SB+ March 2024

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B-I-N-G-O! The Post Bingo hall calls numbers for local causes

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B-I-N-G-O! The PosT Bingo hall calls numBers for local causes

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Spring Woods High School golf tournament Houston Heart Ball celebrates AHA’s 100th anniversary Ragin’ Cajun’s Fat Tuesday celebration Fun spring break activities in and beyond Houston KP’s Kitchen welcomes its Bellaire location Recap of Spring Branch FFA’s Show & Sale + winners Congratulate SBISD’s Rodeo student art winners

12-13 Community calendar 14 Best friends debut handmade hat company, Guera 15 Somos Spring Branch aims to bring education and resources to SBISD 16-17 The Drunken Cyclist talks Rodeo wine champs 18 SBISD budget update 19 Women’s History Month 20 Mental health center comes to Northbrook High School through SBCHC 21 Spring Branch Color Run Memorial Park Conservancy’s Biggest Picnic in Texas: 100th Birthday Edition 22 What’s new and upcoming in The Branch

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ON THE COVER A Spring Branch institution since 1989, The Post Bingo puts a charitable spin on a muchloved, family-friendly game. Read about the charities they support, the generous cash and prizes customers can win, and how they bounced back from the pandemic with a loyal customer base on pages 4-6. Cover photography by David Shutts Photography

Editor’s Letter to the Residents


here’s no shortage of fun going on in Houston in March! Rodeo is on the top of our list, and new luxury hat boutique Guera is available for all your custom hat needs. Of course, we haven’t forgotten about spring break, and we’ve reprinted a list of activities both in Houston and a short drive away to keep those kids — and yourself — from going stir crazy. Be sure to check out the articles about SBISD’s Rodeo student art winners, SBFFA Show & Sale winners, and the new and amazing nonprofit organization Somos Spring Branch, plus so much more. Happy spring and enjoy a much-deserved spring break!

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Spring Branch’s The Post Bingo Supports Fun — and Charity By Liz Clearman


hile gambling isn’t legal in Texas — including bingo — there’s an exception to this law that allows things like horse and dog racing, tribal casinos, and most relevant to this story, charitable bingo. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a rousing game of bingo and the charitable kind makes it possible to have fun, have the chance to win some cash or other prizes, and donate to worthy causes (and that loophole makes it possible for us in the Lone Star State to enjoy a little thrill when we hear the winning letter/number combo on our card). The Post Bingo, located on Long Point and managed by Jonathon Anawaty, has been promoting and hosting charitable bingo in Spring Branch since 1989. They operate under the regulation of the Texas

Lottery Commission and strictly adhere to the laws set forth by the state, with all profits generated supporting their charitable endeavors within the community. “We are proud to be Houston’s premier daytime bingo hall, offering opportunities to win cash prizes, enjoy delicious food, and experience thrilling entertainment,” said Jonathon. Not just a place to play games, The Post is a 501(c)(3) organization, which means all of their proceeds go to local charities such as VFW Post 8790 in Spring Branch — which just happens to be right behind the bingo hall — VFW Post 8790 Auxiliary, Houston Sports Lions Club, VFW 2427 Tomball, and VFW of District 4. The money raised is nothing to shake a bingo card at, either. “We are deeply inspired by the local charities that we play our bingo sessions for. 4

Year after year, we raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for these charities, enabling them to undertake significant initiatives for the local community. At The Post Bingo, we take immense pride in the fact that we raise more money for charity than any other hall in Houston. It’s a testament to our commitment to making a meaningful difference in the lives of those around us,” Jonathon said. This unwavering commitment to the charities they support sets them apart from other bingo halls in Houston. Maximizing their fundraising efforts — along with maximizing fun for their patrons, of course —is a vital part of their daily operations as it requires more than just a management team and employees; The Post’s customers play an integral role as well. Over the past three decades, they’ve cultivated a vibrant bingo community and a loyal customer base, some of whom have been playing in the hall for 20 years. Of course, Jonathon points out, they return for the chance to win at bingo, but it’s bigger than that. They also come back on a regular basis “to reunite with fellow players and our friendly staff. This sense of camaraderie and shared purpose creates an environment where players enjoy coming, workers thrive, and ultimately, it all serves a cause that resonates with everyone.” The Post hasn’t been without its challenges, though. Like with many small businesses, the early 2020 COVID lockdowns affected non-essential operations like bingo halls

throughout Texas and the nation. With three months of closures looming and no clear end in sight, the uncertainty left both employees and charities scrambling. However, Jonathon said, there were some unexpected positives. When restrictions eased around May of that year, they noticed a surge of new players seeking alternative activities and fun things to do after being cooped up in their homes for most of the previous months. “As summer transitioned into fall, this influx of new players significantly boosted our sales,” he remembered. “Remarkably, we not only recovered from the three months of closure but also surpassed our charitable distributions from 2019. The momentum continued into 2021, which proved to be another record-breaking year, largely due to the sustained interest from new bingo players. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, our community rallied together, demonstrating resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity.” Sounds right on-brand for the Spring Branch community to me.

entertainment in Spring Branch. If you find yourself getting hungry or thirsty while sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for your letters and numbers to be called, have no fear — their full kitchen serves delicious, fresh food, snacks, and beverages, enhancing the overall experience for patrons. “With 35 years of bingo experience, we’ve witnessed and adapted to all the changes in the industry,” Jonathon noted. “We’ve transitioned from the old days of paperonly games to embracing event pull tabs and the introduction of electronic bingo. Our journey through these changes has been long, and we’ve remained committed to evolving alongside the industry. As we look to the future, we’re prepared to continue adapting to new trends and innovations in the world of bingo.” Having been a Spring Branch staple since the ‘80s, Jonathon and his team have deep roots in this community. He finds the juxtaposition of the serenity and tranquil atmosphere of The Branch within the

