17Jan, 2020

Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce Education Meeting January 15, 2020

By |January 17th, 2020|

Wednesday, we had a full meeting with returning businesses and schools along with new businesses and schools. It is exciting to see our committee continue to grow and build partnerships.

April Petronella is working with The Leader to gain more exposure for our committee and the school needs and she is going to work with Chamber Intern, Kayler Walker, to locate grants to help fund some scholarships for our students.

All Saints Early Childhood Catholic Center partnered with Booker T. Washington Day Care providing toddler supplies.

Waltrip High School needs businesses to come and speak to classes (pick a class and time) about careers as well as they have volunteer needs (leading to potential job next year) in working with the Special Education Classes. A Vision Board workshop on Jan. 23 is open for the community with light dinner and the Spring Tours for the Middle Schools is beginning.

Space and Serenity, Tiffany Mensing, is building a format for schools to express their needs (clothes, prom dresses, decorations, etc.) so she can connect other organizers as they work with the different client’s items.

Roberto Zamora, HISD Wrap Around Specialist Manager for the North area, has needs for his eleven schools: shoes, uniforms and family resources.

Kathryn van der Pol of Liberty Hoepfl Garage, is opening a charter school, Heritage Classic Academy, beginning in 2021; it will focus on character building and citizenship through the study of classic materials; it will be located in the northwest area beginning with Kindergarten and going eventually to the 12th grade.

Houston Community College NE is having their Spring Registration Fest.

Huntington Learning Center-Heights is hosting a College GPS event at Heights High School on Feb. 1; all middle school and high school students and parents are welcome.

Helms Elementary is having their Western Dance for the Pre-K students on Feb. 28 from 4 pm-7; volunteers are needed.

Willie Diefenbach-Jones with SendOutCards is looking for parent groups and school organizations that wish to make a little extra money; great way to help send a student to camp or athletic needs.

Garden Oaks Montessori has their Externship Program for the 8th graders in March and needs business to partner with them for a student to shadow them for a day up to the whole week. The GOM UnGala is Feb. 25 and donations are needed to help with the event: Wine Pull, silent auction items and sponsors overall.

Katherine Smith Elementary needs new or used softball equipment as they are forming a team. Please donate.

Ryan Shumberg with Spark Soccer, an indoor soccer company, and new Chamber member, would like to partner with pre-schools and schools to help with soccer skills and teams.

Black Middle School is seeking donations for their silent auction/gala coming up in March; the theme is the Roaring 20’s.

Houston Highway Credit Union can host a financial reality event for your school and/or PTO (retirement planning, or budgeting).

The Chamber is giving back to the schools and non-profits through the pre-sale ticket program for the Crawfish Festival. If your group is interested, please contact me. You get $10 for each ticket sold. Great way to raise money to send a student off to Washington D.C. camp, soccer classes, or school supplies or organization needs.

As you can see there are many opportunities for your business to partner with a specific school need or make a longer partnership overall. You can grow your network through school venues and parents. If you need contact information for anyone above you can email me at and/or come to our next meeting on Feb. 19 at 10:30, Baptist Temple, Heritage Room.

20Dec, 2019

Education Committee Values Contributors, Cites Needs and Seeks Additional Partnerships

By |December 20th, 2019|

Great Partnerships are being forged through the Education Committee; Tiffany Mensing with Space and Serenity gathered the Christmas and holiday supplies to help make Heights High School Winter Holiday Festival spirited. In the past, Hermann and Sons donated uniforms to Waltrip Ladies Soccer and this one act has led to increased interest as well as dreaming of going further with their education. HEB Heights has great opportunities to build community service hours by being Super Bowl Caring ambassadors. Texas Charity Partners, a new chamber member, is looking to give away supplies for teachers (yea! No money out of your pocket). Katherine Smith has been the recipient of Imperial Guard Alumnae, a non-profit Chamber member, organized food bags for each child, coats and clothes for the children and toys from Houston Highway Credit Union. Waltrip High School and Booker T. Washington High School and Day Care program also were recipients of clothing donations from the Imperial Guard Alumnae and from the organizing by Space and Serenity. The Chamber Community Fund also contributed to the area children needs. Willie Diefenbach-Jones with Send Out Cards is working with the teachers and parents in the community, so they enhance their abilities to provide for the children as well as with area business to obtain scholarships for the graduating seniors.

