From The Woodlands to Broadway

Straight from suburban Houston to New York City, Mallory Bechtel began living her dream on the Broadway stage at the youthful age of 18. And she always believed she would be there, because she simply loved the art of musical theater. “For me, because I started out so young – I don’t remember not considering Broadway as an option,” Bechtel shares.

Raised in The Woodlands, Bechtel experienced a traditional childhood and education, but at a young age she began taking classes at a local theater company, Class Act Productions. She performed in shows in the heart of Houston at Theater Under the Stars in elementary school through their youth program, Humphrey’s School of Musical Theater. “I have always loved singing. All of my idols were on Broadway – that’s what we listened to in the car,” she recalls. As a professional actress and student, young Bechtel spent countless hours training with instructors, attending rehearsals and auditioning while still attending The John Cooper School, and would participate in her school productions when she was able. “They were always willing to work with me, to help me pursue my dreams,” she says.

Chairman of Performing Arts at The John Cooper School and Bechtel’s high school theater teacher, Mary Rotella, believes that Bechtel’s professionalism and humility made a huge impact on her success. Watching her grow as an actress, Rotella says, “Mallory is interesting in that she is pretty low-key and takes things in stride, but she is intense in her approach. She’s a smart actress that pays attention to detail and understands the importance of authenticity when acting.” Continuing to be involved as both a student and performer at school, Rotella recalls it was important for Bechtel’s overall well-being. “With her talent and credits, Mallory could easily have been intimidating to her peers, but she was always supportive and encouraging. She truly lifted her fellow actors up and helped them to reach their fullest potential on stage,” remarked Rotella.

Her first love was singing, and she always seemed to connect to singing as a character in musical theater productions. She recalls that acting and nailing auditions didn’t always come easy to her, however, Bechtel was willing to work hard to improve in those areas. As she continued fine-tuning her skills with the help of Houston area instructors and theater venues, her status as a triple threat with unique talents in singing, dancing and acting sent Bechtel on her way to making her dream a reality. “Houston has such a great theater scene. I feel lucky to have grown up so near it,” Bechtel says.

Bechtel had the vision of making this her career, but she never dreamed she would be quite so young when she entered the Broadway scene via Tony award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen. At 17, she auditioned to be a vacation understudy for the lead role of Zoe and was offered the job. However, the opportunity never arose to perform on stage as the understudy. But in 2018, just after high school graduation, Bechtel was thrilled to accept the full-time role of Zoe at New York City’s Music Box Theater.

The two-show days can be tiring, but she is kept energized by her fellow actors who have so much passion for what they do. She claims it has been exciting working alongside such amazing talent. “It’s always fresh, always new. People are always changing it up. It’s just what I love to do so the best part of it is getting to do it every night,” states Mallory.

Dear Evan Hansen began with quite the buzz when it debuted in 2016 and was a Tony Award winner for Best New Musical in 2017. It has continued with a strong fan base and began conversations of meaningful themes presenting both an entertaining and emotionally complex musical. “It’s about a teenager dealing with anxiety and depression which is very relevant right now. I feel very lucky to be a part of a show that has helped a lot of people,” she says. Following much hype and success, the show began touring in the fall of last year, making the award-winning musical available to far greater audiences. After completing her performance in Dear Evan Hansen ending her contract this summer, Bechtel has chosen to pursue other outstanding opportunities after her success with the musical and her debut on Broadway.

Raw talent alone didn’t get her to where she is. She only realized her dream of making it to Broadway by devoting countless hours and effort, not to mention the support from her family including her parents and three siblings. “They never doubted me. And they did force me to do things that maybe I didn’t want to. They are very supportive. I’m grateful for that,” Bechtel says.

Her plans for the future? “For actors, it’s hard to say. I would love to stay in New York, but it depends on what comes along.” No matter what lies ahead, Bechtel has paved her way with plenty of hard work and grit, and it seems she’ll continue in that direction. There is no easy route, she claims, but her passion for music and theater made the ride more enjoyable. Bechtel’s motto for pursuing any dream is revealed in her own path, “Put the time in. Take advantage of every opportunity. Keep putting yourself out there.”

