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Posts published in “Day: August 21, 2012

For love of travel

By Angie Liang

After days in and days out behind a desk, there is nothing better than to wander with curiosity in a new place. This is the gift I can give myself: Exploration. Learning history, experiencing new cultures, tasting different cuisines, and breathing a different life.

Most importantly, when I travel, I take time to reflect on my life and understand who I am at the moment. I want to share some of my recent experiences. I hope that you, too, can look within yourself this summer.


In a roaring crowd of Italian spirit — the flag waving frantically back and forth, green-white-and-red colored wigs, soccer jerseys, and giant television screens — I’m standing sheepishly with my friend looking for a sign. We’re in the middle of Circo Massimo, an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium that houses hundreds of thousands of people. After we searched from the Piazza del Popolo to the Spanish Steps, a kind police officer told us this is where we can watch the final Euro Cup game.

At last I see it — the Spanish flag. My friend is from Spain, so we will not be cheering for Italy, despite traveling in this beautiful country. Instead we find comrades with whom she can support her home team. Before the game, they exchange teasing boasts with the Italian crowd about whose side will win.

The next two hours are filled with shouts, groans, and excitement. Our group becomes family as we cheer together. My friend links arms with a fellow Spaniard as they wave the flag, while another jokes around with me. After Spain scores two goals, we are met with a little jeering and multiple bouts of water thrown at us. No matter, in this heat. We only cheer harder.

At the end of the game, we come out victorious, unscathed, and with a once in a lifetime experience.


My day trip to Brussels was a whim. A good one. Everything about this city is pleasant — even how I got there. On the train, the man next to me is also from New York, and he’s listening to Tim McGraw. Once we arrive, I ask the station manager and helpful strangers how to get into the city center, beginning my adventure with really only one goal: Eat well.

After an amazing seafood feast, I’m standing near Saint Katherine’s with my map, confused. Behind me an elderly man named Rafael asks if he can help me locate something. I graciously accept, and then for the next couple of hours I’m given an unexpected local tour of the city. I learn about how many of Brussels’s famous buildings were constructed, where the best chocolates are, and even a “secret oasis” that once was the site of a Dominican church.

Rafael, an avid traveler who knows several languages, owns an antique crystal shop. His tiny store is filled floor to ceiling with crystal glasses, many from the early 1900s. He shows me some of his favorite pieces and explains their origins. He even demonstrates how to evaluate them. Piiiiing – the clear ringing sound assures me this is true crystal.

Upon my departure, Rafael gifts me a pair of port glasses. A keepsake from Brussels, so that I will return again.

Sixty Fonville students participate in Gallery Furniture’s “Summer Camp”

By Julieta Paita

Sixty local HISD students volunteered for a “Summer Camp” during the last four weeks, sponsored by Mattress Mack from Gallery Furniture.

They participated in learning programs, field trips, and a whole set of new experiences for the group. They even learned how to cook a banquet and serve their benefactors.

Mattress Mack is known for his generous support to various local charities, needy families, contributions to Houston Rodeo that go toward college scholarships as well as to schools. His most recent contribution is a summer camp at Fonville Middle School in the Houston ISD.

“Mack provided funding for the whole program, including teachers salaries, food, and expenses,” said Kelly Musick, a social worker with Children’s Protective Services in Harris County in partnership with Fonville Middle School. There were seven teachers and two volunteers in the four week program, she said.

Activities at the Summer Program

During summer school at Fonville Middle School at E. Little York a total of sixty kids “had different classes, they went to reading, science, and religion classes,” said Mrs. Musick. Kids also went on field trips and visited Reliant stadium and the Ringling Bros. Circus.

There was a section about kids’ Dreams and Goals where “different career speakers came and talked to the kids. We had an attorney, a pharmacist, a retired FBI agent, and a fireman” said Mrs. Musick. This exposed the kids to various careers, giving them ideas of what he or she may want to be when they grow up.

At the end of the four week summer program, kids had the opportunity to go and shop at local stores.

“We took the kids on a shopping trip,” said Mrs. Musick. Gallery Furniture furnished each child with a $200 gift card. “Palais Royal gave us discount coupons, and a helpful and wonderful staff. We also went next door to Shoe Carnival, the staff and manager there were ready for us and the kids were able to get two pair of shoes, and their uniforms and the stuff they needed for school.”

HISD donated school supplies that were placed inside the backpacks to give to kids in the program during a closing ceremony on Thursday night, August 9th.

Closing Ceremony

“That Thursday night the kids did an Appreciation Dinner for their parents, which they cooked and served. They gave different gifts, and skits that they have learned through the four weeks,” said Mrs. Musick. “We served dinner the kids had cooked, and all the kids were able to play a part in the dinner that night as well as show their gratitude toward Mack and the principal Mr. Ibarra.”

The summer program took place at the school, which is located at 725 E. little York in Houston from July 16 to August 10, 2012; it was for anyone from second grade to eight grade, “anyone who signed up, whoever wanted to come and younger siblings as well,” said Mrs. Musick.

Each year Jim McIngvale and Gallery Furniture use the summer months to provide a unique learning experience for a group of kids that otherwise would not have the opportunity to learn more. The program varies from year to year.

Elvin Franklin honored for his public service

By Gilbert Hoffman

One of this area’s outstanding leaders was recognized last week for his years of service to various community organizations.

Elvin Franklin was the honoree at a dinner held for him by the Harris County Hospital District at the Briar Club in west Houston, last Friday, Aug. 10th. The dinner was attended by over a hundred friends and associates of various aspects of his career and service.

Franklin has been a board member of the Hospital District since 1986, its longest serving member. He also has served over the years on the YMCA board, Greenspoint District Redevelopment Authority, North Forest ISD school board, and Greenspoint Rotary Club.

Franklin was educated at Mississippi State University and Grambling State University. He came to Houston to work for Gulf Oil, but with his wife Ann soon joined State Farm Insurance and ran this agency for 38 years before his recent retirement.

In his volunteer work, as Ann says “Elvin is a person who has a passion for fighting for the underdog. He always wants to see if he can make a difference.”

Franklin was originally appointed to the Hospital District Board by County Commissioner El Franco Lee, who remains his friend and ardent supporter. Of his many achievements, one of the most important is the work he did getting the District’s 16 community Health

Clinics built around the county.

Presenting accolade and awards to Elvin Franklin during the evening were HCHD Board Chair Stephen DonCarlos, HCHD President/CEO David Lopez, Dr. Lois Moore, State Rep. Alma Allen, and County Commissioner El Franco Lee.