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When Art & Love Collide:

Brian & Alisa Murray




Love Is Is in in the the Air Air Love

{Valentine’s Day Gift Guide}



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The Missouri City Parks Foundation will host a Pre-Game Tailgate Party and a Private Watch Party featuring pro football Hall of Famers and NFL legends including long-time Missouri City resident Elvin Bethea.


Sugar Land native and four-time Olympic medalist Simone Manuel has inspired people of all ages with her incredible determination and drive. And, the athlete’s Fort Bend family couldn’t be more proud.


Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Fort Bend Education Foundation provides educators with opportunities to enrich and enhance the quality of education for all Fort Bend ISD students.


Meet the Finest in Fort Bend


A few Fort Bend friends shared their Valentine’s Day plans for their sweetheart.


Fort Bend Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

49 absolutely! KID FRIENDLY Brian and Alisa Murray. Photo by Heather Ingram of Alisa Murray Photography. Styling by Fallon Pizarro of Kiss my Bootyque.


WHEN ART AND LOVE COLLIDE: Brian and Alisa Murray

Brian and Alisa Murray of Alisa Murray Photography have established a reputation for capturing adorable children, expectant mommies and newborns for nearly 20 years. The Fort Bend couple’s unique style and talents with a camera lens has been honed to create a signature brand known and sought after internationally.

Find the brightest in private schools and after school activities to meet your child’s needs.

{Columns} 22 FOCUS ON FINANCE How Will Health Care Affect My Retirement? 24 HOMETOWN HEROES: Connie Webb 36 COMMUNITY CULTURE The History of Valentine’s Day 48 KIDS’ CORNER Child See, Child Do 60 HIGH SCHOOL HOT SHOT Meet Shreyas Balaji 80 LIVING THE SWEET LIFE: #love

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.com • February 2017




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Presents 35th Anniversary Gala


Rowdy Ranger Booster Ball


Minerva Pérez Contributor Page 10

10 Sharon Hilburn absolutely! focus media Page 17


Annual Helen Cordes Award Dinner



Peter Vonder Haar Film Contributor Pages 23 & 37

{Business Briefs}



Joan Frances Contributor Pages 24 & 60

Promotes Sugar Land-Based Chief Financial Officer Dale Hosack




Names New Campus and District Leaders

Quality Water Treatment and Excellent Service

Announces New Leadership


Hires Allison Bond as Marketing Director



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2016 Physician of the Year



Patrick Biron Birons Youth Sports Center Page 48

Steve Kursar Auto Enthusiast Page 72

Alisa Murray Alisa Murray Photography Page 80


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Welcomes Breast Surgeon Dr. Sandra Templeton





Alisa and Brian Murray. Photo by Heather Ingram of Alisa Murray Photography. Styling by Fallon Pizarro of Kiss my Bootyque.

Zeenat Kassam Mitha Cultural Correspondent Page 36

Myles Mellor Contributor Page 37

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The True Meaning of Love

Vol. 13 No. 4 February 2017

Love means many different things to many different people. Our cover story is about a couple who have been in love most of their lives, they love what they do and have accomplished wonderful things together. Alisa and Brian Murray have built a life – and a legacy – around their love for capturing the uniqueness of every individual in amazing portraits. And that’s just the beginning of what these two lovebirds are planning for the future. Speaking of lovebirds, we asked some of our Fort Patti and Kassidi Kaminski. Bend friends about their plans for February 14th. Take a look at their Valentine agendas on page 38, and if you need even more inspiration, our Valentine’s Day Gift Guide will help you find the perfect way to make your sweetheart feel loved. Our interview with a football legend this month is all about love. In the 1970s, every Houstonian knew what the phrase “Luv ya Blue” meant, and perhaps no player received more fan adoration than Houston Oilers defensive end Elvin Bethea. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Bethea is a long-time resident of Missouri City, and he helped bring an amazing opportunity to the community he loves. Super Bowl weekend, the Missouri City Parks Foundation will host Texas Tailgate, a Pre-Game Tailgate Party and a Private Watch Party featuring pro football Hall of Famers and NFL legends including Elvin Bethea. Read about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk football with the greats in our interview with the legendary Oiler on page 14. Another community legend who we love is featured on the cover of our newest magazine absolutely! fit & fab. We visited with Olympic gold and silver medalist and Sugar Land resident Simone Manuel and her mom, Sharron, about what it takes to go for the gold. We share with our Fort Bend Focus readers a four-page excerpt from absolutely! fit & fab starting on page 17. Our newest title – celebrating Fort Bend women – is now available, so stop by one of our distribution sites listed on page 61 and pick up your free copy. We hope you love it as much as we do! It has been said that there is no greater love than that of a mother and a child. I recently accompanied my daughter, Kassidi, back to college. We spent two days together in Austin getting her ready to begin a new semester, and I noticed her writing in a small book at bedtime. When I asked her what she was doing, she told me that since the first day of the new year, she has written down three things each day. “I decided for each day of the year to write a Bible verse for the day, the best thing about that day and all of the things that I love about a specific person in my life. That way when I get upset with them, I can look back and remind myself about all of the things I love about them.” Words of love, words of wisdom from my baby girl. Now that’s a Valentine’s present to remember. Happy Valentine’s Day to all of our Fort Bend friends!

4655 TECHNIPLEX DR. STE 700 STAFFORD, TX 77477 281-690-4242


PUBLISHER Patti Parish-Kaminski A S S O C IAT E P U B L I S H E R Jessica Kij M A NA G I N G E D I T O R Sarah Bearden AC C OUNT EXECUTIVES Jennifer Elliott Molly Ellis Kay Garrett Andrea Rigamonti Suzanne Stiles A RT D I R E C T O R Grace Belleza GRAPHIC DESIGNER Marinela Taylor WEB DESIGNER Joey Belleza PHOTOGRAPHY Alisa Murray Photography CONTRIBUTORS M.G. Angulo Patrick Biron Keith Borgfeldt Joan Frances Peter Vonder Haar Sharon Hilburn Steve Kursar Myles Mellor Zeenat Kassam Mitha Alisa Murray Minerva Pérez O F F I C E A D M I N I S T R AT O R Alexa Goldstein INQUIRIES 281-690-4242 E D I T O R IA L S U B M I S S I O N S

Stay focused, Subscription requests are free to all Fort Bend addresses. Annual paid subscription of $25 required outside the Fort Bend area. Published by TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

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Fort Bend FocusTM Magazine is published by absolutely! focus media, 4655 Techniplex Dr., Ste. 700, Stafford, TX 77477. Copyright© 2017 by absolutely! focus media. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited. Fort Bend FocusTM Magazine does not knowingly accept false or misleading advertising or editorial, nor do the publishers assume responsibility should such advertising or editorial appear. Fort Bend FocusTM Magazine welcomes editorial submissions from its readers.

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COVER STORY By Minerva Pérez Photos by Heather Ingram of Alisa Murray Photography. Styling by Fallon Pizarro of Kiss my Bootyque.

When Art and Love Collide: Brian and Alisa Murray


Brian and Alisa Murray.

mazing is not a strong enough word to describe Fort Bend County’s most artistic couple, Brian and Alisa Murray of Alisa Murray Photography. The power couple has established a reputation for capturing adorable children, expectant mommies and, most notably, newborns for nearly 20 years. Their unique style and talents with a camera lens has been honed for years to create a signature brand known and sought after internationally.

The Alisa Murray Brand The Alisa Murray brand offers the very best in Fine Art Photography by dedicating a true artistic eye to photography and by building sustainable, professional relationships. A loyal clientele that includes celebrity families, legacy clients and many friends and neighbors have made the solo practice feel more like family. Alisa Murray Photography has its lens trained on a client family’s life journey starting with the beginning of life, birthdays, special holidays and other major milestones. Alisa documents it all in portraiture with egg hunts, visits to the pumpkin patch, sitting with Santa and other moments to remember. Clients receive a very unique and personal experience by being invited into her cozy, artsy and oh so interesting home for photo sessions. Children get to snuggle with Alisa’s pets and eat special treats from her very own kitchen. Parents get to roam her house as if in a museum. A visit to Alisa’s studio is unlike anything else. There, true passion and inspiration are rooted. “Alisa’s attention to detail and creativeness is by far the TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

best I have seen in the photography industry,” said Fort Bend mom Allyson Huston. “She is a master at her craft, and her unique approach and hysterical personality makes you laugh and gets those perfect smiles every time! She puts her heart and soul into what she does and captures the true love and feelings in every photo. It is artwork, and I have a house full to prove it!”

Known for her newborn photography, Alisa Murray’s artwork hangs in Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital and Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. .com • February 2017


A Family of Artists Brian and Alisa’s partnership goes back to grade school. They love what they do and keep their clientele close by making them part of the family. Married 27 years, the couple is grateful for the loyalty and trust from their long list of clients who return year after year to document their family legacy in pictures and portraits for generations to come. Think of the couple as “Lucy and Desi,” meaning one cannot work without the other. They finish each other’s sentences in business and are good friends who work together in tandem to create their unique photography style. Alisa is the eye on the camera, while Brian is the magician who puts it all together. As Alisa likes to say, she creates and shoots and becomes “Auntie A” to all of her clients, and Brian magically transforms her images into that signature, stylized brand.

from all over the world to get the special photo shoots and fine art photography they can only find in the Alisa Murray studios set in the woodsy part of rural Fort Bend County. “At first I thought it was strange to have people coming from everywhere, but then I realized we are everywhere thanks to the Internet,” Alisa said. “It has allowed all businesses to become globally recognized. This has really been outstanding for artists such as ourselves. It’s a wonderful honor that our work is proudly displayed in the homes of families all across America and all over the world.”

Alisa uses fresh ingredients from her garden to create her own favorite recipes.

having a “larger than life” personality in her community and all throughout the fastest-growing county in the country: Fort Bend. Her generosity and philanthropy is admired. Alisa always has some new community project on her plate. Some of Alisa’s work is featured in two permanent exhibitions at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital and at Memorial Hermann Southwest HosAlisa’s paintings showcase pital. “Everyone knows you Paintings by the Murray’s daughter, another facet of her artistry. have to have a passion for Victoria Ann, hang in their home. what you do, and there is As with most artists, Alisa and Brinothing more important to me than an’s work is an extension of how they a photograph. When my mother was live. Their children are artistic in their killed, I was eight years old, and picown right. Their daughter, Victoria tures were all I had left. They are preAnn, is both a song writer and a paintcious to me. Pictures create memories. er, and their son, James Edward, is an Oh there’s money and diamonds too, eloquent writer and paints and sketchof course, but that will not leave the es as well. They make their home and legacy that my Wall of Life will. Capstudio a fun place to visit. Young clients turing families, grandparents and pets can find drums, guitars and painting – the things that make up one’s life Alisa Murray captures milestones with easels all within reach. A modern-day – is what is most important and why her baby and family photography. Renaissance woman, Alisa is a classiI have allowed that to guide my life’s Together, they document memories cally trained artist, and whether it’s work.” of a lifetime. “If I create a beautiful a camera, a paintbrush, her computer Alisa has served her community image, it is not a finished piece of art or even a spatula in the kitchen, she in many ways and mediums over the without Brian’s behind-the-scenes artnaturally goes the extra mile to make years. For example, her Breast Cancer istry. It’s that magical and rarely seen it perfect no matter which medium she Survivor calendars and her work cappartnership between us, dependent on chooses. turing pictures and stories of cancerthe other, that make my images timestricken children in India are just a less and worthy of wearing the tradefew. “I wanted to leave the children marked Alisa brand.” in India with the most important gift That brand and style now have a folMore than a photographer, Alisa is – a portrait of themselves – and I did lowing across the globe. Clients fly in an artist and author and is known as it. Watching those babies run around

Beyond Photography

fort bend

magazine • February 2017


with what would maybe be the only picture they’d ever perhaps have was a great joy. I felt like I was leaving a little piece of me right there.” Alisa’s paintings are also a labor of love. Though not offering a vast body of work, she finishes a few paintings each year. “Once I discussed having a show and perhaps selling some of them, but my children quickly grew possessive of that part of my artistic work. Each of them has secretly laid claim to the paintings they want to take when I am gone. Funny how children observe their environment and have opinions we don’t know as parents until the subject comes up. I had never realized how attached they had become to that part of my work.” Alisa Murray studios and her home are filled to the brim with art. Perhaps the Alisa style is more like Guadí meets Texas Chic? Walls in her studio/home combo are painted in funky, artistic ways, and there is nothing there that the couple or their children have not created themselves. “I often feel, even though I have spent many hours there, it’s as if I am always seeing something new. The walls are filled with paintings and beautifully captured fine art photography.”

A Writer’s Legacy As if photography and art aren’t enough, Alisa is also an award-winning

writer. Her monthly Living the Sweet Life column for Fort Bend Focus Magazine has been published since 2006. The column delights readers with Alisa’s childhood memories, some of which make them cry and laugh out loud in ways only Alisa can do. This year, Alisa’s plate is full as she awaits the release of two books: What to REALLY Expect When You’re Married! will debut on Amazon this spring, and Auntie A’s Little Book of Shoulds and Should Nots! will be available in the fall. “The years I’ve spent capturing my clients has given me ample opportunity to listen to each of my families who ultimately become good, close friends. While I’m shooting away with my camera, we talk about everything. I have given advice, more than I can remember, on marriage and parenting, and I’ve shared my own experiences as well. Marriage isn’t easy, but it can be a wonderful experience, and I adore my Brian. I adore my children. I adore my friendships and want everyone who I get the opportunity to touch to be uplifted and inspired by what I can give to them whether it is advice, a piece of art, my friendship or all of that. “The book on marriage is what I hope to be a well of advice on what to do right and how to fall in love and grow more deeply in love as the years

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.com • February 2017


go by. It always saddens me when I see people and families of divorce. I’m hoping to be able to inspire others to work at cultivating a mindful life and to live deeply and fully with love for everyone in their lives. “My Should and Should Nots has come out of necessity,” laughed Alisa. “My two kids and each of my ‘babies’ who I have made mine as their portrait artist have asked me for advice on just about everything through the years from how to tie their shoes to how to garden. Some even ask about dating or being bullied. They share things they wouldn’t share with their parents. That’s why they call me Auntie A. They are comfortable telling me things, and more importantly, they are listening. So this little guidebook allows me to leave them with advice about all sorts of things. I figure this way they will always have my opinion on ‘stuff,’ and they can take that and give it to their children when they grow up and become mommies and daddies themselves. I see this as just another extension of my legacy and life’s work in sharing and taking care of people.”

