Veggie Village Part 2 – Volunteers

Veggie Volunteers

How does the Veggie Village produce such an abundant harvest of crops? Volunteers have played a crucial part in the development of the Veggie Village since its inception. The operation of the Veggie Village gardens is led by Lori Schinsing of Interfaith. However, as Lori says, “the Veggie Village volunteers are like no other- they are a second family.” Not only were volunteers instrumental in securing the funding and development of the gardens, they continue to be the primary source of operational labor. Veggie Village relies heavily on a consistent base of committed, knowledgeable, caring volunteers. Three times per year (January, June and September) Veggie Village holds an All Hands Day where they enlist not only the help of their regular 30+ volunteers, but also the help of local National Charity League (NCL) and National Charity Roundtable (NCR) member volunteers to help remove and chop up remaining crops for compost, clear out the gardens and spread the compost.

In addition, a mutually beneficial relationship has developed between the Veggie Village gardens and local Girl and Boy Scout Troops. The Wendtwoods Learning Garden regularly hosts scout troops and exposes them to the sights, tastes, and sounds of the garden as well as the concept of food insecurity and giving back. As scouts grow, they have also become important sources of volunteers. Eagle scouts created and installed rainwater harvesting systems at both gardens in The Woodlands. A girl scout working on her gold award created a living teepee in the Wendtwoods Learning Garden complete with sensory areas where children can climb inside, read and be surrounded by nature. Additionally, scout troops have helped build raised beds to make both gardens mobility accessible.

Many of the recurring volunteers are garden advisors, including master gardeners, individuals who have been through an extensive certification process and are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of gardening-related community service each year. The master gardeners and garden advisors have been invaluable in imparting design expertise, instruction, irrigation and composting knowledge to the operations of the gardens. The garden advising team meets monthly to address issues related to the garden and also helps Veggie Village gardeners by hosting workshops and assisting with their harvest. All of the volunteers, regardless of their role seem to have one thing in common, passion. Lori Shinsing, Veggie Village Director stated,

“We are passionate about what we do, what we are growing, and what happens at Veggie Village.”

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Veggie Village gardens is that in addition to the wonderful benefit of producing healthy, organic food for our neighbors in need, the gardens provide an opportunity for many who would not otherwise be able to be of service to the community. It is truly remarkable to find a program that does so much good on so many levels. Veggie Village harvests more than just produce, it offers hope for a harvest of a better tomorrow for us all.

Women Empowering Women Featuring Rachel Hollis

Rachel Hollis, author of the New York Times bestseller “Girl Wash Your Face”, brought her inspirational message of empowerment to the sold-out crowd at the Interfaith of The Woodlands’ Women Empowering Women luncheon on February 1st at The Woodlands Resort. Donning a “love for you” t-shirt, Ms. Hollis, had the audience cheering and dancing to her message of self-acceptance and celebrating one’s God-given gifts.  

The Women Empowering Women luncheon, presented by CHI St. Luke’s Health, was the 6th Annual event hosted by the Interfaith Community Clinic, that serves as a medical home for many Montgomery County families. “The enthusiasm for this year’s speaker was remarkable, and very quickly we realized we would have the opportunity to share about the clinic to a whole new audience in addition to our current supporters,” Missy Herndon, President, and CEO of Interfaith Community Clinic. 

Ms. Hollis championed the Interfaith Community Clinic, rallying the 730 guests to contribute to support the clinic’s efforts, and led by example donating back her entire speaking fee to the cause. As a result, the event raised $325,000, shattering the previous luncheon record.  

Rachel Hollis, photo courtesy Derrick Bryant

Junior League of The Woodlands – Rene Romano, Louise Blanchard, Jenny Shirley, and Shonna Spear

WEW Committee: Darin Mittlestaedt, Georgianna Syal, Emma Simms, Missy Herndon, Anita Phillips, Michelle Kink, Dr. Sakina Davis, Jessica Kemp-Park Not Pictured: Kelly Hull, Lee Fackler

Ella and Jo Anne Johnson

Michelle Kink, Jordan Coronado, and Leslie Hogan

Presenting Sponsor CHI St. Luke’s Health with Clinic Director, Anita Phillips

Guest Singer, Cannon Brand entertains audience during coffee and desserts.

