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.

Crew in The Woodlands

Long known as the domain of male Ivy Leaguers, the sport of rowing has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years as training programs and facilities have become more widely accessible. You’ve probably seen the boats gliding across Lake Woodlands: long, skinny things with two, four, sometimes eight rowers pulling lengthy oars in unison so gracefully, it looks easy.

It is not easy. Rowing at the competitive level is described as a footrace that begins with a 500-meter sprint, settles into running as fast as you possibly can for 1,500 meters, and finishes with another 500-meter sprint.

Enthusiasts praise rowing for the full-body benefits. Back, glutes, hamstrings, quads, shoulders, biceps, lungs—they all get a workout. Balance, core stability, body strength and cardio endurance are the much-desired benefits. Not to mention the camaraderie of a team, Saturday regattas, and the possibility of a lifelong pursuit.

The Woodlands Rowing Club was first on the scene in 1989. Jim and Dee Hotop took over as directors after moving to The Woodlands in 2011. Dee suggests the only true requirement for potential rowers is the ability to swim. Though rowers are trained to stay in the boat, on occasion swimming is necessitated.

“We’re proud of our all-ages, all-levels program. There’s a place for everyone at The Woodlands Rowing Club,” Dee Hotop says. They should be proud! The club is 29-years-strong and still growing its recreational, competitive, and masters programs. Rosters for TWRC off-campus PE programs for CISD students and summer camps are also increasing. For rowers wanting to compete, Hotop stresses, “We don’t turn anyone away. We’re always looking for new talent. Always looking to grow our teams.”

It’s a commitment, for sure. Junior teams practice year-round, five days a week, with regattas some Saturdays. The results, however, cannot be ignored. TWRC has produced collegiate rowers for the likes of University of Texas, University of Massachusetts and West Point.

“Still, we’re very careful with our athletes. We want them happy and healthy,” she stresses. “It’s how we help them reach their goals. That’s our purpose. If we win races and acquire scholarships in the process, that’s great, but we help our members and students in so many other ways, too.” Ways like tenacity, confidence, teamwork—and fun.

Parati Competitive Rowing is the newest rowing club in The Woodlands. Mike and Jan Rosman established Parati in 2012 as a highly competitive, juniors-only club. In just six years, this club has qualified a staggering 39 boats to compete at the US Rowing Youth National Championship, including two bronze medal wins in 2018. After all, their motto is “paratus enin vitae,” which is Greek for ‘prepared for life.”

Students (grades 8–12) interested in rowing may take advantage of a free learn to row session at Parati. If hooked and ready to excel, they are invited to join a first-year novice team. JV and Varsity teams follow.

Jan doesn’t sugarcoat the commitment. “The training is rigorous: six days a week, forty-eight weeks a year; but that’s what it takes to develop world-class athletes.” Balance, however, is also key. “We’re together a lot, so we make it fun with lots of social activities and community service. Hard work is easier when you’re in the company of friends,” Jan stresses. “The whole development of our kids is our passion, our calling, our heart.”

That dedication is the bedrock on which collegiate rowers are built. Parati athletes have gone on to crew for the University of Texas, Duke, MIT, Boston University, Dartmouth, Villanova, Berkley and the Naval Academy, to name a few.

Both clubs gush over the contribution Woodforest Bank has made to their success. In 2017, Woodforest funded a boathouse at Northshore Park to be shared by The Woodlands Township, The Woodlands Rowing Club and Parati to store their equipment inside.

Rowing is a fulfilling sport that offers a full-body workout. Whether you’re looking to join a team or just do it on your own time, The Woodlands is a great place to discover a new passion.

Resolutions for Good Financial Planning

As we enter 2019, some may be left wondering “where has the time gone”? For many of us, taking stock of the previous year, vision planning, and goal setting for a new year is par for the course. The first of the year is when we tend to get serious about mapping out our physical health and fitness or becoming more involved with our communities and families. For those of you thinking about assessing your financial wellness, this article is for you! This topic can seem overwhelming and complicated, seeming like an intimidating goal to set in the new year, but we assure you, that is not the case.