“Everyone becomes family with Alisa,” Huston said. “She welcomed my daughter and me into her home and family since day one. Her loving relationship with her husband since grade school is a testament to her loving, kind and generous heart. Alisa Murray is truly one of a kind!” Alisa Murray Photography can be reached at or 713-598-2207.


Valentine’s Day and




Every Day...

By M.G. Angulo

Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Elvin Bethea Joins Texas Tailgate in Fort Bend


the time of his retirement in 1983, Elvin Lamont Bethea held three team records relating to service: most seasons – 16, most career regular season games played – 210 and most consecutive regular season games played – 135. And although not an official National Football League (NFL) statistic until 1982, his 105 unofficial sack total still ranks as team best, as are his 16 sacks in 1973. Bethea was selected to play in eight pro bowls, and in 2003, he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003. He even wrote an autobiography in 2005 entitled SmashMouth: My Football Journey from Trenton to Canton. Of all the accomplishments attached to his name, however, there is something that remains prominent in retired Houston Oilers playElvin Bethea. er Elvin Bethea’s mind: the Photo from fans.

Awe-Inspiring Fan Love “We had a lot of lean years,” said the retired defensive end, reflecting on the early years on the team in the late 60s and early 70s. “But our fans stuck with us. That is what I loved – not just playing the game, but being a part of Houston, the city, the people.” And in 1978, the people demonstrated to Bethea just what it meant to be a fan. Here’s the setting: The Oilers made the playoffs with a 10-6 record, qualifying them first to play in Miami, Florida, where they beat the Dolphins 17-9. That win was followed by a game against the New England Patriots, where again, they were victorious – this time 31-14. So then it was on to Pittsburgh to battle the Steelers, with the chance at the Super Bowl on the line. But they lost that game 34-5 in a crushing defeat. It was a blow to a team who had been so close to a chance at America’s greatest sporting event. “When we lost to Pittsburgh, I saw something we’ll probably never see again,” Bethea said. “We were used to fans coming to the airport when we arrived home, just to cheer for us, hold up signs or shake our hands. But this time was something different. We were told to stay on the bus, because we were going to the Astrodome.” The Astrodome, as it turned out, was the meeting ground for thousands upon thousands of fans who wanted to prove to the Oilers that their fans undoubtedly loved them. “I’m sitting here getting chills about it,” Bethea said. “It was seven o’clock, and the parking lot was crowded. I’m talking 50 or 60,000 people giving us a standing ovation.” That roar of lovTO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

ing fans vibrated Bethea to his core and etched an everlasting memory in his heart. “I mean we just lost the game, you see?” he said. “We were the losing team, and to see that many people cheering us on was the greatest thrill ever.”

Texas Tailgate The Astrodome ovation is Bethea’s favorite story to share from his football days, and he, along with nearly 20 more players, are willing to share similar stories and talk football this month at Texas Tailgate, a special event on Sunday, February 5th – Super Bowl day – hosted by the Missouri City Parks Foundation. During the Pre-Game Tailgate Party, guests will have a chance to mingle with Pro Football Hall of Fame players and NFL legends and talk about player stats, stories and predictions for the big game. Then during the Private Watch Party, guests can enjoy refreshments, activities, a silent auction and watch the game with the players in a comfortable and relaxed environment. For the past nine years, Bethea has been involved with the event, which has been held in Super Bowl cities. With this year’s Super Bowl being held in Houston, Bethea pushed for the 2017 Texas Tailgate to be held in Missouri City, where he has lived for the past 21 years. Plus, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Missouri City Parks Foundation dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of residents through parks and recreational opportunities. “This is the perfect place to live. I know so many peo- Elvin Bethea and Missouri City ple here, and they know me,” Mayor Allen Owen. Bethea said. “This community has always supported me, and I felt this was something I could do to support the community. I’ve participated in nine of the Texas Tailgates, and I can tell you something like this doesn’t come every day. “We’ll be talking football, taking pictures, giving autographs, and you might even see some Hall of Fame jackets,” he added with a laugh. “It’s all about community first, community love.” Last year’s tailgate boasted 300 to 400 people, and following the event, the players visited a veteran’s hospital. “That was a wonderful feeling,” Bethea said. “I can’t wait for this year’s tailgate. We’ve got fan favorites who people will enjoying meeting. This is an exciting time for me, and I’m proud it will happen here, and benefit where I live.” For more information about the Texas Tailgate or to purchase tickets, visit or call 281-4038518. .com • February 2017


fort bend

magazine • February 2017




Simone Manuel

Persistence Prevails: The Forging of an Olympian



-TOGuide to Fitness Fun




By Sharon Hilburn

Sugar Land native and four-time Olympic medalist Simone Manuel.

Persistence Prevails:

The Forging of an Olympian


ort Bend County is known as being a great place to live and raise a family. As one of the most diverse counties in the United States, it provides metropolitan amenities, yet with a sense of small town community. Families experience outstanding schools and opportunities for success for those who apply themselves in work, in school and in athletics. And one small town athlete has made it to the top of her sport – in a big way.

fort bend

magazine • February 2017


I was motivated by my general love for the sport at a young age, and I decided to pursue it because I loved it so much. – Simone Manuel

A Dream Come True Sugar Land’s Simone Ashley Manuel, born August 2, 1996, made world history last summer. As a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team, she boarded the plane to Rio de Janeiro for the Summer Olympic Games on August 1st for her first Olympics at the age of 19. When she landed in Rio, she was 20 and would soon set an Olympic record. Simone, who specializes in sprint freestyle, anchored the U.S. Women’s 4x100 medley relay team, and they took the Gold medal with a time of 3:43:13. And this was just the beginning for this Fort Bend girl. Simone competed in the 100 meter freestyle and impressively tied with 16 year-old Canadian Penny Oleksiak, who was considered one of the up and coming swimmers for the 2016 Olympics. Simone and Oleksiak surpassed the previous time to share a new world record of 52:70. Not only was this an extremely impressive showing of team and individual performance, but it secured Simone’s standing as the first African American woman to win a Gold medal in an individual swimming event. Next, Simone won a Silver medal in the 50 meter freestyle, just .02 seconds shy of Denmark’s Pernille Blume, who won Gold with a time of 24.08. Simone won a second Silver medal in the 4x100 freestyle relay in which the U.S. team finished as a close second to the Australian team.

who make their home in Sugar Land. Her two older brothers, Christopher and Ryan, are both athletes in their own right playing collegiate basketball for Oklahoma Christian University and Southern Methodist University, respectively. Both Sharron and Marc also demonstrated athletic talent. Marc played basketball for Xavier University in Louisiana, and Sharron played volleyball and basketball in high school. According to Sharron, Simone was never afraid of the water even at two years old. “She would jump off the diving board at age three. She always wanted to be around water. She never had any inhibitions. When Simone was four, the boys were going to recreational swim team at Houston Swim Club on Highway 90, and Simone wanted to go too. She wanted to be on the swim team.” Sharron wanted her daughter to take swim lessons first. “Simone kept pushing, and the second day of swim lessons, she swam across the pool. While the boys

went to six weeks of swim team, Simone went to six weeks of swim lessons. Simone would get up every day and get herself ready. She was so happy to go to swim practice.

Determination and Drive “She isn’t any different in a lot of ways, but she is more determined. She makes up her mind. She will do anything to be successful and get it done. I believe you need to allow your child to lead you in their passion. I took her lead,” Sharron explained. Simone was encouraged to try different activities as she grew up. She played basketball, volleyball and soccer. She played the clarinet and was a Girl Scout Brownie when she was younger. She took dance through age 11, and then, she focused on one sport: swimming. “I was motivated by my general love for

Where It All Started Simone is the youngest child and only daughter of Sharron and Marc Manuel,

The Manuel Family: Ryan, Simone, Sharron, Christopher and Marc.

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.com • February 2017


the sport at a young age, and I decided to pursue it because I loved it so much,” said Simone. “Simone never complained,” Sharron said. “She hated to miss swim practice even when she was sore or tired. She never said she didn’t want to go to practice. At an early age, Simone would set a goal and was willing to work hard to reach her goal and have that delayed gratification.” Sharron shared insight to those who helped Simone along the way. “Many people have supported Simone in her journey, including Meredith May who laid the foundation and First Colony Swim Team Coach Allison Beebe who told Simone to try different sports, be a kid and not limit herself. Markell Ling has been a phenomenal dryland coach working on core, balancing and Pilates.” “My parents, my brothers and my coaches all helped me along the way,” Simone said. “Family is very important to me. I would not be where I am today without my family’s love, encouragement and support.” A 2014 graduate of Austin High School, Simone learned how to balance academics with a rigorous training and competition schedule. “The teachers at Austin High School were so supportive to Simone, providing lesson packets for her to do on the road and scheduling quizzes and tests,” said Sharron. “Simone always had her laptop. The technology made it possible.”

when she tied for Gold in the 100-meter freestyle, she recognized the talents of her competitors. “I have such respect for all of the athletes competing at their best. I know what it takes to get there. It is a humbling experience to tie for Gold. I felt so blessed.” In regard to all of her medals, Simone shared, “Each medal is special to me in its own unique way. I am just as happy with my team medals and also Silver medals as I am with the Golds.”

Dreaming for the Future

Simone Manuel celebrating her Gold medal win in the 100 meter freestyle at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

At the Olympic Games in Rio, Sharron encouraged her daughter to join the family during her non-training time to which Simone responded, “I am here as an athlete to compete, not as a sightseer,” which is a further testament to her consistent focus and dedication to her sport and to her team. And as the world knows, it definitely paid off. Thinking back to the moment her team won their first Gold medal, Simone said, “My feeling was one of joy, excitement, relief, pride and humility.” And

“What’s next for me is getting back into my college courses and focusing on competing with my school team at Stanford University and preparing for the National Collegiate Athletic Association championships,” said Simone, who along with fellow Olympian Katie Ledecky, is on the Stanford University swim team. Both have big plans for success in the coming year. Then, it’s on to the 2020 Olympics. Simone expressed, “It is an honor to represent my country, and I would love to experience that again.” “This is her dream,” said Sharron. “I have learned don’t set limits on what you think is possible. Parents should listen to their kids and allow them to take the lead in their passion.” Simone’s advice to youth is, “Do not be afraid to dream big and go after your goals. If I can do it, you can do it too!”

– Simone Manuel

Photo by Zoë Favre.

Each medal is special to me in its own unique way. I am just as happy with my team medals and also Silver medals as I am with the Golds. Sugar Land welcomed home 2016 Olympic athletes Simone Manuel and Steven Lopez with a celebration at Sugar Land Town Square last August.

fort bend

magazine • February 2017


Simone’s Favorites

We wanted to get up close and personal with Simone Manuel and find out what she absolutely loves. Here’s what the Sugar Land Olympian had to say.

Favorite Music: R&B, Hip-Hop, Pop and Gospel. “Anything good that I can sing and dance to.”

Favorite Food: Pizza

Favorite Quote: “DYB,” which stands for “Do your best.” – Simone Manuel Favorite Book: The Hunger Games

Favorite Things to do in Fort Bend: Hanging out with Family, Going to Eat, Shopping

Favorite TV Show: Anything on Food Network Favorite Dessert: Anything a la Mode

Simone Manuel’s Trip to Rio The history maker took home medals in four events at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro:

Gold: 4x100 meter medley Gold: 100 meter freestyle Silver: 4x100 meter freestyle Silver: 50 meter freestyle

Favorite Healthy Snack: Greek Yogurt and Fresh Fruit Favorite Things to do with Friends: Attend College Football Games and Go out to Dinner

Favorite Pastimes: Napping, Cooking, Baking, Shopping, Watching Movies and Hanging out with Friends

Favorite Movie: Romantic Comedies

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magazine • February 2017



By Keith Borgfeldt


FINANCE How Will Health Care Affect My Retirement?


merican workers are split about 50/50 when asked if they are confident they will have enough money to pay for medical expenses in retirement. In a 2015 survey, 42% of all workers reported they were “not too” or “not at all” confident they would have enough money to pay for their medical expenses in retirement. Fifty-six percent said they were “very” or “somewhat” confident they could pay the cost. Regardless of whether you’re confident or not, it’s important to have an idea about how much health care may cost in retirement. By putting the costs in better perspective, you might be able to better understand what you can pay for and what you can’t. Medicare beneficiaries spent an average of $4,734 out of pocket on health care in 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available. Forty-two percent of that went to premiums and 20% to long-term care facilities.

Health-Care Breakdown A retired household faces three types of health-care expenses:

1) A household may have the expense of premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers physician and outpatient services, and Part D, which covers drug-related expenses. Typically, Part B and Part D are taken out of a person’s Social Security check before it is mailed, so the premium cost is often overlooked by retirement-minded individuals. 2) The household should expect to pay for co-payments related to Medicare-covered services that are not paid by Medigap or other health insurance. 3) The retired household should expect to pay for dental care, eyeglasses and hearing aids, which are typically not covered by Medicare or other insurance programs. It All Adds Up According to a HealthView Services study using more than 50 million actual cases, a healthy married couple, age 65, can expect these health care expenses to add up to $267,000 over their lifetime. If you include dental, vision, co-pays and out-of-pocket costs, the to-

• Tax Mitigation • Long-Term Care • 401(k) Rollovers

tal rises to $395,000. For a healthy 55-year-old couple who plans to retire in a decade, the number jumps to $464,000. Should you expect to pay this amount? Possibly. Seeing the results of one study may help you make some critical decisions when creating a strategy for retirement. Without a solid approach, health-care expenses may add up quickly and alter your retirement spending. Fast Fact: Nursing Home Costs. In 2015, the national average rate for a private room in a nursing home was $92,378 a year. The national average rate for a semi-private room in a nursing home was $82,125. If you have questions about how health care costs will affect your retirement or the retirement of someone you love, please call us at 281-494-1600.

Keith Borgfeldt is president and owner of Spartan Wealth Management, LLC. Securities and investment advisory services offered through NEXT Financial Group, Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC. Spartan Wealth Management, LLC is not an affiliate of NEXT Financial Group.

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Ask about our 2nd opinion service! 281-494-1600 4690 Sweetwater Blvd., Suite 280 Sugar Land, TX 77479

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Securities and investment advisory services offered through NEXT Financial Group, Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC. Spartan Wealth Management, LLC is not an affiliate of NEXT Financial Group, Inc. Spartan Wealth Management, LLC 4690 Sweetwater Blvd. Ste 280, Sugar Land, TX 77479

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By Peter Vonder Haar

Release Date: February 17th

As long as we have teenagers, we’ll have coming of age stories. And as long as they’re as genuine and earnest as in Kelly Fremon Craig’s Edge of Seventeen, we’ll happily keep watching. The movie chronicles an especially anxious time in the life of high schooler Nadine Franklin (Hailee Steinfeld), who is coping with the loss of her father, fighting with her mother and best friend, and attempting to navigate the labyrinth of high school romance. The setup sounds overused, but Fremon Craig has delivered a rare film: one that avoids the usual adolescent clichés and instead arrives at its conclusion with authenticity and heart.

