Emerging Sports: Rugby

Rugby, which is highly popular internationally and on both coasts in the United States has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity in The Woodlands area. Rugby began in The Woodlands at the YMCA in 2002-2003 as a touch program. Frank Rizzo, the current Head Coach of The Woodlands High School Boys Team, had two boys who participated in that early program. After a few years, the boys wanted to take the sport to the next level and incorporate tackle into the game, which resulted in the formation of The Woodlands Rugby Club in 2005-2006. At that time, there weren’t many teams in Texas (only about 4 programs) so finding teams to play was a challenge and always involved commuting to scrimmage and play in tournaments.  A stark contrast to 2019 in Texas which included 18 youth teams (K- 8th grade), 24 high school girls’ teams and 32 high school boys’ teams (both junior varsity and varsity). 

3rd-4th Grade

Development and Growth 

The Woodlands Rugby program has experienced remarkable growth (from 100 kids in 2016 to 300 kids in 2019) and the success of the program (an all volunteer-run organization) is attributable to a multitude of factors.  

Two years ago, when the President of the board stepped down and the head coach left to take a coaching job for a professional rugby team, a new board was elected. The highly active board members serve three-year terms and voluntarily invest up to 30-40 hours per week in their role during the season. The new board members got right to work with a focus on uniting the boys’ and girls’ teams. The following year, they expanded the program as well as created a new logo and mascot. Their efforts are paying off, not only in the win category, but also in their efforts to secure sponsors, in the college recruitment of players, and the size and domination of The Woodlands Rugby teams.  

According to Charlotte “Charlie” Hopkins, President of The Woodlands Rugby Board, Head Coach Frank Rizzo is the key, “Frank is the reason why The Woodlands Rugby Team works. He is the reason we have been so successful. He is an unbelievable coach.” Frank Rizzo, a California transplant, was literally pulled into a college rugby game by the UC Irvine coach while in attendance at a game. He went on to play for UC Santa Barbara and Select Side Rugby when he received a call from New Zealand to play internationally. His rugby career involved play and experiences that took him all over the world from Australia to England. He is very thankful for the opportunities, friendships and perspective afforded to him through the world of rugby and enjoys sharing his love for the sport with the next generation. 

5th-6th Grade

Safety 

Another reason for the significant growth in the number of rugby participants in The Woodlands and across the country is the safety factor. Although many people tend to think of rugby, because it is a contact sport, as dangerous, it is considerably safer than football and there are surprisingly few injuries. As a result, many athletes are migrating from football and other contact sports to rugby. Coach Rizzo stated, “Rugby players aren’t getting concussions. In rugby you have to wrap them up. In football, all you have to do is deliver a blow.” Hopkins adds, “Safety is our #1 priority. We want our children to be safe.” The coaches will not allow kids to play in the games until they feel comfortable. The coaches have even been known to stop games if they felt it was getting too rough. According to Hopkins, in a survey of the parents last year, the feedback indicated that 99% of the parents felt that their children were being kept safe. 

Community 

The large expat community in The Woodlands also has contributed to the popularity of the sport in the area. The international community in The Woodlands makes the rugby team very diverse and is one of the aspects that many parents appreciate about the team. Not everyone can live and travel abroad, but because of having teammates from all over the world, their children are able to experience and develop friendships with individuals from other cultures.  

Finally, the amazing facilities and parks available in The Woodlands set the locale and team apart from other areas. The Come and Take It Tournament, now the largest youth rugby tournament in the state, is held in The Woodlands in March each year, with proceeds benefitting local charities. In addition, The Woodlands hosted the state tournament last year and will host it again next year. “The Woodlands parks and recreation are amazing. No one else has facilities like we do,” remarked Hopkins.  

To say that The Woodlands Rugby Team is a powerhouse is an understatement. The teams dominate in the state and the club is by far the largest club in Texas. The Woodlands Rugby Youth Teams took home first in every single age group in the state this year. The high school boys won both the state and regional titles and the high school girls were runners up. However, if you talk to the parents and the coaches, they will tell you that although the kids like to win, rugby and especially The Woodlands Rugby Teams are not about getting the glory, but about supporting their teammates. Parents love the long-term lessons and character building resulting from participation on the team. Hopkins says, “Rugby is not about superstars. It is about being a great teammate. You win as a team, you lose as a team.” In fact, according to Hopkins, when the players were asked at the end of season banquet what their favorite part of the season was, not one player mentioned winning the state title. 

