Arts for All

February 1, 2005 by  
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The River offers fine arts for children of all abilities

In 1997, Cathy Binstock’s three-year-old daughter, Samantha, told her mother she wanted to take ballet. Cathy searched all over Houston for a program that would allow her daughter to participate. You see, Samantha has cerebral palsy; and her walking, talking, balance and eyesight are affected. Cathy soon learned there were no programs in the area with the facilities or equipment to accept Samantha.

She refused to give up on her daughter’s dream, so she held a fundraiser in her home and hired a dance instructor from St. John’s School to teach creative movement. That first class had only seven students. Soon, The River Performing and Visual Arts Center was founded by Cathy and her husband, Bob Binstock. The center aimed to provide artistic education for children who could not participate in other fine arts programs due to disability or inability to pay. The River has grown over the years, serving 660 children in 2005 and more than 6,000 children since its small beginnings in 1997.

The need
In the Greater Houston area alone, there are more than 60,000 children with special needs. The River aims to serve as many as possible, whether they have autism, visual and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, developmental delays or other challenges. The unique program allows children to work hands-on in the arts by uniting teaching artists with students who require special care or assistance. The program boosts the children’s self-esteem, socialization skills and ability to follow directions. The River provides scholarships for up to 92 percent of the children in the program, so that the arts are available to all students, regardless of their ability to pay.

All in the family
Since its inception, The River has included the siblings of participating students in the arts programs. This inclusion allows siblings to learn greater patience and understanding from The River’s caring environment. Oftentimes, this is the only opportunity siblings have to participate in arts activities with each other. Additionally, The River provides respite care for up to three hours on Saturdays and five hours a day during summer camp, from which parents have greatly benefited.

Saturday morning art
Saturday morning cartoons, move over! The River is offering 18 one-hour classes on Saturdays this year with topics like dance, music, visual arts, theater, mime, storytelling, music therapy, costuming and props, and photography. With a teaching artist, a teacher’s aide and volunteers in each class, each student has the one-on-one assistance he/she needs to get the most out of every minute in every class. This program is available for 10 weeks during the spring semester and 10 weeks during the fall semester at the Houston Metropolitan Multi-service Center. On the last day of class, the children perform a recital on stage, providing a sense of accomplishment and enthusiasm for everyone to enjoy.

Summer of fun
The River offers a Fine Arts Summer Camp in June and July for six weeks at the Houston Metropolitan Multi-service Center. The children attend the camp Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. The classes focus on a central theme, including music, dance, drama, art, and costume and props, and conclude with a recital each Friday. The students get to work on all aspects of putting on a show by creating backdrops, costumes, props and musical instruments for the weekly recitals.

Reaching out
Through the River’s Outreach Program, local schools, social service agencies and other community groups that serve qualifying children are provided with independent teaching artists. The teachers instruct a 30-minute to one-hour class (primarily music therapy or creative movement) for two to three months during a semester. They provide expressive art therapy methods in life-skills classes for special education classrooms and to economically disadvantaged children in the Greater Houston area. Each site provides a classroom teacher to help students with their projects and learn new ways of applying arts to students with diverse abilities, enhancing other core educational classes.

Lending a helping hand
A critical asset at the heart of The River is volunteers. Approximately 170 individuals volunteer and provide one-on-one assistance to the students, thus enabling them to participate to the fullest. Many students from local high schools volunteer at The River, as well as other community service groups. All volunteers receive community service hours for their time and support.

Exhibiting creativity
Artwork created by students at The River will be included in The Children’s Museum of Houston Cyber Clubhouse through May 14. The Boston Children’s Museum’s disability awareness exhibit, access/ABILITY, will be at the museum during this time, and The River’s pieces will be the local component of the exhibit. The works will include paintings, acrylics, photographs and murals created by the wonderful children at The River. H

The River Performing and Visual Arts Center, 1475 W. Gray, (713) 529-1220,

New Year, New You

February 1, 2005 by  
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Many months ago, we formed the H Texas Ultimate Makeover Team of Dr. John Krell, smile-reconstruction extraordinaire; Dr. Donna Rich, plastic surgeon expert; Todd Ramos, fashion authority and editor; Sophia, makeup maven; Roula’s Nail Spa; the ‘it’ pampering and sanitary mani/pedi palace; and Avant Garde Spa, the haute spot for hair. We then asked readers to nominate themselves and others for a complete makeover, including plastic surgery, dental reconstruction, hair, clothes and makeup.

