Deep in the Heart of Texas
A Personal Blog of Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott
Friday, January 29, 2016
January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month in Texas (see Greg's proclamation below), and Greg and I urge all Texans to join us in the fight against human trafficking.
There is so much we can do to help make our state safer for children and victims of trafficking, and Texans have a great partner in The Texas Regional Office of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The Texas Regional Office provides child safety education to children, families, schools, child welfare organizations, and communities all across Texas, and they also provide training and technical assistance to law enforcement. Last year Greg and I were honored to be given the 2015 Texas Heroes for Children Award from the Texas Regional Office. I was privileged to have served on the advisory board for the Texas Regional Office for several years, but I am particularly proud of the things Greg has accomplished to make Texas the national leader in the crusade to end child abuse and exploitation. During Greg’s tenure as Texas Attorney General, he made protecting Texas children his top priority. Working closely with NCMEC, the Texas Attorney General’s Office arrested thousands and convicted hundreds of child sexual predators. And as Governor, Greg has directed the State of Texas to redouble its efforts to fight child sex trafficking and to prevent child abuse.
The thought of the injustices suffered at the hands of cruel traffickers is difficult to comprehend. Texans all across our state – from elected officials to law enforcement non-profit organizations – are dedicated to stopping this atrocious crime. Will you join us in supporting the effort to end trafficking, both at home and abroad?
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Greg recently declared January 2016 “Mentoring Month” in Texas. In his designation, he points out that a mentor is someone who is caring, and who is devoted to helping a young Texan achieve their potential, and he is right. Sometimes the only encouragement our students need is for one person to show that they care, but I know mentors do so much more. A good education is the ladder we give our children to help them reach their dreams – and for many students, mentors are an important part of making those dreams a reality.
As I have said many times before, I believe that we are each called to service. Texans who give not only their time, but also their heart, into being a mentor have without a doubt enthusiastically answered that call. Along with Greg, I encourage all Texans to learn more about mentoring and, if you are able, become a part of a quality mentoring program in your area. By investing ourselves in the next generation, we are creating a brighter future for all Texans.
Click on the image below to view Greg's proclamation.
Tuesday, January 05, 2016
Sunday I had the privilege of attending the memorial service of Elizabeth Laird, known lovingly by many as The Hug Lady.
Mrs. Laird – a veteran herself – got the nickname “The Hug Lady” because, according to news reports, she began attending deployment and homecoming ceremonies at Fort Hood starting in 2003. She attended almost all of the ceremonies held during those 12 years, where she would give a hug to every single one of the deploying or returning service members. It is estimated that she gave over half a million hugs. Hundreds attended the funeral and helped to honor her memory – though I’m certain there were thousands more honoring her memory all across the world.
Mrs. Laird was once quoted as saying “Volunteering and encouraging others is what you are supposed to do.” I couldn’t agree more. I believe we are each called to service – whether that call is to serve our schools, communities, state, or country. The Hug Lady eagerly answered that call, and in doing so, she did so much more than give hugs – she loved and honored our nation’s service members. She leaves behind an important legacy – one of service to others. It is a legacy that will never be forgotten, and one I hope each and every Texan will join me in helping to carry on.
Monday, December 28, 2015
Greg and I offer our heartfelt prayers for our fellow Texans affected by the weekend storms and severe weather across our state. Our thoughts are with those who lost a friend or family member, and those who have had their homes destroyed and their lives turned upside down.
Greg received a briefing yesterday from leaders at the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Department of Emergency Management. Following the briefing, he held a press conference where he thanked the local officials in the affected communities for their swift action to help their fellow Texans, and assured Texans that the state is doing everything it can to help those affected by the severe weather deal with the challenges they are facing. He has declared a state of disaster in several counties, and will continue to closely monitor the situation across the state.
To watch Greg’s press conference, click here or on the image below.
Additionally, if you are in need of assistance or want to know how you can provide assistance to your fellow Texans in need, contact the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, or another reputable, legitimate assistance organization in your area.
Finally, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website lists safety tips that I thought Texans may find helpful in staying safe during winter weather. Click here to see those tips.
With the potential for more severe weather in the coming days, Greg and I urge Texans to remain vigilant and heed the warnings of your local officials. And we will continue to keep all Texans in our thoughts and prayers.
UPDATE: For more information on ways you can assist with recovery efforts, click here.
Monday, December 07, 2015
It’s Christmas time at the Governor’s Mansion!
The halls of the Mansion have been decked for the holidays and the decorations are beautiful this year, if I may say so. If you’d like to come see the decorations, I encourage you to sign up for a Governor’s Mansion tour. December tours are available for the following dates:
Monday, December 7
Tuesday, December 8
Wednesday, December 9
Monday, December 14
Tuesday, December 15
Wednesday, December 16
Thursday, December 17
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Today’s TBT recalls my trip to Tyler a couple months ago. I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Tyler Hispanic Business Alliance’s 8th annual awards luncheon. Eight Hispanic-owned businesses in the Tyler community were announced as the winners of the 2015 Hispanic Business Achievers Award, and a highlight of the luncheon for me was helping announce and honor the winners. Small businesses are crucial to our state’s economy and play an important role in the future of Texas. Congratulations to the winners, and thank you for all that you are doing to increase economic opportunity, create jobs, and improve the quality of life in the Tyler community.
