Deep in the Heart of Texas
A Personal Blog of Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott
Monday, May 30, 2016
On this Memorial Day, we pause for a moment to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. We honor the memory of those who gave their lives so that our nation might remain free, and our hearts go out to their families. Their ultimate sacrifice has preserved our freedom, and we are humbled by their example.
I recall the words written by Audie Murphy, a heroic Texan and the most decorated soldier for bravery on the World War II field of battle:
- Freedom flies in your heart like an eagle,
- let it soar with the high winds above.
- Among the spirits of soldiers now sleeping,
- guard it with care and with love.
Greg and I are so grateful every day for the selfless service of those who have worn the uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces and those who serve still today. We can never say thank you enough. Though our gratitude is but a small repayment, I do want to be sure our military families in Texas know about the Blue Star Museum program.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day — which this year would be May 30 through Sept. 5 —Blue Star Museums offer free admission to active-duty military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve, and their families. Among the Blue Star Museums is one of my favorite places to visit in Austin to experience the story of Texas — the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Of course, the Texas Capitol Visitors Center and the Texas State Capitol are always free. And I’d love for you to tour the Governor’s Mansion. For a complete list of all participating Blue Star Museums in Texas, visit https://www.arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums#!TX.
I hope you enjoy discovering all of the treasures these museums house. And, as always, may God bless our military families.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Today is a Throwback Thursday and I’m talking about an event from early April, when I visited Houston to attend and speak at the annual luncheon benefitting a wonderful organization: Citizen Schools Texas. Citizen Schools Texas has been serving children in Houston for eight years, and currently works in three Houston middle schools. The organization partners with local businesses to offer apprenticeships that are taught by volunteers from those local businesses. These apprenticeships expose students to successful professionals from the Houston business community. The professionals share their knowledge with the students, which allows them to connect what they are taught in school with real-world applications beyond the classroom. In addition to its corporate partners, Citizen Schools Texas also has the support of community partners. Just to name a few: The Boys and Girls Club, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and The Junior League. Citizen Schools Texas estimates that their volunteers and community partners will contribute over 1,200 volunteer hours and serve over 400 middle school students this semester. WOW!
Here I am with students who are part of one of Citizen Schools Texas's programs.
The Executive Director of Citizen Schools Texas, Greg Meyers, and Lollie Ramirez-Bennett of AT&T, which is one of Citizen Schools Texas’ business partners, joined me for my Texanthropy announcement in April. I am so thankful for the work they do exposing young Texans to the many opportunities that are available for them - opportunities they didn’t even know existed.
I believe that every child in Texas deserves the opportunity to succeed, and a good education is the ladder we give our children to help them reach their dreams. Citizen Schools Texas and its business and community partners are helping provide a critical foundation for these middle school students to succeed in high school, college, and beyond. Houston is fortunate to have Citizen Schools Texas helping make the dream of a college education and a successful career a possibility for many children in Houston.
Monday, May 23, 2016
Back in April, Greg issued a proclamation naming May 2016 as Military Appreciation Month in Texas. We are so appreciative of the selfless sacrifice of those who answer the call to duty and service. And while May is a designated time to express our appreciation and gratitude, every single day of the year I give thanks for these brave men and women. See below for the full text of Greg’s proclamation:
- For well over two centuries, in times of peace and war, generations of Americans have answered the call of duty, service and country. Standing under freedom’s banner, our veterans have worked to preserve for each of us the unalienable rights we all hold dear — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
- At this very hour, the men and women of our nation’s armed forces are standing in harm’s way to protect America. As it has for generations, our great nation remains free because of the brave Americans who have served and sacrificed with indomitable fortitude and commitment.
- The month of May has been designated to recognize these brave heroes and their outstanding contributions to our nation.
- I encourage all Americans to join me in offering our appreciation and support to those who have served, for those who are now serving our country, for the families who have made so many sacrifices and especially for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Theirs is an enduring legacy of heroism that will stand for generations to come.
- Therefore, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim May 2016 to be Military Appreciation Month in Texas.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Texas women are the backbone of our great State. Women embody strength, courage, perseverance, and grace. However, sometimes even the strongest woman needs help. For women across Texas, postpartum depression is a serious condition that can affect a mother and child long after childbirth.