It’s all been uphill from there. To entice even more loyal players, the facility underwent an aesthetic and gameworthy transformation in the summer of 2023. With brand-new, comfortable chairs (who doesn’t want a soft place to sit for a nail-biting round or two of bingo), spacious tables, and a new, state-of-the-art bingo system complete with digital flashboards and a modern caller’s stand, The Post is intent on making their bingo hall even more of a landing spot for

bustling scene of Houston to be refreshing, a welcome and distinctive break from the fast pace of a major city. “As you exit the highway and venture into Spring Branch, the transformation is palpable, transitioning from busy and congested thoroughfares to tranquil and peaceful neighborhood streets. The unique blend of urban convenience and suburban tranquility makes Spring Branch a truly special place within the dynamic landscape of Houston,” Jonathon said.


The Post doesn’t just host regular bingo games, either. Every month, they host special events to celebrate different holidays (they had a Valentine’s Day event in February with game payouts of $1,000 as well as prizes) as well as Customer Appreciation Days where they have fantastic door prizes up for grabs such as TVs, laptops, and everyone’s favorite — cold hard cash. What makes these event days so special? Everyone has an equal shot at winning.

The hall awards over $20,000 in cash prizes daily — yep, you read that right — with single games paying out up to $1,500. They pride themselves on being a familyfriendly establishment and welcome children ages 7 years and up to play alongside adults. You can find them at 9101 Long Point Road, and they’re open daily — visit their website for specifics and more information at


Mark your calendars and save the date for Saturday, April 6, when The Post will hold its biggest raffle of the year, with over $20,000 in cash prizes available and the top prize coming in hot at $10,000. Raffle tickets will be available for purchase in person at the bingo hall.

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Million Dollar Anniversary for Houston Heart Ball Press Release The 40th anniversary of the Houston Heart Ball was a tremendous success. Chair Kelly Hackett welcomed over 500 guests to the ballroom at the Hilton Americas for a celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the American Heart Association. The coffers were filled with $1.25 million during the evening, and the energy in the room was electric. Funds will support the life-saving work of the American Heart Association to fight heart disease and stroke. In addition, local Houston organizations in the public health and food security space will benefit from the funds as they continue to expand their services to create equitable health outcomes throughout the city. Demola playing the electric violin, entertained the crowd during the cocktail hour, walking through the ballroom and pre-function area to energize the guests. He opened the night with the popular “I‘ve Got a Feeling” as the guests danced their way to their tables. The program was emceed by Khambrel Marshall, who introduced this year’s featured survivor, Wallis Marsh, who shared his story via video, followed by a few words about how his wife DeeDee was instrumental in saving his life.

From (l) to (r): Rashena Franklin, Bruce Padilla, Dawn Gunther

The evening recognized medical and community honorees who have been working tirelessly to remove barriers to health equity and advocating for healthier communities. A short video introduced the 16 honorees, and the crowd gave them all a standing ovation as they gathered on stage. “The AHA in Houston wouldn’t be able to make such a difference in our local community without the generous support of this year’s Heart Ball sponsors and supporters, and we are so grateful for their support,” said Allison Sheeder, Sr. Executive Director of Greater Houston. “Our organization was also so excited 7

to celebrate our community partners who are making such a difference through their contributions in the heart health and food security and nutrition spaces. These honorees embody exceptional care, warmth, and compassion, and the AHA was proud to recognize all of them on Saturday evening.” The end of the program was highlighted by a champagne toast, given by Tim Singletary and Joanne Houck, who are longtime supporters of the American Heart Association and were Chairs of the Ball in 2022. The toast was followed by a festive balloon drop, with partygoers crowding the dance floor as Midtown 10 Band started to play. With balloons being tossed around, the crowd gathered for the traditional Heart Ball dance floor picture and then continued to dance the night away. (Author’s note: Spring Branch’s very own Dr. Marlen Trujillo, CEO of the Spring Branch Community Health Center, was one of the 16 honorees for this year’s gala. Congratulations to Dr. Trujillo!)

Spring Branch’s Ragin’ Cajun Lets the Good Times Roll on Fat Tuesday


By Liz Clearman

he Wirt Road location of Ragin’ Cajun encouraged patrons to kick up their heels and “laissez les bons temps rouler” on Fat Tuesday, which was February 13 this year. Referring to the actual day of Mardi Gras, the start of the Carnival season, and the last day before the beginning of Lent, the term “Fat Tuesday” refers to the practice of eating a fattened calf, as well as celebration and merriment, in preparation for the fasting that is to come during the Lenten season. While Ragin’ Cajun did not have a fattened calf on hand, the crawfish were in plentiful supply. With happy hour running from 3-7 pm and the official Mardi Gras party starting at 6 pm, Ragin’ Cajun had a band, beads, and bugs in abundance (if you aren’t familiar, the term “bugs” refers to crawfish, aka “mudbugs”) to ring in the Louisiana-style bash. Zydeco music filled the restaurant from B. Cole & The Zydeco Bulls from 6-10 pm. Follow Ragin’ Cajun on Facebook ( and visit their website ( to stay up-to-date on upcoming events and restaurant specials for both locations.


