Sysco and Houston Methodist Make Surprise Gifts totaling $200,000

Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (Interfaith Ministries) celebrated its mission of dialogue, collaboration and service at its annual Tapestry Gala on Saturday, November 12, 2022, at the Hilton-Americas Houston.

KTRK’s Melanie Lawson welcomed more than 550 supporters who raised over $665,000 for Interfaith Ministries’ five areas of service to the greater Houston community: Meals on Wheels /Animeals; Refugee Services; Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships; Volunteer Houston, and SERVE HOUSTON. For more than 50 years, Interfaith Ministries has been “here to serve” the greater Houston community, founded on the strength of shared beliefs.

At each place setting, guests found a multi-colored, woven bracelet, a favor made in honor of Tapestry honoree Laurence J. “Larry” Payne. He chose this item because it evoked the image of a tapestry – different threads brought together by a weaver that is a beautiful artifact that gives us new perspective. Payne’s hope is that the bracelets reminded all that threads in a tapestry are equal in value and each one is important.

Henry Florsheim, Kim Mabry, Nadia Tajalli, Venerable Tong Hong, Fatimah Ali, Sanjay Ahuja, Rev. Dr. Tamla Wilson, and Elder Corey Cuvelier offered a multi-faith shared prayer demonstrating the “I am here to serve” theme of the evening.

It was then the culinary team of the Hilton-Americas time to serve and guests enjoyed music by the Ernest Walker Band as they dined on a mixed salad and lobster bisque, filet mignon and gulf red snapper or a vegetarian entrée of portobello mushroom, samosa plantains and vegetables topped off by a traditional baked Alaska with caramel sauce and dark chocolate chips or aquafaba chocolate cake.

The program dinner break provided guests the opportunity to check on their silent auction bids for sports memorabilia sponsored by Alan Helfman and River Oaks Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, including World Champions Houston Astros Space City jersey, signed by Jeremy Pena; Hall of Famer Randy White, former Dallas Cowboy, signed jersey; baseball bat signed by Houston Astros’ Kyle Tucker; baseball bat signed by Craig Biggio; and signed and framed poster of Houston Texans’ quarterback Davis Mills.

Lawson then welcomed Interfaith Ministries President and CEO Martin B. Cominsky to the stage to introduce the evening’s honorees and thank Gala Co-Chairs Dr. Kathy Flanagan and Mayor Sylvester Turner, Paula Sutton and Bill Gross. He also recognized Gala committee members Nadia Tajalli and Philamena Baird for their tremendous efforts for the Tapestry Gala.

President of Jiffy Lube International Edward Hymes made remarks about the long partnership between Shell USA and Interfaith Ministries, and shared his own experience of delivering Meals on Wheels with Mr. Cominsky. Jiffy Lube has partnered with Meals on Wheels on the national level to raise funds and visibility for the program.

IM premiered a new agency video, showing that it has more than doubled in size to meet the growing needs of the community. The impactful video was followed by an ask for donations by Dr. Kathy Flanagan, Nadia Tajalli and Paula Sutton. In addition to gifts made by Gala guests, Martin B. Cominsky announced a $100,000 commitment from Sysco.

Cominsky, with the assistance of Board Chair Elect Randall Evans and Board member Dr. Vasant Garg, then introduced one of two 2022 Community Champion awardees Houston Methodist – Ryane Jackson, VP of Community Benefits, accepted the award and  surprised the crowd by announcing a $100,000 gift!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Houston Area, a local faith community that always lends a hand when there is a need, was also recognized as a Community Champion. Elder Corey Cuvelier accepted the award from IM Board member Rev. Dr. Tamla Wilson and IM VP of Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships, Jodi Bernstein.

The Spirit of Respect Award was created in 2020 to recognize an individual, family, or organization that has made significant contributions to fostering respect among diverse groups in Houston – the nation’s most diverse city. Last year’s recipient, Rev. Dr. Jim Bankston, joined Mr. Cominsky on stage to present the 2022 award to Dr. Stephen L. Klineberg.

As a college student, Tapestry Award Honoree  Lawrence J. “Larry” Payne first became involved with Interfaith Ministries in the 1960s when he arrived at their offices and asked “How can I serve?” and has shared his heart for service ever since. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner Introduced Payne and co-presented the award to him with Dr. Kathy Flanagan, Paula Sutton and Bill Gross. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee also made remarks about the honoree, and Payne concluded this segment with a powerful and inspirational speech.

The evening concluded with dancing to the styling tunes of the Ernest Walker Band.

The evening was made possible by the following sponsors: Tapestry Gala Presenting Sponsor – Shell USA; Platinum Weaver Sponsors: Susan & Dan Boggio and Brigitte & Bashar Kalai, Karyn & Charles Crisp and EOG Resources, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Houston Area; Gold Weaver Sponsors: H-E-B, Barbara D. Mackey & Jim Ferrendelli, MD, and Houston Methodist; Silver Weaver Sponsors: Dr. Kathy C. Flanagan & Mayor Sylvester Turner, Charlene Chuang, The Marek Family, Frost Bank, Susanne and Randall Evans, Dr. Vasant Garg and Dr. Kim Tran, Marlene Marker, Dr. Marilyn Stovall, Paula Sutton and Bill Gross and Ambassador and Mrs. Arthur Schechter, and TRIO Community Meals.