Announcing Hometown Heroes


THE WOODLANDS, Texas — (August 8, 2018) Five individuals, one business and one nonprofit organization have been selected as the 2018 Hometown Heroes by Interfaith of The Woodlands, a nonprofit social service agency providing myriad programs and services to meet the needs of The Woodlands and the surrounding area.

2018’s Hometown Heroes are Robert Heineman, Steve Leakey, Dr. Joel Reed, Patti Rivela, Mrs. Brynn Ballard Huntsman and Mr. Peter Huntsman, Entergy Texas, Inc. and The Junior League of The Woodlands. These honorees will be recognized for their many contributions to the community at The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence Gala, which benefits Interfaith. The theme this year is “45 Years of Caring,” which marks the 45th anniversary of Interfaith of The Woodlands.

This special Hometown Heroes gala will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 6, 2018 at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. In celebration of serving in The Woodlands community for 45 years, Interfaith selected Dr. Ann Snyder and Mr. Jerry Snyder as Honorary Chairs for the 2018 event. The gala will be co-chaired by Shirelle Chimenti and Elvira Graham, and in addition to honoring the Hometown Heroes, it will include dinner, live and silent auctions items and a one-of-a-kind, Moroccan-themed after-party. All proceeds benefit Interfaith of The Woodlands.

The 2018 Hometown Heroes were chosen by a selection committee composed of Hometown Heroes alumni, which includes over 100 local residents and 14 area businesses that have contributed to the educational, civic, cultural and spiritual fabric of the community.

This annual tradition of honoring Hometown Heroes began in 1999 as part of The Woodlands 25th Anniversary Celebration and has continued ever since. 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 or call 832-615-8225.

Individual tickets will go on sale Wednesday, August 1, 2018.


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 or call 832-615-8225.


Robert Heineman

With a degree in architecture from Rice University, Robert Heineman began on The Woodlands’ project as an intern for The Mitchell Energy and Development Company. Building a community from scratch is no small feat. The early years were fraught with uncertainty and fiscal challenges, but Robert was steadfast in his commitment to Mitchell’s dream, and within ten years he had assumed the position of Vice President of Planning and Design, a position he holds to this day, 45 years later. Along the way, Heineman earned a master’s degree in urban planning from Harvard University. His infamous notecard sketch of our now vibrant Woodlands Waterway, and his forethought and attention to detail, has made The Woodlands the community it is today.

In 2009, Heineman was granted fellowship by the American Institute of Architects. In 2010, Heineman received the prestigious George Mitchell Award for “helping guide the vision for The Woodlands and lay[ing] the groundwork for the Town Center and development of The Woodlands Waterways.” The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce recognized Heineman as Volunteer of the Year in 1993 and Citizen of the Year in 2014.

In addition to his day job, Robert freely gives of his time through the mobility committee of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, the bench committee of The Woodlands Art Council and several owners’ association boards.

Steve Leakey

About twenty years ago, Steve Leakey and his wife, Ann, left Dallas to retire in The Woodlands, Texas, a then up-and-coming small town. As a former international technology sales executive, Steve was never one to stay idle for long. He jumped with both feet into his new hometown village association, leading them through many years of change. He calmly guided his neighbors through community issues like expansion and construction, while the governance structure of The Woodlands transitioned from the Community Association to the Township. All the while, he spearheaded the scholarship program for Lone Star College, mentoring numerous students over the years.

Also close to his heart is the Voter Awareness Council, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to encourage and equip citizens to vote. From working with high school students to organizing and encouraging unbiased candidate forums, Steve has earned respect from both sides of the aisle by making the voting experience a positive one. He works hard to promote civility and integrity among the candidates.

Steve is also active in The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, particularly in the Business Advocacy Council and the Transportation Committees, lending his voice, calm demeanor and mutual respect to various community discussions.