We were then inundated with pleas for makeovers from these professionals. Ranging from men to women, young to old, thin to pudgy and desperate to willing, H Texas readers requested to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Through a difficult decision process and from the hundreds of applicants, we chose four candidates for further consideration and a more in-depth interviewing process.

As our team joined forces to decide which lucky reader would be ultimately transformed, it found narrowing the applicants down to just one finalist quite difficult. And that’s where we left it a couple of months ago. Nikki (who you will hear about in the next issue) was the final choice for the H Texas Ultimate Makeover, but our three runners-up got to experience almost as much glitz and glam (minus the plastic surgery).

Bevin, a young, single woman looking to radiate her inner beauty, definitely stood out from the crowd. “I would really love a makeover so that people will see my inner beauty shine through a pretty face and a great smile,” writes Bevin in her original request. Through the course of the makeover, we could see her sun-shiny personality in every interaction we had with her – and then she got a new smile!

She told us to, “Please know that every morning as I am brushing my beautiful smile, I thank God for you and Dr. Krell for helping to answer one of my prayers.” Mario Romero at Avant Garde said he was going to give her hair more lift and take it back to one color while Sophia decided to go with plum hues for her makeup. To top it off, while she was at the salon, the Fox 26 H Report crew popped in to film the transformation for a Friday morning broadcast. A makeover, a model and a TV star – all in one day.

Sarah, a former model and now loving mother, felt that she had let herself go. In her application she writes, “I have no idea what style is anymore, and my oldest daughter reminds me of that!” Her confidence level had hit the dirt, yet she was eager to pick it back up again. Whatever age, or size, or length of hair, Sarah is a beautiful woman – we just needed to remind her of that. Although she was not selected for the plastic surgery portion of the makeover, Sarah decided to go ahead and take the plunge on her own through our team member Dr. Rich. She also got to be the star for a day, receiving a spectacularly spoiling manicure and pedicure from Roula’s Nail Spa, shopping for a new style to best complement her new look with fashion professional Todd Ramos and posing for a photo shoot with nationally known photographer Debbie Porter. And for her hair and color, it’s perfect.

Speaking of the experience, she says, “I had a blast, and I am a blonde now! The outfit was awesome; I felt so beautiful during the shoot.” And she is. Robin, a young mother, put her style on hold for her dear son. This self-declared “frumpy mommy” writes before the makeover, “I used to be something to look at, and now all the attention I get is from my one year old little boy!” She was eager to find a new look, to go from a style-be-gone mother to a “hot mama.”

The $200 that Foley’s gave each of the three contestants for a new wardrobe and the time Todd Ramos spent with her, helped Robin to decide on a fashion avenue to pursue and transform her into a hip hottie. After the makeover, she declared, “I had so much fun, and I loved everything they did to me.” Thanks to the H Texas Ultimate Makeover Team, this stylish diva is ready to hit the town with a new look and an improved outlook. We welcome ophthalmologist Marc Sanders, M.D., F.A.C.S. and cosmetic and restorative dentist MaryKaren Matt, D.D.S. to the H Texas Ultimate Makeover Team for our upcoming Ultimate Makeover.

Thanks to: John H. Krell, D.D.S., 3900 Essex Lane, Ste. 1130, (713) 877-1775,; Donna Rich, M.D.; Bayview Plastic Surgery, 17625 El Camino Real, Ste. 250, (281) 286-1000; Roula’s Nail Spa, 3017 Kirby, (713) 528-8500,; Avant Garde Spa, 3055 Sage Road, Ste. 150, (713) 877-9700

The Battle Against Sickle Cell Disease

February 1, 2005 by  
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Growing from a dull numbing and quickly jumping to an excruciating pain, it feels as though your flesh is being torn open, and a vice grip is crushing the bone. That is how David Hill describes his battle with sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disease that affects more than 70,000 African Americans. It causes red blood cells to become deformed, preventing them from passing through small blood vessels, which inhibits the oxygen from efficiently traveling through the body.

