West Fort Bend - May 2021

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FORT BEND May 2021



RECOVERY –How the–

FORT BEND BOYS CHOIR is rebuilding through recruitment

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Contents &Staff

Th e thr of Te Fort o B x an ugh as c end n o i t Bo o s the un r nt ne ces ecov inues ys C w ho e t o EB sea pen ry an o wo ir s d Sc r o a ott n. C udi eag k t i P o o e PA hoto ver p ns f rly GE grap hoto or











CHAIRMAN, EDITOR & PUBLISHER Clyde King cking@hartmannews.com ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR Marquita Griffin mgriffin@fbherald.com


ADVERTISING Stefanie Bartlett sbartlett@fbherald.com



Ruby Polichino ruby@fbherald.com

IG is




MAY 2021

sM u wi llen th “R is m ow aki dy ng .” h


West Fort Bend


WRITERS & CONTRIBUTORS Scott Reese Willey Averil Gleason Ryan Dunsmore



GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Melinda Maya mmaya@fbherald.com



Rachel Cavazos rcavazos@fbherald.com

Th e gro ‘Tak ws e M an e H di s c ome ag ham ’ saf en pio ety cie ne p s. d b rog y l ram PA oc GE al




TO ADVERTISE If you are interested in advertising in the West Fort Bend Living, please call 281-342-4474 and ask for Stefanie Bartlett or Ruby Polichino. We’ll be happy to send rates, and deadline information to you.



PHOTO & ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS We are looking for fresh story ideas and enjoy publishing your articles in the West Fort Bend Living. If you have an story idea or photo to publish please send your information to mgriffin@fbherald.com with “West Fort Bend Living” in the subject line. © 2020 West Fort Bend Living. All Rights Reserved. West Fort Bend Monthly is a sister publication of Fulshear Living Monthly, Greatwood Monthly, Pecan Grove Monthly and is a publication of the Fort Bend Herald. Our publishing headquarters is 1902 S. Fourth Street, Rosenberg Texas 77471.

16 Arts & Entertainment

‘The Taste of Sunrise’ is more than a show, it’s a production serving as a unique bridge between two worlds.

FORT BEND April 2021



20 Health News

Heart to Heart program helps NICU preemies bond with their moms.

Like us on Facebook @fortbendherald A publication of the

Tell us how we’re doing! Email: mgriffin@fbherald.com

4 • West Fort Bend Living

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Recruitment is critical for the Fort Bend Boys Choir’s recovery by MARQUITA GRIFFIN | mgriffin@fbherald.com


hen choir practice was initially canceled at the onset of the pandemic last year, Richmond brothers Sammy and Tony Fata weren’t too phased at the prospect of missing a couple of weeks of rehearsal with the Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas. “Of course, we missed the rest of the semester,” said Sammy, the younger of the two. Both he and his older brother are members of the Tour Choir. “While I thought we were not going to miss much, I soon realized we were going to miss the Spring Concert. After hearing this, I knew the entire season was off.” Sammy admitted the cutoff was difficult, “but I knew that we would be together again, and that we could still contact each other virtually.” “So yeah. Not that dramatic, or depressing,” he said. “But all it takes are the three ‘As’ we learned in choir: adapt, adjust, and accept.” Tony took the news a bit harder: “I thought, ‘Oh, we’ll be back to normal soon,’ but as the months passed, the hopes of meeting again with some boys started to fade for all of us,” he said. Tony said the decision to cancel the rest of the semester “worried me sick.” “In the back of my head the entire summer, I pondered whether we’d be able to meet again and I found myself deeply hoping for some good news,”Tony shared.“ I was overjoyed when I heard we were meeting again, even if it meant wearing masks and staying six feet apart. “Because of all my through experiences in this choir, I’m determined that we will sing on, no matter the cost.”


While the Fatas’ comments demonstrate the impact Fort Bend Boys Choir has on its choirboys, learning how to operate during a worldwide health crisis was, and still is, an uphill battle for the choir. As a private, nonprofit organization, the Fort Bend Boys Choir

Photo by Bill Adams | A fall 2020 Tour Choir rehearsal with choirboys masked and socially distanced.

6 • West Fort Bend Living

relies on fundraising, sponsorships, and donations to fund its operations, so when the pandemic hit, officials worried that the longstanding choir was on unsteady grounds. “We received no income for over six months last year due to no summer tour, no spring concert, and no spring fundraising,” said Tiana Mortimer, the executive director of the Fort Bend Boys Choir.“Our budget runs lean and mean anyway so if it weren’t for the fact that last year’s gala did so well, who knows where we would be.The governmental PPP loans and such put a temporary Band-Aid on finances. “The good news is that we were able to start rehearsals again in August 2020, although with less than half the membership,” she noted. The choir’s total enrollment as of April 2021 was 43 choirboys. In prior years, the choir boasted 100 to 125 members across its four choir groups. “COVID-19 really affected our membership,” Mortimer said. “We feel fortunate the 40-plus choir families trusted us with the safety of their sons.” The Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas typically features three performing ensembles, but the drastic decline in membership during the pandemic forced the organization to restructure its operations. Currently, the Town and Training choirs are combined, collectively comprised of 18 boys. The Town-Training Choir meets on Mondays, while the Tour Choir, which has 25 members, still meets on Thursdays and Sundays. The choir’s Music Magic program, comprised of six and sevenyear-olds, unfortunately still hasn’t resumed. But “things are looking up a bit because we are still auditioning boys,” Mortimer said.“In fact, we have four new boys in our TownTraining Choir this semester.”


The key to the choir’s recovery is rooted in membership, said Fort Bend Boys Choir Founder and Artistic Director William “Bill” Adams. This is why recruitment is currently the most pressing

Photo by Bill Adams | Tour Choirboy Ashben Varghese enjoys a play on words with the social “distan-sing.”

Photo by Bill Adams | Fall 2020 Tour Choirboys Gavin Leslie and Luke Thomas demonstrating the choir’s social distancing protocoals with their pink zebra mascot (one of the songs from Christmas was by composer PinkZebra).

Photo by EB Scott Photography | Tour Choirboys Svend Rydahl and Landon Bynum waiting their turn to perform during the 2020 Christmas Musicale at Christ Church Sugar Land.

Photo by EB Scott Photography | The Tour Choir sining in the 2020 Christmas Musicale at Christ Church Sugar Land.

objective for the choir. “A secondary objective is boosting income ... which is directly tied to recruitment,” Adams said, noting the choir is holding inperson auditions for the upcoming season. “We encourage boys who love music and singing to give us a try,” he said. Auditioning boys should be 8 to 13 years with an unchanged voice, and prior experience isn’t necessary. In previous years the choir’s recruitment primarily stemmed from local music teachers, but virtual and hybrid learning made it difficult to get audition information into the hands of the music teachers. So word of mouth, a text, or social media post will serve the choir well, Adams stressed. “Spread the word to the parents,” he said.“Let them know that despite the pandemic, we have been able to meet, sing and perform successfully and safely.” “Over the summer and up to now, we maintained our safety protocols, even during auditions,” Mortimer added.“The boys are singing with masks without a problem.” “We totally understand the hesitancy of families because of the pandemic. However, it has been a year, vaccines are out, cases are down and frankly, kids, especially boys, are tired of being cooped up,” Mortimer and Adams both added. “It is important for kids to have an outlet, and many have had nothing but a computer monitor for schooling for the past year. Their mental and emotional well-being are important. Boys need a sense of community, something that the Fort Bend Boys Choir can provide. “We have proven that meeting together as a group to sing can be safe.”

