10 Aug Interfaith Announces 2019 Hometown Heroes
THE WOODLANDS, TX – Interfaith is excited to announce the selection of the 2019 Hometown Heroes. The tradition of Hometown Heroes began in 1999, in celebration of The Woodlands 25th Anniversary. This year five individuals, one business, and one nonprofit organization have been named to the list of distinguished Hometown Heroes.
2019’s Hometown Heroes are Jerissa Belsha, MD, Mary-Lou E. Fitch, Stephen C. Head, PhD., Alex Sutton, Josh Urban, Leadership Montgomery County, and Market Street The Woodlands. These honorees will be recognized for their many contributions to the community at The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence Gala, which benefits the many community programs of Interfaith of The Woodlands. The theme this year is “20 Years of Heroes” commemorating the nearly 140 Heroes that have been awarded since the program’s inception.
Celebration of Excellence Gala will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. In honor of their long-standing and generous support of the community, Interfaith has selected Waste Connections, Inc. as the Honorary Event Chair to receive special recognition during this season of celebration. The gala is being chaired by long-time supporter DeAnn Guidry, who was raised in the area and lives in The Woodlands with her husband and three children. In addition to honoring the Hometown Heroes, the event includes dinner, live and silent auctions items and a lively after-party.
Each year, the community nominates individuals and corporations to be considered for the coveted Hometown Hero honor. Heroes are chosen by a selection committee composed of Hometown Heroes alumni, which includes over 130 local residents and 15 area businesses that have contributed to the educational, civic, cultural, and spiritual fabric of the community.
In response to the overwhelming number of nonprofit organizations nominated in 2017, the selection committee decided to create a new nonprofit category highlighting philanthropic efforts in the community.
“Honoring Hometown Heroes is a treasured tradition that celebrates the amazing individuals, businesses and organizations that continue to enrich our community with numerous contributions. Each honoree’s incredible generosity and dedication have made a lasting impact that will inspire generations to come,” shared Missy Herndon, President & CEO of Interfaith of The Woodlands.
Criteria for the selection of the Hometown Heroes includes but is not limited to the following: serving as a positive role model, having a history of volunteerism, sacrificing personal gain to achieve noble goals, exhibiting leadership and courage and embodying the values of The Woodlands community. The Woodlands prides itself on having a dedication to public service and recognizing the importance of family, education, arts, culture, and environmental consciousness.
The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence, honoring Hometown Heroes, is the largest annual fundraiser for Interfaith of The Woodlands. The event is sponsored by local businesses and organizations. For sponsorship or underwriting opportunities, contact Carolyn Donovan, Interfaith’s Director of Development, at [email protected] or call 832-615-8225. Sponsorships and individual tickets are available.
In 2017, The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence Gala Committee debuted its Hometown Heroes Giving Circle, which allows individuals and businesses to make donations in honor of specific Hometown Heroes, as a way to pay tribute to their incredible commitments to serving the community. Donations to the Hometown Heroes Giving Circle will be directed to Interfaith of The Woodlands to help individuals and families in crisis through financial assistance for rent, mortgage, utilities, gasoline, prescription drug assistance, emergency shelter, food, clothing, senior programs, counseling, job training and child care. Interfaith of The Woodlands exists to build a more loving and caring community through service. To honor a hero, go to hometownheroesgala.org or call 832-615-8225.
THIS YEAR’S HOMETOWN HEROES
Jerissa Belsha, MD
Dr. Jerissa Belsha is a native Texan, born in Lockhart, Texas to a loving family where her parents worked as a school teacher and principal for the local elementary school. After graduating high school as valedictorian, she went on to attend Texas A&M University, graduating first in her class with a Biomedical Science degree. She completed her medical degree and pediatric residency at the University of Texas at Houston, where she was awarded Intern of the Year and served as Chief Resident. During her medical training, she was able to volunteer with World Medical Missions in Papua New Guinea, serve at HIV clinics in Botswana and Romania and gain valuable experience through a medical internship in Beijing, China.
After residency, Dr. Belsha joined a pediatric hospitalist group caring for newborns and sick children in north Houston hospitals. In 2015, she joined the local practice called Agape Physicians and has been caring for the children of The Woodlands community ever since.
Dr. Belsha has been described by her friends as a “quiet leader.” Her reach among charitable causes is considerable throughout the greater Houston area. Each year, she coordinates a group of 20 women to put together over 200 stockings for Houston’s Little Footprints program. To benefit Love Fosters Hope, Jerissa helps organize a family field day to benefit foster children within the organization and along with her husband, mentored two teenagers, helping to fulfill a need in their lives for parental figures. She is an active volunteer for many area charities including Interfaith, The Will Herndon Research Fund, Love Fosters Hope, Giving Goes Glam, Free the Captives, Montgomery County Food Bank, and A Dress for Barbara.
Outside of The Woodlands, Jerissa has a passion to help others and served as a physician on numerous medical mission trips to Honduras and Costa Rica through The Woodlands United Methodist Church. In her most recent mission trip this past spring, she encouraged several friends to join her where they were able to serve over 700 patients in the course of three days. Her love of others is evident in all she does within her medical practice, throughout the community and most importantly with her family; husband, Thomas and their two children, Emma and Logan. Residents of The Woodlands since 2010, The Belsha Family embodies the spirit of giving.
Mary-Lou E. Fitch
Mary-Lou Fitch arrived in The Woodlands in 1989 and hasn’t stopped working in support of the community ever since. She tirelessly gives of herself to many charitable organizations and projects, all the while managing a household of four very active daughters. In the years since, those young girls have gone forward to build lives and careers of their own, giving Fitch many reasons to travel to visit them and her six grandchildren. Even so, her heart for the community is stronger than ever. She is still a very active volunteer for many groups.
“Mary-Lou Fitch has proven herself time and again to have the biggest heart for our area youth,” said John Bracken, former Executive Director for Montgomery County Youth Services. “She has served as a former Board Member, supports our Holiday Project at Christmas, is a member of our Advancement Committee, Ladies Night Out and The Woodlands Golf Classic and Gala Committees. She fixes dinner for our Bridgeway Shelter kids while attending Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch on Wednesday evenings and hosts multiple events at her home throughout the year for various MCYS functions.”
Fitch was instrumental in forming many organizations within The Woodlands including Class Act…