Recently, Steve has taken on the volunteer opportunity of a lifetime, helping his daughter and her business partners launch the Texas Autism Academy. This school gives options to families with students not thriving in their current academic environment and customizes educational and developmental learning opportunities.

Dr. Joel Reed

After returning from serving as a physician in the Korean War, Dr. Joel Reed and his wife, Jeanne, settled in Houston, where he established a private medical practice in the Texas Medical Center, focusing on internal medicine and pulmonary disease. During this time, Dr. Reed served as president of the Harris County Medical Society, where he worked to create a plan that brought health care to patients who could not otherwise afford it. He rallied 100 physicians, 300 pharmacies and three area hospitals to join a coalition to help those in need of care. The effort received national attention, culminating in an invitation from then President Ronald Regan, where Dr. Reed was honored at a White House reception.

Dr. Reed moved to The Woodlands upon retirement at the age of 70, where he quickly assumed a central role with the Interfaith Community Clinic. From assisting with the first fundraising efforts to acquire a building, to seeing patients on a regular basis, Dr. Reed is the lifeblood of the Clinic. Just a few years ago, on his 90th birthday, United States Congressman Kevin Brady awarded Dr. Reed a commendation for his life’s work.

When his wife, Jeanne, passed in 2008, Dr. Reed established a foundation in her name that regularly awards grants to local, deserving charities.

Patti Rivela

A resident of The Woodlands for 20 years, Patti Rivela is very active in Montgomery County Youth Services’ Yes to Youth program, having served on its board for six years, and as chairs of their gala and several Ladies Night Out events. As a frequent volunteer for their preteen and teen emergency shelter, Patti helps to normalize the lives of young people by creating a welcoming and loving environment—decorating their rooms, making dinners, providing art lessons—but more importantly she gives of her time, listening and talking with the shelter children with an open heart.

In addition to Yes to Youth, Patti has been a 12-year volunteer with the Montgomery County Women’s Center as an artist, creating framed portraits of shelter residents and their children. Additionally, she has served as the event chair for Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch’s Denim and Diamonds gala, Memorial Hermann’s In the Pink luncheon and New Danville’s Tea on the Lawn.

Before moving to The Woodlands, Patti taught art classes to inner-city youth in Houston, where she was named the 1997 Outstanding Young Educator.

Mr. Peter Huntsman and Mrs. Brynn Ballard Huntsman

Brynn and Peter Huntsman came to The Woodlands nearly 20 years ago, carrying with them a family legacy of service first. Not only did they choose to raise their eight children here, but they chose to make The Woodlands home to their Huntsman Corporate Headquarters. Since joining our community, both their family and their corporate entity have spurred on momentous community activity through their generous contributions of time and financial resources. Peter and Brynn are involved in a number of US and international based humanitarian projects through Huntsman Corporation, the Huntsman Cancer Foundation as well as the Huntsman Family Foundation, established by Peter’s parents, Jon and Karen Huntsman.

Locally, Peer and Brynn dedicate time for work on non-profit organizational Boards including Interfaith of The Woodlands, Interfaith Child Development Center and The Montgomery County Women’s Center; chairing numerous events and fundraising endeavors in addition to supporting organizations globally. Additionally, they recently completed a three-year term as Ward Bishop for Young Adults through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and were driving forces of encouraging their young adults to serve their community. During Hurricane Harvey, The Huntsmans created a record breaking matching-fund campaign to assist our affected neighbors in need. Most recently, they have expanded their support to helping the community development and revitalization of the historical cemetery in the Tamina Community.

Entergy Texas, Inc.

Entergy Texas, Inc. believes that no one should have to choose between food or medicine and electricity, even though many elderly and disabled individuals face these choices every day. Through Entergy’s The Power to Care program, funds are raised through donations and matched, up to $500,000 annually, by shareholder contributions. Through grants to local nonprofit agencies, seniors and disabled individuals in crisis receive emergency bill payment assistance. 100% of each contribution is passed along to those in need. In 2016 alone, this program raised $443,037, giving more than 2,000 individuals and families the help they needed.

