Deep in the Heart of Texas
A Personal Blog of Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott
Friday, June 26, 2015
A few months back, I was asked to view over one hundred pieces of art created by Texas students from all across the state. Viewing the art was easy and fun! But then came the hard part…picking a dozen or so pieces to hang in the Governor’s Business Office in the Capitol for a year. This yearly tradition, called The Governor’s Gallery, was established by First Lady Laura Bush during her husband’s tenure as Governor of Texas, and is coordinated by the Texas Art Education Association.
This afternoon I hosted a reception at the Capitol to unveil the Gallery. I had a wonderful time getting to meet these talented young Texans, their families, and their art teachers. Congratulations to all of you!
Thursday, June 25, 2015
I was so honored when Texas Woman’s University asked for the scarlet red gown I wore to the Inaugural Ball to become a part of their Texas First Ladies Historic Costume Collection. It is such a privilege to have my gown join others worn by former Texas First Ladies and other notable Texas women as part of the collection.
Photo courtesy of Texas Woman’s University and Susan Sponsler-Carstarphen.
If you are ever in Denton or close by, I encourage you to visit the Texas First Ladies Historic Costume Collection, as well as the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, both housed at Texas Woman’s University. To view TWU’s announcement, and learn more information about the exhibit, click here. To learn about the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, click here.
Thank you to Texas Woman’s University for your commitment to preserving this part of Texas history.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Last week I attended two Governor's Small Business Forums, and at the forums I announced the recipients of the 2015 Governor’s Small Business Awards. Small businesses are crucial to our state’s economy and play an important role in the future of Texas. We believe in encouraging more Texans to invest in themselves and their communities, and that begins with policies that make it easier to start and grow a business. In Texas, we know that means low taxes and reasonable regulations. These policies not only benefit business owners, but also employees, their families, local communities, and the entire state. I can guarantee you that Governor Abbott will continue to make sure that Texas remains the model for doing business in the nation.
On Tuesday I was in Waco at the 2015 Texas Rural Challenge, where three Texas small businesses were presented with the Governor’s Small Business Award:
Here I am with Lori Krieger of Taste Elevated.
On Thursday, seven women-owned small businesses based in Central Texas were awarded the 2015 Governor’s Small Business Award at the Governor’s Small Business Forum in Austin:
Latina Entrepreneurial Excellence Award: Rebecca Contreras of AvantGarde
Excellence in Veteran Engagement Award: Charmane Sellers of Aleon Properties, Inc.
Cultural Arts Excellence Award: Elizabeth Avellan of Troublemaker Studios
Excellence in Innovation Award: Rebecca and Elizabeth Arreaga of Mercury Mambo
Emerging Woman-Owned Business of the Year Award: Isabella Rose Taylor
Community Investment Excellence Award: Lauren Foster of Stretch Recipes, Inc.
Supplier of the Year Award: Harutunian Engineering, Inc.
Here I am with all seven winners.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism, in conjunction with the Texas Workforce Commission, hosts Governor’s Small Business forums throughout the year and all across Texas. The first 2015 Governor’s Small Business Forum was held in La Vernia on March 17, 2015, where the following Texas small businesses were named as 2015 Governor’s Small Business Award Winners:
Papa Dante’s Italian Restaurant
McMahan Welding Service, Ltd.
Frames and Things
Hyde’s Hen House
Main Drug Company and Gift Shop
Power Plant Texas Grill
Martinez Highway 90 BBQ
Wendel Motor Company
The El Paso Governor’s Small Business Forum was held on April 16, 2015 and honored Texas small business that have been in business for longer than 25 years:
For more information on future 2015 forums, click here.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Greg appeared on The Weather Channel this morning to talk about the approaching Tropical Storm Bill and to urge Texans in its path to heed the warnings of local officials.
To view Greg's appearance on the Weather Channel, click here or on the image below.
Greg's office also shared this information about Tropical Storm Bill:
- The outer bands of Tropical Storm Bill are starting to affect the Gulf Coast and the storm will make landfall shortly between Rockport and Matagorda.
- Expect tropical downpours with showers and storms moving over the same areas for an extended period of time, resulting in flash flooding. Event Total Amounts of 4 to 8 inches with isolated amounts up to 12 inches are expected along and east of the track of Bill.
- Expect sustained winds between 50-60 mph in the affected areas.
Additionally, Greg has activated the State Operations Center - more information on that here.
Stay safe, and heed the warnings of local officials, emergency responders and weather alerts.
Friday, June 12, 2015
Greg and I had a great time last Saturday visiting Wimberley. We were there to support the local economy and spread the word that while this town and its residents sustained heavy damage from the recent flood, Wimberley has bounced back and is open for business. We stopped in many of the shops on the square and shopped - Greg bought me a pair of earrings, and we purchased a gift for friends from out of state. Greg also purchased two rocks with "Hope" and "Faith" carved in them, and placed them in a nearby garden. And we enjoyed a delicious lunch!
We had the opportunity to meet many locals who exhibited such strength and pride in their town, and I was so glad to have met Texans from all across our state who were visiting Wimberley to shop and support the community, as well as several Red Cross volunteers who were there to help with the ongoing recovery. While there is still work to be done, there is no doubt that this community is #WimberleyStrong. Governor Abbott and I continue to pray for all of those affected by the severe weather in Wimberley and all across Texas.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Our beautiful Texas and fellow Texans have suffered greatly from the devastating severe weather we’ve experienced over the last few weeks. I had the opportunity to travel to Van, which was hit hard by a tornado, and San Marcos, which suffered a devastating flood, and Greg visited Wichita Falls, Wimberley and Houston to survey the damage those cities experienced.