Call Me For More Information

Arlene R. Rolsen, CRS “Selling Fort Bend’s Finest Homes Since 1985”

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magazine • February 2017


By Joan Frances

Hometown Heroes:

Connie Webb


ort Bend County is blessed to have so many individuals who donate their valuable time to help the community be a better place for everyone. Connie Webb is a devoted volunteer who generously spends many hours working with adult students at the Literacy Council of Fort Bend, a nonprofit organization that offers adults the opportunity to improve their way of life. Webb is dedicated to teaching her students to read, write, compute and use technology at a level that enables them to reach full potential as individuals, parents and employees. Originally from South Florida, Webb moved to Sugar Land with her husband of 40 years, Rick, to be closer to her daugh- Connie Webb. ter. “I worked with the Literacy Council in Florida, so when I moved to Sugar Land seven years ago, I wanted to continue the work I enjoyed the most and to meet people,” Webb said. “They encouraged me to teach English as a Second Language (ESL), but I could not speak Spanish. I improvised with many hours of charades, working with basic books and small classes. As time went on and students’ needs were assessed, I decided to teach conversation classes to help adults understand simple conversation with their children’s teachers and to comprehend dialogue between coworkers and the community.” Webb donates her time teaching at the Literacy Council

and Parkway United Methodist Church. She teaches two times each week on Wednesday and Friday, and the sessions last from one to two hours. Her students’ ages range from the mid-20s to 85 years old. Last month, Webb worked with students on idioms, metaphors and common-day slang – words most people in Texas take for granted. Webb said, “My Friday class has mostly women from 14 different countries including Iran, Turkey, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, China, Vietnam and Japan. These adults from opposing countries all gather to learn and share what they believe, and they have become friends. Sometimes, we close the door and just talk about what concerns and fears they have, questions about America, politics, being a woman, handling millennials and anything they need to talk about. I think when I am with them I learn more from them than they do from me. It is a privilege to teach them.” The Literacy Council’s Program Director Colleen Mayer said of Webb, “She is wonderful! She engages some of our highest-level ESL students in a weekly conversation class and is an absolute pleasure to have as part of our team of volunteer tutors.” The Literacy Council is nationally recognized and supported by respected individuals such as former first lady Barbara Bush and National Basketball Association star Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets. Students can spend as much time at the school as they want. Webb said, “The school needs teachers five days a week, and if I could be there every day, I would. Everyone who works at the center is helpful and supportive, willing to find materials and make copies – anything I need to run my classes.” Thank you Connie for your generous commitment and devotion to helping people better understand the world we live in. For information on the Literacy Council of Fort Bend, call 281-240-8181 or visit

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela Chase and Connie Webb, Patti Maguire, Rick Webb and Jillian and Chris Day.

TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

.com • February 2017



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Special Olympics Texas Board of Directors Promotes Sugar LandBased Chief Financial Officer Dale Hosack A year after being elected to Special Olympics Texas’ (SOTX) Board of Directors, Western Container Corporation Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Dale Hosack of Sugar Dale Hosack. Land has been promoted from an at-large role to an officer and will now serve as treasurer. “We are thrilled to have Dale Hosack serve as the treasurer for the Board,” said Chad Tywater, SOTX board chairman. Hosack, who holds a degree in accounting from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has spent his entire career working in manufacturing and driving lean accounting organizations. He is only the second CFO Western Container Corporation of Sugar Land has had in the company’s 36 year history. Western Container is the second largest producer of plastic bottles for the Coca-Cola Bottling System in the world. “After a year as a board member, I’m honored to be selected as treasurer for 2017,” Hosack said. “It has been a pleasure to serve and to promote the thousands of athletes who participate in Special Olympics Texas events each year. The real work is done by the thousands of coaches and volunteers who support the over 55,000 athletes we are privileged to have within our program.” Hosack and his wife of 32 years enjoy going to sporting events, music concerts, traveling the world and spending time with their grandchildren. Visit or call 800-876-5646 for more information.

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Anniversary of Support to Teachers and Schools


his year marks the 25th anniversary of the Fort Bend Education Foundation (FBEF), a powerful catalyst for extraordinary academic achievement. Since its inception in 1992, the Foundation has provided educators with opportunities to enrich and enhance the quality of education for all students in Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) through its Grants to Teachers and Schools programs, professional development grants, corporate pass-thru programs and grants to assist new teachers who are beginning their educational careers by outfitting their classrooms.

The Fort Bend Education Foundation strives to reach every reader. Quail Valley Elementary Reading Specialist Ruby Portugal works with Joez Vilangatt and Morgan Matson.

Thanks to generous corporate and individual donors, FBEF has awarded more than $32 million to FBISD teachers and schools over the years. The Foundation receives hundreds of grant applications each year from educators representing every school in FBISD, and FBEF’s Board of Directors completes an extensive review of each proposal to ensure that strict criteria are met. “We have received really amazing grant proposals over the years that inspire and equip students for successful futures,” said FBEF President Jim Brown. “The Foundation has funded literacy and math programs at the elementary level, agricultural and science projects at the middle school level and fashion design and technical education projects for high schools. The list goes on and on.”

Reaping the benefits of a Fort Bend Education Foundation grant at Travis High School’s garden were Allison Evans, Megan Guglisi, Elizabeth Rakestraw, Leah Montgomery, Cody Westmoreland, Isaiah Maldonado, Nyejuel Homeyer, Zach Thompson, Yvonna Montoya, Mackenzie Simmons, Carmen Castillo, Kaitlen Lounsbury, Shelby Reagan, Megan Mcgranahan and Shelby Salge.

Fort Bend Education Foundation Past President Frank Petras presented a check to Fort Bend ISD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Christie Whitbeck with members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors Chris Hill, Pat Houck, Peggy Jackson, Lina Sabouni, Lynn Halford, Terri Wang, Ron Bailey, John Wantuch, Allan Holley, Dennis Halford, Dustin Fessler and Executive Director Brenna Cosby. TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

One such grant, “Sustainable Farming” at Travis High School’s Agricultural Science Program, allows students to use their hands and their minds. Many students have never picked up a handful of soil before, but through the garden, students understand the major health benefits to fresh foods. Students who normally wouldn’t speak up in class engage in the garden without being prompted. The garden .com • February 2017


gives students a better attitude about fruits and vegetables, quality exercise working the garden beds and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. In 1992, the Foundation funded $42,137 in grants compared to last year, when the Foundation funded $477,000 in grants. Three district-wide programs recently funded by the FBEF include a Programming and Robotics Club in partnership with Schlumberger on 45 FBISD campuses, a Mobile Digital Film School, which teaches students advanced film-making techniques with a film showcase during the Annual FBISD Film Fest in the spring, and “Robots for Homebound Education,” which enables home and hospital bound students to virtually attend class.

Colony Bend Elementary’s Emma Martin.

These programs are just a few of the thousands of grants that have been funded by FBEF. The number of grants funded each year is limited only by the amount of money raised by the Foundation. “The demands on school districts today are enormous, and budgets can’t always keep pace with the individual requests of classroom teachers who want to make education come alive for their students,” said Executive Director Brenna Cosby. “Delivering this exceptional level of learning is neither easy nor inexpensive. “Each grant is the result of the generosity of our local community – including businesses, corporations and individuals – who support the Foundation.” As FBEF begins its 25th year of service, they invite the community to be a part of enriching Fort Bend Future by donating to its 25th anniversary campaign. “We touch every school in Fort Bend ISD.” For more information, visit www.

The Fort Bend Education Foundation Presents Its 24th Annual Gala Off to Oz . . . The Emerald City Awaits!

Co-chairs and sponsors of the Fort Bend Education Foundation’s 24th Annual Gala: Jacosn Fullum, Merry Schneider-Vogel, Gary Pearson, Allison Bond, Jarvis Hollingsworth, Ron Bailey, Ray Meyer, Giulia Hattan, Ron Holleyhead, Mike Siwierka, Lina Sabouni, Paul Likhari, Eric Peterson, Stephanie Kellum and Lisa Kulhanek. Costumes provided by Ridgepoint High School Theater Arts Department. Photo by Mary Favre.

FBEF’s Off to Oz . . . The Emerald City Awaits presented by Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins & Mott, LLP promises to be a fantastic journey down the yellow brick road in search of the wonders of Oz. This memorable evening will occur on March 4th at the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square, located at 16090 City Walk in Sugar Land. Imagine skipping down the yellow brick road, through the forest and across the meadows on your way to Oz, encountering all of the fascinating people and creatures along the way. Experience garnering courage, knowledge and compassion through your encounters and coming together in the great Emerald City with Fort Bend’s finest in support of our children’s education. Enjoy a fabulous feast and thrilling entertainment as you are surrounded by the best the Emerald City has to offer. Click your heels together, remembering that there is no place like home, to the music of the band Password. Follow the yellow brick road over to the silent auction and bid board area for a vast array of most interesting, must-have items. The highlight of the evening will be the much anticipated bidding on the live auction items. Place a bid yourself or create a mass of munchkins for better bidding power. Don’t monkey around – be a bidding twister! Let your hands fly as you make this the most successful auction ever. None other than Commissioner James Patterson will auction off the tantalizing auction items and packages. At the end of the evening, you will have had a ToTo-ly wonderful experience in your contribution to The Fort Bend Education Foundation. For table sponsorships, individual tickets or auction donations, visit www.fortbendisd. com/foundation. fort bend

magazine • February 2017


At t e n



eds! w y l ew ion N Coming June 2017

Blushing Brides

The Fort Bend Boys Choir Presents 35th Anniversary Gala I LOVE the 80s

Tour Choirboys Iean Yates, Gabriel Garza, John Hoelscher, Benjamin Hu, Gabe Cote, David Zhang, Drew Doyle and Julian Ruiz performing Basil the Cat during their June 2016 summer tour. Photo by Terri Cannon.

Submit your info today and have your wedding details and photos published in print and online in our magazine. If you or your children have recently married and you would like to enter for a chance to be featured in our Blushing Brides, all you need is at least ten high-resolution photos of the ceremony and/or reception. It doesn’t matter where the wedding took place, as long as it was in the last year and you or your parent/s reside in Fort Bend area. Photographers are also welcome to submit photos.

Contact: or visit TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

Yo dude! Guests will have an awesomely bodacious time on Saturday, February 4th at 6:30 pm in the Safari Lodge at Safari Texas! How do we know that? Because, like, the Fort Bend Boys Choir is totally chillin’ for their 35th anniversary! For this gnarly, 1980s flashback-themed gala event, the Tour Choir will perform, and Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls will serve as auctioneer. Festivities include a delicious buffet meal, a live auction and a silent auction. Every taste and price range will be represented in the auctions, which will include sporting event packages, weekend trips, handmade items and much more! Signing up as a sponsor would be totally righteous! Opportunities are still available for sponsorships to the gala dinner and auction, including a Platinum Sponsorship that features preferential seating, notable recognition and an exclusive performance by the Tour Choir for a future event subject to availability of course. Who wouldn’t want the Tour Choir to perform at their event? Cowabunga man! Proceeds will help support all music programs of the Fort Bend Boys Choir, including scholarships for any choirboy who needs financial help. Contact the choir office at 281-240-3800 to learn more about this event. You can also keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for the latest on this trippendicular event.

.com • February 2017



W MEN IN BUSINESS Meet the Finest in Fort Bend

Kathryn Kaminski Gingerbread Kids Academy and Gingerbread House Learning Center

Margie Connolly Margaret McCullough Connolly, PLLC

Zeenat Mitha Sweetwater Specialty Consulting LLC

Betsy de Vega KnILE Center

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Malisha Patel Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital

Nina Patel Meditation & Wellness with Nina Patel

magazine • February 2017


Arlene Rolsen Coldwell Banker United

PROFILES Gingerbread Kids Academy and Gingerbread House Learning Center


Kathryn Kaminski Director / Owner

814 FM 2977 Richmond, Texas 77469 281-239-2110

athryn Kaminski, also known as “Ms. K,” graduated from Lamar Consolidated High School in 1963. Little did she know then that one day she would create an education legacy for young children and eventually become Lamar Consolidated ISD school board president. For over 35 years, the name Gingerbread has been synonymous with child care and Ms. K in Richmond and Rosenberg. Ms. K started her first location in a small home on 10 acres in Rosenberg called the Gingerbread House in 1982 and began providing educational programs for infants, toddlers and pre-k students. In the late 90s, she became one of the first providers of onsite after-school programs in the Lamar Consolidated ISD schools that included Frost and Hutchison Elementary. In the 2000s, Ms. K continued the expansion of the after-school programs to include Hubenak, Arredondo and Bentley Elementary all in the Lamar Consolidated ISD. In 2012 and at the age when most people consider retirement, Ms. K was elected to the Lamar Consolidated ISD School Board, and three years later, she became the school board president. In 2014, Ms. K once again took on the challenge of expanding her operations and achieving a lifelong dream by building a new 10,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art school called the Gingerbread Kids Academy located in Richmond. According to Ms. K, caring for children isn’t just a business; it’s her life’s work. Her goal is and has always been to provide a family-oriented environment where children learn and grow.

Sweetwater Specialty Consulting LLC


Zeenat K. Mitha Founder

6671 Southwest Freeway, Suite 550 Houston, Texas 77074 By Appointment Only 713-922-6622

weetwater Specialty Consulting LLC analyzes your current business needs along with market trends for your company’s potential growth. They implement key needs, build upon it and progressively move forward. They strategize, research and advise on prospective business development opportunities and cater to building a positive image and brand. Sweetwater Specialty Consulting LLC works vigorously toward getting your company the awareness needed. They train staff, build bridges, create cohesive relationships and communicate in a realistic, time sensitive and effective manner to key groups, as well as guide in the area of crisis management. They are assertive in Business Development, Communications, Marketing, Media and Public Relations and synergize all of the above to deliver preferred outcomes and feasible solutions for your organization Zeenat K. Mitha has over 26 years of experience working with Fortune 500 Companies, nationally respected institutions and organizations and a world renowned think tank. Mitha has a B.A. in Journalism from Southern Methodist University, an MBA from the University of New Mexico and a Fellowship in Public Policy from Georgetown University. While at Georgetown, she began lobbying for a children’s charitable organization that led her to guide non-profits in their work. She has supported various non-profit organizations through community service, board or committee positions, pro-bono work or charitable contributions, including Asia Society Texas Center, Aga Khan Development Network, Child Advocates of Fort Bend, Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and Literacy Council of Fort Bend County. Visit Sweetwater Specialty Consulting LLC’s website for details on how they can assist you in your business needs.

TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

.com • February 2017


PROFILES Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital


Malisha Patel, FACHE Vice President of Operations

17500 West Grand Parkway South Sugar Land, Texas 77479 281-725-5000

alisha Patel knew from an early age she wanted to help people and had originally set out to be a physician. During her freshman year at The University of Texas in Austin, Patel decided to attend a seminar in health care administration. By the end of the hour, she knew the role of a health care administrator would be more fitting for what she hoped to accomplish as a professional. Patel is an executive with Memorial Hermann Health System currently serving as the Vice President of Operations at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital. In her current role, Patel has operational and business development responsibility for both clinical and non-clinical departments ranging from perioperative services to engineering. Most recently, Patel helped lead Memorial Hermann Sugar Land on a journey to excellence culminating in the hospital winning the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence. Memorial Hermann Sugar Land is the first Houston area hospital to win the prestigious award. Patel also helped to oversee a recently completed $93 million expansion and renovation project on the hospital’s campus. The project totaled 285,000 square-feet in renovations and new construction, the centerpiece of which is a new six-story patient tower. Patel is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and is an active member of the Texas Hospital Association and the Indo-Asian American Chamber of Greater Houston. She is active in her community serving on several local boards, including the Literacy Council of Fort Bend and the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce.

Betsy de Vega

Margie Connolly

Founder / Head of School

Attorney at Law

rotecting Your Family’s Future” is not just a tagline. It is the philosophy and focus of Margaret McCullough Connolly, PLLC. When a person sits down with Connolly to discuss his family’s situation, he is not just another client. He is an individual within a family with a unique set of goals and circumstances. Whether planning for the distribution of hard-earned assets at the time of death, planning for the protection of one’s family in case of accident or disability or facing a major change in family’s status such as divorce, adoption or remarriage, Connolly will walk clients through the process step-bystep until they are comfortable with the resulting plan.

Margaret McCullough Connolly, PLLC 14015 Southwest Freeway, Suite 14 Sugar Land, Texas 77478 281-433-9488 fort bend


Photo by Brenda McMillan Photography.


etsy de Vega founded KnILE in 2008 and has over 30 years’ experience in education. De Vega has worked with students of varying learning capacities and is a member of Learning Disabilities Association (LDA), International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and is also a certified Irlen Screener. KnILE Center is an educational center for students who want a more personalized approach to learning. KnILE Center works with students of many different learning capabilities in its two cornerstone programs: KnILE Prep Academy, a grades 3 through 12, self-paced private school with low teacher-to-student ratios, and EduCoachNow, a one-on-one customized coaching program for grades K through 12. EduCoachNow combines cognitive skill training with academic skill training to arm students with the best tools for success.

KnILE Center 5419 FM 762, Richmond, Texas 77469 281-761-6610 magazine • February 2017



Arlene Rolsen

Certified Mindfulness Teacher Kids - Adults - Workplace


Fort Bend resident of 15 years, Patel’s passion is teaching meditation and wellness tools to kids and adults in the community. She recently resigned from her marketing career of 20 years to teach meditation full-time. Her corporate background and love of teaching led her to bring mindfulness in the workplace. Big tech companies like Google, Apple and Intel offer mindfulness classes to their employees for stress-relief and to help improve productivity. Patel’s mission is for Houston-based companies to embrace this philosophy. “It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Patel, who understands the time constraints with full-time employment. Unfortunately, stress is a part of our lives. Bringing mindfulness in the workplace is a great way for companies to offer health and wellness options to their employees.



rlene Rolsen, CRS, has been helping buyers and sellers realize their dreams of homeownership as an investment in their future for over 39 years. Rolsen, a top producing agent, delights in introducing families to Fort Bend County, where they will not just find a house but will be blessed with a place to call home that offers a lifestyle with great schools, shopping, medical care, diversity, places of worship, parks and recreation. Rolsen remembers one of her seller’s remarks: “A buyer is buying the hope of a bright, happy future, and as sellers, we are selling a place where memories were made.” Rolsen enjoys helping buyers and sellers realize their hopes, dreams and memories, and she would like to help you achieve the home of your dreams too.

Coldwell Banker United 1226 Museum Square Drive, Suite 700 Sugar Land, Texas 77479 281-414-8400 •

Meditation & Wellness with Nina Patel

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GARDEN-GUY.COM magazine • February 2017


281-208 - 4400

By Zeenat Kassam Mitha




The History of

Valentine’s Day


ave you ever wondered about the origins of the beautiful celebration of love observed on February 14th? When we present our loved ones with cards, chocolates, flowers and gifts and plan special dinners, do you ever think about how Valentine’s Day began and why? What did it represent then, and how did it become a day celebrating love around the world? Saint Valentine of Rome is commonly associated with “courtly love” and celebrated on February 14th. Although not much of St. Valentine’s life is reliably known, it is greatly accepted that St. Valentine was a 3rd century martyr and buried on the Via Flaminia to the north of Rome. The legends accredited to St. Valentine vary, but most traditions share that in one stage of his existence, he was the former Bishop of Terni, Narnia and Amelia and was on house arrest with Judge Asterius due to discussions of faith and religion. St. Valentine pledged the validity of Jesus, and the

Cupid’s Arrow: A Valentine’s Day Symbol In classical mythology, Cupid is the god of desire, attraction and affection. Often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus and the war god Mars, Cupid is contemporarily shown as a winged cherub drawing his bow to inspire romantic love, often as an icon of Valentine’s Day. Cupid carries two kinds of arrows: one with a sharp golden point and the other with a blunt tip of lead. A person wounded by the golden arrow is filled with uncontrollable desire, but the one struck by the lead feels aversion and desires only to flee. The use of these arrows is described in works such as the Latin poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the 15th century poem The Kingis Quair attributed to James I of Scotland.

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judge instantly put Valentine and his faith to the test. The judge had a blind daughter, and he asked St. Valentine to restore her sight. It is said the judge vowed to do anything for Valentine if he succeeded. Placing his hands onto her eyes, St. Valentine restored the child’s vision. Judge Asterius graciously followed Valentine’s requests after that. Judge Asterius was baptized, he destroyed the idols around his house, and he fasted for three days with his entire 44 member household. The judge also freed all of his Christian inmates. St. Valentine was arrested again for proselytizing and was led to Rome under the emperor Claudius Gothicus. What storytellers relay is that St. Valentine was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. These were both reflected as serious crimes. A bond between the saint and emperor began to flourish until Valentine attempted to convince Claudius of Christianity. Claudius was furious and sentenced Valentine to death, demanding him to renounce his faith. Because he refused, St. Valentine lost his life outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269. It is said that Pope Julius I built a church near Ponte Mole in his memory, which gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini. In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church removed St. Valentine from the General Roman Calendar, as very little was known about him. However, the church still acknowledges him as a saint, citing him in the February 14th slot of Roman martyrolgy. St. Valentine is seen as the patron saint of affianced couples, engaged couples, happy marriages, love, lovers, young people, greetings, bee keepers, epilepsy, fainting, plague and travelers. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses, and his feast day is celebrated on February 14th. St. Valentine’s Feast Day was the same as the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia. In Roman mythology, Lupercus is the god of shepherds. His festival was celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of his temple on February 15th. St. Valentine’s Day is an association of the two and represents a day of love – just like it is today, as sweethearts show their love and devotion for one another with heartfelt gifts. Wishing all of you around the Bend a very loving and treasured Valentine’s Day!

.com • February 2017


BRAIN TEASER By Myles Mellor

How Do You Spell

By Peter Vonder Haar

L-O-V-E? Release Date: February 7th

It’s both shocking and also not that hard to believe it’s only been 50 years since it became legal in this country for mixed race couples to marry. Less about the Civil Rights movement itself or the Supreme Court case that gives the film its name, Loving instead focuses on the relationship between the Lovings, Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) and the dayto-day manner in which they attempt to navigate the forces arrayed against them by both the state of Virginia and the nation itself. Director Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud) gives the film its intimate feel, which contributes to Loving’s dramatic weight.

Across 1 Most good-looking 4 Valentine’s Day flower 7 Visited 8 Song words 9 ____ and play 12 “Can’t get you ___ my mind” Justin Bieber song 13 “Favorite ____” Justin Bieber song 17 Wearing the latest trends 18 Valentine’s Day message (3 words) 20 He plays music at clubs 23 School exams 24 Person to look up to See answers on page 59.

fort bend

magazine • February 2017


Down 1 Connect on the phone 2 Good places to get good deals on clothes (2 words) 3 It makes a foot cosy 4 Drizzy Drake music 5 Harry Potter’s mailman! 6 You hunt for them at Easter 10 “Baby... we can’t go nowhere but ___” Justin Bieber song 11 Secret message maybe 14 Big friendly dogs 15 It’s to ___ for 16 You Tube messages 17 Smile at 19 “Totally __” 21 Hot new Idol judge 22 Guy

By Patti Parish-Kaminski

Fort Bend

Sweethe I

know it seems like we just said, “Happy New Year,” but here we are in February already – the “month of love.” This month, our Cultural Columnist Zeenat Mitha tells us all about the history and origin of


Valentine’s Day. So, now that we know where Cupid’s Arrow came from, we thought it would be fun to ask a few of our Fort Bend friends a question: “What are your plans for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day?” The answers to this question were indeed “lovely,” and best of all, one lucky winner received a complimentary sweetheart dinner for two at Brandani’s Restaurant & Wine wife, Dee, and I don’t Bar! Who was the lucky couple? We will let celebrate ‘love’ on one you know who the winning sweethearts were day; we do it every day of our lives. We never depart without in our next issue, but in the meantime, stay saying, ‘I love you.’” focused – on Valentine’s Day that is!


~ George Holmes

Bob & Carole Brown


inner at Fernando’s with chocolates and red roses!” ~ Carole Brown

Biji & Geof Nesossi


would send a Thank You card to God, thanking him for all these years Geof and I have spent Valentine’s Day together.” ~ Biji Nesossi

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.com • February 2017


Allen & Jane Owen


his will be our 50th Wedding Anniversary this year, and needless to say, I need to do something very special for my Valentine. I just bought Jane a new red car, which looks like a Valentine heart, and I guess I will get a card and maybe some candy and a nice dinner to go with it.” ~ Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen

Amy & Gordon Berkstresser


will celebrate Valentine’s Day with my wonderful husband, Gordon Berkstresser. Every day he treats me like a princess. This Valentine’s Day, from beginning to end, I will show him he truly is my Prince Charming.” ~ Amy Mitchell-Berkstresser

Celebrate Your Valentine

Trina & Omar Mata


oth my husband and I teach Catholic School Faith Formation Class, and because Valentine’s Day falls on our class day, Tuesday, we are celebrating with a special class party.” ~ Trina Padilla-Mata

Brian Dodson, and I always “My husband, attend the Houston Museum of Natural Science Sugar Land’s Valentine’s Dinner on the 14th! We have time to tour the museum as we sip a cocktail, then we’re seated for a lovely dinner. After dinner, there is a presentation by one of our museum experts, usually with some fascinating ‘behind the scenes’ stories. It’s a nice, relaxed way to spend Valentine’s Day with a group of like-minded people.” ~ Adrienne Barker

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fort bend

magazine • February 2017




is in the Air HYDRATING KIT Correct visible signs of aging and deeply hydrate skin for a younger looking, revitalized complexion. Everything you need to treat, enhance, protect and moisturize your skin is this advanced anti-photo aging system. Dr. Shel Wellness and Aesthetic Center, 1437 Highway 6, Suite 100 in Sugar Land. Call 281-313-7435;

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VALENTINE’S CELEBRATION AT THE FLOWER BAR Celebrate Valentine’s Day at the Flower Bar – a unique way to express your love as you work together to create a beautiful rose floral arrangement. $80/couple • Friday, February 10th • 7:30 to 9 pm • BYOB Deep Roots TX Floral Studio, 13837-A Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land. Call 346-262-5418;

RIDE IN STYLE Give your sweetheart a hot new ride this Valentine’s Day from With thousands of vehicles in stock, you’re sure to find a ride that you will love! Texas Direct Auto, 12053 Southwest Freeway in Stafford. Call 281-499-8200;

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.com • February 2017


YOUR HEART’S DESIRE A Charles Krypell Ivy Design, a pendant in sterling silver wrapped in 18k yellow gold. This timeless masterpiece is an essential addition to her collection. Make this Valentine's Day heartfelt. Special price: $315. Loggins Jewelers, 14015 Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land. Call 281-242-2900;

AVEDA LOVE™ COMPOSITION OIL Your whole body deserves love. Give it authentically with certified organic, sensual oil created with love. AVEDA Love™ is a nourishing, aromatic oil for body, bath, hair and scalp with a sensual aroma. Salon Eben & Day Spa, 15510 Lexington Boulevard, Suite G in Sugar Land. Call 281-980-5160;

PICK A GARDEN GUY GIFT CERTIFICATE FOR YOUR VALENTINE Make someone’s landscaping dreams come true. Gift certificates start in amounts as small as $150. Garden Guy; and

ZO SKIN HEALTH LEVEL 2 ANTI-AGING PROGRAM Help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, promote a more even-looking skin tone and finer pore appearance, preserve and maintain a more youthful-looking complexion and help prevent future skin damage with this anti-aging program. Sugar Land Face and Body Plastic Surgery, 16926 Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land. Call 281-313-0555;

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magazine • February 2017



The Clements Athletic Booster Club Presents the Rowdy Ranger Booster Ball The Clements High School Athletic Booster Club’s Rowdy Ranger Booster Ball presented by title sponsor Mercedes Benz of Sugar Land will be an amazing night of boot scootin’ and bull riding fun, food and excitement on Saturday, February 18th at Constellation Field from 7 to 11 pm. The entire community, alumni and Clements’ athletic supporters are invited to come out and boot scoot to the band Easy Money, challenge coaches to a ride on the mechanical bull and enjoy great food, fun and more. Round up your friends and rally together for great silent auction items, wine pull fun and making Rowdy Ranger memories of a lifetime, all to support Clements High School student athletic programs. At the end of the evening, guests will saddle up and ride away knowing they made a difference. Current sponsors include Mercedes Benz Sugar Land, VLS Recovery Services, Dennis E. Halford DDS, MD, William V. Jordan III, DDS and the Demeris Family.

Clements High School Coaches Laine Skelton and Bobby Darnell with Mercedes Benz Sugar Land’s Mike Baches and Derek Brown. Photo courtesy of Clements High School.

