HOUSTON (November 8, 2023)

Photos: Here

Photo credit: Quy Tran

Close to 600 supporters joined Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (IM) to celebrate dialogue, collaboration, and service and “Welcome the World” to its Annual Tapestry Gala on Saturday, November 4, 2023 at the Hilton Americas – Houston. The global theme was reflected in eclectic art exhibits, costumed mocktail servers, and a multi-faith invocation. 

The event raised over $730,000 to support the organization’s services : Meals on Wheels /Animeals; Refugee Services; Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships; and Volunteer Houston and SERVE HOUSTON through the Vic Samuels Center for Volunteerism and Service.

Guests were welcomed to a “mocktail” reception and an exhibit of ARTifacts of Faith from various faith traditions, paintings on loan from the Islamic Arts Society, as well as drawings created by the youth in IM’s refugee art program.

During the reception, guests were treated to live art demonstrations including Sana Mirza creating Thuluth style calligraphy, illuminating the arabesque in gold. Nazli Cizmeci presented the art of Ebru, the Turkish practice of paper marbling. The Brass Animals band led guests into the ballroom with a lively, New Orleans-style musical parade.

Houston Public Media’s Ernie Manouse began the program as Master of Ceremonies before a team of multi-faith leaders provided a shared prayer for peace and understanding with Imam Mohammad Haq, Rabbi Steve Gross, Nadia Tajalli, Ray Tran, Atul  Kothari, and Father Orrin Halepska.

It was then the culinary team of the Hilton Americas-Houston’s turn to welcome guests to enjoy a dinner of winter greens with pecans and cranberries, grilled chicken breast marsala with pan seared seabass or the vegetarian entrée of portobello mushroom, with saag paneer, aloo gohbi, and quinoa potato cake topped off by a dessert sampler of lemon blueberry white cake and a passionfruit chocolate pave. The ballroom was adorned with a vibrant fuchsia and magenta floral color palette provided by The Perfect Touch Design.

Interfaith Ministries President and CEO Martin B. Cominsky and Board Chair Randall Evans thanked sponsors and event Co-chairs Karen and Jay Harberg, and Tehmina and Dr. Faisal Masud as well as Honorary Chairs Brigitte and Bashar Kalai. Christina Jones, VP HR Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Shell USA, Inc. made remarks as the event Presenting Sponsor.

The Harbergs introduced and presented the Spirit of Respect Award, which is given each year to faith or community leaders who embody IM’s philosophy of “respect thy neighbor”, to Pastors Juanita and Rudy Rasmus, who led St. John’s United Methodist Church in downtown Houston for over 30 years. The couple also founded Bread of Life Inc. and teamed up with Tina Knowles Lawson, Solange Knowles, and Beyoncé to help 40,000 flood victims recover in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  They have raised millions of dollars to provide housing for the formerly homeless, as well as led projects benefiting local and global communities.

Brigitte Kalai and Tehmina Masud followed with a presentation in recognition of Tapestry honorees Susan and Dan Boggio. Cominsky noted that the Boggios are the only Interfaith Ministries donors to have received all three of the organization’s annual awards – Tapestry for overall service, For All Humanity for supporting IM’s Refugee Services program, and Wags & Whiskers for supporting IM’s Animeals work. While the Boggios support many Houston-based programs, their philanthropy is global in nature as they help the most vulnerable worldwide from India to Jordan and beyond, focusing on children, animals, and refugees. Dan has donated significant in-kind services to IM through PBK, and the Boggios have been lead donors, volunteers, and advocates for the organization for many years.

The program was followed by a musical set featuring the frequent stars of Houston’s Stages Theatre, Alley Theatre, and Theatre Under the Stars – Sarah Sachi and John Ryan del Bosque, accompanied by Selmer’s Arch. Songs included: Wind Beneath My Wings, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, On Broadway, The Impossible Dream, and (I’ve Had the) Time of my Life.

Sponsors that made this inspiring evening celebrating the work of Interfaith Ministries possible included: Presenting Sponsor Shell USA, Inc. and Palladium Sponsor Sysco;  Platinum Sponsors Susan and Dan Boggio, Karyn and Charles Crisp, EOG Resources, Susanne and Randall Evans, and Brigitte and Bashar Kalai; and Gold Sponsors Karen and Jay Harberg and the Hilton Americas – Houston.

Supporters in attendance included: Interfaith Ministries Board Chair Randall Evans, Board Members Ann Kaesermann, Saied Alavi, Wendy Cooper, Vican Sun, Charlene Chuang, Rev. Dr. Tamla Wilson, Henry Florsheim, Nadia Tajalli, Kathy Flanagan, MD, Dr. Marla Fielder, Nihala Zakaria, Jacques D’Rovencourt, Mark Eddings, Rabbi Steve Gross, and Chris Hollins; Margo Martin, Charly Weldon, Aliza Dutt, Farida Abjani, Sandra Smith Cooper, Raquel Lewis, Alex Blair, Mandy Kao, Christina Zhou, Connie Kwan Wong, David Leebron and Y. Ping Sun, Eric and Stephanie Nielson, Casey Curry, Louise Eng, Paul-David Van Atta, Gregg Harrison, Tama Lundquist, Tena Lundquist Faust, Eileen and Kase Lawal, Amy Pierce, Karen Labat from Shell USA Inc., George and Laura Pontikes, Robert Sakowitz, Franelle Rogers, Alison Comstock Moss, Beth Wolff, Joyce and Arthur Schechter, Paula Sutton and Bill Gross, Philamena and Arthur Baird, Julie and Richard Chi, Regina Rogers, Nasruddin Rupani, and Mary Gwen and Ben Hulsey.

For more than 50 years, Interfaith Ministries has united people of diverse backgrounds to serve the Greater Houston area and manifests the strength of shared beliefs through five areas of service to the greater Houston community: Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston and Galveston County/Animeals; Refugee Services; Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships; Volunteer Houston and SERVE HOUSTON through the Vic Samuels Center for Volunteerism and Civic Service.

About Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston

A United Way agency, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (Interfaith Ministries) brings people of diverse faith traditions together for dialogue, collaboration and service, as a demonstration of our shared beliefs. Interfaith Ministries provides the following main services: Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston and Galveston County delivers more than two million meals each year to over 5,300 homebound seniors and people with disabilities across four counties; Refugee Services, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department and Episcopal Migration Ministries, resettles hundreds of refugees in Houston annually; Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships provides community services and education fostering understanding, respect and engagement among Houstonians of all faiths and no particular faith; and the Vic Samuels Center for Volunteerism and Civic Service through Volunteer Houston, which connects volunteers in transformative projects with area nonprofits and SERVE HOUSTON, which forms the leaders of tomorrow while meeting the community needs of today. For more information, visit https://www.imgh.org/.