Volunteer in Harris County on Thanksgiving

Here’s how you can volunteer in Harris County on Thanksgiving

By Danica Smithwick


Harris County residents looking to volunteer on Turkey Day have a number of opportunities to help the less fortunate.

Nov. 23-24: Operation Turkey

Volunteers gather Wednesday, Nov. 23 to prepare food and accept donations of clothing, care packages and drinks. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Grace Presbyterian Church, 10221 Ella Lee Lane, Houston. Food will be packaged and delivered to the homeless and less fortunate Thursday. 8 a.m.-noon. P.F. Chang’s, 4094 Westheimer Road, Houston. HoustonTX@operationturkey.com

Nov. 24: The Holiday Project’s Thanksgiving Day Visit

People of all ages are invited to visit with residents of local nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Volunteers will travel in teams to separate destinations and deliver Thanksgiving cards. Contact theholidayprojecthouston@yahoo.com to sign up. 9:30 a.m.-noon. Grace Care Center of Cypress, 9602 Huffmeister Road, Cypress. www.holidayproject.org

Nov. 24: TXU Energy Turkey Trot

With more than 15,000 registrants, about 500 volunteers are needed to pull off this annual event benefiting Neighborhood Centers’ seniors and youth populations. Individuals, families and groups are welcome to help with race day registration, water stops, set up, clean up and more. Register here. 7-10 a.m.

Nov. 24: 38th Annual Super Feast

City Wide Club needs volunteers for their annual Thanksgiving Super Feast, a freshly prepared dinner assisting those in need of jobs, housing, clothing, household goods and medical assistance. 10 a.m. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, Houston. 731-752-2582.

Nov. 24: Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels

Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston hosts a Meals on Wheels delivery program for thousands of senior citizens. Donate funds or sign up as a delivery driver here. 9 a.m. First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main Street, Houston. 713-533-4900.

Nov. 26: Box with the Fox

Volunteers can work alongside Dynamo Diesel packaging boxes of nonperishable foods for holiday season distribution. Register online. 9 a.m.-noon. Houston Food Bank, 535 Portwall Street, Houston. 713-547-8651.

Veterans learn to cope with invisible wounds of war at Camp Hope

Veterans learn to cope with invisible wounds of war at Camp Hope

By Danica Smithwick


Randy Starry joined the military to escape the difficult family life he knew as a child. His mother left when he was four years old, his father died five years later, and he was left with a physically abusive stepfather.

Once he returned from Iraq, Starry started experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. At night, he had trouble sleeping without violent flashbacks, and during the day he was hyper-vigilant. Dealing with these issues led to the loss of his business, his wife, his house and his car.

After turning to alcohol and prescription drugs as a coping mechanism, Starry attempted to take his own life. When he thought he had reached rock bottom, he found Camp Hope.

Camp Hope is a faith-based nonprofit organization that mentors military combat veterans dealing with PTSD. Founder Gene Birdwell opened the Houston residential campus in May 2012, and today about 60 veterans from all over the U.S. live there at no cost. It costs Camp Hope about $100 per resident to fund daily operations, and the foundation runs solely on donations.

“Many of them came in with nothing—not a toothbrush, not a clean pair of socks, no family, no home,” Executive Director David Maulsby said. “When they leave here we want them to have a job or go back to school, [have] a place to live and transportation.”

When entering the program, veterans go through a 30-day blackout period with no internet, phone or family contact. During this time, they work to become mentally stable before starting to deal with other issues, Maulsby said.

After that, family members can attend support groups and visitation days. Camp Hope is one of the few organizations in the U.S. that helps families understand why their loved ones are so different after returning from combat.

Peer-to-peer mentorship from other veterans who have been through the program takes place for about six months while veterans attend classes on anger management, substance abuse and basic life skills.

Maulsby said PTSD has been around for hundreds of years. In the past, the disorder has been referred to as battle fatigue, shell shock and the thousand-yard stare.