Ladies of Southwestern Energy wear T-Shirts honoring Hollis

 

The Interfaith Community Clinic, established in 1996, is a nonprofit Health Care Center providing medical and dental care as well as counseling and patient service assistance to the uninsured and underinsured in Montgomery County. The Interfaith Community Clinic staff, comprised of experienced professional medical and dental volunteers, see over 10,000 patients annually for preventative care and minor illness treatment.

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are culinary adventures that offer shoppers a chance to see, touch, taste, and learn about the variety of local, farm-fresh foods and goods produced around their region. Not limited to produce, the markets around The Woodlands and its surrounding areas also offer specialty foods and handmade crafts—perfect for gift buying season. Stop by one of the weekly markets in our area for the opportunity to mingle with the farmers who love to give tips on how to prepare their products. They all have a simple mantra: “Food tastes better when you see who grows it.” With samples galore, you can eat, drink and shop your way through the markets alongside families and other local community members.

The farmers market on Tamina Road was founded in 2016 and boasts 25–40 high-quality vendors consisting of local farmers and artisans. Located in the Magnolia area, in front of a 15-acre tree farm, all items sold at the market are handmade, handcrafted or homegrown within local boundaries. Owner and operator Jennifer Lobel founded the market to help drive business to the adjacent Culinary Courtyard, which is home to several brick-and-mortar, food-centric businesses. The market has far exceeded her expectations and has quickly grown to become a foodie destination, often acting as a catalyst for small businesses to expand right next door into the adjacent Culinary Courtyard.

The Courtyard is home to businesses like Victory Pie Co., a sweet and savory pie café that supports veterans—as well as the widows and orphans of veterans—with a portion of all profits from their fresh, handmade artisan pies. You can order online as well as pre-order holiday pies. While you are there, stop by The Toffee Cellar for some hostess gifts like cupcakes or beautifully wrapped toffee. Next door you will find a large variety of English specialty culinary in The British Depot. You can also check out the Chipper, a dine-in picnic table whose fish and chips are not to be missed. Top off your avocado toast with a bag of microgreens from Texas Eco Farms’ USDA-certified, naturally grown produce. If you’re craving more sweets, swing by Bamagirls and enjoy some lemon sugar cookies made with ingredients from other market shops including Red Chicken Ranch eggs, which also sells at Victory Pie Company during the week. Finally, not far away is the newest crowd-pleasing addition, Brick & Brews pizza, serves craft beer and wood-oven pizza using local ingredients.

You can find out who will be at the market each week by connecting on social media. To top it off, each week the market offers a signature, complimentary adult beverage, themed gift basket drawings and live music.

One of the most well-known farmers markets in The Woodlands is located in Grogan’s Mill shopping center and run by the Grogan’s Mill Village Association. This friendly market is open every Saturday from 8 to noon, and it was established in 2008 as a way to connect and give profits back to the community through college scholarships, the CISD school system, Good Citizen Awards and more. This market has more than 50 vendors ranging from artisan items to local produce. It also offers community involvement opportunities including learning CPR or hosting food drives for the Interfaith Food Pantry. Shopping for unique gifts is easy at The Woodlands Farmers market because you can find items like handmade children’s dresses at Petunia’s Bubbles or homemade pet treats at K9 Café. Mudworks Studio has you covered with hand-thrown pottery and A.S. Is Designs has handmade and portable wooden cornhole sets.

Enjoy a refreshing, all-natural iced KicPOP while learning about Houston Winery, a micro-winery downtown primarily featuring Texas grapes in its wine. Stop by and sample some cold-pressed Just Made juice while picking up seasonal local produce for your holiday meal from Atkinson Farms or Houston Organic Farms. If tasting your way through the market samples isn’t enough, there are rotating food trucks and live entertainment. Luckily, this market has a weekly newsletter sent out Fridays so you can map out your visit ahead of time.

The Woodlands is an excellent place to discover new experiences and foods without straying too far from home. Make an effort to stop in at one or both of these farmers markets, and you’ll be richly rewarded with sights, sounds, smells and tastes from near and far. Spice up your life—literally.

 

Legacy of Caring

In 1975, Don Gebert and his family arrived in Texas, sight unseen, to help an oil and gas businessman build a new town. This businessman was George Mitchell, founder of The Woodlands, who 45 years ago made a commitment to create a community, not only with master plans for neighborhoods, schools and a city center, but with heart and soul. He wanted to include the spiritual side of life. He had dreams to build a more loving and caring community.

