Volume IV of The Book The Woodlands

We are excited to introduce the 6th Issue of The Book The Woodlands!

The new cover of The Book and new companion The Wish Guide were unveiled last night at the exclusive launch party. A heartfelt thank you to our presenting sponsor, Jasper’s for the amazing food and hospitality, and our event host, Market Street for the fantastic site! We are truly grateful to all of the Ad Partners and guests that joined us to celebrate this beautiful publication that provides funding for Interfaith’s many programs and services. Be on the lookout for your copy of The Book which will be arriving in mailboxes within the next week.

Moving Forward – Overcoming Grief and Making a Positive Difference

Coping with the death of a loved one is undeniably traumatic, but when a woman loses her husband, the grief can be intensified by the fear of facing life alone. The Woodlands Modern Widows Club (MWC) has been formed to bring widows together to offer support and friendship during the most difficult time of their lives. The members’ shared experience of loss links them together as they lean on each other to try to come to terms with their grief and navigate their way through a new way of life.

The MWC is a national organization, founded in 2011, with chapters all over the US. The Woodlands chapter was founded in 2016 by Cindy Wilson, following the untimely death of her husband in October 2015. Through her own heartbreak, Cindy felt impelled to establish a group for widows in the Woodlands and surrounding areas.

“I help widows understand their new life and teach them how to survive,” explains Cindy, MWC Woodlands Area Chapter Leader. “We are not ‘grief support’ in so much as we are LIFE support; we focus on moving forward. The MWC lets widows know they are not alone in their grief and that we are here for them with friendship, connection, understanding and support.”

Cindy describes the MWC as a ‘tribe and a sisterhood’ and credits the group for helping her cope with the difficult days and months since her husband’s passing. “We aim to help every widow move forward and we know it takes a lot of energy to be able to do that, so our aim is to help make life a little easier.”

Ed Eason, Lead Guitarist for Carrie Underwood, together with a group of young widows including Ellie and National Leader and Founder Carolyn Moor at the Carrie Underwood concert in Houston.

The average age of widows in the United States is just 54 years old. The MWC welcomes widows of all ages whose lives are inextricably linked. One such inspiring connection was formed between two widows who were drawn together through the Woodlands MWC. Despite being generations apart, Nancy Beyer and Ellie Dawid had both suffered the catastrophic loss of their husbands and had reached out to the MWC to find their way through life again.

Ellie was mourning the loss of her husband Mike who died in an unthinkable tragedy in 2016, a workplace shooting. Their son Noah was just 2 years old when his father died. Ellie was left a widow at just 34 years old. Ellie explains what life was like for her after her sudden and heartbreaking loss. “I was in a fog just trying to survive,” she says. “I had no choice but to keep going.” After the first year, Ellie says the fog started to lift a little and she realized she needed to find people who could relate to what she was going through. “When I came across the MWC, I immediately liked that they were about empowering other widows and helping us lean into the new life we had no choice but to be living.”

A widow in her 60s, Nancy lost her husband 4 years ago and was also seeking support and friendship to be able to get to grips with her new reality. “After a year of grief counseling through my church, I needed to find a group that focused more on moving forward,” explains Nancy. “I wanted to live my life with the same zest and commitment that I had when I was part of a couple.” Nancy had an immediate connection with the women in the MWC and says Ellie, in particular, inspires her to keep pushing forward to live a full and meaningful life. “Ellie and I are decades apart in age, yet we have such a strong connection. She pushes me to be more resilient and that’s really beneficial to me.”

One of the many things the MWC has taught Nancy since finding herself widowed at 64, is the realization that her grief, although crushing, does not define her. “I have had to redefine myself and thanks to Ellie I have learned that I can still have the exuberance for life that she has.” Nancy and her late husband led a full and productive life together, owning a successful construction company. Nancy felt a fundamental desire to continue to contribute to society and that desire came to reality following a chat with Ellie about her studies at the University of Houston.

Both women have a strong affinity with the campus, with Ellie’s late husband Mike having graduated from the University. It’s a place that also means so much to Nancy’s family. “I was looking for ways to contribute and as soon as Ellie started talking about her studies at the University of Houston and her husband’s connection with the School, I knew immediately what I was going to do.”