Postpartum depression affects approximately 70,000 Texas women every year. Common signs of postpartum depression are inability to sleep even when the baby is sleeping, feelings of guilt or inadequacy, and failure to bond with the baby. However, symptoms may vary from woman to woman; that is why information and a good support system are important to a new mother's overall well-being. Postpartum depression is treatable and there are many resources available for women to get the help they need.
May is Postpartum Depression Awareness Month in Texas, and I hope to help raise awareness about this critical issue to ensure all Texas women know they are not alone. By raising awareness about the signs of postpartum depression, the resources available to women, and the importance of seeking help, I am confident we can ensure a better and healthier future for all Texans.
If you, or someone you know is suffering from postpartum depression I encourage you to contact your healthcare provider to discuss what resources are available. This month, we, as women of the great State of Texas, stand in solidarity as friends, sisters, daughters, and mothers to fight postpartum depression.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Did you know that Texas is home to more than 3.2 million residents over the age of 65? As a former employee of a senior health care company, I cherish our senior Texans and believe that they greatly enrich our state and society with their wisdom and unique contributions. That is why I am pleased that Greg recently declared May as Elder Abuse Prevention Month in Texas. This is an important step in helping to raise awareness about the critical issue of elderly abuse.
Unfortunately, elderly Texans are particularly susceptible to becoming victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation. Emotional abuse, forced isolation, financial exploitation and physical injury are just a few examples of the types of mistreatment that the elderly is vulnerable to. In 2015 alone, the Adult Protective Services division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services investigated more than 78,000 complaints of abuse of elderly or disabled Texans. If you encounter any signs of abuse or neglect, you are obligated to report it to the proper authorities through services like the Texas Abuse Hotline. You can do so by calling (800) 252-5400 or by visiting the Texas Abuse Hotline website.
Greg and I encourage all Texans to ensure that we are taking the very best care of our seniors by helping us raise awareness of the issue of elderly abuse. We must work diligently to protect this treasured population from these terrible crimes.
First Lady Cecilia Abbott visiting AGE of Central Texas.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Last night I had the pleasure of attending “High Heels for Hot Meals,” benefitting The Kitchen, which operates the Meals on Wheels program for Wichita Falls as well as three other programs serving the Wichita Falls community: the Red Door Senior Citizens Center, the Green Door Senior Citizens Center, and Kid’s Meals.
I recently announced the launch of my Texanthropy initiative, which I will use to promote volunteerism and service to others as my primary focus as First Lady of Texas. Through Texanthropy, I hope to inspire all Texans to find a way to give back to their communities, which is precisely what the Wichita Falls community is doing by supporting The Kitchen and its four wonderful programs. It was such an honor to be with so many who are willing to give of themselves to help others. I applaud Wichita Falls for its commitment to elevate the importance of volunteerism and service to others. Keep up the great work!
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
I am thrilled to once again serve as Honorary Chair of the Governor’s Volunteer Awards. The Governor’s Volunteer Awards are administered by the OneStar Foundation and they fall right in line with my Texanthropy initiative, because they give me the chance to help honor and celebrate those who have answered the call to service.
Nominations are now open. If you know of an individual or organization who has given of their time, talent or treasure to help make a difference in the lives of others, I encourage you to nominate them for one of this year’s eight Governor’s Volunteer Awards. The categories are:
Governor’s Lone Star Achievement
First Lady’s Rising Star
Partners in Education
Service to Veterans
Higher Education Community Impact
Corporate Community Impact
National Service “Make a Difference” Award
To see the descriptions and criteria for each award, visit http://onestarfoundation.org/texas-faith-based-community-initiative/governors-volunteer-awards/.
To submit a nomination for an award, go to http://app.reviewr.com/s1/site/onestarfoundation.
Nominations will close on Thursday, June 30, 2016, and awardees will be honored in October at an evening reception at the Governor’s Mansion.
Photo of Greg and me with the 2015 Governor’s Volunteer Award winners.
Friday, May 06, 2016
It was my pleasure to continue the grand tradition of the Texas Historical Commission Texas Main Street Program’s First Lady’s Tour this year. I was in Sherman on Wednesday and Corpus Christi and Brownsville today for the annual event celebrating Texas Main Street communities and welcoming the three Texas communities as the program’s newest members.
During all three visits, I was joined by state and local officials, local business owners and volunteers, and dozens of local residents eager to see the Main Street vision for their respective towns.
