Arbor Day. Dignity/Houston had a blast planting trees and tending Mother Earth at the City of Houston’s 27th Annual Arbor Day Tree Planting Celebration on Saturday, January 25, 2014. Our team joined hundreds of volunteers to plant 10,000 trees at Memorial Park, and our crew of six got at least 130 trees in the ground. It was amazing to hear our elected officials, including Mayor Anise Parker, come out and speak about the value of taking care of our parks and promoting a green Houston. As Catholics for en- vironmental justice, we especially feel called to be good stewards of God's creations. We can't wait to do it again at next year's Arbor Day celebration!
5K Race Against Violence. Four members and friends of Dignity/Houston completed the 26th Annual Race Against Violence 5K benefitting the Houston Area Women Center. More than 2700 people come out to stand up for the empowerment of women. Dignity/Houston embraces opportunities like these to demonstrate our passion for intersectional social justice. Equality is equality!
New Directions. In December Dignity/Houston elected new members to its board: Tierra Ortiz-Rodriguez as chapter President, Jim LeBlanc as Treasurer, and Frank Aguilar as Secretary. Dignity/Houston is grateful for the guidance and leadership of past board President Mike Sheahan, Secretary Phil Helfrich, and honorary Board member George Wetzel, who kept our chapter going, even as our member attendance fell to all-time lows. Our chapter was indeed close to folding when our past Board made the difficult decision to not renew their roles. We appreciate the responsibility they shouldered for as long as they did. Valuing our community of support, many members of Dignity/Houston were activated to continue the good work that began in Houston with the founding of our chapter in 1974.
To support our Board transition, Dignity/Houston has been holding monthly potlucks and community meetings to engage members in discussion about new directions for our chapter. We’ve also been receiving mentorship from sister chapter Dignity/San Antonio, providing wonderful opportunities for visiting each other and fellowshipping. These strategic sessions have resulted in our recommitment to the five areas identified by DignityUSA as primary for the purposes of spiritual development, education, social justice, equality, and friendship. Coming up, Dignity/Houston will be collaborating to offer an interfaith queer spirituality group with the Montrose Center; moving to attend a parish church together once a month; changing our meeting times from Saturday night to Sunday evenings; hosting a transgender education workshop with guest speaker Jay Mays, co-author of The Gender Book; engaging in intersectional justice work, such as an encore screening of Pink Smoke Over the Vatican to raise awareness of women’s rights and women’s ordination; making efforts to dialog more with local priests and bishops; and serving our local and global community through volunteerism and philanthropy. We look forward to sharing our journey with all of you!