Birdwell said he learned about the horrors of PTSD in 2000 from a retired major general at his church. He calls it the “deadliest wounds of war.”

“PTSD is not a mental illness,” he said. “It’s a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.”

Those who suffer from combat- related PTSD have a difficult time learning how to cope when they return to civilian life, Maulsby said.

“Many of them have an endless loop running in their mind—what they lost, what they saw, what they smelled,” he said. “They don’t know how to shut it down, so they might turn to alcohol, drugs or suicide to make it stop.”

While military are trained for months before heading overseas, returning to civilian life entails a one-day course, which Starry said is not enough. After being taught to shut down his emotions, coming home to see his family and work as a civilian was difficult.

At Camp Hope, Starry has found a relationship with God and a support system he never had before. His once broken marriage is being restored, and he serves on staff as the campus chef.

“I’m trying to give back what was given to me,” he said. “I owe Camp Hope my life.”

PTSD Foundation of America’s Camp Hope
9724 Derrington Road, Houston

View More: http://mariovilledaphotography.pass.us/powellSheryl Powell BELIEVES WHOLE HEARTEDLY in GIVING BACK to those who have served our country!!  Contact Sheryl today to find out more about her Military Program.  Sheryl Powell – Realtor – JLA Realty – 281-753-0425.

The Six Living Generations In America

The Six Living Generations In America

By: Dr. Jill Novak, University of Phoenix, Texas A&M University

black-and-white-city-skyline-buildings-mediumIn America, there are six living generations, which are six fairly distinct groups of people. As a generalization each generation has different likes, dislikes, and attributes. They have had collective experiences as they aged and therefore have similar ideals. A person’s birth date may not always be indicative of their generational characteristics, but as a common group they have similarities.

  The Six Living Generations


GI Generation

  • Born 1901-1926.
  • Children of the WWI generation & fighters in WWII & young in the Great Depression…all leading to strong models of teamwork to overcome and progress.
  • Their Depression was The Great One; their war was The Big One; their prosperity was the legendary Happy Days.
  • They saved the world and then built a nation.
  • They are the assertive and energetic do’ers.
  • Excellent team players.
  • Community-minded.
  • Strongly interested in personal morality and near-absolute standards of right and wrong.
  • Strong sense of personal civic duty, which means they vote.
  • Marriage is for life, divorce and having children out of wedlock were not accepted.
  • Strong loyalty to jobs, groups, schools, etc.
  • There was no “retirement” you worked until your died or couldn’t work anymore.
  • The labor-union-spawning generation.
  • “Use it up, fix it up, make it do, or do without.”
  • Avoid debt…save and buy with cash.
  • Age of radio and air flight; they were the generation that remembers life without airplanes, radio, and TV.
  • Most of them grew up without modern conveniences like refrigerators, electricity and air conditioning.
  • Sometimes called The Greatest Generation.



  • Born 1927- 1945.
  • Went through their formative years during an era of suffocating conformity, but also during the postwar happiness: Peace! Jobs! Suburbs! Television! Rock ‘n Roll! Cars! Playboy Magazine!
  • Korean and Vietnam War generation.
  • The First Hopeful Drumbeats of Civil Rights!
  • Pre-feminism women; women stayed home generally to raise children, if they worked it was only certain jobs like teacher, nurse or secretary.
  • Men pledged loyalty to the corporation, once you got a job, you generally kept it for life.
  • The richest, most free-spending retirees in history.
  • Marriage is for life, divorce and having children out of wedlock were not accepted.
  • In grade school, the gravest teacher complaints were about passing notes and chewing gum in class.
  • They are avid readers, especially newspapers.
  • “Retirement” means to sit in a rocking chair and live your final days in peace.
  • The Big-Band/Swing music generation.
  • Strong sense of trans-generational common values and near-absolute truths.
  • Disciplined, self-sacrificing, & cautious.


