Representatives from seventeen Lake Houston area charities were presented with nearly $85,000 in oversized “checks” from the Rotary Club of Lake Houston Area during the club’s 2023-2024 Grants and Sponsors Appreciation Luncheon held November 1st at Humble ISD’s James Eggers Instructional Support Center in Kingwood. Many (but not all) of the non-profits and Rotary sponsors are pictured here after the luncheon in front of the support center. Lake Houston Rotary Club president Juan Aybar is standing on the top row, far right. Check presenter Pam McNair, Lake Houston Rotary Foundation chair and board director, is pictured in the front row, center, in the gold jacket.
Seventeen local charities received nearly $85,000 in grants from the Rotary Club of Lake Houston Area Foundation during the club’s 2023-2024 Grants and Sponsors Appreciation Luncheon held November 1st at the Humble ISD’s James Eggers Instructional Support Center, 4810 Magnolia Cove Dr. in Kingwood.
Local business representatives who supported Lake Houston Rotary Club’s fundraising events were also in attendance and received plaques thanking them for their financial support and event participation.

Rotary Club President Juan Aybar began the program by welcoming an audience of approximately 100 people and recognizing Rotarian volunteers Dr. Roger Brown, Eric Gomez, Valerie Copley and Pam McNair who made the program possible.  
He continued by sharing a brief history of Lake Houston Rotary and its goals and accomplishments since its founding in 1967.  
President Aybar went on to share the club’s commitment to giving back to the community as the club has invested more than $1.8 million in humanitarian needs during the past 19 years including more than $500,000 to non-profit social service organizations. We have also invested more than $145,000 in FFA scholarships and additional $110,000+ of other scholarships.  
Rotary has an additional commitment to children’s education too with over a dozen scholarships granted annually, plus mentoring students in the Junior Rotarian program. We also support 2-3 foreign exchange students each year.  
“We have sponsored over 50 kids going to other countries as well as hosted that same amount for a combined total of 100 students,” said President Aybar.   
“During the past year, we have raised and invested more than $100,000 in humanitarian needs through events like our Cinco de Mayo Golf Tournament at Tour 18 and the Rotary Corvette Raffle thanks to a partnership with Robbins Chevrolet,” he added.

Major Rotary event sponsors were presented with a special “thank you” plaque by former club president Mike Kevlin for helping the club by sponsoring either one or both of our annual club events, the Cinco de Mayo Golf Tournament and/or the Rotary Corvette raffle. The individuals receiving plaques for their companies were: Cole Robbins, Robbins Automotive; Milan Saunders, Lori Saunders Hilman, and Paul Davidson, Plains State Bank; Tom Stegner and Mike Kevlin, Edward Jones; Jessica Penney, YMCA; Kathy Lemman (not present), Stellar Bank; Weyman Price, KW Receivables; Kayla Price, Price Financial; Destry Dokes (not present), San Jacinto College; and Dr. Kevin Burke (not present), Kevin Burke, DDS.

100% of net fundraising revenues are allocated to the Lake Houston Rotary Foundation (a 501c3) and are not used for club operations. Rotary Club members are volunteers and pay monthly dues to fund club operations.

After the club’s sponsors were thanked, Pam McNair, foundation committee chair, proceeded with the check presentation with President Aybar by introducing representatives from each charity and a brief explanation of how the grant money was going to be used.
The grant recipients were:
FAMILY TIME CRISIS & COUNSELING CENTER – Robin Gandera, Director of Client Services and Missy Suarez, Shelter Manager
Family Time’s service area encompasses North Harris County and portions of Montgomery and Liberty County as well.  The shelter, known as “the door,” has helped over 6,000 abused women, children, and men since its inception in 1996. This award of $3,400 is being used to help offset the ever-increasing food costs of the shelter clients.  Annual costs are well over $36,000 and only a portion of that amount is covered by a government grant, so there is always a shortfall of funds needed to feed the residents of the shelter. 

