On February 20, Family Services of Southeast Texas hosted the 16th Annual Celebrate Families Luncheon, an annual fundraiser benefitting the Family Services Programs including the Counseling Center, Kid’s Connection, Battering Intervention and Prevention, and the Beaumont and Jasper Women and Children’s Shelters.
We are pleased to announce that through generous sponsorships, ticket sales, and an amazing raffle, Family Services raised more than $55,000!
This year’s honorees were:
Family of the Year
By: Shelly Vitanza
A dynamic duo we’re all privileged to have in our community, Nell McCallum Morris and Dr. W.T. “Terry” Morris are this year’s Family Services Family of the Year.
Once you hear of their efforts, it’s likely you’ll realize you are a beneficiary in some way of their generosity of time, talent and treasure.
The two, both from deep East Texas, married in 1989. Nell has been in Beaumont since 1968. Terry since 1966. She, a Court Reporter, is the Chief Executive Officer of the firm Nell McCallum & Associates with offices in Beaumont and Houston. Many of Nell’s associates have been with her firm for more than ten years and several more than 25 years.
Terry is an oral surgeon, now retired. He practiced in Beaumont from 1966 until his retirement. He was dearly loved by his patients because of his gentle nature. He was always able to calm the most distraught patient because of his soft and soothing demeanor even when they were headed to surgery.
The two have two daughters and one grandchild who they dearly love and say regardless of everything they have achieved, it’s family they are most proud of. They cherish family times with their girls, especially at the beach.
But they also love the community and have contributed time, talent and treasure to the endeavors which they have felt important in making lives better – theirs and others.
Nell has been honored by the American Heart Association as its “Woman with Heart,” and she has chaired the Heart Ball. She also assisted in organizing the very successful first ever Women In Red event in Beaumont and encouraged participation by community leaders.
She was named as a “Woman of Excellence” by the Beaumont YWCA. She has been awarded the Jefferson County Mental Health Association Julie Rogers Special Service Award, which is presented annually to persons in Jefferson County “who in their chosen fields have demonstrated a talent for making the world a better place in which to live.” Nell has served on the Board of Directors of The Gift of Life since its inception. Currently, she is in the 20th year as President of this phenomenal organization. She was elected to the Board of Trustees of Buckner International and served for 12 years. For only the third time in the 139-year-history of Buckner International, Nell was elected Trustee Emeritus. Nell is past President of the Symphony of Southeast Texas and served several years on the Board of Directors of the Symphony, and subsequently served as an advisor to the long-range planning committee for the Symphony and also gave guidance and direction in the hiring of a new Conductor. As a member of the Preservation Society of The Jefferson Theatre, Nell was on the determined group that worked for three or four years in an effort to restore the theatre. She helped raise in excess of 4 million dollars for the restoration of this historic landmark. She chaired the grand opening gala where several hundred people were entertained by Lou Rawls.
Lamar University is also important to Nell and a big part of her volunteer efforts. She served 12 years as a Trustee of the Lamar University Foundation and more than one term as a member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation Board. She is also past President of Lamar University Fine Arts Department’s Friends of the Arts, has chaired and co-chaired le Grand Bal more than once; has been very active in the underwriting aspects of this fundraiser for more than fifteen years. After serving two terms on the Board of Trustees of the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Nell is now a member of the Advisory Board for the museum and Is actively involved in fundraising efforts for Museum. The very successful fund-raiser, “Art of Beer,” was her idea.
In April 2005, Nell was named “Citizen of the Year,” of Beaumont, Texas, by the Neches River Festival and the Mayor and the Beaumont City Council Proclaimed April 18, 2005 “NELL McCALLUM MORRIS DAY.”
Three organizations of awarded Nell their highest honor: The Julie Rogers Gift of Life, CASA of Southeast Texas and Family Services and The Women & Children’s Shelter, made Nell an honored lifetime member of the Board of Directors.
Nell says she’s no fundraiser but somehow finds ways to ask people for money, which Terry complains impacts his golf game. Nell reports, “Terry asked me to stop asking everyone for money because his golf buddies would not answer his calls fearing it was me asking for money again.”
But Terry is out beating the bushes for organizations also. He spends a lot of time volunteering with Nell at Gift of Life functions, particularly the prostate screenings. He volunteers for CASA and is currently serving on the Advisory Board Of CASA. He has also volunteered at Some Other Place and the Food Bank of Southeast Texas. He is a Deacon at Calder Baptist Church, where he serves with the Habitat for Humanity Team. He has also served as a mentor for a young man in the I Have A Dream program.
The Morris’ have said: “We have been greatly blessed in our lives, and we try hard to have an attitude of gratitude. They say, “God is good all the time.”