For more information regarding donations, table sponsorships or individual tickets, contact or visit

Fort Bend Regional Council on Substance Abuse Presents Annual Helen Cordes Award Dinner Olympic Silver Medalist Dotsie Bausch will speak at Fort Bend Regional Council’s (FBRC) “Changing Lives and Giving Hope” Helen Cordes Award Dinner on Thursday, February 23rd at Sugar Creek Country Club. An Olympian and silver medalist from the London 2012 Olympic Games, a seven-time U.S. National Champion, a former world record holder and a two-time Pan American gold medal winner, Bausch is in her 15th year of racing. She will speak on Mental Toughness and Courage in Life, Recovery and The Courage to Be Imperfect. The Cordes Award Dinner is held in honor of individuals who have given time, experience and expertise to FBRC. The 2017 Honorees will be community advoDotsie Bausch. cates Ann and Jeff Council. Ann was one Photo by John Segesta. of the organization’s original board members, and the Councils have long been supporters of FBRC. Vincent and Regina Morales will serve as Honorary Chairs. For years, the Morales family has volunteered with FBRC’s Summer Leadership Camps for Lamar Consolidated high school students. Co-Chairing the dinner are Lisa Regan and Jonee Barnett. “A few years ago, I would have thought that anyone with

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a substance abuse problem just needed to use a little willpower to overcome their addiction,” said local Miracle Method business owner Jonee Barnett. “That was before a loved one of mine was affected. My experience with the destructive nature of this disease and how it affects everyone involved fed my desire to help. I was invited to attend Fort Bend Regional Council’s Helen Cordes Award Dinner, where I was extremely moved by the success stories I heard and the mission of the organization. And I’m thrilled to co-chair the 2017 dinner with Lisa Regan.” The Cordes Award Dinner honors Helen Cordes for her generous community spirit and many community achievements. Cordes served on FBRC’s Board of Directors from 1991 to 1997 and was president from 1992 to 1995. During that time and long afterward, she served FBRC with such a sincere passion for the mission that she has inspired all who have shared the privilege of working with her. Proceeds from this fundraising event fund treatment and youth prevention programs to break the cycle of addiction in families. Sponsorships are available from $1,500 to $7,500. For more information, contact Debbie Ortiz at 281-207-2406 or

.com • February 2017


Larry Caldwell, D. D. S. Dentistry for Children and those with Special Needs

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Inspired by Nature for Your Valentine

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.com • February 2017


Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees Names New Campus and District Leaders During the December 12th Regular Board Meeting, the Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) Board of Trustees named new leaders. Rodney Chant is the new Director of Athletics; Damian Viltz is the new Executive Director of Facilities and Operations; Robert Scamardo is the new Legal Counsel and Jason Soileau is the new principal of Arizona Fleming Elementary. Chant is coming to FBISD from Pasadena ISD, where he currently serves as the Director of Athletics. Prior to that, he was the Assistant Athletic Director for Pasadena ISD. Chant began Rodney Chant. his career in 2003 at Pasadena Memorial High School. Chant earned his bachelor’s in All Level Physical Education with a minor in Speech from Howard Payne University. He also obtained a master’s degree in Mid-Management from the University of Houston – Clear Lake. Viltz comes to FBISD with more than 20 years of military experience. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy and recently served as the Chief Staff Officer of Naval Damian Viltz. Beach Group One. Viltz earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Prairie View A&M University. He also has a Master

of Business Administration in Financial Management from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and a Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership from the University of Oklahoma. Scamardo brings more than 25 years of legal experience to Fort Bend ISD. He is currently an attorney at Rogers Morris & Grover, LLP. Scamardo started his career in 1985 as a legislaRobert Scamardo. tive aide for Senator John D. Rockefeller IV. Scamardo eventually moved up the ranks as an associate, attorney and partner at other law firms before landing in his current role. Scamardo obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with a minor in History from St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict, Louisiana. Soileau has been named the new principal of Arizona Fleming Elementary School. Most recently, Soileau served as assistant principal at Kelly Lane Middle School in Pflugerville, TexJason Soileau. as. He began his teaching career in 1994 as a third and fifth grade teacher and has also worked at an elementary bilingual campus as an administrator. In 2003, Soileau was awarded Teacher of the Year at Sherrod Elementary in Arlington ISD, and in 2016, he received the Kelly Lane Staff Member of the Year. Soileau earned his Bachelor of Arts in Special Education and Elementary Education from McNeese State University and a master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from Northwestern State University.

fort bend

magazine • February 2017



Fort Bend Charities, Inc. Vehicle Raffle Ford F150 Truck Winner

Andy Meyers handing Javier Infante keys to the 2016 Ford F150 Truck with Walt Sass, Jon Strange and Jay Morris.

It is Commissioner Andy Meyers’ favorite time of the year – the time to present the much needed funds to charities that benefit from Fort Bend Charities, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that the Commissioner began many years ago. After 10 years of hosting a Charity Golf Tournament, in 2015, Meyers launched the Fort Bend Ranchers’ Ball, which has proven to

be a huge success. In 2015, the Fort Bend Ranchers’ Inaugural Ball raised $252,000, and this year, the donations increased to nearly $290,000 through the hard work of the dedicated committee led by Katy residents Jon and Sue Strange. Meyers and his hardworking committee members have now raised over $1 million for very worthwhile charity causes. Meyers is grateful for the Strange’s faithful support by chairing the Charity Committee for the last 12 years. He is also grateful to Host Committee Co-Chairs Tricia and Ed Krenek and Cheryl and Kenneth Stalinsky for helping make the 2016 Fort Bend Ranchers’ Ball one of the most exciting and rewarding social events this year. “We could not do any of this without the faithful support of our community and the committee members who generously give of their time, talents and treasure to help the less fortunate among us. This is what it is all about,” said Meyers. One of the biggest draws of the evening was the vehicle raffle. The grand prize was the choice of one of three vehicles: a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT Coupe donated by Johnnie Smith of Lone Star Chevrolet, a 2016 BMW X1 donated by Maria Moncada Alaoui of BMW of West Houston or a 2016 Ford F150 XLT Truck donated by Steven Humphrey of Lone Star Ford. All of the dealerships are part of the Sonic Automotive family of dealers. With such excitement around this event, the committee has already scheduled this year’s Fort Bend Ranchers’ Ball for October 21st at Safari Texas Ranch. For more information, visit

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Environmental ProTech: Quality Water Treatment and Excellent Service Environmental ProTech enters 2017 with excitement and gratitude. Owners Robert and Mindy Kersey, along with their amazing team, embark on the company’s 21st year in business, treating water for families and commercial customers throughout Fort Bend and surrounding counties. Environmental ProTech is a full-service water treatment company helping in the removal of hardness, chlorine, chloramines, arsenic, iron, lead, bacteria and a host of other contaminants. Mindy, who facilitates the company’s daily operations, thanks God, her hardworking team and the wonderful customers! The company’s focus remains the same from their 1996 inception: to provide high-quality water treatment equipment accompanied with exceptional customer service all for an honest, fair price. Ending 2016, Environmental ProTech continued their support for a children’s home in Kpando, Ghana. HardtHaven Children’s Home began 10 years ago by Edem Adjordor, caring for kids orphaned by the effects of AIDS/HIV. Today, the home houses over 25 children and continues to support kids well into their teens and early 20s, providing scholarship opportunities and skills training. Two employees of Environmental ProTech left for HardtHaven to volunteer in the community. Over the course of a month, the two spent time at the children’s home playing, reading, tutoring and loving the community. They also spent time working on broken water wells in the greater Kpando area. Environmental ProTech looks forward to working with community leaders, establishing a water and sanitation committee for housing supplies and educating villagers on the importance of upkeep and maintenance. Visit for more information.

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er n r Co iron

’ ck B s atri P d Ki By

Child See, Child Do


can’t tell you how many times I have been frustrated by my child behaving better in public than he does at home. Call me crazy, but it always seems children are at their sweetest when at a friend’s house, while they reserve all of their high-octane rebelliousness for our humble abode. But the truth is that I’m not crazy, and scientists were kind enough to prove my sanity. In a peer reviewed study published in Psychological Science, a group of researchers placed toddlers in front of three boxes. The preschooler could put a toy in any box, but if he put it in one particular box, he got a chocolate as a reward. After conditioning the child to always put the toy in the same box, the researchers had that child watch several other children put treats in the other boxes without getting treats. When the first child was then asked to place the toy in a box again while their peers watched, they overwhelmingly chose the box that the other kids chose, knowing they would not get a treat. Translation? Kids value acceptance and commonality with their peers more than they do the rewards that adults provide.

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The study went a step further and discovered that the child was more likely to choose a non-reward box if he saw three peers choose it once each rather than if he saw one peer chose it three times. So, the more friends they see do it, the more likely they are to do the behavior. Thus, the environment parents place on their children has more power over their behavior than the threats or rewards that parents may offer. Interesting, huh? For me, it is important to use this technique with the kids in our programs. When a preschooler is misbehaving, it is tempting to rely on either individual punishment or tangible rewards, but the most effective way to change that child’s behavior is actually to let the child see other kids doing the behavior correctly as much as possible. The best way to do this is turn the behavior into a game with rewards. For example, we play Magic Trash Treasure. After a game or craft when the floor is a mess, we get the kids to collect as much trash off of the floor as they can and show it to a coach before throwing it away. Whoever picks up the “magic treasure” piece gets to lead the line to the next station. If any child isn’t helping clean up, coaches redirect them not with promises of treats or punishment, but rather by pointing out all the other kids doing the activity, and even having other kids ask the child to join in. Parents can apply this in countless ways. Whether it is potty training a child, breaking a bad eating habit or encouraging sharing with others, exposing a child to peers who exhibit the desired behavior is an invaluable tool. This doesn’t stop with preschoolers. In fact, peer pressure is one of the most powerful factors in a child’s decision making process all the way up through high school. With that in mind, parents can ensure their child gets off to the best start by partnering with like-minded parents and friends to create an environment of positive peer pressure.

.com • February 2017




Kid Friendly Private Schools & A f t e r S c h o o l A c t i v i t i e s


Fort Bend Christian Academy Century Fine Arts The Walden School Seriously Addictive Mathematics (S.A.M) Creative, Kid-Size Snacks When Fun Fulfills a Purpose

fort bend

magazine • February 2017



absolutely! Kid Friendly Fort Bend Christian Academy

Celebrating 30 years of service to Fort Bend County, Fort Bend Christian Academy (FBCA) exists to glorify God through excellence in college preparatory Christian education. FBCA is a Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 private, college preparatory Christian school located on a 35-acre campus in the heart of Sugar Land. With an enrollment of 800, students attend over 100 area churches and are active members of the Fort Bend county community. Students at FBCA receive an academically challenging course of study with curriculum designed to provide a superior spiritual and intellectual environment. An Honors Degree Program, Advanced Placement options and dual credit classes are offered at the high school level, and middle school students with accelerated educational development may also participate in an honors curriculum. Spiritually, academically and professionally qualified, all teaching staff are certified educators, many possessing a master’s degree or higher. FBCA boasts small class sizes, uniforms, a hot lunch program, before and after school programs, as well as enrichment classes, clubs and strong community service involvement. With competitive, state championship athletics and an award-winning fine arts programs, 100 percent of FBCA graduates are accepted to college, most to their first choice school, and include National Merit scholars, military service appointees and recipients of numerous scholarship offers. Contact the admissions team at or call 281-263-9143 for more information about FBCA.

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.com • February 2017


Century Fine Arts: Planting the Seeds of Creativity At Century Fine Arts (CFA), the goal is to provide an environment for students of all ages, interests and abilities to explore the interdisciplinary world of the fine arts. Whether one wants to study an instrument, sing or act, the school offers comprehensive programming through private lessons, group master classes, workshops and performances. CFA is unique in that it provides music theory and sight-reading classes as part of base tuition for music lessons; this allows students to master the underlying musical concepts in addition to learning the voice or instrument. CFA understands how all of the fine arts disciplines are interwoven. For example, singers can take an acting class that encourages freedom of expression and emotion to better communicate the musical text. Pianists and violinists who need to work on posture or muscular coordination can benefit from yoga classes designed for instrumentalists. Not just for musicians, CFA allows anyone needing help with public speaking to work on vocal projection, reducing anxiety in front of an audience and improving selfconfidence. Staffed with highly trained professionals who motivate and inspire, students receive the highest quality of instruction. Studies have proven that learning an instrument or a fine arts discipline encourages mind and body coordination, builds memory and concentration and teaches patience. CFA sets the stage for students to unearth their creative gifts and to paint the most beautiful picture on the canvas of their lives. CFA is located at 3527 Highway 6, Suite 220 in Sugar Land. Contact information@centuryfinearts. com or call 713-702-3167 for more information. See ad on page 52.

absolutely! Kid Friendly


Now Accepting 2017 Registrations

Infants through Pre-Kindergarten Private Kindergarten through 2nd Grade

You have high expectations... and so do we.


“I have been blown away by the progress my son has made in Summer Camps Mrs. Paula’s kindergarten class. She allows Ryan to explore learning, •Soccer & T-ball while patiently helping him organize, regulate and work with others. •Gymnastics If only all kindergarten teachers were like Mrs. Paula!” – Parent Testimonial •Tae Kwon Do

•Piano Lessons •Kumon •Ballet & Jazz

Extended Day & Transportation to Area Schools

Infants thru Age 12 Call for details

Kindergarten through Age 12

Mike McGilvray - Director/Owner for 22 Years HAAEYC Administrator of The Year 2012

16103-A Lexington Blvd. (behind First Colony Mall) • 6:30am - 6:30pm

281-980-0022 •

Coming March

Special Advertising Section

Summer Fun Guide

The Walden School NAEYC Accredited Parent testimonials say it all: “I have been blown away by the progress my son has made in Mrs. Paula’s Kindergarten class. She allows Ryan to explore learning while patiently helping him organize, regulate and work with others. If only all kindergarten teachers were like Mrs. Paula!” The Walden School is a dynamic NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) Accredited school, welcoming infants through Kindergarten, and is highly endorsed, providing a strong foundation for future success in elementary education. The program is rich in multi-method teaching practices with innovative science and nature-based studies, literature-centered reading and exceptional math instruction. With a child-centered program with leading curriculum, the first and second grades promote growth with individualized instruction and maximum direct teacher-to-student interaction. The Walden School offers a great summer camp program through fifth grade. Children can learn through field trips, reading and math lab, swimming, gymnastics, taekwondo and more. Visit the Walden School, located behind First Colony Mall at 16103-A Lexington Boulevard in Sugar Land, and meet Director Mike McGilvray, 2012 Administrator of the Year, along with his experienced staff. Hours are 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For more information, visit or call 281-980-0022.

