FORT BEND March 2020
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FORT BEND February 2020
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Have a young boy who can sing? Consider the Music Magic class.
'The ground broke' they Robert Jacobus releases
Author second book about the integration of sports in Texas
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Hope For Three introduces bridgebuilding autism driver training program
by MARQUITA GRIFFIN | firstname.lastname@example.org
Officers of the Missouri City Police Department with participants of the inaugural Hope For Three Police Traffic Stops and Positive Driver Outcomes program. From left are Officer Lex Paxton, Officer Ellis Williams, Marisol Amezaga, Jacob Martin and Justin Moehn. Back Row: Conor Garczynski, Christian Courtney, Matthew Cuddus , Marshall Jones and Officer Warren Simon. Kneeling: Officer Cinttia Argueta.
ope For Three has long been a powerful voice advocating for autism awareness in the Fort Bend community, and earlier this year, it continued its efforts with a new training program aimed at creating safe and productive interactions between law enforcement and drivers with autism. While it is not a state-regulated driver education course, Hope For Three’s new program — Police Traffic Stops & Positive Driver Outcomes — is a training session focused on drivers and traffic stop interactions. “The program is needed in the autism community as our children on the spectrum become teens and adults who have worked very hard to attain independence,” said Darla Farmer, founder and CEO of Hope For Three, explaining that one in three adolescents with autism, but without an intellectual disability, are licensed by age 21. The program, she emphasized, is beneficial for the drivers as well as law enforcement. “Many with autism do not understand rules or boundaries of social behavior,” she continued.“Some respond impulsively to their feelings without regard to certain social mores. Others react inappropriately as a result of sensory regulation problems.Individuals can also become overstimulated and have an unprovoked ‘meltdown.’ “It is possible for individuals to find themselves in trouble with the law without awareness of having done something wrong or without understanding what they did to get into trouble.” And this, Farmer stressed, is why the Police Traffic Stops & Positive Driver Outcome program is vital.The driver program is a component to the nonprofit’s Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program.Through CIT, law enforcement is trained on the characteristics of autism,
6 • West Fort Bend Living
engagement strategies, understanding and acceptance to assist those in the autism community. “As teens transition to adulthood, being able to get around on their own is a big step toward independence, enabling opportunities for social activities, post-secondary education and work,” Farmer said. “Our goal is to have the autism driving program implemented in all law enforcement agencies in Fort Bend County and the surrounding areas.”
An Incredible Start
Police Traffic Stops & Positive Driver Outcomes, which debuted in Fort Bend with the Missouri City Police Department on Jan. 8 and was sponsored by Union Pacific, initially caught Farmer’s attention while at a CIT session. In Hope For Three’s pilot session, eight teenagers and young adults, ranging from 14 years old to 37 years old, participated in hands-on activities that covered safe driving, obeying traffic laws, what to do the case of an accident and role-playing certain situations like traffic stops. Officers sat in, and stood outside of, the cars with the participants and advised them on the steps to take during a variety of scenarios. “It was incredible,” Farmer said.“The officers were very receptive and did a great job with the presentation.” As more police departments join the program, the training sessions will increase and run between one to two hours. The classes are limited to 10 drivers so that participants can receive focused one-onone instruction.
Registration for the sessions can be made by calling Hope For Three at 281-245-0640 or visiting its website at www.hopeforthree.org. The next session with Missouri City is scheduled for April. “We are working diligently to get other departments interested,” Farmer said, noting the nonprofit’s plans to contact Rosenberg Police Department and Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. “Our goal is to have at least six departments on board with the program within in the year.”
As a community resource and patrol officer with the Missouri City Police Department, Ellis Williams praised Hope For Three’s new driver program as a chance to“bridge the gap between the police department and the community.” Williams, who helped organize the program for the department and led the presentation during the pilot session, said the hands-on approach is beneficial for the drivers as well as the officers. He noted that as officers were training drivers about the rules of the road, they simultaneously learned about the behaviors of people on the spectrum — like auditory sensitivity, difficulty with eye contact and fidgeting. “With people on the autism spectrum as part of the driving community, it is important for officers to understand their behaviors, because behaviors can be misinterpreted,” said Williams, who is also a CIT officer.“One of the benefits of having this program is it will help avoid mistakes and stress in certain situations.” He takes a moment to consider his next point. “All officers are trained,” he stressed heavily. “But not all of them have the life experience.” Williams, who has been with the department for 15 years has had a variety of experiences that serve him well when engaging with the community, said the Police Traffic Stops & Positive Driver Outcomes program is a chance for officers to gain experiences that will serve them just as well. “It is a good program,” he said.“It’s an opportunity for everyone — families, officers and kids on the spectrum — to become educated.”
Understanding & Teaching
What is most important to know is that children on the autism spectrum want the same things as every other person.They want to drive.They want jobs.They want to be involved in their community, too. “And they are very capable of accomplishing those things,especially if others have empathy and are understanding of people who live with autism,” Farmer said.“Learning to drive is a huge deal for them, for their independence, so it is important for us to teach them what is expected.”
PICTURED ON THE RIGHT (top to bottom) Officer Warren Simon and Officer Lex Paxton assist Justin Moehn during a mock traffic stop. Marisol Amezaga training with Officer Cinttia Argueta. Officer Lex Paxton interacts with Marshall Jones during a mock police encounter. Officer Lex Paxton and Officer Cinttia Argueta work with Christian Courtney in Hope For Three’s new driving program. From left, Officer Ellis Williams, Officer Cinttia Argueta, Officer Warren Simon and Officer Lex Paxton To advertise, call 281-342-4474
In T he S potl ight
Annabelle’s Amazing Graces The van Deursens continue to raise awareness about a rare disorder by MARQUITA GRIFFIN | email@example.com
Photo by Light Shines Photography | The van Deursen family of Fulshear. Shelley and David and their children (from left) James, Matthew and Annabelle.
ittle vivacious four-year-old Annabelle van Deursen is learning to drive herself around these days, and in the process is grabbing hold of the independence her disorder would seemingly prevent her from achieving. The wheelchair she now has, not only offers increased mobility, but also provides Annabelle the means to interact with peers at eye level, a welcomed progression for a child who spent the majority of her prior days crawling everywhere. “She loves it and so do we,” said Annabelle’s mother, Shelley van Deursen, adding that Annabelle also has an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device — an adaptation communication tool for people with disabilities. The device, which can replace or supplement speech and writing for those with impairments, was “such a game changer for her and our family,” Shelley said. “We are absolutely thrilled with her progress and her ability to use it. “It is one of our biggest joys for her be able to ‘talk’ to us.”
