Kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart opens up about tragic ordeal

November 1st, 2016

Kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart, now a wife and mother, addresses the “It’s Your Time Women’s Conference.”

Kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart, now a wife and mother, addresses the “It’s Your Time Women’s Conference.”

Bay Area residents who likely were horrified back in 2002 when Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City bedroom as her little sister lay sleeping beside her and was held captive for nine months, now know the story has a happy ending.

She is now a well adjusted housewife and mother, she told the crowd attending the recent “It’s Your Time Women’s Conference” sponsored by Houston Methodist St. John Hospital and the League City Regional Chamber at South Shore Harbour Resort.

It has taken years to get over it, but she is now opening up about her tragic ordeal, which made headlines across the country. It came to an end in 2003 when her kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, took her into town shopping — warning her they would kill her if she tried to flee — and a policeman recognized her and rescued her.

Her recovery from the months of rape and death threats were not easy. But now she is finally speaking out about the horrors to which she was subjected.

She has not just survived, she’s making giant strides in her recovery. In 2012, she married Matthew Gilmour, who like her is a devout Morman, and they have an 18-months-old daughter, Chloe.

During her speech at the conference, she spoke about her kidnapping experience, but more from the perspective of a new parent, going on at explain how her mom’s advice had been so vital in helping her move forward. She also talked about how parents can/cannot prepare their kids for something like this.

Today Mitchell, 62, is serving a life sentence in the U.S. penitentiary in Tuscon, Ariz. Barzee,70, received a 15-year sentence.

Police give pointers on how to survive shooter

November 1st, 2016

League City Police Lt. Cliff Woitena, center, accompanied here by League City Mayor Pat Halliey, left, spoke recently at two local seminars to educate the public on how to deal with an active shooter. The first, on keeping sacred spaces safe, was hosted by Houston Methodist St. John Hospital with about 60 clergy and religious leaders attending and was led by the Rev. Richard Maddox, right, director of spiritual care at St. John. The second at South Shore Harbour Resort, and hosted by the Clear Lake Area Chamber and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, open to the public. 

League City Police Lt. Cliff Woitena, center, accompanied here by League City Mayor Pat Halliey, left, spoke recently at two local seminars to educate the public on how to deal with an active shooter. The first, on keeping sacred spaces safe, was hosted by Houston Methodist St. John Hospital with about 60 clergy and religious leaders attending and was led by the Rev. Richard Maddox, right, director of spiritual care at St. John. The second at South Shore Harbour Resort, and hosted by the Clear Lake Area Chamber and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, open to the public.

By Mary Alys Cherry

With shootings becoming a part of our lives most every day and many losing their lives to deranged gunmen in mass shootings, several local organizations decided to offer help to the frightened public – setting up two public seminars.

Clear Lake Area Chamber and Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership hosted one in the South Shore Harbour Resort’s Marina Ballroom while Houston Methodist St. John Hospital hosted another to help both the public and the clergy deal with the problem. The hospital hosted nearly 60 clergy and religious leaders, representing 30 local churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues, for an informative session on “Active Shooters in Sacred Spaces.”

League City Police Lt. Cliff Woitena conducted both seminars, offering advice on what to do in case one is confronted with an active shooter. “The problem is everywhere,” he said.

“We can’t prevent it, but we can prepare for it,” he said, pointing out that it is important to calm down, to take a deep breath and try to relax – no matter how hard that may be. This helps get our brains functioning better, improves our stress response, he explained.

Some things to remember if you find yourself in a place with an active shooter: Run, hide, fight. Forget your personal belongings – they can be replaced. If you hear noise that sounds like firecrackers, it isn’t. People don’t shoot off firecrackers in schools, malls, offices. It’s likely gunfire, and, if you can’t get out safely, find a hiding place. Get behind a large object. Turn out the lights and try to stay calm.

Most likely places of occurrence are 1. Businesses 53 percent of the time; 2. Educational facility, 24 percent;  3. Outdoors, 13 percent; and Other, 12 percent.