Spring Break 2024:

Things to Do in Houston (and Beyond)


By Liz Clearman

uthor’s note: I’m rehashing this article from last year because these activities are evergreen and are available year-round, so it feels fitting to not reinvent the wheel for spring break-specific fun.) While it feels like the holiday break just ended — or maybe that’s just me — spring break will be here in just a couple of weeks (March 11-15 for SBISD students) and if you’re not planning on traveling or putting your kids in camp, what to do? Fortunately, Houston is chock full of fun things to do during spring break, so let’s explore some of the options available to keep your kids — and you — from going stir crazy.

Disclaimer: Please check each location’s hours individually to ensure that they’re open during spring break.

Local activities (within 30 minutes of Houston/Spring Branch): • Children’s Museum of Houston • Dairy Ashford Roller Rink • Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary • Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center • Health Museum • Houston Arboretum & Nature Center • Houston Botanic Garden • Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo • Houston Museum of Natural Science • Houston Ship Channel • Houston Zoo • iFLY Indoor Skydiving • Katy Heritage Society Railroad Museum • Lone Star Flight Museum • McGovern Lake at Hermann Park for fishing • Sloomoo Institute • Splat Zone • The Rink: Rolling at Discovery Green (Feb. 10-March 17) • Typhoon Texas • Zero Latency Houston Day trips (30 minutes + from Houston): • Aggieland Wild Animal Safari (Bryan) • Anahuac Wildlife Refuge (Anahuac) • Armand Bayou Nature Center (Pasadena) • Blue Bell Creamery (Brenham) • Brazos Bend State Park/George Observatory (Needville) • Franklin Drive-Thru Safari (Franklin)

• Galveston/Pleasure Pier • George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum (Texas A&M University campus, College Station) • George Ranch Historical Park (Richmond) • Kemah Boardwalk • Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (Humble) • Pirates Bay Water Park (Baytown) • Sam Houston National Forest (New Waverly) • San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site (La Porte) • Space Center Houston (Houston) • Splashway Water Park (Sheridan) • St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary (Navasota) • Surfside Beach Volunteer opportunities (Please contact each organization individually to verify volunteer opportunities, times, and minimum age requirements): • Books Between Kids • Citizens for Animal Protection • Habitat for Humanity • Houston Food Bank • Houston SPCA • Interfaith Ministries • K-9 Angels Houston • Kids’ Meals • Lily’s Toy Box • Memorial Park Conservancy • Sleep in Heavenly Peace • Step Up Houston


“I believe the children are our future...” or, Spring Branch FFA’s 46th Annual Show & Sale Recap It’s Rodeo Season! Which means it’s also time for the 46th Annual SBFFA Show & Sale which was held February 8-10. I get along really well with kids. It’s probably because I’ve spent three decades working in bars and dealing with people that have trouble pronouncing big words, struggle to understand instructions and sometimes pee their pants is just second nature to me at this point. But, while drunk adults make me curse my existence and question what poor decisions I have made in my own life, interacting with kids makes me feel good and gives me hope. So I was delighted to be asked to judge the Food Competition for the Show & Sale on Thursday, February 8 to kick off this year’s fundraising. I was the lead judge in the “Candy” and “Canning’’ categories. This was undoubtedly because I am an experienced pickler and canner but, more importantly, I am an absolutely terrible baker and the other categories were “Bread,” “Cookies,” “Cakes,” and “Baked Goods’’ (pies, cinnamon rolls, etc.). After each judge picked the top two in their respective categories, we all joined forces to taste the finalists’ entries in all categories as well as meet and interview the kids themselves. The judges were so very, very impressed with all

By Kyle Pierson of the students. They made great eye contact, spoke confidently and handled all of our questions with ease and humor. The faculty and parents of these youngsters should be very proud. I know I am. Vanessa de la Torre, an 11th grader from Spring Woods, won Grand Champion with her apple pie. Charlotte Wood, an 8th Grader from Cornerstone Academy, won Reserve Champion with her hummingbird cake. Big congratulations to both of them! On Saturday the 10th I was invited back as a guest of the Spring Shadows Buyers Club to be their official bidder at the Auction. If you’ve never been to a livestock auction, I highly recommend it. I’ve seen it on TV and in the movies, but that doesn’t really do it justice. The smell, the grunts and groans and squawks of the animals, the auctioneer machine gunning dollar amounts, the spotters yelling “HYUP!” and pointing out bidders. It is all extremely exciting and really gets your adrenaline going. My experience was heightened, no doubt, by the fact that Mr. Jarrar from Jarrar & Co. invited me to share their table. So I got to sit up front with all the high rollers like MetroNational and listening to them getting into bidding wars over the Grand Champion livestock was absolutely thrilling. 10

I had to wait ‘til we were about three dozen lots in before the bidding began with a low enough number that I could participate in the fun. I am very proud to say that the Spring Shadows Buyers Club had a winning bid of $3000 for a turkey raised by Armando Patiño from Spring Woods High School! All told the auction raised over $470,000 for the students and a great time was had by all. I’ll see y’all there next year!