INSPIRE ND – Jennifer Dantzler, Founder & Erica Johnston, Director of Development and Outreach
Founded in 2022, Inspire ND was formed to assist young adults with neurodiversity.  It might seem like a new non-profit, but it’s wrapped up within a long-standing community non-profit Including Kids, both founded by Jennifer Dantzler.  The combination of these two non-profits brings together, under one umbrella, all the complex issues of Autism spectrum disorder, Tourette Syndrome, ADD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, amongst others.  Today’s grant of $3,000 is provided to help Inspire ND to partially fund the IGNITE Program.  This is a pilot program of classes in things such as Photoshop, Graphic Design, Coding, and Photography.  Small group sessions, taught by paid professional experts, will help provide a useful tool for the students to break the workforce barriers.
HOPEFUL HEARTS MINISTRY – Tamara Lexow, Executive Director and Shannon Carr Founder
Founded in 2011, Hopeful Hearts Ministry was established to advocate and provide a voice for victims of abuse.  One of the tools used in helping survivors recover is Hopeful Hearts Healing Retreats.  These retreats provide a safe space to come together, time for reflection and bible study, and learning materials. The goal is to help survivors build self-esteem and learn positive healing/coping mechanisms to recover from trauma and abuse.  Today’s grant of $2,500 will go towards the costs of providing one retreat in the Spring of 2024.
HUMBLE ISD EDUCATION FOUNDATION – Jerri Monbaron, Executive Director
Due to events of recent years, public education has had to transform and adapt at a rapid rate.  Mental health and overall wellbeing of students has now become one of the focus areas of Humble ISD.  Directing resources towards this focus is part of today’s grant award.  The award of $1,116 is to provide (4) play therapy sand kits to the Wellness Counselors of Humble ISD.  These sand kits will assist counselors to help children in allowing them to work through conflicts, unconscious fears and other emotional releases that are needed so the counselors can help these vulnerable students in need.  Four sand kits will be spread over 12 Wellness Counselors within the district.
SOCIETY OF STAINT STEPHEN – Karen Mashburn, Director
One thing that comes around every year is the area kiddos going back to school.  Today’s grant award of $3,000 helps SOSS offset the costs of backpacks, shoes, and school supplies to families in need within our area.  Close to 1,000 children/families will be given supplies to help their school age child start their year off right.  Rotary has played a small part for many years towards this event by providing grants and volunteer man hours and we look forward to continuing the partnership for many more years to come.
OAKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS – Charity Fyke, Director of Operations
The Oaks Program serves our community as an outreach ministry program to assist women who want to change their lives after being released from prison.  With 2 houses currently in place, and a 3rd in the works, there is a never-ending need for resources to cover costs to maintain these communal homes. Over time, Rotary has contributed funding towards various rebuild projects of their Phase 1 house, and this year’s grant of $3,000 will help with a rebuild project for their Phase 2 house. 

FAMILY PROMISE OF LAKE HOUSTON – Tiffany Venekamp, Interim Director
Family Promise of Lake Houston aids families experiencing homelessness by providing a safe and nurturing environment, affordable and appropriate places to live, work support, training, and mental health care to help break the cycle of homelessness.  Of their 5 pillar areas of service to the community, today’s grant of $7,500 aligns with affordable housing by providing needed funds so that families within the program can live off the streets and concentrate on other aspects of recovering their lives.
This non-profit was established in 2017 to help provide free and confidential support groups for individuals, families and friends impacted by depression and bipolar disorders.  Todays grant of $2,000 will continue Rotary’s support for the continued development of online, in-person and hybrid support groups and educational seminars within our public schools and around the Lake Houston area. 
HUMBLE AREA ASSISTANCE MINISTRIES – Millie Garrison, Executive Director
Today's grant award of $4,000 continues our support of HAAM in their Facility Improvement Project which includes significant repair of the parking lot and to the exterior of the facility itself.  HAAM’s comprehensive support of those in need assists over 11,000 individuals on an annual basis, so updating and providing a safe building in which to service those needs is critical to the overall arc of helping our community.  This is the first of several stages of rebuilding the facility and it will be exciting to see the completed project.
MISSION NORTHEAST – Pam Dickson, Executive Director
Mission NE is a faith based social services non-profit that provides free programs and services to individuals and families in need.  All funding and support come from community partners, and no federal grants or funding are used.  Today’s grant is for $5,000 towards the retrofitting and refurbishing of their Ford F550 truck.  This will allow the truck to become a refrigerated box truck so that food safety and transport of donated food items can continue. Overall, families needing assistance is increasing in our area and Mission NE is a valuable piece of the puzzle that helps those in need.