Article by: Mindy Jones

The Woodlands Arts Council

When conceiving The Woodlands as a master-planned community, its founders envisioned a place where art was highly valued. They succeeded in creating a vital and robust presence of artistic expression in the area. The vehicle that provides support for the arts and sustains the founders’ goal is The Woodlands Art Council, Inc. (TWAC), a not-for-profit corporation, whose primary objective is to provide cultural enrichment through several community events that promote the performing, visual and literary arts, primarily through The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival and in the schools with numerous projects and scholarships for those students interested in pursuing art studies.

TWAC strives to create a better community through the arts. Dr. Maria Holmes, recently appointed as President of TWAC Board of Directors, believes that by experiencing the creative arts in the community, the quality of life is enhanced for all residents. “It creates another way for people to build community, it’s another way for citizens to have purpose and meaning in their hometown, no matter the age, heritage, or where their original home is; it brings us all together,” Holmes stated.

The Council establishes and supports meaningful art and cultural programs throughout The Woodlands, including youth mentoring and support programs, student art scholarships, art programs in kids’ schools, interactive workshops for seniors and retirees, special needs programs and sponsorship of public arts. TWAC continues to grow and gain recognition by coordinating The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival and the Art Bench Project.

The Art Bench Project

The Council is responsible for twenty Art Benches that have been commissioned and installed throughout our community, in partnership with The Woodlands Township as well as with the funding and vision of art patrons who sponsor each bench. Designed by local, national, and international artists, the Art Benches are permanent outdoor collections around The Woodlands Mall, Town Green Park and Hughes Landing. Currently, Phase IV of this project will feature three new Art Benches that will be located along The Woodlands Waterway.

The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival

The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival is an annual and premier attraction. It is one of the top-ranked fine arts festivals in the country. The festival is made for the community by the community, and all the proceeds go back into the local arts, impacting the community while benefitting upcoming local artists.

“The festival is very competitive,” said Kelly Batterson, Event Director of the 2019 Festival. There are 800 to 1,000 artists that submit applications each year providing the community with the most beautifully creative art to select from. The review and final picks are made by a blind jury. The art pieces are judged solely on merit. Art teachers, art professionals, community members and volunteers constitute the jury and collectively choose over 200 artists for each festival. “It is a well-thought-out process, a fine-working machine,” added Batterson.

The members of The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival Committee worked hard to deliver a wide variety of artistic mediums including paintings, pottery, glass pieces, photography, jewelry, digital, furniture, clothing and much more. The attendees at the two-day outdoor festival were able to meet the artist, discuss and learn about their work, hear their stories and their artistic perspectives. That was possible because, as part of the festival’s requirements, the artists have to be present in their booth for their exhibition, making the experience for the visitors more dynamic and personal.

In 2019, TWAC added a new feature to the festival called, Spotlight on Mexico. This gave an element of freshness to this year’s 14th event. Holmes mentioned, “We want to have a more global presence in our arts festival. Each year, we are going to select a country and bring attention to their arts, their food, and music providing education of other cultures to our citizens.” An interactive living museum was set up inside the main gate of Town Green Park, capturing the richness and beauty of Mexico in every art form. Asociación Amiga was in charge of curating the exhibit; they are a nonprofit formed by female Latin American entrepreneurs with a broad sense of commitment for the community. Diana Ontañon, President of the organization said, “Art has no language, barriers or frontiers, the Spotlight on Mexico was a way of sharing our authentic Mexican culture and artifacts, and representing our country the best way possible.”

The festival is a family event; everyone enjoyed the artists’ displays, live music performances and exquisite food offerings. Younger attendees participated creatively in The Woodlands Children’s Museum special exhibits. “We have a little something for everybody, making or having art is the main focus. We are proud of it; we love our mission and want to cultivate it,” concluded Batterson. The next Arts Festival is scheduled for October 17th–18th, 2020.

Article by: Ana Beatriz Priego  |  Photography: Derrick Bryant

Farm Fresh Foods

The farm-to-table restaurant culture is bursting onto The Woodlands culinary scene with wholesome food and the freshest local products in high demand. 