Hill, a Klein Forest High School teacher, needs to pay more attention to his body’s needs than the average American.

“I have to constantly stay aware of the condition my body is in. I have to monitor the color of my fluid excretions to aid in normalizing the hydration of my body,” Hill says.

Sickle cell originated in Africa and the Indian/Saudi Arabian subcontinents, but it is most common in West and Central Africa. In the United States alone, approximately 1,000 babies are born with sickle cell each year.

Texas Children’s Hospital has treated sickle cell for more than 40 years and has one of the largest pediatric programs for it in the country. Since 1983, more than 2,000 Texas children have been diagnosed with sickle cell disease, according to the website. Although approximately eight of every 100,000 people develop sickle cell, it is more prevalent in certain populations. It affects one in every 400 African Americans and one in every 1,200 Hispanic Americans.

For hope and fellowship among victims of this painful disease, Texas Children’s Hospital’s Sickle Cell Center offers a five-day residential summer camp, “Camp SKY” (Sickle Cell Kids and Youth) for children between the ages of six and 13. For more information about Texas Children’s Sickle Cell Clinic or their camp, visit

The Sickle Cell Association of the Texas Gulf Coast is also dedicated to easing the pain of those stricken with this disease. Helping adults battling the disease, this non-profit group helps through sickle cell education, counseling, psychosocial services and summer camps. The association is designed to improve the lives of individuals with the sickling gene and related conditions. For more information about SCA and other services, go on-line and visit Sickle cell is not a disease that is seen externally, but it is an extremely painful one. “It limits the number of activities that a person may participate in. Many times people believe that a sickle cell patient may be using it as an excuse,” Hill says. There is no cure for people with sickle cell disease; however, there is new research being developed.

“Stem cells have been discussed in preventing the disease in future generations,” Hill says optimistically. H

Visit to view the streaming video of this H Report featured on Fox 26 Morning News.

The Hideout Returns to the Astrodome

February 1, 2005 by  
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All right all you cowgirls and cowboys, it?s rodeo time again and Houston is going all out this year. For all the folks out there willing to dance until the cows come home, be sure to save some time for The Hideout. It has grown immensely from its days in a big tent in the parking lot. This year, it?s back and taking place on the ground floor of the Astrodome, which is sure to evoke just as many memories. Packed with rising talent, there is an incredible musical line-up, as well as plenty of booths with food and drink to keep you coming back.

Rising stars this year include Aaron Watson, a singer/songwriter from Amarillo, Texas. He?ll be turning heads not only for his good looks, but for his beautiful voice. He received much of his early exposure to music while singing old gospel hymns in church. He has grown up considerably since, and his first single, ?Reckless,? from his album ?The Honky Tonk Kid,? can now be heard on Texas radio stations.

Also joining the lineup this year is the Texas Unlimited Band, better known as TUB. The band started to assemble in high school. Today, they call themselves the only ?live South Texas dance hall band.? They?ll be playing for five days for the enjoyment of all their fans.

Not to miss is Kazzi Shae and The Edge. This group is unique, in that their lead singer, Kazzi, is actually an International Yodeling Champion. Her music is incredibly versatile, spanning the likes of Country, Blues, Gospel and Yodeling.

So this year, leave the kiddies with the sitter and make sure to save plenty of time for the fun and festivities of The Hideout in its new home. With all the action-packed nights, it is surely not to be missed. H

Models for Christ

February 1, 2005 by  
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The modeling business is extremely aggressive, almost ruthless. There’s a lot of pressure to get the next big assignment, and this fast-paced fashion world may sometimes lead to inappropriate decisions and devastating results. Drugs and alcohol, as well as eating disorders, are very common on the road to stardom.

It doesn’t have to be this way – there is an ethical alternative for models of all ages. Models for Christ is an international non-profit organization that joins the fashion industry (models, photographers, agents and designers) through their Christian beliefs, incorporating biblical lessons and encouraging Christian doctrines. Focusing on prayer, informed decisions, fellowship and community service, members of Models for Christ are able to meet wherever they are located pursuing the fashion industry, including Paris, Milan, Tokyo and Houston. According to its website, the organization “seeks to present Christ and develop spiritual leaders in the fashion industry.”

