years, to those first believers in Christ,” said Stephen Greenwade, who serves as Lay Leader of Covenant UMC. ”

In 2013, Covenant United Methodist Church outgrew its regular Sunday worship space at the Creekside YMCA and moved to a new location, Timber Creek Elementary School. The school is located at the corner of Kuykendahl and Creekside Green Dr. at 8455 Creekside Green Dr. in The Woodlands, in the Village of Creekside Park.

“Our continuous growth is an indication that we are fulfilling our vision – to be a community connected in Christ,” said Burnham.

To that end, Covenant UMC is in the process of purchasing property at the southeast corner of Kuykendahl and Creekside Green, immediately next door to its current worship site, in a deal that should be finalized later this spring.

In addition to contemporary worship services on Sundays at 10 a.m., Covenant UMC offers a vibrant, growing children’s and youth program, as well as adult small groups, mission and outreach opportunities.


(L-R): Janine Jones, WOTW; Dana Garcia, MCWC; Kelly Lindsey, WOTW; and Haley Garcia, WOTW.

(L-R): Janine Jones, WOTW; Dana Garcia, MCWC; Kelly Lindsey, WOTW; and Haley Garcia, WOTW.


The Montgomery County Women’s Center (MCWC) was spotlighted at the recent meeting of the Women of The Woodlands networking group.

The mission of Women of the Woodlands is to build relationships, create awareness and foster community. It was founded in 2011 by Janine Jones, Kelly Lindsay, Haley Garcia and Kerry O’Connor. Each meeting, the group features a charity to learn more about its work and needs in the local community.

Dana Garcia, community relations manager for MCWC, presented an informational overview sharing the nonprofit’s message and mission to more than 40 women at the Hyatt Market Street – The Woodlands, which hosted the breakfast meeting.

“We were delighted to outline the important work we provide for women who are victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault,” said Garcia. “The opportunity to educate a room full of dynamic women who are leaders in our community was priceless.”

The Montgomery County Women’s Center has been serving the needs of victims of family violence, sexual assault or abuse and stalking from Montgomery County and surrounding counties since 1982. The primary program areas in which services are provided to clients are: residential programs including emergency shelter and transitional housing; community educational outreach; legal services; domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy; and individual counseling and support groups. MCWC also offers a 24-hour crisis hotline. All services are provided at no cost with the exception of transitional housing.

For more information, call 936-441-4044 or the 24-hour crisis hotline at 936- 441-7273, or visit mcwctx.org.


(L-R): Jenny Wright, WWAF director, Allison Hulett, MOW executive director and Carolina Dalmas, artist with Woodlands Art League.

(L-R): Jenny Wright, WWAF director, Allison Hulett, MOW executive director and Carolina Dalmas, artist with Woodlands Art League.


“Woodlands Alive,” a two-panel art mural designed by Carolina Dalmas and Lauren Combs of The Woodlands Art League and painted by hundreds of guests at The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival last year, has been installed at the Meals on Wheels location at The Friendship Center’s building in The Woodlands. The collaborative creation was donated to The Friendship Center as part of The Woodlands Waterway Arts Council’s continuing program to create and share works of art with local community organizations. Every other year, a community organization is selected as the recipient for art pieces created at two consecutive Festivals.

“The art created by The Woodlands Art League at the event last year benefited our Meals on Wheels program in two very touching ways,” said Allison Hulett, executive director of The Friendship Center. “Two murals were painted at the festival for us to hang outside of our Meals on Wheels dock where the volunteers pick up meals to be delivered. Then, The Woodlands Art League supervised a children’s art area where the kids painted these beautiful little sunflower blocks for our Meals on Wheels clients. They absolutely loved them. We got a lot of thank you notes expressing gratitude for the gesture.”

Another art piece was created for Meals on Wheels at this year’s festival held April 10-12. The 2015 project is a sculpture piece, designed and created by Carolina Dalmas and Abby Salazar of The Woodlands Art League. “The piece is inspired by the work of Festival Featured Artist Sean Brown, representing the whimsical wildlife of The Woodlands,” Salazar said. “Festival goers participated in the creation by painting feathers that became part of the artwork. Each feather represents the vitality of our thriving community.”


CCRF skydiving fundraiser made the record books.

CCRF skydiving fundraiser made the record books.


Not only did leaping out of an airplane raise more than $48,000 for the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation (CCRF), but the Jump! Shout! event last September near Houston landed the 286 jumpers in the record book.

The Guinness World Records organization made it official this week, confirming that the 10,000-foot plunges into the blue at Skydive-Spaceland in Rosharon eclipsed the previous record, by five, for most tandem skydive jumps made at one location in 24 hours.