“The Fort Bend Boys Choir was the ‘test subject’ so to speak,” Mortimer continued. “We set the precedent on how groups should be meeting in the church during COVID-19.” With oversight from church trustees and safety protocols based on the Centers for Disease Control guidelines and additional scientific studies, the Fort Bend Boys Choir “proved we could safely and effectively meet,” Mortimer said proudly. In addition to implementing social distancing, mask requirements, temperature checks, and hand-washing/sanitizing etiquettes, the choirboys also receive an “air break” halfway through rehearsals. “Essentially the rooms air out while the boys go outside for fresh air before returning,” Mortimer explained. “And after rehearsal, we spray down the chairs and other surfaces in the room with disinfectant.” Looking back at a year filled with chaos, uncertainty, and fears of every kind, Mortimer is proud of the choir’s resolve. “There is a reason why the Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas has lasted for almost 40 years — Mr.Adams,” she said.“He is the guiding force behind it all.The organization is his baby and he did not want to accept not being able to meet and sing. He worked hard finding alternatives at every turn when COVID-19 threw up roadblocks.” Adams, however, was quick to give credit to the community. “The Fort Bend community loves the choirboys and we have good relationships here,” he said.“Because we have performed in many venues and sang in many churches over the years, I am friends with a number of choir directors and music ministers. It is these relationships within the community and the choir’s reputation that had many people trust us.”


The pandemic proved to be a tough adversary, but the Fort Bend Boys Choir isn’t one to bow out. In March 2020, before the mandated shutdowns, the Polish film “Hejter” was released in Europe, featuring the Fort Bend Boys Choir’s performance of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” on its soundtrack. August brought the international release of the Wasteland 3 video, which featured six songs on its soundtrack recorded by the Tour Choir, and December brought forth the choir’s most

When Adams and Mortimer said the Fort Bend Boys Choir proved returning to social activities was possible, they mean that literally. “The First United Methodist Church in Missouri City is our rehearsal spot, and when we started rehearsals in August, the church was still not meeting in person yet,” Mortimer said, explaining no other groups other than the choir were allowed in the church.


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pressing challenge: hosting the Christmas Musicale. The annual event, held at Christ Church Sugar Land this year, allowed a 175-member audience that had to be socially distanced. Tickets and reservations were secured solely online, guests were temperature-checked upon entry and required to wear masks, and the choirboys performed in masks as well. “All of our choirboys — 38 — participated,” Mortimer said. “We had to cut some music out because the performance was limited to one hour. “Typically, our concerts are an hour and a half to two hours.” The choir boys were also unfortunately prohibited from performing a modest, but potent, gesture because of social distancing restrictions. “Our audience and choirboys truly missed [a treasured interaction] when the Tour Choir sang ‘Dream a Dream,’” Mortimer said. “It’s the song the boys sing while holding a concert patron’s hand before hugging them and returning to the stage. “That personal, touching aspect was missed by all.” Still, Mortimer said the choir was “so thankful to even have a concert” during a pandemic. Then when it came time to host the choir’s annual gala dinner and auction fundraiser a few months ago, the platform was a virtual one. “With sponsorships and auction proceeds, we raised almost $25,000,” Mortimer said.“Pretty good results, but we are still a long way from recovering financially from the COVID-19 pandemic.” What could aid the choir’s recovery is a reminder to the community about the nonprofit’s presence and purpose, she offered. “I think COVID-19 has put everyone in their own little bubbles, so many may not be aware that we are still working hard and operating,” Mortimer said.“We have current choirboys and families who need our support as well as some who are in COVID-hold, just waiting to return. “We need the support and help from the community to survive and thrive to ensure we have a music program for boys to return to.” Adams agreed. “As Tiana said, we need community support,” he said.“Spread the word about our music programs and our successful operations during this COVID year. Our next performance season starts in August and it will be our 40th anniversary. “Hopefully, you all can help us make it a triumphant one.”

Photo by EB Scott Photography |The “small but mighty” Town-Training Choir rehearsing for the 2020 Christmas Musicale.

8 • West Fort Bend Living

SINGING SAFELY With the increase in vaccinations, the implementation of CDC guidelines, and studies like those from the Florida Atlantic University and the University of Bristol, England that reported singing in a group can be safe when maintaining social distance and wearing a mask, The Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas is hosting in-person auditions. Below are safety protocols the choir follows: ❖ Masks are worn at all times ❖ A touch-less temperature check is required upon entry ❖ Hand sanitizer is provided upon entry and in the rehearsal room ❖ Hand washing is required before entering the rehearsal room ❖ Practice is held in a large, ventilated rehearsal room ❖ Each choirboy rehearses with a 6-foot social distancing radius ❖ Rehearsals include a break time halfway through practice to allow for room circulation ❖ Chairs and surfaces disinfected after each rehearsal


During auditions, the potential choirboys will be checked for singing range, sing the first verse of ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee” or the “Happy Birthday” song. The boys will also sing several short melodic patterns dictated by the piano. Below are qualities the choir looks for in potential choirboys: ❖ A love of singing. ❖ A free and controlled tone which will blend well with other voices, and a good sense of pitch. ❖ Must be self-disciplined. Good behavior is positively enforced. ❖ Should be passing all subjects and have a good conduct grade. ❖ Must provide transportation to all rehearsals and concerts. Carpooling is available and encouraged. For more information about tuition, scholarships and available payment plans, visit www.fbbctx.org or scan the code below.

by MARQUITA GRIFFIN | mgriffin@fbherald.com

hortly after announcing the release of his first American Old Western novel Rowdy: Wild and Mean, Sharp and Keen a year ago, Pecan Grove author Chris Mullen said he chose to “take [his] shot” at becoming an author full-

time. The decision meant Mullen would leave behind a 23-year teaching career, as well as the classroom, which is where his book’s origin is rooted. “I stepped out of the classroom, but I still feel like a teacher,” Mullen said before a brief pause. “I don’t know what to call this [feeling] because teaching sticks with you forever.” Perhaps that’s why developing his author visits program came so naturally to Mullen. The program allows him to promote his first book and encourage children to read and write.The program, he said, gives him the best of both worlds. Before switching careers, Mullen’s last teaching position had been at Calvary Episcopal Preparatory School in Richmond, where he was the pre-kindergarten teacher for nine years. In October, his old stomping grounds became the location for his first author visit. During the virtual visit, Mullen discussed his book and the writing/author process with Calvary’s seventhgraders. He also gave the students a sneak peek at his newest addition to the Rowdy series.

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A VISIT & A CONTEST January brought Mullen’s first in-person author visit with fifth and sixth graders at Brazosport Christian School. “What I thought was going to be a half-hour visit went on for nearly three hours. I talk to the kids about the book, Rowdy’s journey, and the lesson of perseverance. “I’m 47 now, and here is where my dream is beginning,” he said. “I told them, if you have a goal, don’t give up on it.” Brazosport Christian School teacher Carol Boyd was grateful for Mullen’s visit if her online review of the experience is any indication. She explained Mullen’s visit featured, not just a reading from Rowdy, but also a problemssolutions brainstorming Find out more about Chris Mullen at activity and a writing chrismullenwrites.com.