The organization has found a seasoned spiritual leader in Houstonian Wendy Martin-Altemus, a model and instructor at Page Parkes center of modeling and acting.

“This is a tough business,” says Martin-Altemus. “It can be very cutthroat. I just want to be a positive role model to these girls. I don’t want them to go through what I did.”

Having trod the rough and tumble road of fashion, she found an answer to her confused journey: Jesus Christ. Martin-Altemus has incorporated the doctrine of Models for Christ into accepted modeling philosophies. Teaching poses, makeup, photography and Christian ideals makes Martin-Altemus’ modeling classes a unique and refreshing alternative to aspiring models.

The inaugural class of Models for Christ has just completed session. Each class is $50, and attendees have the opportunity to work with H Texas’ very own photographer and Models for Christ member, Debbie Porter. H

Watch the H Report on Fox 26 Morning News Thursdays this month to catch more on this story.

Who are Houston’s Sweethearts?

February 1, 2005 by  
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I don’t remember when Valentine’s Day became so important in my life – when I started loving hearts so much. As I began to collect hearts, I don’t remember when I lost control. One of my favorite projects was creating the Celebration of Hearts in the lobby of Denton Cooley’s Texas Heart Institute. Of course, to me, hearts seem to be so much more than objects. Every time I look at one, I’m reminded of love and, actually, much more. Seeing hearts reminds me of my belief that I’m here to learn to love others – and that is a goal I’m still working on.

What does Valentine’s Day conjure in your mind? As an expression of your love and affection, is it the usual boxes of chocolates, champagne, roses, romantic dinners, gifts or cards for someone you care about or for your sweetheart?

In this February issue, I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to explore the word ‘sweetheart’ and quite honored to spotlight Houston Sweethearts: those who epitomize the word ‘sweetheart,’ defined in Webster’s Dictionary as ‘darling; one who is loved; lover.’

My personal definition of a sweetheart is one who lights up a room when they enter it; someone who is positive and uplifting, making you feel better about your life and life in general; someone who is sincere – someone that you know when they say something, you can believe it; someone who, while talking to you, is really talking to you; someone who, no matter what heights they may have reached in life, is still the same – down-to-earth and real; someone whose heart is open and ready to jump at the chance to help others whenever possible. Also, I believe that in this context, ‘sweetheart’ might be considered synonymous with ‘good heart.’

After conferring with the editors of H Texas magazine and a distinguished selection committee sharing their perception and meaning of the word “sweetheart” and agreeing on those in our community who exemplify this meaning, I am proud to present the 2005 Houston Sweethearts.

We hope you enjoy reading about our choices for Houston Sweethearts. Here’s wishing you health, happiness and sweethearts in your life. Be on the lookout because we may be asking your opinion next year.

Susan Garrett Baker is a founding member of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an organization that works with the public, private and non-profit sectors to prevent and end the tragedy of homelessness. Serving as co-chairman of this group, which began around her dining table in 1963, she works with the alliance to investigate and implement programs and policies that provide long-term solutions to homelessness. She also serves on the board of the Enterprise Foundation, a nonprofit organization that facilitates the creation of low-income housing. In addition, she serves on the board of the Neighborhood Centers Inc. and is also on the advisory board of the Houston Food Bank.

She was a founding member of the Parents’ Music Resource Center, whose mission is to educate parents and teachers regarding the explicit and violent content of some contemporary music lyrics.

Susan was part of a team that organized and hosted A Gathering of Friends in Amman, Jordan, Bethlehem and Jerusalem to celebrate the 2,000th birthday of Jesus of Nazareth. The focus of this conference, attended by people from all over the world, was on Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness and reconciliation.

Married to the former Secretary of State, James A. Baker III, she is a mother of eight and grandmother of 16. She is also very active in St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. Susan Baker never lets a day go by without serving others.

Barbara and George Bush have been married 58 years. On Nov. 8, 1988, when George Bush became the 41st President of the United States, his wife, Barbara Pierce Bush, was by his side. Barbara often jokes that her successful life is a result of marrying well.