“You need to be prepared; you need to have a plan. It takes the police an average of three minutes to get there,” Woitena said, “and they want you to make the best use of your time while they are on the way.” Playing dead may work one time, but is not the best way to save your life, he added. “Don’t hide and hope under a desk either.”

Situational awareness of surroundings is the key. See where the exits are if you are in a large facility – a mall, a school, a supermarket or an office building. If you’re in a room, lock the door, put something against the door, turn off the lights, get out of sight and turn off your phone.

And remember: first responders are not there to help the injured; they are looking for the shooter. Just be patient. Help will arrive. You can survive.

“And, if by chance you are shot, don’t give up. You don’t have to die. Make a decision to live,” Woitena urged. “And, mostly likely you will.”

Celebrating the celebration

November 1st, 2016

BAHEP President Bob Mitchell thanks Communications Director Kathryn Paradis for all her hard work writing the BAHEP history for the 40th anniversary celebration.

BAHEP President Bob Mitchell thanks Communications Director Kathryn Paradis for all her hard work writing the BAHEP history for the 40th anniversary celebration.

By Mary Alys Cherry

It isn’t everyday one gets to plan a 40th anniversary celebration. So it is little wonder that those on the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership planning committee took their task quite seriously.

They didn’t just meet once or twice and leave most of the work to the hotel staff; over a period of months they met weekly sometimes and bi-weekly others, examining every minute detail, determining what  would work at the site (the South Shore Harbour Resort Crystal Ballroom) and what would not by meeting there and trying things out.

They went out to UH-Clear Lake to look through historical documents, to be sure their history was correct. They rummaged through hundreds of photographs that told much of their story. They talked with those who played key roles in the beginning. Then they invited them to the celebration.

And, when it was over, BAHEP President Bob Mitchell couldn’t stop smiling. He couldn’t think of a thing that should have been done differently. Everything had gone as planned. Just a perfect evening with many of those who worked to get BAHEP started 40 years ago on hand to reminisce and look forward to the 50th anniversary.

Such a success that Pat and Wendell Wilson decided they all needed to celebrate. So they hosted a dinner party at their bayfront home in Seabrook, where many committee members reflected on the fun they had had planning the event and began thinking of the big 50.

Panhellenic Style Show not a Run for the Roses

October 1st, 2016

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Fall Fashion Show Chairman D’Lisa Johnston is inviting the community to the popular annual Clear Lake Panhellenic event, scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 4, at in the South Shore Harbour Resort’s Crystal Ballroom.

By Mary Alys Cherry

The Kentucky Derby in the Bay Area? Well, no, not the Run for the Roses.

This year for their annual fall fashion show luncheon on Friday, Nov. 4, Clear Lake Panhellenic members have chosen a “32nd Annual Run for Scholarships – Derby Style” theme for their annual fundraiser at South Shore Harbour Resort.
And, borrowing from the famed gathering in Louisville, Ky., for the nation’s No. 1 horse race, look for all the ladies to be sporting eye-catching hats to the popular luncheon.

That became evident at their annual Fall Friendship Tea, which this year served as the kickoff for the style show. Almost all arrived in beautiful hats like you see at the Derby. And, that wasn’t all. They not only had a painting on the wall of a horse you almost thought was real, Tracey Webb arrived with her son’s small horse who stood still and seemed to take it all in as dozens of women chatted in the background – never batting an eye.

Proceeds from the event are used for both college scholarships for local graduates and funds for local students to attend Girls State. Over the years, Panhellenic has provided more than $500,000 in scholarships.

Chairman D’Lisa Johnston, who has assembled a great committee to put on the event, announced the inking of renowned Lenny Matuszewski to once again produce the fashion show. “His productions are sensational and are always highly anticipated. Clear Lake Panhellenic is indebted to him for the high quality show he presents,” Johnston said. Panhellenic members model in the show.