When you find yourself at a point where life is kicking into high gear, i.e., your career is taking off, income is growing, children develop busy schedules; these competing priorities can really take a toll on you and your budget.

It’s the perfect time to make sure you are taking care of the basics that will take your finances to the next level. If you are examining your spending in the New Year or creating/re-setting your budget, follow this simple tip: The 20/60/20 Rule.  Allocate your income as such: 20% savings/investments, 60% essential expenses (housing, insurance, debt), and 20% discretionary expenses (entertainment, clothing, personal care). Any time you find it difficult to save the allocated 20%, your essential or discretionary spending may be off. The rule can be applied in most households, no matter your household income.

When considering goal-based investing, break your goals down to how much money you will need and when you will need it. This will allow for more strategic investing options. Goal-based investing also allows you to more closely monitor progress and adjust your approach as time goes on.

Short-term goals (1-2 years): Safety is important. You want to know your money is accessible when you need it. Such as an emergency fund or a medium-sized purchase.

Mid-term goals (2-10 years): Safety is important, but to reach these goals, you need your money to work a little harder and grow for you. Think: new furniture for the house, a new car, or a new home.

Long-term goals (10+ years): Growth is critical since these goals are often the most expensive and the most important. Starting now and leveraging the power of time to compound your money can help maximize growth. Most commonly funding college tuition or starting a business.

Retirement: Maximizing your savings is critical to ensure you can fund a retirement that may last more than 30 years. No matter how you envision your retirement, with a clear vision of your goals, you’ll be more likely to achieve them. From a saving perspective, your greatest tool is time. You’ve likely heard the phrase “save early and often”. What you probably haven’t heard is “diversify where you are saving”. A 401(k) and IRA, in our opinion, are staples in any retirement plan, but relying exclusively on them can leave you short if you look to retire prior to age 59 ½ or with too much taxable income in retirement. When saving for retirement, consider working to balance into Taxable, Tax-Deferred, Tax-Deductible, and Tax-Free accounts.

It’s time for a gut check: are you on track to achieve your goals? Even if you’ve been diligent about saving, it can be hard to measure your progress against specific goals, especially if you save mostly in one giant investment “bucket”, such as your 401(k) or a general savings account.

A good financial plan will map out all your goals and should show you not only how you are tracking to meet your goals, but also the options available to you if you are short on meeting them.

A solid financial plan should focus on protecting what you’ve built so far while also planning for the future. Lack of protection can put your entire plan at risk and you’ve worked too hard to get you and your family where they are today. Think about the goals you have. They likely require money, and most are funded by your income; the biggest asset you have in your working years. Here’s how you can help protect it:

Protect your Growing Paycheck: Having disability insurance coverage through your employer is a great start, but group plans may offer only a fraction of the benefit you need to protect your lifestyle. Evaluate your current coverage and consider closing any gaps with individual disability income insurance.

Revisit your Life Insurance: Review your coverage to make sure it is right for what you want it to protect. Work with a financial professional to help you understand what amount is appropriate for you and what type of life insurance best fits your needs.

Update your Estate Plan: Take time to review your beneficiaries, wills, trusts, and powers of attorney to make sure they’re still appropriate.  Especially if you have:

Married, had kids or accumulated significant assets

Divorced or become widowed

Become part of a blended family

Received an inheritance

Started a business

If stepping up your financial wellness is your New Year’s resolution, you have already won most of the battle. Financial planning is not just about sacrificing fun and money today so that you will have more later, but rather a holistic approach to balancing your need for future goals and your desire to “Spend Your Life Living”. Focus, surround yourself with a good team and be patient because the financial goals you set today will build and maintain your future financial wellness.

