Thursday, October 22, 2015

Good Neighbor Program Celebrates First Decade

It was one decade ago when a small group of 55 individuals, nonprofit groups and businesses met for Spring Branch ISD’s inaugural Good Neighbor Program dinner event. Funny how a decade changes everything, but in other ways nothing at all.

On Oct. 8, this highly successful partnership recognition program celebrated its 10th anniversary in a colorful, sparkling-lights dinner program for approximately 400 volunteers and guests held at the Omni Houston Hotel Westside.

The celebration’s theme and ballroom’s table and stage decorations came from Dr. Seuss’s fantasy world: “Imagine! Oh, The Places we’ll go . . .!” Small dinners, big dinners, some important things with the Good Neighbor program never change or go out of style.

“Our vision was then, and remains today, for the Spring Branch ISD community to be the best place in Houston to live, work, play, raise a family and educate kids,” SBISD Community Relations Officer Linda Buchman said during special remarks.

Honored during this year’s dazzling dinner program were 248 Good Neighbors reflecting local individuals, groups, campuses or organizations that perform three or more activities to support SBISD, an individual campus, or the Spring Branch Education Foundation (SBEF).

In honor of the 10-year anniversary, representatives from 24 separate organizations earned a special recognition award for remaining a yearly Good Neighbor for a full decade. (See list of recognized organizations below)

View 2015 Good Neighbor video >>

In other major event highlights, Dr. Scott R. Muri, SBISD’s new superintendent, presented a captivating, personal message linking the district’s key core values – Every Child, Collective Greatness, Collaborative Spirit, Limitless Curiosity and Moral Compass – to the volunteers involved in student and school support efforts across the district.

“When you open your doors,” he said in a special remarks, “you inspire our students and encourage the Limitless Curiosity that will carry them to post-secondary success and beyond.”

“When you give your time to mentor our students, you help shape and nurture their Moral Compass that will guide them to be contributing citizens in our society,” Dr. Muri added. “When your provide resources or opportunities to support our teachers and leaders, you nurture a Collaborative Spirit across our community and reinforce the understanding that together, we are better.”

Superintendent Muri ended his remarks by introducing, via Skype, recent SBISD graduate and Texas A&M University student Michael Jordan. He talked about his experiences as a teen and SBISD student with his adult mentor, Bruce Blaussen.

A student at Spring Woods Middle, Jordan faced several challenges, then attended Academy of Choice for several years before finally graduating from Northbrook High School with a full scholarship to Texas A&M.

“I’m here because of my mentor, Bruce Blaussen,” Jordan said. “I probably would not be at Texas A&M without him.” He thanked the gathered Good Neighbors “for taking time out of your busy schedule to spend some time with a kid.”

“You never know what kind of impact you will have,” the business major told the gathering. He spoke about his future, saying, “I’m going to be a mentor. You can’t be blessed like me, and not give it back.”

The ballroom greeted the grad’s remarks warmly. “You’re being applauded by 400 people, Michael,” Dr. Muri told him over the Skype screen connection.

During the past decade, the Good Neighbor program has spurred growth in district volunteer ranks form 8,500 to 10,000 adults. The SpringBoard Mentor program has doubled and serves nearly 600 kids yearly on 30 campuses today.

The Collegiate Challenge program has grown from about 30 seniors on one high school campus to 175 seniors across all campuses. Those students won more than $4 million in scholarships last year, too.

In other areas, to name just a few, over the past decade Good Neighbor programs have helped the district to provide 45,000 school uniforms to students in need, passed out 25,000 dictionaries to third-graders, and tallied more than 35,000 hours of sustained volunteer reading with children.

Along the way, the Good Neighbor program was named as a top Innovative Partnership Program in the state, and also earned the highest honors possible from both the Texas and National school public relations associations.

“The stats are impressive,” Community Relations Officer Buchman said, “but the thousands of lives you have changed as you have modeled every core value called out in the Spring Branch Way is really what this all about – Your focus on Every Child and the Collective Greatness of the most amazing community anywhere on earth.”

Other highlights of the 10-year-old program delighted guests during the evening at the Omni Hotel. Cornerstone Academy students performed a show tune from Seussical, Jr., “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!” to begin the program celebration.

Stratford High School’s Singers performed the specially written song, “Seasons of Love – Good Neighbor” later in the evening, and a Spring Branch Middle School student, Decory Brown, dazzled all with his rendition of John Lennon’s emotional anthem, “Imagine.”

Fifth-grader Jean Hoang, a student in SBISD’s School for Highly Gifted Students at Valley Oaks Elementary, wowed the crowd with an enthusiastic and sustained performance as the evening’s opening emcee. Hoang’s ultimate goal is to become President of the United States, and she reminded guests to expect a reminder to vote for her – exactly 28 years from today.

In addition to the Board of Trustees and Senior Staff, special guests included:
  • Cynthia Dannenbrink, representing U.S. Rep. John Culbertson, District 7
  • Lois Stromberg, representing Texas State Rep. Dwayne Bohac, District 138
  • Houston City Council Member Brenda Stardig, District A
  • Harris County Judge Michael Landrum, 113th Civil Court
  • Houston Community College Northwest President Zachary Hodges, Ed.D.
  • Former SBISD Trustees Mary Grace Landrum and Mike Falick
The Good Neighbor program was established one decade ago by Community Relations Officer Linda Buchman and former Coordinator for Partnerships and Volunteers Sue Loudis.

The program today is coordinated by Abby Walker, who is coordinator for strategic partnerships and volunteer programs. The annual recognition dinner program is supported by the Community Relations and Communications teams.

View 2015 Good Neighbor book >>

Founding organizations and representatives honored for a decade of support:

AMEC Foster Wheeler
Apache Corporation
Assistance League of Houston
Blue Willow Bookshop
CenterPoint Energy
Chapelwood United Methodist Church
Christ Memorial Lutheran Church
Daniel Measurement and Control
John and Brenda Duncan YMCA
First Community Credit Union
Harris County Precinct 3
Houston Community College
Houston Rockets
Houston West Chamber of Commerce
Kirksey Architecture
Klotz Associates, Inc.
Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church
Memorial Drive United Methodist Church
Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center
Omni Houston Hotel Westside
Spring Branch Family Development Center
Wells Fargo & Company
Stream Realty Partners

1 comment :

  1. It was a beautiful event! I loved it!
    I was so impressed with the performance of Jean Hong, the young 5th grader and opening Emcee. Congratulations to everybody who contributed to make this 10th year Good Neighbor celebration so special!


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