Friday, September 24, 2010

Children's Museum in The Woodlands Texas

Mr David Dunlap, CEO Superior Energy Services
On September 24 2010, a grand opening event was conducted at The Woodlands Children's Museum at their new location in Panther Creek. It was in honor of David Dunlap, President of this non-profit learning museum for children under 6 years old. "This is the first opportunity to show our family learning center to the community. Our admission of $5 is to encourage all children of varying financial resources to experience the museum and learn something here. Membership at $59 is also very reasonable to encourage involvement and support within the community. We came here because we wanted to be in this community for this community and area. Our current location is better than before, because it is more accessible to the residents of The Woodlands. We need additional board members, so if there are some of you who can help us move forward, we would appreciate you volunteering some time to a worthy cause."

Scott Hollingsworth
The theme of this event was "Magic at the Museum". Scott Hollingsworth, a popular Houston area magic entertainer was present to wow visitors with his tricks.1
This young man, Patches, has a magic act that is fascinating. It was especially geared to children, but I can tell you it baffled me as well. He had three balls and would switch them around on me. I was never correct which ball(s) was in my hand or his! He is part of the JL & Company Productions. 2
Donna Wick, Angela Colton, Jenny Wright (Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival)
Donna Wick (left) organized the event. To her left is Angela Colton, Executive Director.
Tea please, Mr Hunter!
Claude Hunter, Woodlands Township Director, playing in the children's play kitchen, serving his wife Peggy some play tea.  
Visitors learning what they can do to help and some history of the museum from the President, Mr David Dunlap.

Social interaction was enjoyable by all. Everyone who came was there to help promote this non-profit organization.
As this lady expressed it, "this is a perfect place to bring the grandchildren". We were experiencing the water play area where the children have boots and aprons so they can play with water toys. 
A large aquarium provides an attractive and interesting place for adults and children. 
There are innovative sponsorship projects that can be funded by businesses or private individuals. This stand showed what is available and gives visitors a "market place" to explore funding opportunities.

Museum staff who makes it happen

Donna Wick, Cynthia Martinez (intern with MC Youth Services)

Entrance as viewed from the street
The event was organized by Donna Wick. It was sponsored by Jaspers Gourmet Backyard Cuisine, Exit Realty Group, JL Co Productions, Mr Scott Hollingsworth, Bryan and Deb Stuart of Ultimate Pools, and Vino 100 in Sterling Ridge Shopping Center.   

Since Mervyns closed their doors at The Woodlands Mall and abandoned their space, the Woodlands Children's  Museum has continued to blossom and grow here in The Woodlands. The huge facility of 25,000 sq ft at the mall was premium and costly real estate. It really was not the right place for this educational museum. In July of 2010, the museum moved to the Panther Creek Shopping Center, the previous site of a dance studio and another business. Two business locations were combined and remodeled into this 10,000 sq ft facility.  Although the previous location was 2.5 times the size of this one, you would not know it when you arrive. There is still plenty of room for the activities of visiting children. The museum has a seven year contract with the shopping center owner. It has been working with the local development standards group to get a suitable sign, so their establishment will be easily visible from the parking lot. Until there is an agreement, they will have this temporary sign. 

Did you know this non-profit project started as the museum in 2005 at the mall but started originally from a small group of mothers in The Woodlands?  Today, they have something going on every day. Got a two-year-old? Go! Got a five-year-old? Go!  Check out the calendar from their webpage. 3

1 Scott Hollingsworth Entertainment

2 JL & Company Productions - total entertainment portfolio

3 The Woodlands Children's Museum

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

ONLY IN AMERICA! July 4th in Woodlands needs your help!

The South County 4th of July Committee is seeking volunteers for 2010. The committee is a group of volunteers who organizes the 4th of July Parade in The Woodlands. This year, the committee is seeking 130+ volunteers to produce the 2010 parade, scheduled for July 3rd in The Woodlands Town Center. This year’s theme is ONLY IN AMERICA! Over the years, the event has evolved from a small hometown parade with families riding bikes to a large-scale parade attracting 20,000 – 25,000 spectators from around the region. Last year, the parade had approximately 145 entries and 2,000 to 3,000 participants. The parade route is approximately 1.3 miles and will begin and end at The Woodlands United Methodist Church. The parade starts at 9 a.m. and typically lasts an 1.0 to 1.5 hours.

Why volunteer for this event? The story of the birth of the United States is thrilling and inspiring, full of heroes and their words and deeds. We hope this inspires you as it does us. Volunteering for the 4th of July parade is your opportunity to give back to your community, in arguably the largest family oriented event in The Woodlands area. There are a number of volunteer positions still available. Breakfast and refreshments are provided on the day of the event. The volunteer orientation will be held Wednesday July 1, 7pm at the United Methodist Church. If you have volunteered before and would like a specific location and/or duty, please let the coordinator know.

