Interfaith Celebration of Excellence Gala Honors 20 Years of Heroes

The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence Gala, themed “Twenty Years of Heroes,” was held at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center on Saturday, October 5th.

The 20th annual event, chaired by DeAnn Guidry, was dedicated to honoring the 2019 Hometown Heroes while also celebrating the nearly 130 heroes that have been nominated over the past twenty years. The highly anticipated annual event raises money for crisis assistance in South Montgomery County.

Upon arrival, more than 600 guests entered a beautifully decorated ballroom filled with intricate lighting and ornate floral arrangements. Pianist, George Ruehle, entertained the guests while they enjoyed the silent auction and cocktail reception.
Alex Sutton, Chairman of Interfaith’s Board of Directors, and Missy Herndon, President and CEO of Interfaith of The Woodlands welcomed guests and celebrated the Honorary Event Chair, Waste Connections, Inc. Interfaith’s service and mission were made evident by each individual who continued to take the podium.

Hometown Hero Attendees at 2019 Gala

Since 1999, when the original class of 25 Hometown Heroes were honored in celebration of The Woodlands’ 25th Anniversary, Interfaith has recognized outstanding individuals and organizations in the community by presenting them with the title of Hometown Hero. Touching videos played on the screens, reflecting the generosity of the 2019 Hometown Heroes. Each Hero was awarded a medallion, a Congressional Commendation presented by United States Congressman Kevin Brady, and a Senate Proclamation from Texas State Senator Brandon Creighton. The Hometown Heroes for 2019 are: Jerissa Belsha, MD, Mary-Lou E. Fitch, Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., Alex Sutton, Josh Urban, Market Street The Woodlands, and Leadership Montgomery County.

The event offered a fantastic live auction and fund-a-need opportunities that featured numerous luxurious experiences including a VIP trip to Disney, naming rights to the longest pedestrian bridge in The Woodlands Town Center, SEWELL for all Seasons, and various other unique items. Thomas Markle Jewelers provided a Tudor watch that one lucky winner was able to claim in the raffle.
Interfaith typically serves over 1,500 clients in crisis monthly, with those numbers expected to increase as the Holiday Season approaches. Gala guests were among the first to view a video testimony from a client who fell on hard times and utilized the many programs and services at Interfaith to help her and her children get back on their feet. The impact of this storytelling was felt throughout the room as attendees were asked to lend their support.

“We are so grateful to live in a community that shows up to celebrate and support each other,” says Herndon. “For 46 years Interfaith has walked alongside our neighbors in crisis. No matter the magnitude, we step in to help families rebuild. Being able to offer hope in the midst of devastation is only possible through the generous donations we are blessed to receive. We are forever grateful to our donors.”

Interfaith of The Woodlands is a nonprofit social service agency providing programs and services to meet the needs of The Woodlands and the surrounding area. Interfaith provides basic needs assistance and special programs to families experiencing a financial crisis, and supportive service through care and wellness programs to senior adults 62 and over, in addition to many community programs dedicated to improving the lives of individuals in need. For more information on Interfaith’s programs and services or to become a volunteer, please visit or call 281-367-1230.



Celebration of Excellence 2018

The Interfaith Celebration of Excellence Gala was the culmination of a year-long celebration honoring volunteerism and those in our community who exemplify leadership in their philanthropic and professional pursuits, our Hometown Heroes.

The Celebration of Excellence Gala, which benefits Interfaith of The Woodlands, was presented by Woodforest National Bank and chaired by Shirelle Chimenti and Eliva Graham with honorary co-chairs, Dr. Ann and Mr. Jerry Snyder. Interfaith, the largest non-profit social service agency in Montgomery County, provides assistance to neighbors in need through the food pantry, Hand-Me-Up shop, Community Clinic, crisis assistance, job placement, senior services and Child Development Center.

The Hometown Heroes personify the mission of Interfaith, building a more loving and caring community through service. The 2018 honorees were Robert Heineman, Mrs. Brynn Ballard Huntsman and Mr. Peter Riley Huntsman, Steve Leakey, Dr. Joel Reed, Patti Rivela, Junior League of The Woodlands represented by President Jennifer Colerick and Entergy Texas represented by CEO Sallie Rainer.

For only the third time ever, the prestigious Mitchell Award was given, this time to Rev. Don Gebert, for lifetime achievement in service to the community. Missy Herndon, President & CEO of Interfaith, recognized Rev. Gebert, the founder of Interfaith, who has dedicated over 40 years to creating a more loving, caring community in The Woodlands. Guests were visibly moved by Rev. Gebert’s acceptance speech, which included a standing ovation, to put aside differences, and to work toward a mission of love for one another.

Ian Ramirez, accompanied by 13 year-old Hayden Miller on the piano, sang a beautiful rendition of “You Raise Me Up” as attendees watched a slideshow of some of the many individuals receiving assistance through Interfaith’s programs and guests lit the room with candles joining in a commitment to help our neighbors in need.

Following the dinner and program, guests enjoyed themselves and danced to the music of DJ Manny Patel at the lavish Journey to Morocco themed after-party.