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magazine • February 2017



absolutely! Kid Friendly

Let Your Child Excel in Mathematics with S.A.M

Planting the Seeds of Creativity

Music Lessons:

Summer Camps:

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Musical Theatre for Children

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Session I June 5-16


Session II June 19-30

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Century Choir:


July 5- 28

Or email: 3527 Highway 6, Ste. 220 Sugar Land, Texas 77478

Music Ensembles: July 31- August 1

Artistic Director: Dominique McCormick 20 years experience teaching voice and piano in the United States and France, Queens College and Paris Conservatory Doctorate in Voice from CUNY Graduate Center – New York, NY Performed in over 300 productions of opera and oratorio nationally and internationally TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

.com • February 2017


There are many children who are afraid of mathematics. Have you ever thought that if the child has a strong foundation in mathematics, he will develop self-confidence and positive thinking? The Seriously Addictive Mathematics (S.A.M) program is suitable for children from ages four to 12 and is based on Singapore Math pedagogy, the world’s best Mathematics program according to Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. The S.A.M curriculum consists of more than 30,000 pages that have been meticulously designed by a team of professional educators. Through caring S.A.M certified trainers, children develop practical skills in critical thinking, metacognition, heuristics, logical reasoning, mathematical modeling and word problem analysis. A typical Singapore Math class at S.A.M involves prolonged engagement with students by the way of an anchor task that incorporates the Concrete Pictorial Abstract (CPA) approach. The CPA approach enables children to gradually transition from visualizing what they see in concrete form to abstract form. Singapore Math introduces a middle step between the concrete and abstract, called the pictorial approach. When students reach algebra, they already met the core concepts pictorially. S.A.M’s holistic approach to mathematics is individual based, allowing children to learn at their own pace and ability. More than merely rote learning and practice, S.A.M believes in empowering children with the essential skills for the future, not just their proficiency in mathematics! For more information, call 832-9994245 or visit

absolutely! Kid Friendly


he ultimate kid-friendly snack comes as a package deal – simple, delicious, nutritious and fun. One option that readily meets those demands are apples, pears and oranges perfectly sized for small hands, mouths and appetites.

While smaller sizes allow fresh fruits to easily fit into bento boxes and brown bags for a wholesome lunchbox companion that leaves little waste, a dash of creativity also transforms these fruits into a favorite snacktime star – from crunchy critters to sweet treats. Available in three-pound pouches and found in the fresh produce aisle, Lil Snappers come seasonally in a wide array of fruit varieties, including organics, grown by a sixth-generation family farming operation, Stemilt Growers. Options range from popular apples such as Gala, Pink Lady and Granny Smith, to delicious Bartlett pears, Bosc pears and more. Try out these recipes for pint-sized snackers, and find quick and easy recipe ideas at

1 Lil Snappers apple 1 Mini marshmallow Cut apple in half lengthwise and remove stem. Remove core from one apple half. Slice apple half without core into 8 wedges to serve as critter’s legs. Set aside second apple half, which will serve as critter’s body. Take two legs and make simple zig-zag cuts into flesh to create “claw-like” shape. On a plate, arrange critter’s legs, fanning them out, then place claws in front of legs and reserved apple half on top for the head. Cut mini marshmallow in half. The gooey side of each will easily stick to critter’s head to serve as eyes.

1 1 1 1 2

Lil Snappers pear Slice orange rind Marshmallow Grape Toothpicks

Cut pear in half lengthwise. On a plate, lay pear cut-side down. Using peeler, slice 3 inches of rind from orange. Trim sides to result in a long, thin rectangle. Coil length of rind around finger and hold to set shape. Cut one slice from end of marshmallow. Then, cut that round in half to create two half-moon shapes. The gooey edge of each half-moon will stick to top of pear half to serve as critter’s ears. Break toothpick in half and place picks in location for critter’s eyes, leaving about 1/4 inch sticking out from fruit. Slice ends off of one grape and place domes over toothpicks to serve as eyes. Using toothpick, make a hole in back end of critter to place tail. Stick end of coiled orange rind into hole using toothpick to wedge rind into fruit. Reshape coil as needed. Remember to remove toothpicks before nibbling.

Source: Family Features fort bend

magazine • February 2017


absolutely! Kid Friendly

When Fun Fulfills a Purpose


arents know there is a small window of time to make a meaningful, positive impact on children and shape who they may become as adults. A large portion of that influence comes at home, but it often also involves school, friends and extracurricular activities, many of which can help families make the most out of childhood experiences. In fact, an increasing number of families are introducing youth to enrichment programs before kids begin their formal education. A survey by Forrester found that millennial parents are more likely to engage their children in activities at a younger age. They want to introduce their children to a diverse set of experiences, allowing children to discover their talents and skills. Balancing this heightened level of engagement with the demands of hectic family schedules means parents are increasingly challenged to select the most meaningful activities for their children. While most extracurricular activities help children socialize and learn new skills, some go further in areas like character building, good citizenship and exploring future goals. Often, the most effective programs work to deliver those outcomes without focusing on them, subtly teaching skills through activities young people consider fun. Consider Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, which most associate with camping and outdoor adventures. While boys spend time transforming a block of wood into a race car and learning how to shoot an arrow, the underlying program helps create a strong foundation of leadership, service and community. A study conducted by Tufts University of kids ages six through 12 found that youth who participate in scouting exhibit strong moral values and positive character attributes, allowing them to embrace new opportunities, overcome obstacles and become better prepared for future success. As one of the nation’s largest and most prominent valuesbased, youth-development organizations in the country, TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

Eagle Scout Jared A. Libin and Scoutmaster Andy Ralph of Troop 1631 in Sugar Land.

Boy Scouts of America is applying this proven approach in introducing new programs designed to reach youth who may not be interested in building fires. “Scouting offers youth and their families life-changing experiences they can’t get anywhere else – from outdoor adventure to building robots, youth learn the value of hard work and experience the thrill of it paying off,” said Michael Surbaugh, chief scout executive for Boy Scouts of America. “With new programs designed specifically to expand their potential and explore their personal interests, Boy Scouts of America isn’t just an after-school activity. We are helping pave pathways to bright futures.” According to Surbaugh, scouting programs are focused on providing experiences that youth and their parents want. From astronomy and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) based skills for future professionals to outdoor adventure, such as camping and paddle boarding, scouting can give direction to the curiosity youth have for life. .com • February 2017


absolutely! Kid Friendly Photo by David and Sue Tong.

Charting a Path The decision to involve your family or child in an extracurricular activity requires several considerations. After all, these activities can help youth build a stable foundation of values and character that help them reach their full potential. When choosing activities for your children to become involved with at an early age, consider the following:

1 2 Eagle Scouts of Troop 1248 Bryton Flecker, Zachary Adams, Trevor Rivers, Cameron Shih, Matthew Collins and Nathan Gee from Fort Bend Christian Academy.

Diverse experiences – Look for programs that offer a multitude of experiences to keep it fresh and interesting for your child. Experienced mentors – Evaluate the training volunteers and staff members go through to ensure your child gets the best experience possible. Build a solid foundation – Ask questions about how the organization teaches children about values and character. Start early – Getting youth involved in extracurricular activities Sugar Land Boy Scout Troop 441 Eagle Scouts and brothers Mark at a young age can help and Christopher ZumMallen. with their development. Maximize your time – Extracurricular activities can be time consuming, but many organizations provide flexibility for families’ busy schedules. Make sure to ask questions about required meetings or activities to ensure the program fits with your schedule.


Encouraging New Experiences In an effort to further expand unique experiences for youth, Boy Scouts of America has introduced several innovative programs that bring exciting opportunities to youth and families. Lion: Research has shown that involving kids in scouting at a young age builds character and better prepares them for future success. Rooted in understanding the impact and importance of involving kids in scouting at an early age, the Lion pilot program, combines concepts of character development, leadership skills, personal fitness and citizenship with age-appropriate, fun activities for kindergarten-age boys and their parents. STEM Scouts: Jobs in STEM-related fields are expected to grow 17 percent by 2018, and salaries in those fields are on average 26 percent higher than salaries for other disciplines. With STEM-related careers on the rise, the STEM Scouts pilot program helps boys and girls learn more about science, technology, engineering and math through interactive, hands-on activities. The program helps youth prepare for the future by conducting experiments and learning about lesser-known innovators to demonstrate to youth that people with similar backgrounds to their own can become accomplished STEM professionals. Exploring: The expanded Exploring program offers youth and young adults ages 14 to 20 real-world career experiences that help young men and women build confidence and discover fields where they may find their passion and excel in a future career, such as law enforcement, firefighting, aviation, engineering, medicine and others. Learn more about scouting programs and how to get involved at

4 5

Christion Chancellor of Troop 148 in Sugar Land with his Eagle Scout project at Seguin Elementary. Source: Family Features and Boy Scouts of America.

fort bend

magazine • February 2017



Fort Bend Chamber Announces New Leadership for 2017 The Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce (FBCC) is proud to introduce a new slate of members to the Chamber Board of Directors, including a new Chairman of the Board, as terms began in January. Dr. Sterling Carter, president and chief executive officer of Sterling Physical Therapy & Wellness, is the next Chairman of the Board. From being a Chamber member, the Healthcare Di-

vision Chair and a Fort Bend Leadership Forum graduate to now serving as the Board Chairman, Carter’s level of progression throughout the years is an accreditation to his commitment to the Fort Bend County business community. “I am honored to serve the Fort Bend County business community as the 2017 Chairman of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce. We were designated in 2013 in The New York Times as the most diverse county in America. This is also reflected in our leadership. We are breaking barriers again by appointing our first African American to hold the position of Chairman,” Carter said. “Kudos to the Fort Bend Chamber for their commitment to this important issue.” With new leadership, outgoing Chairman Mike Dobert of HR in Alignment instilled his full confidence in the direction being taken. “We have had an extremely successful year, and believe that 2017 will be a continuation of that trend. I look forward to continuing my active involvement as past chair in support of Sterling.” The Chamber Board of Directors welcomes six new board members, each serving their first two-year term, while five current members retired as of January. Dobert will become Immediate Past Chairman for the ensuing year before closing out his tenure with the Chamber Board in 2017. For more information, visit

Photo by Randy Koslovsky.

New Board Members: Dustin Fessler, Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey PC Hanif Juma, Ace Business Finders Tiffany Halfon, Smart Financial Angelica Guerra, Minute Maid Kristina Shakelford, Community Impact Newspaper Priti Singh, Associate Testing Laboratories Retiring Board Members: Brian Machart, Fort Bend Dental Allison Wen, Safari Texas Ranch Jenny Smith, Smart Financial Jeff Cook, Minute Maid Kamal Ariss, Woodway Enterprises

Ben Swan, treasurer; Mike Dobert, past-chair; Rehan Alimohammad, legal counsel; Keri Schmidt, president and chief executive officer; Malisha Patel, chair-elect and Sterling Carter, chairman.

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Johnson Development Hires Allison Bond as Marketing Director Premier residential developer Johnson Development Corp. has hired Allison Bond as Director of Marketing. Bond is responsible for marketing campaigns and promoAllison Bond. tions designed to generate homes sales for Fort Bend master-planned developments Cross Creek Ranch in Fulshear and Imperial in Sugar Land, as well as contributing marketing and communications strategies for Johnson Development’s largest master planned community, Sienna Plantation in Missouri City. “Johnson Development is a highly respected company known for delivering a first-class product,” Bond said. “It’s exciting to be part of the team behind nationally-recognized, award-winning communities.” Bond has been part of Houston’s marketing, communications, media and advertising community for more than 20 years. Most recently, she served as marketing director for financial services firm SureTec. Her background also includes working for Sugar Land-based Freed Advertising, where Johnson Development’s Sienna Plantation was a key client. “Allison’s energy and creative vitality are a perfect fit for Johnson Development,” said Doug Goff, chief operating officer for the company. “In addition, she is well-known in the Fort Bend area, a bonus in managing such high-profile developments.” Bond is a member of the Urban Land Institute, serves on the board of directors for the Houston chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) and is an AMA Mentor Program participant. For more information, visit www.

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High School HOT SHOT

By Joan Frances

Meet Shreyas Balaji


hreyas Balaji, a senior at Dulles High School, has achieved unprecedented success in academics and is highly respected by his teachers and peers. He has an impressive resumé of accomplishments and recognition for his hard work. With so much to offer the world, Shreyas has an exciting and fulfilling future ahead of him. Shreyas has attended the Math and Science Academy all four years of his high school career. He is a National Merit Semifinalist and a National Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar. Shreyas is the co-president of the Science National Honor Society, president of the Computer Science Club and Science Bowl, a member of Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society and a founding member of the Science Olympiad Club. When asked about his leadership skills, Shreyas said, “Here’s a secret: I don’t like leading in its own right. It’s stressful and time-consuming. However, there are some things I’m passionate about and some skills I’ve developed that I want to share. I love physics and computer science. I lead clubs and competition activities in both of these fields in order to represent Dulles and foster achievement by my peers.” In addition to his commitment to academics, Shreyas has been actively engaged in math and science competitions. For the past three years, he achieved 1st place at the 6A Texas Math and Science Coaches Association (TMSCA) State Science competition. He was also selected to attend the U.S. Physics Olympiad Training Camp last year.

S h r e ya s Shreyas’ favorite teacher is his Organic Chemistry and Modern Physics teacher Dr. Drew Poche. “Dr. Poche has actively encouraged my passion for physics and science in general. He seeks to connect with his students and values explanation of concepts, avoiding placing exaggerated emphasis on grades and assignments. He makes college level courses approachable and fun through his insight and humorous commentary. I’d like to thank him for encouraging curiosity and working with us students.” Shreyas’ school life has brought fond memories and friendships. “At Dulles Math and Science Academy, I’ve met several other people exceptionally passionate about math, science, sports, technology, music and dance. These people learn because they want to, not because they’re compelled to. I’ve met many individuals who take initiative to do a kind deed. I’ve been inspired by people who’ve struggled through personal hardship with resolve and grace. I’ve made friends who challenge me to try new things and laugh with me through good times, bad times and normal times.”