Clearly, these two have made Southeast Texas better for everyone. Please welcome our Family of the Year Nell and Terry Morris.
Family Business of the Year
By: Shelly Vitanza
The Family business of the year is Superior Energies, a woman and veteran-owned company serving the world and located right here in Southeast Texas. Founded in 1977 by Jim and Betty Scott and incorporated 1978, Superior Energies has had as many as three generations of family members working in the company. Today Betty Scott Washenfelder is the president and Sean A. Scott is the CEO and they presently employ 175 people.The company began by offering removable, reusable insulation covers and that’s what they do today but they also provide fire-temp covers, Accousta set covers, “Frost/Therm-Guard” covers and “Heat-Wrap” covers. They are now a leading specialty services organization and have launched The Superior Group affiliate service divisions which includes Superior Engineering, United Superior Insulation, United Superior I & E and United Superior Services.
So you ask what in the heck do they do? Yep, when I read all of that my eyes glazed over and I flapped my arms – it’s basically heavy industry insulation. This family-run company located in Groves – supplies insulation that can be put and taken out and they provide this insulation worldwide in petrochemical plants, oil refineries, paper mills, shipyards, offshore drilling rigs, engineering manufacturers, insulation contractors, the military etc. Their website is really dynamic and I suggest you check them out.
As amazing and specialized as their services are, the family behind the success if very community-minded and philanthropic. During our Hurricane Rita recovery, Superior Energies supplied more than 10,000 square feet of warehouse space for supplies. For the past several years the company has donated food and toys for Thanksgiving and Christmas to those in need locally and they have supported an orphanage in Mexico with all kinds of help for the past decade. In addition, the company regularly supports the Garth House, the Rainbow Room, Family Services, The Int’l Fellowship of Christians and Athletes, Some Other Place, Nutrition & Services for Seniors, Salvation Army, Community Care Prayer Outreach, Young Life, The USO, South East Texas Food Bank and Operation Blessing.
When asked about a company motto, company principals said: “We are blessed to be a blessing.”
With that kind of commitment to our community, we excited to bring awareness of this service oriented company to more people in Southeast Texas and hope that Superior Energies continues it’s success…there are ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren now in the family lineage. These family members will have the same opportunities now CEO Sean Scott had – He started out making covers as a teenager and after the air force came back as head of sales. Obviously, he has been a great asset in growing the business and he has added businesses.
Good families, strong families grow their own leaders and give back for these reasons, we applaud, acknowledge and salute Superior Energies as Family Business of the Year.
Bill Leger Family Advocates of the Year – Dual Honorees
By: Shelly Vitanza
Folks, there is some real goodness going on in this community…so good it’s mind-boggling. It’s gonna give you goosebumps and we’re excited to really make you aware of just how good.
This year’s Bill Leger Family Advocate of the Year is not one but two people who joined forces to protect families and the community, and they’re still at it, committed to a cause to strengthen families. They are Norman Bellard, Interim Athletics Director and Greater South Park Neighborhoods Partnership Chair for Lamar University and Dr. Kenneth Evans, Lamar University President. These two out of concern for the citizens of the South Park community and neighboring areas founded the Greater South Park Neighborhoods Partnership in 2015.
The Greater South Park Neighborhoods Partnership primarily focuses on community engagement, safety, security, and infrastructure. The ultimate goal is the revitalization of the South Park community. The goals of this partnership that include these partners:
These folks are all working together to meet the demands and needs of South Park’s diverse community by engaging, collaborating, and embracing all the resources of the immediate neighborhood and city; they are working persistently toward reductions in crime, illegal drug activity, safer Greater South Park Neighborhoods and university community. They are continuing to identify sub-standard structures and pursue with the assistance of all city and county departments demolishing these structures in a timely manner; They are identifying, recruiting, and securing potential commercial, retail and residential development. Collectively they continue to cultivate our partnership with the Beaumont Health Coalition and expand outreach and engagement within the South Park community and they are striving toward better streets, sidewalks, curbed and gutter, strategically placed lighting in the higher crime areas of the community. And they are working to sustain the momentum established especially in the Latino community, the perception that South Park is a safer, more inviting neighborhood to locate their families and their children attend schools; enrollment at Pietzsch MacArthur exceeds 40 %.
Bellard says, through the collaboration of well-represented and engaged groups including local and government resources, faith-based and non-profit organizations in the past two and a half years, they have begun to tap into the pride of the South Park neighborhoods and help its residents realize their potential. He says, “We believe the residents of South Park can reimagine their neighborhoods as vibrant, growing, and dynamic communities in which to live, work, and play.” Dr. Evans said, “As a community, we are all better when each of us has the opportunity to be all that we can be. South Park has a rich tradition and a promising future.” But he also said that the ultimate outcomes of the Greater South Park Neighborhoods Partnership will belong to those living in the area. “Our goals were the creation of processes and formats for communication. Actual outcome goals need to be those of the citizens of South Park.”