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SEEING WHAT HAPPENS Rowdy: Wild and Mean, Sharp and Keen is sold online and at Texian Books in Victoria, The Book Haus in New Braunfels, Copperfield’s Book Shop in Spring, and Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. “Getting a chance to be in the bookstores, oh yeah, it’s a cool experience,” he said. Especially when the legwork lands on him. In addition to writing his novels, Mullen handles his marketing and publicity and runs the publishing company he established in 2020. His publishing company MKT Publishing is, in these early stages, solely focused on promoting Mullen’s works, primarily his Rowdy series. If all goes according to plan, Mullen is planning on a summer release of the second and third books. After considering what transpired over the past Chris Mullen with Landon Klepzig, the Brazosport year, Mullen admits that while he relishes the student who won Mullen’s Creative Writing additional time he has to spend his children and contest. Klepzig’s work, “The Dungeon,” will the extra time he can devote to writing, appear on Mullen’s website. Chris during his first in-person author visit. transitioning to a full-time independent author activity in which Mullen provided students with feedback. came with unique challenges. “He was such an awesome presence [...] The afternoon we spent “You think that becoming a [full-time] writer or author will be a with Chris raised our creative thinking and helped us learn how to cushy, fun deal. It’s not everything it’s cracked up to be — let me tell organize our writing,” she wrote. you,” he said with a laugh, ticking off his responsibilities as an author, The Brazosport students also had the chance to participate in publisher, and publicist, as well as his “most important roles” as a Mullen’s Creative Writing Contest. husband and father. “I gave the kids a week and a half to write, and a team of judges, This interview took place over the phone, while Mullen helped his who are teachers, reviewed the work and gave them a fair shot,” oldest son with a self-imposed community project. Occasionally Mullen said.“It was tough to pick one story as the winner because Jackson needed to speak to his dad, and Mullen switched from an they were all so good, so imaginative.” author being interviewed to Dad assisting his son with ease. He shares a few of the stories and their respective characters, like As soon as Jackson no longer needed his dad, Mullen resumed the Batdog,Trashcan Man, and Dorito Man, who “uses his nacho cheese interview, excitedly detailing his experiences mailing his first set of powers to save the day.” author visit programs to schools across the Southwest region of Texas; In February, Mullen returned to the school to present the winner participating on a podcast with Texian Revue; and being interviewed with a $25 gift card to Amazon, a T-shirt, and a copy of Rowdy. The on two British radio stations. student’s story will appear on Mullen’s website, chrismullenwrites.com. He also changed the cover art of the book. Mullen also spoke to fourth graders from Austin Elementary School “The first cover was always a temporary one,” Mullen said.“We’ve via Zoom. changed it and it’s popping.” “ I want to increase publicity around my book and have more “Oh, and I wrote my first press release [for a publication],” he added people buy it,” Mullen said.“But the most important thing to me is my proudly. responsibility to excite kids about being creative, being avid readers, “We’ll see what happens.” and being creative thinkers.” But plenty has already happened in the short time since Rowdy’s “There’s nowhere I won’t go to promote Rowdy or encourage March 2020 release. kids.”

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In August 2020, Rowdy: Wild and Mean, Sharp and Keen was named the winner in the western category of the 2020 American Fiction Awards sponsored by American Book Fest. “I was floored when I got that email,” he said.“There it was, big and bold: you’ve been named the winner. It was exciting. It was humbling. “At that time, I hadn’t even had a book signing,” Mullen said.“To get this honor, so early on, it’s validating. Especially when it comes from someone who is not connected to you.” The book signings kicked off shortly after, followed by invitations from interested individuals, like Larry Clack of Paw Paw’s Firehouse Cafe in Round Top,Texas. Larry invited Mullen to make an appearance during AntiquesWeekend, which allowed Mullen the opportunity to sell books, share the story of Rowdy, and meet “some of the nicest folks from all over the country.” But the event turned out to be more than a chance at publicity, he noted. “While I was at Paw Paw’s, I met Cliff,” Mullen said of the chance meeting with Dr. Cliff Robertson, Jr., the executive director of The Warrior’s Refuge, a veteran assistance program. Paw Paw’s, as Mullen discovered, is an avid supporter of the organization. “He invited me to their Vet Fest in West Columbia, and it was fun. I sold books, met more people, and made some extra money.The best part, though? At five bucks per book, I was able to raise $200 for this organization.We presented them with a check at the event. “It was so cool, and I was happy to help them.” MOVING FORWARD At some point down the line, Mullen hopes to add another book to the Rowdy series, possibly called “Rowdy’s Campfire Stories,” or

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something along those lines. Mullen’s father, a retired English teacher, has already created a teacher’s guide for Rowdy with Texas and national standards at the end of the book.The guide is available for individual purchases or in bulk. “I love this writing journey I’m on, but I’m a teacher first,” Mullen said.“I’m always thinking about how I can motivate children.” •••• Weeks after this interview, Mullen received yet another update about Rowdy — it was named a 2021 Selah Awards Finalist in the Western category.Winners will be announced on June 2 at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. “I’m grateful Rowdy is being so well-received by readers of all ages,” Mullen said.

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• 11

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Rhonda Kuykendall says sex trafficking occurring in Rosenberg

by AVERIL GLEASON | agleason@fbherald.com


honda Kuykendall wants to eliminate human trafficking businesses from Fort Bend County. And more than that, the Fort Bend County DA’s Human Trafficking Team chairwoman wants to help the victims caught up in these illicit affairs. At a Rosenberg City Council workshop meeting at the end of March, Kuykendall provided the council information regarding illicit massage businesses that front for commercial sex operations, suggesting the city create an ordinance to stop this from spreading. She said the team is working on statewide legislation, ordinances in surrounding cities, and education and awareness symposiums locally to help caregivers and kids protect themselves. “They’re all over the place,” Kuykendall told the council.“They’re in open view.They’re everywhere.” “As many of you know, we do not have a Bissonnet tract in Fort Bend County.We do not have strip clubs in Fort Bend County.We do not have cantinas in Fort Bend County, but we do have online solicitation through social media. And we do have sex trafficking in residential homes. “And we do have sex trafficking in illicit massage businesses in Fort Bend County.” Of the 6,696 sexual trafficking advertisements listed in the county in 2020, 64 came from Rosenberg. According to Kuykendall, two reviews for illicit services have been listed in the city, and more specifically along SH 36. “If you go and shut them down right now, guess what’s going to happen?” Kuykendall asked. “They’re just going to pop back up somewhere else. That’s why we’re working on implementing ordinances, conditional use permits in all of the cities across Fort Bend County right now.” Kuykendall added that it’s not just about shutting down these illegal businesses. She also wants to provide services for the victims, which are women caught in sex trafficking. “Recently, when we started working on these issues, we didn’t see them as victims,” Kuykendall admitted.“It’s just prostitution, right? “We would actually penalize the victims. So, now we are working

The Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office collaborated with the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance and partnering agencies to conduct a multi-day proactive operation in February called Operation Cupid. In total, the operation resulted in 30 arrests and rescued one juvenile victim. That’s Rhonda Kuykendall of Fulshear, at right. She chairs the district attorney’s Human Trafficking Team. She is joined by Mary Magnus, assistant special agent with Homeland Security Investigations. They helped answer any questions posed to District Attorney Brian Middleton and Sheriff Eric Fagan.