Shreyas enjoys challenging himself. “In one of the Kung Fu Panda movies, when confronted, Po responds taciturnly with something along the lines of ‘First, I must eat.’ This resonated with me. I feel it’s important to face challenges on your own terms with self-confidence. I like exploring and set ambitious goals for myself. Coordinating a tournament, teaching an unfamiliar concept, performing in a recital and competing for high stakes are each demanding and stressful tasks. I believe in doing everything in stride – fitting tasks in and not backing down. First, I’ll finish this book. Then, I’ll deal with that impatient email. Then, I’ll cram for my final. I can get a lot done if I don’t allow myself to get overwhelmed by a false sense of immediacy and pressure.” Shreyas is awaiting responses from several colleges and is considering majoring in some fusion of physics, mathematics and computer science. Whatever the decision, there is no doubt he will be an asset to society. Congratulations on your devotion, commitment and insightful attitude Shreyas. We look forward to watching you make an impact in society in your future.

“I can get a lot done if I don’t allow myself to get overwhelmed by a false sense of immediacy and pressure.” – Shreyas Balaji TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

.com • February 2017


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absolutely! focus media celebrated the season with a dose of holiday cheer at Texas Land & Cattle Steak House, where the team enjoyed delicious eats, a White Elephant gift exchange and a recap of the year’s successes. Tammy Hampton and Patti ParishKaminski.

Joan Frances, Sarah Bearden and Jessica Kij.

Marinela Taylor and Alexa Goldstein.

Andrea Rigamonti and Molly Ellis.

Sharon Hilburn and Kay Garrett.

Grace and Joey Belleza.

Geof Nesossi, Mary Favre and Elsa Maxey.

TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

.com • February 2017


Fort Bend residents joined close to 400 guests for Interfaith Ministries’ (IM) For All Humanity Luncheon held at Hilton Houston Post Oak. The event raised more than $220,000 for IM’s programming, including refugee resettlement.

Dianne Claussen and Julie Brune.

Erum and Amyn Gillani with Yasmin Jivani.

Peggy Cherry and Charlett Frumin.

Zeenat Mitha and Soha Haque.

Veronica Felix and Dawn Harvey.

Juliette Breeze, Shelena Lalji and Mary Kobell Joyce.

On December 5th, Troop 1631 in Sugar Land recognized six new Eagle Scouts at their Court of Honor ceremony. Their path to Eagle involved a collective total of 361 camping nights, 571 miles hiked, 193 volunteer hours, 194 merit badges and high-adventure treks and many leadership activities.

Houston Texans Ambassador J.J. Moses, a former Texans player, presented Stafford High School senior Taten Blue with a ceremonial check during a School Pep Rally. Blue was one of eight Greater Houston area 12th graders to receive a $5,000 scholarship from the Houston Texans and Reliant Energy. Congratulations!

Congratulations to new Eagle Scouts Tejas Murali, Mitchell Nguyen, Zack Dagnall, Spencer Reitz, Kody Ngo and Danny Penczak.

fort bend

magazine • February 2017




Celebrating the holidays at the 1883 Historic Moore Home in Richmond at a private dinner were Leslie Woods, Patti ParishKaminski, Elizabeth Duff-Drozd, Maggy Horgan and Claire Brandani.

Carl Drozd, Tim Kaminski, Jay Horgan and Ron Brandani also attended the event, which benefited the Fort Bend Museum.

The future is not only bright – it’s Cougar Red! Fort Bend County and University of Houston (UH) dignitaries gathered at the UH Sugar Land Campus to recognize the academic accomplishments of students at the UH Sugar Land 15th Annual Scholarship Dinner.

George Foundation Trustees and scholarship recipients Jim Condrey, Sahar Zafar Mahmood, Ivan Rosas, Caitlin Bearicks, Rene Fenner, Zubaida Faisal, Dorte Equitz, Amanda Crandell, Ijeoma Anyanwu, Samuel Hopkins, Michelle Alley, Denice Mayorga, Shannon Shulby, Merziya Gaffar and John Null. Jay Neal, Patty Godfrey and Robert McPherson.

TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

.com • February 2017


Asians Against Domestic Abuse’s High Tea held at Off the Vine Bistro in Missouri City provided the perfect opportunity for guests to learn more about supporting women in need.

LaTanya Maxey, Asma Gowher and Camille Hicks.

Zeenat Mitha and Patti Parish-Kaminski.

Shantha Raghuthaman and Namita Asthana.

Evelyn Traylor and Joann Lee Dunmire.

Kalpana and Rashmi Sharma.

May Tape and Mona Parikh.

Roshan Sharma and Mehul Parikh.

The installation of newly elected Fort Bend County officials was held on January 1st at the Fort Bend County Courthouse. Officials included Commissioner Precinct 3 Andy Meyers, Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, Place 2 Gary Janssen, Constable Precinct 1 Mike Beard, Constable Precinct 2 Gary Majors, Constable Precinct 3 Wayne Thompson, Constable Precinct 4 Trever Nehls, Commissioner Precinct 1 Vincent Morales Jr., 240th District Court Judge Chad Bridges, 387th District Court Judge Brenda Mullinix, 400th District Court Judge Maggie Jaramillo, 505th District Court Judge David Perwin, County Court at Law No. 5 Judge Ron Cohen, County Attorney Roy Cordes, Tax Assessor Collector Patsy Schultz and Sheriff Troy Nehls.

fort bend

magazine • February 2017



The Classic Chevrolet Extravaganza Car Show featured fun for the whole family! Guests strolled among classic corvettes, pick-ups, convertibles and Cameros and enjoyed live music, refreshments and a moonwalk and face painting for the kids.


Cherry Hoagland with Kristen and Joel Benavides.


Ray and Diana Aguilar with Mark Hudec and C.J. Provenzano.

Jim and Sue Lockwood.

Debbie Hudec and Peggy Provenzano.

Frank Tarbert, Marvin Ottmer and Betty Higgins.

TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

Joe Coufal and Francis Garcia.

Isabelle, Michelle, David and Ezra Selesky.

.com • February 2017


Fort Bend-Harris Retired Educators met in November to recognize veterans and help provide soup and boxes of crackers for local families in need of food.

Jack Hall, retired educator and son of a former Fort Bend ISD school nurse, performed a medley of patriotic songs, ending with a sing-along of God Bless America.

Photos by Evelyn Smith.

Cadet Airman Katheryn Ramirez, Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Elena Escobar, Cadet Captain Maria Labrador, Cadet Captain Mark Cantered and Chief Lionel Jackson honored veterans at the Fort Bend-Harris Retired Educators’ November meeting.

Diana Leggett with veteran Marvin Bateman’s photo and medals, along with veterans Augustine Alamo, Paul Hillis, Larry Addison, Leon Brundrett and Phil Dolozal.

Paul Hillis, Carol Evans, Kathy Aaron, Lindy Miller and Debbie Reynolds filled boxes with soup and crackers for the Fort Bend ISD Cheer Project.

Friends enjoyed the January art opening of Stacey Welchley’s exhibit, Excuse Me, Waiter, at Vino & Vinyl. Welchley’s art combines paint and plexiglass surrounding themes of wine, records and nostalgia.

Stacey Welchley, Ally Galdamez, Tara Appleberry and Erin Ashley.

Amber Dorn and Marinela Taylor.

Keith and April Kaminski. fort bend

magazine • February 2017




REALTORS COMING APRIL 2017 ALLOW US TO SPOTLIGHT YOU TO YOUR COMMUNITY As a professional, you’ll want to be seen in our special PROFILE sections. Bring new clients to your office, and distinguish yourself among the top professionals in the area with this unique opportunity to showcase your skills. Our PROFILES are the ideal format to inform readers about your advanced training, specialties, client-friendly environment and community involvement.

To advertise: 281-690-4242 • TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

.com • February 2017




F irst, there were the

Joyous, Extraordinary Women Enriching Lives




















February 2017 Winner “Lucky Falls” By Sheri Vossos Congratulations Sheri, you’ve earned a $50 gift certificate to a restaurant!

ENTER TO WIN Fort Bend Focus Magazine is looking for great amateur photos. Any subject matter will be considered, black and white or color, special effects and/or edited are not necessary. The entry must not have previously appeared in any publication. A WINNER EVERY MONTH Each month’s winner receives a $50 gift certificate to a restaurant and the winning photo will be published in our magazine. To claim your prize, e-mail Alexa at alexa@absolutelyfocusmedia. com or call 281-690-4242.

Please make sure to send some basic information about every photo you submit such as: who, where, when, a title, your name and daytime phone number. By submitting an entry, the photographer gives Fort Bend Focus Magazine the right to use and publish their photograph. There is no contest deadline.

NO LIMIT TO ENTRIES To submit a digital photo, e-mail the jpeg file to Grace@ Digital photos must be 300 dpi HIGH RESOLUTION at size of at least 10” wide.

TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

.com • February 2017




N ext, came the

Generous, Enthusiastic Men Serving

absolutely! AUTO REVIEW By Steve Kursar

2017 HYUNDAI ELANTRA T he 2017 Hyundai Elantra sedan is all new for this model year, and it is slowing becoming one of the best compact cars in its segment. This car looks and feels like a luxury vehicle. With just one look inside, you’ll have to agree that the interior feels expensive, too. It may be inexpensive, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. Surprisingly, the new Elantra is in its sixth generation. It seems to have lived a stealth existence as a very affordable but excruciatingly bland car that appealed to buyers looking for the least expensive ride from point A to B. It didn’t help that this Korean car had a terrible reputation for reliability. But, just as Japanese manufacturers have won over a skeptical American public by selling super reliable vehicles, Hyundai is rapidly doing the same. Expect nothing less than up-to-date styling design and quality engineering in the latest Elantra. The 2017 Elantra is both wider and longer than the previous model and boasts class-above total interior volume. It has so much room, in fact, that the 2017 Elantra is classified by the EPA as a midsize car. The driver-oriented interior is very quiet due to integration of sound absorbing materials in key areas throughout the car. Every Elantra seat, covered in either cloth or available leather, is made of SoyFoam, an environmentally friendly seating foam made from soy bean oil.

TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

Two all-new powertrains, both designed to enhance fuel economy and everyday driving performance, appear in the new 2017 Elantra. With an MSRP of $17,150, the standard engine is a 147 hp, 2.0 liter, Nu MPI Atkinson four-cylinder engine that gets EPA estimated fuel economy ratings of 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. The really intriguing powertrain is the 128 hp, 1.4 liter Kappa turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine that is only available with the Eco trim and is mated to an EcoShift, seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Although the fuel economy ratings of 32 mpg city and 40 mpg highway are impressive, the dualclutch transmission may confound and disappoint American drivers. This transmission is common in Europe but still new to the United States. Several auto manufacturers have introduced it here, and drivers have found it wanting. You’ll have to be the judge in regards to the Eco. If you’re looking to downsize, take a look at the new Elantra. You may discover a compact car that is larger than it appears. Follow Steve Kursar at .com • February 2017




Coming October 2017


Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Physician Performs Robotic Single-Site Hysterectomy Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is now offering single-site robotic hysterectomies to patients. Duc Le, MD, a board certified obstetriciangynecologist, performed the procedure using the da Vinci surgery system, which utilizes advanced robotics, computer and optical technologies to provide enhanced vision, precision and Duc Le, MD. control. Physicians at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital use the da Vinci robot to perform a multitude of procedures, including, but not limited to: prostatectomy (removal of the prostate), nephrectomy (removal of the kidney), hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), myomectomy (removal of uterine fibroids), lung resections and colorectal surgery. Le is the first at the hospital to use the system to perform a single-site hysterectomy, which requires just one small incision. “With the da Vinci robot, we see everything in 3-D high-definition and magnification, which gives us an extremely close-up view of the area we are operating on,” said Le. “The system then translates our hand motions into small, precise move-

ments through the robot’s instruments. It’s a state-of-the-art tool for performing successful, minimally invasive procedures.” Similar to single-incision traditional laparoscopy, a singlesite hysterectomy performed using robotics technology removes the uterus through a small incision in the patient’s belly button. This procedure is virtually scarless and offers numerous other benefits when compared to abdominal or vaginal hysterectomies, which require large incisions and stitches. “Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is committed to implementing new technology like the da Vinci system to improve our ability to care for patients,” said Le. “Studies show that about one-third of all U.S. women will require a hysterectomy by age 60, and the single-site hysterectomy with the da Vinci system is a major advancement for patients, with less pain, fewer complications and faster recoveries when compared to the traditional method of surgery. It’s an extremely valuable tool that is making a real difference for women who need a hysterectomy.” To schedule an appointment with an obstetrician-gynecologist to find out if you are a good candidate for this procedure, call 281-274-7500. To learn more about Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, visit

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Welcomes Breast Surgeon Dr. Sandra Templeton to the Specialty Physician Group Board certified surgeon Sandra Templeton, MD, a longtime member of the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital medical staff, is joining Houston Methodist Breast Surgery Partners this month. Templeton specializes in diseases and surgery of the breast and is a well-respected breast surgeon of Fort Bend County. Her clinical expertise includes advanced breast surgery techniques, nipple-sparing mastectomies, skin-sparing mastectomies, oncoplastic procedures and benign breast diseases to include high-risk patients. The affiliation with Houston Methodist Sugar Land gives patients increased accessibility to the hospital’s outstanding breast cancer team of specialty radiologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists and will enhance communication and coordination with her patients’ care team. Templeton’s patients will also have improved access to clinical trials, support groups and the nurse navigator program at the Houston Methodist Breast Care Center at Sugar Land, which assists patients in scheduling and provides ongoing information and follow-up, improving their overall experience. “I am extremely pleased to be joining Houston Methodist Breast Surgery Partners,” said Templeton. “I truly believe that TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

Sandra Templeton, MD.

Houston Methodist Sugar Land is dedicated to providing the best care possible for patients. Lifelong breast care is a foundation of my practice, and being a full-time physician at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital will allow me to continue to offer the most advanced treatment options and empower my patients by providing a thorough understanding of their diagnoses

and treatment plans.” Templeton is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and has been a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons for more than a decade. She is an alumna of Baylor University and received her doctor of medicine degree from Baylor College of Medicine where she taught before focusing on her practice in Sugar Land. To schedule an appointment with Templeton, call 281-4943000. Her office is located on Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s campus in Medical Office Building 3, Suite 220. For more information, visit .com • February 2017



OakBend Medical Center Announces 2016 Physician of the Year

Joe Freudenberger, Dr. Gildardo Andres Ceballos and Jeff Council.

