Into The Woods: Halloween Party

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

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

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

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

Angel Reach

In 2004, foster and adoptive parents as well as close friends, Sandra Carpenter and Deborah Zempel, had a desire to help families in Montgomery County, taking on the role of caring for young, neglected family members. These relatives, known as kinship families, are the lifeline to many foster children. These women gave of themselves, assisting fellow foster parents by providing for the ever-changing needs of the children and those families. With their faith and a garage full of supplies, they began helping kinship families by giving them support where it was needed most—clothing, supplies and food. Angel Reach had begun.

The nonprofit, Christian organization started humbly in a garage, but today, it has grown to assisting over 600 people in need of support each year. Jean Radach, Executive Director of Angel Reach, explains how she began with the organization: “I just felt God’s calling. These kids could have been me. They could have been my son.” As a third generation of adoption—her father being an adopted as a child, an adopted child herself and parent to her adopted son—she was inspired to give her time to Angel Reach. She began by becoming a volunteer driver, filling an enormous need for many clients who don’t have driver’s licenses or transportation. “These kids come from families who have rejected them. They’ve been with multiple families. We’re not just going to put them back on the streets. We’re going to find a program where they can hopefully flourish,” Radach says.

Charles Maurice, Board Chair for Angel Reach and consistent volunteer since 2011, has witnessed firsthand the challenges these young adults have had to overcome, as well as their stories that got them there. “These are good people who have been given a rotten deal. Once you see how hard many of them are working to change their lives, it’s difficult to walk away,” he says. Maurice is continually motivated by the staff and volunteers at this nonprofit and claims their passion was contagious from the beginning.

The Kinship Care Program, the original Angel Reach service, continues today and exists to support the kinship family in their caretaking responsibilities, and it provides food, clothing, furniture and additional resources like counseling and life skills. Assisting approximately 150 families each year who receive minimal support from the state of Texas, this program fills a desperate need.

In Montgomery County, 90–100 children are aging out of the foster program each year. Angel Reach steps in with the Transitional Living Program to bridge the gap with these young adults ages 18–24. Any child in the foster care system is allowed the opportunity to engage with this organization in order to transition to the next step of life. Their needs are met with housing, life skills training, counseling, employment guidance, educational advising, mentoring and character building. As they become emotionally stable and financially independent, they advance to increasing levels of the program.

With a mission to break the generational cycle of neglect and homelessness, Angel Reach serves the youth homeless population ages 16–24 through its Community Youth Outreach Program, which provides meals, clothing, a hot shower, safe housing and a computer for job searches. In partnership with United Way, the goal is to guide them towards productive lives with financial and emotional stability

The Angel’s Nest program began due to the desire to serve single moms in the community. Dedicated to supporting these moms, Angel Reach is able to give them a place of their own to raise their children while providing guidance in finding jobs, childcare and vocational or college training.

Before Roxy Wood began working on staff at Angel Reach, she was a client herself. Her story represents the potential that each young person can achieve when they fully engage with the services provided and put in the hard work necessary. “Not only has Angel Reach assisted me with my pursuit of a better future, but they were my mentors and guiding light in life for these past few years as I have struggled and fought my way back to a brighter future,” Wood says. She is paying it forward by assisting others make a plan for a positive future, helping them take small steps forward each day in the right direction. After graduating from Sam Houston State University, Wood is leading a successful life against all odds. She says, “I wanted nothing more than to gain my degree so that I could turn around and help individuals just like myself. Angel Reach is, in some cases, the last lifeline for at-risk youth being booted out of the foster care system.”

As a longtime volunteer, mentor and fundraising leader for Angel Reach, George Lindahl has been instrumental in its growth and the development of homes for its Transitional Living Program, which includes five homes and five apartments that house 30–35 clients in the Conroe area. “You can’t imagine. Think about growing up with no mom and dad, no grandparents, no siblings, never having a new pair of shoes or a birthday party. It’s hard to comprehend,” he says. Lindahl has personally mentored young men, and each year he has taken several of them on mission trips to Honduras, where they learn more about spiritual growth while helping others. “If you see this program, you will want to help. We’re changing lives, but it’s a tough ministry,” he says.

Angel Reach has grown to 30 staff members and more than 40 volunteers, by filling a dire need in Montgomery County for young people to be able to change their paths as young adults. Angel Reach has become that bridge from troubled youth to productive, stable young adults. “They need someone to believe in them. That’s what they need,” Radach says.

To volunteer or provide donations for Angel Reach, please visit angelreach.org

The Perfect Summer Menu: Tuna Tatakai

In the heat of the summer, we are always on the quest for lighter fare. Known for tantalizing beef and grilled meat, Churrasco’s may not be top of mind when thinking of light cuisine. However, the South American–themed restaurant on the Waterway also offers superb light dishes.

