During an intimate evening at its downtown location, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston hosted its Annual Meeting & Celebration on Nov. 28. The agency welcomed its new board members, thanked its outgoing board members for their service, and presented the Charity in Action Awards.
The meeting was originally scheduled for September, but was postponed due to ongoing disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey.
His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo opened with a prayer, followed by a heartfelt address from Cynthia N. Colbert, MSW, Catholic Charities president and CEO, about the agency’s ongoing relief efforts. Colbert acknowledged that 2017 has been a tough year for the Houston region after Harvey, but with the help of donors, supporters and volunteers, Catholic Charities was able to help thousands in the community.
“During those first weeks we were able to provide food, water, clothing, and other necessities to more than 15,000 families. But none of that would have been possible without the support of our dear friends and partners,” Colbert said. “Their generosity, hard work, and ingenuity allowed us to be there when our community needed us most. That is why we wish to honor and recognize those supporters who have selflessly given their time, talent, and treasure to help Houston recover.”
Outgoing Board of Directors Chairman John Kafka, president and CEO of Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing, thanked the other outgoing board members – Mary Cronin and George H. Brueggeman – and welcomed the 2017-18 Board of Directors Officers: Kevin K. Rech, Chair; Ellen Ginty, Vice Chair; Nancy Evetts, Treasurer; and Chuck Gremillion, Secretary.
Incoming Board Chair Rech, Senior Vice President and Manager at Amegy Bank, then introduced the other new Board and Advisory members. New Board members include Steve Ewbanks, Alicia Freysinger, Oscar Greenleaf, Gretchen Martinez Penny, Laura Robertson and Jim Stevenson. The new Advisory Board members included Mandy Szabo, Bichlan Thai and Michael Villegas.
This year’s Charity in Action Awards recognized individuals and organizations that were integral to providing disaster relief efforts after Harvey with the Hurricane Harvey Hero Award.
The first recipient was Catholic Charities USA, accepted by Brian Corbin, CCUSA’s Executive Vice President for Member Services. CCUSA provided support that allowed Catholic Charities to respond to the needs of our neighbors, and give those who lost so much the comfort and care they desperately needed. CCUSA reorganized their annual conference, which was held in Houston shortly after the storm, to provide numerous dedicated volunteers from across the country.
The second Hurricane Harvey Hero Award was presented to Antonio Fernandez, CEO of Catholic Charities of San Antonio. Fernandez and his dedicated team donated 65 trucks full of supplies to aid the community in its recovery effort. Together with a team of volunteers and staff, Fernandez headed to Houston with a caravan laden with diapers, food, water, cleaning supplies, and personal hygiene items, which were distributed to thousands of individuals and families.
The 2017 Charity in Action Awards were presented to these outstanding supporters in the following categories:
Supporter – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church)
Accepted by Jan Chappell, the LDS Church’s Houston Director of Public Affairs, for donating hundreds of volunteer hours. The LDS Church hosts school supply drives for the children of Catholic Charities’ St. Michael’s program, helps seniors move into new homes, and assists with sorting donations at the Mamie George Community Center and the Guadalupe Center.
Parish: St. John Vianney Catholic Church – accepted by Deborah Alvarenga, Director of Social Services, for providing services to Catholic Charities’ clients including an employment ministry, other basic needs, and more recently assisting in disaster relief efforts. The parish also generously contributes to the Share Your Blessings Christmas gift program annually.
Volunteer: Trish Robbins, for her commitment to the children at the St. Michael’s Home for Children for the past decade. She visits the shelter twice a week to teach art classes, presenting a new, creative project every week. Trish ensures that each child is treated with dignity and respect while giving them a creative outlet and distraction from being separated from their families.