The Woodlands, TX (Thursday, November 19, 2021) —Interfaith of The Woodlands is honored to announce the selection of the 2022 Hometown Heroes. The tradition of Hometown Heroes began in 1999, in celebration of The Woodlands 25th Anniversary. This year, four individuals and two organizations have been named to the distinguished list of Heroes, each recognized in a unique way for the lasting impact they have made on The Woodlands community.
Paula Klapesky, Walt Lisiewski, Tim Welbes, Canopy Cancer Survivorship Center, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands and an anonymous recipient will officially join 140 other distinguished individuals, businesses and organizations as Hometown Heroes during The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence Gala on Friday, April 1, 2022. Recognized for their many contributions to the community, these honorees have each demonstrated exemplary leadership and a dedication to preserving Mr. George P. Mitchell’s vision for The Woodlands community.
The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence Gala will also pay a special tribute to the late Reverend Don Gebert. A member of the first class of Hometown Heroes, Gebert was also the Founding Executive Director of Interfaith of The Woodlands and worked closely with Mr. Mitchell to establish The Woodlands. In addition to these honors, the Gala will feature dinner, a live auction and an after party headlined by The Bucktown All-Stars.
“We are truly excited to bring our community back together at The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence Gala, after a two-year absence. This event is rooted in celebrating our hometown, as well as our neighbors who go above and beyond in service to others. The last two years have shown us the true importance of personal connections, not only for our well-being, but also for the growth and prosperity of our region. We look forward to celebrating all of our Hometown Heroes, while remembering those that have come before us, whose contributions have created this very special place we call home,” shared Missy Herndon, President & CEO of Interfaith of The Woodlands.
Criteria for the selection of the Hometown Heroes includes: 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. Nominations are open to the community and presented to a selection committee comprised of previously awarded Hometown Heroes.
The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence Gala is the largest annual fundraiser for Interfaith of The Woodlands. Generously sponsored by dozens of local businesses and organizations, all proceeds benefit Interfaith’s community programs and services. For sponsorship opportunities or individual tickets, please visit hometownheroesgala.org or contact Carolyn Donovan, Interfaith’s Director of Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 832-615-8225.
Since the third grade, Paula Klapesky knew she wanted to be a teacher. She found a way to lead any activity she was a part of, and by the time she was in college had set her sights on becoming a school principal.
After achieving her degree, Klapesky began her career as a 3rd grade teacher in Humble ISD. Encouraged by her then Principal, she began working on a Master’s degree in educational administration. During that time, she met her future husband, who was a teacher and coach in Conroe ISD. Together, they completed graduate school and began a marriage that has endured for more than 33 years. Klapesky moved to Conroe ISD and taught at both the elementary and intermediate school levels before accepting the role of Assistant Principal at Collins Intermediate. Next, she joined the team who would open Mitchell Intermediate School, serving as the Assistant Principal for two years, and then becoming the Principal, where she has led thousands of children through their 5th and 6th grade experience for the last 24 years.
Beyond her caring and nurturing nature, parents remark that Klapesky not only ensures that all students achieve academically, they also learn to believe in themselves and find the drive to reach their goals. Under her leadership, students are reminded that they must always be true to themselves, and always remember their neighbor while they set-out on the path of life. In today’s challenging environment, pre-teens are faced with challenges to their emotional health and social well-being. Paula Klapesky meticulously boosts these traits, while emphasizing a delicate balance between their extracurricular activities and academics.
Outside of school, Klapesky and her husband, Larry, raised three children in The Woodlands, where each attended schools within the Conroe ISD system. With her husband serving as an Assistant Principal at The Woodlands High School, both were actively involved in their children’s lives. Now her oldest and his wife live in the community. Her daughter-in-law is a teacher in the Conroe ISD, her daughter is graduating from college in December and hopes to pursue a career in education, too. Her youngest is a photographer, videographer, and entrepreneur in the making.
Klapesky’s next goal in life is to earn a Doctorate in Educational Leadership while continuing her role as Principal of her second home, Mitchell Intermediate School. Educational formats have changed quite a bit in the last 30 years, but Klapesky is bringing the same commitment to her coursework that she has brought to her students and family for the past three decades. She graduates in December 2023. Klapesky’s love for her profession is boundless, and she is proud to have spent a lifetime positively influencing her students. In a hometown that has given her and her family so very much, Klapesky intends to continue nurturing and shaping young minds to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Pictured: Paula Klapesky, 2022 Hometown Hero, with husband, Larry, family members, and Missy Herndon, President & CEO, Interfaith of The Woodlands
After four years in the United States Navy, Lisiewski enrolled and graduated from the University of South Florida School of Engineering earning a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. Upon graduating, he began his career in Engineering Construction.
Lisiewski was employed for 23 years with Brown & Root, Inc. working in the fields of design, construction, and maintenance of nuclear power and petro-chemical plants, pulp and paper mills, refineries, pipe lines, and other specialties.
He was recruited by Jacobs Engineering for the position of Sr. Vice-President, North America, Construction and Maintenance. Lisiewski continued his career at Jacobs Engineering in this capacity for 12 years. His many duties included management and responsibility for a workforce of over 5,000 professionals.