Announcing the winners of the 2015 Hispanic Business Achievers Award
I also stopped by the East Texas Food Bank, where I was able to meet several employees and volunteers and learn about the important work they are doing in East Texas. According to their website, the East Texas Food Bank serves 26 counties, and distributed over 20 million meals in 2014. Wow! They also have many wonderful programs that help provide food to East Texans – the BackPack Program, Senior Box Program, and Senior Servings, to name a few. A huge thank you to everyone who makes all these things possible – I admire your service and commitment to your fellow Texans.
Visiting with volunteers at the East Texas Food Bank.
I enjoyed meeting so many Tyler community members who are doing so much to enhance and enrich their community. Tyler – thank you for all that you are doing to make Texas such a magnificent place to live and work, and I hope to see you again soon!
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Last night I attended the 5th Annual Benefit Dinner for the St. John Paul II Life Center in Austin. The Center awarded Greg and me their 2015 Dignity in Life Award, and we were truly honored. Promoting life will always be a priority for us, and with the steadfast commitment of partners like the St. John Paul II Life Center, we will continue to vigorously defend and protect innocent life in Texas.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Today, I join Greg in honoring America's bravest - our veterans. It is because of the service of our men and women who wore the uniform that America is the strongest and greatest nation the world has ever known. On this Veteran's Day, Americans all across our great country are honoring our veterans in a multitude of ways, but we are thankful EVERY day, not just today. We are thankful because we know that the freedoms and liberties that make America so exceptional are because of their service. Thank you also to the families of our veterans, who have stood by their sides as they put service above self. May God bless all of our veterans, their families, and may God forever bless the United States of America.
With me in this photo is a veteran I recently met - 1sg (retired) Will Williams of Round Rock, who served our country as an Army Ranger for over 20 years before retiring. I met 1st Sgt. Williams at the Governor's Volunteer Awards in September, where Greg and I awarded him the Lone Star Achievement Award.
Thursday, November 05, 2015
Back in September I had the pleasure of spending a day in Granbury, and I made several stops while there. First, I addressed the Hood County Children’s Charity Fund at their Inaugural “Yellow Envelope” Luncheon. The Hood County Children’s Charity Fund is a local nonprofit that was established in 1984, originally to provide warm coats for winter to local children in need, but their mission has expanded over the last 30 years. I was in awe when I learned how many children’s lives have been made better because of the generosity of the Hood County Children’s Charity Fund. Whether it is new clothes for school, a warm coat for the winter, assistance with medical costs, or a scholarship to college, their generosity is genuinely helping the children of Hood County. I also stopped by the Brazos Pregnancy Clinic, the Hood County Senior Center, and the Boys and Girls Club of Hood County. It was a wonderful day getting to meet so many Granbury residents who are doing so much to enhance and enrich their community. Granbury – thank you for a delightful day, and I hope to see you again soon!
Thursday, October 29, 2015
A couple weeks ago I joined a large group at the Texas Capitol for the AmeriCorps Opening Day and swearing-in ceremony. Hosted by the OneStar Foundation, in Austin we welcomed about 500 new and returning AmeriCorps members, who are committing to give a year of service to their communities and fellow Texans. Other ceremonies were held across the state in Amarillo, Dallas, El Paso, and Waco – and in Texas, more than 2,200 new and returning AmeriCorps members were sworn-in. Nationwide, about 75,000 AmeriCorps members were sworn-in and honored.
I believe we are each called to service, and these AmeriCorps members have enthusiastically answered that call. They are giving a year of their life in service to Texans in need, and they are helping to enrich the lives of Texans young and old, rural and urban. I want to say “thank you” to these generous individuals for sharing their talents to help others succeed. And thank you to the
OneStar Foundation for all that you do to promote volunteerism and service in the Lone Star State.
Monday, October 26, 2015
Many of us are blessed with the joy and privilege of knowing a senior citizen – whether it is a parent, grandparent, maybe even a great-grandparent, or an elderly neighbor or friend. Sadly, the financial exploitation of elderly and vulnerable Texans is a growing problem in our state. This October, the State is partnering with local governments and organizations across Texas to raise awareness about ways we can help prevent, recognize and report elderly financial exploitation. The effort is being led by Texas Adult Protective Services, and the rallying cry is “If it is not your money, it is a crime.” To learn more and find ways you can get involved, visit http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/everyonesbusiness/.
Protecting the elderly from becoming victims is everyone’s business. If you know an elderly or disabled individual who you believe has been a victim of financial exploitation, please make a report to Adult Protective Services by calling 1-800-252-5400, or online at http://www.txabusehotline.org.
Texans have a long tradition of helping our fellow Texans in need. I have no doubt that by increasing awareness of elderly financial exploitation, we can go a long way in helping our Golden Texans live their lives free of the fear of having their money and possessions cruelly stolen.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting Ennis and Rosenberg for the Texas Historical Commission Texas Main Street Program's 2015 First Lady’s Tour. Since 1981, every Texas First Lady has participated in this special tour celebrating and welcoming the new communities designated as official Texas Main Street cities, and this year it was my pleasure to continue this grand tradition.
All across Texas – from our busy urban centers to our treasured small towns – it is in our downtowns where the past, present and future meet, and a sense of community grows. Thank you to Ennis and Rosenberg - and cities and towns all across the Lone Star State - for helping to make Texas such an extraordinary place to call home.