Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Grand Opening of Reaching Pines - Apartment Housing for Recovering Victims from the Women's Center

A huge milestone, one significant step forward, occurred this morning when the Women's Center of Montgomery County Texas held its ribbon cutting ceremony marking the opening of these apartments for healing battered women and their children.


In this photo is 

Nell Belanger front and Donna Wick
behind her.



It is so difficult for a woman who has been controlled, to start all over independently. This facility project will provide a huge enabler towards a new healthy life for both women and their children. While transitioning, those who previously cried behind closed doors, now will besubsidized with housing and taught how to take care of themselves while they live here. Normal duties of the head of household such as budgeting, managing a checkbook, finding employment, etc will be taught over the maximum two years of stay here.3 Not only will they have financial assistance but they can share and grow together. Located near other neighborhoods and a school, the apartments are beautiful and will beckon to those needing to escape and start all over. Walking through these doors will be difficult, yet reap bountiful rewards. Those who helped make this happen attended the ribbon cutting ceremony to help celebrate the milestone, including the mayor of Conroe Webb Melder who cut the ribbon, Precinct 3 Commissioner Ed Chance, and Executive Director of Montgomery County Women's Center Sarah Raleigh. Also present was Marsha Willams (wife of Senator Tommy Willams). Mentioned with special thanks by Sarah Raleigh were Tom Cox who "drove" the project, Cook Construction of Cleveland (notably Dan Cook and his son who was the construction manager), and The Woodlands Development Company coupled with The Brickman Group1 who provided all the landscaping and the automated watering system. For their generosity and support, Catherine and George Lindahl, Candi and Gerald Glenn, and Houston Endowment Inc2 were recognized. 



As Mayor Webb Melder cut the ribbon, he stated "This is truly the Lord's work." The mayor was also recognized by Sarah for his role of minimizing administrative costs and speeding up the permit processes.

In her recognition speech, Sarah Raleigh thanked Tom Cox for his special and tireless effort as he "drove" the project to completion. One of the apartment buildings is named in his and his wife's honor - the "Tom and Mary Cox Building". 














She also thanked two special employees, committee co-chairs Nell
Belanger (left) and Marion Fischer (right - yellow), of the center for their energetic help to complete the project.

As a staff member of the Women's Center, this young lady was making sure everyone was comfortable and the event was proceeding without a hitch. 

Ground breaking for the 24 apartment complex started back in November of 2008. A hillside had to be cleared and dirt removed to be able to provide level ground for the foundations. From there, it was all "downhill". "The construction was straight forward after we got going", noted the construction manager who complimented the architect on his work.

These apartments are very pretty inside. One apartment was
furnished as a model to show how the they can or will be furnished. I think it is relatively safe to say that victims with
or without children who want to start out on their own will be encouraged to do so here. One of five battered women go back to their battered lifestyle after escaping, primarily because they do not have the resources to make it independently or just don't know how. This is designed to give them that transition to a
more normal  life.

Like Martin Luther King's universal words of wisdom and emotion:

"I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." .... "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" ...
So our prayer goes out for these ladies in despair yet with hope. Yes mayor, this is indeed a work of the Lord. The women contained behind those closed doors - let them be free at last from those who abuse them.


Donations can be sent to MCWC, c/o Reaching Pines Project, 1600 Lake Front Circle Suite 100, P.O. Box 8669, The Woodlands, TX 77387-8669.

1 Brickman Group
2 Houston Endowment Inc
3 Women's Center Reaching Pines Project Page

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our children are returning to school

It's that time again in The Woodlands to start school. TISD (Tomball) starts classes on Monday, August 24th 2009, MISD (Magnolia) on Tuesday, August 25th, and CISD (Conroe) on Monday, Aug 24th. There may be a challenge for parents who want to take their children to school by automobile if they must travel on The Woodlands Parkway. There is considerably more congestion now with the construction on the parkway, so give yourself more time and avoid the parkway if you can.

Don't forget to inform the school district of your need for bus transportation. They have to plan their routes based on your input.