Baby Boomers

  • Born between 1946 and 1964. Two sub-sets:
  • 1. the save-the-world revolutionaries of the ’60s and ’70s;
  • and 2. the party-hardy career climbers (Yuppies) of the ’70s/’80s.
  • The “me” generation.
  • “Rock and roll” music generation.
  • Ushered in the free love and societal “non-violent” protests which triggered violence.
  • Self righteous & self-centered.
  • Buy it now and use credit.
  • Too busy for much neighborly involvement yet strong desires to reset or change the common values for the good of all.
  • Even though their mothers were generally housewives, responsible for all child rearing, women of this generation began working outside the home in record numbers, thereby changing the entire nation as this was the first generation to have their own children raised in a two-income household where mom was not omnipresent.
  • The first TV generation.
  • The first divorce generation, where divorce was beginning to be accepted as a tolerable reality.
  • Began accepting homosexuals.
  • Optimistic, driven, team-oriented.
  • Envision technology and innovation as requiring a learning process.
  • Tend to be more positive about authority, hierarchal structure and tradition.
  • One of the largest generations in history with 77 million people.
  • Their aging will change America almost incomprehensibly; they are the first generation to use the word “retirement” to mean being able to enjoy life after the children have left home. Instead of sitting in a rocking chair, they go skydiving, exercise and take up hobbies, which increases their longevity.
  • The American Youth Culture that began with them is now ending with them and their activism is beginning to re-emerge.


Generation X.

  • Born between 1965 and 1980*
  • The “latch-key kids” grew up street-smart but isolated, often with divorced or career-driven parents. Latch-Key came from the house key kids wore around their neck, because they would go home from school to an empty house.
  • Entrepreneurial.
  • Very individualistic.
  • Government and big business mean little to them.
  • Want to save the neighborhood, not the world
  • Feel misunderstood by other generations
  • Cynical of many major institutions, which failed their parents, or them, during their formative years and are therefore eager to make marriage work and “be there” for their children
  • Don’t “feel” like a generation, but they are
  • Raised in the transition phase of written based knowledge to digital knowledge archives; most remember being in school without computers and then after the introduction of computers in middle school or high school
  • Desire a chance to learn, explore and make a contribution
  • Tend to commit to self rather than an organization or specific career. This generation averages 7 career changes in their lifetime, it was not normal to work for a company for life, unlike previous generations.
  • Society and thus individuals are envisioned as disposable.
  • AIDS begins to spread and is first lethal infectious disease in the history of any culture on earth which was not subjected to any quarantine.
  • Beginning obsession of individual rights prevailing over the common good, especially if it is applicable to any type of minority group.
  • Raised by the career and money conscious Boomers amidst the societal disappointment over governmental authority and the Vietnam war.
  • School problems were about drugs.
  • Late to marry (after cohabitation) and quick to divorce…many single parents.
  • Into labels and brand names.
  • Want what they want and want it now but struggling to buy, and most are deeply in credit card debt.
  • It is has been researched that they may be conversationally shallow because relating consists of shared time watching video movies, instead of previous generations.
  • Short on loyalty & wary of commitment; all values are relative…must tolerate all peoples.
  • Self-absorbed and suspicious of all organization.
  • Survivors as individuals.
  • Cautious, skeptical, unimpressed with authority, self-reliant.


Generation Y/Millennium.

  • Born between 1981* and 2000*.
  • Aka “The 9/11 Generation” “Echo Boomers” America’s next great generation brings a sharp departure from Generation X.
  • They are nurtured by omnipresent parents, optimistic, and focused.
  • Respect authority.
  • Falling crime rates. Falling teen pregnancy rates. But with school safety problems; they have to live with the thought that they could be shot at school, they learned early that the world is not a safe place.
  • They schedule everything.
  • They feel enormous academic pressure.
  • They feel like a generation and have great expectations for themselves.
  • Prefer digital literacy as they grew up in a digital environment. Have never known a world without computers! They get all their information and most of their socialization from the Internet.
  • Prefer to work in teams.
  • With unlimited access to information tend to be assertive with strong views.
  • Envision the world as a 24/7 place; want fast and immediate processing.
  • They have been told over and over again that they are special, and they expect the world to treat them that way.
  • They do not live to work, they prefer a more relaxed work environment with a lot of hand holding and accolades.