So let’s talk about the Partnerships successes thus far:
- A community garden was established at the corner of Jimmy Simmons & Vermont streets
- A community engagement event, “A Day In The Park” at Alice Keith Park in September 2015 & September 2016 attracting over 1,000 participants each year, there was good music, free food, and a great family atmosphere. This year’s event will be held on April 21st.
- Multiple neighborhood clean-up events
- City of Beaumont administrators approved street resurfacing and repairs totaling in excess of $1.5 million dollars
- Entergy is in the process of completing an $18 million dollar project at the substation across from the Spindletop museum which will dramatically lower the profile of the facility, thereby improving its appearance
- South Park residents benefited from an Entergy grant and Lamar University administered Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, 485 federal tax returns were completed for the tax year 2016, total refunds exceeded $547,000
- Weekly math tutoring at South Park Middle School and Pietzsch MacArthur Elementary
- Beaumont Health Coalition collaborated with our committee to provide three very successful events; a kite festival at Lamar University, a dive-in-movie and most recently, a Winter Wonderland event at Alice Keith Park.
- South Park neighborhoods recent designation by the city of Beaumont as an Empowerment Zone
- LU senior administrators approved the South Park Neighborhood Scholarships: Applications have been reviewed and there are three qualified, deserving applicants. At the start of the Fall 2017 semester, these incoming freshmen received the full cost of tuition, fees, room, board, and books.
The benefits to families in South Park are huge:
Already a sense of safety, pride, and involvement within the South Park community has made a huge difference in the way people feel about themselves and one another. With the help of the Beaumont and Lamar University Police Departments, the area is patrolled often to decrease the amount of crime-related activity happening in the neighborhood. New lighting systems, updated roadways, the demolition or repair of unlivable infrastructures and the development of a walking/jogging trail are examples of the GSPNPC‘s initiative to continue to help the neighborhood prosper. Children attending South Park area schools are provided the resources they need to continue their educations through and beyond high school. The resources include but certainly are not limited to math tutorials, new books, coats, bicycles for Christmas and the coordination of reading programs. Also offered to the community of South Park is an opportunity for workforce training to help those who hold minimum wage jobs obtain better and more sustainable jobs.
This is not a come and go partnerships…The Greater South Park Neighborhoods Partnership Committee will continue to provide the necessary resources to South Park to ensure community engagement, safety, security, and infrastructure under the direction of Bellard and Evans.
Dr. Evans said, “As a community, we are all better when each of us has the opportunity to be all that we can be. South Park has a rich tradition and a promising future.”
Thanks in large part to Evans and Bellard…therefore we recognize them for their monumental efforts in establishing this Partnership, involving so many in a collaborative effort and changing the lives of families for the better.
Family Services Volunteer of the Year
By: Shelly Vitanza
Dora Nisby is the Family Services Volunteer of the Year. She’s the beautiful hatted woman at every event in town. Her personal motto is:
I am only one. I cannot do everything but I can do something. Because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
Ms. Nisby I would have to disagree…we’ve seen you do just about everything here in Southeast Texas. From the Julie Rogers Gift of Life where Dora has been on the executive board of directors as the treasurer since the organizations inception to the board of directors for the Jefferson County Tobacco Coalition, and the board for Schlesinger’s Geriatric Center, Beaumont Partnership for Children charter board member, Texas Regulator and Protective Services Rainbow Room coordinator, Jefferson Theater preservation society board, LL Melton YMCA board, United Negro College Fund Board and Some Other Place Board of Directors. Ms. Nisby has also served on the executive board of Family Services.
And that’s not all Ms. Nisby is really a pioneer. She has been the first African American to be involved in the following organizations:
- Chair of the Library Commission for the city of Beaumont
- President and member of the Literacy Volunteers of America/Beaumont Chapter
- Executive board member of the Houston Area Church and Synagogue Library Association
- Executive board member of the Texas library association.
- Executive Board of Young Women’s Christian Association where she held every office the organization had and had a tearoom named after her for Recognition of her distinguished service
Now that takes some courage does it not?
Still, there’s more. Nisby the retired director of library services for the Beaumont Independent School District who created libraries in many schools where there were none and established the EAGLE Library Program which uses literature to motivate student learning in every elementary subject area and is still used (EAGLE stands for Encourage and Guide Literacy Exeriences) and it is still being used, represented Texas on a taskforce ot he white house conference on library and information services in Washington D.C.; she was appointed by Ann Richard to the Advisory board for elementary and secondary education for the state of Texas and has received the U.S. Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Community Service.