Under the direction of CEO Sallie Rainer, Entergy Texas, Inc. is deeply entrenched in The Woodlands community. Each quarter, they host a social services networking group where those who serve low-income and high-need populations come together to share ideas and resources. They also coordinate an annual Poverty Simulation event to educate the community on the plight of those living under less-than-ideal conditions. Over the last 18 years, more than 22,000 fans have been distributed in the summer months for those living without air conditioning.

Entergy’s employees donate more than 8,000 volunteer hours to 28 organized events; they participate in Habitat for Humanity (most recently building a home in Beaumont with custom hurricane clips inside the house and along the siding and shingles) and volunteer with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Crisis Assistance Center, Mission New Caney and Covenant for Christ. They also coordinate Hug-a-Tree and Kiss-a-Fish events to raise environmental awareness. The company is the proud recipient of numerous humanitarian awards.

Junior League of The Woodlands, Inc.

Junior League of The Woodlands, Inc. is an organization of women who are committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. The organization’s purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.

Originally founded on April 14, 1983 as Junior Service League of North Houston, Junior League of North Harris and South Montgomery Counties, Inc. was admitted to the Association of Junior Leagues International on February 25, 1990.

The league’s members have accrued more than 31,000 volunteer hours per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these volunteer hours have an annual value to the community of more than $500,000.

Over more than 25 years, Junior League of The Woodlands has contributed over six million dollars in direct financial support and volunteer time to various nonprofit and community organizations within The Woodlands. The league currently has eight community programs and two fundraisers.


To learn more, please go to
Waste Connections Check

Waste Connections Donates Proceeds from Golf Classic for Kids


THE WOODLANDS, TX (Thursday, July 26, 2018) — Interfaith of The Woodlands recently received a generous donation from Waste Connections, Inc., as a beneficiary of their 10th annual Golf Classic for Kids on March 25 and 26 at Golf Trails of The Woodlands. Interfaith received $110,000 that will go toward helping our neighbors in need throughout South Montgomery County.

Interfaith of The Woodlands was honored to be among the 10 charities that benefited from the event, which raised a record-breaking one million dollars. Festivities began the evening before the tournament with a reception featuring improvisational speed painter Dan Dunn. The following morning, players and guests arrived to a picture-perfect day. Special guests Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Josh Beckett and Bronson Burgon were on hand to visit with attendees. Throughout the 18 holes of golf, players were treated to a variety of contests and refreshments on the course. Even non-golfers were able to get in on the fun with a VIP Experience that included Erin Ness, professional poker player.

Waste Connections has raised well over three million dollars for charities since this event came to The Woodlands in 2012. “It’s donations like these that keep the doors of Interfaith open,” said Missy Herndon, Interfaith’s President and CEO. “We are grateful for the continued support from Waste Connections that allows us to continue our mission of building a more loving and caring community through service.”

Waste Connections, Inc. is an integrated solid waste services company that provides waste collection, transfer, disposal and recycling services in mostly exclusive and secondary markets. Waste Connections serves more than two million residential, commercial, industrial, and exploration and production customers from a network of operations in 31 states. The company also provides intermodal services for the movement of cargo and solid waste containers in the Pacific Northwest. Waste Connections, Inc. was founded in September 1997 and is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas.

Interfaith of The Woodlands is a nonprofit social service agency providing numerous programs and services to meet the needs of The Woodlands and the surrounding area. Interfaith provides basic needs assistance and special programs like school supplies assistance and holiday gifts to those experiencing a financial crisis, no matter their socioeconomic level, and supportive service through care and wellness programs to senior adults 62 and over. For more information on Interfaith’s programs and services or to become a volunteer, please visit or call 281-367-1230.

Waste Connections Check

(l-r) Courtney West (Manager of Development at IFTW), Missy Herndon (President and CEO of IFTW), Michelle Little (Waste Connections’ Vice President of Accounting and Golf Tournament Chair), and Carolyn Donovan (Director of Development at IFTW) standing with the $110,000 from Waste Connections, Inc.