High School Girls

What Makes Rugby Special 

Rugby is a good-natured sport where respect for one’s teammates and opponents is evident both on and off the field. It is an incredibly social sport; games are extremely competitive, but when the match finishes both teams come together and fraternize. Rizzo stated, “No matter where you go in the world, there is a rugby team and they will welcome you to join in a game.”   

Girls Rugby 

Yes, girls do play rugby, in fact there are many collegiate scholarships available for girls who play rugby. No, it is not just for big girls either. All shapes and sizes are needed, especially quick ones. Girls Head Coach Chelsea Peper says, “Cross-over athletes, individuals who played basketball, or soccer for example, make excellent players.” Rugby gives girls confidence and an opportunity to express themselves, they also develop amazing comradery and lasting friendships through the sport. Rugby builds hand-eye coordination and agility, honing skills that are an asset to any sport. Although girls’ rugby is not a varsity sport for girls in the state of Texas now, it is only a matter of time. 

Jr High Girls

Get Out and Give it a “Try” 

It is now easier than ever to take in a rugby game as the Houston professional rugby team, The Houston SabreCats, with a former Woodlands Rugby player – Kieran Farmer on the roster, had a new stadium built this year. According to Coach Rizzo, “The sport sells itself, and anyone can play rugby. The kids have the time of their lives. The clock is always running and the ball is always live, so it is a lot of improvisation. You create the game as you go.” Rugby is a great complement to other sports and even for the kids that aren’t very “sporty”. The coaches encourage youth to come out and “Give Rugby a Try” (a goal is called a “try” in rugby) in November. Every Tuesday in November, kids can try touch-only rugby for free.  

5th-6th Grade

For more information on The Woodlands Rugby programs, please visit: woodlandsrugbyclub.org 

High School Boys

1st-2nd Grade

Challenge Air for Kids in Conroe

“The human spirit prevails over any physical or mental obstacle. After a day with Challenge Air, no height seems unreachable…all it takes is desire and truly, the sky is the limit!” – Rick Amber

The 9th Annual Fly Day will be held on Saturday, November 9 at the Conroe North Regional Airport. The event which is open to the public is designed to change the perception of special needs children through the free gift of flight. “We see many kids and families’ lives changed by this event,” stated Kevin Griffin, Chairperson of Challenge Air for Kids. The event which requires a year of planning will see nearly 120 kids experience flight, including 80 children for whom this will be their first time up in the air.

Founded in 1993 by Naval Aviator Rick Amber in Dallas, Texas, Challenge Air for Kids now holds 12 events across the United States each year. Amber flew over 100 combat missions in Vietnam and became a paraplegic when the jet he was flying crashed during landing on the aircraft carrier USS Hancock. Amber went on to break many barriers for the disabled including winning a USTA National Tennis Championship. It was during teaching a wheelchair tennis class to disabled children that Amber was inspired to share his love of flight with children who had physical challenges. Challenge Air for Kids provides the gift of flight to children ages 7-21 with disabilities of all types.

Local sponsors for the event include Chennault Flying Tiger Academy, Chick-fil-A, and Culver’s among others.

For more information visit: www.challengeair.com or contact Kevin Griffin at kevin.griffin@cafkcxo.org

20 Years of Heroes

Article by: Missy Herndon 

In 1999, in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of The Woodlands, an initiative was started to honor our local Hometown Heroes: individuals and businesses who exemplify the values of our great community. A Hometown Hero is a positive role model, usually with an extensive history of volunteerism who has sacrificed personal gain to achieve noble goals. Some may have received special awards or recognitions; others may have brought positive recognition to our hometown. All are leaders, who have shown courage and strength, who have been nominated by their fellow neighbors and peers.

Mr. George P. Mitchell inducted the first class of Hometown Heroes over 20 years ago at the very first Celebration of Excellence Gala. Since that time, 133 individuals, businesses, institutions and non-profit organizations have received this honor. All of this has been made possible through the generosity of The Woodlands Development Company and The Woodlands Villager. This year, we are excited to add seven more Hometown Heroes to our distinguished list of honorees! Once again, we celebrate these individuals and organizations, along with all of our Hometown Heroes at The Woodlands’ Celebration of Excellence Gala, which will be held on Saturday, October 5, 2019, at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott.

Nominations for Hometown Heroes open every year, mid-May, and are selected by a committee of Hometown Heroes from previous years.

Please join me in congratulating our 2019 Hometown Heroes.