Generation Z/Boomlets.

  • Born after 2001*
  • In 2006 there were a record number of births in the US and 49% of those born were Hispanic, this will change the American melting pot in terms of behavior and culture. The number of births in 2006 far outnumbered the start of the baby boom generation, and they will easily be a larger generation.
  • Since the early 1700’s the most common last name in the US was ‘Smith’ but not anymore, now it is Rodriguez.
  • There are two age groups right now:
  • (a) Tweens.
  • (a1) Age 8-12 years old.
  • (a2) There will be an estimated 29 million tweens by 2009.
  • (a3) $51 billion is spent by tweens every year with an additional $170 billion spent by their parents and family members directly for them.
  • (b)Toddler/Elementary school age.
  • 61 percent of children 8-17 have televisions in their rooms.
  • 35 percent have video games.
  • 14 percent have a DVD player.
  • 4 million will have their own cell phones. They have never known a world without computers and cell phones.
  • Have Eco-fatigue: they are actually tired of hearing about the environment and the many ways we have to save it.
  • With the advent of computers and web based learning, children leave behind toys at younger and younger age. It’s called KGOY-kids growing older younger, and many companies have suffered because of it, most recognizable is Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls. In the 1990’s the average age of a child in their target market was 10 years old, and in 2000 it dropped to 3 years old. As children reach the age of four and five, old enough to play on the computer, they become less interested in toys and begin to desire electronics such as cell phones and video games.
  • They are Savvy consumers and they know what they want and how to get it and they are over saturated with brands.


Veterans Day 2016

Veterans Day 2016

veterans-day-images-freeOriginally, Veterans Day was called “Armistice Day,” and the date was chosen to commemorate the signing of the armistice with Germany that ended hostilities during World War I.

The armistice, signed on November 11th, 1918, did not officially end that war, however. That came on June 28th, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. On the other hand, since the U.S. never signed the Treaty of Versailles like the other Allies, one could say that for the U.S. at least, the November 11th armistice really did end the war.

At first, the focus of Armistice Day was on the veterans of World War I, though it was always meant to honor all veterans of foreign wars, who risked their lives on the battle field to secure the freedoms of all Americans. Over time, with the passing away of the World War I generation and the coming of new conflicts during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, the focus on the 1918 Armistice was lost and the name of the holiday was changed. Additionally, today, Veterans Day is generally regarded as honoring all those who ever served in the U.S. Armed Force rather than only those who actually fought in a war.

In 1919, the first celebration of Armistice Day took place, with Britain and the Allied nations of World War I all observing the day. Business as usual was briefly interrupted at 11am, the time when the armistice was signed with Germany. There were also parades and patriotic gatherings, and red poppies were put on display in many British Commonwealth countries.

Another development took place in 1926, when Congress finally decided to declare that World War I was over. It was odd for this recognition of an existing reality to come seven years late, but without the U.S. agreeing to the Treaty of Versailles, there had been no official end to the war. Congress also made November 11th a day of prayer and thanksgiving and expressed a desire that the U.S. flag be on display during this day and that special ceremonies be held.

Finally, in 1938, Armistice Day became a permanent, official public holiday. Eerily enough, the holiday designed to honor World War I veterans became official only a few years before World War II arrived. The next stage in the history of Veterans Day came in 1954, when it received its present name. Congress made the change when pressed to do so by various private veterans organizations.

A debacle involving Veterans Day came in 1971, when Congress changed the date from November 11th to the fourth Monday in October. This led to chaos because many states refused to recognize the change. Some would be celebrating in November while others did so in October, and the resistance to the date change never broke down. Finally, the date was changed back to November 11th beginning in 1978.