*Sponsored Content
Devin Greer and Andrew Snyder are Financial Advisors in The Woodlands. Both native Texans, they serve their clients and help them dream their best life, define it precisely, and deliver them into reality through a premier financial planning and wealth management experience.
This publication is not intended as legal or tax advice.  Financial Representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. All investments carry some level of risk including the potential loss of principal invested. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss.
Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM) and its subsidiaries. Devin Lacy Greer and Andrew Michael Snyder are Insurance Agents of NM and Registered Representatives of Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (securities), a subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser and member FINRA (www.finra.org) and SIPC (www.sipc.org).

Devin Greer
AR License: #11123192
Andrew Snyder
AR License: #8666816

 

 

Teens Making a Difference

We have all heard the criticism of Generation Z or the iGeneration… always on their phone, self-absorbed, and can’t live without technology. And while Snapchat and Instagram may be a priority for many, so is volunteering and serving our community. Hundreds of teens in our community are choosing to spend their free time serving others, developing leadership skills and creating deeper bonds with their parents and peers. What is the impressive connection that unites these young people? They are all either NCL (National Charity League) or NCR (National Charity Roundtable) members. 

National Charity League (NCL) 

NCL is an esteemed mother-daughter charitable membership organization that operates nationwide. The young ladies, in grades 7-12, participate and focus on growth and development in community service, leadership, and cultural experiences. With core values including empowering women, inspiring social awareness and compassion, honoring the mother-daughter bond, and mentorship, it is not surprising that these exceptional young women are making a difference here in The Woodlands.

pictured are Morgan McBurney, Sydney Linger and Carina Masuelli of The Woodlands Chapter, Class of 2018

NCL began in 1925 with a philanthropic organization in Los Angeles called the Charity League. The women frequently brought their daughters with them as they made layettes and assembled and delivered baskets of food to the hungry for the American Red Cross. In 1938, these mother-daughter volunteer groups began calling themselves Ticktockers. They banded together in 1947 to become the nation’s first mother-daughter charity, taking the name the National Charity League. There are currently more than 70,000 members in more than 256 chapters in 27 states. 

Madison and Deborah Barnette, Caitlin and Jena McCrann, Ann and Merritt Rice – NCL, The Magnolias – Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch, Summer Camp

The Woodlands chapter, founded in 1988, was the first local chapter and is celebrating its 30th anniversary. In the past year, which runs from April 1-March 31, the members of the six classes (2019-2024) completed over 11,533 combined [Patronesses (mothers) and Ticktockers (daughters)] hours of volunteer work in our community. In addition, NCL members contributed over $20,000 in financial and in-kind donations to the community through fundraisers including their Tea and Style Show, Under the Teacup, held in the fall. The Tea and Style Show is organized, hosted and executed by the 9th-grade members for about 250 people with the junior and seniors serving as models for the style show.
“It is wonderful to see these girls begin to take charge, track their hours and plan their schedules. The sense of accomplishment and leadership development is extraordinary.” Karla LaFitte, President, The Woodlands NCL Chapter  

Interfaith was fortunate to have one of these NCL superstars, Nora Jones, as an intern this past fall, and it is a regular occurrence to come across these amazing teens volunteering in the Interfaith pantry, the Veggie Village, or at any of our many volunteer activities such as stuffing backpacks and the toy or food drives.  

NCL chapters in and around The Woodlands that support Interfaith include Bluebonnets, Magnolias, Texas Laurels, Texas Roses, The Woodlands, and Grand Lillies. Each chapter is autonomous but they often work together and friendships develop with girls across the chapters. Ms. LaFitte emphasized that NCL is a welcoming organization, for girls with all types of interests and includes working and stay-at-home moms, and families at all economic levels.  

Kelley and Kendall Wolf, Santa, Michelle and Avery Markel at Houston Methodist Hospital, The Woodlands

According to Karla LaFitte, “NCL is a unique and special opportunity to share with my daughter. It is quality time doing something we both love – giving back to the community.”

The deadline for applications for the coming year is approaching quickly on January 15. 

National Charity Roundtable (NCR)

National Charity Roundtable (NCR) was established in 2001 as a charitable organization in The Woodlands comprised of parents and sons to serve local philanthropies. The Woodlands Chapter of The National Charity Roundtable is the founding chapter and currently has 170 families with sons in 7th through 12th grades.