“Mr. Mitchell was visionary enough to see that building a new town physically was not enough. You have to have people who care, people who believe, people who know how to dream, people who want to build a more loving and caring community,” Gebert says. Including religious life was a significant piece within the original design of The Woodlands, and Mitchell needed someone to carry it out.

As a Lutheran minister, Gebert had been working in inner city Philadelphia, collaborating across racial and socioeconomic divides in the 1960s. When Mitchell approached him for The Woodlands position, Gebert was Associate Director for The Philadelphia Foundation, the largest philanthropic body in the area, which was dedicated to helping the needy and improving lives. He was both a pastor and a missionary along with his wife, Barbara. His life was devoted to others, and that wasn’t going to stop when he moved to Texas.

The Woodlands, in its infancy stage, only had around 100 families residing in the small suburban area. Gebert had been carefully recruited to be the connection for religious communities within The Woodlands, to incorporate the spiritual aspect into the community. In preparation for this, Mitchell and his team had created the nonprofit, The Woodlands Religious Community, Inc., in 1973, which Gebert later renamed Interfaith of The Woodlands.

“Interfaith has been one of the key points of The Woodlands in my opinion,” George Mitchell has remarked.

Gebert decided he needed to get know people. He hopped on his moped and visited residents one by one, sometimes following moving vans to find and greet the newcomers. With those conversations, he recorded ages, special needs and religious preferences for everyone who lived in the community. The residents were a key component of getting programs started. “So many people wanted to help. I don’t deserve all of the credit. The pioneers who lived here believed we could do something that had never been done before—they deserve the credit,” Gebert says.

In his 10 years of service to Interfaith, Gebert helped 16 churches start their congregations and attain sites for their worship services. Religious faiths of all kinds became members of Interfaith, and giving back to help others was something they all could do together. Because Mitchell helped fund his new town with Housing of Urban Development (HUD) resources, there were plenty of opportunities for neighbors to help neighbors. Many of the programs he founded with the help of steady volunteers are still in existence today, with a much larger reach due to expansion: The Villager, Interfaith of The Woodlands Directory, Interfaith Child Development Center, the Interfaith Employment Project now operating as Workforce Solutions, assistance for seniors adults and so many more.

Revered Gebert often shares, “Everything that started on the human side in The Woodlands in the early days was started by Interfaith.”

Ann Snyder, Executive Director of Generosity and Schools at The Woodlands United Methodist Church, devoted over 12 years as President and CEO of Interfaith beginning in 2003, but her work with the nonprofit began many years prior as a volunteer, followed by serving as a board member. When she became President, her goal was to ensure that Interfaith stood with a solid foundation. During the first part of her leadership, she had two important goals: to visit every member congregation and to have a conversation with every staff member. “People gave a lifetime to the organization, and it was important they know how valuable they were,” Snyder says.

As The Woodlands grew in the business arena, the nonprofit began connecting with corporate entities and creating a board of directors with expertise, knowledge and heart. It was during this time that Interfaith gained a significant amount of support among corporations and leadership in the town. “I think we helped open the windows for all that was good about this organization. It was not me, it was a team,” Snyder says. When she reflects on Interfaith’s 45th anniversary, she says, “It’s the foundation of The Woodlands. Mr. Mitchell wanted a community that embraced diversity. It’s for everyone.” During Snyder’s tenure, many important programs were initiated, such as childcare at Lonestar College, expansion of the Interfaith Child Development Center, job training and the management of the Interfaith Community Clinic.

Missy Herndon, current President and CEO of Interfaith, began volunteering with the organization before beginning her career at Interfaith in 2013. When she was named President in 2016, she had prior experience with the organization, both as a volunteer and on staff as Director of Programs and Services, which brings important perspective for leadership. Hurricane Harvey became one of Herndon’s first and most significant challenges when Interfaith was tasked with organizing Montgomery County’s massive relief efforts, which provided aid and support for more than 28,000 people. “There was no better example of how the community steps up to help each other,” she says. Led by a rock-solid group of staff from Interfaith, more than 12,000 volunteers stepped forward with confidence and dedication to Interfaith’s colossal goal, demonstrating its strong support system. “The number of people serving last year during Hurricane Harvey was staggering,” says Gordy Bunch, Chairman of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors. “Interfaith is a full-time, engaged community partner.”