The Texas Main Street Program is an economic development, revitalization, and preservation program for historic downtowns administered by the Texas Historical Commission’s Community Heritage Development Division. The Program works with local officials on revitalization plans that maintain a community’s authenticity while promoting job creation and economic development. Today, there are 87 official Texas Main Street programs. The programs are in communities of all sizes, ranging from less than 2,000 to more than 240,000 in population, and in all areas of Texas.
It is clear that these communities know the importance of a historic, yet vibrant, downtown. 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. I congratulate Sherman, Corpus Christi and Brownsville on their work to make their communities shine even brighter through historic preservation and economic development.
Wednesday, May 04, 2016
It’s Texas Travel and Tourism Week and when it comes to family travel, Texas is full of possibilities. Our state boasts more than 600 miles of coastline, scenic mountain ranges, numerous national parks, historic sites and more. This week, take time to explore our great state and cross some items off your #TexasToDo list. With activities like dolphin watching, deep sea fishing, bird watching and hiking, Texans have multitudes of vacation opportunities right in our backyards. Here’s a quick video on the many wonders the Lone Star State has to offer.
With great weather and plenty of activities to keep the whole family busy and having fun, you can’t go wrong with a vacation in your home state. For more information about travel experiences in the Lone Star State, visit http://www.traveltexas.com/ and follow Texas Tourism on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Friday, April 29, 2016
April was Volunteer Month in Texas, and Greg took this opportunity to pay tribute to the importance of volunteering with a proclamation. In the proclamation he says:
- "Lending a hand to those in need is a timeless Texas tradition, and every day ordinary men and women make a mark on their communities through volunteerism and service. Volunteer organizations across the Lone Star State are dedicated to marshaling community spirit."
I couldn't agree more! Over the last fifteen months, I have had the opportunity to travel all across the Lone Star State. From El Paso to Beaumont...from Lubbock to McAllen, I have met so many individuals, and visited numerous organizations, who are so willing to give their time, talent, or treasure to help their fellow Texans.
Earlier this week I announced the launch of “Texanthropy,” a new initiative that I will use to promote volunteerism and service to others as my primary focus as First Lady of Texas. I look forward to working with all Texans to bring together the two things that I am most passionate about – Texas and philanthropy. Through Texanthropy, I hope to inspire more Texans to get involved and help make a difference through service and volunteering. To learn more about Texanthropy, visit http://gov.texas.gov/texanthropy/.
While April was Volunteer Month in Texas, the need for volunteers is not limited to a single month. I encourage all Texans to volunteer any time, and in any way that you can. With your help, I know we can work together to help enrich the lives of all Texans through volunteerism and service.
Friday, April 22, 2016
I want to remind all Texans that this weekend you will be able to purchase emergency preparation supplies tax-free! During the 84th Legislative Session, Greg signed SB 904 into law, allowing for sales tax exemptions on emergency supplies. The tax-free weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, April 23rd, and ends at midnight on Monday, April 25th. Texans are projected to save $1.4 million in state and local sales taxes during the holiday.
- “The storm system currently moving through the State of Texas is a powerful reminder of the important role early preparation plays in protecting Texans from the effects of severe weather,” said Governor Abbott. “I applaud the legislature for approving this vital tax relief for Texas families and urge all Texans to take advantage of this weekend’s tax holiday so they can be prepared for any and all severe weather."
Items that qualify for the exemption include certain portable generators, hurricane shutters, ladders, portable self-powered light sources, fuel containers, radios, batteries, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and first aid kits.
For a full list of emergency preparation supplies that may be purchased tax-free, visit the Comptroller’s website.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
For 100 years, the National Park Service has been protecting and preserving treasured places throughout the United States. From the first national park at Yellowstone, the National Park Service now oversees more than 400 sites.
Within the Lone Star State, we have 13 locations. Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park provide outdoor adventurers with challenging hiking opportunities and the chance to explore some of Texas’ highest peaks. Padre Island National Seashore allows visitors to explore our diverse coastal ecosystem, and Big Thicket National Preserve displays the majesty of our state’s dense forest region. These are but a few examples of the opportunities Texans have to get out and enjoy our national park system right here at home.
Greg has declared April 16 to 24 as National Park Week in Texas, and we encourage all Texans to join us in celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service and learn more about and explore the amazing beauty of our national parks.
To get a glimpse of what some of the Lone Star State's national parks have to offer, watch the video below from the Governor's Economic Development & Tourism Division.