Since leaving office, President Bush has written two books: “A World Transformed” and “All the Best.” He has helped to raise millions of dollars for a variety of charitable organizations. Currently, he serves on the board of visitors of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, is honorary chairman of the Points of Light Foundation and has recently begun a campaign with President Clinton to raise funds for those affected by the tsunami disaster.

Mrs. Bush has supported hundreds of charity and humanitarian causes, but her No.1 cause is family literacy. In fact, in 1990, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy was founded. She authored “C. Fred’s Story” and the best-selling “Millie’s Book,” whose profits benefited the literacy cause and most recently wrote “Barbara Bush: A Memoir,” her best-selling autobiography emphasizing the importance of family, faith and friends.

Since leaving the White House in 1993, the Bushes have continually served others with the same tireless energy, goodwill and good humor that has endeared them to millions around the world. They have five children and 14 grandchildren.

Nellie Connally served as First Lady of Texas from 1963 through 1968, during the administration of her late husband, Gov. John B. Connally Jr. During her tenure in the governor’s mansion, Nellie was responsible for the planning and creation of its present-day gardens and received the first-ever Ruth Lester Award for her work.

Nellie has been active in a myriad of community and charitable activities, including service with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the Nellie B. Connally Breast Cancer Center and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She was also instrumental in helping complete Tranquility Park in downtown Houston.

John and Nellie were hosting President John F. Kennedy and the first lady when they came to Texas in 1963. They were in the car when President Kennedy was assassinated and Gov. Connally was gravely wounded. Nellie is now the only living survivor of this tragic historic event. She has written a book entitled “From Love Field,” reliving the trip and what happened in the car in that instant the world will never forget.

She is the mother of four children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Scott Evans is a “yes man.” If you ask him for help or just mention that there is a need, he says, “Yes, I’ll try to help!” And he sets out to find a way. It could be that your computer is down. It could be, like it was recently with the Cancer League, that your mailing list is outdated and needs revision. Whatever it is, Scott is there. Possibly you’re missing some auction items for your charitable event, or you might need some wine or food donated. Scott is always there.

Scott served as executive producer of the Voices for Life: A Celebration of Houston Music benifiting AIDS charities. And it was he who gathered many Houston celebrities to sing on “The Voices for Life – Shades of Gray” video. He worked for several years as advisor to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and has worked on committees of numerous charitable organizations.

Currently, Scott is the editor of The Social Book, a calendar and resource guide, and diligently provides proper information to nonprofit organizations so that their events never conflict and land on the same night. The Social Book celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

Diane Gendel, Mary Ann McKeithan and Betty Tutor could easily be called “The Three Musketeers,” “The Dynamic Three-o” or “Charity’s Angels.” If one is chairing the Symphony Ball, as Betty Tutor did recently, Mary Ann and Diane are right there, co-chairing. If Mary Ann is chairing the Cattle Baron’s Ball, as she did last year, the other members of the team are right there by her side. If Diane is chairing the Moore School of Music “It’s DeLovely” Gala, Mary Ann and Betty are thoroughly involved.

All three, along with their spouses, Harry Gendel, David McKeithan and Jess Tutor, radiate enthusiasm in any gathering. Goal-oriented volunteers, they have worked on more charitable events than we could possibly name, and they have been honored many times for their outstanding contributions to the city. If there has ever been a time when I’ve seen them without a welcoming, dazzling smile, I don’t recall it. These best friends are amazing, talented and committed to helping others and serving the community. We showcase them together because their hearts are joined as one, and what a magnificent heart it is!

Melanie Lawson is the beautiful, familiar face we have enjoyed watching on KTRK ABC 13 for many years. Melanie makes you feel so comfortable, whether on television or in person, that you believe you’ve known her personally or that perhaps she really is a member of your family.

An award-winning journalist, she is a proud Houstonian. She has covered every local, state and national election since 1982. She’s won numerous awards for her reporting, including an Emmy for her coverage of President Clinton’s visit to South Africa. Melanie has interviewed a wide range of notables, including Henry Kissinger, the Dalai Lama, poet Maya Angelou, George Foreman, three United States presidents and many others. Her favorite stories are those about Houston’s rich, multiethnic communities – especially stories about children.