TIME (on July 3rd)

Traffic Control - 20
7:00 – 11 am

Staging - 57
6 am – 10 am

Emergency vehicle staging - 2
6 am – 9:30 am

Judges Area
Judges/Judging stand - 2
7:30 am – 11 am

Judges Area
Judges’ families - 2
7:30 am – 11 am

Entry Check-in
Pre-Parade Entertainment – 4
7:30 am-10 am

Parade Marshall 
Parade Marshals - 24
7:30 am – 11 am

Senior Tent
Senior Tent – 2
7:30 am – 11 am

Dignitaries – VIP Breakfast – 4
6 am – 9:30 am

Dignitaries Breakfast - Set up 
2:30 – 4:30 pm  July 2

Please fill out the volunteer form (this currently has to be printed from this site; make sure  you use the print option in the website or you will get more than one page printed. You can download the .doc file to your computer and fill it out electronically using WORD) and return to Kelly Dietrich at If you’re not available to volunteer, we hope you and your family will join us to watch the parade on July 3rd.

Rotary Club and Polio Battle

Rotary International's mission is to raise $200 million in the fight to eradicate polio worldwide. The Bill Gates Foundation will match the amount.

Pictured L-R are Rotary's President-Elect Ann Wolford, The John Cooper School's Deb Spiess, and Rotarian Bill Friebel.

Rotary Club of The Woodlands members recently sported purple shirts and collected donations in an iron lung they had on display at Market Street. For each donation, the donor’s Pinkie finger was marked with purple ink. When children are immunized in Third World countries, the Pinkie is colored purple to indicate that child received the vaccine.  It’s a fun reminder of how we are helping make those purple Pinkies possible!

The group has collected more than $1,500 by fundraising!  It will continue to raise funds on an ongoing basis with many activities.  People are encouraged to donate to Rotary Club of The Woodlands Foundation, PO Box 7353, The Woodlands, TX 77387-7353.  Please indicate the donation is for Polio Plus.

Polio, or more properly poliomyelitis, was one of the most feared and studied diseases of the first half of the 20th Century. Though the Salk--and later the Sabin--vaccines have essentially eliminated the disease in developed countries, many mysteries remain regarding polio.    

What is Polio? Polio is a viral illness that produces no symptoms in 95% of cases.  In 4-8% of cases, the illness appears as a mild form with flu-like symptoms, sore throat, and respiratory infection. A more serious form is associated with aseptic meningitis--with sensitivity to light and neck stiffness.  The most severe cases cause muscle paralysis and can result in death.

How do you get it? Polio is usually transmitted by ingesting material contaminated with human waste.  Drinking contaminated water and not washing hands are common culprits, making the eradication of polio in poor countries extremely difficult.

Prevention: In the US, it’s recommended for children to have 4 doses of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) between the ages of 2 months and 6 years.

Iron Lung:  In the height of the polio epidemic, the standard treatment involved placing a patient with a paralysis of the breathing muscles in an “iron lung”--large machine that actually pushed and pulled the chest muscles to make them work.  The damaged limbs were often kept immobilized because of confinement to the iron lung.  Where polio still exists, ventilators and some iron lungs are still in use today.

The Gates Foundation Challenge:  Rotary International has spent millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours on polio eradication. Today polio exists in 4 countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria (PAIN).  Through a challenge grant from the Gates Foundation, the Rotary will raise $200 million and the Foundation will match it. 

Great Strides Made:  In 1988, there were 355,000 cases of polio in 125 countries. In 2009, there were fewer than 400 cases worldwide! 

For more information, contact Rotarian Kay Hohman at 281-363-8104.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

CASA - taking care of our children

On April 1st, 2010, start of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I had the privilege of attending the annual CASA Light of Hope at the Conroe courthouse.  The start of this event is documented at this link. Jill Cantarella, photo to the left, is Operations Manager of the CASA organization here in Montgomery County.  You may recognize the blue ribbons. The story behind these ribbons is provided at this link. CASA is the child advocate organization for the courts in Montgomery County.

Patty Sexton (right), CASA Supervisor, speaks out on the difficulties and needs of these children. When a child needs assistance because their parents or a parent is in custody, or because the child has been abandoned or abused, the court appoints an advocate from CASA to represent the child.  Anything and everything happens to a child who has parents in the world of drugs and crime.  Someone has to step forward on behalf of the child. That someone from CASA is trained to act on behalf of the child in cases of abuse and neglect.  Those volunteers make a huge difference in the lives of children in these circumstances. It is a daunting but highly rewarding job. Each child is handled uniquely for their situation, in order to place them and to provide hope for a real loving home.  There is no generic solution. Therefore, the advocate must get to know the parents, the child and the circumstances around the lives of them all. We lost two children in this county last year due to abuse. We need more volunteers.  Recovery from such dire circumstances is not easy but very rewarding.