The fun begins with a champagne reception at 10:30 a.m. In addition to the fashion show and luncheon, there will be live and silent auctions and a raffle. For tickets, which are $75 for general seating and $100 for runway seats, contact Diane Overman at dianeover@gmail.com or call 281-773-4072.

“Don’t miss the most amazing three hours in Clear Lake Derby history,” President Jill Reason adds.

Clear Lake Chatter: Variety of events get social season underway

October 1st, 2016

Clear Lake Area Panhellenic President Jill Reason, right, and hostess Cathy Osoria prepare to welcome the crowd to the Fall Friendship Tea.

Clear Lake Area Panhellenic President Jill Reason, right, and hostess Cathy Osoria prepare to welcome the crowd to the Fall Friendship Tea.

BAY AREA social calendars are filling up fast these days with Clear Lake Area Panhellenic and Houston Symphony League Bay Area kicking off the season with their annual welcome parties.

Clear Lake Panhellenic members filled Cathy Osaria’s Bay Oaks home to overflowing for their annual Fall Friendship Tea – catching up on each other’s news and planning the year ahead after a warm welcome from President Jill Reason and Chairman Jo Nell Hunter.

Looking over the crowd, you probably would have spotted Karen Weber, Michelle Richardson, Kelsey Richardson, Ondi Lyon, Jo Cat Bruce, Lisa O’Brian, Ruth Beecher, Emmeline Dodd, Sue Broughton, Sue Ellen Jennings, Holly Williamson and Kay Lee Benoit among the early arrivals.

Wasn’t long before they were joined by Belva Dewey, here from Baton Rouge, Diane Overman, Ann Gay, Laurie Vaughn, Judie Ferguson, Ellen King, Annette Dwyer, Darla McKitrick and dozens and dozens more.

Tracey Webb, dressed up as a jockey, even brought her son’s small horse to add to the merriment.

One of the afternoon’s highlights came as Fall Fashion Show Chairman D’Lisa Johnston announced the Kentucky Derby theme for Panhellenic’s big luncheon Friday, Nov. 4 at South Shore Harbour Resort. Instead of the Run for the Roses, it will be the “32nd annual Run for Scholarships,” as profits from the event provide scholarships for area graduates and funds to help local students attending Girls State.

To date, Panhellenic has provided scholarships totaling more than $500,000 with profits from its events.

There were smiles aplenty as the Houston Symphony League Bay Area hosted its annual Wine and Cheese Party, including those of Gillian Ford, Sallie Watts, Liana Russell, Cindy Kuenneke, Sisbee Winburne and Darlene Clark, from left, as they lined up for refreshments.

There were smiles aplenty as the Houston Symphony League Bay Area hosted its annual Wine and Cheese Party, including those of Gillian Ford, Sallie Watts, Liana Russell, Cindy Kuenneke, Sisbee Winburne and Darlene Clark, from left, as they lined up for refreshments.

Symphony League draws big crowd
HOUSTON SYMPHONY League Bay Area members launched the 2016-17 season with their annual Wine and Cheese Party to welcome new and prospective members.

Hostess Angie Weinman wore a big, warm smile as she joined Chairman Carolyn Murphy in greeting the arriving crowd that included Mary Ann Shallberg, Gillian Ford, Sallie Watts, Liana Russell, Cindy Kuenneke, Sisbee Winburne and Darlene Clark.

Dr. Patrick McKinney was there, chatting with President Mary Voigt and Vice President Jim Moore and his wife, Aggie, at the Weinmans’ Bay Oaks home in Clear Lake.

Looking around, you might also have spotted Pat Biddle, Carol Wilson, Sandra Strickhouser and Martha McWilliam, to name a few.

RNASA President Rodolfo Gonzalez, left, presents Mark Wright a check for $11,500 for the Texas Aerospace Scholars Program during Appreciation Dinner.

RNASA President Rodolfo Gonzalez, left, presents Mark Wright a check for $11,500 for the Texas Aerospace Scholars Program during Appreciation Dinner.