Today we are highlighting Churrasco’s mouth-watering tuna tataki. Refreshing is the perfect description for their fantastic, Asian-inspired tuna tataki! It is no surprise that this brilliant dish ended up on The Book The Woodlands’ Perfect Summer Menu list. In fact, it is so light and refreshing, you may even have room for their famous Tres Leches dessert!

Tuna Tataki

Ingredients:

  • Ahi tuna ceviche, ¾” cubes 5 oz
  • Citrus ponzu 2 Tbs
  • Guacamole 1 oz
  • Jalapeno mayonnaise 1 oz
  • Anguila sauce 1 oz
  • Sliced green onions 1 tsp
  • Fried onions 1 Tbs
  • Tostadas 1 ea

Steps:

  1. In a bowl, add ahi tuna cubes and citrus ponzu.
  2. Place tostada in the center of a round plate.
  3. Spoon jalapeno mayo on to the tostada and spread, leaving ½ inch border.
  4. Spoon guacamole over jalapeno mayo and spread.
  5. Pile tuna cubes in center of tostada.
  6. Garnish tuna with crispy onions and drizzle anguila sauce over tostada (as in picture).
  7. Top with green onions.

Enjoy your tuna tataki, part of our Perfect Summer Menu.

Janelle Romano joined the Interfaith team in 2018. She is originally from the Midwest, but has lived on the East Coast and in Mexico. Janelle relocated to The Woodlands four years ago with her husband and three children and they now consider Texas home. She is a graduate of both Purdue and Southern Methodist University and enjoys spending time traveling with her family and giving back to the community.

Go See Ken

When in The Woodlands, great is the likelihood of spotting a vehicle bearing the bumper sticker: Go See Ken. Those three little words have made quite an impression.

Who is Ken? Why should you go see him?

Ken Thurlow, 52, manages Bike Lane in Shenandoah. Born in Michigan to a family that has been in the bike business for generations, Thurlow has lived in The Woodlands for 22 years, since the shop opened its original location on FM 1960. After working in his uncle’s store, Aggieland Cycling in College Station, Thurlow had job offers across the country but chose to work with Herb Beimgraben and his wife, Jane.

During the build-out of the 1960 store, Beimgraben said they sought to increase the staff by adding a mechanic and a salesman. Their Cannondale representative recommended Thurlow. The three had lunch, where the owners learned Thurlow could fill both roles.

“He is great in both fixing and selling — unusual to have someone who is so good at doing both,” Beimgraben said.

Ken Thurlow fixing a bike gear

Some of Thurlow’s experience came from time spent working with the 7-Eleven team, founded by Olympic cyclist Jim Ochowicz, and three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.

“I love my job because of the people I get to meet,” Thurlow said.

One of those individuals was Holly Lund Daniels, who needed a new bike. After a third person said she should go see Ken, she considered their suggestions valid.

“When I met him, he came across as a polite, even-keeled, and a very knowledgeable, genuine guy.” Now married to Ken, she described him as a caring man dedicated to the cycling world who loves to brighten the days of those with whom he interacts.

Red bike with Go See Ken sticker

According to Beimgraben, the bumper stickers originated as a fun project because so many people have been told to go see Ken — one he hadn’t realized would become so popular. The owner said when he sees a sticker, he feels glad and amazed and is still surprised the idea caught on so much.

Mike Rohm, who has participated in the BPMS150 for a number of years on an Anadarko team, now captains a team, composed of college friends and family members, sponsored by Thurlow. For the past two years, that team’s Go See Ken jerseys have won one of the four People’s Choice awards given in the Houston race, which Rohm said was overwhelming because they competed against teams 10 times their size.

Rohm, who met Thurlow when Bike Lane was located on FM 1960, lauded the manager’s helpfulness, knowledge and skills.

“He frequently offers solutions for struggles, is eager to tweak bike setup and shares in the joy cyclists related to him,” Rohm said.

Ken Thurlow getting a bike from a rack

Bryan Harris, a triathlete and Bike Lane customer for almost a decade, said more than a dozen people have asked about the Go See Ken sticker on his truck. Harris said he loves to see people acknowledge what Thurlow does.

But Bike Lane isn’t just for cycling enthusiasts, and Thurlow is as happy to help an amateur as he is a professional.

When Ann Dippon and her husband wanted to buy casual bikes for themselves, their son-in-law directed them to Bike Lane. She said she’d been treated poorly at other bike shops in The Woodlands, but the staff at Bike Lane is “absolutely fantastic.” She marveled at how she had seen Thurlow adjusting the handbrakes on an individual’s walker at no charge. She, too, has a sticker on her car.

“I’ve had more people say, ‘Well, who the heck is Ken?,’” Dippon said.

Thurlow said seeing the stickers is a good feeling.

“I have been blessed with good karma,” Thurlow said.

Go See Ken bumpersticker

Bike Lane, located at 17937 I-45 South in Shenandoah, is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 936-321-0200 or visit bikelanehouston.com.
Jenn Griffith
Photography: Derrick Bryant Photography