15:27 PM

City Celebrates Official Kick-Off of Citizenship Month Houston

Nearly 300 community, education and business leaders converged at the Houston Public Library's Julia Ideson Building downtown last week for the official kick-off of Citizenship Month Houston, sponsored in part by UHD.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker and First Lady and Citizenship Month Houston Honorary Chair Kathy Hubbard welcomed attendees and underscored the importance of community engagement and volunteerism in building a stronger, more vibrant Houston.

During the program, U.S. Rep. Al Green recognized Houston Citizenship Month Co-Chairs Noël Bezette-Flores, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Public Service & Family Strengths at UHD and Claudia Ortega-Hogue, Texas director of the NALEO Educational Fund, for their long-term commitment to community engagement.

Attendees were treated to a cultural dance by the Sadurushki Russian Performers and inspirational readings from student winners of the Young Adult Literacy Awards - sponsored and organized by Leigh Van Horn, Ph.D. and UHD, Harmony Schools, and Shirin Herman and HISD - as well as performances by the United Nations International Choir and premier youth chamber orchestra, Virtuosi of Houston. UHD student Annika Chambers also sang America the Beautiful as part of the celebration.

The event featured the work of esteemed Houston artists in "The Becoming: An Art Exhibit by Many Hands," which is on display in the City Hall tunnel throughout the month of November. The celebration also highlighted Ebru water-marbling art created by homeless children and their families at the House of Tiny Treasures Fall Festival, cosponsored by UHD's Center for Public Service & Family Strengths and the Raindrop Turkish House. Houstonians can view this art display on the fourth floor of the Houston Public Library's downtown location in November.

Miya Shay, reporter at KTRK in Houston, served as emcee for the event that drew prominent Houstonians including Neighborhood Centers President and CEO Angela Blanchard; Asian Chamber of Commerce President Linda Toyota; the Honorable Gordon Quan; METRO Interim President and CEO Tom Lambert, Union Pacific Railroad Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs Juan Carreon, Houston Mayor's Assistant for Cultural Affairs Minnette Boesel, and Executive Director of the Texan-French Alliance for the Arts Karine Parker-Lemoyne, as well as nine consuls general of Houston.