Nancy found herself honoring the MWC’s Mission Statement to ‘empower widows to lean into life, build resilience and make a positive difference in society.’ Thanks to Nancy’s philanthropic gesture, Ellie now has full funding for her college degree, paying homage to her husband’s memory. “It’s so enriching to be able to help change someone’s life,” says Nancy. “Ellie deserves nothing but love and success and I am honored to be a part of her journey.”

Modern Widows Club members attending the Carrie Underwood concert

Ellie is currently studying full time for a BA in Psychology. She hopes to continue her studies for a Master’s in Psychology. “I’d like to specialize in grief counseling and my goal is to become a psychologist to help kids like our son who have lost a loved one,” says Ellie. “The MWC is such a wonderful group of women and Nancy and Cindy have been so incredibly encouraging.”

The Modern Widows Club Woodlands Chapter meets monthly at the Canopy Survivor Center in the Woodland’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. As well as offering friendship and support, the group hosts guest speakers who deliver talks on a range of relevant subjects including self-defense and legal issues such as dealing with wills. The group also meets regularly on a social basis.

For further information and contact details, visit:
www.modernwidowsclub.com/chapters/woodlands-area-chapter/

The Woodlands Christian Academy (TWCA) Dedicates New State-of-the-Art Micah Academic Center

The Woodlands Christian Academy (TWCA) held a dedication ceremony for their new high school building last Friday, September 27, 2019. Named The Micah Academic Center, the 63,000 square foot building is the 6th academic space on the school’s 40-acre campus. U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady and Dr. Dave Anderson, President of the Grace School of Theology and TWCA founding member, shared remarks after Head of School, Mrs. Julie Ambler, opened the brief ceremony with a prayer. A longtime supporter of the school, Congressman Brady said, “The Woodlands Christian Academy has a reputation for exceptional academics in science, technology, engineering, art, and math. I trust this new campus will enable you to continue that tradition and continue to serve as an excellent academic foundation for the youth of our community.”

Following the remarks, Gill Staley, CEO of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership assisted J.J. Hollie, President & CEO of the Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce with an official ribbon-cutting.

In addition to the state-of-the-art science and STEM laboratories, MakerSpace, art studio and gallery, fully equipped auditorium and lecture hall, and 22 classrooms, The Micah Academic Center will be able to accommodate the school’s growing student population.

The Woodlands Christian Academy is a PreK – 12th grade college preparatory school that integrates learning with biblical faith and challenges students to reach their highest potential – spiritually, academically, physically and socially. For more information visit twca.net.

How Good Nutrition Slows Cognitive Decline

Your brain needs a variety of nutrients in order to develop and function properly. Almost everything you consume will directly or indirectly affect your brain. There is much evidence to suggest that what we do for the brain now can have a big impact on how it functions in the years, even decades, to come. A healthy diet has the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. Thereby delaying or protecting against age-related cognitive decline. Nutrition gives the brain the tools and building blocks it needs to perform vital actions like thinking, making memories, and repairing cell damage.

In order to be sure your brain has all the nutrients it needs to work properly, eat a wide variety of whole foods. This includes good sources of protein, lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, and other sources of healthy fats. A healthy diet that is low in fat and high in essential nutrients reduces the risk of memory loss, helps prevent strokes and boosts alertness.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
The healthy fats, omega-3s and omega-6s, found in salmon, walnuts and kiwi fruit, provide many benefits. This includes improving learning and memory and helping to fight against such cognitive disorders such as dementia. Omega fatty acids are essential building blocks for the cell membrane of brain cells. They seem to reduce inflammation in the brain, as well as warding off the cognitive decline that often comes with age.


B VITAMINS
The B vitamins, particularly B12, B6, and Folate (B9), are critical for the cellular energy metabolism in the brain. B12 is important for a cell process called methylation, a basic chemical process that all cells, including brain cells, require to thrive. B12 also protects against age-related atrophy of brain cells and against damage to the brain’s white matter, which allows brain cells to communicate with each other. Without enough B12 in the brain, memory impairment sets in and gradually gets worse, leading to dementia. You can find Vitamin B6 in the highest quantities in potatoes, bananas, chickpeas, and oatmeal. You can find Folate in leafy greens, citrus fruits, peas, and beans.