Talented SBISD Artists Honored with Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Accolades


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ach year, Spring Branch ISD student-artists submit their art pieces to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) School Art Program. This year, nearly 50 student-artists were honored with Blue Ribbon, Finalist, Best of Show, Sammy Special Merit and Gold Medal clas- Quintero sifications. “The HLSR School Art Contest is one of the most competitive student art contests in the Houston area. This year I was very impressed with not only the quality of work submitted by SBISD students, but also the creativity they brought to this competition,” said Lindsay Ripley, SBISD Visual Hyeonwoo Arts Coordinator. “This year we had Yang close to 60 works brought to NRG to be judged by Rodeo Committee Members. We left 21 of them there to stay on view at the Hayloft Gallery. An incredible accomplishment! When we received our results, the rodeo committee member assisting me noted that SBISD had the largest number of Special Merit pieces she had seen in a long time! I am so very proud of these artists and their incred- Chloe Ni ible art teachers!” Currently, the School Art Program supports approximately 130 different school districts, including private and parochial schools, in the Houston area. Each year, the Rodeo receives thousands of entries from talented young Texans and SBISD is pleased to show a multitude of works each year not just at Rodeo, but within the SBISD community. “As much as we focus on this event as a competitive regional art contest, I believe the real reward of Rodeo Art is the community celebration we get to have at the Altharetta Yeargin Art Museum (AYAM), where the work was on display. This year we had 450 students and community members visit our SBISD Rodeo Open House on Thursday, Jan. 18. This event was a wonderful celebration of the hard work of our students, their art accomplishments and our SBISD art community,” said Ripley. Thank you to HLSR and AYAM for continuing to support SBISD student-artists! Congratulations to our talented student-artists! Elementary Best of Show: Sammy Quintero, Steer Clear Gold Medal: Arianna Murillo, The Colorful Cow; Shriya Vinoth, Ready to Rodeo Blue Ribbon: Brittney Sanchez, Happy Cow Middle School Best of Show: Hyeonwoo Yang, At the End of the Day Gold Medal: Phoebe Phan, A Cowgirl’s Crown Blue Ribbon: Veronika Kovyreva, The Furry Cow High School Best of Show: Chloe Ni, Saddle Up; Alina Du, Wild West Waltz Gold Medal: Jasper Ma, 5 O’clock Shadow; Jacob Chung, Cowboy Blue Ribbon: Skye Gobbell, Ol’ Blue Eyes; Jesse Lane, You Look Tasty

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Teen Chess Club @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 4:30 pm Yoga for Beginners @ VFW Post 8790, 5 pm Spring Branch Super Neighborhood Central meeting @ VFW Post 8790, 6:30 pm

Coming Soon!

April 6: Biggest raffle of the year @ The Post Bingo April 30-May 4: Just Between Friends consignment sale @ Splat Zone

8 Major Lazer @ HLSR

1 50 Cent @ Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (Black Heritage Day presented by Kroger) 5th Annual Houston Business Matchmaker virtual event ( to register), 8:45 am Grand Opening of 4Ever Young Wilchester @ 13210 Memorial Dr., 5-9 pm with sales & raffles all day! Steak Night @ VFW Post 8790, 6 pm

9 Lainey Wilson @ HLSR Memorial Villages Farmers Market @ First Congregational Church, 9 am Memorial Market @ The Lawn at Memorial City, 9 am Farmer’s Bazaar @ St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, 9 am The Biggest Picnic in Texas: 100th Birthday Edition by Memorial Park Conservancy @ 301 N. Picnic Ln., 10 am Crochet for a Cause, Spring Branch Memorial Library, 2 pm American Shuffleboard Tournament & Queen of Hearts Drawing @ VFW Post 8790, 2 pm Queen of Hearts Game @ VFW Post 8790, 5:30 pm

2 HARDY @ HLSR The Tiny Market @ John Knox Presbyterian Church, 9 am Memorial Villages Farmers Market @ First Congregational Church, 9 am American Shuffleboard Tournament & Queen of Hearts Drawing @ VFW Post 8790, 2 pm Queen of Hearts Game @ VFW Post 8790, 5:30 pm

10 Daylight Saving Time begins Los Tigres del Norte @ HLSR (Go Tejano Day presented by Fiesta Mart)

3 Ivan Cornejo @ HLSR

11 SBISD spring break Whiskey Myers @ HLSR Preschool Story Time @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 2:15 pm

4 Hank Williams Jr. @ HLSR (First Responders Day presented by BP America) Preschool Story Time @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 2:15 pm Book Buddies @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 4:30 pm Houston Food Bank School Market @ Spring Woods Middle School, 4:30 pm

12 SBISD spring break Bun B @ HLSR Teen Movie Break @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 3 pm

5 Oliver Anthony @ HLSR

13 SBISD spring break Nickelback @ HLSR

6 Jelly Roll @ HLSR (Community Day presented by TC Energy) Kid’s Craft Corner @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 4 pm

14 SBISD spring break Zac Brown Band @ HLSR Toddler Time @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 10:15 am D&D Inspired Games & Crafts

7 Luke Bryan @ HLSR (Volunteer Appreciation Day presented by Phillips 66) Toddler Time @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 10:15 am

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March 23 Memorial Villages Farmers Market @ First Congregational Church, 9 am Bayou City Art Festival Downtown @ 1000 Bagby, 10 am Spring Centerpiece Workshop @ Freedom Floral Spring Branch, 2 pm American Shuffleboard Tournament & Queen of Hearts Drawing @ VFW Post 8790, 2 pm Queen of Hearts Game @ VFW Post 8790, 5:30 pm

@ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 4:30 pm Yoga for Beginners @ VFW Post 8790, 5 pm Toastmasters! @ VFW Post 8790, 6:30 pm 15 SBISD spring break Jonas Brothers @ HLSR 3D Printer Orientation @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 4 pm Parents’ Night Out @ Splat Zone, 5:30 pm Hamburgers & hot dogs @ VFW Post 8790, 6 pm

