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Houston City Scope August 2016


Lereca Monik, Ms. Texas 2016

Lereca Monik, Ms. Texas 2016

HOUSTONIAN LERECA MONIK CROWNED MS. TEXAS 2016

Lereca Monik of Houston has recently been awarded the title of Ms. Texas America 2016. The title will allow Lereca to connect with the community and use her “Crown for a Purpose” to make a difference in the lives of women and children. She intends to encourage them to embrace their uniqueness, and maintain a positive self-image, despite life’s transitions.

“I feel honored and blessed that I have been given the opportunity to represent the State of Texas as Ms. Texas 2016 in the Ms. America 2017 pageant,” says Lereca. “My mission is to help others realize their potential. I want you to know that you were born for greatness, share your story and then go be great! So far, this journey has been amazing and I am forever appreciative for the connections, opportunities and relationships that this experience will bring.”

Lereca’s upbringing was not a life of glitz and glam. By age 10, she had already experienced physical abuse, foster care, molestation, and a suicide attempt. By the age of 20, she had experienced homelessness, rape, verbal abuse and addictions. She learned at an early age the power of grit and hard work, and was determined not to allow her past to rule her future. Lereca successfully earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She is actively involved in many community initiatives, and has received many accolades because of it. One of her most notable achievements to date includes being crowned as Ms. Texas America.

Lereca will be sharing her message at her private fundraising reception entitled, “SHE REIGNS: The Unveil,” scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 11 from 7- 9 p.m. in the Aventine Ballroom at Hotel ICON, 220 Main Street in Houston. She will unveil her path to the crown, reveal her platform, and help raise funds so that she may use her “crown for a purpose.”

The Ms. America Pageant will be held on Sept. 3 at the Curtis Theater in Brea, California. Red Carpet starts at 6:30 p.m. and the pageant starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase at MsAmericaPageant.com. View the event Live Stream at AlertTheGlobe.com. Sup­port Monik’s efforts at lerecamonik.com.

For more information, sponsorship opportunities or to book appearances for Lereca Monik, email Jessica Mikell at pr@lerecamonik.com.

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Volunteers of Houston Ground Angels enjoying a cruise around Kemah and Galveston Bay.

Volunteers of Houston Ground Angels enjoying a cruise around Kemah and Galveston Bay.

HOUSTON GROUND ANGELS SERVE AND SOCIALIZE

Houston Ground Angels (HGA), a 16-year-old organization, is not your average nonprofit. “We take our mission very seriously,” said Bill Barnes, HGA president. The group provides complimentary ground transportation between area airports and the Medical Center to patients traveling to Houston for medical treatment.

Approximately 1 million people come to Houston annually seeking life-saving medical treatment, and they usually spend approximately $11,000 for food, hotels and transportation over the course of their treatments here. HGA eliminates one of these expenses by providing transportation. After all, even with the best insurance, dealing with cancer is not cheap or easy, especially if traveling to an unfamiliar city is part of the treatment.

However, HGA members do more than just work; they are also a fun group of volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life and all areas of Houston.

“Many of our volunteers are retired or cancer survivors who want to give back,” Barnes said.

HGA also has lots of socials and gatherings at no cost to the volunteers.

Volunteers attended the Volunteer Valentine’s reception hosted by Deborah Colton Galleries earlier this year. Atten­dees enjoyed an evening of wine, snacks, fellowship and art appreciation.

Another group of volunteers recently enjoyed a Galveston Bay cruise. The three-hour cruise included a BBQ lunch.

“The cruise was a great success. The weather was perfect and it was wonderful to be on the water,” said Tony Castiglie, HGA treasurer.

The organization also hosts coffees and other gatherings throughout the year. They are planning a summer barbecue, holiday parties, and other outings.

“This year our volunteers will provide transportation for about 3,000 patients coming to Houston,” Barnes said. “If it was not for the transportation that we offered, many could not afford to come to Houston for lifesaving treatments. But we are also a wonderful group of people who enjoy getting together, making new friends, renewing friendships and simply being active and having fun.”

For more information, or to volunteer, visit houstongroundangels.org.

