The Woodlands Lifestyles & Homes May 2009
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Young Texas Artists winners announced. Sixty talented musicians traveled to Conroe to vie for cash prizes and performance opportunities in the 25th Anniversary of the Young Texas Artists Music Competition, and after her stellar performance of Daniel Cat án’s Florencia en el Amazonas, soprano Desirée Alejandro won first place in the Voice Division, and captured the Entergy Grand Prize plus an invitation to perform with the Montgomery County Choral Society.
Alejandro, 26, will complete her master’s degree in vocal performance at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music in May, and this summer, she will participate in the James Collier Apprentice Artist Program with the Des Moine Metro Opera. Renee Powers, with Entergy Texas, made the grand-prize presentation.
In what has become a tradition in the competition, the grand-prize winner also took home a Texas flag that flew over the capitol in Austin on March 2, Texas Independence Day.
Baritone Christian Bester was first runner-up in the Voice Division, and soprano Leslie Marks was the second runner-up.
The first-place winner in the Piano Division was Marko Pavlovic, and runner-up was Andrew Staupe. Saxophonist Daniel Loudenback won first place in the Winds, Brass, Percussion, Harp and Guitar Division. Violinist Natalie Lin won first place in the Strings Division, with cellist Meredith McCook in second place. The Audience Choice Award went to Lin for her performance of Tchaikowsky ’s violin concerto in D major. 
Emelyne Bingham, artistic director, assembled an impressive panel of judges  including Daniel Cataneo, pianist and musicianship coach with The Juilliard School; Miyoko Lotto, on the piano faculty of Manhattan School of Music; Andreas Melinat, director of artistic administration at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Lucie Robert, violin professor at Manhattan School of Music and Mannes College; and Dan Stolper, instructor of oboe at the Interlochen Arts Academy and visiting professor at Indiana University.
(L-R) Renee Powers, customer service manager for Entergy Texas, congratulates soprano Desir ée Alejandro, Entergy grand prize winner, in the 25th Anniversary of the Young Texas Artists Music Competition.
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Assistance League Assists Children in Women’s Shelter. Members of the Assistance League of Montgomery County donated Walmart and Payless Shoe vouchers totaling $600 for children residing in the shelter.
“Every day is the first day back to school for our children residing in shelter,” said Donna Wick, outreach and communications for the Women’s Center. “Every day we must make sure every child has clothes, shoes and all their school supply needs to enroll in a new school and begin their studies once again. ”
Unlike many outreach programs that interface with school counselors for those in need of school supplies, children residing at the Women ’s Center’s emergency shelter are off the radar. These families cross state lines and other counties, so no one knows to expect them as a family in need of assistance.
“We may have several school-aged children come into shelter any given night, stay for a few days or weeks and then relocate, ” Wick said. “When they leave, another family comes in, and again we supply them with clothes, shoes and school supplies. We couldn ’t get these children back to school without the support of those like the Assistance League. ”
Members of the Assistance League of Montgomery County stand with Sarah Raleigh (center), executive director for the Montgomery County Women ’s Center, after presenting the center with vouchers for children residing in shelter for their back-to-school needs.
MCYS Street Outreach Services Open House For New Willis Facility. Montgomery County Youth Services  held an open house to showcase their new Street Outreach Services offices located in the North Montgomery County Community Center, in Willis, under supervision of Commissioner Mike Meador.
The new facility, which opened in January, is where Laurie Oliver, MCYS director of street outreach and shelter services, Margie Taylor, street outreach coordinator, and Josh Orozco, case manager, are currently housed. SOS staff works to keep youth 10 to 21 years off the streets, move to a safe and stable environment, get back on track in school, reach their goals, and to look forward to a brighter future.
“We’ll do just about anything that enables kids to stay in school and be successful,” said Orozco. “Whether they need food, clothing, housing, medical or dental attention, educational assistance, transportation or counseling, we do it all. We ’ll make sure they’re taken care of and let them know we’re here for them.”
The SOS facility is shared with other not-for-profit organizations of Montgomery County. Among the amenities of the new facility are a Youth Resource Center, a full-size kitchen, large conference rooms and an outdoor basketball court.
For more information about Montgomery County Youth Services, call 936-756-8682 or visit
 MCYS SOS leaders, staff and one youth pose for a photo outside the new facility.
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Interfaith Receives Donation from Suncoast. Suncoast A/C, Heating & Appliance Service donated over $900 to Interfaith of The Woodlands and made a financial commitment for the business to give to the organization monthly.
Charles Black, owner and manager of Suncoast, came up with the idea of taking a portion of the total payment of each job and donating it to Interfaith of The Woodlands to help fund the food pantry.
“This is a fun and easy way for us to give back,” said Black. “My hope is that this type of giving will get our customers off on the right track and create a pattern of charitable giving. ”
“We are honored that Suncoast A/C, Heating & Appliance Services selected Interfaith of The Woodlands as its recipient,” said Dr. Ann Snyder, president and CEO of Interfaith of The Woodlands. “Their generosity and commitment is truly appreciated and will impact many lives.”
For more information, contact Interfaith of The Woodlands at 281-367-1230.
Charles Black, owner and manager of Suncoast A/C, Heating & Appliance Service, donated over $900 to Interfaith of The Woodlands. Pictured are Black (far right) and Suncoast representatives with Mary Jo O ’Neal of Interfaith of The Woodlands.
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H.O.P.E. meets at Conroe Library. Montgomery County United Way’s Hispanic Outreach Professional Enrichment group met at the Conroe Library to review the area of immigration process from a legal perspective with Houston attorney Tomas Banos.  
Banos provided social services professionals with an informative overview of immigration issues in the Hispanic community. Julie Martineau, MCUW president, also presented the Community Priorities Report to the group and how it will guide resource building in Montgomery County.  
Tomas Banos and Julie Martineau
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