24 Bayou City Art Festival Downtown @ 1000 Bagby, 10 am Spring Woods High School Annual W.W.“Red” Emmons 2024 Memorial Golf Tournament @ Windrose Golf Club, 1:30 pm shotgun start

16 Brad Paisley @ HLSR Memorial Villages Farmers Market @ First Congregational Church, 9 am Energy Corridor Farmers Market @ 1520 Eldridge Pkwy, 2 pm Paws for Literacy @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 2 pm American Shuffleboard Tournament & Queen of Hearts Drawing @ VFW Post 8790, 2 pm Queen of Hearts Game @ VFW Post 8790, 5:30 pm

25 Mindfulness for Kids @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 3 pm Book Buddies @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 4:30 pm SBISD board of trustees regular meeting @ Wayne Schaper Sr. Leadership Center, 6 pm Spring Branch Super Neighborhood North meeting @ Spring Shadows Civic Association board room, 6:30 pm

17 Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Eric Church @ HLSR

26 CSS Coding for Teens @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 4:30 pm

18 Preschool Story Time @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 2:15 pm Book Buddies @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 4:30 pm Houston Food Bank School Market @ Spring Woods Middle School, 4:30 pm

27 Video Games @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 4 pm

19 First day of spring CSS Coding for Teens @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 4:30 pm

29 SBISD school holiday Glow in the dark Easter egg hunt @ Splat Zone, 5:30 pm

28 Toddler Time @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 10:15 am Yoga for Beginners @ VFW Post 8790, 5 pm Toastmasters! @ VFW Post 8790, 6:30 pm

30 Memorial Villages Farmers Market @ First Congregational Church, 9 am American Shuffleboard Tournament & Queen of Hearts Drawing @ VFW Post 8790, 2 pm Queen of Hearts Game @ VFW Post 8790, 5:30 pm

20 Full STEAM Ahead! @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 4 pm 21 Toddler Time @ Spring Branch Memorial Library, 10:15 am Yoga for Beginners @ VFW Post 8790, 5 pm Spring Branch Super Neighborhood East meeting @ 1414 Wirt Rd., 7 pm

31 Happy Easter!


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odeo season is officially in full swing this month, which means you’ll see an abundance of cowboy hats and boots parading around Houston. If you’ve been to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (HLSR), it’s likely that you’ve seen — if not purchased from — the booths where you can have a hat custom made for you that fits your head and your style. Pretty cool, right? Well, we have something similar (and arguably better since you can design a hat any time of the year) right here in our own backyard. Guera — A Handmade Luxury Collection is the brainchild of Amy Carter, a native Houstonian, and Monica Sanchez, born and raised in Mexico. Guera, which means “fair-haired/blonde girl” in Spanish, was — and still is, after a decade of friendship — Monica’s affectionate nickname for Amy, who, as you can guess, is blonde. The moniker stuck and became the perfect name for their luxury hat brand and custom boutique that was born out of Amy and Monica’s friendship, a shared love of beautiful handmade items from Mexico, and years of dreaming. They designed their first line in the summer of 2023 with Monica overseeing the manufacturing process in her Mexican hometown. Once she brought the products back to Houston, the besties officially launched Guera just a few short months ago in September of 2023. “We knew there was a need for high design hats without the high design price,” said Amy. “Our mission is to give our customers a jaw-dropping look 14

without the sticker shock of some of the current brands. Most styles are under $100 which makes it guilt-free to buy more than one. At Guera’s price point, you can indulge in statement colors in multiple styles.” Amy, a Spring Valley resident of 13 years, is married with a 19-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. When she’s not showing off Guera’s gorgeous collection and helping customers design their perfect hat, she’s busy supporting SBISD schools and enjoying all that our community has to offer. Monica is a relative newcomer to Houston, having grown up in Mexico and then making her home in Barcelona with her husband before landing in H-Town four years ago. She’s also kept busy with two small children and soaks up Houston’s culture and plethora of activities when she steps away from running a small business. If you’re thinking to yourself that you need a custom, handmade hat (and the answer is yes, you do), Amy and Monica would be thrilled to help you design the affordable hat of your dreams that you can wear to the Rodeo — and everywhere else — for years to come. They mainly sell through markets, pop-ups at businesses and homes, and online, and are more than happy to schedule a group event for you and your friends at your house or at your workplace. Please reach out to them at gueraluxury@, follow them on Facebook (Guera - A Handmade Luxury Collection) and Instagram (@guerahats), and visit their website for the catalog of their already available hats and more information at

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Somos Spring Branch:

Uplifting and Empowering Spring Branch Residents By Liz Clearman pring Branch ISD is a unique ously worked for SBISD and is the parent school district. With a geographic of a Spring Woods High School grad while area that spans areas both north and David was a teacher, dean, and director at south of I-10 and encompasses Memorial, both YES Prep Northbrook middle and the Memorial Villages, and Spring Branch, high schools. Patricia, a resident of Spring the district is anything but homogenous. Branch for several decades, has taught a On the south side of I-10, you’ll find an MALDEF (Mexican American Leaderoverall wealthier demographic with wellship Defense and Educational Fund) Parfunded PTAs and more plentiful resources, ent Leadership course in several SBISD whereas the neighborhoods on the north schools, served on SBISD Family Engageside of the freeway tend toward lower inment committees for 10 years, and is curcome, under-resourced, and English as a rently on the SBISD 2017 Bond Oversight second language families. As a whole, the Committee. district’s minority enrollment sits at about The philosophy behind Somos is four73%, with 57.4% of those students identi- From (l) to (r): David Lopez, Patricia Cabrera, Diana Martinez Alexander fold and embraces several principles that fying as Hispanic, 6.7% Asian/Pacific Islander, 5.5% Black, 2.7% as two are vital to its leadership: a desire to uplift community, build electorate or more races, and 0.3% as American Indian/Alaskan Native (27.4% of power to have greater opportunities for representation, grow leadership the population is white). In addition, about 50% of all SBISD students in their neighborhoods, and, with equity in mind, work toward change are eligible for the national free and reduced meal program, with around in area schools, infrastructure, and resource access. “Each of us is devoted 39% identifying as English language learners (ELL). to Spring Branch due to our work and schooling experience, or both! We All of this information, coupled with some heated school board races get excited about meeting our neighbors and hearing their concerns. It starting in 2021 as well as lived experiences, provided the perfect backdrop is the best feeling when we can talk through solutions together,” Diana for three determined and resourceful Spring Branch residents — Diana said. Martinez Alexander, Patricia Cabrera, and David Lopez — to organize One of the unique things about Somos Spring Branch is that each around a common goal: Making sure all residents and families in SBISD officer hails from a different generation, creating interesting discussions are treated with dignity in their neighborhoods and the school district. and sometimes, Diana laughed, silly misunderstandings and confusion. In 2019, Somos Spring Branch was born out of collaboration and shared David is the “baby” of the organization and is a Millennial, Diana was ideals of various members of the community. While it was just recently born in the oft-forgotten Gen X years (I’m also a Gen X-er), and Patrimade an official 501(c)(4) nonprofit in 2024, Somos has been organizing, cia is a member of the Baby Boomer generation. Bringing wide-ranging operating, and educating others for about five years already. perspectives to their discussions of how to handle issues surrounding di“Somos Spring Branch is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization [made versity and inequities has been “the best,” according to Diana. up] of parents, students, teachers, and neighbors coming together to To find out more about Somos Spring Branch, visit their website make sure all families are treated with dignity in our neighborhood and at and follow them on Facebook (Somos Spring school district,” said Diana. “We want to provide information, training, Branch) and Instagram (@somosspringbranch). They are just starting to and resources for community members to empower themselves.” Each host monthly membership meetings, so keep an eye on their Facebook Somos board member has a background in advocacy and organizing and feed for those announcements. all are proud members of the Spring Branch community. Diana previSource for statistics:



I’ll Be the Judge of That


By Jeffrey M. Kralik, Ph.D. (The Drunken Cyclist)

ust about anyone who has lived in this region for longer than a minute knows that the month of March means Rodeo in Houston. Of course, there is much more to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo than just the rodeo events; there are the concerts, the rides, the food, and the crowds. There has also been, for the last twenty years, the wine. Since 2004, Rodeo Uncorked! International has strived to be one of the finest wine competitions in the U.S. For the past seven years, I have been a judge for the competition, which has grown into one of the largest wine competitions in the world, judging around 3,000 wines every year. The judging for the event occurs in November for the following March’s Rodeo, takes place over three days, and involves hundreds of volunteers, including over 100 judges. Pricewaterhouse Coopers oversees the entire process, which is a “double-blind” competition. Essentially, the judges only know the wines by a four-digit number and the category in which they were entered (e.g., “New World Pinot Noir Under $15” or “Old World Oaked Chardonnay $25-35”). The judges are divided up into panels of five and each panel, on average, has 8-10 flights of 10-12 wines per flight, or approximately 100-125 wines each day. (It must be noted that judges are required to affirm that they will spit out the wine rather than swallowing so as not to become inebriated, and boy, is that important!) Each judge (the judges are a mixture of wine professionals, journalists, and consumers) is tasked with evaluating each wine on its own merits and consider how it represents the category, giving it one of four designations: Gold, Silver, Bronze, or No Medal. Briefly, a bronze medal is awarded to wines that are good, varietally correct, and a wine that we would serve, say, at a party or large gathering. A Silver medal should be awarded to those wines that are excellent, wines that you serve for a momentous occasion or when you might be trying to impress. Gold medal wines are those that are so outstanding that you are tempted to keep it all for yourself (and maybe, just maybe share it with a spouse). No medal? Well, either the wine was mis-categorized, had some inherent flaw, or you simply regretted ever putting in your mouth. After tasting through the flight individually, the panel then discusses each wine, and each judge declares which medal they have awarded the wine. If all five judges give a wine a “Gold” then it receives a “Double Gold” (yes, I realize that double means “two of something” and here it is five, but I didn’t make the rules). A relatively straightforward calculation determines the other medals awarded if the group does not come to a consensus (e.g., a wine that receives a gold, three silvers, and a bronze is awarded a silver medal). After all the medals are determined for a particular category or class, the panel then awards a “Class Champion” and a “Reserve Class Champion” or the best and the second best wines in the category. But it does not end there. After all the categories have been judged, several “Super Panels” are assembled to determine the “best of the best” including the best: White Wine, Red Wine, Value Wine, Texas Wine, and Feature Region Wine (this year the feature region was Chile). These flights can be rather impos16

ing. On one of my super panels, we had to choose the five “best” wines from a flight of 65 wines, all of which had already been awarded either a Gold or a Double Gold and included all varieties and price ranges. Yeah, that took a while. A lot of time and effort goes into the wine competition every year, culminating in the Wine Auction (which was held on February 25), and the Wine Garden during the Rodeo. I strongly recommend popping into the Wine Garden if you visit the Rodeo this year, as the menu ( Menu.pdf) has a few gems. Here are my suggestions (including Wine Garden bottle price): Bubbles: Beau Joie Brut Champagne, $74. The TOP wine this year (Grand Champion). Rosé: 2022 Lapostolle Le Rosé, $32. I love me some pink, and this is a top Chilean producer. Gold. Chardonnay: 2021 Cave de Lugny, Mâcon-Lugny, Burgundy. $36. Class Champion. Gold. Red: 2021 Michael David Earthquake Zinfandel, Lodi $36. Big and zesty. Double Gold. Splurge: 2021 Chimney Rock Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap, Napa Valley, $130. Double Gold. Class Champion.