Member congregations continue to be heavily involved in the success and longevity of Interfaith, with their volunteer assistance as well as financial support. 63 religious institutions work together as member congregations in the name of service to create unity amid diversity, which was one of the original mottos in the early years. “My dream was to wipe the slate clean. We could have a religious community where everyone who was different, was precious,” Gebert recalls. That value has remained and been strengthened over the years, with a focus on helping others a major tenant of religions of all kinds.

Today, under Herndon’s leadership, Interfaith continues its dedication to impacting lives through compassion and service. Nearly 35,227 individuals were served in 2017 through the nonprofit’s crisis assistance program, and Interfaith helped 1,000 seniors remain in their homes by providing assistance in all areas of life. “Our hometown is better off for having Interfaith. It has been an integral part of our community for over 40 years,” says Bunch.

From helping a few neighbors to helping hundreds of thousands, Interfaith has continually created services that meet the needs of the people in The Woodlands. Everything seemed to begin by helping just one parent, one senior citizen, one struggling family. The programs arose out of real necessities, and its staff and volunteers brought those programs to fruition. As the support from the community grew, Interfaith was able to provide more assistance to more people.

Don Gebert remains in awe of how far it has come since the first day he arrived in Texas. Knowing all the obstacles they faced in the beginning, he still calls it a miracle 45 years later.

Interfaith’s hope for the future is the same as it was 45 years ago. “Our priority will always be serving people. Our goal is to never say no. We are the connection where people of all faiths, from all economic and educational backgrounds, from the spiritual, corporate and civic communities, neighbors and individuals, are able to come together in the name of service,” says Herndon.

2018 Letter from our Editors

As we wind down 2018, we would like to express our sincere gratitude for your partnership in The Book The Woodlands. The Book was created to highlight the incredible people, businesses, and happenings in this amazing community we call home, as well as raise necessary funds for the programs and services of Interfaith of The Woodlands. Your partnership truly makes a difference in fulfilling Interfaith’s mission to serve our neighbors who come to us in their time of need.

Interfaith of The Woodlands has been able to make a huge impact in our community in 2018 with the help of your ad partnership. We are happy to share your ad in part benefited:

· 35,227 individuals for crisis assistance

· 29,406 seniors through transportation, activities and Holiday gifts

· 2,745 children for school supplies

· 18,823 neighbors for food assistance

· 3,777 individuals for clothing vouchers

Your support is appreciated not only for what it helps us achieve but also for the generosity it reflects.

Thank you again for investing and believing in Interfaith for the past 45 years as we work together “To build a more loving and caring community through service.”

We wish you a beautiful holiday season and a blessed 2019!

Missy Herndon, President & CEO Interfaith of The Woodlands

Janelle Romano, Managing Editor The Book The Woodlands

Into The Woods: Halloween Party

It was a howling great time during the Into the Woods Annual Halloween Party on October 26 at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott. Guests were treated to the sounds of the Back Beat Band, had their fortunes told and played games at the casino tables late into the witching hour. The event raised awareness and funds for children with cancer, and their families, at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

The evening was presented by Henri Paul Jewelers, which also donated a beautiful necklace that was auctioned off at the party. Other major sponsors included Danny’s Trix & Kix and Mercedes Benz of The Woodlands.

“Every year, The Woodlands Charities selects a charity to support. This year’s funds from Into the Woods will go to create an emergency family fund for Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. Cancer is scary enough—dealing with the daily expenses shouldn’t add to parents’ fear,” explained James Stilwell, co-founder of The Woodlands Charities.

The Woodlands Charities is a nonprofit organization, founded by community leaders Nina Marino, Amy Milstead and James Stilwell, that brings awareness to select Montgomery County charities through various fundraisers held in The Woodlands.

In the Pink Luncheon 2018

Over 1,200 people showed up in every shade of pink imaginable to support the fight against breast and ovarian cancer at the In the Pink luncheon on October 12. The elegant event at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center highlighted the mission of In the Pink of Health: to reduce the incidence of breast and ovarian cancer and to assist survivors on their journey.