Another interesting Veterans Day “conflict” involves a matter of grammar and spelling. Today, many people spell the holiday as “Veterans’ Day,” but the official government-approved spelling is “Veterans Day.“ The explanation given is that the adjectival spelling instead of the possessive-case spelling shows that the holiday is about honoring veterans rather than a day that belongs to them.

Many observe Veterans Day by simply flying the U.S. flag at their house, having a picnic or cook out with friends and family, and watching war movies or other patriotic programming on TV. Many also donate to veterans’ causes and show appreciation to veterans they meet or are already acquainted with, and some veterans will don their military uniforms on this day, making themselves “easy to spot.”

Four ideas on what to do in the U.S. on Veterans Day are:

  • Attend, or at least watch on television, the Veterans Day commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. You can watch the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. You may also wish to respectfully walk through the cemetery, where over 40,000 veterans and their families are buried.
  • Watch America’s Parade, originally “the Veterans Day Parade,” in New York City. This is the largest Veterans Day parade in the country, bringing in around 25,000 attendees each year. It is held in Manhattan and has been running since 1919. There are also some other large parades to attend, including the biggest one west of the Mississippi River in Albany, Oregon, and there are many smaller parades as well.
  • Tour the memorials and monuments in Washington, D.C., that are related in some way to veterans. There are too many to list, but look for the DC War Memorial, which honors local World War I veterans, the National World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
  • Spend the day, or part of it, volunteering at a local VA hospital or even just chatting with veterans who are there as patients. Many VAs will have special lunches on Veterans Day for the veterans, and they welcome volunteers to help prepare the meal.

Veterans Day is an important time to remember those who risked their lives to defend the freedom of others, and you will find there are many festive and patriotic activities to take part.

View More: http://mariovilledaphotography.pass.us/powell Sheryl Powell, Your Happy Realtor, BELIEVES in GIVING BACK to Veterans!

If you are a Veteran and you are looking to buy, sell or lease contact Sheryl Powell for her Military Appreciation Program.


Sheryl Powell – Realtor – JLA Realty.  Sheryl can be reached at 281-753-0425 or you can email her at sherylpowellrealtor@outlook.com.

City of Houston’s Chief Resilience Officer Stephen Costello Attempts To Reduce Flooding In The Lake Houston Area

City of Houston’s Chief Resilience Officer Stephen Costello attempts to reduce flooding in the Lake Houston area

By Christopher Shelton


Despite having no budget or staff, Stephen Costello has high expectations for his tenure as chief resilience officer. Just four months after he was appointed to the position by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Costello has suggested using city money to help expedite Harris County drainage projects and purchasing land for regional drainage space. He is also lobbying for a program similar to the city of Houston’s pothole initiative, where citizens can report a pothole and expect it to be filled by the next business day, for minor drainage diversion projects. Costello, who was dubbed the “Flood Czar” by Turner in May, was appointed on the heels of flooding in April and May, when several Lake Houston area homes and businesses were flooded.

How can you help reduce flooding?

I’m primarily a person who will first be interfacing between agencies, whether it be the city and the state, the city and the county, or the city and the federal government. Or if there’s ongoing projects that the city hasn’t been involved with, I will get involved in [them] and just get an understanding of what’s going on and see how it’ll impact the city. I’ll be in my office and looking at an issue that I think might be noteworthy for the city to take on and then I think, “How do we do this?”

What Lake Houston area projects do you have in the works?

I was just talking to council member [Dave] Martin, and I told him that I’m going to go visit with the Coastal Water Authority about the operations of Lake Houston and the dam. Council member Martin [asked] “Can we operate Lake Houston like we do Addicks and Barker dams in terms of lowering the water level in anticipation of a flood coming down the San Jacinto River?” The issue with Lake Houston is a little different because it’s not a reservoir for flood control, it’s a surface water reservoir.

How will you work with county governments in the region?

