Houston Woman Wire

Disabilities Empowerment Fair

Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Research on Women with Disabilities and the Houston Center for Independent Living will host the first annual Women with Disabilities Empowerment Fair on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 2 p.m. at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray.

Events include empowerment workshops, networking opportunities, art showcases from disabled women artists and exhibits from community organizations, including the Houston Area Women’s Center, Planned Parenthood and the American Cancer Society.

"We are not alone -- there are hundreds of thousands of women with disabilities living in the Houston area and we can draw on each other's strengths. By coming together we will create a tidal wave of positive energy that will change lives,” said Dr. Margaret Nosek, executive director for the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities and professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at BCM.

A dinner following the fair will include performances by Houston-area performers with disabilities. For more information or to register for the event, call 832-419-8548.

Garden City Boys and Girls Club

Area Commander Major Chris Flanagan and The Salvation Army Greater Houston Advisory Board members were among those who attended the official groundbreaking ceremony today for the new Garden City Boys & Girls Club.

“This is such a joyous occasion for so many reasons. Even though we’ve never left Acres Home, despite our old building being completely destroyed, the message we are sending today to the residents of Acres Homes, and so many other communities as well, is that The Salvation Army never gives up. Not on buildings, not on communities, not on people,” said Major Flanagan. “We’re coming back stronger than ever, and when we do, we will continue being a beacon of hope for all those who need us.”

In September of 2008, the Garden City Apartment complex was damaged so extensively by Hurricane Ike – including the building where The Salvation Army was operating its Garden City Boys & Girls Club from – that it forced the Army to permanently cease its Club operations at that location.

Instead, the 121-year-old, non-profit organization, in collaboration with the Aldine Independent School District, has been utilizing Caraway Intermediate School to provide after-school programs for local youth. These include tutoring, drug and alcohol prevention, computer training and other recreational activities, on a smaller scale, due to the lack of a permanent building. The new facility, however, will significantly increase the volume of services The Salvation Army can provide in Acres Home. Daily capacity for Boys & Girls Club members alone will increase from 80 young people a day to 300.

Scheduled for a summer of 2011 completion, this new facility will continue the Army’s tradition of over 40 years of service in the Acres Home community.

The $3.7 million Garden City investment is one of six major capital improvement projects scheduled to take place in the local region over the course of the next several years as part of The Salvation Army’s overall $21.6 million Giving for Living Capital Campaign initiative. The Capital Campaign concentrates on building initiatives in areas with the most need and also includes the construction of a new International Corps Community Center in southwest Houston, the new construction of a larger Salvation Army Emergency Shelter in Conroe, the renovation and expansion of Sally’s House, the concentration of social services, disaster relief operations, Christmas assistance in one central location and improvements to Houston’s Adult Rehabilitation Center.

NEWS Court upholds billboard ordinance

Mayor Annise Parker announced today that after more than three years of intense and continuous litigation the 59 illegal billboards located in the City’s extraterritorial jurisdiction owned by a scofflaw company called RTM Media will finally be coming down. The litigation included a challenge to the legality of the City’s Sign Ordinance, which was upheld at each stage of the litigation, finally culminating in a ruling favorable to the City of Houston from the United States Supreme Court.

Due in part to the City's success in previous court battles, the erection of new billboards has been banned in Houston for years.

"This company thumbed its nose at that prohibition and targeted the neighborhoods just outside our city limits," said Mayor Parker. "This is another major victory in the long-running battle to reduce visual blight. Sign control, an attractive urban streetscape and green space equal a formula designed not only to insure the quality of life for Houstonians but a recipe for economic success."

Over the next 12 months, the signs will be removed as part of an order entered by the U.S.District Court through which the assets and affairs of the company have been managed since the company was placed into receivership in April of 2009. The removal will be at no cost to the City of Houston, and could cost the receivership estate upwards of $15,000 per sign, a cost that could have in the worst case scenario been incurred by the City to remove the illegal signs. The order also provides for a cash payment to the City of Houston in the amount of $50,000 to defer a portion of the City’s other costs incurred in the process.

The law firm of Smyser Kaplan & Veselka served as the City’s special legal counsel.

Power couple to be honored

The newest Champions of Literacy – literary power couple Dayna Steele and Charles Justiz – will be honored by Literacy Advance of Houston on Thursday, Nov. 11. The evening event will take place at The Downtown Club at Houston Center, 1100 Caroline, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Michael Garfield, the “High-Tech Texan,” will serve as master of ceremonies.

Honorary Chairs for the event are Kristi and John Schiller, good friends of Steele, who is an author, business entrepreneur and Houston rock radio diva, as well as her husband, who is a pilot, professor, PhD and the author of the new sci-fi thriller Specific Impulse.

Part of the evening’s festivities will include the event’s annual big draw, “What’s Your Favorite Book?” Silent Auction. Included among the responses to Dayna and Charlie’s request were those from David Crosby of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash (and later “and Young”); Elayne Boosler, comedian; Paul Begala, former White House advisor to President Bill Clinton; and Billy Mumy, child actor and longtime friend. Astronauts Walt Cunningham and Bonnie Dunbar and Shuttle Commander Tom Henricks also offered up their favorite reads.

All proceeds from the evening benefit Literacy Advance and its free English literacy classes offered to the community. Tickets are available by calling 713-266-8777 or go to www.literacyadvance.org.

Established in 1964, Literacy Advance of Houston is a 501(c)(3) organization. Its mission is transform lives and communities through the doorway of literacy.

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