Similar to National Charity League, NCR also focuses on three primary areas of development: community service or philanthropic- to identify what needs exist in the community and to assist whenever possible, educational- enhancing the social development and personal confidence of NCR members, and cultural- broadening the cultural development of the young men through exposure to a variety of cultural events. 

Although some may originally join thinking about a college application booster (which it definitely is- demonstrating a sustained voluntary commitment with an organization and learning to handle uncomfortable situations), the rewards of giving back and meaningful friendships that develop, as well as the strengthened parent-child bond and memories created can’t be understated.

Back Row: Will Jaudes, Troy Johnson, Michael Soucek, Julie Crum, Jackson Crum, Stephen White
Middle Row: Scott Myers, Grant Johnson, Ryan Soucek, Shannon Mills, Jackson Mills, Michelle White
Front Row: Luke Myers, William Jaudes, Kelly Sharer, Jason Sharer, Ryan Brunk

Members of NCR work with over 50 different philanthropies in our community including Interfaith, Operation Pets Alive, South Montgomery County Youth Services, and Angel Reach. In addition to volunteering a minimum of 20 hours per year, members also attend five events throughout the year and must be involved in a leadership role in at least one event.

“The desire to serve their community, respectful nature, and the mindfulness and appreciation of others these young men exhibit is remarkable.” Brenda Fluth, President of NCR

The demand from the community is outgrowing the ability of NCR to fulfill all of the requests for assistance. They are hopeful that another local chapter will be created in the near future so that no community need goes unmet. 

New member applications are submitted in March and NCR follows a June 1-May 31 calendar year for activities.

 

Brendan Alam, Andrew Nemeth, Max Fluth, Colby Jackson, Bennett Evans

Hayden Hughes, Jack Nolan, Ila Alam, Nancy Gamble, Brendan Alam, Troy Johnson, Grant Johnson, Jennie Hughes, Rachel Honeyman, Tyler Honeyman, Michelle Nolan, Hudson Hughes, and Gamble Reed

Long-term Benefits

Members of both NCR and NCL also develop bonds with the individuals in the community organizations where they volunteer. One young man, who joined NCR after prodding from his mother, returned home from college over Thanksgiving break and made it a priority to return to the senior living center where he previously volunteered to wish his favorite residents a Happy Thanksgiving.

Shelby Hadrick, Gracie Scrushy and Madelyn Maksimowicz – NCL, The Magnolias Chapter at Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch

A significant benefit that parents from both organizations treasure is the quality time spent shoulder to shoulder with their children. One mother remarked,“we may be having a bad day, and not necessarily on the same page, but by the time we finish working on a project together, we both feel good about what we have accomplished and have moved on from whatever was originally upsetting us.”

Joseph Croxton, Conner Judge, Richard Judge, Brad Ferguson, Annie Ferguson, Ben Ferguson, Blaise Ferguson, Dawn Croxton

NCL and NCR members are impacting The Woodlands today and for generations to come. These committed NCL and NCR volunteers are an invaluable, consistent resource for Interfaith and the community as a whole. As the NCR motto states, “no nation can remain great when duty, honor, and service die in the hearts of young men and women.” It is wonderful to see that, thanks in part to organizations like NCL and NCR the next generation in The Woodlands promises to be full of confident, well-rounded and socially aware citizens.

Click here to find out more about NCL and NCR:

https://www.nationalcharityleague.org/

http://www.ncrwoodlands.org/

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.

Annette Palmer

Some of artist Annette Palmer’s earliest memories are from the days just after her baby sister was born. Since children were prevented from visiting hospital floors back then, Annette and her older sister would stand on the lawn underneath their mother’s second floor room and catch the love notes she dropped down to them from the window.

Communication. Emotion. Distance and separation. Letters written between friends, family, lovers—even these she finds in flea markets, written by strangers whose stirring words having outlived them. Those are the subtleties that have always been the source of her creativity.

