March Madness at The Women’s Home

March has been a busy month for The Women’s Home, and the month isn’t even over yet! We’ve had our reNew & reDo Fashion Chair Kick-Off Event, our first of four Partnership luncheons in our Conversations With… series and our Crawfish Boil VIP Sponsor Party. With all the events happening this month and the Crawfish Boil coming on the 28th to top them off, we wanted to give everyone a recap of what they may have missed.

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From Left to Right our Crawfish Host Committee Chairs:

Rachel Lopez, Chelsea Boerstler, and Will Chang.

Wednesday March 4, was the Crawfish Boil’s VIP sponsor party, hosted for the second year running at Alara Garage/M. Brandon Motorcars with thanks to hosts and dealership owner Ara Malkhassian and Michael Foertsch. Ara and Michael provided tours to our 60 guests of the facility’s extensive collection of high end and vintage motor cars including Ferraris, Maseratis, Rolls Royces, and Cobras among the stored models. Our hosts explained the intricacies of upkeep and maintenance performed on these elite vehicles to keep them in running condition, answering guests’ questions about the cars and storage facility. This event celebrated a record breaking year for the Crawfish Boil, with over 60 sponsors who have helped us raise $61,000 and counting for the event. Thank you to all of our sponsors for their support, including Houston Methodist, Covenant Crossfit, Admiral Transfer and Rigging, Cole Chemical & Distributing, Williams, Bristow Group, Inc., John P. McGovern Foundation and Serpe|Jones|Andrews|Callender|Bell. We’re looking forward to our best Crawfish Boil yet Saturday, March 28!

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From left to right:

Naureen Malik, Sippi Khurana, and Event co-chair Sneha Merchant

Across town that same evening, fashion, fun and a surprise style icon reveal were the themes of the evening when The Women’s Home hosted its fashion chairs event kickoff for the upcoming reNew and reDo Fashion Show.  Fashion co-chairs Mandy Kao and Sneha Merchant and 75 of their fabulous friends descended onto Neiman Marcus on a Wednesday evening to mix, mingle and get everyone excited about reNew and reDo, voted one of Houston’s hottest parties in 2014.

50 of Mandy and Sneha’s signed up to serve on their fashionista host committee, guaranteeing them a seat to the runway show as well as exclusive access to upcoming events.  The surprise of the evening came when they announced their first fashion and style icon, Theresa Roemer, better known as the Woodlands woman with the world’s biggest closet.  The Fashionista Host Committee was then invited to Roemer’s closet next month as part of their host committee benefits.

The Women’s Home is thrilled to have Mandy, Sneha and all of their fashion friends on board to make this year’s show the biggest yet, and we thank Theresa for opening up her home and closet to us next month.

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Devon Anderson speaking to the Luncheon Attendees

The next afternoon, March 5, attendees of the Women’s Home Partnership’s first luncheon of the year experienced a side of Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson few have publicly heard. How she balances work and family. How she dealt with the loss of her former husband Mike to cancer.  What motivates her to do the work she does.

In a candid conversation before an intimate gathering of nearly 80 people at Tony’s Restaurant, Devon Anderson did just that. She talked about her high profile career while sharing some of the more personal moments.

Anderson’s talk began the 2015 The Women’s Home Partnership Luncheon Series, a quarterly luncheon featuring some of Houston’s most interesting people.  Spearheaded by the efforts of our Partnership Council and generously presented by Morton Auctioneers and Appraisers, this luncheon series connects old friends of The Women’s Home with new friends. The audience also heard from The Women’s Home graduate, Natasha, who shared her story of transformation after being a client of our Home.

We congratulate The Partnership for an inaugural luncheon well done and thank Devon for being our guest conversationalist.  Our next luncheon is scheduled for Friday June 19th at Tony’s featuring Baylor psychiatrist and author Dr. Stuart Yudofsky.  Tickets can be purchased on our website at

Reaching Out to the Community

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A card made by one of our Jane Cizik Garden Place residents

Terrace United Methodist Church is an outreach driven congregation in the Spring Branch community. The members of the church have faithfully volunteered with Jane Cizik Garden place since the complex opened its doors in 2010. A group of volunteers organized by Associate Pastor Tammy Heinrich have made the residents at Jane Cizik Garden Place a part of their community of caring by hosting a monthly ladies’ night for residents. This volunteer work provides a meaningful outreach of faith for all involved.