RNASA celebrates another success
THE ROTARY National Award for Space Achievement Foundation celebrated another successful Space Gala with RNASA President Rodolfo Gonzalez presenting a check for $11,500 to Mark Wright for the Texas Aerospace Scholars Program at its annual Appreciation Dinner at Landry’s Seafood Restaurant in Kemah.

Another $10,000 from the gala profits was presented to the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships Program in the name of this year’s gala honoree, Dr. Charles Elachi.

“I’m delighted that RNASA is making a generous donation on my behalf to the Research Fellowship Program, which enables a new generation of space explorers to work on research projects with seasoned mentors,” said Elachi, who recently retired as director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and is professor emeritus at Caltech.

Special guests included retired Johnson Space Center Director Mike Coats, Lorna Onizuka of the Challenger family, retired Rockwell President Dr. Glynn Lunney and his wife, Marilyn, and former RNASA President Floyd Bennett and his wife, Carolyn.

Some of the others joining them in the celebration were Vivian and Geoff Atwater, Lauran Rochon, Karen and Gary Johnson, Debbie and Tim Kropp, Jordis and Bob Wren, Kippy Caraway, Delia Stephens, Susan and Bill Taylor, Frank Perez and Priscilla Ennis, Jean Walker and Mark Hollis.

Fashion Show Chairman Karen Reed, right, receives congratulations from Bay Area Women’s Association President Jodie Schnabel on another successful event.

Fashion Show Chairman Karen Reed, right, receives congratulations from Bay Area Women’s Association President Jodie Schnabel on another successful event.

Fashions for fall on BOWA’s radar
BAY OAKS Women’s Association members were out in force the other day when BOWA kicked off the season with its popular Fall Fashion Show, featuring the latest styles from Sandy Carney’s The Clotheshorse in League City.

Rest assured, she did not disappoint, sending Angela Bivens, Mary Colombo, Susan Franklin, Tencha Heimlich, Sue Ellen Jennings, Elaine Rister, Jodi Schnabel, Amy Schweers, Dee Wolfe and Cindy Zook down the runway in an array of beautiful outfits.

Much to the delight of Jackie Daley, Sandy Lantz, Ann Brady, Eileen Hult, Yvonne Perrin, Carlene Langford, Glenna Crist,  Norma Ogletree, Ruth Beecher, Joan Wade, Mary Smith, Traci Dvorak, Judie Ferguson, Janice Gornto, Kathy Costanza and Chairman Karen Reed.

They were among dozens who oo’d and aa’d including Pam Ploss, Emmeline Dodd, Carol Bobo, Gloria Wong, Rita Armstrong, Angela Swint, Tencha Heimlich, Priss Fletcher, Ann Dooley, Sue Broughton, Janet Greenwood, Sarita Singh, Sharon Phelps, Diane Konick, Georgia Piwonka and Rebecca Richey.

Clear Lake Chatter: Dee Cover is new Assistance League president

July 1st, 2016

Dee Cover, fourth from left, is the new president of the Assistance League of the Bay Area. Other new officers joining her here for a photo are, from left, Secretary Cathy Wolfe, Vice Presidents Ellen Lancaster and Katy Bastedo and President-elect Ann-Marie Doolin. The treasurer, Barbara Weitenhagen, was absent.

Dee Cover, fourth from left, is the new president of the Assistance League of the Bay Area. Other new officers joining her here for a photo are, from left, Secretary Cathy Wolfe, Vice Presidents Ellen Lancaster and Katy Bastedo and President-elect Ann-Marie Doolin. The treasurer, Barbara Weitenhagen, was absent.

DEE COVER, the new president of the Assistance League of the Bay Area, was installed, along with President-elect Ann-Marie Doolin, when the philanthropic organization held its annual meeting in South Shore Harbour Resort’s Marina Plaza Ballroom.

Others who’ll serve with them include Vice Presidents Katy Bastedo, Cathy Miller-Thornton, Carol Latimer and Ellen Lancaster; Secretary Cathy Wolfe, Treasurer Barbara Weitenhagen, plus Assisteens Coordinator Karen Douglas, Education Chairman Arlis Miles, Marketing Chairman Lisa Holbrook and Strategic Planning Chairman Ann Hammond.