12 • West Fort Bend Living

on the perpetrators and the landlords and the traffickers, and looking for help for the victims.” Kuykendall then provided ordinance suggestions to help drive out illicit businesses in the city. Of the 17 cities in the county, Fulshear, Meadows Place and Pearland have adopted ordinances to enact such a change. The entire council said it would favor adopting an ordinance to combat sex trafficking operations in Fort Bend County. “As a dad of daughters, I’m glad we’re being aggressive on this,” council member Kevin Raines said. “The thing that scares me on ordinances is it’s kind of a paper tiger.We put all these meanings in a piece of paper and it kind of just becomes another thing that moves on. “And I just want to make sure with the police department that we’re all in to take care of this. So many times, people slip under the radar. I hope we as law enforcement collectively come together and really go after this and take a bite out of it.”

City reveals strategic plan for next 5 years by AVERIL GLEASON | agleason@fbherald.com


he city of Rosenberg’s strategic plan through 2026 has been revealed. Within it are the city’s three main goals and objectives to be completed in the next five years. At the Rosenberg City Council workshop meeting in March, Assistant City Manager Joyce Vasut presented the council with a strategic plan regarding strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for the future. “Years ago, when we started this process, we identified three main goals for this city,”Vasut explained. The city’s goals are as follows: • Effectively manage the growth that will occur in Rosenberg in the coming years. • Enhance Rosenberg’s quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors. • Increase the public’s confidence in the city of Rosenberg, its staff, and its services. As an example of managing growth, Vasut noted that the city has secured a long-term sustainable water supply. Capital improvement projects include multiple road extensions, a sanitary sewer pipe bursting project, and a voter-approved county mobility project. “Looking at your capital improvement projects, there’s some pretty expensive jobs here,” council member Herb Phelan said.“I went out (Monday) questioning the extension and widening of Benton Road, and it made a believer out of me.That’s probably the most important road improvement that’s on this capital improvement list.” Vasut credited the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to completing many projects at City Hall. “We did a little more than normal (this year), and that’s thanks to some of the CARES Act funding,” she told the council. “We installed automatic hands-free doors, we upgraded the restroom facilities with hands-free items.We also re-opened the drivethru window for customer service. “Thanks to the CARES Act, we accomplished a whole lot.” The City of Rosenberg has received $2.1 million of the $134 million in federal CARES Act funds allocated to Fort Bend County. According to city staff, this information is provided for reference and is the first step in preparing for the 2022 fiscal year budget. The 2022 fiscal year will begin on Oct. 1. The council meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, located at

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Child Advocates of Fort Bend announces 2021 gala theme


xchange Club of Sugar Land will be the Confetti Presenting Sponsor for Child Advocates of Fort Bend’s 30th Birthday Gala Celebration on Saturday, May 8. The gala will celebrate the agency’s 30 years of serving child victims of abuse and their families. This fun, adult event will take place at the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square and will feature a live and silent auction, raffle, wine and gift card pulls. Michele Fisher will emcee for the 9th year. Johnny Bravo is joining her as an auctioneer for the fourth time.Attire for the evening is elegant and festive. Black tie is optional. Child Advocates of Fort Bend opened its doors in 1991 with a volunteer executive director, trained its first class of CASA volunteers and assigned its first CASA volunteer to a child in foster care. In the last 30 years,they have expanded those services exponentially. “We now have two programs – Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and a Children’s Advocacy Center with comprehensive services to enable child victims of abuse and their families to get the support that they need to heal.The number of children and families in need of our services has increased 60% over the last eight years,” said

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CAFB CEO Ruthanne Mefford. “We launched a Capital Campaign in 2019 to renovate and expand our building to enable us to meet the growing need and opened our Davis George Campus just before the pandemic hit.While the number of children we saw dropped initially during the shutdown, we saw a dramatic rise in cases throughout the year. In fact, we served 3,544 children and families last year - an increase of 24% over 2019.” To date, Child Advocates of Fort Bend has served nearly 19,000 children. “The Gala is critical to funding our programs and services for the children and your support has never been more critical than it is today,” said Mefford. Sponsorship and underwriting opportunities are available ranging from $2,000 to $15,000. Individual seats are available for $150. To attend the gala, become a sponsor, donate an auction item or for more information, visit www.cafb.org/events/gala/sponsorshipopportunities/ or contact Tarina Sheridan at 281-344-5109 or tsheridan@cafb.org.

‘Take Me Home’ safety program grows


ort Bend County residents with cognitive disabilities are the focus of a fairly new local program designed to aid in their safety, and local agencies that support residents with a range of disabilities champion this program. This program, called “Take Me Home,” launched last December through the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. Its purpose is to help return people with cognitive disabilities safely to their homes if they are lost, or if they are found by someone. Residents who cannot communicate with authorities or have cognitive disabilities such as autism, Alzheimer’s, down syndrome, or even brain injuries, are all eligible to register to the “Take Me Home” database. The database registers information such as the individual’s image and specifics about the person’s communication challenges, like the effects of bright lights, being nonverbal or sensitivity to touch, and caregiver contact information. Since its launch, Hope For Three Autism Advocates, The Arc of Fort Bend County, Gigi’s Playhouse, and the Alzheimer’s Association Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter have worked to notify and register Fort Bend County residents that would find the program helpful. “An estimated 40 percent of people with autism are nonverbal,” said Darla Farmer, CEO of Hope For Three. “Knowing the ‘Take Me Home’ program can assist in keeping this population safe if lost or found, Hope For Three | Caroline and aid in the response by local law Bordelon with son Caleb, 9, who enforcement helps families all lives with autism. Caleb is non- across our county sleep better at verbal and has eloped (a common characteristic of autism) from night.” home many times. Upon learning As of early April,“Take Me Home” about the Take Me Home program, reached more than 200 registrations. she immediately registered Caleb. “This program is greatly needed “When we encounter a person and gives me peace and comfort with cognitive disabilities, it is for my family,” she said.

helpful to refer to this database to know how best to respond and reach caregivers safely,” said Fort Bend Sheriff’s Sgt. Matthew Hricko. “The identification information provided can also assist us in search of a missing person if necessary.” Families can sign up by visiting the Take Me Home program is available at www.fortbendcountytx.gov/government/departmentso-z/sheriff-s-office/programs/take-me-home. Information is kept confidential and only used by the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. For autism resources and referrals visit www.hopeforthree.org.

Library presents tips for senior citizens living independently


ort Bend County Libraries will present a special online program, “The Truth About Wills,Trusts, and Probate,” a program in the Senior Series for older adults and their family members, on Friday, May 14, from 10:30 am to noon. This program will be a virtual session presented via Webex; it will not be in person. Participants who register for the Liz McNeel event will be emailed a link to a Webex meeting, and they may join the discussion from the comfort and safety of home. Liz McNeel, a senior real estate specialist and certified senior housing professional, will lead a panel of experts who will talk about

the importance of estate planning. Learn about the differences between trusts and wills, how probate works, and how these can impact the parties involved. The program is free and open to the public. Registration is required; a link to the Webex session will be emailed to participants who register. To register online at the library’s website (www.fortbend.lib.tx.us), click on “Classes & Events,” select “Virtual Programs,” and find the programs. For more information, call FBCL’s Communications Office (281-633-4734).