Presented by Richie’s Specialty Pharmacy and chaired by Cheryl Brady and Tiffany McClung, the In the Pink luncheon provides vital funds for the staggering 1 in 8 women in our country who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and the over 22,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Since its inception in 2001, In the Pink of Health has raised over $5 million, which has been redistributed directly into Montgomery County and the surrounding communities to support breast and ovarian health. This year’s luncheon grossed over $800,000, the most money raised to date at an In the Pink event. The proceeds fund initiatives through the Memorial Hermann Foundation, including programs like Canopy, a cancer survivorship center housed in Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center.

The highlight of the event was the featured guest speaker, Scott Hamilton. He brought both the laughter and the tears with his inspirational remarks regarding the seemingly insurmountable obstacles he has overcome in his life, including losing his mother to breast cancer, facing his own battles with cancer and pursuing his goals as an Olympic Gold Medalist. He was extremely gracious, extending his speech and staying until every autograph was signed.

Thanks to strategic community partnerships and public generosity, each year In the Pink of Health funds projects that support its mission, changing the lives of women and families in Montgomery County and beyond.

Generations in The Woodlands

Despite its warm atmosphere as a community of interconnected neighbors, The Woodlands is still a relatively new town; established in 1974, it’s only now that we can describe residents as being multi-generational. Some are surprised at how much The Woodlands has grown in such a short time, but we all know why people want to move here.

In this special article, we will explore the lives of those who moved to The Woodlands in the middle of their careers, those who grew up here and are returning to raise their own families, and those who have just recently made this community their home. These unique individuals and families will describe their favorite parts of The Woodlands, how they have seen it change, how The Woodlands makes it possible for them to serve their neighbors and more.

Ross Flurry

Ross Flurry opened his own mortgage company after the economic crash of 2008. After a few years, he became interested in expanding his career, which meant a possible move in his future. In 2013 his friends invited him to visit their home in The Woodlands, and even though the Houston area was not on his radar, he knew his search was over. “It was a beautiful 75 degree Friday night in Market Street. I was in awe. . . . I looked at my buddy and said ‘Where are we?’ By Sunday of that weekend, I decided I was going to move my business to The Woodlands,” Flurry says.

Flurry took the leap of faith. Over five years later, he is not only the owner of a thriving, local mortgage company, but he also genuinely enjoys living in The Woodlands. As a resident within a luxury apartment building, Flurry is one of many young men and women who have made a home in pedestrian-friendly complexes where it feels more like a city than a suburb.

Favorite Hangout

Flurry: “Hughes Landing. . . . I fell in love with that, because for a mid-30s, single guy new to The Woodlands, it was the place to be. That’s what I do on a Friday night—frequent the restaurants I love, make connections, meet clients. I love that I can walk downstairs and walk back home.”

 

The Weekend

Flurry: “You can find me on Lake Woodlands. On a nice weekend, I am in a kayak for five hours getting some sun. I love to frequent basketball courts and jogging trails. I’ve never had amenities like that. . . . Another thing I love is that we are 45 minutes away from anything you could dream of in Houston. . . . Not every place has that.”

Giving Back

Flurry: “I am currently the VP on the Board of Interfaith Young Professionals which is approaching 130 members. I had always heard of Interfaith, but I didn’t know all that they offered. It wasn’t until Hurricane Harvey that I saw Interfaith—they blew me away with how much they did. I feel like it was a great opportunity to jump in. They all have servant hearts. I wish I had known about it years ago when I got here.”

Changes You’ve Seen Here

Flurry: “The Millennial movement in The Woodlands. The age range 25–44 has grown immensely. The idea used to be . . . you are young and single, what are you doing here in The Woodlands? It’s been a huge increase.”

Favorite Thing About The Woodlands

Flurry: “The opportunities are endless in this town. So many people want to see you succeed. If you continue to be involved, you have the leaders who brought this town up over the years—they are wanting to find the next generation of leaders. My favorite part of living here is how ambitious I have become, because there are so many opportunities.”

 

Parker & Michelle Kink

Parker and Michelle Kink grew up in The Woodlands, but they weren’t always sure they were going to end up here. After attending The University of Texas at Austin, Parker remained there to begin his career in real estate. Michelle attended Texas Tech University and became a teacher in Conroe ISD before also moving to Austin.

They were married in 2016 with no intention of moving back to The Woodlands. “We loved Austin and all it had to offer,” Parker says. But the couple decided the best option would be to move home to The Woodlands, where both families still reside, to follow an opportunity to work for the family business, The Kink Team.