PHYTOCHEMICALS/FLAVONOIDS
Phytochemicals are chemicals derived from plant sources that may help your memory. There are a number of types of phytochemicals. However, a key group that often acts as antioxidants is the flavonoids. You can find it in plant-derived foods like blueberries, apples, citrus fruits, and black and green tea. These compounds provide a multitude of health benefits to the body and brain. In addition, they play important roles in repairing damage in the brain by increasing levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce damage to cells in the brain.

ANTIOXIDANTS
The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative damage. Antioxidants and essential fatty acids help to protect your brain cells from everyday damage and age-related decline. Some studies have found that extracts from blueberries, strawberries, spinach, and blackberries have a strong antioxidant capacity. They may reverse the normal cognitive changes and memory problems that accompany the aging process.

CURCUMIN
Another type of flavonoid is a compound you may not have heard of, curcumin. You can find it in a common Indian spice and offers protection to the aging brain. Curcumin, nicknamed “The Spice of Mental Life”, is from the root of the tumeric plant. It benefits the brain by providing protection against neurological disorders. As an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-amyloidal agent, curcumin can improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.


VITAMIN D
In addition to supporting bone health, vitamin D serves important functions in brain health. It is thought to protect the brain against cognitive deficits that come with age. Vitamin D also influences certain proteins that help in neuron growth and development and is involved in many other important aspects of brain function like synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory.

The best way to preserve our mental health in the future is to nourish our brains in the present. How we eat now can dramatically affect our brains. More and more evidence shows that people who maintain good nutrition throughout life have less risk for cognitive decline and other brain diseases as they age. It’s never too late to reverse some of the effects of poor nutrition. Also, the choices you make today will influence your body and brain in years to come. This shows that changes in diet can enhance cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging.

At Avanti Senior Living, the Avanti Green Kitchen offers meals with no grease or oil and no fried food. Meals include the freshest ingredients, no pre-made foods, taking into account the requests of the community. Find out more on the Avanti blog at: https://www.avanti-sl.com/

Content provided by Avanti Senior Living

Coffee Lovers Rejoice as New Coffeehouse Set to Open in Creekside

An equal love of coffee and spending time with friends and neighbors is the inspiration behind the new venture, Lovebeans Coffeehouse and Café, coming soon to Creekside Park.

Owned and operated by Beth Ferester & Company, one of the Woodlands most successful real estate firms, Lovebeans will give Woodlands residents a unique twist on their morning cup of joe.

Beth, along with her son Ryan at the helm, will bring their very own brand of coffee from Costa Rica to the Woodlands, when the coffeehouse opens early next month in the Crossroads Square shopping center, located just off Creekside Forest Drive.

“We were running our new Creekside office when we realized that the space next door had become available,” explains Beth, who has lived in the Woodlands for over 30 years and has seen first-hand the area’s exponential development over the last three decades.

“We love living and working in these beautiful surroundings and we treasure the sense of community here so we decided this would be the perfect opportunity to bring a coffee shop to the area.”

With the vision of creating a gathering place where friends and neighbors can meet in a casual, friendly setting, Lovebeans Coffeehouse was born.

“Lovebeans is coffeehouse eclectic with a splash of homegrown charm,” says Beth.

With a large indoor seating area as well as dedicated outdoor seating, the café will offer Woodlands residents a modern, yet warm and welcoming place to catch up, all while giving back to the local community.

Rustika Bakery will be supplying a variety of these lovely pastries for Lovebeans

By hosting regular events to support local charities, Lovebeans will serve as so much more than a coffeehouse; it is a venture that will benefit many people in the area.

“With a strong sense of community comes a strong desire to give something back,” continues Beth.

“We will be linking up with a number of local charities to host monthly events, as well as providing job and training opportunities for young adults in the Angel Reach program who may not otherwise be given the opportunity to work.”