S GARDENING TIPST Dr. Kyle D. McCrea and Dr. Victoria Vo

A “Super” Trick for Garden Success by SANDRA GRAY | Fort Bend County Master Gardener


ou might think master gardeners spend countless hours making our gardens the envy of all that behold them and, to be honest, some master gardeners do. However, one of the great things about being a master gardener is learning tricks that make us more successful in our gardens with less work. Who wouldn’t like that? Let me tell you about one of my favorite tricks. One of the best things you can do to ensure garden success is to choose the right plant for the right place. Sounds easy but there are so Your Home for Dentistry many amazing plants to choose! The solution to this problem is a wonderful Texas A&M AgriLife program called Texas Superstars®. Dr. McCrea has been creating healthy, beautiful smiles in Richmond/Rosenberg since 1994. Dr. McCrea and Dr. Vo are both graduates of and current Professors at the Herman Hospital TALK OF THE TOWN Continued on page 30 based General Practice Residency Program for UTDS Houston. Their goal is to work with each patient to produce the best possible outcome based on that patient’s individual needs and desires.

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Dr. McCrea has been creating healthy, beautiful smiles in Richmond/Rosenberg since 1994. Dr. McCrea and Dr. Vo are both graduates of and current Professors at the Herman Hospital based General Practice Residency Program for UTDS Houston. Their goal is to work with each patient to produce the best possible outcome based on that patient’s individual needs and desires.

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• 15

A Ente rt & rtainm e nt

‘The Taste of Sunrise’ headed for Sugar Land Town Center


ocal actors, directors, and instructors at Fort Bend Christin Academy are continuing, what some are calling a “performance of impact,” with another showing of “The Taste of Sunrise,” this month. This production is a tale of two worlds — deafness and hearing. “The Taste of Sunrise” marks the second time in the academy’s history that its theatre and American Sign Language departments collaborated for a shadow production intended for a hearing and deaf audience. “I am so excited to be a part of the cast of ‘The Taste of Sunrise,’” said junior Madelyn Pozzi.“Working on the show has taught me so much. Before starting the play, I knew almost nothing about the ASL community around me. However, through rehearsals, I’ve been able to learn so much about the deaf community while also growing closer to my fellow cast members.” The production will include speaking students from the academy’s theatre department, led by Lana Thompson, and students from the academy’s American Sign Language (ASL) department, which is led by Tony Slate and Elyse DeBuck. Thompson said her passion for the deaf community was sparked by Slate and DeBuck, who explained the lack of theatre opportunities for deaf students. “Being able to be in this performance has been the biggest blessing,” said senior Jessica Crocker.“It has been so cool to bridge together two very important parts of my life,ASL and theatre. “I’m so excited to be able to challenge myself and create something beautiful for the deaf community.” ‘THE TASTE OF SUNRISE’ Written by Suzan Zeder,“The Taste of Sunrise” centers around the life of a young deaf boy named Tuc who struggles to find his voice. His journey leads him to discover sign language, which opens his eyes to his true identity and opens the audience’s eyes to the history of deaf culture and the beauty of American Sign Language. The next showing is set for 7 p.m., Saturday, May 22 at Sugar Land Town Center, 15958 City Walk. There is no admission fee. “We look forward to sharing this special evening with our hearing and deaf audiences,” said the cast. For more information visit www.fortbendchristian.org/the-taste-ofsunrise.

FBCA senior actor Luke Dibble. Senior actors Jessica Crocker and Elizabeth Walker.

16 • West Fort Bend Living

Aspiring writers encouraged to join Story Spinners Club


oin other aspiring writers at Fort Bend County Libraries’ online “Story Spinners Writing Club” on Thursday, May 20, from 2 to 3 p.m.The topic for May is “Flow.” This program will be a virtual session presented via Webex; it will not be in person. Participants who register for the event will be emailed a link to a Webex meeting, and they may join the discussion from the comfort and safety of home. 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. Writing prompts, brainteasers, and brief exercises will be available to ignite the imaginations of any and all wordsmiths who wish to hone their craft. This program is recommended for adults and teens aged 14 and up. Free and open to the public, the Story Spinners Writing Club meets on the third Thursday of every month. Registration is required; a link to the Webex session will be emailed to participants who register. To register online at the library’s website (www.fortbend.lib. tx.us), click on “Classes & Events,” select “Virtual Programs,” and find the program. Participants may also register by calling George Memorial Library at 281-342-4455.

Take advantage of special online family programs


n preparation for the Summer Reading Club, which begins May 31, Fort Bend County Libraries will have special online family programs for children of all ages each week rather than the regular virtual story-time activities. Because of the COVID-19 social-distancing recommendations, FBCL is continuing to offer children’s programming virtually, so that families can participate from the comfort and safety of home. Videos of the family programs will be posted on the online Virtual calendar on FBCL’s website on the scheduled date. Families of toddlers and preschoolers may pick up to-go activity packets from the library for the month. These packets contain fun craft activities that can be done at home. Call the libraries to request to pick up the packets through the Curbside Pick-Up service. The schedule of family programs for May is as follows: May 1: The Story of Little Bear’s Terrible Unbearable Beary Bad Day (pre-recorded video) This program is presented by Twanda’s Theatre on Wheels, in conjunction with Young Audiences of Houston.The Story of Little Bear’s Terrible Unbearable Beary Bad Day is a story that explores feelings and emotions. Little Bear woke up in a “beary” bad mood and was having a terrible day until he met a friend who reminded him of the importance of being kind and compassionate. May 8: Mother’s Day Celebration (pre-recorded video) Create a fun gift for mom, snuggle up for a sweet Mother’s Day book, and enjoy a fun celebration of mothers! May 11: Steam Craft Carnival: Wind & Sound (prerecorded video) In this virtual Steam Craft Carnival, learn how to create a Bee

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Twanda’s Theatre on Wheels will present “Little Bear’s Beary Bad Day” on May 1.

Buzzer, Singing Spoons, and a Wind Catcher. During each craft, library staff will explain the science that is involved in the activity, as well as everyday things that also utilize that science. A limited number of craft packets for this activity will be available for pick up at the First Colony Branch Library beginning May 4. Activity sheets may also be downloaded from the online calendar on the FBCL website and printed out at home.This activity is sponsored by the Friends of the First Colony Branch Library. May 15: Yoga + Mindfulness (pre-recorded video) This program is presented by Kinetic Vibez, in conjunction with Young Audiences of Houston. Kinetic Vibez is an artistic wellness movement that focuses on introducing a holistically creative lifestyle to youth, ages 7 to 19. By fusing yoga, meditation, and hip-hop, students can overcome stress, depression, and bullying. In this online program, students will learn the basics of the yogic system of meditation, which includes guided stretches, guided breathing practices, and guided sound-based meditation. Students will learn how to use these practices to develop a strong sense of mindfulness, increase mental and physical flexibility, and take control of any depression, anxiety, or stress they may be experiencing. May 22: Fancy Nancy Tea Party (pre-recorded video) Watching this program, children can participate at home by dressing in their favorite party clothes while they listen to a “Fancy Nancy” story and enjoy an afternoon tea party. Library staff will demonstrate how to make a fancy wand and crown and offer instructions on how to create “Fancy Nancy” inspired snacks. Children may even pick up some etiquette tips to practice at home! A limited number of craft packets for this activity will be available for pick up at the First Colony Branch Library beginning May 17. Activity sheets may also be downloaded from the online calendar on the FBCL website and printed out at home. This activity is sponsored by the Friends of the First Colony Branch Library.