The Ladies’ Nights, which rotate through a variety of activities each month, provide attendees the chance to take time out of their week to relax and have fun in the company of friends. The events include things like spa night, where residents can get their nails done or enjoy a facial, game night where everyone enjoys snacks while playing, and craft night where volunteers provide instructions and supplies for making a seasonal project. The five person volunteer team work together to plan the events and on average a group of ten Jane Cizik Garden Place residents come each month.

Tammy recruited volunteers for the group after hearing about the plans for Jane Cizik Garden Place from Santa Maria Hostel, a Spring Branch area addiction treatment facility for women. Tammy was already familiar with The Women’s Home from Terrace working with Santa Maria, whose clients sometimes transfer to our treatment and transitional housing program. Tammy gathered like-minded volunteers who wanted to reach out and provide a supportive fun space for our residents. After Tammy helped get the group started, the five volunteers who run Jane Cizik Garden Places’ ladies night now organize themselves.

The volunteers get as much from the Ladies’ nights as our residents. One volunteer, who puts her creative skills to use planning the craft nights, reported to Tammy that she has “developed a relationship with the residents and feels connected with them, she loves seeing the residents laugh, enjoy themselves and relax just walking in.”

While Ladies Night is the main service Terrace provides our residents, they also offer a Sunday shuttle to church services for anyone without transportation who would like to attend. Additionally the congregation is hosting a Lifeskills Retreat on March 28th for women looking for advice on dressing for success, job interview skills, and pursuing education. The planning and dedication of organizations like Terrace United Methodist Church enrich the lives of our residents and connects Jane Cizik Garden Place with the Spring Branch community.

This Crawfish Season Support Physical Wellness

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Access to basic hygiene and body maintenance products is a fundamental part of maintaining good physical health that people often take for granted. The high costs of even basic hygiene products like deodorant and shampoo as well as the lack of available facilities to practice a hygiene routine while homeless means many of our residents come to The Women’s Home after long periods of neglect.  Supplying our residents the means to care for and restore their physical wellbeing and appearance is an important part of enabling them to rebuild their self-confidence and happiness. This means not only supplying basic hygiene products and over the counter medicines but also fitness clothing and equipment like shoes, joint braces, exercise videos and pedometers. An important need for many of our residents of color that we appreciate help acquiring is hair treatment products such as conditioning hair oils and hair relaxers.

This year’s Crawfish Boil season has broken records in terms of sponsorship and attendance and we want to use this good energy to bolster our resident’s physical health. We ask your help in supporting our residents’ physical wellness needs, a donation of just ten dollars can help us supply physical health products for our residents. Donors who wish to drop off items can bring them to our administrative office at 607 Westheimer Road from now until March 28. Crawfish Boil guests can bring cash or item donations to West Alabama Ice House the day of the Crawfish Boil. We’ve collected a list of needed products with suggested brand names for donors who wish to bring in items, or want to start a drive at work or with an organization they’re active with.

Meet our Newest Board Members!

In January, The Women’s Home Board of Directors welcomed five new members to service. The Board of Directors is the governing body of The Home. They are responsible for financial oversight and leadership, strategic direction of programs and services, stewardship of our resources and the advisory tasks of insuring that the mission and vision are carried out at the highest quality levels. In addition, they provide leadership for strategic direction and growth. Comprised of leaders in our community who show a commitment to service and passion for The Home’s mission, new members of the board are selected for review by our Governance Committee and elected by the Directors. The Women’s Home is excited to introduce the newest members of our board.

AmyABoardPhotoAmy Absher is general manager for the Technology, Strategy & Services (TSS) organization of Chevron’s Information Technology Company (ITC), Amy Absher is accountable for IT strategy and planning, organizational design and capability management, portfolio management, communications, supplier management and operational excellence. A native of Oklahoma, Amy earned a BS in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University in 1985 and joined Chevron that same year as an auditor in the company’s international auditing department. Since beginning her career at Chevron, Amy has held numerous positions, including chief information officer for Global Supply & Trading, general manager of Chevron’s Global Aviation Americas Region and manager of Application Operations in the Process, Applications & Data Assets organization of ITC. She is a member of Chevron’s IT Function Leadership team and the IT Extended Management team. She serves on the IVI, PIDX and Intel advisory boards. In addition to her board position with The Women’s Home, she is also a board member of the Houston Aids Foundation.