Dr. Gildardo Andres Ceballos has been named OakBend Medical Center’s 2016 Physician of the Year. The presentation was made at the annual physician party held at the Jackson Street Campus. The hospital received several nominations for the Physician of the Year award, and Ceballos was praised for his support of OakBend Medical Center and the OakBend Medical Group staff and for being someone who is friendly and smiles at everyone he encounters. The Physician of the Year award, OakBend’s highest recognition, is presented annually to one outstanding physician who

possesses significant practice experience, compassion, kindness and sincerity that translates not only to their patients, but to their nurses and other staff members who work closely with them. These physicians look and act professional at all times and are a role model both professionally and personally. According to Donna Ferguson, vice president and chief operating officer of OakBend Medical Group, “Dr. Ceballos always looks to resolve issues in a positive and collaborative manner. His excellence shows in his patients who trust and admire him, and he has the ability to make each patient feel special.” Ceballos is board certified in internal medicine, and his style of practice is to be attentive to his patients’ needs while providing education and care. Ceballos is a Fort Bend County resident who speaks fluent Spanish as well as English. “I wasn’t expecting this,” said Ceballos. “I’m very proud of OakBend and all of the physicians here. We are here for the patients, and I thank all of the doctors and specialists for what they do. I am really excited about receiving this award.” “Dr. Ceballos is a warm and genuine person, as well as a warm and caring doctor. He is extremely deserving of the Physician of the Year Award,” stated Joe Freudenberger, chief executive officer of OakBend Medical Center. “He is a hard worker and dedicated to his patients and to this community. His patients adore him, and his colleagues respect him.”

Submit your request and get the next issue of Fort Bend Focus delivered to your mailbox! Fort Bend Focus Magazine wants to provide readers with the best community feature magazine possible. We want to focus on our READERS and mail exclusively to residents who invite us into their home. Requests are FREE to all Fort Bend addresses*. Name:_________________________________________________________________ Address:_____________________________________________________________ City: ____________________________________________ Zip: ___________________

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magazine • February 2017

and request a FREE Subscription. 75

absolutely! DELICIOUS


g n i t r a t S


Apps and Starters Perfect for Game Day


ules may vary from one event to the next, but whether your favorite team kicks it,

runs it or dunks it, sports fans and food always provide a winning combo. Gather your friends for the next big game with a menu that gets everyone revved up for a win. A lineup filled with starters is just the ticket for a game day watch party or tailgate. Offering a series of finger foods and lighter fare lets your fellow fans grab a quick bite before the game or during a commercial break and continue snacking through the game. Make no mistake, serving up a lighter menu doesn’t mean you need to skimp on quality – just the opposite, in fact. Make every bite count by using exceptional ingredients and

introducing unexpected flavors such as the distinctive taste of Jarlsberg Brand Cheese, which has a rich, 60-year Norwegian heritage. Best known as a classic wedge, this mild, mellow and nutty cheese can also be served sliced, shredded and cubed. Hawaiian Sliders with Cheese, Ham and Pork are big on flavor and small on prep time. Then, keep the mouthwatering cheese coming with a whole new take on grilled kebabs. No game day is complete without pizza, and Grilled Pizza with Cheese, Prosciutto and Figs scores big with its unexpected blend of flavors for a pie that is smoky and tangy, sweet and savory, and briny and creamy all at once. Then, round out your menu with Cheese Quesadillas that combine the best of gooey, melted cheese with bacon and a deliciously tangy salsa for a lively burst of fresh flavor. For more ideas to liven up your game day menu, visit

Hawaiian Sliders with Cheese, Ham and Pork Servings: 3 3 Hawaiian bread slider buns 1 Cup pulled pork 3 Slices ham 3 Slices cheese Sliced pickles Dijon mustard, to taste Heat oven to 350 F. Separate buns and layer pulled pork, sliced ham and cheese. Place sliders on oven-safe tray, and bake about 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven, and gently remove top bun. Add pickles and mustard before serving. Source: Family Features TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

.com • February 2017


Cheese and Bacon Kebabs Servings: 4 18 Slices bacon 2 1/2 Cups cheese, cubed 18  Pearl onions 12  Long skewers Relish: 1/4 Cup roasted bell peppers 1 1/3 Tablespoons capers 2 2/3 Tablespoons olives 1/4 Cup cucumber 3 1/3 Ounces olive oil 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and grated zest Salt and pepper

Cut bacon slices in half and wrap around cheese cubes. Place cheese cubes and pearl onions on each skewer, alternating ingredients. Roast in pan or on grill 2 to 3 minutes on each side. To make relish, chop peppers, capers, olives and cucumber, and mix with olive oil, lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper.

Grilled Pizza with Cheese, Prosciutto and Figs Servings: 4 2 Cups pizza or tomato sauce 4 1/2 Cups pizza dough 3 1/2 Cups Jarlsberg cheese, coarsely grated 2 1/2 Cups thinly sliced prosciutto 8  Dried figs, each cut into six wedges Flour, for rolling Dried red pepper flakes Black pepper

Heat grill and warm pizza sauce. Divide dough into desired number of pizzas. On a floured surface, roll dough into long, thin ovals and spread with sauce. Sprinkle a light layer of cheese over sauce. Add a layer of prosciutto and a second layer of cheese. Dot with fig pieces, then season with red pepper flakes and pepper. Reduce grill heat, slide pizzas onto grill and close lid. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until crust is lightly charred and cheese is melted.

Cheese Quesadillas Servings: 4 4 1 4 1 1 1 1 6 2

Slices thick slab bacon Small chili pepper Medium tomatoes Small shallot Clove garlic Tablespoon coriander or cumin Salt, to taste Pepper, to taste Small lime (juice and zest) Slices Jarlsberg Original or Hickory Smoked cheese Large tortillas

fort bend

magazine • February 2017


Fry bacon, drain and chop. To make salsa, remove seeds from chili pepper and finely dice. Chop tomatoes, then dice shallot and garlic clove. Combine pepper, tomatoes, shallot and garlic with lime juice, coriander, salt and pepper to taste. Divide cheese slices and bacon on one half of each tortilla, top with 1/4 cup salsa and fold tortilla over, pressing down to close. In a medium-hot, lightly oiled pan, toast tortillas about 1 minute on each side. Cut each tortilla in half, and serve with remaining salsa on the side, or combine salsa with black beans and fresh chopped cilantro to make a side salad.

EVENTS February 1st and 2nd, 7 pm Annual String Fling Concerts

February 11th, 3 pm 5KRunDead Zombie Run

Fort Bend ISD middle school orchestra students will perform at Wheeler Field House, located at 16403 Lexington Boulevard in Sugar Land. Combined, the concerts will showcase more than 800 of the district’s beginning string orchestra students, who will join guest performers Rainel Joubert and Anthony Parce of the Houston Symphony. Admission is free. Visit or call 281-634-1100.

Watch out! Zombies lurk at every corner during the 5KRunDead Zombie Run! The run takes place at Sugar Land Memorial Park, located at 15300 University Boulevard in Sugar Land. Check-in is from 1 to 2:30 pm, with an awards ceremony and recovery party at 4 pm. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit the scientific research on cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Visit to register.

February 3rd, 7 – 9 pm River Pointe Church’s 18th Annual Father-Daughter Dance Dads, grandads and friends, escort your date to a tropical evening of food, dancing and fun at River Pointe Church, located at 500 Ransom Road in Richmond. There will be crafts, s’mores, photo opportunities and special guests as well! Tickets are $35 per dad. Register at

February 10th, 6 – 8:30 pm Family Fun Night Chili Cook-Off Bring the whole family for an evening of fun! This free event will feature a bounce house, crafts and of course chili at The Missouri City Recreation and Tennis Center, located at 2701 Cypress Point Drive. Call 281-403-8637.

February 11th, 10 am – 2 pm Winter Book Sale Visit the University Branch Library, located at 14010 University Boulevard in Sugar Land, for the Winter Book Sale! All proceeds support reading and other educational library programs. Visit

February 11th, Noon – 4 pm The 4th Annual Gumbo Smackdown Gumbo lovers come forward for the 4th Annual Gumbo Smackdown! This event will take place at Sugar Land Town Square, located at Highway 6 and U.S. 59 Frontage Road in Sugar Land. Visit

February 15th, 6:30 pm 3rd Annual Color Guard Preview Fort Bend ISD’s Department of Fine Arts will host its third annual Color Guard Preview at Hopson Field House, located at 3335 Hurricane Lane in Missouri City. This event will showcase exhibition performances of the District’s Color Guard organizations representing the band programs at Bush, Clements, Elkins, Hightower, Kempner, Marshall, Ridge Point, Travis and Willowridge. Visit

Presented By: February 4th, 6 – 8:30 pm 21st Annual Dad and Daughter Dance Calling all dads and daughters! Bop ‘til you drop at this special 1950s Sock Hop featuring dinner, dancing, confetti cannons and more at the Missouri City Community Center, located at 1522 Texas Parkway. For tickets, call 281-403-8637 or visit the Missouri City Recreation and Tennis Center at 2701 Cypress Point Drive.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECH Water Treatment Specialists

Every Saturday, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, rain or shine

TO ADVERTISE: 281.690.4242 or www.fortbend

198 Kempner St. at Imperial Sugar Land

.com • February 2017


EVENTS February 25th, 10 am – Noon Fort Bend Panhellenic Recruitment Workshop Young women who are high school seniors or collegians, along with their parents, who wish to know more about the recruitment process are invited to Parkway United Methodist Church, located at 5801 New Territory Boulevard in Sugar Land. Registration is not required. Visit

February 2017 Entertainment Lineup Board Certified Cardiologist Dr. Julia Adrogue.

Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, located at 18111 Lexington Boulevard in Sugar Land, features a dynamic entertainment roster of high profile performers throughout the month of February.

February 23rd, 5 – 7:30 pm Free Heart Health Screenings Visit Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Conference Center at 16655 Southwest Freeway to learn your 10 year risk for heart disease and receive cholesterol and blood pressure screenings. Screenings are by appointment only. Register at

February 25th, 8 am 8th Annual Campbell Elementary Fun Run and Cougar Carnival The Campbell Elementary Fun Run and Cougar Carnival will be a day of enjoyment benefiting the educational needs of Campbell Elementary teachers and students. This event is for everyone! All participants will receive a participant medal as they cross the finish line. Then, stick around to enjoy the food and games at the Cougar Carnival. The event takes place at 1000 Shadowbend Drive in Sugar Land. Visit

February 25th, 9 am – 1 pm The American Cancer Society Bark for Life

Representing their individual chapters were Jenna Marks, Pi Beta Phi; Madison Ellis, Delta Gamma; Peyton McNeely, Phi Mu; Kelsey Hendershott, Delta Delta Delta; Emma Millard, Chi Omega and Emma Hereford, Kappa Kappa Gamma.

February 26th, 8 am The Darling Dash

Dancing with the Stars: Live! Monday, February 6th 7:30 pm

Sting – 57th & 9th Tour Thursday, February 23rd 8 pm

Billy Crystal

Bring the whole family out to Constellation Field, located at 1 Stadium Drive in Sugar Land, for this 5K and 1K. Those who cannot participate in person are invited to run, bike, walk or swim in the Virtual Dash. All Darling Dash 5K proceeds fund As One Foundation activities, such as its sickle cell trait awareness program. For more information, contact or register at

Bring your best canine friend for a fun-filled day starting with a non-competitive walk and continuing with demonstrations, contests and games at The Club at Riverstone, located at 18353 University Boulevard. The event raises funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society’s fight against cancer. Call 786-239-2590 or contact

Saturday, February 25th 8 pm

February 27th, 7 pm Fort Bend ISD’s Annual Dance Showcase Come support your fellow Fort Bend ISD students and watch the beauty of dance! The Annual Dance showcase will display choreography from each Fort Bend ISD school at Wheeler Field, located at 16403 Lexington Boulevard in Sugar Land. Admission is free. Visit

SUBMIT YOUR EVENTS E-mail Include the event date, time, location and a short description of the event.

fort bend

magazine • February 2017


By Alisa Murray Nationally recognized portrait artist and awardwinning columnist.

Living the Sweet Life:



ho do you love? When you think about your life, do you have a clear understanding of the role that love plays for you? I know that I do. Love is the theme of this month’s issue, and my Valentine are on the cover. Inside that story is a tale of a great love for each other, for our children and of what we do. Once I heard a sermon that Bishop spoke, and he said that in the end, that was all we would have – the love from others we had touched along the way. Nothing else matters. I understand that lesson. Love is probably the one thing we all need. Many artists have sung about it, and I’d venture to state that all artists have had a muse that inspired them to create. We hear their songs, whether it is a lament on lost love or of profound joy of love at last, and all of us in every language can relate. Love is universal. The Bible tells us many truths and states quite clearly about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” Yep, it is pretty clear to me. In the many years that I have been on earth, I have learned the greatest thing we can all do for one another is to love. It is difficult to do when things are not going the way we had hoped. It’s harder still when tragedy strikes and leaves us left with many wonderings of why. In the end though, if you keep love in your heart and seek to find peace, you will find exactly that. God has His way with things. Being in love is different from having love, and it’s important to know that there’s a need in all of our hearts for both. For the better part of 29 years, I have been in love with Brian. We have grown in love through joys, strife, in sickness and in health, while grieving and through unexplainable


Brian and Alisa Murray.

joys and successes. We have lost two babies, we have raised two, and we have gained one brand new son-in-law! We have enjoyed each other fully through the years and have been a helpmate to each other through losing parents, grandparents, friends and family. For the better part of 19 years, we have loved what our talents have allowed us to bring by the way of joy and happiness to so many families. While oftentimes we capture the falling in love of new parents as they welcome and cherish their babies – an off spring of what their union in love has brought forth – we also capture the twinkles in the eyes of proud grandparents and the simple, purest love of a dog and his person. You might say we are to a certain extinct in the “love” business. #love was the number one used handler for 2016. It made me smile when I heard that, because it signified for me that the world – despite all of our differences – still “gets” it. I love the fact that love will always prevail in all circumstances. That should make everybody smile too! Fill your life with love each day of the year. Love what you do, who you are around and give thanks for each of the people in your life you get to touch. Happy Valentine’s! Take Care of YOU!

.com • February 2017


complex neurological conditions —treated in sugar land. At the Neuroscience & Spine Center at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, our physicians collaborate across specialties to diagnose and treat common to complex neurological disorders. With innovative and advanced treatment options, we provide the most comprehensive care close to home. Our team of physicians treats a variety of disorders, including ƒ Alzheimer’s disease and memory disorders ƒ Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) ƒ Back and neck pain ƒ Brain and spinal tumors ƒ Epilepsy and seizures ƒ Headaches and migraines ƒ Multiple sclerosis (MS) ƒ Muscle and nerve injuries

Muscular atrophy Myasthenia gravis Neuromuscular disorders Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders ƒ Peripheral neuropathy ƒ Sleep disorders ƒ Stroke ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

For more information, visit, or to schedule an appointment, call 281.274.7979.

February 2107 - Fort Bend Focus Magazine - People • Places • Happenings  

Fort Bend Focus Magazine is an award-winning publication that features People, Places and Happenings around Fort Bend and Katy areas.  Direc...

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