So the candle lighting was a vigil in memory of those who were not able to survive and a prayer for those facing such sufferings in their lives.  A candle was lit for every child currently being represented by an advocate. To the left, Jill Cantarella lights the starter candle as  Lindsey sings "This Little Light of Mine." 

Conroe mayor Webb K. Melder giving his view of the importance of this organization.  There were 1019 cases in Montgomery county last year. That is a heavy load for such an organization and shows the magnitude of the problem.

Each candle was lit as the procession of people remembered the hope of each child in the advocate program. Note the blue ribbon armband.

From left to right, Randy Scott (me), Odessa Ross (board member), and Mayor Melder. Note the blue ribbons.

A variety of law enforcement automobiles were present to honor the organization and its efforts for the community. The blue ribbons were on the cars.

In front of the CASA office in Conroe was this sign, with the blue ribbon  pinwheels to emphasize the annual national Child Abuse Prevention Month of April.

Related links
+ Abuse by Jill Cantarella
Montgomery CASA website
+ Google Map to CASA office  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Substance Abuse Meeting for The Woodlands area - April 27, 2010

There will be a coalition meeting on April 27th at the Shenandoah Municipal Building on I-45. This organization builds data and action plans to deal with local substance issues. If this is of interest to you, please attend.   

AGENDA: there will be three panel discussions consisting of community experts. Includes business owners, substance abuse professionals, law makers, law enforcement & community activists; the three panels have 13 presenters in total, that will speak on prevention and the importance of  education, legislative change and enforcement in Montgomery county and also present ideas about strategies to address our local conditions.

This coalition website has more information (click here). 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter at the Pavilion

My wife and I went to the Sunday service this year at the Pavilion. Most of the 6000 seats were filled, if not all. One aspect I particularly liked regarding the venue is the parking. There is plenty of parking available near the Pavilion for this event, since it is on Sunday morning. The service itself was very moving and everyone was really into the life of Christ, his death and the joy of his resurrection.

I was personally touched by much of the service, but especially about this song we sang together- "I am free to run. I am free to dance..." as the ballerina danced on the stage. Now you know why I portray myself on my candidate signs as a runner. I am a runner, in many more ways other than racing. The feeling you have as a runner relates easily to being freed from the bondage of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Dr. Bruce Webb is the perfect person to lead the First Baptist Church of The Woodlands in this Easter service. His difficulties in early life with the sudden loss of his mother and the problems of his dad, makes him simply one of us, just normal people, surviving what trials God puts upon us to make us better servants. He was rescued from the mental anguish associated with those trials and now shares his life experiences to rescue others from such difficulties. A testimonial from several church members showed how a church can play an important role to full recovery from cancer to divorce. It is apparent that members and staff of this church are engaged in caring ministries for people. There were many guests similar to me and my wife, who also were quite impressed with the service.

Some of the powerful messages I gleaned from the pastor were:
1. Jesus Christ is the most influential person of all time in this world.
2. Jesus Christ was not an attractive man but physically a strong one. He lived his short life as we do. He knew how it felt to hammer a nail and hit your hand with the hammer. He worked hard just like we do for a living. He survived the scourging before he was nailed to the cross, when many died from it.
3. What is it like to be connected to God through Christ? It is more than praying. It is more than answers to prayers. It is a relationship, freeing a person from empty religion. It is real! It is now! He influences our daily lives when we accept him as our savior.
4. Jesus is the ultimate example to us of influence. From a poor family, he has influenced many things on this earth to bring us to where we are today, such as hospitals where once, man would not venture because of his fear of disease and death. With Christ's teachings, mankind has overcome that fear and embraced caring for the sick.

As the service proceeded,  an artist was painting the face of Jesus as he perceives it was. Yahoo has had a series of articles this past week which have depicted a reasonable vision of Christ, not a blue-eyed white person, but a dark brown-eyed Middle Eastern person.

I hope you like me walked away refreshed and renewed in the hope and freedom that Jesus brings to us, and will go next week to continue that spiritual renewal.

To the gentleman I met this past week, who was in the depths of depression trying to find a job, and to the gentleman I met two weeks ago who is in the throws of a divorce -
Go to a church! This one would be a fine choice, but there are others as well. You should find people willing to help you and minister to you. Don't try to do it by yourself. Both of you are fine people. Let God into your hearts and be free from oppression and sin. That is the gateway to happiness and renewal of spirit. I hope you are reading this article and listen. I have zero doubt that it would help you tremendously!

Happy Easter everybody. May God be with you!