Born in Falkirk, Scotland, Annette found inspiration at every turn: the architectural drawings of her father, the subdued hues of coastal Scotland, and the letters, of course—from her mother, her friends, her teen-age pen pals— dozens of them, all over the world.

Annette studied art through high school and attended the Edinburgh College of Art. Figural and fashion drawing had become her focus, as well a young Englishman named Bob Palmer, who’d come to Edinburgh as an offshore worker for BP. After graduation she began working as a children’s clothing designer. She and Bob Palmer married. The expressive exchange in the letters they sent back and forth over the North Sea further shaped Annette’s muse.

While living in Singapore on a BP assignment, Annette began designing her own line of women’s clothing and successfully operated her company, Cancan, for years. After a brief assignment in Dubai, the Palmers were sent to Houston and settled in The Woodlands twelve years ago. With son, Ross, and daughter, Faith, approaching high school, Annette began working as an art teacher at The Woodlands Prep and Esprit International School. For several years she even taught an adult painting class in her studio. She coordinated art exhibits for Hubbell and Hudson Kitchen and St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital, showcasing dozens of local artists.

In recent years, with her children grown, Annette has slowed her pace outside the studio. Inside the studio, however, she’s been hard at work on a multi-media series of acrylic landscapes and seascapes with textured and reflective surfaces.

“I paint with sponges, scrappers, pallet knives, paint brushes, shoe brushes, household cleaning brushes,” she chuckles at her unconventional techniques. “I love reflective surfaces: silver and gold leafing, foil, flecks of mica, paper. I sometimes use pieces of fabric I have left from Cancan—reflective in a different way.”

And somewhere on each piece in this brilliant, bountiful collection is the written communication that so moves her. Snippets of old love letters, for example, shape stars in the sky, or waves in the ocean, or birds in flight.

“I’ve always been inspired by written communication; because it never goes away. These days we text, then delete the messages. I believe something significant is lost in that process,” she says. “There’s something about taking the time to sit and write a letter that frees our consciousness, our feelings, and we express ourselves with much greater warmth and honesty.”

Since 2017, The Glade Gallery in The Woodlands has exhibited four collections of Annette’s work: “Between the Lines,” “Between the Lines 1.5,” “Home from Home” and “Love Letters.” Her “Across the Miles” collection was showcased at The Jung Center in Houston earlier this year.

With clients the world over, Annette Palmer’s creative life is thriving. Rows of completed canvases line the floor of her sunlit studio. Paintings in various stages of completion rest on easels. As we sit together, a re-homed cat saunters across our table, a rescue dog lies at my feet.

“My studio is where I’m happiest,” she says. “It’s all about love here, about eternal hope, and bridging that uncertain distance between us.” And I totally get it.

Annette’s newest collection, “Pause, Rewind, Play,” opens November 1, 2018 at Glade Gallery.

“This collection explores lost means of communication through mixtapes from the Gen-X era.” She says this with excitement that is at once proud, humble and enchanting, the manner of an artist fully realized.

Follow Annette Palmer’s art and inspiration at annettepalmerart.com and on Instagram at annettepalmerart
Photo credit: Derrick Bryant

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

Hope for the Holidays

Hope for the Holidays, a festive, Christmas-themed musical variety show benefiting Cassidy Joined for Hope, was held on December 15 at the College Park High School auditorium. The heartwarming event featured talented soloists Gary Lynn Floyd, Michelle Brown, J.R. Smith, David Troth and Alyssa Smith, as well as ballet and ballroom dancers, choir performers and improv students. The spectacular event raised over $20,000 to be used toward speaking/awareness events and preventative measures to break the silence of teenage suicide and mental illness.

Hope for the Holidays was the lifelong dream and vision of its producer, Jodie Schrier. Ms. Schrier has more than three decades of dance and theater experience, and she has always aspired to produce a show combining all of her passions. Her dream came to life with a profound purpose and meaning on the stage for Hope for the Holidays.