Yvonne Perrin was this year’s winner of the Sue Brady Award and Pam Bungo was named recipient of the Sue Holstein Award. Outgoing President Peggy Clause presented the A.B.C.D. (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty) Awards to Cathy Miller-Thornton, Priscilla Munoosent and Mavis Irvan and the Ada Edwards Laughlin Award to a charter member of 27+ years, Atiya Abouleish, calling her “our unsung heroine.”

In updating the crowd on ALBA’s accomplishments, Peggy noted that the annual gala in April, “A Night in Old Havana,” netted $70,209 to help with their philanthropic activities.”

Clear Lake Area Panhellenic’s officers for the coming year are installed at the May luncheon. Among them are, from right, President Jill Reason, First Vice President Michelle Richardson, Second Vice President Kathryn Vernau and Third Vice President D’Lisa Johnston.

Clear Lake Area Panhellenic’s officers for the coming year are installed at the May luncheon. Among them are, from right, President Jill Reason, First Vice President Michelle Richardson, Second Vice President Kathryn Vernau and Third Vice President D’Lisa Johnston.

C.L. Panhellenic taps Jill Reason
HOSTESS Barbara Dickey’s lovely Bay Oaks home was full to overflowing for Clear Lake Area Panhellenic’s May installation luncheon, featuring the introduction of Jill Reason as the sorority alumnae organization’s new president.

Others installed to serve with her were First Vice President Michelle Richardson, Second Vice President – Scholarship Kathryn Vernau, Third Vice President – Philanthropy D’Lisa Johnston, Secretary Sheryl Williams, Treasurer Lisa O’Brien and Corporation Secretary Becky Hensley.

Another highlight of the luncheon came when Jo Nell Hunter and Michelle Richardson were each presented with Citation Awards for their contributions to both Panhellenic and the community.

Mary Voigt, second from left, is the new president of the Houston Symphony League Bay Area. Among those who will be assisting her in the coming year are, from left, Nominations Chairman Dana Puddy, Corresponding Secretary Alice Steele and Recording Secretary Jane Lackow.

Mary Voigt, second from left, is the new president of the Houston Symphony League Bay Area. Among those who will be assisting her in the coming year are, from left, Nominations Chairman Dana Puddy, Corresponding Secretary Alice Steele and Recording Secretary Jane Lackow.

Symphony League elects Mary Voigt
HOUSTON SYMPHONY League Bay Area members have chosen Mary Voigt to lead them in the coming year. She was installed, along with the other officers, at the league’s annual May installation luncheon in the Lakewood Yacht Club ballroom.

She’ll have no shortage of help with six vice presidents lending a hand — Vickie Buxton, development; Nina McGlashan, education; Karen Akkerman, membership; Carol Wilson, programs; Patience Myers, finance; and Jim Moore, communications.

Other elected officers include Corresponding Secretary Alice Steele, Recording Secretary Jane Lackow and Nominations Chairman Dana Puddy.

Sorority alumnae head re-elected
ALPHA CHI OMEGA alumnae have elected their officers for the coming year, choosing Monica Gibbs to serve another term as president of the local Iota Psi Iota chapter.

Her installation came during their spring luncheon at South Shore Harbour Resort.

Serving with her will be Vice President Michelle Richardson, Treasurer Janel Salmen and Secretaries Brandie Soenning and Carolyn Waidhofer.

Guild re-elects Brandie Corrao
BAY AREA Museum Guild President Brandie Corrao has been reelected to serve another term. Joining her in heading the organization for the coming year are Missy Rorrer and Susan Barton, who will serve as first vice presidents – programs and Second Vice President – Membership Justine Powell.

Others who’ll assist Brandie next year are Treasurer Diana Dornak, Secretary Gayle Nelson, Corresponding Secretary Jill Williams and Parliamentarian Carole Murphy.