Food lovers are savoring the inventive fusion of local and seasonal goodness from the abundance of quaint bistros and cafes that are popping up all over The Woodlands area. Whether you’re in the center of town or keen to explore the wider countryside that surrounds us, a healthy, farm fresh bowl of goodness awaits.  

From boutique cafes to the more established culinary names in the area, all of these restaurants embody the belief that healthy food can be delicious and flavorsome. They pride themselves on using only locally sourced ingredients and the freshest seasonal products.

And what’s more, these eateries continue to build on a cause close to our hearts too – community involvement. As well as sourcing as many products from the nearby area as they can, many of these homegrown diners know what it means to give back to the community by using small, local businesses to handcraft much of their décor. These restaurants also aim to be as environmentally conscious as possible by composting and recycling.

Each of the cleverly crafted menus will help you on your way to becoming a seasoned health foodie, while respecting the community and environment that allows us to enjoy the healthiest fare to our hearts desire.  

Here is our list of the top farm-to-table and ranch-to-fork fare in The Woodlands area that will satisfy any palate and keep you coming back for more.

TRIS 

TRIS sits in the heart of The Woodlands and is the definition of fine dining incorporating the ranch-to-fork philosophy. Executive Chef Austin Simmons and his talented team at TRIS treat loyal customers and new guests with the perfect experience through upscale food and drink, artful service and finely tuned hospitality. 

Whether you’re looking for a casual business lunch or a high-end dinner, you can rest assured that you are in good hands at TRIS with an artfully crafted menu featuring some of the finest cuisine in Texas.

TRIS honors its passion for true ranch-to-fork fare by partnering up with Unique Meats, a family-owned business and premier provider of exotic meat from the best ranches across South Texas. The team at Unique Meats pride themselves on the quality of their meat, which starts with free-range ranches where the deer are raised on grass and free of steroids and medications. Unique Meats ensure their meat is delivered humanely from the field direct to the table.

TRIS now has a new exclusive steak program with HeartBrand Ranch,  a beef company specializing in bringing 10-year-old beef to consumers. Heartbrand Ranch, recently featured in Texas Monthly and The Wall Street Journal, is carving out a market for cuts from more mature animals. The ranch, headquartered in Harwood, Texas, is an Akaushi cattle ranch dedicated to breeding superior beef. TRIS was one of only a handful of restaurants nationwide to receive a portion of the first 10-year-old cow and is now proud to be bringing Woodlands consumers an exclusive steak experience.

Try: Chef’s Burger. Two smashed Akaushi Wagyu patties, bacon jam, American cheese, iceberg lettuce, English muffin

The Wheel Kitchen

Serving up farm fresh food since October 2016, this charming eatery is set on a lush area of farmland on the outskirts of The Woodlands and has become a top favorite on the farm-to-table scene.

Serving and catering for both breakfast and lunch, the menu items feature only homemade, organic or farm-raised ingredients. It’s easy to feel right at the heart of the real food movement here with plates that change with the seasons and beautifully crafted dishes bursting with the freshest local products. 

Try: The Wheel Buddha Bowl. Seasonal roasted vegetables, a spinach blend, organic brown rice, quinoa, roasted chicken breast and an herbed chia yogurt sauce.

True Food Kitchen

With a philosophy that food should make you feel better, not worse, True Food Kitchen ‘celebrates a passion for better living’.

Featuring a passionate team of chefs, restaurateurs and a doctor of integrative medicine, the True Food philosophy envisions healthy, fresh food that packs a whole lot of punch without ever sacrificing an ounce of flavor and taste.

The central Woodlands location offers an extensive menu that caters for all lifestyles including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.

Try: The Ancient Greens Bowl. Miso sesame glazed sweet potato, turmeric, charred onion, snow pea, grilled Portobello, avocado, hemp seed. With your choice of any protein. 

 

Flower Child

A vision of ‘healthy food for a healthy world’, Flower Child burst onto the fresh food dining scene, opening their Lake Woodlands location in April this year.

Flower Child offers dine in and takeout options, with a promise to nourish mind, body, and soul.