A taxpayer, when they get water in their house, they don’t really care about who does what—they want everybody helping. So the way I describe it to people is, the difference between the city of Houston and the Harris County Flood Control District when it comes to flooding is we’re the drainage entity and they’re the flooding entity. We are responsible for rainfall from the rooftop to the bayou, and they’re responsible from the bayou to the bay. And along the way we make sure we don’t flood anyone downstream.

How will this process work?

The [Army] Corps of Engineers and Harris County Flood Control District have like seven ongoing projects in the area. Some are being delayed because of a cash strain on the local sponsor. The city can come in, even though you have a contractual relationship between the county and federal government, and help the county with more money. We’ll give you the money; you build it, send the bill to the feds and when they pay you back, you pay us back.

What other projects do you plan to initiate during your tenure?

We have maps that show where houses flood, and most of them are concentrated around the bayous. But then we have areas that are not anywhere near a bayou that are flooding. They’re flooding because of poor drainage, and its either because of old infrastructure or inadequate infrastructure. What I’m trying to develop is a small project, very similar to the pothole project program, where we go out, assess the problem and make some mitigating improvements, knowing full well that it’s not the ultimate solution but it’ll solve most of the drainage problems. Then at a later date the city will come in and do a big capital project.

How will having additional drainage reduce flooding?

What we hope to accomplish with these small drainage projects is that we can get out and touch the neighborhoods a little more. Most people say “We don’t see the city very often out here,” and my thought process is, if we can get out and people can see us more, then they’ll have a better appreciation of where we’re spending our money and why.

Why are you passionate about preventing flooding?

I didn’t decide to focus on flooding and drainage until Tropical Storm Claudette, which was in 1979. It dropped 42 inches of rain in 24 hours. My first experience to house flooding was going out to a neighborhood on Chocolate Bayou south of Alvin, [Texas]. I saw a couple hundred homes with everything out in the front yard, and I’d never seen that before. In talking to the residents about how devastating it was, I said “This is what I want to do for a living.” I’ve been in the business ever since.

Is “Flood Czar” your real title?

The reason why the mayor coined it the “Flood Czar” was because when I first agreed to come back to the city it was post the Tax Day flood and then right after Memorial Day flooding. He wanted me to focus more on flooding and drainage, which is due to my engineering background. He called me that publicly, and that name has stuck.

New Sports Complex For Kids With Special Needs Coming To Humble/Atascocita Area

New sports complex for kids with special needs coming to Humble/Atascocita area


Children with disabilities in northeast Harris County will soon have a place to play sports, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

October marked the beginning of construction of an adaptive sports complex – which features two fields specifically designed for wheelchairs and walkers. The complex will cater to children with physical and mental disabilities, including students in the Humble Independent School District (Humble ISD).

The $4.8 million sports complex is being built in partnership between the YMCA of Greater Houston, the Humble Independent School District Education Foundation (Humble ISD Foundation) and Humble ISD. It will be located between the district’s new elementary and middle schools currently under construction in The Groves subdivision.

21147-1-1The second of its kind in the county, the Adaptive Sports Complex is putting the Greater Houston area on the map in terms of its strong commitment to children with special needs and to adaptive sports venues that are in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“Kids actually get to feel what it’s like to hit a ball, run to a base, and experience sports like children without disabilities do,” said Paul McEntire, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Houston. “It brings them a sense of joy and accomplishment, not to mention the thrill of people in the stands cheering for them.”

Players, including those involved in Miracle League baseball for children with special needs, will be able to play sports without fear of injury. Each will have a “buddy,” a YMCA volunteer who can help them swing their bats and move from base to base.

The fields also are equipped to handle soccer, softball, flag football, kickball, field-day games and the Special Olympics.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, of the 1.2 million students in primary and secondary schools in the Greater Houston area, more than 10 percent, or 124,000, have a disability. Furthermore, as one of the 10 fastest-growing school districts in Texas, Humble ISD is seeing an increase in the number of students with disabilities and the need to accommodate them on many levels. Of its approximately 40,000 primary and secondary school students, 12.5 percent, or 5,000, are coping with a disability.