GNAO1, A TRICKY DISORDER By traditional expectations, Annabelle should be walking, talking and moving through life like any other four-year-old kid. But she isn’t. Following a year fogged with questions, tests, concerns, re-tests and frustrations, Shelley and her husband Daniel were told Annabelle was diagnosed with a GNAO1 mutation — a rare neurological disorder that can cause, among other symptoms, developmental delays,
8 • West Fort Bend Living
abnormal movements, early infantile seizures, irregular muscle contractions, involuntary movements of the face and tongue and poor muscle tone. In a prior interview, Shelley said GNAO1 is “a little trickier than just simple diagnosis,” explaining that within the diagnosis there are different variants, and each child is affected differently, even if they have the same variant. For Annabelle, the mutation caused her to have developmental delays and a movement disorder, resulting in her inability to walk or talk.Annabelle is, however, completely cognitively appropriate for her age. “She is loving the public school PPCD program.We all are,” Shelley shared excitedly. “She continues with therapy weekly and is really learning how to ‘drive’ her wheelchair and work her ACC device to talk to us. I know Annabelle has so much to tell us, and as a 4 year old, it was becoming increasingly more frustrating for her to not be able to.We were just guessing what she wanted, now she can actually tell us. It’s amazing for us all.” Among “loving all things princess, coloring, painting, reading books and getting her nails painted,” Annabelle is also happy being a big sister to her brothers James and Matthew. “Annabelle excels at being a big sister,” her mother said, adding that watching her children bond is a blessing. “She loves to help me with her baby brother Matthew,” Shelley gushed.“She loves to hold him, give him a pacifier, push him in the swing and read to him. She is also loving to her little brother James.
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They have such a fun and loving relationship and they play so well together. “James is already such a great little brother to Annabelle as well,” Shelley added.“He really loves her and helps her when she needs it.”
NO FEARS, STRONG FOUNDATION The truth is Annabelle, and other children diagnosed with the GNAO1 mutation, do need help. According to The Bow Foundation, around 150 children around the world are known to be impacted by a GNAO1 genetic disorder. To date there is no cure. Although Annabelle has made progress over the past year, her parents can tell the mutation is progressing, too. “Her body seems to be getting a little more stiff and there have been a handful of times we have seen that she has trouble controlling her body and the way it moves. “This is very scary for her and us.” Yet fears don’t steer the van Deursen household, which Shelley said is built upon a strong Catholic foundation. “We know God is the ultimate healer and He can do anything,” she stressed.“I love when I know people are praying for our Annabelle, it brings me such peace.” Despite the many challenges the van Deursens must battle in regard to their daughter’s disorder, there is an abundance of joy in their household.Their days, Shelley said, are filled with laughter and all the cute idiosyncratic things children do. “We can’t get enough of it,” she said, adding that they are also grateful for the support swelling from the community . Daniel and Shelley notably praised Katy ISD for their daughter’s school, teacher, therapists, aides and school bus drivers. “It brings us such great joy that she loves school and she has made so much progress.“It is prayers answered for us.”
ANNABELLE’S BENEFIT As they adapt to and meet the challenges of their daughter’s disorder, the van Deursens also continue their work with the 501c3 nonprofit they founded called Annabelle’s Amazing Graces. The goal of their nonprofit is to raise funds to donate for GNAO1 mutation research through its annual fundraiser called Annabelle’s Benefit. Proceeds from the benefit are donated to The Bow Foundation, an organization started by two families, who, like the van Deursens, want a cure for their children who were also diagnosed with the GNAO1 mutation. In January The Bow Foundation granted $50,000 to Dr. Brian
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PHOTOS TOP TO BOTTOM: Photo by Light Shines Photography | Annabelle van Deursen loves being a big sister to her brothers James, 2, and Matthew 3 months. “We are doing really well, we are all so happy with the addition of Matthew and how much love Annabelle and James have for him,” said Shelley. Photo by Light Shines Photography | Annabelle van Deursen loves being a big sister to her brothers James, 2, and Matthew 3 months. “We are doing really well, we are all so happy with the addition of Matthew and how much love Annabelle and James have for him,” said Shelley. “Annabelle excels at being a big sister to both of her brothers,” said her mother Shelley. Both Annabelle and her parents are grateful for Annabelle’s AAC device which allows her to “talk.”
From left Rick and Connie Rogge (Annabelle’s grandparents); James van Deursen, Daniel van Deursen, Shelley van Deursen, Annabelle van Deursen, Christine Seligman, Ella Seligman, Jordan Seligman and Cassie Rogge at a prior Annabelle’s Benefit.
To advertise, call 281-342-4474
From left Renee Bain, Claire Pateman, Lauren Hughes at a prior Annabelle’s Benefit event.