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Paige Marshall (forefront), (Photo - Photo by Amitava Sarkar; compliments of Houston Ballet)

Paige Marshall (forefront), (Photo – Photo by Amitava Sarkar; compliments of Houston Ballet)

TEN-YEAR-OLD BALLET PRODIGY ACCEPTED AT PRESTIGIOUS ELMHURST SCHOOL OF DANCE

What started as a playgroup at age 2 –– taking group ballet lessons –– has turned into acceptance into the prestigious Elmhurst School of Dance in the United Kingdom for 10-year-old Paige Marshall of Houston.

Marshall is one of 11 girls worldwide selected into this full-time classical ballet vocational training program for dancers who are age 11 as of Aug. 31. The program, which begins in September, prepares students for professional ballet careers. Elmhurst works in association with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, so many students have the opportunity to appear with the Company.

“Acceptance to Elmhurst has given me more confidence and the courage to follow my dreams,” said the young ballerina. “I believe in myself more now.”

Along with Elmhurst, Marshall was accepted into The Ham­mond School, a highly-respected performing arts school in the U.K. She opted for Elmhurst to focus on classical ballet. As further reinforcement of Marshall’s talent, The Royal Ballet selected her into its international summer program where she will receive intensive training from members of The Royal Ballet School and renowned international teachers.

Marshall, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, has studied with Houston Academy of Dance since moving from the U.K. to Houston in 2011.

“When we left the U.K., Paige’s ballet teacher said she had a lot of natural talent and could probably go far if she chose to do something with her talent,” said Julie Marshall, Paige’s mother. “I was fortunate that a friend recommended Houston Academy of Dance because they have been very important to Paige’s success. Their dedication to her, their encouragement when she’s been discouraged and their help with her auditioning for classical ballet vocational training in the U.K. has been more than I could ever expect.”

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The contemporary dining area and bar in The Centurion Lounge are inviting and upscale.

The contemporary dining area and bar in The Centurion Lounge are inviting and upscale.

THE CENTURION LOUNGE OPENS AT GEORGE BUSH INTERCONTINENTAL AIRPORT

American Express celebrated the opening of The Centurion Lounge on June 22 at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

American Express introduced The Centurion Lounge at IAH, its seventh location in the country, bringing card members travelling through Houston an array of amenities allowing them to fully enjoy their travel experience. Located in Terminal D, The Centurion Lounge in IAH provides 8,500 square feet of space for card members to relax and recharge before flying.

Access to the Centurion Lounge network is exclusive to American Express card members, and a key complimentary benefit for Platinum card members as part of a suite of benefits, including a Houston-inspired menu created by nationally celebrated chef and recent James Beard Award winner, Chef Justin Yu of Houston; a complimentary full bar and custom beverages from renowned mixologist, Jim Meehan; wine selections handpicked by renowned wine authority, Anthony Giglio; custom art installation by local Houston artist Patrick Renner inspired by the city’s own public Trumpet Flower sculpture; essentials for business and leisure travelers alike, such as noise-buffering workspaces, plenty of power outlets, private phone areas, a family room, comfortable seating, a com­pu­ter bar, tranquility areas and access to high-speed Wi-Fi. For more information, visit thecenturionlounge.com.

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MD Anderson’s event featured a panel discussion led by President Ronald A. DePinho, M.D. (far right). Participating on the panel were (r-l): State Rep. Sarah Davis; Devon Still, Houston Texan and founder, Still Strong Foundation; Dr. Lois Ramondetta, professor, Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, MD Anderson; Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society; Dr. Patrick Hwu, head, Division of Medicine, MD Anderson; Bree Sandlin, breast cancer survivor and advocate; Chris Belmont, vice president and chief information officer.

MD Anderson’s event featured a panel discussion led by President Ronald A. DePinho, M.D. (far right). Participating on the panel were (r-l): State Rep. Sarah Davis; Devon Still, Houston Texan and founder, Still Strong Foundation; Dr. Lois Ramondetta, professor, Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, MD Anderson; Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society; Dr. Patrick Hwu, head, Division of Medicine, MD Anderson; Bree Sandlin, breast cancer survivor and advocate; Chris Belmont, vice president and chief information officer.

MD ANDERSON HOSTED INAUGURAL CANCER MOONSHOT SUMMIT

A crowd of more than 260 people packed a room at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Texas Medical Center on June 29 in support of the inaugural national Cancer Moonshot Summit convened at the request of Vice President Joe Biden.