“Never could I have imagined that the loss of precious Cassidy would one day be the trigger to launch [this show],” shared Jodie Schrier. “And yet it makes perfect sense: ‘beauty from the ashes.’ Cassidy’s spirit lives on through the Cassidy [Joined] for Hope Foundation. Lives are impacted. Hope is spreading. I am so thankful to the Hess family for allowing me to play a small part in their journey. I am humbly reverent.”

Kim Hess had this to say: “Jodie Schrier’s years of hard work, planning, prayers, tears, heart and love came to life on stage for all of us to enjoy! She used her vision, her talents and her 20-year dream for something so much bigger than all of us—to bring hope to this community during a time when we need it the most.”

Dancers from Boni’s Dance & Performing Arts Studio Inc performed the Parade of the Toy Soldiers, a Rockette-inspired number, as well as the Waltz of the Flowers. Bonnie Schuetz, owner of Boni’s Dance & Performing Arts Studio Inc, was the program’s choreographer along with Danielle Brasher Rapp. Schuetz was also the production sponsor for the presentation.

The spectacular production was a family affair, as the Christmas Waltz was performed by Blaire Schuetz-Coakley, Taylor Schuetz and Alyssa Smith. Rae Moses and Debra Beam Moses were the Hope for the Holidays show directors, and the role of Santa was played by Jodie’s father, Clyde Domengeaux. The event co-hosts were Dori Barber and Mark Hayter. Nicole Robinson Gauthier served as the Master of Ceremonies and Valerie Labonski was the technical director.

The love, talent and heart of all of the enthusiastic performers energized the audience and left them inspired and filled with Christmas spirit. As Kim Hess stated, “Hope for the Holidays was absolutely amazing. Our children, our neighbors, our teachers, our pastors, our friends—our community—came together to shine a light in the darkness while reminding each other that there is always hope!”

 

Cassidy Joined for Hope is a nonprofit focused on teen suicide awareness and prevention through the schools and community established by the Hess Family. Their beautiful daughter, Cassidy, tragically lost her life in 2015 to suicide at 16 years of age.

TRIS: Chef Austin Simmons, Cureight-or of Experiences

Gone are the days of having to drive into Houston for your foodie fix. If you are looking for an amazing dining experience, look no further than TRIS (formerly Hubbell & Hudson) on The Waterway. The experience at TRIS is so outstanding, in fact, that it should not be reserved for special occasions, but rather become part of your regular restaurant rotation.

Chef Austin Simmons, born and raised in Texas, graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Austin. He was trained under Dean Fearing, James Beard Award winner, and later John Tesar at the Mansion on Turtle Creek. At a mere 24 years old, he was named the head chef at Hubbell & Hudson. Now, with the transition to TRIS, Chef Simmons has clearly established his culinary voice and is working on his legacy.

The restaurant, named after his daughter, is profoundly personal. Chef Simmons beams when he talks about his wife and young daughter, Tris, and his priority to carve out time for them in spite of his very demanding, chaotic schedule. Chef Simmons’ passion and purpose are driven by every personal interaction he has with a guest. “The best food comes from what you are passionate about,” stated Chef Simmons.

Food from the Soul

It is the busiest time of year in the restaurant business, and Chef Simmons is elevating the expectations of not only his food but of himself and his staff. Chef Simmons stated, “I try every day to come in 1% better than the day before.”

Reimagining favorite dishes and creating extraordinary cuisine out of ordinary ingredients are Chef Simmons’ trademarks. The food at TRIS highlights global, modern flavor, but stays true to the cuisine. Chef Simmons is not about chasing trends, but rather about the seasonality and diversity of the menu. Featuring local ingredients whenever possible, Chef Simmons has created an elevated dining experience that is approachable—not pretentious.

Clearly, his vision is working. TRIS, which opened in September, is always busy; Chef Simmons’ collaborative dinner series, CollaborEIGHT, sold out before TRIS even had a chance to advertise. What’s more, in this year’s Truffle Master competition, Chef Simmons’ grilled cheese beat out those of over 20 other chefs (including from teams headed by Michelin Star-winning chefs). Of course, Chef Simmons’ truffled grilled cheese is anything but ordinary.