They plan another full schedule of events starting with the museum shower in September, and including Just A Pretty Table in October, the Toyland Fantasy Breakfast in December, the Silver Tea in May, plus Music at the Museum and Picnic at the Museum.

They were installed during the guild’s installation luncheon at the South Shore Grill.

Erika Steele, right, is presented the 2016 Athena Leadership Award by Jill Kaiser, chairman of the League City Regional Chamber Board of Directors.

Erika Steele, right, is presented the 2016 Athena Leadership Award by Jill Kaiser, chairman of the League City Regional Chamber Board of Directors.

Erika Steele wins ’16 Athena Award
ERIKA STEELE is the recipient of the 2016 Athena Leadership Award — inspired by the Greek goddess Athena, known for her strength, courage, wisdom and enlightenment –- and presented by the League City Regional Chamber.

Jill Kaiser, chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors, made the presentation.

This year’s winner, a Purdue University alumna, gave up her original plans and changed careers from being an engineer to become executive director of Lighthouse Christian Ministries.

In her post at the non-profit, she has used her technical and organizational skills to implement, build and improve programs for economically challenged and disadvantaged persons in the Bacliff area and beyond. Friends say she is a true collaborator and a seeker of partners in her quest to help those less fortunate in Galveston County. She does so to bring more resources to those the non-profit serves.

She is currently active in several civic organizations such as the League City Regional Chamber, Clear Lake Area Chamber, Clear Creek Community Church, League City Rotary Club and is currently a class member of League City Leadership Program and several others.

It is her responsibility to oversee programs in which young women can earn their high school diploma through a GED program, as well as earn scholarships to community colleges. It is her desire to equip women with the leadership skills and tools to move them out of poverty to self-sufficiency and then on to a level of giving back.

South Shore Harbour Resort getting an elegant facelift

May 1st, 2016

General Manager Roy Green shows off new 55-inch TV.

General Manager Roy Green shows off new 55-inch TV.

By Mary Alys Cherry and Patty Kane

One of the Bay Area’s most majestic attractions – South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center — is getting a makeover.

The landmark hotel overlooking Clear Lake opened in 1988 and was beginning to show signs of age, so General Manager Roy Green and the owners determined it was time for a facelift.

Work on the elegant bi-level penthouse suites is in the final stages, leaving only the lobby and bar and lounge area to face the wrecking ball, with all to be complete sometime in May and ready for the 2017 Super Bowl, which lists it as one of the “Preferred Hotels.”

Penthouse suites wearing elegant new look.

Penthouse suites wearing elegant new look.

The two penthouse hospitality suites, known as the Harbour Suite and the Captains Suite, feature state-of-the-art renovations including new paint and furnishings, king-size beds, extra adjoining bedrooms as needed, custom wall art,  hospitality parlors with wet bars for entertaining, 55-inch TVs, plus bathrooms featuring both a spa and a free standing shower.

Both penthouses and their beautiful views of Clear Lake have become favorites of company CEOs for entertaining up to 50 guests, not to mention the famous people who have stayed there in the past such as Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, Alan Alda and Sen. John Glenn.

The award-winning designers, Flick-Mars of Dallas, used an overall sophisticated nautical theme, bringing the outside in with touches of driftwood-like décor for the multi-million-dollar renovation.

The popular Crystal Ballroom, which has played host to many Bay Area extravaganzas over the years, was completely redone as was the Paradise Reef restaurant, which has new furniture and carpet for the breakfast and brunch crowd to enjoy, along with new menus at each venue.

All rooms getting a facelift.

All rooms getting a facelift.

All the guest rooms also have been remodeled and feature 43-inch TVs along with new carpet and furnishings. Even the tropical swimming pool and outdoor bar, newly named the Oasis, are being remodeled.

And that’s not all. The hotel lobby is getting an all new look, and the lobby bar is being turned into the Lighthouse Bar and Bistro, offering dinner both weekdays and weekends.