Rob Johnson, Missy Herndon, Dr. Ann and Jerry Snyder

Announcing the Celebration of Excellence Gala Chairs


THE WOODLANDS, TX ( Monday, July 16, 2018 ) – The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence gala, generously presented by Woodforest National Bank, will honor Hometown Heroes and celebrate Interfaith’s 45 Year Anniversary. The event will take place on Saturday, October 6 at 6 p.m. at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center.

In celebration of 45 years of caring in The Woodlands community, Interfaith selected Mr. Jerry and Dr. Ann Snyder as Honorary Chairs for the 2018 event. The Snyders were chosen on this very special anniversary because of their more than three decades of service to The Woodlands community. Their family values embody the generosity and collaborative spirit The Woodlands was built upon. The Snyders have called The Woodlands home for over 30 years, raising their children in our great community and now their grandchildren as well.

“We are honored that Dr. Ann and Jerry Snyder have agreed to serve as the Honorary Co-Chairs for this event. As we celebrate this monumental anniversary of Interfaith of The Woodlands, it was important that our honorary chairs be individuals who believe in the importance of service and community. The Snyders are wonderful examples of servant leaders, and we are so grateful for their tremendous hearts that serve Interfaith and The Woodlands community,” said Missy Herndon, President and CEO of Interfaith of The Woodlands.

“We are humbled to be chosen as the Honorary Chairs of this wonderful event that symbolizes the goodness of our great community,” said Dr. Ann Snyder. “Jerry and I wholeheartedly believe in the mission of Interfaith of The Woodlands and in honoring the hometown heroes who make our community special. The Celebration of Excellence Gala brings our community together in the name of service to celebrate the beautiful spirit of generosity. We are grateful to be a small part of the story of Interfaith and The Woodlands.”

The “45 Years of Caring” themed event, co-chaired by Shirelle Chimenti and Elvira Graham, will feature the honoring of heroes, dinner, live and silent auction items and a one-of-a-kind, Moroccan-themed after party. All proceeds benefit Interfaith of The Woodlands.

Rob Johnson, Missy Herndon, Dr. Ann and Jerry Snyder

(l-r) Rob Johnson, Interfaith of The Woodlands Board Chairman, Missy Herndon, President and CEO, and Honorary Chairs, Dr. Ann and Jerry Snyder

Shirelle Chimenti, Missy Herndon, Elvira Graham

(l-r) Shirelle Chimenti, Committee Co-Chair, with Missy Herndon and Elvira Graham, Committee Co-Chair

The 2018 Hometown Heroes will be announced the first week of August. For more information about the gala or event sponsorships, please visit, contact or call 832-615-8230.

2018 Kits 4 Kidz Announcement


THE WOODLANDS, Texas – (June, 2018) Interfaith of The Woodlands recently kicked off its annual Kits 4 Kitz, a community-wide school supplies drive, with an event hosted by Interfaith Young Professionals (IYP). IYP members have widespread corporate and business involvement in the community and are setting up drives to support the more than 2,500 CISD students Interfaith expects to reach this back-to-school season. Students in need receive a school supplies kit, a new backpack, and a voucher for back-to-school outfit from the Hand Me Up Shop.

Each summer, Interfaith meets with hundreds of local families in crisis to place their grade- and school-specific order for the next school year, just like what these students’ peers receive from local PTOs. This ensures all children in need have the same tools to be as successful as their neighbors.

Each year, Interfaith also asks individuals and businesses in The Woodlands community to either host a school supplies drive or make a $65 donation—the typical cost of complete school supplies for kit—to sponsor local CISD students in need that reside in South Montgomery County as they head back to school. In addition to giving out packs, Interfaith also provides supplemental supplies to many other families who come in because they missed the opportunity to order. School supplies being collected include new markers, crayons, scissors, glue, pencils, pens, map pencils, copy paper, notebook paper, binders, pocket folders, pencil boxes/bags and logo-free backpacks.