How The Lovebeans Story Began

The initial concept for Lovebeans goes as far back as the late nineties when Beth’s son, Ryan Ferester, ran a small Zen Café in Costa Rica. During his time there, Ryan created an organic vegan chocolate spread. The spread became so popular that he decided to bring it to the American market under the name Love Bean Fudge Spread. The product can be found on the shelves of many natural food retailers, including Whole Foods.

The raw chocolate spread will be the flagship product on the shelves of Lovebeans Coffeehouse, with profits also going to local charities.

As well as a daily caffeine fix, Lovebeans will sell a wide choice of sandwiches and a range of delicious pastries from the renowned Rustika’s Café & Bakery in downtown Houston. The menu will also feature a selection of wine and beer.

And not to worry tea lovers – Lovebeans will be selling loose leaf TEEMA Teas from Thailand, with profits from each cup going back to the women who helped create the tea.

Catering to all tastes and food preferences, the café will have kid-friendly options with healthy breakfast choices, from overnight oats to nutrient-packed drinks, to kick start your family’s day.

“The Lovebeans menu will be constantly evolving and we will be doing our utmost to serve up seasonal, fresh, healthy food daily with plates to please every palate,” says Beth.

“We want Lovebeans to be a place where people love to gather with their friends and families and where they want to keep on coming back.”

Lovebeans Coffeehouse and Café will be ready to welcome its first customers in September 2019.

Web links:

lovebeanscoffeehouse.com

ferester.com

rustikacafe.com

teemateas.com

angelreach.org

 

Author: Jennifer Taylor

Jennifer Taylor joins the writing team at Interfaith following a career in journalism and public relations. Originally from Scotland, Jennifer moved to the Woodlands in 2012 having lived and worked in Asia for 5 years. She enjoys running, traveling and spending time with her husband and their two boys.

 

The John Cooper School Develops Global Thinkers with Experience in Spain

The John Cooper School offers its students experiential learning opportunities during the summer.  This year 14 students and 2 faculty members traveled through the south of Spain, exploring the cities of Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Seville, Gibraltar, and Cordoba.  The purpose of the trip was to focus on global perspectives; it was designed to move students through awareness, understanding, appreciation, interaction, and experience in a foreign country and immersion in Spanish culture. The objective was to develop global thinking by learning social-mindedness, politics, environment, ecology, technology, economy, and culture. This learning happened by visiting historical sites, attending courses with instructors from the University of Seville, engaging in service, and living with a local family.

Sevilla

Upon arrival in Madrid the group travel to Toledo, the city of “Three Cultures” (Muslim, Jewish and Catholic), and stayed within the historical city walls. They visited the Cathedral, one of the most prominent Gothic buildings in Europe also home to El Greco’s masterpiece The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.

They traveled through Castilla la Mancha, with vast fields of sunflowers and scene of many of the adventures of Cervante’s Don Quixote. In Jaen, they saw expansive olive orchards where one of Spain’s main sources of income, olive oil, is produced. They even sampled chocolate produced with this golden treasure.

Gibraltar

In Granada, they were able to appreciate the beautiful Moorish architecture of the Alhambra and experience the diverse mix of cultures that coexist along its beautiful narrow streets. The group also engaged in a service project with senior citizens.  Each member of the group was paired with a senior who guided the student through the city, sharing stories about where they grew up, pointing out their favorite place for treats, as well as detailing historical events that have occurred during their lifetime.

During the five day stay in Seville, the students lived with an Andalusian family, sharing meals and family dynamics.  They attended cultural and culinary classes where they learned the history of Flamenco, how to cook paella and sample traditional tapas and “merienda”.

Cooking Paella

 

The group then traveled south to Gibraltar, part of the United Kingdom, and experienced crossing the border as most of its inhabitants do on a daily basis to commute to and from work. From the highest point in Gibraltar they were able to see the African shore of Morocco and visited with the famous Barbary macaques, an endangered species of monkeys at the Upper Rock nature reserve, where they also explored its cave full of impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations.

In Madrid, the group visited the Royal Palace, the Prado and Reina Sofia museums. They admired Picasso’s masterpiece “Guernica” and learned of its symbolism and history, other surrealists’ works from Dali and Miró captured their interest as well.