Her involvement in the Houston community is far-reaching, and many charitable organizations have benefited from her open-hearted desire to help others. She has worked with the Alley Theater, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the YMCA, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Foundation for Interfaith Research and Ministry, the Houston Chapter of the Links, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the Volunteer Center, the San Jacinto Girl Scouts, the Houston Association of Black Journalists, the Houston International Festival and many others. She is a proud member of her father’s congregation, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church.

Trini Mendenhall (Trinidad Vasquez-Mendenhall) and her late husband, O. C. Mendendall, co-founder of Fiesta Mart Inc., created the Trini and O. C. Mendenhall Foundation in 1997 with the hope of giving back to the city that so generously contributed to their financial success. Trini was an active participant in the growth of the company after her husband’s death until she sold Fiesta Mart Inc. in 2004.

Proud of her Hispanic heritage, Trini’s lifelong vision has been to provide opportunities and to enhance the quality of life for others. In honor of her husband, who died of asthma, Trini established the Mendenhall Asthma Research Laboratory as part of Baylor’s Biology of Inflammation Center.

Her deep religious beliefs have motivated her to provide countless scholarships for the inner-city Catholic schools of the Galveston-Houston Diocese. Anna Babin, president of Catholic Charities, states, “Trini Mendenhall has been a godsend to Catholic Charities, to children and to the entire community. There are not enough honors to give or accolades to throw her way.”

With a heart as big as Texas, Trini was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame last year.

Mary Lou Retton “had us at ‘Hello.'” And when she returned from Los Angeles and the 1984 Summer Olympic games as the first American woman to win a gold medal for the all-around competition in gymnastics, she became not only America’s sweetheart, but the sweetheart of millions around the world.

Mary Lou came to Houston to train with famed gymnastics coach Bela Korolyi and never left. She met and married Shannon Kelly, and the couple now has four children, all girls. She happily considers herself a Houstonian and is active in her church and in many community activities.

“Mary Lou’s Flip-Flop Shop” was launched by Mary Lou on PBS to offer children a live role model on the Saturday morning lineup as an alternative to the multitude of animated characters.

“As a mother, I am concerned with what is out there,” she says. Her mission has always been to “encourage children to make healthy lifestyle choices.” In addition, Mary Lou has inspired thousands of people with her motivational speaking tours. As she says, “I’m very determined and stubborn. There’s a desire in me that makes me want to do more and more, and to do it right. Each one of us has a fire in our heart for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and to keep it lit.”

Nolan Ryan has always been a humble, soft-spoken, salt-of-the-earth person. He has said, “I can remember my years with the Mets, just hoping that I’d get four years in so I’d qualify for my pension. That was my goal.”

Now, he ranks among the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. During his major league career, Nolan struck out a record 5,714 batters. In fact, in 1973, he set a major league record of 383 strikeouts for a single season. Additionally, he pitched seven no-hit games and 12 one-hit games in the major leagues. No other pitcher has more than four major league no-hitters.

During his career, he won 324 games and became especially famous for his blazing fastball and his durability. Nolan was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

The Nolan Ryan Foundation was formed in Alvin, Texas in 1990. Nolan and his wife Ruth generously give their time for signing and other fund-raising efforts that enable the foundation to provide resources for youth, education and community development. The construction of the $1.2 million Nolan Ryan Center was the first major project the foundation completed and was donated to Alvin Community College in the fall of 1996. Since then, funds have been dispersed for projects such as fulfilling a pledge to the Greater Houston YWCA as it brings a new facility to Alvin. Nolan and Ruth are always ready to help others whether in this city or any other.

(Forgive us this small indiscretion, Nolan, for calling you a “Houston Sweetheart” when you’re technically down the road a piece in Alvin. We feel justified, however, because you were a Houston Astro from 1980 to 1988.)

Dr. Jaimie Elizabeth Terry moved to Houston in 1989 after graduating from medical school. Since that time, she has established herself as a leader in our community though her achievements in medicine and her commitment to community service.