18 • West Fort Bend Living

May 31-September 30: Tails and Tales Summer Reading Challenge Registration FBCL presents special reading challenges during the summer to encourage reading among children from birth and up. Children are invited to read a lot of great books and earn fun prizes for reading. Participants may register for the Summer Reading Challenge (SRC) online by going to the FBCL website and clicking on the “SRC Sign-Up” image, which will become available on May 31. When the online registration form has been completed, readers will then have their own online page on which to record their books and reading time. Participants may also register and log books/reading time by downloading the free Beanstack Tracker app to their mobile device from the Apple App or Google Play stores. Fort Bend County Libraries and the Summer Reading Challenge will appear as options when the program starts on May 31. Video links and special live-streamed performances for the SRC will be available on FBCL’s online calendar and on the “FBCL Virtual Programs & Educational Resources” Facebook group page in June and July. All program videos can be viewed by selecting “Virtual Programs” on the “Classes and Events” tab on the Fort Bend County Libraries website – www.fortbend.lib.tx.us – and finding the programs on the dates listed.Youth programming will also be posted on the “FBCL Virtual Programs & Educational Resources” Facebook group page. For more information, call the library system’s Communications Office (281-633-4734).

The public is invited to watch live-streamed poetry slam


ort Bend County Libraries is hosting an online Poetry Slam Competition for teens and young adults on Saturday, May 8, at 2 p.m. The theme for the live-streamed performance-poetry competition is “Dare to Hope.” Anyone who enjoys poetry is invited to watch the competition, which will take place online. Reservations are required to view the event; a link to the Webex session will be sent to all spectators who register on the FBCL website (www.fortbend.lib.tx.us). Students 14 to 20 years of age are invited to submit entries on the FBCL website by May 3 at 5 p.m. They will compete for prizes in this performance-poetry event by reading original works they have created themselves. To participate in the competition, contestants should complete an online entry form on FBCL’s website and upload copies of three original poems they wish to read for the competition. One poem will be read for each round to which the participant advances. There will be two qualifying rounds and one final round. A panel of five judges will determine which competitors advance to the second round and the final round. The order of performances will be randomly chosen on May 8 at the start of the event. Judging will be based on language, idea, theme, tone, mood, vocal strength, emotion, body/facial movement, and fluency. Each poem must be limited to no longer than 3 minutes and 10 seconds in length. Poets may read from a copy of their poem, but they may not use props, costumes, or musical instruments.

Poems must be family-friendly and may not include any profanity or sexually explicit content. Poems containing incendiary, offensive, discriminatory, or inflammatory language will be disqualified. Participants who submit poems online during the entry period will be sent a link for the Webex session for the competition. Submissions will not be accepted after 5 p.m. on May 3. Prizes will be awarded to the top three competitors. Sponsored by the Friends of the Fort Bend County Libraries, the Poetry Slam is free and open to the public. For more information, call the library system’s Communications Office at 281-633-4734.

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Online game of “Spyfall” just for adults


he Adult Services Department at Fort Bend County Libraries (FBCL) will have an online “Virtual Board-Game Day: Spyfall” event for adults on Tuesday, May 4, beginning at 3 p.m. This virtual event will be online; it will not be in person. In this virtual event, players will participate online in a game of Spyfall – a combination of a role-playing game and a hidden-role game. All players except one are given a role to inhabit and the location for that round. The remaining player is secretly designated as a spy. The players take turns asking each other questions. The spy’s goal is to figure out what location the players are at without tipping off the other players that he/she is the spy. The game ends when the players figure out who the spy is or when the spy figures out what location they are in. The rules of the game are explained here: www.spyfall.app/ gamerules. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. To register online visit www.fortbend.lib.tx.us, click on “Classes & Events,” select “Virtual Programs,” and find the program on the date indicated. Participants may also register by calling George Memorial Library (281-342-4455).

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• 19

He alth

Heart to Heart program helps NICU preemies bond with their moms


unique program at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is helping premature or critically ill newborns create healthy bonds with their mothers – while still in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). In the first few days or weeks of life, babies in the NICU are separated physically from their mothers while the nursing staff provides round-the-clock care. The Heart to Heart program uses small pieces of fabric, sewn in the shape of a heart, to transfer the mother’s scent to the baby’s crib or isolette for bonding. It works like this: Staff at the Houston Methodist Childbirth Center at Sugar Land give moms the fabric hearts that can be placed in their bras or under their clothing, along with a poem that explains the program. After a couple of hours, the cloth heart has absorbed the mom’s scent and is placed with the baby to provide comfort.

Newborn babies in the NICU comforted by the isolettes with their mothers’ scent

“Babies have an acute sense of smell that is naturally designed to enable them to recognize their mother, even before their eyesight is fully developed,” said Donna Timmer, a nurse, and lactation specialist in the NICU at the Houston Methodist Childbirth Center at Sugar Land, who initiated the program.“When babies are separated in the NICU, they undergo a lot of stress that results in increased crying and elevated vital signs.The hearts soothe them and help them bond with their mother even if mom can’t be there beside them. At the same time, mom’s scent also helps stabilize baby’s heart rate, blood sugar, and respirations, so there are medical benefits as well as emotional.” Timmer learned about the program from Rush Medical Center in Chicago, and she was impressed with the evidence-based results they achieved. She introduced Heart to Heart at Houston Methodist Sugar Land on Valentine’s Day 2019, after enlisting the help of her neighbors and coworkers to sew hearts. “Moms with babies in the NICU go through a very emotional experience,”Timmer said.“They are excited about their newborns, but they also feel emotionally separated from them because of the physical distance.The Heart to Heart program is a proven way to help them – and their babies – at the same time.” The scent effect works both ways. Moms can use the hearts from the baby’s isolette to help stimulate milk flow for pumping. “Partners can participate, too,” said Timmer.“We’ve had several dads who have been part of the program.” Not surprisingly, the response to Heart to Heart has been heartfelt by new parents and the community. Over the past two years, volunteers have donated over 1,200 flannel hearts.