Beautifully crafted plates and organic drinks made from scratch help bring the concept of a happy plate to life. Using only farm fresh ingredients from close to home, the restaurant aims to cater to all tastes from paleo and vegan to kids and just plain hungry!

Try: The Glow Bowl. Spicy sweet potato noodle, bok choy, zucchini, onion, jalapeno, shiitake mushroom, coconut milk and sunflower butter.

Herb & Beet

Head on over to Herb & Beet’s new Sawdust location for a true taste of Texas. Its handcrafted menu changes seasonally to offer the best of the area’s produce all year round.

This fast-casual restaurant has partnered with dozens of local farms to bring the freshest farm food to The Woodlands area. With a three-tiered focus on food roots, sustainability and staff appreciation, Herb & Beet honors its environmentally friendly approach from the ground up, from its expansive patio garden to its efficient kitchen equipment. 

Try: Hickory Smoked Cobb Salad. Crisp romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, avocado, house smoked bacon, tomato, blue cheese crumbles, deviled egg, and smoked poblano dressing

The Kitchen

Another popular choice in The Woodlands culinary scene is The Kitchen. Formerly known as Hubbell & Hudson Kitchen, the restaurant first began serving meals to Woodlands diners back in November 2010.

Kick back in a relaxed, casual setting as The Kitchen brings its executive chef Austin Simmons’ culinary vision to life. Offering hot and cold sandwiches, live oak wood grilled meats, burgers and farm fresh vegetables, The Kitchen also offers a 65 item salad bar and eight homemade soups daily. 

Try: Oak Grilled Mahi Mahi. Ginger soy glazed, butter whipped potatoes, grilled asparagus, arugula and cilantro.

Fielding’s Local Kitchen + Bar

A firm fixture in The Woodlands Village of Creekside Park, Fielding’s Local Kitchen + Bar, is a popular restaurant known for its quality of local-sourced ingredients. Working with 44 Farms in the Houston area, as well as small wineries and craft brewers, the restaurant is the epitome of farm-to-table creativity. 

The impressive, ever-changing menu features steaks that are hand cut and beef that is dry-aged on the property. The kitchen makes its own pasta and bakes all of its breads and pastries daily. 

The restaurant also pays homage to the environment from which it receives its array of succulent ingredients, having been built using as many repurposed and energy efficient materials as possible. Part of its bar is made of reclaimed whitewashed wood and all booths and bar stools are recycled leather. They even have a filtering water system for cooking and drinking water.

Try: 12oz 44 Farms, Texas
Prime Ribeye. Dry-aged 40 days. 

Bellagreen

Hailing itself as ‘the greenest restaurant in Texas’, Bellagreen is an American bistro for the new age. Every item is made from scratch in their kitchen, located on Research Forest. Bellagreen aims to deliver the most flavorsome tastes as possible by using the freshest and finest local ingredients. The kitchen is more than happy to modify items on an individual basis to align with any dietary choice whether it’s gluten or dairy free, to vegetarian, keto and paleo.  

Bellagreen also reinforces its Green Philosophy by focusing on reducing its ecological footprint through water-saving devices and alternate power sources. By practicing exactly what they preach, Bellagreen’s green practices keep them in harmony with the environment. 

Try: Honey-Fried Goat Cheese & Arugula Salad. Baby arugula, fresh jicama, almonds, raisins, shaved carrots & mango, tossed with mango ranch dressing & topped with parmesan cheese & a honey-fried goat cheese medallion.

HOPE Under the Stars 2019

This past Winter, 600 guests filled the Grand Ballroom of The Woodlands Resort to raise funds and share the message of HOPE for The Will Herndon Research Fund at the 11th annual HOPE Under the Stars event. The guests experienced a genuine glimpse into the world of Will Herndon, a 16 year old Woodlands resident that has been battling a rare degenerative brain disease called juvenile Batten disease. The evening’s theme transformed the ballroom from black and white to a world full of color and HOPE. The transformation represented the hope and optimism personified by Will and his love for life. The event honored long-time supporters, Dr. Scott and Amy Young and corporate honoree, Waste Connections for their overwhelming support.  The event raised over $570,000 for research and funding for the anticipated clinical trial to begin in early 2020.
“The Woodlands community embraced Will as their own son and stood by our family, funding research and sharing prayers to help save our boy,” said Missy Herndon, Co-Founder of HOPE: The Will Herndon Fund. “After 11 years of support, awareness and fundraising, we are excited to share Will will be in a clinical trial in the coming month.”

