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Hometown Heroes honored by Interfaith at weekend of giving

October 11, 2018

The heroes of The Woodlands were the toast of the town on Saturday night.

To celebrate its 45th year, Interfaith held its Celebration of Excellence Gala at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott and Convention Center. Combining underwriting, sponsorships, donations and auction and raffle proceeds, the more than 750 guests reached the goal of $750,000 to go back into the non-profit’s community-oriented programs, CEO Missy Herndon said.

“This is a place where people don’t know where to turn, so they turn to Interfaith,” Herndon said. “We did this for the community.”

Honorees are selected by a committee of past winners based on their contributions to the community. The only requirement, Herndon said, is that they live in The Woodlands.

Not only were architect Robert Heineman, physician Joel Reed, volunteers Steve Leakey and Patti Rivela, philanthropists Peter and Brynn Ballard Huntsman, Entergy Texas and the Junior League of The Woodlands recognized as Hometown Heroes, but The Rev. Don Gebert, a resident of The Woodlands since its inception, was presented The Mitchell Award.

The award, given only twice before since The Woodlands was founded, recognized Gebert for a lifetime spent serving the community, including the founding of several Woodlands institutions like Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital and the Woodlands Villager newspaper.

“Without question, that was one of the most special parts of the evening,” Herndon said.

More than 170 non-profits are registered with The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, and in response to the dozens of non-profits nominated for a Hometown Heroes recognition each year, the selection committee in 2017 introduced a category solely to honor them.

“That gives you an idea of how many non-profits in our community are really making a difference,” Herndon said. “We felt like it was time to recognize them.”

But the gala wasn’t the weekend’s only charitable event — Friday’s first-ever Day of Caring packed and distributed more than 15,000 pounds of food for the area’s needy.

“It was exactly what we hoped it would be,” Herndon said. “Bringing the community together to support each other.”

Jane Stueckemann contributed reporting.

mrincon@chron.com

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