20 • West Fort Bend Living

“Most moms just say they are happy to have something that helps them feel closer to their baby,” said Timmer. “Heart to Heart helps babies adapt but it also helps moms feel more involved with their child’s care during those first few days.They just love it.” Visit houstonmethodist.org/childbirth-sl to learn more about Houston Methodist Childbirth Center at Sugar Land Hospital

Vitamins and supplements women need


balanced diet does more than provide sustenance and fuel for daily life. Eating an array of healthy foods gives people the best opportunity to naturally obtain the vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health. But certain nutrients may be lacking even when a diet includes an assortment of colorful produce and a careful mix of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The right supplements can help overcome such deficits, and women often need different supplementation than their male counterparts. Vitamins geared toward women are not just a marketing ploy; most contain formulations that cater to women’s unique needs at various stages in life.The Office on Women’s Health and WebMD recommends these vitamins for women to maintain good health. Vitamin D The Cleveland Clinic reports that 42 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient.Vitamin D comes from diet but also is produced in the skin when the body is exposed to sunlight.Vitamin D helps the body absorb and maintain adequate levels of calcium and phosphate, which are essential to bone health. Rush University Medical Center says recent research suggests vitamin D may help guard against severe COVID-19 infections. Some populations have higher levels of vitamin D deficiency, particularly people of color, those with inflammatory bowel diseases and postmenopausal women. Folic acid Folic acid or folate (also known as vitamin B9) helps the body make blood cells and the DNA for new cells.This B vitamin also is key to preventing birth defects like spina bifida. According to the March of Dimes, one in two pregnancies are unplanned, and adequate folic acid is required at the early stages of gestation to help the fetus develop healthfully. All women who are sexually active are advised to take a multivitamin that contains folic acid in concentrations of 400-800 mcg. In addition, folate can be found in dark, green, leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and cereals with added folic acid. Vitamin B12 Vitamin B12 comes mostly from animal products. Therefore, anyone who follows a vegetarian or vegan diet may need supplementation to ensure they are getting enough B12. Pregnant women will find B12 is important for baby’s development.Without it, the infant may have low birth weight or other health problems, advises the OWH.Vitamin B12 also helps produce healthy red blood cells, may support bone health, could reduce risk of macular degeneration, and may reduce symptoms of depression.After age 50, women’s bodies cannot absorb vitamin B12 as readily, so supplementing or eating fortified foods can help. Calcium Growing girls need 1,300 mg of calcium each day to develop strong bones for adulthood. After menopause, women may need nearly the same dosage (1,200 mg) to help slow the bone loss that comes with aging. Calcium is found in low-fat dairy products and foods with calcium added. Healthy eating may be a goal, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes that 99 out of 100 Americans don’t meet even minimum standards of a balanced diet. Supplementation can help meet those standards and ensure a long, healthy life.

HEALTH NEWS Continued on page 23


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Children flock to George Ranch Historical Park for annual egg hunt photos by AVERIL GLEASON | agleason@fbherald.com










Snyder finds an egg dead ahead! Haruki Miyama races to grab as many eggs as he 1Thea 4 can. Caleb Kocurek, 2, finds some eggs at the trunk of Holding up a massive egg filled with treats is 7 a tree. 2Heidi Snyder, 3. Big sis Salome Sallo makes sure 7-month-old Ari 5doesn’t eat the Easter eggs. Despite his full basket, Sebastian Hart, 2, Helping each other gather as many eggs as 8 searches for more eggs. 3Theapossible are Evie Bley, Amandaine Sallo and Evelyn, Alexander, and Michele Dyogie are all Snyder. 6Historical dolled up for the egg hunt at George Ranch Madeline Dinh, 2, places her first egg in her Park. Michele said this is their third time 9Easter basket. attending the annual event.

22 • West Fort Bend Living

HEALTH NEWS Continued from page 20

Moms need timeouts, too


hile timeouts may be torturous for young children eager to get up and go, alone time may sound like paradise to busy mothers. It can be helpful for parents to schedule daily timeouts, though breaks a few times per week can do the trick as well. Timeouts can benefit moms who need a break during or after a long day. Such breaks can be restful and reenergizing. Any woman can benefit from a time-out, but working mothers juggling careers and home life may be especially in need of scheduled breaks. Women who want to incorporate more breaks into their daily routines should know that it’s possible to do so, even on the most hectic days. • You don’t need much time. A break doesn’t need to be extensive to be effective. Schedule around 30 minutes for the timeout.That’s just enough time to watch a sitcom, read a chapter in a book, or enjoy a nice, steamy bath. • Choose a kid-free time of day. If possible, select a timeout period when the kids are away from home or you can be guaranteed some alone time. If this is not possible, arrange with your spouse to look after the kids while you get some alone time. • Find an enjoyable activity. Select an activity for the timeout that you may not have the opportunity to enjoy when other people or tasks require your attention. Listening to music, taking an exercise class, writing in a journal, engaging in artwork or other crafts, or reading a book make for great timeout activities.A

timeout is not the time to catch up on chores. • Treat yourself on occasion. Build an extra treat into the timeout, such as a bite of a favorite dessert or purchasing a clothing accessory or luxurious body butter. This can make the timeout even more enjoyable.

Join Us for Worship on pentecost sUnday! Outdoor Worship with Eucharist and Picnic on the Church Grounds Sunday, May 23 at 10:30 AM

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1

calvary episcopal chUrch |806 thompson rd., richmond, tX 77469 |281.342.2147 To advertise, call 281-342-4474

• 23

Fort On Ben the dS cene

The Easter Bunny visits the Gingerbread House in Rosenberg photos by AVERIL GLEASON | agleason@fbherald.com








bunny hands Hayden Samson an egg to to fill his basket is Hutch Wester. Stella Boettcher fills her basket to the brim. 1The help fill his basket. 4Excited 6 Landon Cruver adds a blue egg to his blue Harper Sidwell puts her first egg in her Easter Hutch Wester takes an egg from the Easter 5basket. 7 basket. 2Bunny. timid Bryson McGuffin approaches the Easter 3ABunny.

24 • West Fort Bend Living














Sch ool N ews

NIVENS GETS THE NOD Dr. Roosevelt Nivens II named lone finalist for LCISD superintendent opening

Story and Photo by SCOTT REESE WILLEY | swilley@fbherald.com


amar Consolidated ISD trustees voted Dr. Roosevelt Nivens II as the lone finalist to replace Dr. Thomas Randle as superintendent of LCISD. Dr. Nivens is presently superintendent of Community ISD, located in Nevada,Texas. The vote was unanimous. However, state law requires a 21-day waiting period after a school board names a superintendent lone finalist before the future school superintendent can sign a contract. The Lamar CISD School Board officially voted on the position at its April 27 meeting. Dr. Randle is retiring after 20 years at the helm of LCISD. The board’s announcement follows an extensive, nationwide search lasting several months. The search process included gathering input from community stakeholders, which was used to develop a candidate profile that was nationally advertised. More than 47 candidates applied for the position. The board initially narrowed the field of candidates to five candidates and then two finalists who participated in several comprehensive interviews and visited the district and the surrounding community. Lamar CISD Board President Joy Williams believes Dr. Nivens is a great fit to serve the district as its next leader. “Our board is excited to welcome Dr. Nivens to our community,” said President Williams. “We were fortunate that many quality candidates wanted to come to our district.After an exhaustive process, our trustees became convinced that Dr. Nivens is the right leader for our rapidly growing district and that he will promote a high level of success for all our students.” Dr. Nivens has served as the Superintendent of Schools for Community ISD since 2015, a school district encompassing four communities located in the southeast corner of fast-growth Collin County in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. His public education career is centered around advocating and

supporting the very best educational opportunities for all students, Williams said. He began his 24-year career as a teacher in Dallas ISD, assistant principal, and principal of Lancaster Junior High and Lancaster High School, and Assistant Superintendent of Achievement and Organizational Management in Lancaster ISD. Prior to his public education career, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Liberty University in Lynchburg,Virginia, and his Master of Education and Doctor of Education from Texas A&MCommerce. Through his leadership in Community ISD, student safety, high academic achievement, and student social-emotional well-being were the priorities. Under his administration, the district earned an A-rating in 20182019, realized a 20 percent increase in the number of Advanced Placement students receiving a three or higher on the AP exam, and strengthened student participation in dual credit classes with 98 percent earning college and high school credit, and 10 percent of the graduating class earned an associate degree upon high school graduation. Understanding that each student’s path to success is different, he also expanded Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs and CTE professional certifications, which students can use in the workforce upon graduation. Dr. Nivens said he looks forward to working with the school board, parents, staff, students, and the Lamar CISD community on a shared vision of providing the very best educational experiences for all students. “Lamar Consolidated ISD is a distinguished school district with a long history of educational excellence,” Nivens said. “I am honored to be named as lone finalist for superintendent. I look forward to meeting students, teachers, staff, and families soon. Together I believe we can continue and build upon the excellence of Lamar CISD as one family.” His wife, Karla, and son Roosevelt Nivens III joined him at the board meeting where they were treated to dinner with the trustees. Dr. Randle wished Nivens well and the school district staff offered to help the Nivens in their move to the community in any way possible. Roosevelt III is 17 and looks forward to playing basketball at whichever campus he is assigned to.