For more information on juvenile Batten disease and the fight to Save Will visit www.willherndon.org or www.beyondbatten.org

Photography Courtesy Derrick Bryant & Jen McDonald

Elevate your Holiday Décor

Courtesy of Charbonneau Interiors, Nancy Charbonneau

Typical holiday colors are always nice to use in your holiday décor, but incorporating a mix of beautiful metallics can add a touch of glamour and sparkle that will make your home feel more lavish this holiday season. Copper, bronze, warm gold and antique silver are beautiful metallic tones to bring in to complement autumn colors. Adding in metallic elements adds to a surface for subtle reflection, warmth, and sophistication.

This table highlights warm colors of bronze, copper and antique silver. Candles immersed in metallic glitter set the tone for a beautiful table of fresh greens and flowers in the season’s colors.

This mantle, done in silver, gold and a metallic champagne are a soft reflection of the season. A touch of crystal was brought in to reflect the metallic surfaces. Adding in metallic ribbons and the lights from the garland enables the mantle to sparkle even more brilliantly. Take metallic accents outdoors also! This outdoor living mantle garland was adorned with silver metallic leaves and a fun metallic banner.

A Christmas tree adorned with silver and gold is a classic pallet for a beautiful reflection of the season, and can tie into other metallic elements in the home such as furniture pieces and lighting fixtures. Layering a combination of metallics together on a tree adds dimension and depth to the tree by providing a reflective source for light to play on.

We hope your season Sparkles!

Nancy Charbonneau is an award winning ASID interior designer who is passionate about connecting who her clients are to how they live in a beautiful and personalized way. Nancy has been involved in the field of Interior Design for over 25 years and has worked on numerous design projects around the world with her talented team. Nancy calls her trademark style eloquent, and is passionate about weaving grace and ease into every design.

Woodlands Weather Dude

I enjoy weather forecasting and communicating weather risks to people and I have made a career out of it over the last 25 years. In late August 2015, almost on a whim, I started posting about local weather interests on Facebook and Woodlands Weather Dude was born. At that time, the closed group contained only a few dozen members. Now over three years later, the group has grown to over 9,000 followers spread out across The Woodlands and Montgomery County. Although I would like to take full credit for the popularity of the group, I believe there are some larger things at play here that are responsible for this growing popularity.

 

First off, whether we know it or not, the weather touches our lives on a daily basis.

According to a recent Power Research Center study, weather far outpaces other daily news topics on a local level. Over 70% of adults in the Houston area say that the topic of weather is “important for daily life”. In second place was the news topic involving Traffic & Transportation at 52%. Even Government and Politics were only at 26%. Let’s face it; people want to know if the weather is going to have an impact on their kid’s birthday party, commute to work or on their weekend camping trip. Having a cell phone with weather apps or social media, including Woodlands Weather Dude, makes it easier than ever to have access to current and future weather at your fingertips.

 

Secondly, the weather hasn’t exactly been boring around here. In my 27 years of living in Houston, I believe the most active stretch of significant weather occurred here recently over the last few years. Hurricane Harvey (2017) and the two 2016 Floods both had huge impacts on our community and has stirred even more personal interest in the weather, especially during the tropical season.

Finally, I believe the popularity of the WWD Facebook page may also be an unfortunate byproduct of storm anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to Dr. Asim Shah, a Baylor College of Medicine mental health expert, “Close to a year after Harvey, we are still seeing [patients with] depression and anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder as well”.  Although I don’t interact directly with most of my followers, I have had many conversations with fellow co-workers who have been directly (or indirectly) impacted by Harvey or prior storms.  Some of them still suffer from insomnia and storm anxiety and have admitted to becoming obsessed with the weather, especially during thunderstorms.