Leslie ForestierLeslie D. Forestier began her career working in the engineering and construction industry in accounting and contract administration. She switched to the nonprofit world and joined the Houston Museum of Natural Science as its chief financial officer in 1997. Later joining the management of the Houston Zoo, Leslie has been the chief financial officer there since 2003. She is responsible for the financial operations and oversight of the organization as well as managing the accounting and purchasing departments.Leslie has a BS degree in Mathematics from Loyola University of the South in New Orleans and also attended the University of Houston. She became a CPA in 1981.Leslie joins our Board of Directors after serving on our Finance and Special Events Committees. She also volunteers with the Houston Marathon and has volunteered with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for 10 years.

Lynda HancockLynda Hancock supports the origination and project development process for Williams, a multibillion dollar midstream natural gas and pipeline company. Prior to joining Williams, she worked with Texaco (Chevron) and Lone Star Gas (Atmos Energy). Lynda received her BBA and MBA at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. She has over 25 years of experience as an energy professional in the natural gas industry, serving in a variety of capacities. Her areas of expertise include commercial contract negotiations, risk management, business development, joint venture management and corporate training. Lynda is an active member of Chapelwood United Methodist Church, where she serves on the Ministry Council; the Board of Stewards; and the Mercy Street’s Women’s Council.

Charles O'COnnelCharles J. O’Connell, a Marlborough, Massachusetts, native and Boston College graduate, Charlie O’Connell began his banking career with a predecessor of Bank of America in Boston. In 1996 Houston became home for Charlie, his wife Marilee and their sons Andy and David when he was appointed president and CEO of Bank One Houston. Upon the JPMorgan Chase acquisition of Bank One in 2004, Charlie oversaw commercial banking merger integrations in Texas as executive vice president of Chase Bank Texas, N.A. He retired in 2006.Volunteerism and community involvement have been important to Charlie throughout his career and in retirement. He has served as a board member for nonprofits focused on human services, the arts, economic development and philanthropy. He served for six years as Games director and chairman of the Organizing Committee for the Special Olympics Texas Statewide Summer Games. He is a former board chair of Central Houston, Inc. and the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County. He has also served on the boards of the Greater Houston Partnership, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Houston Ballet and the Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts.In addition to his place on The Women’s Home Board of Directors, Charlie currently serves on the board of Central Houston, Inc.In addition to his place on The Women’s Home Board of Directors, Charlie currently serves on the Board of Central Houston, Inc.

Laura McWilliams began her career in international banking with Bank of America in 1980, moving to Texas Commerce bank (Amegy Bank) and ultimately to Southwest Bank of Texas in 1994 to start its international banking department. She retired from Amegy Bank in 2007. Laura received her undergraduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin and holds an MA from Vanderbilt University and another from the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advance International Studies. Prior to her banking work, she was commissioned as a U.S. Foreign Service officer in the U.S. Department of State, where she worked in the Project Department for Southeast Asia. In Houston, Laura has served on the boards of the Houston World Affairs Council, the Asia Society, the Houston Committee on Foreign Relations and L’Alliance Francaise; she is a member of the national board of the Bankers Association for Trade and Finance. In addition to her membership on The Women’s Home Board of Directors, she serves in the Houston Salvation Army’s Auxiliary Guild and is active with other local groups such as the Houston Grand Opera.

National Charity League-Heart of Texas

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 When mothers and daughters decide to throw a party for our clients, they do it up right.  On a recent Saturday afternoon, dozens of moms and their teen girls treated our ladies to a pizza party, serving up pizza, party favors and great conversation.  They were from the Heart of Texas Chapter of the National Charity League, organization that recently chose The Women’s Home as one of a select group of local charities to give back to. The National Charity League’s mission is to provide mothers and daughters the opportunity to bond while also giving back to their communities and becoming well-rounded socially aware members of society. This is the first time NCL has partnered with our Home.  The team not only served up food, they also received a personalized tour of our residential campus.  During the pizza party, clients also heard from an NCL member, who gave tips on interviewing for the right job.  We are honored to have NCL as part of our new network of friends, and we look forward to continuing to working together!