The Kinks welcomed their first daughter, Abigail, into their family this April, and they are privileged to live near their parents and grandparents. “I was blessed to grow up around my grandparents and some extended family, and [I] know how special those relationships are,” Michelle says.

Favorite Hangout

Michelle: We’re foodies. We’re social people. Typically, date night is going to have a drink with friends. One thing we have enjoyed about The Woodlands is that there is so much more live music now.

Parker: We also love Sapporo, the Japanese restaurant. They have the best sushi. They take really good care of us. Corkscrew BBQ in Old Town Spring is another one we like, and there’s a couple great spots with live music.

The Weekend

Michelle: Parker is very athletic, and we both love to be active outside. It’s a good way to take a breather, to refresh.

Parker: I love going to the Sam Houston National Forest. Just to get out in nature. It’s only a 20-minute drive.

Michelle: The nature in [The] Woodlands is so gorgeous and established. Abby loves all the sounds and visual elements such as the birds chirping and trees canopying over the paths.

Giving Back

Parker: One of the reasons [we] got involved with Interfaith Young Professionals is getting plugged in with our age group. It’s a service group, not a networking group.

Michelle: Also, our family is close by. There is always something we need to do for family, whether it’s our grandmother or my sister.

Parker: Right. And for me, it’s my clients as well—[working] in their yard or helping them move something.

Changes You’ve Seen Here

Parker: It feels like less of a small suburb, and more like a bigger town. There’s much more diversity than there was 10 years ago.

Michelle: It’s an exciting time to be in The Woodlands. It’s transitioning to more of a city feel. . . . One thing that has stayed the same [is] the nature aspect—the trails everywhere, beautiful parks. It feels good to be outside.

Favorite Thing About The Woodlands

Michelle: My favorite thing about The Woodlands is that it’s a community tailor-made to raise a family! It has everything such as safety, nature, great schools, convenience, churches. . . . It’s a tight-knit community regardless of how fast the population is growing.

Parker: The best thing about The Woodlands is the people. It’s changed a lot since we were younger, but the original heart of working towards a society where everyone helps each other out really is the culture. It’s not perfect, like anywhere, but . . . you’ll find [people] looking to raise a God-centered, respectable family that’s open to helping where there’s need.

Amy & Randy Jones

When Randy and Amy Jones visited friends in a small suburb called The Woodlands, they were not intending on moving there. “When I grew up, this was just a place that had a golf tournament,” says Randy.

However, after they were married, Amy surprised Randy one day and told him she had put money towards a house in Alden Bridge. They only lived in The Woodlands two years before a job opportunity took them elsewhere, but Randy says, “We needed to find a way to get back to The Woodlands.” Amy has the same sentiment: “We loved it. We loved everything about it. We loved the church, our friends, the community.”

In order to move back to the community that they loved so much, Randy opened his own business in the north Houston area. Now, with four children ranging from 4th grade to college, they are a family thankful to raise kids in The Woodlands. As the Executive Assistant to Dr. Robb at the United Methodist Church since 2009, Amy considers it a joy to serve her church and the community of The Woodlands.

Favorite Hangout

Amy: My favorite thing to do is sit outside. So, if it has outdoor seating, I’ll go there every time. We love the Waterway, Market Street and Hughes Landing.

Randy: Yes, [we love] the fact that there are so many restaurants there. Hughes Landing—you can go and enjoy sitting outside.

The Weekend

Amy: Our weekends are centered around our kids and their activities and sports, lacrosse and football. And we go to church. We also try to get a few hours on the lake when it’s nice out. And then, back to the grocery store to prepare for the week!

Giving Back

Amy: [The] National Charity League and National Charity Round Table allow you to volunteer in many areas with your children. With Harvey, we were able to do a lot of volunteering as a family.

Randy: You can connect with others in your community for common good. That’s a lot of what this community is about. . . . The schools here encourage community service, so the kids are involved too.

Changes You’ve Seen Here

Randy: [It’s hard to believe that] all the development was planned in the beginning. . . . You just don’t have to leave The Woodlands. I look at it as a much more fun place to live now. I can’t think of a single negative.

Amy: The commercial development wasn’t there. Market street wasn’t even there. . . . Even though it’s grown, it’s still maintained the original plan that George Mitchell had. The trees are here, the bald eagle is flying around, the community is thriving, the schools are great, there is a religious place for everyone, there’s nightlife. The original intent of The Woodlands is still here.