Muntean, a researcher in the Martemyanov lab at The Scripps Research Institute, and $100,000 to the University of California, San Francisco. Both grants will be used to study GNAO1-related neurodevelopmental disorders. Such grants, Shelley said, is exactly why Annabelle’s Benefit donates 100 percent of its proceeds to The Bow Foundation. Last year the benefit raised $51,020 for the foundation. The 2020 Annabelle’s Benefit — a 5K run/1-mile walk event — will Dr. Kyle D. McCrea and Dr. Victoria Vo
Annabelle is first rate at being a helpful big sister.
be held April 4 at No Label Brewery in Katy.The race begins at 8:30 a.m. Ticket prices are $40 for adults and $25 for anyone 21 years old and younger. The event will feature a silent auction, raffle, live music by Chris Boise, No Label Beer, bounce houses, Snooze breakfast tacos, face painting, a balloon artist and even a wine pull. “Our goal is to cure the GNAO1 mutation through providing money
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needed for research and through prayer,” Shelley said.“And we can’t make Annabelle’s Benefit possible without our sponsors and donors.” Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor or donor can email Shelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
REFUSING TO GIVE IN Shelley offers advice to parents who may be experiencing life similar to her own: Never give up on something you want for your child, she encouraged. “It can be a struggle and a constant fight, but it will be worth it in the end,” she said.“Never set limits on your child, you never know when they will up and do something they weren’t ‘supposed to.’” “I have also learned to let go of what I imagined for Annabelle’s life, and now I live off of her happiness and her smiles — they are the best.” “If she’s happy, I’m happy.”
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Talk -of-th e-To wn
Wildscape program draws sizeable crowd of nature lovers
Lauren Simpson shares tips on how homeowners can turn their lawns into wildscapes, which will attract pollinators and help the entire community.
Story & Photos by SCOTT REESE WILLEY | email@example.com
Four of the nine Craig children show off a birdhouse they got free during the “Wildscape Your Lawn” workshop at the Rosenberg Civic Center.
ith nine children and one on the way, Amanda Craig of Richmond and her husband have good reason to want to grow their own produce. Amanda, a budding herbologist, attended a “Wildscape Your Lawn” workshop in hopes of picking up tips for using her lawn more productively. She took four of her children, who returned home with a free birdhouse. The seminar, held at the Rosenberg Civic Center, was hosted by the Coastal Bend Prairie chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists programs. About 100 people listened to Master Naturalist Lauren Simpson explain how they could wildscape their lawns — plant native grasses, shrubs and other plant life to attract butterflies, bees and other pollinators that help a community bloom. Simpson is the founder of St. Julian’s Crossing, a Facebook community which documents the pollinator and urban wildlifefriendly space she has made at her just-outside-the-Loop home. At the seminar, she offered visitors free seeds she collected from her backyard habitat. St. Julian’s is a pollinator-friendly, organic garden that is a certified wildlife habitation, certified butterfly garden and Monarch waystation. Virtually every plant at St. Julian’s provides food or shelter for insects, birds, lizards, etc., but St. Julian’s focus is luring insects that pollinate, such as bees, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, beetles and more. Simpson, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, said the average neighborhood yard may look pretty, but doesn’t support the range of wildlife that is crucial to a healthy environment and natural community. She said she hasn’t used pesticides on her property in five years.
14 • West Fort Bend Living
She offered audience members steps to creating a wildlifefriendly garden at their own homes for the enjoyment of families and the benefit of the community. She said the key to a successful wildscape lawn — one the neighbors won’t complain about — is to make it look like it was designed that way on purpose. Simpson also provided a handout that included websites dedicated to wildscaping, attracting pollinators, plants native to the region, the importance of pollinators, how to avoid the use of pesticides, and more. Bert Stipelcovich, president of the Coastal Prairie chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, said he was pleased with the seminar’s turnout. He introduced the rest of the chapter’s staff and board of directors: Terri Hurley, vice president; Katie Sallean, treasurer; Becky Waldo, secretary; Jerry Trenta, immediate past president; Bob Noeger, membership director; Kimberly Farou, program director; Robbin Mallett, communications director; Ramona Ridge, advanced training director; Johanna DeYoung, volunteer services project director; Jerry Trenta, Seabourne Creek Nature Park director; Carol Hawkins and Shannon Westveer, new class co-chairs; Amy Barta, new class representative; Jean Stipelcovich, state representative; and Max Dowell and Stacie Villarreal, advisors/program coordinator. The master naturalists are responsible for overseeing all the plant and wildlife at Seabourne Creek Nature Park. Westveer invited members of the audience to become Texas Master Naturalists themselves. To sign up for the class or to find out more about the master naturalist program, call 832-225- 6936 or email info@coastalprairie. org.
Park guide retires after 3 decades of sharing his passion Story & Photo by AVERIL GLEASON | firstname.lastname@example.org
fter more than 1,000 guided hikes across 30 years, Brazos Bend State Park naturalist David Heinicke led his last guided hike in January as an employee before retiring from the park.And he said he couldn’t help but be proud of the work he did and the knowledge he shared over the course of three decades. “I initially came to volunteer here 30 years ago because I wanted to return something to the park that I enjoyed and got so much out of,” Heinicke said.“After about five years of volunteering, I realized that this would be a great way to make a living.” Heinicke said he took a significant pay cut from working as a landscape designer to come to the state park, but no amount of money lost could dampen his happiness. “I haven’t regretted my choices for one day,” Heinicke said with a smile. As Heinicke led dozens of hikers on his last First Day Hike, he shared that this event was one of his favorites. “These First Day Hikes are pretty special to me,” he revealed.“You get a lot of people out here that normally wouldn’t come to the park. Over the years, I’ve met people who told me they haven’t been out here since their kids were little. Or they hadn’t been out here in 15 years or so. Special occasions like this hike tend to really bring people back out. “That’s pretty special.” “Other times, you’ll run into people that are middle-aged that come here and tell me,‘You led me in a hike when I was on a fifth-grade field trip.’ “These First Day Hikes bring out people with all different interests.