Expands to Bellaire with

New Location


Press Release

P’s Kitchen, a beloved bistro known for its welcoming ambiance and sophisticated modern cuisine, is excited to announce the opening of its second location in Bellaire. Situated at 5427 Bissonnet Street, the new location boasts 3,800 square feet of space, featuring a spacious bar, a dedicated party room, and inviting front and side patios. Building upon the success of its original establishment, KP’s Kitchen’s expansion brings forth an exciting array of offerings to its patrons. Adding a bar and party room provides new avenues for guests to enjoy memorable dining experiences, whether for family gatherings, romantic evenings, or celebratory events. “We’re thrilled to introduce KP’s Kitchen to the vibrant community of Bellaire,” says Kerry Pauly, Owner of KP’s Kitchen. “Our new location not only allows us to serve our signature modern eats but also provides a unique space for guests to unwind and create lasting memories.” Starting soon, KP’s Kitchen Bellaire will offer dinner service from Tuesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., with plans to introduce lunch and brunch shortly. For menus and further information, please

Expires March 29, 2024


SBISD Budget Update By Nathalie Herpin arents in Spring Branch ISD have been hearing a great deal about the financial future of the district over the last several months. The SBISD Board of Trustees has the responsibility of making major financial decisions that will impact students starting next school year. The district is facing a $35 million budgetary shortfall for the 2024-25 school year. With hopes of averting the need for massive cuts, a comprehensive advocacy effort was launched in late 2022, with the district providing community leaders with information regarding funding for public education and the risks to SBISD programs. Though expansive efforts were made by SBISD along with nonprofits and local PACs, the Texas Legislature closed its 88th session, and its subsequent four special sessions, without any increases to the funding for public schools, despite having the largest budgetary surplus in state history. Public schools have not seen any increase in funding since 2019 while costs have continued to increase, creating an untenable situation for our school district. The Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees has since voted on several proposals to address the budgetary crisis. The following is a summary of changes SBISD families can expect. • School closures (cost reduction of $8.8 million): • Panda Path School for Early Learning, a Title 1 school located in northeast Spring Branch, will be closed with those students moving to Lion Lane Pre-K. • Treasure Forest Elementary School, a Title 1 school located in northeast Spring Branch, will be closed and students will be relocated to Housman and Ridgecrest elementaries. No other elementary schools operating below capacity were considered for closure. • The SKY Partnership, maintained by the district since 2012, will be discontinued, which will close YES Prep Northbrook Middle, YES Prep Northbrook High, and KIPP at Landrum Middle, all three Title 1 schools serving northeast Spring Branch. • Additional cost-cutting measures (cost reduction of $2.9 million): • Increasing the staffing to student ratios for high schools. • Aligning Stratford High School and Westchester Academy for International Studies to a seven-period daily schedule instead of their current eight-period block schedule in order to be able to share teachers across campuses. • Increasing pre-K tuition rates. • Pausing the Bond Program, effectively halting the rebuild of Sherwood, Spring Shadows, Thornwood, and Terrace elementaries. This bond was approved with 80% approval from the voters in 2017. Memorial Drive Elementary will continue the construction process under the bond program, as will the Guthrie Center improvements approved by voters in 2023. • In addition to the measures voted on by the SBISD Board of Trustees, the district will also close the Bendwood Campus and redesign the district’s SPIRAL program for Gifted and Talented students from 3rd-5th grades. The G/T program will continue for these students on their respective home campuses (cost reduction of $762,744). • SBISD District leadership has stated the intent to reduce central office staff for the 2024-25 school year, though no cost reduction amount has been provided to residents. Reminiscent of the Texas Legislature’s cuts that decimated school districts back in 2011, there is much concern over the long-lasting consequences of this underfunding. It took a decade for Spring Branch ISD to recover from the ramifications of budgetary cuts then, and staff and parents across the district are hopeful that history will not be repeated. Families of students affected by these school closures and program changes have been given additional information to assist their transition and principals in the affected schools have reiterated their dedication and commitment to their students.