“Humble ISD is excited to partner with the YMCA to establish a new and innovative outdoor facility,” said Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen. “All students and families should be able to experience fun and healthy physical activities together. Inclusive environments make that possible.”

Funded through the YMCA, the Humble ISD Foundation and other partners and sponsors, the sports complex will sit on five acres owned by the school district. Humble ISD will own, maintain and utilize the facility during the school day, and the YMCA will use the facility during the evenings and on weekends. This partnership is expected to maximize the number of children who will use the facility.

Like its counterpart, the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Adaptive Sports Complex at the Langham Creek Family YMCA at which 700 special needs children play, the new sports complex will feature two multi-purpose fields made with a cushioned, synthetic turf that allows mobility devices to easily move and not get bogged down in grass or mud.

“This is a unique partnership in terms of the YMCA, a major school district and the communityworking together to build this much-needed facility,” said Mark Koenig, co-chair of the Sports For All Campaign, which is raising money for the complex. “We hope that this partnership will become a model to build even more adaptive sports complexes in the Houston area.”

The sports complex also will include a barrier-free playground with ramps, special swings and jungle-gym equipment for children with disabilities to climb and play alongside their siblings and friends. The playground’s tactile, visual and auditory components are designed to engage children with autism and other developmental conditions.

Furthermore, a large pavilion equipped with modified hoops for basketball will also serve as a gathering place and concessions stand. Quiet rooms will be available when overstimulation occurs in special needs children.

“This is a very meaningful partnership because it is providing children and young adults with disabilities the opportunity to experience something that they otherwise may never have experienced,” said Joe Cleary, co-chairman of the capital campaign. “And let’s not forget about the parents who get to sit back and relax in the bleachers and watch their children have fun without worrying that they won’t fit in.”

Construction could be completed by late summer of 2017 – just in time to celebrate opening day of The Miracle League’s fall season – but it is dependent on the success of fundraising efforts. Major donors include Insperity, the Houston Astros Foundation and community leaders and philanthropists Joe and Cathy Cleary.

To donate to the campaign, please visit: www.ymcahouston.org/sports-for-all.

Health care market boom reaches Lake Houston area

Health care market boom reaches Lake Houston area despite downturn, medical industry thrives with new facilities, education opportunities



In December 2015, the Greater Houston Partnership’s annual employment forecast predicted around 9,000 health care jobs would be added during 2016, said Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research at GHP.

“So far [from January to August], we created 7,200 jobs [in the health care industry], so the numbers seem to be on track,” he said.

Health care market boom reaches Lake Houston areaJob market shift

The University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business reports the region lost nearly 25,000 oil production and services jobs and over 29,000 manufacturing jobs from December 2014 to July 2016. Hospital officials say these losses could explain why many workers are now moving to work in the health care industry.

“Memorial Hermann is seeing more and more people seeking employment in health care,” said Tanya Cook, vice president of talent acquisition and premier staffing for Memorial Hermann Health System. “That’s due largely to the downturn in the oil and energy [industry]. While our primary need is for health care clinicians, we are always looking for talented people for nonclinical jobs such as accounting and finance, and information and technology.”

Nearly 1 in 9 job holders in the Greater Houston area now works in the health care industry, and the sector has added nearly 50,000 jobs in the past five years according to the GHP.

Jankowski said two factors most contribute to the growth in health care jobs—the natural population increase from babies born in the area and an aging population. He said about 30,000 residents turn 65 years old each year.

“If you think about how Houston’s population has  grown over the last 30 years, our population has doubled,” he said. “There’s another factor in health care: People talk about baby boomers. One of the times you need health care is when you get older.”

Houston, local markets

Hospital officials and market experts agree the population increase is driving much of the market growth, steering it away from downtown Houston toward the suburbs. Hospital systems are looking outside Loop 610 for facility locations, Jankowski said.

“You’ve seen with health care—whether it’s the hospitals or urgent care centers or patient care centers—migrating to the suburbs. That comes from good business sense,” he said. “They’re trying to put their facilities as close to people as possible.”