JERISSA BELSHA, MD

Dr. Jerissa Belsha is a native Texan, born in Lockhart, Texas to a loving family where her parents worked as a school teacher and principal for the local elementary school. After graduating high school as valedictorian, she went on to attend Texas A&M University, graduating first in her class with a Biomedical Science degree. She completed her medical degree and pediatric residency at the University of Texas at Houston, where she was awarded Intern of the Year and served as Chief Resident. During her medical training, she was able to volunteer with World Medical Missions in Papua New Guinea, serve at HIV clinics in Botswana and Romania and gain valuable experience through a medical internship in Beijing, China.

After residency, Dr. Belsha joined a pediatric hospitalist group caring for newborns and sick children in north Houston hospitals. In 2015, she joined the local practice called Agape Physicians and has been caring for the children of The Woodlands community ever since.

Dr. Belsha has been described by her friends as a “quiet leader.” Her reach among charitable causes is considerable throughout the greater Houston area. Each year, she coordinates a group of 20 women to put together over 200 stockings for Houston’s Little Footprints program. To benefit Love Fosters Hope, Jerissa helps organize a family field day to benefit foster children within the organization and along with her husband, mentored two teenagers, helping to fulfill a need in their lives for parental figures. She is an active volunteer for many area charities including Interfaith, The Will Herndon Research Fund, Love Fosters Hope, Giving Goes Glam, Free the Captives, Montgomery County Food Bank and A Dress for Barbara.

Outside of The Woodlands, Jerissa has a passion to help others and served as a physician on numerous medical mission trips to Honduras and Costa Rica through The Woodlands United Methodist Church. In her most recent mission trip this past spring, she encouraged several friends to join her where they were able to serve over 700 patients in the course of three days. Her love of others is evident in all she does within her medical practice, throughout the community and most importantly with her family; husband, Thomas and their two children, Emma and Logan. Residents of The Woodlands since 2010, The Belsha Family embodies the spirit of giving.

MARY-LOU E. FITCH

Mary-Lou Fitch arrived in The Woodlands in 1989 and hasn’t stopped working in support of the community ever since. Mary-Lou was instrumental in forming many organizations in The Woodlands area including Class Act Productions, Grogan’s Point Residents’ Association and The Woodlands Orchestra. Mary Lou has been an active volunteer with a number of local groups, including Meals on Wheels, The Woodlands Pavilion Partners Wine Dinner, Cypress Woodlands Junior Forum, National Charity League – The Woodlands Chapter, and CASA. She has served on The Planning Committee for The Celebration of Excellence Gala since inception and regularly volunteers for Interfaith of The Woodlands driving senior neighbors to their medical appointments. She has also served as a former Board Member at MCYS and in various other roles with the organization.

Most recently, Mary-Lou joined the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red, volunteering for their Go Red Luncheon. She is also a member of The Montgomery County Republican Women and has served on their board as Vice President of fundraising. She loves her community and is always willing to help out, hosting many fundraisers and events in her home. Mary-Lou has called The Woodlands her home since 1987 and doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon, adding to her 30 years of volunteering and service. In her spare time, Mary Lou enjoys traveling to visit her four grown daughters and six grandchildren.

STEPHEN C. HEAD, Ph.D.

Stephen C. Head, Ph.D. became the fourth chancellor of Lone Star College (LSC) in 2014 after thirty years of service to LSC. Located in the north Houston metropolitan area, LSC is one of the largest community colleges in the nation. His priorities are student access, equality, success and completion; academic quality; workforce programs in alignment with community needs; and collaborative agreements with educational, business, civic and charitable organizations. He views the college as a critical contributor to the social, cultural and economic well-being of the community. His values include operating the college on a sound, fiscally conservative model based on data, efficiencies, accountability, and common sense. He emphasizes transparency, ethical behavior and a culture of high expectations and achievement. Dr. Head is active in a number of local, state and national organizations that support the community college mission.

Dr. Head and his wife, Linda, both work at Lone Star College and reside in The Woodlands. They have four successful children and three grandchildren.

ALEX SUTTON

Alex Sutton serves as Co-President of The Woodlands Development Company, a division of The Howard Hughes Corporation. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from Rice University and a Master’s in Business Administration from The University of Houston.

Alex is a Licensed Professional Engineer, a Certified Public Accountant and has authored a number of technical papers and articles, holding two patents for computer-aided management approaches to managing public works systems. His responsibilities at The Woodlands primarily focus on project and land development and commercial activities. He and his family moved to The Woodlands upon joining The Company in 1994.

His civic and industry involvement includes service as the current Chairman of The Interfaith Board of Directors, Chairman of the North Houston Association, Director, The Montgomery County Foundation, Director, The Woodlands Economic Development Partnership, Director and Past Chairman, Montgomery County Youth Services, Director, The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, Director and Secretary, The Woodlands Township, and he is a Member of the Urban Land Institute. An Eagle Scout, he was named The Tall Timbers District’s 2012 “Good Scout” honoree.