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A Primer on Women’s History Month


arch is Women’s History Month: a time to recognize the contributions of women and an opportunity to learn more about notable historical figures. This month has been celebrated every March since President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation in 1987, but its origin dates much further into our history. In 1848, Elisabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the first women’s rights convention in New York in response to being banned from speaking at an antislavery convention and thus created the origin of the women’s movement for equality in the US. In 1908, garment workers striked against inhumane working conditions and child labor. One year later, the first National Women’s Day was celebrated and the movement continued to gain momentum and popularity. This monthlong celebration of women’s achievements is the culmination of over a century of women’s suffrage efforts. Women’s History Month celebrates the of-

By Nathalie Herpin

ten overlooked accomplishments of women throughout history. Some names might be more well known, like Marie Curie, brilliant scientist who was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize and subsequently the first person of any gender to win a second Pulitzer. Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on the bus helped to spark the civil rights movement. Florence Nightingale’s medical expertise saved many soldier’s lives. Amelia Aerhart broke flying records, making major advances in aviation. But there are a plethora of women with groundbreaking achievements and contributions to science that are lesser known. Did you know that Ava Lovelace was the first computer programmer, or that the critical scientific piece that allowed other scientists to understand the double helix of DNA was thanks to scientist Rosalind Franklin? Cleopatra is known to have been a beautiful woman, but did you know she was also the first ruler of Egypt’s Ptolemaic dynasty and was a formidable, politically masterful monarch? We all 19

know the significance of the first steps on the moon, but did you know Katherine Johnson was a brilliant mathematician who pushed past the multitude of barriers she faced in education as a Black woman and ended up making the calculations that were critical to the success of NASA and the first manned space flights? Every woman has an accomplishment to be proud of and a story to tell. This month is a reminder that though some progress is evident, there is still much work to be done. Though the 19th amendment passed in 1920 granting women a vote and a voice in their own governance, women still only comprise a third of the workforce in science, technology, and math fields. Only 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, a milestone percentage reached only just last year. So, this month and beyond, celebrate your daughters, your mothers, and your sisters. As the first woman Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said: “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”

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Northbrook High School to Receive Wellness Center


By Gerard Peperone, Chief Development Officer, Spring Branch Community Health Center

pring Branch Community Spring Branch Community Health Health Center is partnering Center and Spring Branch ISD believe with Spring Branch that The Raider Care Center and Wellness ISD to provide a School-Based Counselor will make a significant impact Wellness Center for students at on the mental health and academic success Northbrook High School. The of high school students in the Spring Raider Care Center will address Branch community. This pilot project is the mental health and social service funded by a generous grant to SBCHC needs of Northbrook students by from United Healthcare. empowering them to manage their Spring Branch Community Health own social, emotional, and physical Center has a team of licensed Behavioral health, while striving to support Health Care professionals available to them in positively improving their discuss issues related to mental and academic achievement through emotional health. Together with our improved attendance, higher grades, partners in the community, we are able to and a better chance at graduating. offer programs such as our breast health A dedicated Wellness Counselor, program and cancer screenings. SBCHC Diana Kurtz, LPC-S, Raider Center Wellness Counselor Diana Kurtz, LPC-S, will be on has eight community clinic locations and site to work with the students one-on-one and in small groups. As a two Mobile Health Clinics serving the Spring Branch, West Houston, safe space within the school walls, The Raider Care Center will allow Katy, and Cy-Fair areas ready to meet all your healthcare needs. Our statestudents to drop in before and after school, during lunch, and during of-the-art facilities offer affordable, high-quality healthcare to serve your other free times throughout their academic day for impromptu visits of entire family with services that range from family medicine, women’s 5-15 minutes to help students in social or emotional distress, those in healthcare, pediatrics, dental care, back-to-school vaccinations, flu shots, need of a brief counseling check-in, or those simply needing a break from and physicals. Visit our website at to make an appointment and the stresses of the day. to learn more about us.

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713.234.0067 1473 Wirt Rd. HOUSTON, TX (Spring Branch)

The Hot Seat:

New & Upcoming Developments in Spring Branch/Memorial By Liz Clearman

coffee and a pastry after you finish an anti-aging or other cosmetic treatment) at 13210 Memorial Drive. Read more at 4everyoungantiaging. com/location/wilchester-houston.

Slowpokes Memorial With its popular location already bustling on Long Point in Spring Branch, a new Slowpokes location just popped up in January at 13210 Memorial Drive in a brand-new shopping center. This location is unique in that it offers a walk-up window where you can order all the usuals (lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, or just plain coffee) as well as various food items including bagels, croissants, kolaches, flatbreads, sandwiches, charcuterie boards, churros, and cake balls. On tap are beers from local breweries as well as a rotating wine menu. You can see their menu and even order coffee shipped directly to your house at

RH Dentistry Another newcomer in — you guessed it — the same shopping center as Slowpokes and 4Ever Young Wilchester, RH Dentistry prides itself on being a unique dental office that offers more than just traditional dentistry. Drs. Michelle Boecker-Riviere and Courtney Hoffman believe in ensuring that each patient is tailored to individually. Offering amenities such as TVs with Netflix to watch while you’re in the chair, a beverage station, noise canceling headphones, warm towels with essential oils, under-eye plumping patches, and lip balm, their focus is on the whole patient, not just your teeth. Services include Invisalign, sleep apnea treatments, cosmetic dentistry, and sedation dentistry. Find them at 13210 Memorial Drive, learn more about the practice, and book an appointment online at

4Ever Young Wilchester A newcomer to the Houston antiaging and med spa scene, Dr. Kristen Weibel and her husband Matthew are excited to bring 4Ever Young Wilchester to the community. With a wide variety of wellness offerings such as hormone therapy for both women and men, medical weight loss, and IV therapy as well as cosmetic services like Botox, hydrafacials, lip enhancements, non-invasive facelifts, and double chin removals, 4Ever Young hopes to be the go-to for all of Spring Branch/Memorial’s hormonal and aesthetic needs. They’re located right next to Slowpokes (go get yourself some

All three businesses will be hosting a grand opening block party on Friday, March 1 from 5-9 pm. You can RSVP and get more information here: 22 713.828.4604

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1330 Wirt Rd • Houston, Texas 77055 •

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