It is evident by watching his attention to detail that he cooks from the soul and from the heart, and that feeling comes across on every plate. That same intention is put into every dish, from appetizer to entrée—proven by the fact that the delectable crab appetizer outsells everything on the menu 5 to 1.

The People Business

The food at TRIS is outstanding, but what really makes the experience unforgettable is the amazing service. “We are in the people business—food is merely the vehicle,” remarked Chef Simmons. In an industry where turnover is the norm, Chef Simmons is focused on recruiting and retaining top talent. He hires the right people and then invests in them.

Both the front and back of the house are highly skilled, expertly trained and put the customer first in every aspect. A key component is Chris Perry, the general manager who is constantly striving for perfection. TRIS is the only restaurant of its caliber on Open Table where the service is consistently rated as high as, or higher than, the food.

In order to keep innovating and to continue the development of his team, Chef Simmons designed a collaborative dinner series called CollaborEIGHT, which as was mentioned earlier, sold out before TRIS even began advertising. This collaborative series brings in locally and nationally acclaimed culinary talent and offers an eight-course dining experience for the guests—while also keeping things new and fresh for the chefs. The most recent CollaborEIGHT dinner featured Chef Manabu “Hori” of Kata Robata and an ingredient with which Chef Simmons has already demonstrated significant expertise: the truffle.

The diversity of the new menu at TRIS and the reasonable prices allow for a wider appeal, but the key lies in the quality and consistency of each plate. In spite of the remodel and new menu, TRIS has not raised their prices and remains remarkably affordable. The happy hour menu is composed of many lunch and dinner favorites, available for a steal.

A Truly Memorable Experience

For a truly spectacular experience, don’t miss Cureight, open only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Named one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants by Texas Monthly, Cureight is the only chef-tasting concept in North Houston. A restaurant within a restaurant, the concept features an eight-course meal, paired with wine, crafted by Chef Simmons. Cureight is even beginning to draw foodies from Houston to—wait for it—The Woodlands. The food is designed and prepared right in front of the guest, and it is Chef Simmons’ creative playground.

With TRIS and Cureight achieving consistent results, Chef Simmons is expanding to create superior culinary experiences on a larger scale. Simmons recently served over 650 individuals for a corporate event, while elevating favorite dishes and remaining true to the vision of food with soul. He hopes to be known as the leading provider of curated events and experiences.

“This is a performance-based business, and we are only as good as the last guest we waited on or meal we served,” stated Chef Simmons. It is no wonder then that many of the guests are recognized and treated as family by the team at TRIS. As Chris Perry remarked, “People come back because they know, regardless of when they come or what they order, [that] it is going to be good.”

Whether you visit TRIS for lunch, happy hour or unadvisedly wait for a special occasion, Chef Simmons and TRIS will definitely create a memorable experience that you will treasure.

Fairytale Pumpkin Pasta & Quail

  • 6 oz unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup shallots, sliced
  • ½ tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 thyme sprigs 
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 3 lb Fairytale pumpkin, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 3 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 ½ lbs Pappardelle or Tagliatelle Pasta 
  • 8-16 small semi-boned quail (if desired) 
  • Brown butter, toasted pumpkin seeds, chervil leaves & candied ginger for garnish

Yield: 8 servings

Cook the Quail 4 minutes on each side under a press on a flat-top with rosemary and thyme. Season with salt and white pepper. 

Melt 3 ounces of butter in a large 1 ½ gallon pot, over medium-low heat.

Add the shallots, garlic, thyme (tied in a cheesecloth sachet), salt and pepper.

Sweat the vegetables for 10 to 15 minutes, do not caramelize.

Shallots should be translucent but still, have a little crunch.

Add the pumpkin, and mix well. Add the stock, and bring up to a simmer.