Alex and his wife Sharon live in The Woodlands Town Center and are members of The Woodlands United Methodist Church. They have four adult children and six grandchildren, four of whom reside in The Woodlands.

JOSH URBAN

Josh Urban moved to The Woodlands in 1994 with his family. An avid runner, there was not a week that went by that most people would not see Josh and his brother, Gabe, running throughout The Woodlands on their daily long runs. This commitment led Josh to finish 2nd in the Houston Marathon, with his brother not far behind.

Urban began his tenure with Memorial Hermann in 2000 as an administrative fellow reporting to Dan Wolterman, former President and CEO of Memorial Hermann Health System. From there, he went on to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, working his way up from Director of Hospital Operations to Chief Ambulatory Services Officer. In 2008, Urban joined Memorial Hermann The Woodlands as Chief Operating Officer under now-retired CEO Steve Sanders. Just five years later, he assumed the position of CEO. In that time, he has managed expansion and renovation projects in excess of $250 million and led the hospital’s pursuit of Level II Trauma designation. In addition, Urban has been instrumental in creating a culture of excellence, which has been recognized nationally in the areas of quality, patient safety, and patient satisfaction. Under his direction, Memorial Hermann is the third largest employer in Montgomery County, with over 2,500 employees in the community.

An IRONMAN himself, Josh was a major influencer in bringing the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas event to The Woodlands which has generated revenue close to $14 million for The Woodlands community during each of the last nine years.

A 2011 graduate of Leadership Montgomery County, Urban currently serves on the boards of multiple business and civic organizations, including The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership and Interfaith of the Woodlands. He resides in The Woodlands with his wife and son. In his spare time, he enjoys running, fishing, hunting, and travel.

MARKET STREET THE WOODLANDS

Market Street The Woodlands, established in 2004, has been providing The Woodlands a center for an exquisite shopping experience, a variety of fine dining establishments, a movie theater and green space where visitors can relax and enjoy the company of others. In these 15 years, they have become the go-to destination for retail therapy, as well as community events.

Market Street has committed themselves to The Woodlands community in many ways. They lend their support to dozens of area non-profit organizations; not only with sponsorships dollars but also by encouraging their employees to serve on their boards and various committees. Additionally, Market Street is known to connect their tenants with charitable organizations, helping to raise awareness of local causes and increase philanthropic support. Their Change for Charity program selects one non-profit organization for each quarter of the year as the beneficiary of the coins collected through the street parking meters. Since the program began, customer donations have exceeded $200,000.

Their Central Park area features a green space, performance stage and splash pad, giving families and visitors a beautiful place to gather. This area is also home to many events Market Street produces including their Spring and Fall Concert Series, Spring Fine Arts Show, Holiday Tree Lighting and Grand Chanukah Celebration. They have also generously hosted local events such as The Woodlands 4th of July Parade, The Woodlands’ Car Club Cars & Coffee For a Cause, the annual HEB Wine Walk, Cultural & Heritage Festival, Ten 4 Texas Road Race, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk, which bring hundreds of people together for fellowship and comradery.

LEADERSHIP MONTGOMERY COUNTY

Leadership Montgomery County (LMC) is dedicated to developing and enhancing the current and future leaders of Montgomery County by preparing emerging and existing leaders to understand local issues, grow their leadership skills, and connect with others to better serve Montgomery County.

LMC’s core program is a class of business and community leaders that spans nine months between September and May. Throughout this time, participants learn through sessions on Infrastructure, Education, Government, Public Safety, Economic Development, Healthcare, Serving Our Community and Leadership Development. The LMC program promotes knowledge, awareness, and insight into our community, providing an educational forum and leadership development opportunities for participants.

Leadership Montgomery County originally began as Leadership Conroe, launched in 1987 through the Conroe/Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce. In 1995, through a collaboration with The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, the program evolved into Leadership Montgomery County. Since that time the Greater East Montgomery County Chamber, the Greater Magnolia Parkway Chamber, the Montgomery County Hispanic Chamber, and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce have also become partner chambers, as LMC transitioned into a nonprofit of its own. True to its original mission, LMC has been shaping strong leaders throughout the community, producing more than 850 graduates during the past 32 years.

LMC graduates continue to grow as leaders through alumni lifetime learning offerings including educational programs, social activities, and opportunities to give back. LMC alumni can be found throughout the community serving as nonprofit board members, political leaders, CEOs, and much more.

 

 

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

1 2 3 4