So how can you participate in building partnerships with the schools? Contribute to the development of mentorship with the young men and women at Black Middle School, help raise the funds for a Spark Park dedicated to the younger children and community around Katherine Smith. Marshall Middle School needs clothes for their kids along with volunteers to help with the community closet. Reach out! Become involved; the Education Committee can be the venue for networking. Upcoming partnerships continue to build as Waltrip High School and Katherine Smith Elementary will be hosting a financial workshop by Houston Highway Credit Union; Garden Oaks Montessori is already participating. Come to our next meeting, January 15, 2020 at 10:30 in the Heritage Room at Baptist Temple, located at 230 West 20th Street.

25Nov, 2019

Chamber Education Committee Blends Business and Education

By |November 25th, 2019|

The Chamber’s Education Committee, chaired by Cindy Reibenstein with co-chair Willie Diefenbach-Jones, has created a very successful union involving Chamber members and leaders from area schools. Monthly meetings bring out diverse groups whose collective emphasis is to assist, support, and provide much needed aid in multiple activity areas for school leaders, students, families and the Heights area community.

Recent and on-going activities for the Chamber are dedicated to providing food, clothing and home goods for those in need. Many Chamber members have stepped up to the plate and donated, participated and given, or offered freely of their time as volunteers or coordinators. Just to name a few, they are: Houston Highway Credit Union, Keller Williams (Natalie Murgia), American Legion Post 560 (Naro Mak), and Signature Care. There remains an urgent need for others to provide assistance with being a school partner which may also include coaching or being informational resources for student parents. School activities such as festivals, printing needs, portable building leads, holiday productions, child-care and many others operational areas represent just a few of the current chief concerns.

The latest developments involving the Houston Food Bank has necessitated dropping food distribution days to twice a month and that can bring hardships. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays represent acute needs for food to be given to needy families. Volunteers are needed to help with distribution. Thanks, are given to the Waltrip Imperial Guard Alumnae and Business Network International (BNI) for clothing and food deliveries.

The Education Committee continues to reach out to members and businesses that are interested in becoming a partner for one or more schools. By creating a partnership, there is an immediate gratification of helping students in their academic and social learning process, providing valuable essentials to disadvantaged families, and contributing to the betterment of our community.

Thank you to the following schools in attendance at the November committee meeting:
Garden Oaks Montessori, Waltrip High School, Heights High School, Northside High School, Clifton Middle School, Booker T. Washington, Helms Elementary, All Saints Catholic, Sinclair Elementary and Katherine Smith Elementary.

Our appreciation to these supporting businesses:
HEB, Send Out Cards, EEPB, Serenity and Space, HITS, Houston Highway Credit Union, Natalie Murgia of Keller Williams, Naro Mak of American Legion Post 560, BNI, Signature Care and the Imperial Guard Alumnae of Waltrip.

The Education Committee will meet on December 18 at 10:30 at Baptist Temple located at 230 West 20th Street. If you would like to be involved and become a member, please contact Cindy Reibenstein at

12Nov, 2019

Clifton Middle School Food Pantry

By |November 12th, 2019|

We are starting up our Food Pantry (in partnership with the Houston Food Bank) next week. All the information is on the attached poster, please share with your community. I am also looking for student and adult volunteers (Adults must be VIPS approved) to help with the distribution. High school students will be able to receive community service hours for their time. Thank you.


28Oct, 2019

Chamber Seeks Donations for Houston Area Schools

By |October 28th, 2019|

For students to succeed in life, basics must be met and our area schools have identified a serious need for food and household items. Many of the area HISD schools are classified as Title 1. This means that the students come from low-income family at poverty levels. A school with a Title 1 designation requires that 35 percent of students residing within the school’s boundaries qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. Many of our Chamber area schools have 100 percent of students meeting these criteria.

The need is urgent and we must be persistent to help give these students a foundation for success! The Chamber is beginning a food and supply drive to help alleviate this shortfall and give students a positive learning environment. Helping this noteworthy cause is easy and will be greatly appreciated. The following items represent foods that students can cook, open as well as clothing. Please consider collecting the following items:

Easy-Mac, fruit cups, apple sauce, peanut butter and jelly, granola and protein bars, cereal, oatmeal, baby formula and wipes, winter coats and jackets. There is also a need for warm clothing, gently used is good or new, all sizes from new born to 18. Another way to help is to make a donation to the Chamber’s Community Fund; it is tax deductible as the Community Fund is a 501c3. This is the Chamber’s charitable arm to help our community. Donations of all types can be delivered to the Chamber offices or brought to events.