The money raised will directly support children battling cancer, along with aiding their families. Says CCRF Founder & CEO Greg Anderson, “I am extremely proud of being part of a Guinness world record. But it’s an even greater honor to meet so many people who care enough to literally jump out of an airplane to help others.”

Jump! Shout! grew out of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, with CCRF Event Manager Holly Price working with jumpers from 18 to 81 from all walks of life. Price said, “Everyone involved — jumpers, staff from Skydive Spaceland, sponsors and volunteers — all rallied together to crush this record.”

Making the jump at sunrise allowed Houston Pastor Chad Barrett to honor his daughter Kristina’s memory. She passed away earlier this year at the age of 12 from a rare form of cancer. He said, “It was my honor to participate and help other families who are enduring the same journey as my wife Melissa and me.”

Skydive Spaceland Owner and Founder Steve Boyd said, “The Guinness record means Jump! Shout! will have a place in history, and I’m excited about that. But, what has me really happy is that we introduced so many people to skydiving while flying for this fantastic cause. I’m glad we were able to help children and families going through such a difficult battle.”

Visit childrenscancerrecovery.org/jump-shout to learn more.


Dr. Ann Snyder and Bob Milner with donations to the Interfaith food pantry.

Dr. Ann Snyder and Bob Milner with donations to the Interfaith food pantry.


Sixty employees from Mercedes- Benz of The Woodlands spent $6,000 during a team-building exercise at Costco and then donated the entire purchase to the Interfaith of The Woodlands Food Pantry. Donated items included 5,524 pounds of non-perishable food, toiletries and household products. “Being a new dealership in The Woodlands, we were thrilled to be able to take a team building event and expand it into a generous community donation. I can’t thank the Mercedes-Benz team enough for their hard work and dedication to making a difference for individuals and families in need,” said Bob Milner, General Manager of Mercedes-Benz of The Woodlands.

“Interfaith is extremely grateful for the support of the employees of Mercedes-Benz of The Woodlands. This incredible donation of food and basic necessities will enable Interfaith to provide for the many families that come to us for help throughout the year,” said Dr. Ann Snyder, President and CEO of Interfaith of The Woodlands.


At MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital, Patient Trey plays with Camp For All Board Of Directors/Chair, Liz Rigney

At MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, Patient Trey plays with Camp For All Board Of Directors/Chair, Liz Rigney


Camp For All and MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital recently teamed to bring the best of Camp For All ‘s outdoor camp experience indoors to Children’s Cancer Hospital inpatients and their siblings. Patients and family were able to enjoy activities such as zip lining, archery, canoeing, singing, dancing, telling stories around a mock camp fire, making s’mores and even throwing a pie at their doctors.

The camp experience gave the inpatients an opportunity to learn and build life skill sets such as independence, decision making, and problem solving. More than 100 MD Anderson inpatients and their siblings enjoyed the camp.

Camp For All helps children and adults with special needs and challenging illnesses discover life through learning what they can do, not what they can’t. The organization is recognized as a national leader for creating and providing life-changing experiences through its passionate staff, cutting-edge facilities and innovative programming.

Working in collaboration with 63 other non-profits, Camp For All enriches the lives of more than 10,000 children and adults and their families throughout the year. For more information, visit campforall.org.


Greg B. Anderson, founder and CEO of Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, presents a check to Eugenie Kleinerman, M.D., professor of pediatrics and cancer biology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Greg B. Anderson, founder and CEO of Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, presents a check to Eugenie Kleinerman, M.D., professor of pediatrics and cancer biology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.


Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation has contributed $100,000 to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in support of Bright IDEAS, a research-based intervention program offering online and face-to-face support for parents of children experiencing depression and anxiety following cancer diagnosis. Founder and CEO Greg B. Anderson recently presented the donation to fund the program’s online implementation at MD Anderson, which is piloting the program through a multicentric study.

“Dealing with a child’s cancer diagnosis is heartbreaking for a parent,” said Anderson. “We are honored and grateful to be in a position to support this vital initiative, as we know how critical the parent’s role is to a child’s experience with this disease.”

This past spring, the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health designated Bright IDEAS as a Research-Tested Intervention Program and included it in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. In studies with more than 900 mothers, including more than 125 monolingual Spanish-speaking mothers, Bright IDEAS has helped to significantly decrease the mothers’ distress.

“We provide psychosocial support to the parents of children newly diagnosed with cancer, because beginning cancer treatment is challenging both emotionally and logistically for families,” said Martha Askins, Ph.D., associate professor in Pediatrics – Patient Care at MD Anderson. “The PSST program is aimed at reducing parents’ stress, which in turn puts the children more at ease and helps them feel assured as they begin treatment.”

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