Weather in Texas can be very scary for many in our area. What I attempt to do on my Facebook site is to provide my own unfiltered view on how a certain weather event is going to pan out.  And I always try to do it without any needless hype, although I have to admit some of our recent weather events over the last couple of years warranted some more serious weather language. During quieter times, I sometimes like to have forecasting contests. So if you have a good idea on when we will see our first 100-degree day or when we encounter our first freeze of the year, give me a follow! If you are a successful forecaster, you could even win a small prize. -WWD

Jeff Royed graduated from the University of Oklahoma where he received his B.S. in Meteorology. Jeff has lived in The Woodlands with his wife and two boys for over eight years. In his spare time, he enjoys running and biking on the local trails. He also likes taking his boys on short camping trips.

 

 

 

 

Inspiring Mom Spotlight- Dr. Anu McDonald

We are kicking off our Inspiring Mom Spotlight Series with Dr. Anu McDonald, who shares her sage advice on parenting with The Book readers. A well-known pediatrician in The Woodlands, Dr. McDonald is beloved for her caring and patient nature and has a consistent fan base of both moms and children.

1. What has been your most challenging part of motherhood?
The most challenging part of motherhood for me was when our boys were really young. My husband left his job as a software developer and started medical school at the age of 34. At that time our son was 2, and I was pregnant with our second child and working at Texas Children’s Hospital. While my husband was in medical school I also battled breast cancer. So, we had plenty of challenges during those years!

2. What inspires you as a mom?
The challenge and privilege that my husband and I have in raising our boys to become men of character is what has inspired me and changed me as a person. Raising kids forces us to look at both our strengths and our weaknesses as human beings. Motherhood has taught me about vulnerability, courage, and the need to rely on God to get through difficult times.

3. How do you find time for yourself/spouse/children?
There are seasons of motherhood when it is really hard to find a “balance.” Finding time to eat right and exercise was not always easy, but I did what I could. My kids were fortunate to have grandparents help out a lot throughout their c

hildhood.

4. What are your favorite things/places to spend time with your children in our community?
When our boys were young, we spent a lot of time biking, playing in the parks and swimming in The Woodlands pools. They also played a lot of baseball and golf growing up.

5. What advice would you give new moms?
Hang in there! The days are long; the years are short. Put the phone away and spend face time with your littles. Become your kid’s student. Study your children with intention and appreciate their uniqueness.
Don’t compete with other moms. You don’t have to be a perfect mom to be a good mom.

Dr. Anu McDonald is a pediatrician at Texas Children’s Pediatrics in Sterling Ridge. She went to medical school at Baylor College of Medicine and did her pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospitals in Cincinnati and Austin. She has been a pediatrician for 25 years. Dr. McDonald is passionate about treating “the whole patient.” She has given several talks in the community on the challenges faced in raising kids in affluent areas such as The Woodlands. She lives in The Woodlands with her husband Ryan McDonald who is a neurologist with Mischer Neuroscience Associates. Their sons David and Christopher are 20 and 18, respectively.

 

Art N Fashion 2019

Fashion and philanthropy joined forces at the second Art N Fashion event benefitting local charities at Glade Arts Foundation this week. The New York fashion-themed event featured stunning looks from Max Mara and Norton Ditto Pret-a-Porter Couture. Guests donned their party chic attire to support Angel Reach, Glade Arts Foundation, HOPE, Operation Pets Alive and Yes to Youth!

After walking the red carpet, guests mixed and mingled while visiting exclusive designer booths and dining on spectacular food compliments of TRIS. The theme for the evening was Couples for Causes. Dr. Ann Snyder served as emcee, Jacki Kilgore was the auctioneer, and Manny Patel was the DJ. Thanks to the generosity of the partnering sponsors including Designer Divas, Simran Rihal, Kink Team Luxe, Vander Dys Jewelers, Yee Plastic Surgery, Tris, Norton Ditto, Max Mara, and Neiman Marcus among others, 100% of the proceeds went directly to the five non-profit organizations to benefit their programs in our community.

