It was a sparkling night for everyone at The Village Learning and Achievement Center’s annual gala, themed Rhinestones and Ropers at the Doubletree Hotel. Honorees Cher and Lawrence Pope surprised VLAC’s Executive Director Kim Brusatori with a personal check for $25,000 and a check from Halliburton’s charity golf tournament for $100,000. Kim Maxey and the Maxey family, representing Curtis Maxey who was a longtime volunteer and founder of the Kiwanis Aktion Club, which supported Villagers’ participation in community service learning projects, also presented the organization with a personal donation. Eileen Simonetty was also honored for her years of volunteering. Terri Stowers and Rick Darling, Corinn and Lexi Price, Melinda Stephenson, Gwendolyn and Dave Crawford, Hildy and David Bubier, Chad and Devon Alexander, Kathy and Gordon Mayeux, Buddy Rogers, Jeane Rogers, Pat and Ray Guard, Scott and Peggy Pignolet, Peter Mantell, Andrea and Tim Lee, Sharon and Ben Gould, Cheryl and Don McGeough and a few hundred more thoroughly enjoyed the evening of good food, drink, music from the Jason Cassidy band, some great auction items including a handmade rocking chair and the traditional “impromptu dance” featuring guests like Millie Garrison, Dennis Martin, Cher Pope, Casey Christman, Kelly Paull, Kristi Williams and Erica Badamo.

Mark Linabury called out for a spur-of-the-moment Fajita Friday at Rigo’s Kitchen and a bunch of us turned up for the food and fun. Walter and Judy Mathews Paczkowski, Bernie and Gina Remmes, Daniel and Carlos Ledoux, Hector Martinez, Paul and Denise Krieger, Lynn Fields, and Danny Sullivan settled in for a semi-long lunch and visit. Much hilarity was had with iPhone’s Siri, Android’s S voice, Southern accents and the various spelling permutations of my name (for the record it’s spelled Cherrie but pronounced “cherry”) but it’s one of those “had-to-be-there” moments. Now it’s Fajita Friday every Friday at Rigo’s! Friday was an extra-special one because it was Rigo’s birthday – Feliz Cumpleanos, amigo!

As winners of the 2015 Large District category of H-E-B’s Excellence in Education awards, Humble ISD’s Education Foundation was able to present an additional $100,000 in grants this year. The Prize Posse, which included Superintendent Guy Sconzo and H-E-B Houston Division President Scott McLelland, drove around to the schools and surprised a whole lot of teachers and students with funding for various projects such as “Programmed to Roll Over STEM,” “Camp GIVE (Generously Investing and Volunteering to Empower),” and “Parent University.” Congratulations to all 32 schools that will be benefiting from the prize money!

Patricia Cugini organized a Beer and Cider tasting and cooking class for Barrington residents and everyone had a blast! Daniel poured out mini red solo cups of every beer and cider I used for everything on the menu that night which included beer bread (seriously, it takes all of 3 minutes to prep this and about 40 minutes to bake – everyone should make it more often) with homemade beer ricotta (also takes about 5 minutes to make then, presto! fresh cheese!), roasted fall vegetables with creamy cider dressing, slow-roasted pork in cider, ale-brined roast potatoes and for dessert, gingerbread stout cake with chocolate stout ganache. John Cugini, Tony and MaryAnn Welka, Loren and Anita Bennett, Joe and Julie Angers, Wayne and Diane Burge, Jim and Annki Lerner, Brian and Beverly Groom, Janice Fox, Marita Vilson, Shannon Richards and Jeff and Michelle Hemmer had a beer-y good time and I look forward to my next class with you all!

Danell Fields organized a very different Stilettos event with a cooking competition at Bill’s Café and everyone had so much fun! Competing were Geralyn Sullivan, Kyle Campbell, Sharon Lewis, Jessica Beemer and Emmy Lee in two categories: appetizers and main dish. Dishes were tasted and judged by David Welch, Halene Crossman, Connie Chandler and honorary taster Hector Martinez. Diane Blanco, Twila Ilgen, Kathy Adkins and a few others wore Team Kyle aprons and right next to them was the Team Geralyn group with Danny Sullivan, Jack Kelly and Ida Sullivan. Cheri Huber and Casey Christman kept up with orders for the crowd – Robin Martinez, Judy Luquette, Gina Remmes, Denise Krieger, Tracey Gibbs and I indulged in everything fried: pickles, okra, onion rings and fries! Jessica Beemer took home bragging rights for the night – congratulations!

I recently toured the Humble Area Assistance Ministries facility with a group of incoming new board members: Tom Broad, Emelda Douglas, Kelley Mattlage, Marilyn Mann, Melissa Amie and Deborah Mowrey. A small army of Kingwood Park High School students were there helping to organize the baskets of food that were being distributed for Thanksgiving as Executive Director Millie Garrison and incoming board president Terry Vaughn showed us the inner workings of HAAM and introduced us to the people that made it work. Over 11,000 families and almost 40,000 individuals in our area were helped by HAAM last year in many different ways – food assistance, school supplies, toys for Christmas, medical care, job placement, education and social services.

Last year’s HAAM Empty Stocking Toy Drive, hosted by the committee and the Stilettos at Lynn Fields’ home, has moved to the Nathaniel Center. This year’s theme is vintage Vegas! Vegas Night will include Frank Sinatra tunes, fun casino tables and fabulous prizes. Purchase tickets for the Dec. 2 event at thefunraisers.org or call 281-318-619. Join the fun for a great cause!

Enjoy a safe, family and friend filled Thanksgiving everyone! I hope to see you all at Vegas Night!