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Year End Musings from Elliot Gerhenson
Elliot Gershenson, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston

December, 2010

The Strength of Shared Beliefs

Tuesday Memo

December 21, 2010

The reason why IM exists is to offer an added value to the services we provide.  In other words, it's just not enough to give a meal to a senior or a home and food to a refugee.  We need to go beyond to match our services with our shared values.


So each year for the past three years we have been giving a gift to each of our homebound seniors for the holidays.  It just seems like the right thing to do.


Volunteers from companies like Chevron and Brady, Chapman, Holland & Associates, and organizations like Yes Prep West and St. Luke's United Methodist Church, as well as many individuals have donated items and made decorative bags for each senior's gift.  We give something warm like a blanket and some toiletries that we know the seniors need.  For the past three years one of our supporters had stepped up with funds to fill the gap between what was donated and what was not.  So we did what is right - we purchased extra blankets and toiletries for delivery this week; so no senior goes without a gift.


We are hoping for a Christmas angel to step forward and help fill this gap.  We already had received donated gifts for about 600 of our seniors - so this means we purchased just about 4,000 gifts.  The cost is a bit over $10,000.  Would you like to help? Email me or call me directly at 713-899-1980.



  • IM is co-sponsoring a major Meta Leadership Preparedness Conference with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on Monday, January 31, 2011.  Five organizations that focus on preparedness and disaster have come together to be the local sponsors and we are proud to be among this prestigious group including: The American Red Cross, Houston Chapter; Neighborhood Centers, Inc., The Salvation Army; and The United Way of Greater Houston.  This important conference is open to corporate, government, health, religious and community leaders, particularly those who have an interest in preparing for emergencies.  To register click here.
  • IM recently took a giant step and hired a staff person to manage a new and creative approach to preparedness.  Next year we will establish a program that melds the strengths of our Office of Disaster Preparedness and Response and Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston called the Senior Buddy Project. Over the next year we will be working with congregations, organizations and corporations to recruit approximately 600 buddies who will be responsible for helping one senior in times of emergency.  The purpose is simple:  to assure that homebound seniors who've we identified as being highly dependent on IM have a buddy during a hurricane or other emergency.  We hope that this project will become replicable and adopted in other vulnerable cities.  
  • I thought you might like to know that the response to our year-end pet food drives for aniMeals on Wheels at the SPCA and CenterPoint Energy have been an overwhelming success - to the point that our storage area in our building is overflowing so much that we had to get one, then two portable storage pods for our parking lot!  More than 32,000 pounds (and counting!) have been donated this year - and we will use this pet food to assure that every homebound senior with a pet is served.  Thank you all for your generosity!




The year is coming to a close.  It's been a difficult year for all too many.  IM has been blessed by the generosity of thousands of individuals, congregations, corporations and organizations who have provided us volunteer and financial support.  In a year when many organizations have had to cut back, we've grown this year's budget, for the third year in a row, by about $1 million dollars.  A primary driver of this growth is our goal to meet the need, not the contract for our programs.  For Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston this means that we added approximately 600 clients to our daily meal service - now serving about 4,550 and we anticipate more growth in 2011.  Adding 600 seniors alone costs IM about $750,000 more.


It's a big challenge and an awesome responsibility.  It keeps me awake many nights.  But somehow each year the coffers get filled.  I have come to have faith that we can keep up this noble effort - because I have faith that each of you will act in Godly ways - caring for the most vulnerable in our society.


That's why I am so proud to be part of the Houston community.  When there is a need people step forward. There are those of you who focus your attention on children, education, homelessness, food security and many other important causes.  And for those of you who care deeply about seniors, refugees, disaster preparedness and interfaith dialogue, you have IM to support.  And you do.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You have helped us become one of the great non-profits serving our community.  We could not do it without you, our great Board of Directors and without a great, dynamic staff of more than 140 dedicated individuals. You can always go to our website to learn more how you can become engaged with us.


May this Holiday season bring you much joy.  Kiss your children, embrace your spouses, reach out to those who need blessings and remember that whatever we have is just a gift to share with others. 


The next edition of the Tuesday Memo will come to your inbox on Tuesday, January 11th.

Elliot Gershenson

President and CEO

Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston 


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IM and Community Events

IM is dedicated to promoting interfaith education and learning activities. Please send us your events so that we may include them in the upcoming events section of IM's website and elsewhere. Click here to see more events. Help us promote Dialogue, Collaboration and Respect in Houston.
January 6, 2011 1:30 -7 p.m. Walk Labyrinth 
The movable Labyrinth at St. Paul's United Methodist Church will be set up indoors for prayer and meditation. Found in many religious traditions in various forms around the world, the labyrinth is an archetype of the journey of a spiritual seeker, a symbol of unity and wholeness. More information can be found here.
January 8, 2011, 3 - 5 p.m., Loyalty to One's Country
Bait-us-samee Mosque, 1333 Spears Rd., Houston, Tx 77067
Listen to a Jewish, Christian, and Muslim perspective on loyalty to one's country.  Due to limited seating, please RSVP before Jan 3.  For more information, contact

January 17 - February 25, 2011, Renewing the Spiritual Vocation through 40 days of Silent Meditation
Rothko Chapel
Local spiritual and religious leaders from the world's faith traditions will lead a 40-minute period of silent meditation each day.  The silent meditations will invite people to experience the power of this world renowned interfaith sanctuary and provide an opportunity for local leaders to play an active role in celebrating the Chapel's 40th anniversary. More information can be found here.


January 18, 2011, 7:30 - 9 p.m., Dead Man Walking: Religious leaders dialogue on the death penalty
Hobby Center Zilkha Hall
Please join us for this special event aimed at heightening the awareness of death penalty issues in Houston and starting the conversation that moves us forward.  The event brings together seven of Houston's religious leaders to explore perspectives on the death penalty. Free with RSVP- 512.441.1808 or


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