Art N Fashion was the vision of Kashay Mendes, owner of Designer Divas. The idea was conceived as a way to benefit multiple charities and celebrate fashion and art in the process. This year’s event was in Ms. Mendes’ words, “epic” due to two fundamental changes in Art N Fashion. The event moved from a daytime fashion show to an evening event. Another new addition was moving from female community models to featuring couples in the fashion show who were passionate about supporting the causes featured. The men fully embraced the challenge and really brought the fun and laughter to the amazing show, helping raise substantial funds for the designated charities. “I love to make changes in causes, but also in people as well, I want to touch as many lives as possible- to make a difference. It was so amazing to watch the couples bond and evolve in this process.”

Dr. Brian & Shirelle Chimenti

Karen Mixon, Alison Yee, Elisabeth Stavinoha

Bruce & Diane Kink

Dr. Lucian & Patti Rivela

Mike & Ally Seder

Herndons walk for HOPE

Teresa Alici, Haydar & Ebru Kustu

Heidi Hite and Bobby Davis

Larry & Rhonda Salerno, Sean & Tracey O’Neal

Marina Silver, Monette Smith, Tammy Schroeder

Kashay Mendes, Elvira Graham

Dragos Tapu

Lisa Fifield, Triston Fifield, Michele Till

To learn more about the charities featured at Art N Fashion visit the following links:

HOPE- www.willherndon.org

Angel Reach- www.angelreach.org

Operation Pets Alive- www.operationpetsalive.org

Glade Arts Foundation- www.gladeartsfoundation.org

Yes to Youth- www.sayyestoyouth.org

United Way of Greater Houston -“Women Who Rock” Luncheon

United Way of Greater Houston -“WOMEN WHO ROCK” Luncheon Raises Funds For Young Mothers Childcare Scholarships

A crowd of nearly 800 United Way supporters listened and laughed as Texas native Melissa Radke shared her story of connecting with women across the country through social media, ultimately leading her to write her first book. Held at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel, the 6th annual United Way “Women Who Rock” luncheon raises funds to support Young Mothers Childcare Scholarships which allow young women who are committed to pursuing secondary education to provide their children with quality childcare while they attend school.

 

“We believe education is one of the best ways to break cycles and create new legacies that can be passed on for generations,” said Anna M. Babin, president, and CEO of United Way of Greater Houston. “The United Way Women Who Rock luncheon is a fun and inspiring way to rally the community around the important cause of helping young mothers pursue their education goals.”

 

Funds raised from last year’s luncheon provided scholarships to 15 Montgomery County women for the 2018-19 school year. Scholarship recipients attended Lone Star College campuses in Montgomery, Conroe, and Kingwood, along with Sam Houston State University and Chamberlain School of Nursing.

 

“I knew finishing school to get my bachelor’s degree was necessary to give my daughter a better life,” said Taylor Contreras, a scholarship recipient who shared her story at the luncheon.

 

“United Way’s support of young women receiving scholarships goes well beyond paying for childcare,” said Melissa Young, chair of the United Way Montgomery County Regional Council and CEO of Corporate Incentives. “United Way THRIVE offers financial coaching and mentoring that allows these young mothers to make the most use of their degrees and careers.”

 

The application cycle for the 2019-20 school year begins in early April.

 

About United Way of Greater Houston

United Way focuses on strengthening our community by developing children and youth to their full potential, creating strong families and safe neighborhoods, sustaining senior independence and rebuilding people’s lives in times of crisis. Last year, United Way of Greater Houston touched the lives of nearly 2 million of our neighbors in the Bay Area and in Fort Bend, Harris, Montgomery, and Waller counties. For more information, please visit, www.unitedwayhouston.org.

 

Photos:

Taylor Contreras, Melissa Young

Melissa Radke, Back Row: Melissa Young, Ellie Pfahl, Laura Lea Palmer, Megan Crowl, Courtney Galle, Peg Welbes, Front Row: Jennifer Stefero, Clare Simmons, Jeanne Toth, Michele Kooken, Judy Rhodes

Ms. Kooken, Ellie Pfahl, Peg Welbes, Michele Kooken

Holly Gruy, Laura Lea Palmer, Gil Staley, Ashely Byers

Tiffany McLeod,  Bob Earl

 

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/

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