For older children, encourage them to join clubs or other extracurricular activities at school. These are supervised and keep children involved in productive activities. For example, there are no less than 49 organizations in The Woodlands High School offering extracurricular activities. Get them involved from the beginning. Don't wait until later. Do it now if you have not already done so. Statistically, involvement is a means to keep them off of drugs, away from the wrong crowds, and challenged to set higher expectations of themselves. Parents, take the tiger by the tail and help them work through the shyness or lack of interest in activities at school. That will save you a lot of pain in the future. Students who are not involved are more apt to partake of drugs, especially alcohol.

As a driver, be careful! There is a new law that may be implemented soon in the districts. If posted for the school zone, cell phones are not allowed to be used and the penalty for breaking this law is stiff. We are all interested in the safety of our children. Please obey the law. A posted 20 miles an hour means a maximum of 20 miles per hour, not 25 or 30. A stop sign means a complete stop and looking both ways before proceeding, not a slower speed while speaking on your cell phone. If you are in a hurry and feel like you cannot obey the law, please do not route yourself through a school zone. Some children will cross the street on a whim at unexpected moments, regardless of age.

No matter the mode of transportation, never allow your student to be alone on the way to or from school. Plan the safest route to walk or bike. Practice the route several times, teaching your child how to safely cross streets and what to do at an intersection. Discuss the importance of walking/biking directly to and from school. If your child is a bus rider, discuss safety issues and bus etiquette.1

If you are traveling to and from school with your student, make sure to lock all doors at your home before leaving. If your child goes home alone after school, make sure the rules at home are clearly understood, that doors remain locked and are not opened for strangers or guests not approved in advance by parents.

With a small amount of planning now, you and your student can have a pleasant and safer experience for the beginning of the school year and beyond. Have a safe and productive school year!
1Nelda Luce Blair, Chairman of the Township Board and Chief Bill Harness, Chief of Police, Conroe Independent School District

Monday, August 17, 2009

Administrative assistant for the Montgomery County Women's Center,Sonia Rogers, (right) stands with Susan Pronk, community outreach chairperson for Assistance League of Montgomery County. The Assistance League recently responded to the Women Center's immediate need for school supplies with a donation of backpacks and vouchers. The Women Center is still in need of school supplies for children of all ages residing at the agency's emergency shelter for abused women and children. School is about to open! Donations needed are: backpacks, notebooks, WalMart gift cards, markers, notebook paper, calculators, pens, pencils, folders, and more. Donations can be made at the agency's administrative offices located at 1600 Lake Front Circle, The Woodlands 77380.

The MCWC serves victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through crisis intervention, counseling, emergency shelter, support services and legal advocacy. All services are offered free of charge. For more information, contact Donna Wick at (281) 292-4155 ext. 228.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Family evenings - Summer Nights, Waterway Lights

The first in a series of shows on the waterway kicked off on Friday evening, July 31st on the Woodlands waterway. The series is produced by a partnership between The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Parks & Recreation Department of the Community Associations of The Woodlands. Every Friday and Saturday evening through September 19, 2009, there will be entertainment at Waterway Square from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.

This weekend series will feature jugglers, mimes, face painters, stilt walkers, balloonists, magicians, and/or caricaturists with the backdrop of the colorful fountains. On Saturdays, various musicians will provide live entertainment. Mark your calendar to attend one or more of these events. Children and adults will be happy with the venues.

This series will be only one attraction of several on the waterway during the remaining months of the year.

Parking is available at 24 Waterway Parking Garage and the corner lot at Timberloch Place and Waterway Avenue for a minimal cost. Waterway Square, located along Lake Robbins Drive between Waterway Avenue and Woodloch Forest Drive, is open seven (7) days a week from 6:00 am to midnight.

The square features a 120-foot long, 10-foot high stone water wall where ribbons of water flow down seven terraced levels to a lower pond with 20 cascade jets. The water wall is flanked by stairs and stepped water cascades, all leading to an upper fountain containing 80 jets and three boomer jets that shoot water up to 75 feet high. The water jets, waterfalls and cascades are designed to create a variety of displays and effects ranging from the subtle flow of water over a stone wall to dancing columns of water, to intense bursts of water shooting several stories into the air. Waterway Square features seven speakers on the upper level and 12 speakers on the lower level. For directions and more information, about the event, visit www.thewoodlandscvb.com and click on Events or call 281-363-2447. Google Map of the square.