Folks bear with me…the woman has four pages of achievements and volunteer work and I’m doing the best I can to really give you an overview so you truly understand how remarkable she is…. Well, let me just give you a quote: She told the Beaumont Enterprise when asked why she does what she does:
“I feel it is a divine calling from God, a calling that directs my life. And as long as I can give back to the community and give to people in any way possible with the abilities that I have been given, I want to do that for as long as I can. It brings blessings to me when I do what I can to bless others. It is a calling upon me, but I benefit more from it than the recipients I help. God is continually blessing me as I keep going. The Lord expects us to keep forging forward for we need to do something productive with the life that we have been given.”
God has given Dora a passion for literacy and she has used this passion to change our world here in Southeast Texas. She not only started the More Books in the home program to encourage reading at home but she has established libraries all over the place including:
- Starlight Missionary Baptist Church where she is the volunteer librarian
- Schlesinger’s Geriatric Center where she is the volunteer librarian and storyteller in THe Dora Nisby Library…named in honor of her service
- The Ben Rogers Library in the Minnie Rogers Juvenile Detention Center in Jefferson County where she is the volunteer librarian.
- Sunlight Christian Academy
Ms. Nisby has been recognized by more than 25 organizations for her contributions – as volunteer of the year, a leader, a groundbreaker, difference maker and outstanding citizen.
Be inspired by this remarkable woman who was born on a farm near Burkeville Texas went on to achieve several master’s degrees and has contributed so much to our region…and please help me acknowledge and celebrate Family Services of the Year Volunteer Dora Nisby.
Family Services Heroes of the Year – Dual Honorees
By: Shelly Vitanza
Family Services of Southeast Texas has not ever recognized heroes of the year before but then again Southeast Texas has never experienced nearly 70 inches of rain in four days either. We couldn’t pass up the chance to recognize two amazing men who saved the lives of multiple people…basically saving families. Will Jenkins and Clark Winslow are Harvey Heroes and our Heroes of the Year.
Will Jenkins graduated from Kelly High School, Texas A&M University, worked for EJ Gallo winery and has been at Giglio Distributing for the last 14 yr.; He is married to Gillian and they have four children. Jenkins is a member St.Anthony Cathedral, President of the St. Anne School board, President of the Neches River Festival this year – now in its 70th year; he’s on the Three Rivers Council Executive Board which is Boy Scouts of America, the board of Coastal Conservation Association the Golden Triangle Chapter, He coaches Little Dribblers, West End Little League, is Assistant Scout Master in Troop 85 and professionally is on the Executive Board of the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas.
Clark Winslow is from Beaumont and has been here his whole life except when serving in the Army and afterward lived in Glenwood Springs Colorado and then Billings Montana. He moved back to Beaumont in 1997 but considers himself a southeast Texas boy through and through. He attended Beaumont public schools through fifth grade, St Anne’s School in Middle School and a combination Of West Brook and Kelly for High School. He has an associates degree from Universal Technical Institute in Houston and a BBA in Finance from Lamar University. He is married to Casey and they have two children. He owns and operates Eastex Automotive & Truck in Beaumont. The two have recently started a new venture called FleetX where we service and repair Commercial Fleet Vehicles and Equipment Onsite in SouthEast Texas. The Winslow family is members of Trinity Methodist Church. Clark is a former Scout Master of Troop 601 in Beaumont; he is a fellow with the ASA (Automobile Service Association), a Board Member with AMRA (Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association), a Life Member and Past Board Member ACA (Auto Care Association), a Life Member of the Houston Rodeo, Former Board Member of the Jefferson County Go Texan, Member East Texas Historical Association, Member Gulf Coast Historarical Society, Member Sons of the Republic of Texas, Knight of the Neches Neches River Festival and Founding Board Member of the Southeast Texas Junior Football & Cheer Beaumont Bulldogs.
Both of these men and their wives contribute significantly to our community through their places of work and personally and they are raising children who are watching them and will grow up inherently knowing the importance of community. Perhaps their day to day selfless acts – donations of time and resources – have gone unnoticed but during Harvey when the two worked in the Gilbert Lake estates area during the storm and ferried people to high ground at I10. They brought five families to safety there and then on Wednesday of the storm they saved the lives of two men on Pine Island Bayou. The story of our heroes was caught by KFDM:
Because of their selfless acts during Hurricane Harvey not to mention their daily sacrifices for our community we proudly recognize Will Jenkins and Clark Winslow as Heroes of the Year.
If you missed this year’s Luncheon but would like to get an invitation next year, please let us know.
Thank you to our 2018 sponsors!