In 1994, Dr. Terry became the first African-American woman to graduate from the general surgery training program at St. Joseph Hospital, after which she opened a general surgery practice with a special focus on breast cancer education, prevention and treatment.

Dr. Terry has served on the board of trustees of the Houston Chapter of the American Cancer Society and as a medical advisor for Sisters Network, a national support group for breast cancer survivors.

Her commitment to community service begins with her patients. “I love the God-given talent I have been given to help people overcome the greatest challenge you can ever have – the threat of the loss of life,” she shares. Dr. Terry is an advocate for breast cancer awareness and speaks to countless audiences on the subject.

Martha Turner is a fifth-generation Texan and taught school for 15 years before entering the real estate profession. As president of Martha Turner Properties, she oversees Houston’s leading high-end residential firm, affiliated with the prestigious international Christie’s Great Estates Networks.

Running a company of this magnitude requires that she be at work from sunup to sundown. While she is totally committed to her agents and clients, she is equally committed to the city. She always finds the time for positions of leadership in a diverse group of civic, charitable and professional causes and boards.

Martha’s charitable and civic activities include serving, in many different capacities and positions the Texas Business Hall of Fame; Houston Association of Realtors, Leadership Texas; Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation; United Cerebral Palsy; 100 Club of Houston; Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; the Forum Club of Houston; Cultural Arts Council; Greater Houston Women’s Foundation; Women’s Fund for Health, Education and Research; Top 500 Women-owned Businesses; and the National Registry of Who’s Who. She has chaired or underwritten more charitable events than are possible to list.

Donna and Tony Vallone own the locally beloved and nationally renowned restaurant tony’s. The Vallones have earned a flawless reputation for exceptional food, excellent wine, impeccable service and a continuously creative and changing menu. One might conclude these are the reasons for this hugely successful restaurant. I submit that the primary reason is the sweet, welcoming smiles of its owners who so often stand by the front door, greeting each person as though they were a guest in the Vallone home.

Among Tony’s most impressive distinctions are that his cuisine has been enjoyed by six United States presidents, numerous foreign presidents and notable dignitaries from around the world. He was the first Texan inducted into the National Restaurant Association Hall of Fame in 1982 and the first American-born board member of the famed Gruppo Ristoratori Italiliani of Italy. He is a member of the Nation’s Restaurant News Hall of Fame and was elected to the Culinary Who’s Who of Texas. Tony is the author of the critically acclaimed “tony’s … the Cookbook.” Tony and Donna donate much of their time and talents to numerous local and national causes and organizations.

Maurice ‘Termite’ Watkins was a National Golden Gloves champion and an Olympic team member. He began a professional boxing career at 17, won more than 100 fights and fought for the world championship in 1980. The nickname Termite came at birth because he was small and his dad’s family business was pest extermination. Termite left a lucrative job when he felt a calling from God to go to Iraq and help the troops with pest control in the winter of 2003. When coalition forces learned of his boxing history, they asked if he could train an Iraqi team to go to the summer Olympics in Athens. In a miraculously short time and with his life threatened every day, Termite not only qualified a fighter, Najah Ali, but also coached him to his first Olympic win.

Termite’s story has captivated the world’s imagination, and all the major networks and newspapers have interviewed him. He has received the Arete Award in Washington for outstanding courage and a Certificate of Honor from the New York Policeman’s Association. Mayor Bill White even pronounced a Termite Watkins Day. A book on his life is close to completion, and he is now receiving movie offers.

A tremendous motivational speaker, Termite urges others to “find a way” to overcome “one in a million” odds. Termite is finding a way to get Najah here to live with him and his wife Sharla and to attend the University of Houston. H

Tsunami Relief

February 1, 2005 by  
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St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church offers a worship experience unlike any other in Houston. This Eastern Rite church celebrates the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, who was Archbishop of Constantinople during the fourth century. The mystical and inspiring worship tradition was brought to America by immigrants from Eastern Europe.

The Divine Liturgy is a worship experience that involves all the senses. The liturgy is chanted by voice alone without the aid of instruments. Incense fills the sanctuary, representing man’s prayers rising to God. The iconostas, or icon screen, separates the sanctuary, which represents heaven, from the nave, which represents earth.