Favorite Thing About The Woodlands

Randy and Amy: We love The Woodlands, because it is a loving and caring community. In our greatest highs and darkest lows, the people of The Woodlands are extraordinarily generous. . . . Whether it’s to celebrate a great accomplishment, mourn a family member or friend, band together for a great cause—the people of The Woodlands show up in an astounding way! . . . We go above and beyond to welcome others into our incredible community we call The Woodlands.

Barry & Fran Blanton

Barry and Fran Blanton have seen The Woodlands through much of its growth, having gone to Conroe High School when The Woodlands was simply land and trees. They remember The Last Bottom of the Lake Festival, a celebration of the upcoming filling up of Lake Woodlands, and the time when Greenspoint had the closest shopping mall.

“We lived here when there wasn’t a Woodlands at all,” Fran says. She has given back to the community for 20 years as a teacher in Conroe ISD, a school district that has seen continued expansion over the years. As for Barry, after having commuted to Houston for most of his career, he has now owned a local business in The Woodlands for several years. Barry and Fran feel blessed to have raised children, who are now grown, here in the Woodlands, and they have one granddaughter who lives nearby.

Favorite Hangout

Fran: We love to go to concerts at the Pavilion. We are five minutes away. We are home before most other people are out of traffic.

Barry: And dining out—we do a lot of that. Fran: You feel like Cheers around here. We know people at the restaurants, and even though it’s a pretty big place, it feels friendly.

The Weekend

Barry: We like to get up and run in the morning. We have been active in the running community and very active in a running club.

Fran: Our granddaughter plays soccer at Dynamo Dash, and we spend a lot of weekends either watching her play here or traveling to see her games. The park amenities are also great here, for kids and families.

Giving Back

Barry: We both volunteer a lot. . . . My primary charitable involvement is The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and its Light the Night Walk. My dad died of leukemia, and I’m a non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivor. We’ve had a family team since it’s been in The Woodlands.

Fran: [What makes The Woodlands great is] not only how many opportunities there are, but how many people are willing to help. . . . I work at a Title 1 school, and if a child or family has a need, I can make a few phone calls and teachers or friends will help.

Barry: We run an aid station for the IRONMAN, and it requires 120 people to staff it. People fight over volunteering for it. It’s not an easy job. We enjoy it.

Changes You’ve Seen Here

Barry: It’s way more diverse now than many years ago. And of course, the dining options are drastically different.

Fran: There are so many languages you will hear around The Woodlands. The growth—for instance, Conroe ISD has grown so much over the years. . . . There was nothing out there. . . . Now, I go back there, and it has exploded.

Barry: Hughes Landing is interesting. It’s brought a mix of residences with dining and shopping, as well as office buildings. The Glade Cultural Center is a neat museum and a nice cultural addition to the community.

Favorite Thing About The Woodlands

Fran: I don’t have to go far for anything. . . . It’s all 10 or 15 minutes away for me. But having Houston close by is fun.

Barry: My favorite thing is the sense of community. . . . I sit on some different boards; Leadership Montgomery County is one of my favorite organizations I have been involved with, and I was in the first one, which began in Conroe.

Go RED for Women Luncheon

Celebrating life and wellness resonated through the afternoon at the 2018 Montgomery County Go Red for Women Luncheon. Men and women arrived dressed in their finest red attire exhibiting their dedication to the cause. Chaired by Tiffany MacPherson, the event honored Market Street for its continued commitment to the Montgomery County community. Highlighting the event was the personal survivor story of Carla McDaniel. Her story is one of love, determination, and survival. The need to continue to raise funds for research was a vital part of her message as well as encouraging attendees to live life to the fullest. She and her husband Keaton serve as the perfect examples of both principles.

Heart disease is the #1 killer of women, and funds raised at this event will help further the cause of the American Heart Association’s Go RED for Women initiative. 

Livin’ on a Prayer: TWCA Gala 2018

Livin’ on a Prayer was the perfect theme to bring the mission of The Woodlands Christian Academy together with a 1980’s inspired evening. The event incorporated fun and philanthropy for enthusiastic guests dressed from Ghost Busters to the likes of Madonna!  Funds raised at this annual event will enable the school to break ground on their newest building and will benefit the 650 students currently enrolled at the school. Congratulations on a successful event that was definitely one of the most entertaining of the season!

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