After 35 years and over 2,000,000 flight miles, it was time to retire. Lisiewski decided to dedicate his time in service to his community. Just a few of Lisiewski’s community service activities include: volunteering with Neighborhood Watch for the last 13 years, Director and Vice-President of Montgomery County, Municipal Utility District #1 (two terms), Chairman of Panther Creek Residential Design Standards committee, Panther Creek flea market, Chairman of The Woodlands Township – Development Standards Committee, The Woodlands Township 4th of July Parade, Panther Creek Village Association, One Water Task Force, Saints Simon & Jude Catholic Church Men’s Club, Habitat for Humanity, Voter Awareness Council, Founding Member of Township Future and Insperity Golf Tournament volunteer, earning his 10 year pin for service.
Lisiewski and his wife, Louise, have been married 47 years. They have two adult children, two grandsons, and two grand-dogs. They have lived in The Woodlands for the past 32 years.
Pictured: Walt Lisiewski, 2022 Hometown Hero, with wife Louise and family
Tim Welbes and his wife, Peg, have made The Woodlands home since 1985, raising four children and welcoming eight grandchildren. A Houston native, Tim graduated from The University of Houston with a degree in Accounting and shortly thereafter, obtained his CPA certification. He began his career with Ernst & Ernst, working in their Houston office for five years, before accepting a role with a small CPA firm in Colorado.
Houston quickly called him back home where he took a role with John Pace Homes as a new home sales consultant, ultimately becoming the Chief Executive Officer for the company. This led him to Standard Pacific Homes, where he began as a Sales and Marketing manager, eventually earning a promotion to Houston Division Manager. This role required him to purchase home lots in the newly developed master planned community of The Woodlands. Through this work, he met with executives at The Woodlands Development Company and in 1985, accepted a position on their team and relocated his family to the community. This began a 36-year career that led him to serve as the Co-President of The Woodlands Development Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Howard Hughes Corporation.
Welbes’ work in The Woodlands has led him to serve on various Boards, including United Way of Montgomery County, The South Montgomery County YMCA, Interfaith of The Woodlands, The Montgomery County Community Foundation, The Greater Houston Builders Association. He has devoted countless hours to guiding not only these nonprofit organizations, but also ensuring that Mr. Mitchell’s vision for The Woodlands continues.
Pictured L-R: Jim Carman, President, Houston Region, The Howard Hughes Corporation; Missy Herndon, President & CEO, Interfaith of The Woodlands; Tim Welbes, 2022 Hometown Hero, Peg Welbes; Robert Heineman, 2019 Hometown Hero; Lorrie Parise, Director of PR & Community Relations, The Howard Hughes Corporation
Canopy Cancer Survivorship Center
Canopy Cancer Survivorship Center at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center is one of two survivorship centers in the state of Texas, and the only one serving the greater Houston area. Founded in 2016, Canopy has provided free programs and services to cancer survivors, patients and their families, regardless of where they are in their journeys or where they are receiving treatment.
Their strong community connection and compassionate support system make it possible for Canopy to provide programs geared towards improving the health and quality of life of cancer survivors post-diagnosis. Led by a volunteer team of over 70 individuals, Canopy offers 75 programs each month ranging from Art Therapy, Cooking and Yoga classes to consultations with oncology nurse navigators, numerous support groups, and a salon for wig, breast prosthesis and bra fittings.
In five short years, Canopy has become one of the preeminent leaders in survivorship centers, welcoming guests from around the region to learn more about the culture and programming they have created. Canopy is pioneering the effort to change the conversation about what survivorship means, seeking to not only support individuals during their continued medical plans of care, but also caring for them spiritually and emotionally. Visitors to Canopy instantly find a second family to walk alongside each patient, caregiver and family member through one of life’s most challenging medical diagnoses.
Pictured L-R, Front Row: Catherine Giegerich, Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center; Justin Kendrick, Senior Vice President & Chief Executive Officer, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center; Amanda Poole, Manager, Canopy Cancer Survivorship Center; Lucy Gomez, Vice President Programs & Operations, Interfaith of The Woodlands Back Row: Missy Herndon, President & CEO, Interfaith of The Woodlands; Linda Nelson, Director of Business Development, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center pictured with staff and volunteers.
Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands
Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands has seen exponential growth since opening its doors in 2016. The expert pediatric care offered at this 74-bed hospital means patients don’t need to drive into the Texas Medical Center for top-tier treatment. It is the area’s first true, freestanding pediatric hospital designed, equipped and staffed exclusively to treat children and adolescents.
The 22-acre site includes the only pediatric Level IV trauma center in the north region of Houston, a recently recertified Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and the Texas Children’s Urgent Care Clinic. It is the first local pediatric hospital to receive accreditation by the American College of Radiology. The hospital is widely recognized for its state-of-the-art orthopedic surgery and care, and is home to more than 41 pediatric subspecialties including Cancer and Hematology, Bariatric Surgery, Infectious Disease and Sports Medicine. No other pediatric hospital in the country is a national medical partner of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, treating the unique sport-related ailments of high level, competitive athletes. Additionally, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands is proud to have administered more than 32,000 COVID-19 vaccinations since January of 2021, following pediatric patient approval by the CDC.
Pictured L-R: Michelle Riley-Brown, President, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands; Ketrese White, Vice President, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands; Missy Herndon, President & CEO, Interfaith of The Woodlands
Interfaith of The Woodlands is a nonprofit social service agency providing programs and services to meet the needs of The Woodlands and surrounding area. Interfaith provides basic needs assistance and special programs to families experiencing financial crisis, and supportive service through care and wellness programs to senior adults, in addition to many community programs dedicated to improving the lives of individuals in need. For more information on Interfaith’s programs and services, or to become a volunteer, please visit woodlandsinterfaith.org or call 281-367-1230.