Congregational Meeting to Elect New Montrose Grace Place Board Members

Grace Lutheran Church will hold a short congregational meeting on May 1st to consider a slate of new board members for Montrose Grace Place. Montrose Grace Place offers a safe, welcoming environment for vulnerable homeless youth of all sexualities and gender identities, providing nourishment, healthy relationships, and hope for the future. The organization is a separately incorporated 501(c)3 organization which utilizes the facilities of Grace Lutheran Church and whose board of directors is elected by the congregation.

The Montrose Grace PlaceBoard has discovered very specific skills they feel are needed to grow, and has decided to expand their numbers and recruit new members to fill those needs. They are putting a slate of candidates to the congregation, hoping that they will approve all of these potential board members. The board asks for an up or down vote on the entire slate, so that members with financial, legal, church organizing, and life experience can be added to the board.

2011 Montrose Grace Place Board Members Slate Candidate Biographies
  • Jennifer Bruton:
Jennifer Bruton is an Executive Recruiter at Richard Wayne and Roberts. She has been using her excellent organizational and people management skills as Grace Place's volunteer coordinator. Jennifer also has legal knowledge that greatly facilitated Montrose Grace Place in obtaining our 501c3 status.
  • Hal Core:
Dear Grace Lutheran Church, I am finishing my first term as board member of Montrose Grace Place (MGP) and seek re-election to a second term of three years. I also serve as a direct volunteer for MGP, mixing it up with the homeless youth, so if you’d like to hear some of my stories about these amazing, funny, sometimes frustrating and always brave people, let me know. I love to share my “Youth Night” experiences!

I’ve attended Grace Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas, since 1996, and became a member in 1998. During that time I’ve served in various ways including Youth Christian Education, Grace Notes monthly newsletter, and on the church council (2002-2005). In addition to my service with Montrose Grace Place, I currently organize Grace’s annual participation in Houston A.I.D.S. Walk and Pride Houston’s festival and parade.

I am employed at ExpressJet Airlines, d.b.a. Continental Express, where I am a flight attendant (ask me about my fun experiences “flying”). I also facilitate Recurrent Training in ExpressJet’s Training Department. Past work experiences have sharpened my skills of sales, marketing, and public speaking that I believe will continue to benefit the marginalized populations we serve through MGP.

My life partner of nineteen years, Steve Walker, and I had our church weddin’ at Grace Lutheran in 1998. We have a beautiful, if rambunctious, six-month-old white miniature schnauzer named Sophie.

Craig Hopkins:
Born and raised in East Greenwich, R.I., I had extensive exposure to multiple European and eastern European cultures and religious backgrounds stemming from the large immigrant populations in Rhode Island. These included Italian, Portuguese, French, German, Latvian, Armenian and Estonian. Although I was raised Lutheran, I attended public schools and was well versed in the Roman Catholic and Jewish faiths of my peers.

As an adult, I have been an accounting/financial/hospitality professional for 30 years. I have traveled to 36 of the 50 United States generally for business. As I find myself settling into Houston (and not traveling), I have been able to devote more time to assist in the service of others. I have been volunteering with the setup/serving/cleanup of Montrose Grace Place’s Thursday night meals since early September 2010. My hospitality background has been an asset in this effort.

I see my business acumen and accounting experience as additional assets that I can bring to Montrose Grace Place as a member of the Board of Directors. I have always maintained the highest integrity in my professional endeavors. My current position is controller for Aramark Corporation which holds the food and beverage contract with the City of Houston for the George R. Brown Convention Center. Being a contractor for the City, my financial records are always available for public and media scrutiny. This is well-suited for the requisites of a non-profit service organization which must always maintain records of the highest integrity and above reproach.
  • Koomah:
Koomah is intersex and transgender Houston-area performance artist and fundraiser. Koomah was born in Japan and survived severe abuse and neglect, was adopted in America and through discovering their own gender identity and sexuality; became homeless as a teen on the streets of Montrose. As a homeless youth in desperation, Koomah was faced with some decisions and made choices that still impacts their life today. Koomah is an advocate for intersex, transgender, and queer people and youth in Houston and elsewhere, and commonly speaks at panels to educate individuals and organizations about these issues. Koomah hopes that their personal experience can be used to help further the success of Montrose Grace Place.
  • Rebecca Shields:
I read about the organization of Montrose Grace Place through Grace’s newsletter and decided that this was something that I wanted to be involved with: youngsters who through no fault of their own—and with little voice-- find themselves on the fringes of our society.

I helped out with the meal on the very first evening—June 10. I then decided that Christ the King Church could/would be responsible for the evening meals on the 2nd and 5th Thursdays of every month and began publicizing this fact—and the program-- in our weekly bulletin and monthly newsletter.

To date, almost 30 members of CK have participated, and, based on this level of participation, earlier this year the CK Church Council voted to become a covenant church with the program.

I have also been able to involve—to a much lesser extent-- St. Paul’s Methodist Church: two meals and numerous clothing donations from their youth group, and I am hopeful that this involvement will continue/expand.

I have seen that Montrose Grace Place truly offers friends, food and hope, and I want to ensure not only that it continues to serve the youth who are drawn to it but also that it expands to serve others. I believe that I am best at “spreading the word” and utilizing the resources at CK and in my neighborhood to assist the program in its growth and outreach.

I would be honored to serve on the Board.

(I was baptized at Posey Lutheran Church, Posey, Texas, in 1945, and I have been an active member of Christ the King Lutheran Church for 38 years.)

Anyone with questions should contact current Montrose Grace Place board members Pastor Lura Groen, Barbara Carroll, Hal Core or Victor Schill.

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