Although single donations are greatly appreciated, consistency is essential to make a difference. If you have a desire to partner with a specific school all you have to do is ask and the Chamber’s Education Committee will set it up. Our students need your help, and donors can reach out to Cindy Reibenstein at rcreibenstein@aol or Willie Diefenbach-Jones at This program will provide benefits to Title 1 elementary, middle, and high schools. Our chamber is known for our community outreach and with your donation we can make a difference in our students and schools.



6Mar, 2019

Annual Education Luncheon May 21st!

By |March 6th, 2019|

Our annual Education Luncheon honors high school seniors who have been awarded Chamber scholarships as well as those area seniors who are entering the military.  We will also honor the Teacher of the Year, Staff Person of the Year, and Educator of the Year.  And we are pleased to welcome Jonathan Horton, two-time Olympic Gymnastics Champion and Houstonian, as our special guest and keynote speaker.

The goal of the luncheon is to provide as many scholarships as possible to deserving students. Donors are being solicited as we would like to continue our $1,000 per scholarship but other levels will also be awarded.  The number of scholarships and amount is determined by your donations. Donations of any amount are welcome and groups can combine donations toward a full scholarship. A variety of sponsorship packages are available: Summa Cum Laude are $2,500, Military are $2,500, Magna Cum Laude are $2,000, Cum Laude are $1,500, Valedictorian are $1,000, and Salutatorian are $500. The final deadline for inclusion in the event program is May 9.

Non attendee sponsors are welcome and for $100 businesses can be the sponsor of a lunch for a scholarship recipient’s parent or school performer.

The members of the Education Committee are over 70 strong with schools and businesses who meet monthly to work towards making our community education strong at all levels, Elementary through high school, public, private and parochial. Donations or sponsorships can be obtained by contacting Jill Johnston at the Chamber, All sponsorship levels are Tax-Deductible and are the only annual Chamber event to provide this opportunity. The Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce Community Fund is a 501c3.  Since the inception of the scholarship program, the Chamber has awarded scholarships representing over $350,000.

21Mar, 2018

March Reflection

By |March 21st, 2018|

The School Year is underway and lots of activities going on with each one: festivals, fun runs and the prom is coming up.  Can you help a guy or a girl with a tux, a dress, shoes, accessories etc.?  If so, let us know and we can coordinate with you and help students enjoy this special day.  Also we have scholarships and honoring of the students entering the military at our May Education Luncheon along with hearing and seeing our elementary and middle schools students perform and entertain us.  Multiple schools in the area participated in the parade and festival; everyone had a great time!  The Education Committee meets the second Thursday of the month at Baptist Temple at 10 am in the Heritage Room.  Come join us and get involved!  See you March 8, 2018 and/or on April 12, 2018.

Cindy Reibenstein

Education Committee Chair

14Feb, 2018

February Reflection

By |February 14th, 2018|

A Big Thank You to Baptist Temple for hosting our monthly Education meetings; come the second Thursday of the month to the Heritage Room and you will find many schools and businesses ready to partner and help each other.  HITS Theatre has field trips available to their Miller Outdoor productions this Spring and a Raffle you will want to support—Hamilton tickets with dinner and hotel etc…. May 4; Harmony STEM MULTICULTURAL Festival is Feb. 24 from 10-2pm—support this endeavor—visit!  Kenworthy School on 28th and Durham needs a music teacher! HCC NE continues to deliver educational programming at their campuses. Garden Oaks Montessori has their FREE Pancake Breakfast Feb. 3 from 8-10:30 with their Silent Auction to help raise funds for educational needs and on Feb. 26 the students present their Black History Program at 9, 1 and 2.  Waltrip continues to grow and enrollment will cap out soon with the school being an AP Capstone school next year.

St. PiusX has their Academic Rally coming up for Middle Schools to participate in while Washington High School will have students going to Washington D.C. in late February. Harvard Elementary has STEM night and programs on bullying—check them out! Northside High School is now in part of their renovation and is slated to be a Pre AP Top 100 in the nation for a pilot program. Arabic Immersion is getting ready for their Silk Road Festival  and businesses such as Send Out Cards with Willie DJ and State Farm with Ms. Garza the schools are building partnerships! Financial Reality options with curriculum and workshops with Houston Highway Credit Union are being built her as well. The Parade entries and Crawfish Festival Entertainment from the schools continue to build—sign up soon!  Come join us!  See you at 10 am on February 8, 2018.