As one onlooker put it, “the Jewel of the Bay has been turned into the Diamond of the Bay.” The hotel is owned by the American National Insurance Co. and managed by 1859 Historic Hotels Inc.

Clear Lake Chatter: Party Time in the Bay Area

January 1st, 2016

Hostess Elaine Rister, center, thanks Suzanne Stephens, right, for chairing the Assistance League Holiday Open House at her Bay Oaks home in Clear Lake.

Hostess Elaine Rister, center, thanks Suzanne Stephens, right, for chairing the Assistance League Holiday Open House at her Bay Oaks home in Clear Lake.

IF YOU LIKE to party, the Bay Area is the place to be in December. It starts the first of the month and only lets up when word gets out that shopping days are numbered and that the reindeer are already practicing with Rudolph up at the North Pole.

In between, it’s run, run, run from party to party and catching up on everyone you haven’t seen in awhile. It began early for the Clear Creek Education Foundation, which launched its annual fundraising campaign with a breakfast hosted by Executive Director Kaci Hanson at Lakewood Yacht Club, where H.E.B Regional President Scott McClelland was the keynote speaker. Do I need tell you the crowd was disappointed he did not bring J.J. Watt?

Assistance League members Kathy Panneton, Shirley Lang and Marie Keener, from left, look for a recipe in the League cookbook during Holiday Open House.

Assistance League members Kathy Panneton, Shirley Lang and Marie Keener, from left, look for a recipe in the League cookbook during Holiday Open House.

Next stop was at UH-Clear Lake’s annual holiday reception hosted by President Bill Staples and his wife, Darlene, at Bay Oaks Country Club and then the Johnson Space Center Director’s Holiday Party, hosted by JSC Director Dr. Ellen Ochoa in Building Nine. Later you might have spotted many members of the business community at the holiday receptions hosted by the League City and Clear Lake Chambers and by Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.

And this year we enjoyed beautiful spring-like weather.

THE BAY AREA Museum Guild kicked off probably the busiest week of the month with its annual Holiday Open House, where you could have bumped into Linda and Einar Goerland, Pat and Wendell Wilson, Mary Ann Shallberg, Peggy and Jerry Clause, Anita Fogtman, Cindy and David Kuenneke, Ava and Tony Galt, Sue Broughton, Frank Perez, Gloria Wong, Nina and Robert McGlashan, Jan Larson and Lewis and Joan Wade.

Jan Larsen, Pat Biddle and Ava Galt, from left, were on hand to welcome the crowd to the Bay Area Museum Guild Holiday Open House at the museum in Clear Lake Park.

Jan Larsen, Pat Biddle and Ava Galt, from left, were on hand to welcome the crowd to the Bay Area Museum Guild Holiday Open House at the museum in Clear Lake Park.

Some of the others in the crowd included Justine and Patrick Powell, Buck Rogers, Barbara and Frank Spencer, Rose Merle and Leo Symmank, Kimberly Barker, Shirley and Hubert Brasseaux, Pat Biddle and her husband, Ronald Kahl, and his daughter Diane, Michelle Krueger, Liz DeLeon, Annette Dwyer and Pat Monks, Laraine Eggers, Sarah Foulds, Nancy Poffenberger and Stephen Vega.

ASSISTANCE LEAGUE members were out in force the next day as Elaine Rister hosted the annual Holiday Open House at her Bay Oaks home, with Suzanne Stephens as chairman and Melanie Lovuola as co-chairman.

Among the crowd were President Peggy Clause,  Barbara Weitenhagen, Atiya Abouleish, Cathy Wolfe, Vicki Tallman, Shirley Lang, Christina Deane, Marie Keener, Sandra Sellers, Lisa Holbrook, Sharon Dillard, Beverly Braden and Kathy Panneton.

Hostess Carole Murphy and Houston Symphony League Bay Area President Jim Moore prepare to welcome the crowd to the group’s Holiday Brunch at the Murphy home in Brook Forest.

Hostess Carole Murphy and Houston Symphony League Bay Area President Jim Moore prepare to welcome the crowd to the group’s Holiday Brunch at the Murphy home in Brook Forest.