Simmer until the pumpkin is fully cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes,

Remove the thyme, transfer the mixture to a blender, and process, in batches.

Add the remaining butter, in portions, to the soup, while blending.

Cook pasta at al dente, add to the sauce in a saucepan and reduce the sauce into the pasta until thickens. 

Garnish with brown butter, toasted pumpkin seeds, chervil leaves & candied ginger.

 

Photography Courtesy:  Derrick Bryant Photography.

Generations of Fashion

Fall officially began on September 22, and for the sweater lovers out there, counting down may have begun in July. Taking cues from the fashion runways earlier in the year, retail stores are finally stocking up on the big fall trends.

Modeling the styles, colors and prints for Fall 2018 is a three-generation family of women: Ann Ryder along with her daughter and granddaughter, Jena and Caitlin McCrann. The fashion lens tends to focus on the young, but I am always inspired by women of every age! These next few pages will showcase fashion as being ageless. Caitlin, Jena and Ann have embraced their personal style, choosing outfits that make them feel beautiful and confident.

Poised Youth

A resident of The Woodlands since she was two years old, Caitlin McCrann currently attends The Woodlands High School as a sophomore. Caitlin spent ten years dancing at Boni’s Dance & Performing Arts Studio. Entering high school, she discovered track and field, where she enjoys running and high jumping. Caitlin also volunteers for the National Charity League and HOPE Youth Leadership Community and is actively involved with her Youth Group at the Woodlands Church. In her spare time she enjoys painting with acrylics, supporting her Highlanders at sporting events and hanging out with her friends.

Hemline at Market Street is one of her favorite places to shop. The mix-and-match approach of pairing two prints is a favorite of hers; combining camouflage with different patterns or silhouettes takes the utilitarian edge off and lends your look to a more modern and feminine feel.

Mom on the Go

Jena McCrann has been a resident of The Woodlands for the past 14 years. Married to Justin and celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary in 2019, they are parents to Caitlin and Loudon. Jena is from Annapolis, Maryland and received her Bachelors in dietetics from James Madison University and her Masters in occupational therapy from Towson University. She practiced occupational therapy for sixteen years, and she now works as Director of the National League of Junior Cotillions–The Woodlands Chapter alongside her sister-in-law, Madeline McCrann. She fills her time playing tennis, driving carpool and cheering on the sidelines for her kids.

Jena gravitates towards Club Monaco’s classic style and effortlessly pulls off this fall look in a sleek leather miniskirt and cashmere sweater. This season, we’re seeing sweaters in all knits, textures and silhouettes. Chances are, that sweater you already have in your closet is trending right now!

Modern Matriarch

Ann Ryder moved to The Woodlands from Annapolis, Maryland and quickly found her way to Interfaith, where she has been actively involved and working with them ever since. Ann has over 30 years of experience in publications and marketing in a variety of industries. Her passion and involvement with the nonprofit community struck after her time as the Special Events Coordinator for the Grant-A-Wish Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland, now known as The Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation. She and her husband John are avid golfers and take full advantage of all the activities The Woodlands has to offer, including attending a variety of concerts at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Spending precious time with her three daughters and seven grandchildren is a joy.

Stylish and always impeccably dressed, it was no surprise that Ann was drawn to Tory Burch’s exquisite caftan. Fall floral prints have another year of fashion power and Tory Burch showcased them perfectly in the Michaela Caftan. Tassels are featured in the shawl sleeves, hues of dark floral are bordered with stripes and metallic gold sheen all draw our eyes to this bohemian dress. Pack it for a beach getaway or wear it to your next outdoor party. Complete the outfit with the Georgina bootie; instead of the usual black, play into the animal print or go bold with white. Whether paired with jeans, capris, skirts or dresses, booties go with virtually everything and are the ultimate footwear for this season!

 

A big thank you to Hemline, Club Monaco and Tory Burch of Market Street The Woodlands.

“Fashion is a creative expression, it shouldn’t dictate your age.” Liat Newman, Novellamag.com

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