Congratulations to Jackie Simmons, who has earned her Girl Scout Gold Award!
Simmons, a Girl Scout for nine years and a senior at Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, created a worship hour for 40 teens with exceptionalities and differing abilities at Houston’s First Baptist Church.
Simmons, a vocalist, dancer and actress, developed a deep love for music and dreamed of being on Broadway one day. She also finds great joy in spending time and working with special-needs children and teens and decided to combine her love of music with celebrating the gifts of special kids through their great love and enjoyment of music and worship.
Concerned that these teens were being left out during activities in church and other places, Simmons worked with First Baptist’s Special Needs Director Daniel Williams, planned and studied to achieve her goal, raised funds and led 20 volunteers in providing a fantastic new program called “Raise the Roof” under the special needs family ministry at First Baptist called “Thru The Roof Ministry.” First Baptist has provided space for the program which gives these exceptional kiddos the freedom to worship, dance and sing in a space all their own.
Simmons said, “They will come after completing the first hour of church and worship with buddies and learn about different topics in the Bible. Adult and teen volunteers will be working with the kids and lead worship hour, tech and devotionals. Every year there will be training for upcoming buddies to be on the leadership team. The service will be filled with song, movement and devotion to Jesus. I also know that music is an excellent therapy for special-needs kids and helps them to be calm and joyful.”
A three-pronged effort, the program will 1) provide social interaction and exposure to music and worship skills for the teens it targets; 2) the program will provide leadership hours and training to teens mentoring the students; and 3) Simmons hopes this program will spur other churches on to start similar ministries. Simmons worked to pull many elements together to create the Raise the Roof program, and consistent with the requirement of all Gold Award projects, the program must be effective and sustainable after Simmons moves on to college and is no longer working directly in the program. Simmons’ proud parents are Phil and Shawn Simmons of Oak Forest and her Girl Scout Troop Leader is Jackie Pierre of Shepherd Park Plaza.
Natalie Phillips and her son Jacob of Oak Forest spent an eventful full-moon night volunteering at the Houston Food Bank recently. An ammonia pipe burst in the warehouse, necessitating an evacuation into 40-degree temps for 30 minutes. The volunteers were ushered into the Repack room where the music was blasting and folks were in a party mood, some even dancing. Phillips said, “OK, just me (dancing), to the horror of my son. But in my defense, it was Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feelin,’ which literally requires one to dance.” Phillips and husband Bruce are proud to share that Jacob recently qualified for the National Ninja League World Finals to be held in February 2020 in North Carolina! Go Jacob!
Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet knows some of you loooove smoked turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, and it has created a special fundraiser with you in mind.
The inaugural Turkey Smoke for Thanksgiving benefitting GOMM is on! Hosted by Shane Davis and family, Ronche Meats and Garden Oaks parent Glen Lee Bethke have generously donated their smoking rigs for the event and will be smoking turkeys so you don’t have to cook!
The cost is $50 per 14- to 16-pound turkey (bird provided), and all proceeds will be donated to Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet. Turkeys will be available for pickup at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day at 838 W. 41st St. You may pay by cash, check (payable to “GOMM PTO”) or credit card by going to the following link: https://www.gopto.org/thanksgiving-turkey-smoke/. Gobble gobble!