St. John’s is the smallest Catholic parish in Houston, consisting of 40 or 50 families. Some families live as far as 70 miles away. Unlike some of Houston’s super churches, where a visitor can get lost in a congregation in the thousands, St. John’s offers an intimate and warm community of faith. About 120 worshipers attend Divine Liturgy each Sunday.

Another unique aspect of the parish is its pastor, Father Julian Anthony. A native of the state of Madras, India, Father Julian received his bachelor’s degree from the Pontifical Institute of Theology in Bangalore, India. After his ordination in 1966, he worked with Mother Theresa in her program for socially disadvantaged people. After serving the church in India in several positions, Father Julian studied at the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Gregorian University in Rome. He received his doctorate in biblical studies in 1977.

Father Julian celebrated his first mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Nagapattinam, India. The church was saved from the tsunami in late December by a wall surrounding the edifice, but the beach and blocks of shops leading to the church are gone.

St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church, the smallest parish in Harris County, is trying to make a big difference for this church in India, for these people who have been so devastated. These Houstonians have set up the Little Flower Charitable Trust for the victims to help rehabilitate the parish – for housing, medicine and equipment – to help their fellow Christians become self-sufficient again.

“Destruction is everywhere,” says Father Julian of Nagapattinam, India. “The smell of death is in the air – the suffering is immense.” The Divine Liturgy is celebrated on Saturdays at 8:30 a.m., Sundays at 10 a.m. and weekdays at noon. St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church is located at 5402 Acorn St. (off Antoine Drive north of 290). Visitors are welcome.

YOUR HELP A Little Flower Charitable Trust will give money directly to Our Lady of Lourdes Church and its parishioners. To donate, make your check payable to St. John Chrysostom, designate “victims of the tsunami” in the memo, and mail it to 5402 Acorn St., Houston, TX 77092.

Preserving Freedmen’s Town

February 1, 2005 by  
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Just west of downtown is the city’s oldest black community. The Fourth Ward, or Freedmen’s Town, the name given by the freed slaves who settled here, struggles to maintain its identity and heritage.

Developed in the 1800s after emancipation, the only planned development for African Americans in Houston struggles against development and gentrification. A prime location for new construction, this protected area continues to have rich historical significance. The hand-laid brick streets, the first steel-frame house, Houston’s first cemetery and the original trolley tracks all hint at Freedmen’s Town’s rich historical past.
Maintaining and preserving this area is a fight lead by the Freedmen’s Town Association. Sadly, a sign of decline in the area is the 1980 closing of the Gregory School, the first school for African Americans in Houston. Another social service lost, the city has not taken advantage of the 20-year lease granted by HISD to house a meals program.

The Bethel Baptist Church has drawn a lot of media attention lately. When H Texas visited in late January, we were told that worship would commence as soon as they raised money for a new roof. The next week, every local news station covered the major fire that destroyed the church, the fire department’s attack and Freedmen’s Town’s restraining order.
Rumors circulated that the building may have been a victim to developers’ greed for the prime real estate, yet someone else unconnected to the developers has been arrested for the crime.

For more information, call Freedmen’s Town Association Inc. at (713) 739-9414.

African Artist Cheri Samba

February 1, 2005 by  
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The University Museum at Texas Southern University celebrates Congolese painter Cheri Samba. The first of five installations of African art from the Contemporary African Art Collection’s “African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection,” “J’amie Cheri Samba” proves to be both emotionally stirring and socially conscious.
The first time that a full installment of Samba’s works is displayed in the United States, Samba is a very popular artist in Europe and Africa. From Swiss collector Jean Pigozzi archives, the “J’aime Cheri Samba” exhibit is in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Initially expressing himself through comics, Samba’s talents, he describes, are a combination of artist, storyteller and philosopher. Combining a wry humor and social criticism, many of Samba’s art illustrates political conflict and social controversy through bright, animated subjects.
The “J’amie Cheri Samba” exhibit will be on view through May 6, 2005. The University Museum at Texas Southern University is located at 3100 Cleburne in the South wing of the Fairfield Building. For more information, visit