This will open their eyes to the beauty of the park or bring up feelings of nostalgia.” Heinicke said he was happy to end his time at the park teaching adults and children alike about local plants and animals. “My real passion is showing people the outdoors and getting kids interested in nature,” Heinicke explained. “The only way we’re going to Brazos Bend State Park naturalist David preserve this in the future Heinicke spent his last day guiding the First is if we interest kids in it Day Hike. today. That’s the kind of passion that drove me to do this.” Although Heinicke is retiring from the park, he said he will still volunteer. “It’s time to pursue other interests as well,” the 57-year-old said.“I’d like to volunteer at a few other places and share my time and knowledge with as many people as possible.” Brazos Bend State Park is located at 21901 FM 762 south of Richmond.
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Get your caladium bulbs from the Garden Club of Richmond by ROBERTA TERRELL
he Garden Club of Richmond is holding its annual Caladium Sale. Bulbs can be pre-ordered and will be available for pick-up from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.April, 1, 2 and 10 a.m. to noon April 3 at Joseph’s Coffee Shop, 202 Morton Street in Richmond. The bulbs are No 1 “fancy-leafed” caladium bulbs and are available in the following colors: red (Red Flash), pink (Carolyn Whorton), white (Candidum) and variegated (Tapestry), our popular newest offering. We can sell the bulbs only in batches of 25 of a single color. For example, you may order 25 pink and 50 red, but you cannot order 37 pink and 38 red. Prices are: $30 for 25 bulbs; $55 for 50 bulbs; and $100 for 100 bulbs. To order, please call Nancie Rain at 281-341-0588, email nrain@ comcast.net or Roberta Terrell at 281-343-9932, email robertaterrell@ gmail.com. The last day to place an order is March 22 and all orders must be paid for in advance. We appreciate your purchases as they make our community service projects possible. Caladiums have big heart shaped leaves that display amazing color combinations of white, pink, red and green. The plants love hot, humid weather and are native to the banks of the Amazon River in South America.These tropical plants are grown from a tuberous root often called bulbs. Easy to plant, they add a lush, exotic touch to summer gardens in our area, and, while most caladiums are at home in shade or partial
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shade, the varieties recommended by the Garden Club of Richmond, Red Flash, Carolyn Whorton and Tapestry, tolerate full sun. Candidums thrive in Shade or filtered sunlight and mix beautifully with ferns and impatiens. Caladiums are a wonderful way to enhance shady areas, provide a focal point for a sunny garden,or show off in stunning patio containers.
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Fort Bend Women’s Center celebrates 40 years of service by MARQUITA GRIFFIN | email@example.com
he Fort Bend Women’s Center is switching it up this year, replacing its expected Boogie and Giggle fundraising events with something special — an event dubbed “A Journey of Hope,” a jamboree highlighting the center’s four decades of service in the community. “We are so excited for this year’s 40th anniversary celebration,” said Fort Bend Women’s Center CEO Vita Goodell. To date, the nonprofit has helped more than 50,000 survivors of domestic violence and assault. This long “journey of hope,” said Eva Rushing, the center’s communications and marketing manager, “has led to an amazing evolution of programs and services to help provide survivors and their children freedom from abuse and a path toward independence.” Some such programs and services include a 24hour emergency shelter, a crisis hotline and free, longterm support services such as counseling, case management, legal advocacy, children’s services, rape crisis services, rental assistance and transportation — all of which are accessible to survivors from Fort Bend County, Harris County and surrounding areas. “In 1980, we could not have imagined that we would be given the opportunity to help so many victims in need. From a kitchen telephone helping callers in Rosenberg to now serving as the primary provider of free services for survivors in Fort Bend County, we have truly come a long way and have helped thousands of families get on the path to living an independent life, free of violence and fear,” Goodell said. “I’d say that’s something worth celebrating.” “A Journey Of Hope,” presented by PCCA, will be held at Anson Aviation in Sugar Land on March 21 from 6 to 11 p.m., in a unique airplane hangar on the runway. This event will include food stations, open beer and wine bars, private plane display, flight simulator experience, highend auction items, live music by Mango Punch and more. Ticket prices are $150 for an individual and sponsorships start at $1,000. For more information about the event, to purchase tickets or become a sponsor contact Patty Holt, the center’s events manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-344-5761. For more information about the center visit fbwc.org. “We are so grateful for all of our supporters along the way,” Goodell said. “And [we] are continuing to work hard at assisting survivors in their journey of hope and the fight against violence.” PICTURED ABOVE: Excited about “A Journey of Hope” are, from left, Jim Smith, Lizzie Harbin, Bryan Sparks and Marc DuPont with PCCA, the presenting sponsor for The Fort Bend Women’s Center’s celebratory fundraiser. “The journey back to freedom, self-sufficiency and independence is a hard one for many of the survivors we serve – Fort Bend Women’s Center is working hard to give them the very best opportunity to succeed,” Eva Rushing said.
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Taste of Fort Bend benefit draws hundreds of generous donors Photos by SCOTT REESE WILLEY | email@example.com
To adopt, foster or rescue animals, call Fort Bend Animal Services at 281-342-1512 or visit the facility at 1210 Blume Road in Rosenberg, Tx.