Plaza Mayor Madrid

Throughout the journey the students communicated in Spanish, engaging in conversation and making inquiries to their tour guides.  The group made 3D videos which will allow classmates to share their experience and enhance their learning through the use of this innovative technology.  In this way, the Cooper community as a whole will benefit from this experiential learning adventure.

Sevilla waiting for the bus

Royal Palace Madrid

Service in Granada

Classes

Introducing the Exclusive The Book The Woodlands Wish Guide

The Book The Woodlands is excited to announce that The Wish Guide, a chic, new companion publication of The Book will arrive in mailboxes this year WITH The Book The Woodlands!
The Wish Guide will resemble the beauty and sophistication of The Book with a thick matte cover and pages but in a more petite 7” X 10” size. The Book The Woodlands focuses on the people, businesses, and organizations that make The Woodlands an exceptional community while The Wish Guide will highlight unique local gift, dining and catering offerings available in The Woodlands to help you with your Holiday gift giving and entertaining.

Designed like a high-end department store look-book, the pictorial ads of must-have products and packages, engaging festive articles and community events calendar will make The Wish Guide an irreplaceable resource during the busy Holiday Season. Perfect to peruse again and again and durable enough to withstand sharing with friends, family, and guests. It is sure to find it’s rightful place on your coffee table during the Holidays with The Book TheWoodlands.

The Wish Guide will be direct mailed to area homes in The Woodlands as well as distributed in high-visibility locations throughout the area including Market Street and local hotels, reaching over 100,000 influencers locally.

The goal of The Wish Guide, as with all of the publications of Interfaith, is to raise money to serve our neighbors in need. Last year, with the help of our generous ad partners, Interfaith was able to serve over 8,000 individuals through the Holiday Giving program. “As our community needs rise, we at Interfaith continue to seek ways to build sustainability and grow revenue to provide the programs and services necessary to assist our neighboring families and seniors in crisis,” said Missy Herndon, President & CEO. “Through ad partnerships, businesses market their services and products, and fully fund the publishing of both The Book The Woodlands and now The Wish Guide. In turn, all proceeds of these publications fund Interfaith’s programs and services. We are so grateful to be in a community that cares.”

If you know of a business or event that should be considered for inclusion in The Wish Guide, please contact cmogler@woodlandsinterfaith.org

The Woodlands Christian Academy Students Build Relationships Abroad

On July 8, 2019, high school students ranging from rising 9th graders to recent graduates of The Woodlands Christian Academy set out on a mission trip to Ecuador. Woodlands Christian strives to raise servant leaders who impact the world. This marks the eighth year Woodlands Christian has partnered with Kairos church in the small town of Puyo. Twelve of 27 students on the trip were returning members, eager to reunite with the friends and families they met in previous years.

Woodlands Christian students first landed in Quito, Ecuador before taking a long bus ride to the small town of Puyo, located in the hot and thick Amazon jungle. The remote Puyo community of 60,000 is predominantly poor, living on $1-3 a day. With spotty electricity and no indoor plumbing, most students had never come face-to-face with such poverty; some experienced culture shock.

Woodlands Christian is the only ministry team to partner with Kairos church, a small, missions-minded church that means “God’s timing,” in Greek. Woodlands Christian supports Kairos church by carrying out service projects, providing supplies and hosting vacation Bible school. Additionally, Woodlands Christian supports Kairos in reaching out to 15 other remote churches deep in the Amazon, some only accessible by dirt roads or canoe. On this trip, the missions team traveled to Pakisha, a small town of approximately 50 people. The Huaorani tribe they ministered to is the same tribe that killed missionaries Jim Elliot and Nate Saint in the 1950s.

The theme for the mission trip was “people over projects.” Students went in with the understanding that building relationships with people is more important than completing projects or accomplishing tasks on a to-do list. Students and faculty went so far as to not use their cell phones for two days in order to focus on interacting and engaging with others. Ultimately, building relationships with the people and with each other made the most impact on the high school students, more than any good work they contributed.

Leaving the comforts and convenience of home, Woodlands Christian students were stretched culturally, economically, and spiritually. Their attitudes changed from being self-serving to serving others. The trip concluded with students saying it was, “life-changing.” The hope is that these newly transformed students will take this energy and channel it into the new school year as they lead chapel and small groups.