Looking around, you might also have spotted Yvonne Perrin, Joan Burt, Judy Raiford, Suzie Rogers, Pam Culpepper, Amy Wortham, Ginger Darnell, Cathy Wolfe, Brunella Altemus, Hillary Graham, Mary Vaughn, Marie Keener, Belinda Scheunch, Shirley Lang, Becky Richey, Georgia Piwonka, Melanie Lovuola, Jean Simms, Badiha Nassar, Arlis Miles and Betty Walcott.

CLEAR LAKE Panhellenic hostess Kim Krist joined Panhellenic President Kay Lee Benoit in welcoming the crowd to Kim’s Bay Oaks home in Clear Lake for their annual Holiday Brunch, which before long was overflowing with members, including Judie Ferguson, Dana Brown, Karen McCorkle, Judy Raiford, Kathy Arnold, Peggy Clause, Barbara Dickey and Diane Overman.

Judge Holly Williamson was in the crowd, as were Emmeline Dodd, Ruth Beecher, Monica Gibbs, Jo Nell Hunter, Sheree Frede, Kathy Atkins, Jill Reason, Ellen King, Karen Weber, Sue Ellen Jennings, Kim Barker, Laurie Vaughn, Sue Broughton and dozens more – all enjoying swapping holiday stories with one another or making plans to get together in the new year.

Houston Symphony League Bay Area members Bill and Sherry Straight, Betty Geehan and Bill and Anita Knowles, from left, enjoy the gorgeous weather out on the patio at their annual Holiday Brunch.

Houston Symphony League Bay Area members Bill and Sherry Straight, Betty Geehan and Bill and Anita Knowles, from left, enjoy the gorgeous weather out on the patio at their annual Holiday Brunch.

HOUSTON SYMPHONY League Bay Area President Jim Moore joined hostess Carole Murphy in welcoming members to the annual holiday party at Carole’s Brook Forest home.

And, it wasn’t long before her home was overflowing out onto the beautiful inviting back patio, where all were enjoying the delightful spring-like weather – including Bill and Sherry Straight, Betty Geehan and Bill and Anita Knowles, Joan Wade, Vicki Buxton, Jane Lackow and Glenda Toole.

WHILE ALL THIS was going on, there was much, much more. The wee set was partying at the Museum Guild’s Toyland Fantasy at Bay Oaks Country Club in Clear Lake, at Breakfast With the Sugar Plum Fairy hosted by Bay Area Houston Ballet & Theatre at South Shore Harbour Resort and at the Seabrook Rotary’s annual Breakfast With Santa.

Vicki Buxton, Jane Lackow and Glenda Toole, from left, ready plans for the Houston Symphony League Bay Area’s annual Home Tour while enjoying the group’s Holiday Brunch.

Vicki Buxton, Jane Lackow and Glenda Toole, from left, ready plans for the Houston Symphony League Bay Area’s annual Home Tour while enjoying the group’s Holiday Brunch.

Moms also were getting in a lot of early shopping at the Bay Area Turning Point Holiday Market over at NASA’s Gilruth Center, the Bay Oaks Women’s Association Holiday Market at the country club, the Lakewood Yacht Club Ladies Association Feliz Navidad holiday market at the yacht club, the Velvet Stocking at the Webster Civic Center and the various markets hosted by area churches.

And, Interfaith Caring Ministries, celebrating its 30th anniversary, held its biggest fundraiser of the year – the 22nd annual Festival of Trees Gala and Big Band Swing Night at South Shore Harbour Resort with dinner, several guest speakers, a wine pull and live and silent auctions.

Closing out a busy year, many were planning New Year’s Eve parties. Big ones include those at Lakewood and Houston Yacht Clubs and Bay Oaks Country Club for members and their guests. South Shore Harbour Resort is also planning a big New Year’s Eve Wine Dinner with the public invited.

Then we’ll all kick back for a few days and catch our breath.