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Taking a moment to pose for the photographer Chief Jarret Nethery. 1Budzinski, are, from left, Natalie Curtis, Debbie Scheider, Kiki From left, Lorenda Finnegan, Gary Finnegan, Jennifer Cox and David Budzinski. 6 Adriane Gray, and Michael and Michelle Curley Ray and Dolores Rosales of Richmond, owners were among those who purchased tables at Lunches 2samples of Ray Rosales’ All-State insurance agency, enjoy of Love’s annual Taste of Fort Bend fundraiser. of food from restaurants across Fort Bend Sharon Schilling meets up with daughter Jennifer County during Lunches of Love’s annual Taste of 7Cox, who was helping to sell bottles of wine Fort Bend fundraiser. The Rosales were among during the Lunches of Love’s annual Taste of Fort several dozen sponsors who purchased tables. From left, Bill Mahler, Stephanie Mahler and Jorden Mahler flash smiles during the annual Taste of Fort Bend fundraiser. Lunches of Love board Chairman Tracy Gallimore, at left, and guests enjoy the tasty food and treats served at the nonprofit organization’s annual Taste of Fort Bend. Clockwise from Gallimore’s left are Carol Glasser, Jeannette Mathews, Loyce Anderson, Linda Hughes and Elizabeth Fairfield. Sarah Nethery bids on a purse during the silent auction. Nethery said she also bid on Astros tickets. Her husband is assistant Rosenberg Police
3 4 10 5
Bend fundraiser. Ron and Claire Brandani, owners of Brandani’s Restaurant & Wine Bar, were among the businesses that helped sponsor Lunches of Love’s annual Taste of Fort Bend fundraiser. Brandy Winner, Adriane Gray and Marina Roberts welcomed guests to Lunches of Loves annual Taste of Fort Bend fundraiser. Since its founding, Lunches of Love has provided millions of healthy sack lunches to school children. Kari Sezonov, left, and Wendi Sanchez show off the scrumptious cake treats served at the annual Taste of Fort Bend fundraiser.
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A Ente rt & rtainm e nt
Moana JR. boasts ‘amazing music’ and ‘stunning displays of beauty’
nspiration Stage is excited to announce its production of Disney’s Moana JR., at the Sugar Land Auditorium with eight shows over two weekends, starting March 27. Disney’s Moana JR. is an adaptation of the 2016 Disney animated film, bringing the adventures of Moana and her village of Motunui to life onstage. Moana JR. features all the beloved songs from the film, written by Tony®, GRAMMY, Emmy, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina, including “How Far I’ll Go,”“Shiny,” and “You’re Welcome.” This junior adaptation of Moana was recently made available for theatres to license for production. “It’s such an honor to be one of the first theatre companies in the greater Houston area to produce this touching and beloved show,” said Mandy Seymore-Sensat, Inspiration Stage’s artistic director and the director/choreographer for Moana JR. “It promises to be a show full of spectacle and In addition to performing, Hayden Colledge is active heart, with amazing music and stunning in the advanced theatre production class at Briscoe. displays of beauty. It will be a new favorite for audiences young and old.” This thrilling and heartwarming comingof-age story follows the strong-willed Moana as she sets sail across the Pacific to save her village and discover the truth about her heritage. Moana and the legendary demigod Maui embark on an epic journey of selfdiscovery and camaraderie as both learn to
harness the power that lies within. With empowering messages of bravery and selflessness, Moana JR. is sure to bring out the hero within each of us. Celebrating the rich history of Oceania and based on the beliefs and cultures of the people of the Pacific Islands, Moana was developed in collaboration with an Oceanic Trust – a group of anthropologists, cultural practitioners, historians, linguists, and choreographers from the Pacific Islands. Hayden Colledge, 14, of Woods Edge Estates, is the ensemble in Moana, JR., his fifth Inspiration Stage show. “Moana JR. is exciting because of the different culture you must learn to accurately portray the characters,” Colledge said.“Since we are one of the first companies in this area to perform the show, it’s a new experience for most audience members. Inspiration Stage is a great company that gives everybody a chance to be a part of their show, and teaches newcomers the basics of musical theater.” Moana JR., which will show at the historic Sugar Land Auditorium at 226 Lakeview Drive, offers eight performances: March 27 at 7:30 p.m.; March 28 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; March 29 at 3:30 p.m.; April 3 at 7:30 p.m.;April 4 at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.; and April 5 at 3:30 p.m. For ticket prices or more information about the theatre’s remaining shows or Summer Camp 2020 visit inspirationstage. com.
Music Magic starts in March by TIANA MORTIMER
oung boys who love music and singing are encouraged to enroll in the Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas Music Magic class, an eight-week music enrichment program for 6 and 7-year-old
boys. The Fort Bend Boys Choir offers this special class which bring music alive through movement, musical games, singing and other activities. Boys learn about rhythm awareness and pitch matching in addition to developing large muscle coordination, better musicianship and increase focus. The best part is that there are no auditions for this class. Mr.William R.Adams, the organization’s founder and artistic director, is returning as the director for this class — how cool! For this 23rd season of the Music Magic program, the class will meet on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m., beginning March 17 and ending May 5 at the First United Methodist Church Missouri City, 3900 Lexington Blvd. in Missouri City. Music Magic will then sing at the Fort Bend Boys Choir’s Spring
20 • West Fort Bend Living
Concert on Saturday, May 9. The cost for this course is $100 and boys will receive a free Music Magic T-shirt once classes start. Classes are limited in size so call the choir office at 281240-3800 to pre-register or visit its website at www.fbbctx.org. Be sure to stop by their Facebook page for the latest on the Fort Bend Boys Choir’s Music Magic class and the o r g a n i z a t i o n ’s p u b l i c performances. Photo by Terri Cannon | Ryan Foley singing in the Spring 2019 concert.
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The Big One-Oh! Wins BIG
Photo by Erika Waldorf | Jaxon Daniel (playing lead character Charley Maplewood), center, with fellow The Big One-Oh! JR. actors.
hen Inspiration Stage was asked to debut a world premier pilot production of a brand new musical in September 2019, they knew they were onto something big. “As the premiere pilot of a new junior show, the actors and artistic team have the opportunity to create original characters, create the scenic design and create the choreography,” said the show’s director/choreographer Mandy Seymore-Sensat last fall. “This pilot and world premiere is a huge honor and we are all jazzed to be a part of it. This is an amazing opportunity for our production staff and cast.” The investment paid off, with The Big One-Oh! JR being awarded the 2019 Broadway World Houston Award for Best New Play or Musical. Local actors featured in the production include: Alexandria Deanne Gomez, a Fieldstone resident; Campbell Baldon, a Greatwood resident; and Addison “Addie” Doss, a Brazos Lakes resident. Inspiration Stage’s win comes after a record number of nominations and votes for the 2019 BroadwayWorld Houston Awards, which were sponsored by TodayTix. Regional productions, touring shows, and more were all included, honoring productions which opened between Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019. Inspiration Stage produced The Big One-Oh! JR in cooperation with and at the special invitation of iTheatrics and Music Theatre International (MTI). iTheatrics adapts main stage Broadway musicals so they can be performed by kids in school and afterschool settings. It creates these adaptations for a distinguished list of clients, including MTI, one of the world’s leading theatrical licensing agencies. Through the pilot process, Inspiration Stage’s creation of this brand-new musical will eventually be available for all theatres to license in the future.