Memorial Hermann Northeast is working to cater to Lake Houston area residents with Convenience Care centers, which provide walk-in primary care, said Heath Rushing, senior vice president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Northeast.

“What we understand is access to care is important to the community, and we have to have easily accessible resources in the communities where people live that’s convenient for them,” Rushing said.

The health system is targeting areas of Houston experiencing significant population growth, including the Lake Houston area. Memorial Hermann Northeast plans to open a Convenient Care Center in Kingwood in mid-2017 in addition to building a 5-story patient tower in place of the hospital’s South Tower at its campus in Humble.  The demolition of the hospital’s current South Tower will begin in December, Rushing said.

While the Convenient Care Center will offer outpatient and ambulatory services, such as a fullservice, 24-hour emergency room and laboratory services, the new patient tower will feature 90 new beds as well as a new kitchen, cafe and gift shop.

“Our community is growing, and we’re lucky to live in the Lake Houston area where residential growth is thriving, commercial growth is thriving and, with Humble ISD, school district growth is thriving. Memorial Hermann’s intention is to continue to grow in the Lake Houston area as it grows,” he said.

Other healthcare facilities are also being planned in the area. The Kingwood Medical Center opened a new Breast Cancer Center in October, which specializes in imaging, according to KMC officials. Commercial developer Signorelli Company, has plans for the Valley Ranch Medical Center, which could house a 300-bed hospital near the intersection of FM 1314 and Hwy. 59. Signorelli plans to select a hospital partner within the next four months, Marketing Coordinator Alyssa McGuire said.

Health care market boom reaches Lake Houston area

Construction will begin on a five-story patient tower at the hospital campus of Memorial Hermann Northeast in December.RENDERING COURTESY MEMORIAL HERMANN NORTHEAST

Education opportunities

Keeping in line with demand, local higher education providers are also expanding their health care education offerings to prepare more students to enter the workforce. 

Statewide, the demand for nurses has grown in recent years due to population increases and life longevity, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.   

Lone Star College System’s nursing program—which is offered at five campuses, including LSC-Kingwood—is the largest program offered by LSCS,
said Linda Luehrs-Wolfe, LSC-Kingwood dean of sciences and health occupations.

“[Program] offerings are determined by several factors, including space and availability of jobs—which continues to grow for nursing,” Luehrs-Wolfe said. “We develop our programs in [conjunction] with the various health care providers in the region to ensure they are able to hire a well-trained workforce.”

Some health care degree programs are now at capacity, Luehrs-Wolfe said, prompting LSCS to plan for larger facilities, including a third floor on LSC-Tomball’s health science building and a new health care instructional building at LSC-Kingwood, both planned as part of the college system’s $485 million  bond package approved by voters in 2014.

Additionally, a four-year degree program from LSCS could also be on the horizon for area students interested in nursing, said Amos McDonald, LSC vice chancellor of external affairs.

“There is a huge demand for health care workers, and allowing Lone Star College to offer four-year degrees in this field will help ensure our community has the ‘people power’ to keep up with the need,” McDonald said.

Future growth

“You’ve seen with health care—whether it’s the hospitals or urgent care centers or patient care centers—migrating to the suburbs. That comes from good business sense. They’re trying to put their facilities as close to people as possible.”

—Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership

Regardless of when the economy completely recovers, Jankowski said growth in the health care market will likely continue as the steady population increase shows no signs of slowing down.

“The data the Census Bureau released … showed Houston had just shy of 100,000 babies born [in 2016],” Jankowski said. “If you subtract the deaths from the births, you get what’s called the ‘natural increase’ of 65,000.”

Factored into the net population growth of 10.9 percent and 18 percent over the past five years for Harris and Montgomery counties, respectively, the area will continue to see a need for more health care services in the years to come, according to the GHP.

“As long as mankind is around, health care will be a strong field,” Jankowski said.