About Lucy Gomez

Lucy Gomez is the Vice President of Programs at Interfaith of The Woodlands, with over a decade of experience in nonprofit social services. She has a passion for serving those in need and is honored to inspire others to serve throughout our community.

In the Pink

In The Pink of Health was created as an event that focuses on women’s health issues as part of the Memorial Hermann Foundation whose mission is to raise funds through philanthropic initiatives and planned giving campaigns in order to meet the ever-growing healthcare needs in the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System particularly here in Montgomery County. Ann Wolford, who coordinated the original event and still serves on the event planning committee shares, “In The Pink’s original goal was to raise awareness about women’s health issues because women are often the primary healthcare decision-makers for their families. The goal was to bring awareness and education focused on health issues women often faced including hormone treatments and breast cancer while raising funds to support local programs.” However, by the fourth year, the Memorial Hermann Foundation staff and In The Pink committee members realigned the event’s mission to focus solely on the prevention, diagnostic testing and treatment of breast and ovarian cancers with funds raised to support those efforts.


Today, In The Pink luncheon has grown into one of the largest and most generous fundraising events in our community by providing $450,000 last year to nonprofits serving Montgomery County residents. Local nonprofits continue to provide services and programming such as free mammograms, diagnostic mammograms, ultrasounds, breast cancer educational programs, cancer survivorship programs such as art therapy and yoga and services like wig fittings and prosthetics for patients in treatment. Past nonprofit recipients have included: Canopy Cancer Survivorship Center, Interfaith Community Clinic, Memorial Hermann Breast Cancer Center, The Rose, Ovarcome and the Judith L. Robinson Foundation. “One of the most generous aspects of In The Pink Luncheon is that the money raised stays here in our community to help our neighbors in the midst of a health crisis or in our case provide access to care for the uninsured women with educational information and free screenings for early detection,” shared Missy Herndon, President & CEO of Interfaith Community Clinic.

 

Each year, a committee of community leaders and volunteers set out to create an inspiring and fun event that showcases the spirit of generosity unique to The Woodlands area. Event highlights include an enormous silent and live auction, boutique, local speakers that share their stories of survival and keynote speakers providing inspiration and hope to attendees contributing to the ongoing fight against breast and ovarian cancers. Past speakers include Olympic Gold Medalist, Scott Hamilton, Good Morning America’s Amy Robach and TV Host, Samantha Harris. This year’s committee co-chairs, Debra Cooper and Dee Gelsomini have led an amazing group of women in coordinating the 19th anniversary luncheon. Gelsomini states, “I attended the luncheon for several years, but when my best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, I wanted to do more. I witnessed the challenges patients and their families face and I am committed to doing what I can to help them through those tough times.”


Furthermore, Linda Nelson, Business Development & Regional Marketing Director shares her reflection on the impact of this amazing event, “Memorial Hermann’s In the Pink of Health Luncheon celebrates its 19th year raising funds and has distributed over $5.5 million in the fight against breast and ovarian cancers. I’ve been a part of the committee since its inception and I’ve seen this educational and inspirational event grow year over year. We’ve helped see that cancer is not only detected earlier and that the community is educated, but also helped support cancer survivors through the free Canopy Cancer Survivorship Center at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center.” The 19th anniversary luncheon will not disappoint this year with guest speaker, Rick Rigsby, author of Afraid to Hope and also a former Texas A&M professor and chaplain for the Aggie Football team. In the Pink of Health was held at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott on Friday, October 18, 2019.

Faiths Together

FaithsTogether is a group of community members and leaders that seeks to promote unity within The Woodlands while celebrating religious differences through respectful dialogue. Created in response to social injustice concerns, a group of concerned individuals from various faith communities came together to discuss how best to address these important issues. FaithsTogether was formed with the leadership of Reverend Charles Hendricks of The Woodlands Presbyterian Church, Rabbi James Brandt of Congregation Beth Shalom and representatives of twelve other faith communities, including Hindu Community, Unity Christian Truth Center, Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church, Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church, Northwoods Unitarian Universalist, Christ Church United Methodist, All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church and Lord of Life Lutheran Church.

FaithsTogether’s founding mission defines the group as “a fellowship of religious communities, which honors spiritual diversity by building relationships and understanding among people of different faiths.” The original committee decided that the best way to initiate unity in our community was to coordinate an event in the month of November around the idea of thankfulness. The first Giving Thanks Observance was held in the same year, hosted by The Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church. According to Reverend Charles Hendricks, the church’s lead pastor at the time, Mr. George Mitchell was in attendance and commented that “this is what The Woodlands should be.”

Since then, the annual Observance has rotated to different faith communities each year, with annual themes such as “Healing Our Lives,” “We are Neighbors,” “Getting to Know You—We Are Once in Community” and “Celebrating Faith and Friends.” Current committee member Sherri Duchin shared, “One of my personal favorite programs was when we looked at the role of our religious faiths in life cycle events such as birth, coming of age, weddings and funerals. We hosted this observance at Congregation Beth Shalom, and the Hindu community walked the audience through a Hindu wedding that was meaningful, colorful and musical!”

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Giving Thanks Observance, and FaithsTogether will mark this special occasion by returning to the original location at The Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church. The annual Giving Thanks Observance is a beautiful time of fellowship and celebrating the human spirit, and it is proof that people of different faiths can worship together. The opening of each observance is special in its own right: after a welcome from the hosting clergy, the “shofar” is sounded, a ram’s horn that is often used in Judaism to stir one’s conscience; the Islamic call to prayer is recited in its distinctive rhythmic and lyrical verse; and the “shankha,” or conch shell, is blown to symbolize the sacred syllable Om in Hinduism.

Having experienced the Observances myself, I can attest that these three actions of faith really create an atmosphere of worship and unity, and they set the stage for a parade of faith expressions among people with a common conviction to understand and love their neighbors. During the Observance, each faith practice performs or presents something significant to their faith at the time, but some of the most special performances are the inter-religious presentations like a youth choir or skit. Witnessing the next generation embracing faith traditions other than their own, in an expression of loving tolerance and respect for their peers, is a reminder of why The Woodlands is such a unique community. Carol East, Founder and current committee member of FaithsTogether, shared her favorite moment of the annual observance: “My most meaningful memories of . . . FaithsTogether’s [Giving Thanks Observance] have occurred at every gathering for 19 years. While sitting in the midst of a group representing at least 13 faith communities, I sensed and personally experienced overwhelming, palpable feelings of joy, acceptance, respect and unconditional love among everyone present.”

More recently, FaithsTogether has tried to enhance interfaith dialogue and relationship building beyond the annual Observance. Jan Chapell, current committee member, stated, “The value of building relationships with people outside of your faith opens the door for comfortable conversations.” Last year, all the youth religious leaders in the community, as well as youth from their faith communities, came together for a night of fellowship. Some other inter-faith events have included members of FaithsTogether lecturing for a World Religion class for Lone Star College’s Life Long Learning Academy each year. They have also invited faith communities to serve the community together in different ways. One way they do this is to volunteer together. For example, they have volunteered the past two years for a Montgomery County Food Fair, a mobile food panty held at Woodforest Stadium. A dinner dialogue was held in 2016 at a committee member’s home, where 40 guests were invited to share a meal and part take in and lead Islamic conversation with their neighbors from other faith practices.

The 20th annual Giving Thanks Observance will be held Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 7 p.m. at The Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church, and you are personally invited to come and experience the wonder and beauty of this unique event.

If you would like to learn more about FaithsTogether, please email Sherri Duchin at faithstogetherthewoodlands@gmail.com