Cindy Reibenstein, Education Chair

29Nov, 2017

November/December Reflection

By |November 29th, 2017|

A Goal of the Education Committee is to build partnerships among the businesses and schools! This year we are emphasizing more education with ways to make it mutually beneficial for both parties. Businesses—you have a marketing opportunity with the PTO, events hosted by the schools that gets your name associated with parents, teachers and kids (your customers now or in the future)!  Businesses you can support endeavors through time—by reading (less than an hour) to elementary students. Role model! Give of yourself. And yes, donations can donate help with Festivals, Fun Runs and Equipment. Schools can call businesses to be a vendor at one of their events or PTO meetings. Maybe light snacks are provided—more people come and this helps your statistics with school rankings, grading etc… so let’s build partnerships! We started in the meeting… High School Ahead is partnering with Farmers Insurance for Lemonade Day!

Schools overall are reaching out to the community to help Post-Harvey victims. Harmony Schools and Houston Community College have an event every other week from October 18 through mid-December… so spread the word. Women of Waltrip group need women to speak to a small group of high school girls–share your experiences so they benefit from your knowledge. Many Career Days are coming with a need of businesses to share aspects of the world to students from elementary to high school level… Scarborough is growing and will have several fundraisers to help with their needs, especially the band.

St. Pius X has their Learning Center opening and had their Fly Over the School with Channel 13 and their football stadium was named for their alum, Gary Kubiack. Garden Oaks Montessori has Read for the Record coming soon and will need volunteers as well as Kathryn Smith Elementary–read to kids … enrich the future… Hartz Chicken is ready to help schools with their fundraisers—call Naro! He spoke about Veteran’s Day at K. Smith.  American Legion Post 560 can help by making all those history lessons come to life–a veteran (young and older) are available to visit your classroom or business and talk–think about it: history; you can support the Post by coming to their Steak Night which is the 3rd Friday of the month ($15 gets you Ribeye, Potato and Salad) or the 4th Friday of the month is Fish Night….proceeds go to help them build a community facility on the location. Northside High School will have their Financial Night and programs beginning in the Spring and Houston Highway Credit Union is coming to assist in this! Houston Heights needs a gym to practice and play in!

How can you partner more with the Chamber? Coming up we have the Crawfish Festival and Parade on March 3, 2018 and a Food Truck fair in April. Noteworthy that we have an Art Car from Garden Oaks along with the Singers, an Eco Car from Harmony along with choir, cheerleaders and more as well as St. Pius X cheerleaders and band, the Scarborough Band and Waltrip for the festival and parade!  Arabic Immersion’s group will play.  We are off to a good start… see how your school can participate; we are celebrating Harvey Hero’s!  Let me know as soon as you can as there are many details to work on.

Scholarship applications are on the website and the Education celebration for May was discussed.   In December the Education Committee will begin meeting at Baptist Temple (the chamber moved and Baptist Temple keeps us central for all the schools); it is about 2 blocks from the bank….The church is located at 230 W. 20th Street between Yale and Rutland.  Our parking lot is located behind the church and accessible from 19th Street.  The main entrance to the building is located on the west side of the building (near the covered drop-off area), and it easily identifiable from both 20th St and 19th St. parking lot.  It will likely be in the “Heritage Room,” which is located on the first floor of the building.  They are providing coffee! See you Thursday, December 14, 2017 at Baptist Temple at 10 am.

Cindy Reibenstein, Education Chair

6Oct, 2017

October Reflection

By |October 6th, 2017|

The Education Committee consistently attends to the needs of the schools and businesses and it is through building those partnerships that each finds success. Houston Highway Credit Union begins their financial curriculum instruction at Sinclair Elementary and many other schools are exploring their calendars so they can have the financial reality experience for their students.  Many of the schools were assisted with cleaning supplies as well as some school supplies in order to start the year off but each school could use your experience in the form of mentors, readers, coming to present your business to the PTO–just getting involved!

Washington High School has 10 students going to Zimbabwe in November—they are building the water filtration system and the wind turbine they designed for another education community. Can you help with making this trip possible?  Contact Washington High School today! We would love to have you come and engage with our group; it is a great group of professionals who come together to see how we can help each other for the good of all.  You can make a difference in the lives of students, educators and your business; from this our community will be the better for it.  Come the second Thursday of the month to the Chamber office at 10 am.  See you….

Cindy Reibenstein

Education Committee Chair