The summit was the first time physicians, patients, survivors, advocates, tech experts, philanthropists and researchers gathered to brainstorm new ways to double the rate of progress against cancer over the next five years. Ideas generated from 260 events held in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam will be forwarded to the national Cancer Moonshot for consideration.

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EDIBLE HOUSTON WINS NATIONAL AWARD IN ITS FIRST YEAR

Ever since Edible Houston came to town a year ago, local farmers, market vendors, producers and artisans have expressed outspoken joy that they can share their story, one issue at a time.

In its first year alone, the magazine told about a hundred stories, big and small, that give readers an understanding of how soil, seeds, green spaces, pollinators, farmers, producers, chefs, markets, education and community support collectively work to increase our opportunity to buy good, healthy locally grown and produced food and drink in Houston. It paints a picture of a local food community that is both inspiring and reassuring, and makes you want to be a part of that.

Edible Houston recently won two national Eddy (Edible Feast) Awards, both the Critics Choice and Readers Choice for Best Recipe for the tamales recipe in A Family Tradition of Tamalades by Jenna K. White.

Edible Houston was also nominated as finalist in two other categories: Best Sustainable or Environmental Story for Bounty of the Bay by Susan L. Ebert and Best Cover for the goose illustration by Audrye Williams.

In a world where “local” has become a buzz word, the publication stays true to what local really is, simply by introducing the local growers and producers and sharing their stories: the dairy goat farmer going through the kidding season; the heritage breed poultry farmer raising his birds the right way; the lab scientist and beekeepers working hard to sustain bee colonies in an urban area; the farmers markets that open rain or shine every week; the outdoor classrooms and school farms that help future generations learn about where their food comes from; the fruits and veggies that grow here; and local chefs showing how to use those kitchen scraps and reduce waste.

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Cecil Shorts III joins the Smithfield Helping Hungry Homes nationwide hunger-relief tour to help donate 70,000 pounds of protein to the Houston Food Bank.

Cecil Shorts III joins the Smithfield Helping Hungry Homes nationwide hunger-relief tour to help donate 70,000 pounds of protein to the Houston Food Bank.

TEXAN CECIL SHORTS III DONATES TO HOUSTON FOOD BANK

Smithfield and Houston football star Cecil Shorts III were at the Houston Food Bank on June 28 as Smithfield made the 14th stop on its nationwide Helping Hungry Homes tour and helping serve the local Houston community after recent floods.

“Protein is an essential element for good nutrition, but sadly, fresh meat is often out of reach for families who have trouble buying groceries,” said Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank. “In the 18 southeast Texas counties served by the Houston Food Bank, 78 percent of our clients tell us they routinely cope with food insecurity by purchasing cheap, non-nutritious food. So we’re especially grateful for the generous donation of protein-packed product from Smithfield. We are eager to share it with food pantries throughout our network, where it can be distributed to make delicious, healthy meals.”

Houston Texan Cecil Shorts III joined representatives from Smithfield and Kroger to present the donation to the Houston Food Bank, discussing the importance of these donations from Smithfield and raising awareness about the necessity of providing assistance to the Houston community, particularly after recent floods have left many unsure from where their next meal will come.

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Smitty Hits the (Play) Books by Wade Smith and Jayme Lamm

Smitty Hits the (Play) Books by Wade Smith and Jayme Lamm

NFL VET PENS CHILDREN’S BOOK

Wade Smith spent 12 years on the NFL field, including playing for the Houston Texans. He established The Wade Smith Foundation in 2012 to provide community support for youth programs throughout the DFW and greater Houston areas. “It was an opportunity for me to give back to those people that helped me get where I am. I chose literacy and education as major focuses of the foundation because having that groundwork laid and putting emphasis on going to college and getting your degree leads you toward success and being able to do what you want in life.”

As part of his efforts with his foundation, Smith visits low-income schools in Dallas and Houston to promote literacy and eduction. Now he can read to the children from his own book, Smitty Hits the (Play) Books, which is coauthored by Houston writer Jayme Lamm and published by bright sky press in Houston. Since he was a very little boy, Smitty’s dream has been to play football, but his mom says school comes first. But his teacher says his excitement for the game is interfering with his work. Can Smitty make both his mom and his coach proud? Smitty Hits the (Play) Books sends a message to young athletes about the importance of staying focused at school, no matter how talented they are on the field. Readers will be cheering for Smitty as he puts his mind to making his dreams come true in the best way possible.


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