Archery students place at state


Dr. Roosevelt Nivens II, left, was named lone finalist to replace Dr. Thomas Randle, right, as superintendent of Lamar Consolidated ISD.

26 • West Fort Bend Living

a l va r y E p i s c o p a l Preparatory students were delighted to have archery for the second year in a row as a sport. The archery students have been learning and growing under the direction of October Smith (Manager), Scott Lightle (Project Coordinator) and Jennifer Cheesman (Project Coordinator) at Long Acres Ranch. Five students represented Calvary at the Texas-NASP State Archery Tournament. Calvary is proud to announce that for the targets, Elizabeth

Izzy Cole

To advertise, call 281-342-4474

• 27

Yates made the leaderboard, placing second in overall elementary girls. For 3D, Elizabeth Yates placed first and Izzy Cole placed second overall elementary girls. Calvary students showed their school pride and dedication to archery

Elizabeth Yates

CEP announces Wyland National Mural Contest Winners

C From left: October Smith, David Okere, Donnie Fondon, Elizabeth Yates, Izzy Cole and Elliana Shogren

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28 • West Fort Bend Living

alvary Episcopal 5th grade students won the Wyland National Mural Contest with their conservation themed mural which was based on our local Brazos River design. This contest focuses on conservation issues around the world and encourages students to interpret those issues through art. This student project was completed 100% by students, including designing and painting.These 5th grade students won $500 in art supplies for CEP and their mural is now on display at Long Acres Ranch.

From left, bottom row: Vivian Troung, Ava Lee, Wonu Adedeji, Thomas He, Olivia Kocian, Joshua Standlee, Sloan Johnston, Lola Perches, Sara Catherine McDonald, Cora Kuperus, Dylan Rodriguez; top row: Kristina Castillo, Joshua Babin, Jayden Barron, Zoya Cherry and Elizabeth Yates.


CEP National Art Honor Society inducts new students


alvary Episcopal Preparatory announced the induction of new students to their National Art Honor Society and National Junior Art Honor Society inductees. NAHS and NJAHS is an organization that magnifies the innovation, skills, and scholarship that the art program brings to students, Calvary and the community. Congratulations students!

From left, teacher Kristina Castillo, Kadyn Boettcher, Stacey Smith, Michael Wan, Sarah Williams, Zak Shogren, William Broussard, Elliana Shogren, Haley Nichols, Sabrina Hunter and Peter Yang


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• 29

TALK OF THE TOWN Continued from page 15 These plants have been tested by university horticulturists and master gardeners and proven to be winners throughout a variety of locations in Texas. What do I mean by “winner”? Hardier, more pest and disease resistant, more f lowers, bigger flowers, more fruit, tastier fruit, and a “wow” factor is what I mean. In other words, these plants are more likely to thrive in ® The Texas Superstar , Duranta, is also your garden and dazzle known as Golden Dew Drop. you at the same time.Also, to be designated a Texas Superstar, a plant must be easy to propagate so the plants can be mass-produced for consumers at reasonable prices. An example of a Texas Superstar® is Duranta, also known as Golden Dew Drop. This deciduous shrub has masses of blue or purple flowers from spring through fall and golden berries in late fall. It attracts bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other birds. If you are still not sold, it’s drought-resistant, too! Another example of a Texas Superstar® is the Dwarf Cherry Surprise Tomato, which produces a bounty of cherry tomatoes that are considered four times as sweet as other cherry tomatoes. It’s resistant to most common tomato diseases and is highly recommended for home and school gardens. New Texas Superstars® are added from time to time as they are tested and approved, the newest being an evergreen vine called the Yellow Butterfly Vine. It has delicate yellow flowers but its name comes from the salmoncolored seed pods that resemble butterflies. It is drought-tolerant and thrives in hot sunny locations. The value of choosing Texas Superstars is more than just their beauty or your increased probability of success. If you choose plants

that will thrive in your garden, you save money that might have been wasted on plants that die before their time. You also save time and energy in nurturing plants that will be successful. Just remember to plant and care for them according to directions. If you are interested in more information about these plants, visit texassuperstar.com. This site includes detailed plant descriptions, growing tips, and where plants can be purchased.You can also look for plants with Texas Superstar® labels. For answers to your specific gardening questions, contact the Fort Bend Master Gardener Hotline at bmg.org/contact. The Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and Texas Department of Agriculture (“Go Texan” Program) partner with Texas A&M faculty, Agrilife Research and Agrilife Extension to spread the word about Texas Superstars®.

Learn about plant selection with an online gardening program


ort Bend County Libraries will present an online program, “Landscape Success: Right Plants for the Right Place,” on Tuesday, May 25, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Part two of the Texas AgriLife Extension Office’s “Landscape Success” series for homeowners, this program will be live-streamed via Webex; it will not be in person. Fort Bend CountyAdvanced Master Gardeners Peggy d’Hemecourt and Suma Mudan will talk about the use of native and well-adapted plants in the landscape. Get tips on landscape planning and how to make the best use of sun, shade, and drainage for varying plant needs. Mudan and d’Hemecourt will also talk about the Earth-Kind® Plant Selector,Texas Superstar® plants, and Earth-Kind® roses. The program is free and open to the public. Registration is required for the program so a link to the Webex session can be emailed to all who register. To register online at the library’s website (www.fortbend.lib.tx. us), click on “Classes & Events,” select “Virtual Programs,” and find the program on the date indicated. Participants may also register by calling Fort Bend County Libraries’ Communications Office at 281633-4734.



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30 • West Fort Bend Living

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Getting Your






















Our Breast Care Center offers:



We know balancing life may be challenging right now, but getting your annual mammogram is still a priority — especially since early detection saves lives. At Houston Methodist Breast Care Center at Sugar Land, our specialists recommend women get an annual mammogram starting at age 40 — or younger, if you have a family history to help detect changes earlier.


Early Detection Saves Lives








• The latest diagnostic technology: 3D mammograms, breast ultrasound and breast MRIs • Board-certified breast imaging radiologists • Acceptance of most major insurance plans • Enhanced safety measures to keep patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

Visit houstonmethodist.org/breast-care-sl or call 281.274.7170 to schedule your mammogram today. We do not require a doctor’s order for your annual screening mammogram.