Photo by Erika Waldorf | Jaxon Daniel (playing lead character Charley Maplewood), center, gets into character with fellow The Big One-Oh! JR. actors. Photo by Erika Waldorf | The enthusiastic cast of The Big One-Oh! JR.
FRIDAY FILM SERIES: Iris is ‘more than a fashion film’
eleased in 2014, the film Iris pairs the late documentarian Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter), then 87, with Iris Apfel, the quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. More than a fashion film, the documentary is a story about creativity and how a soaring free spirit continues to inspire.The film will be shown at the University Branch Library on March 13 from 1:30 - 3 p.m. in Meeting Room 1. Iris portrays a singular woman whose enthusiasm for fashion, art, and people are her sustenance. She reminds us that dressing – and indeed, life – is nothing but a grand experiment. “If you’re lucky enough to do something you love, everything else follows.” The documentary will be followed by a discussion at approximately 2:50 p.m.The discussion will explore topics such as creativity, aging, fashion, art, individualism, and work ethic. This documentary is rated PG-13.This event is a collaboration with
22 • West Fort Bend Living
POV, the award-winning independent nonfiction film series on PBS (www.pbs.org/pov).
Podcast Club is ‘celebrating women’ for March theme
imilar to a book club, the University Branch Library’s Podcast Club is a monthly club for people who enjoy listening to podcasts on a variety of subjects. Each month, a theme will be selected, along with a short list of podcast episodes. Listeners will meet to discuss the podcasts they have listened to and the themes within them.This month’s meeting is set for 7 p.m. in Conference Room 1. In March, the theme is “Celebrating Women.”The list of podcasts from which to choose includes: ❀ “Women’s Social Clubs” – No Man’s Land by The Wing, 30 m. ❀ “The Sculptor, Edmonia Lewis” – What’sHerName, 39 m. ❀ “The Secret History of International Women’s Day” – Stuff Mom Never Told You, 46 m. ❀ “The Untold Story of Women & Space History” – When Women Win, 34 m. ❀ “Finally,An All-Female Spacewalk” – Short Wave, 12 m.
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TSTC diesel program powers students’ success by AMANDA SOTELO
he construction and transportation industry in the Houston area and statewide is rapidly growing, meaning that a skilled workforce is very much in demand. Texas State Technical College is helping to fill that need with its technical programs like Diesel Equipment Technology. TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology instructor Brandon Foster said that program faculty receive numerous calls from employers who have attended Employer Spotlights on campus and want to recruit TSTC graduates. “Our graduates are in high demand. Skilled diesel technicians are in high demand,” he said. “And we’re working diligently to ensure that our graduates are job-ready.” To accomplish that, the program focuses on hands-on training to teach the appropriate skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the industry. Students have access to a large shop that is equipped with industry-standard technology, such as training aids for hydraulic, brake and electrical systems, to learn skills in diagnosing, troubleshooting, repair and maintenance. The shop is also complete with heavy-duty diesel trucks, bulldozers and front-end loaders. “All of our equipment allows for a real-world experience,” said
Foster. “And the skills they learn can be applied immediately to tasks they will find in the workforce.” In addition to technical skills, soft skills such as resume building, interviewing, writing, leadership and communication are also a focus for the program. “Soft skills are just as important as technical skills,” said Foster. “They have to be effective writers and communicators; all jobs require you to be.” After completing one of three pathways — certificate one, certificate two or an associate degree — a student can work as a diesel mechanic technician, maintenance technician, construction equipment technician, engine specialist or heavy-duty equipment mechanic. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow five percent through 2028, faster than all other occupations, with a median pay of $22 per hour. Companies who have hired TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology graduates include Chevron, Freightliner, Halliburton, Holt Equipment, John Deere and Peterbilt. Diesel Equipment Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Fo r m o r e i n fo r m a t i o n , v i s i t t s t c . e d u / p r o g r a m s / DieselEquipmentTechnology.
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Keepin’ It Renal announces Mardi Gras theme this year by MARQUITA GRIFFIN | email@example.com
hris “CJ” Johnson Foundation, Inc. is heightening the fun at its 7th annual Keepin’ It Renal Fun Run/ Walk benefit with a Mardi Gras theme this time around. While the benefit has a new theme this year, the foundation’s president and founder, Ritchie Johnson, said the mission remains the same: to increase local awareness and funds for research for renal medullary carcinoma, a rare kidney cancer. While it hosts fundraisers and awareness events in Fort Bend throughout the year, the foundation’s prize event is its Annual Keepin’ It Renal Run/ Walk, which is set for March 28 at Sugar Land Memorial Park, 15300 University Blvd. in Sugar Land.
Medals will be given to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in overall adult men and women as well as male and female youth. “Let’s join forces as we heighten RMC awareness and raise funds for research,”Johnson said in a social media post promoting the fundraiser. The participation fee is $30 for anyone 10 years and older and includes Mardi Gras beads and mask. Registration is available online at chrisjohnsonfoundation.org GET INSPIRED In addition to sharing the word about the upcoming Keepin’ It Renal benefit, the foundation also announced it has launched a new online support community with Team Inspire and Kidney Cancer Association.Visit www.inspire.com/groups/rmc to join.