WINGS MINISTRIES – Irma Barbee, Chief Executive Officer
WINGS volunteers serve in transitional living programs, post-incarceration release facilities, and lock-down facilities primarily in the greater Houston area. The women they serve may be struggling with addiction, have been or are currently incarcerated, are part of a court-mandated rehabilitation program, have given birth while incarcerated, are homeless, or may be victims of human trafficking. Today’s grant of $2,200 is to help fund a pilot program to reach foster care youth before they become the other half of who WINGS serves.  Providing online classes to group home residents that will help them choose an alternative pathway.  We hope this program is successful for the youth of today to avoid becoming a statistic of tomorrow.
BOOTS FOR TROOPS – Lindsey Rogers, Director of Operations
The mission at Boots for Troops is to uplift and empower the overall morale and mental well-being of deployed service members defending our freedom by providing custom made care packages to them at no charge. Once the request has been received and vetted by Boots for Troops, the care package is then created specifically for that service member and includes a new pair of boots and any other items that were included in the request. Each care package gets assembled, boxed up and shipped to the service member for them to enjoy. The increasing costs of providing these care packages will be offset by today's grant of $2,500 by Rotary Club of LHA.
SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE – Mark Proegler, Development Manager  
This non-profit believes a bed is a basic need for the proper physical, emotional, and mental support that a child needs and all children deserve a safe, comfortable place to lay their heads. Across the United States too many boys and girls go without a bed – or even a pillow – to sleep on. These children end up sleeping on couches, blankets, and even floors which can affect their happiness and overall health. SHP Houston impacts our local community one bed at a time.  Today’s grant of $7,000 will provide approximately 30 beds during a one-day bed build.  Rotarians look forward to this service project every year because it’s such a wonderful way to give back to the children and families within our own community.  Their motto “NO CHILD SLEEPS ON THE FLOOR IN OUR TOWN” is one we are proud to put our resources behind.
THE VILLAGE CENTERS – Claire Brown, Development Manager
The Village Centers’ mission is to enhance the lives of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and support them in reaching their full potential.  Over the last 23 years, The Village has grown, changed, expanded, and rebuilt itself into one of the few centers in the Greater Northeast Houston area that provides comprehensive and extensive direct daily care services. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is certainly true in the day-to-day operations of the Village, so today’s Rotary grant of $3,200 will help with the cost of quarterly community outings to encourage integration and inclusion for all. 

LAKE HOUSTON FAMILY YMCA – Jessica Penney, Community Executive Director
The YMCA is committed to serving our entire community. Empowering our youth, improving health and well-being and being a community partner are just a few ways they impact all of us.  Being diverse and inclusive makes for a more impactful organization where all individuals and families are welcome.  Today’s grant of $4,500 supports their overall vision by partially funding the Adaptive Sports Miracle League Program. Adaptive sports at the Y provide children and adults with disabilities the chance to play sports and participate in learning opportunities in a safe, fun atmosphere. This money will help provide new uniforms, equipment and other supplies needed for participants of this program.
COMMUNITY RESPONSE TASK FORCE – Phillipe Cras, President; Pauline Cras; Leroy Harrison, Treasurer
CRTF is a community response task force that combines many areas of expertise such as emergency management, law enforcement, emergency services, military, and non-governmental organizations.  CRTF members employ knowledge and skills acquired through their professions and volunteer activities to support the community during an emergency.  Today’s grant of $2,500 will continue support for their program, “LETS GET CONNECTED”.  This is a disaster preparedness project that includes software, computers, website, and an app so it will streamline connectivity for our community during stressful natural disasters. 
ROTARY ROSE GROUP - Valerie Copley, organizer and mentor; and Rose Pizzamiglio, mentor
This counseling support group helps women who are struggling with Depression and/or Anxiety after the birth of a child, during pregnancy, or after a devastating loss.  Rotary's ROSE Group is a free and confidential depression and anxiety support group that meets two times per month in Atascocita. Our goal is to provide a caring and safe environment for women to meet and get the support they need.  The grant of $2,400 is to fully fund two group counseling sessions per month provided by Krissy Cotton of Cotton Counseling Center. 

Ms. McNair noted that Rotary has always had a passion for supporting local youth, especially the FFA students during the Humble ISD Animal Auction.  “We know they are still in good hands with business sponsors, family support and community support behind them, she said. 
“However, with the ever-increasing costs associated with buying the animals at auction, which has become much more difficult these last few years, then having them processed by a local processor (at increasing cost), and then finally getting to deliver the meat to our local non-profits, all of this has forced Rotary to change how we get the freezers filled for them.  We felt strongly that we needed to provide more meat with less expense. So, we decided to designate funds this year towards meat purchases for each of our non-profits so they can decide the best use and timing on how to spend the money. 
This will give each of them control of this grant money to use in a manner that is in the best interest of their clients. They can take advantage of bulk purchasing, sales, or seasonal pricing deals.
This is our first year doing this and we will continually monitor how the new program is working for all parties concerned. We chose the award amount based on available freezer space and overall need/clients served,” she added.

$13,000 in checks designated for the purchase of food were presented to representatives of H.A.A.M, Mission Northeast, Family Promise, Family Time, and The Village Centers.
This event’s catering services were provided by Humble ISD’s culinary arts class. They did a wonderful job too.
Rotary Club President Aybar thanked the sponsors again and thanked everyone for attending. He then closed out the meeting with everyone reciting Rotary's 4-way Test of the Things We Do or Say: “Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”

Rotary Club of Lake Houston Area members and guests meet at 11:45 a.m. most Wednesdays for their weekly lunch meeting at the Lake Houston Family YMCA, 2420 West Lake Houston Pkwy. in Kingwood. Visitors wishing to learn more about Rotary are welcome.

The Summer Creek Satellite Rotary Club meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at 8:30 a.m., at Generation Park 3rd floor Nimble Office Suite, 250 Assay St., Houston.

For more information about Rotary or membership, visit or search for our Facebook page @LakeHoustonAreaRotary.