 

*Content provided by The Woodlands Christian Academy ad partner in The Book The Woodlands

The Woodlands High School Youths “Summer Swish” in Italy

Four years ago an idea was formed by the assistant coach, David D’Allesandro, to organize a youth basketball tournament in Chieti, Italy. Raised in Chieti since he was 10 years old and then moving to The Woodlands in 2014, David would frequently get asked questions about US basketball and the differences with Italy. “I thought it would be nice for them to see with their own eyes. Bringing the two worlds together – what a better way than sports and teenagers?”

Houston Swish was formed alongside head coach Ferdinand “Yogi” Williams, a ten-year veteran coach from Phoenix, AZ including surrounding Houston areas. The next few months practices were held twice a week at Crossroads Church in Magnolia with AAU tournaments played in between. When asked about their preparation Yogi said, “These young men have displayed tremendous passion, intensity and dedication during the previous 3 months of skills training, conditioning, practices, scrimmages and games to prepare for this trip. No matter the size, athleticism or skill of our opponents these young men play together and execute a winning strategy because they believe in each other.”

On June 13th, the team was en route to Italy and within 24hrs of touching down they were off playing their first game. “This opportunity to travel abroad to Italy and experience basketball in a different environment with different rules, different languages and challenges was a priceless experience. I expected this trip to be a lifetime memory, but it also empowered these young men to overcome adversity, maximize their potential,” said Yogi, who then noted perhaps one of these boys may be inspired to play or coach basketball beyond high school.

Their two weeks abroad included more practices and scrimmages, but there was plenty of relaxing on the beach and exploring the beautiful town of Chieti. Chieti is amongst the ancient of Italian cities, situated in the Abruzzo region, a few kilometers away from the Adriatic Sea with the Majella and Gran Sasso mountains in the background. According to mythological legends, the city was founded in 1181 BC by the Homeric Greek hero Achilles and was named in honor of his mother, Thetis. It was called Theate.

When the captain of the team was asked to share his favorite experience about this trip, Federico D’Allesandro a sophomore at The Woodlands High School responded, “Since we moved to The Woodlands I felt like I belonged to two different and separate worlds. My Italian friends and then my friends from the US. It was amazing to see how quickly and easily these “worlds” merged together though! I was also very happy that there were true connections made between my two groups of friends. I have a feeling these two groups will be seeing each other again.”

Market Street 4th of July Festivities

Market Street has completed a property-wide renovation of the award-winning shopping, dining, and entertainment destination. The project took eight months to complete and focused on Market Street’s Central Park. Retailers and shoppers alike are in for a truly unique experience with the new changes!

Photography by Robert Harrington

Natural Grass in Central Park was replaced with weather-resistant and ecologically sustainable synthetic turf in order to better suit year-round festivities and events. New comfortable seating, charming pergolas, eye-catching lighting systems, and an interactive water deck have also all been added for a memorable experience.

Some other exciting changes include enhanced landscaped pedestrian walkways, contemporary parking, traffic management improvements, and relaxation areas. The restrooms have been completely renovated and water bottle fill stations have been added in order to better serve guests’ needs.

Kathleen O. Ryan Fine Art Photography

Market street completed all of its construction just in time to host the 44th South Montgomery County 4th of July Parade, ensuring a magical celebration for our community. On Independence Day Market Street will be hosting the popular patriotic tradition, which will feature marching bands, parade floats, and local dignitaries. The parade will kick off at 9:00 a.m., but red, white, and blue activities will not stop there! Adrian Michael will be entertaining with live music from 6:00-8: 00 p.m. in Central Park.

Kathleen O. Ryan Fine Art Photography

The 44th Annual South Montgomery County 4th of July Parade will be led by Grand Marshall and local philanthropist Christine Clinkenbeard as well as Grand Marshall Lt. Commander Charles Michael Abell. The audience will be able to enjoy retired U.S. Navy marching bands, high school marching bands, various military branches, fire engines, horses, and impressive floats. It will be a family-friendly festivity where everyone can celebrate our great nation and community; come out and enjoy!

Kathleen O. Ryan Fine Art Photography

Kathleen O. Ryan Fine Art Photography

 

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