The Chris “CJ” Johnson Foundation, Inc. The Chris “CJ” Johnson Foundation Inc., established in 2013, is a 501 (c)3 non-profit charity organization based in Sugar Land, Texas. Its mission is to find a cure for Renal Medullary Carcinoma (RMC) worldwide through awareness, education and research. Its primary focus is on individuals with sickle hemoglobinopathies such as sickle cell trait (SCT), who may be at risk for this rare and aggressive form of kidney cancer. In addition, the foundation offers emotional, spiritual and financial support to individuals diagnosed with RMC, and donate funds annually to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to advance RMC research. For more information visit chrisjohnsonfoundation.org or follow the foundation on Facebook at @ chrisjohnsonfoundation PHOTO ON RIGHT: Ritchie Johnson and her son, the late Chris “CJ” Johnson, who passed away in 2012 from kidney cancer. His mother started a foundation in his name to raise money for research on renal medullary carcinoma and to keep her son’s memory alive.
The George Foundation Funds HGI Counseling
he George Foundation has again assisted in making it possible for HGI Counseling to continue offering counseling services to area residents through a recent grant funding of $165,000 over three years. “We cannot begin to thank the George Foundation for their generous support, for it will allow us to continue our mission more successfully,” said Sue Levin, executive director, HGI Counseling From left, Sue Levin, executive director, HGI Counseling with Quynh-Anh T. McMahan, MSW, Senior Program Officer, The George Foundation.
26 • West Fort Bend Living
Center. Although counseling services aren’t in everyone’s budget — leaving them to believe they have no place to turn when a problem or challenge overwhelms them — HGI’s doors are open to everyone, Levin explained. “HGI has a sliding scale and often offers pro-bono (or no-fee) counseling services. No one is turned away,” she said.“We also have a Walk-In Counseling Program, where no appointment is needed for those in crisis, or for those who do not want to wait for an appointment.” In 2019, HGI provided counseling services to 1,925 clients in Fort Bend, which includes individuals, families, couples and students. HGI has been providing counseling, training, workshops, research, disaster and crisis response, and so much more for over 40-years, and have been serving Fort Bend residents for the past four and a half years. “Fort Bend has welcomed us with open arms, and we are thrilled to be part of this wonderful community,” Levin said. “The generous support from the George Foundation has helped make it possible for us to see so many clients without having to charge fees that are unaffordable. We cannot begin to thank The George Foundation for this support.” For more information about HGI and its services, visit www.talkhgi. org or call the Fort Bend Office at 832-471-6538.
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Income-Tax-Preparation Assistance in Richmond Representatives from the AARP will provide free income-taxpreparation assistance for lowincome taxpayers, Saturdays, March 2 through April 15 at the George Memorial Library from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. in Room 2C. This service is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Call 281-342-445 for details.
Connections: Coffee & Conversation Meet new people and make new friends at this casual, come-and-go social hour at the George Memorial Library at 7 p.m. March 3 10 a.m. on March 19 in Room 2A . This activity is suitable for adults aged 18 and up.
Income-Tax-Preparation Assistance in Fulshear Representatives from the AARP will provide free income-taxpreparation assistance for lowincome taxpayers, Saturdays, March 4 through April 15 at the Bob Lutts Fulshear/Simonton Branch Library from 1 - 4 p.m. in the Meeting Room. This service is free and open to the public on a firstcome, first-served basis. Call 281633-4675 for details. Let’s Learn Origami! Learn how to make an elegant decoration or gift from a simple piece of paper at the George Memorial Library from 5:30 - 7 p.m. in Room 2A. This program is suitable for all ages, but those aged 13 and below must be accompanied by an adult.
Financial Fitness A representative from the Foundation for Financial Education (F3E) will provide helpful tips for managing one’s personal finances at the University Branch Library from 7 - 8 p.m. in Meeting Room 1.
Craft Squad: Paper Quilling People who enjoy crafts are invited to join the Craft Squad at the University Branch Library from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. in Meeting Room 1. In March, earn the “Paper Quilling” badge. This activity is suitable for adults and older teens ONLY. Registration is required. The Craft Squad weekly meet-ups will take place on Fridays, Mar 13, 20, and 27. Registration is not required for the meet-ups. Visit www.fortbend. lib.tx.us for details.
20/20, Girl What’s Your Vision? The Butterfly Project, Inc will hold its 5th and 6th grade empowerment conference at 9 a.m. Those interested in attending can register at https://forms. gle/3Rnf8FyEkfDZh3d78. The conference is free. Breakfast, lunch and snacks will be included. The conference is also accepting volunteers and sponsors. Email email@example.com. Volunteer Orientation Reining Strength Therapeutic Horsemanship will host a volunteer orientation from 9 - 11 a.m. Visit www.reiningstrength.org/getinvolved. Income-Tax-Preparation Assistance in Sugar Land Representatives from the AARP will provide free income-taxpreparation assistance for lowincome taxpayers, Saturdays,
March 7 through April 11 at the University Branch Library from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. in Conference Room 1. This service is free and open to the public on a first-come, firstserved basis. Call 281-633-5100 for details.
Resumé Workshop Learn the basics of putting together a resumé at the George Memorial Library at 2 p.m. in the Computer Lab. Those attending this informal program will receive one-oneone help formatting a resumé. For assistance on a pre-existing resumé, please have a digital copy available on a usb flashdrive, saved to the cloud, or have access to it via email. Registration required.
Puppetpalooza Families with children of all ages will enjoy some of the staff’s favorite puppet shows, complete with jokes, stories, rhymes, and more at the George Memorial Library from 2 - 3 p.m. in the Puppet Theater.
Young Adult Advisory Council Teens in grades 9-12 who are interested in an exciting new leadership opportunity and volunteer-service hours are invited to attend at the University Branch Library at 5 p.m. in Conference Room 1. Members will have a chance to share ideas about library programs, to help out at events, to give suggestions for teen services, books, and movies, and to meet new people. Creative Connection: Connect-4 Tournament Youth in grades 4-8 will have an opportunity to test their Connect-4
skills in this tournament-style game day at the University Branch Library at 2:30 p.m. in Meeting Room 1.