In 2017, nearly 3,000 children received school supply assistance through Interfaith’s Kits 4 Kidz program.

“Every child deserves to start school prepared with the essential tools that will help them succeed. Having the same supplies as their peers makes an enormous difference in a child’s educational experience,” said Missy Herndon, President & CEO of Interfaith of The Woodlands. “Every year, thanks to the generosity of our community, Interfaith is able to serve every family that walks through our doors expressing a need. We are grateful to our community partners who collect supplies and backpacks to help us meet this growing need,” she said.

School supplies and monetary donations will be accepted until July 26.

Interfaith of The Woodlands is a nonprofit social service agency providing numerous programs and services to meet the needs of The Woodlands and the surrounding area. IYP’s membership is a service group of Interfaith, boasting more than 100 professionals who believe in its mission of educating, cultivating, and motivating future community leaders and sharing the importance of building community through service.

IYP Kits 4 Kidz Kick Off

IYP members preparing to collect school supplies at the 2018 Kits 4 Kidz kick-off

Child receives school supplies

A child receives much-needed school supplies during the 2017 Kits 4 Kidz school supply drive

To receive school supplies from Interfaith, join IYP, learn more about our programs and services or to become a volunteer, please visit or call 281-357-1230.

Nominating Hometown Heroes


THE WOODLANDS, Texas — (May, 2018) Interfaith of The Woodlands, hometown nonprofit, is embarking on its 45th year of service. Since its founding in 1973, Interfaith has made serving the community of The Woodlands a priority due to its belief that charitable work is best done at the community level. As a result, every year, the nonprofit organization has collected nominations for what it calls Hometown Heroes. These Hometown Heroes are individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations that exemplify the attributes that The Woodlands strives for, such as volunteerism, leadership, courage, nobility and dedication to worthy causes.

Beginning in 1999 to coincide with The Woodlands 25th anniversary celebration that year, the annual nomination of these Hometown Heroes began. Each year, individuals, businesses, corporations and nonprofit organizations are honored at the annual celebration. Recipients have included names and organizations such as George Lindahl, Linda Nelson, Robert and Kim Marling, Bret Strong, Huntsman Corporation, Waste Connections and Cassidy Joined for Hope. The 2018 nominees will be honored during The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence Gala on October 6, 2018, which will celebrate Interfaith of The Woodlands’ 45th anniversary of service. The fundraising event is put on by Interfaith every year in order to raise funds for its many programs and services.

President and CEO of Interfaith of The Woodlands, Missy Herndon, said the community tradition helps provide critical funds for Interfaith and is one of the nonprofit organization’s biggest fundraisers of the year. Funds go toward providing for the basic needs of local families—such as food, clothing, rent or mortgage assistance and transitional shelters—as well as tools, resources and community activities to senior citizens.

“As we embark on our 45th year of community service, we have so much to be thankful for,” Herndon said. “This gala is not only a celebration of our local heroes, but all supporters of Interfaith who make a difference for our neighbors in need. Following a tremendous year of serving so many affected by Harvey, we are inspired by those in our community who were instrumental in giving their time, leadership, and courage. It is what makes The Woodlands special!”

Nominations for Interfaith’s Hometown Heroes awards must be turned in to Interfaith of The Woodlands by 5 P.M. on Monday, June 25, 2018. According to the guidelines, Hometown Heroes nominees must be current residents or organizations based in The Woodlands. The final selections will be awarded on Saturday, October 6, 2018.

To nominate an individual or organization that exemplifies the qualities of a Hometown Hero, fill out an online nomination form at Entries can also be emailed to or mailed to 4242 Interfaith Way, The Woodlands, TX 77381, addressed to:

Attn: Hometown Hero Selection Committee, Interfaith of The Woodlands.

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