Game Day Families with children of all ages are invited to play video games, board games, and card games in the Game Room in the Middle Grades department at the George Memorial Library from 2 - 4 p.m.
The Fab 5 at Scotty’s Saloon Scotty’s Saloon at OTP will feature The Fab 5, known for its 60s and 70s hits. The fun runs from 8 midnight at Scotty’s Saloon visit scottyssaloon.com. YA Game Day Teens in grades 9-12 will enjoy classic board games and card games at the University Branch Library at 2 p.m. in Meeting Room 2. Texas Talks: Avenger Field & the WASPs of WWII Learn about Avenger Field – a WWII Army Airfield near Sweetwater – and the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) who trained there in the 1940s at the George Memorial Library from 1 - 3:30 p.m. in the Meeting Room. Hear about some of the unsung female pilots who volunteered to contribute their skills to the war effort by delivering airplanes, testing and repairing aircraft, and towing targets for antiaircraft gunnery practice.
Fulshear & Texas History Claire Rogers from the Fort Bend Historical Society will share fascinating stories about the history of Fort Bend County since the time of Stephen F. Austin, with particular focus on the Fulshear area at To advertise, call 281-342-4474
the Bob Lutts Fulshear/Simonton Branch Library at 6:30 p.m. in the Meeting Room. LEGO® Club Families with kids of all ages will have an opportunity to get creative with LEGO building blocks at the University Branch Library from 4:15 - 5 p.m. in Meeting Room 1. Different-sized LEGO pieces will be available for the varying ages in attendance.
Culinary Book Club The University Branch Library’s culinary book club will meet at 1:30 p.m. in Meeting Room 1. This month’s theme is “Street Food.” Cooking enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels, from beginners to advanced, are invited to join.
Story Spinners Writing Club This month’s topic at the George Memorial Library from 5:30 - 8:30
p.m. in Room 2C will be “Character Development.” From beginning blogger to published novelist, writers of all genres and experience levels are welcome to write, share, learn, support, network, and critique each other’s work. This program is recommended for adults and teens aged 14 and up. Easter Egg Hunt The annual Pecan Grove Easter Egg Hunt starts at 11 a.m. at Pitts Road Park. Fun is planned for all the youngsters up to 10 years old (ages will be divided). Other activities include face and hair painting and a bouncy house.
The Truth About Senior-Living Options Liz McNeel, a senior real-estate specialist and certified seniorhousing professional, will discuss the benefits offered by seniorliving communities, costs and associated services, and the differences between independent
living, assisted living, memorycare facilities, and long-term care options at the University Branch Library at 10:30 a.m. in Meeting Room 1.
“Create & Take” Enchanted Gardens in Richmond will host its “Create & Take” session from 2 -3 p.m., this time teaching attendees how to create a hanging basket they get to take home. For more information or to make reservations call 281-341-1206.
Butterfly Gardening for Beginners Erin Mills, the current Director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center, speak at Enchanted Gardens in Richmond in a seminar from 2 - 3 p.m. Erin, a board certified Entomologist, will share her favorite host and nectar plants, and how you can use them to enjoy beautiful butterflies year-
round right in your own backyard. Bullet-Journaling Basics Discover how a Bullet Journal can be used to keep ideas and tasks organized at the University Branch Library at 1 p.m. in Meeting Room 2. This customizable system can be used as a to-do list, calendar, sketchbook, tracker, diary, or any combination of these tasks. Learn about layouts, stencils, and handlettering that can be used to add a creative, personalized touch. Registration is required.
Tee-Off for Tourette Golf Tourette Association - Texas Chapter will host its 25th annual Tee-Off for Tourette Golf charity event from noon - 7 p.m. at the Black Hawk Country Club in Richmond. Contact TouretteTexas@aol.com for details.
Greatwood Veterinary Hospital When dinosaurs roamed her mind Children take in information in great, big, giant strides. That learning doesn't stop in the classroom. It's reinforced and amplified with every observation and interaction. At Kiddie Academy®, we recognize it's never too early to nurture every learning opportunity.
Kiddie Academy of Rosenberg 636 Benton Road, Richmond, TX 77469
30 • West Fort Bend Living
At Greatwood Veterinary Hospital, we are dedicated to providing excellent and compassionate care for your furry, family friends. We offer full veterinary services in our new, spacious 6,500 square foot facility. Our experienced and caring veterinarians and staff strive to provide the best quality care available for your pets, with an emphasis on client education and an understanding of your pet’s specific needs. We would like to be partners with you in ensuring your pet’s good health and well-being. In addition to full medical, surgical, and dental veterinary care, we also offer boarding, grooming, and cremation services. Greatwood Veterinary Hospital has been providing affordable and quality veterinary care to the Fort Bend area for over 15 years. It is our hope that we can meet all your animal’s health care needs with our warm, friendly, and knowledgeable services. To make an appointment for your pet or for more information, please call us at (281) 342-7770 or visit us at 401 Crabb River Road in Richmond.
STRUGGLING WITH BACK OR NECK PAIN? Living with back or neck pain can be difficult. Whether you’ve experienced pain for a few days or a number of years, you want answers and effective treatment, and you want them now. The Houston Methodist Neuroscience & Spine Center offers access to world-class specialists and subspecialists, including: • Neurologists • Neurosurgeons • Orthopedic spine surgeons • Pain management specialists • Physical and occupational therapists • Primary care sports medicine specialists Our team of board-certified physicians and rehabilitation therapists will work together to provide the comprehensive, personalized care you need to help you return to a productive life. Expedited appointments and second opinions are available.
STOP ENDURING PAIN. Request an appointment online at houstonmethodist.org/neuro-sl or call 281.274.7979.