Even among the tremendous destruction, I remain amazed and inspired by the resilience and spirit of the Texans that I’ve met. From our first responders, law enforcement and local officials, to neighbors, businesses and volunteers, it’s so heartening to see everyone coming together to help each other recover and rebuild.
Texans are generous by nature. In the true spirit of Texas, I’ve heard from many who want to know what they can do to help their fellow Texans. While this list is not all inclusive, I want to give you all a few ideas of ways you can help:
Donating Your Time
In San Marcos last week, an American Red Cross volunteer told me that they are in need of helpers and volunteers who speak Spanish. Contact your local American Red Cross Chapter if this is a way in which you’d like to help.
For those wishing to volunteer, visit www.volunteertx.org for information on the Volunteer Reception Centers in Wimberley and San Marcos.
Keep San Marcos Beautiful is hosting a cleanup day this weekend to pick up flood debris and trash. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, click here.
Items to Donate
The Hays County Emergency Operations Center has released a list of items they need, which include work gloves, first aid kits, cleaning supplies, pet food and children’s clothes. However, they have asked that no adult clothes be donated at this time. To see the full list, and other ways you can help in Hays County, click here.
According to the Hays County Food Bank, the food items they need most are:
- High-protein canned meals with pop-top cans (ravioli, soups, spaghetti, tuna, salmon, chicken, beans, chili)
- Single serving meals that do not require refrigeration or cooked/meals ready to eat
- Single serving snacks such as raisins, granola bars, and nuts
- Peanut butter
- Canned fruits/veggies with pop-top cans
Make a Monetary Donation
If you’d like to make a monetary donation, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and your local food bank are a few examples. If you want the assistance to go to a specific region of Texas, make sure to donate to the local chapter of that organization.
Here’s a non-inclusive list of organizations you can donate to:
Capital Area Food Bank: https://www.austinfoodbank.org/
Austin Disaster Relief Network: http://www.adrntx.org/
Salvation Army Austin: http://www.salvationarmydfw.org/
American Red Cross Central Texas Chapter: http://www.redcross.org/tx/austin
The Houston Food Bank: http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/
Salvation Army Houston: http://www.salvationarmyhouston.org/
American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast/Houston Region: http://www.redcross.org/tx/houston
As always, make sure your donations are going to a legitimate charity, because sadly, there are some out there who may try to take advantage of your generosity.
In Texas, we are all one family, and we take care of family. It’s just what we do. With everyone’s help, I have no doubt that the great State of Texas will emerge from this difficult time stronger than ever.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The issue of child abuse is often at the forefront of public debate. Every instance of child abuse is simply tragic — but unfortunately children are not the only ones who fall victim to abuse and neglect.
Sadly, thousands of elderly Texans are abused every year. Last year alone, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services investigated more than 81,000 reports of elder abuse. This abuse can be physical, either through active harm or passive neglect, or through financial exploitation. In either case, these actions are simply unacceptable. I had the pleasure of working for a senior health care provider for several years, and I know that senior Texans greatly enrich our society with their wisdom and unique contributions. And they deserve our respect.
A wonderful resource for elder Texans is 2-1-1. By simply dialing “211” – the same way you would dial “911” – Texans can find out about services available in their area. They will speak with a trained expert who can help connect them with the services including medical assistance, help with transportation, food, utilities, housing, counseling, disaster relief, and more. 2-1-1 is run by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and is free, confidential and available 24 hours a day. To learn more, visit https://www.211texas.org/cms/.
I’m so proud that Greg has proclaimed May as Elder Abuse Prevention Month to raise awareness of this critical issue. You can read his proclamation here.
If you ever suspect abuse or neglect, I urge you to call (800) 252-5400 or visit the Texas Abuse Hotline website. Your report could save a life.
Monday, May 25, 2015
On this day, Americans all across our great country honor and remember those who gave all to fight for and defend our freedoms. I am forever grateful for their service, and I know that the liberties we all enjoy are because of their sacrifice.
And on this particular Memorial Day, I continue to pray for the Texans affected by the severe weather this weekend.
May God bless each and every one of you.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Today I visited Van, the East Texas town that suffered extensive damage as a result of a May 10, 2015 tornado. I stopped by Van Middle School, where I met with school officials, teachers and students affected by the tornado before touring Van Intermediate School, which sustained heavy damage as a result of the tornado and is closed for the remainder of the school year.
Following the school visits, I received a briefing from local and state officials regarding ongoing recovery efforts.
Even among this tremendous devastation, I remain amazed and inspired by the resilience and strength of the Van community. Many in Van lost everything, but I have no doubt they will reemerge even stronger than before. I am heartened to see so many Texans from across the state respond to this tragedy with their help and support. The State of Texas will continue to provide assistance and relief for Van and all those across the state affected by the recent severe weather, and Governor Abbott and I continue to pray for a quick recovery.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to talk about how immensely appreciative I am of teachers.
Texas teachers are helping to make sure that the next generation of Texans are prepared to lead our state. They are making a profound investment in the future of the Lone Star State, and playing an active role in shaping the Texas of tomorrow. But teachers don’t just teach – they inspire, encourage, nurture, motivate, and empower our children. Greg and I want to ensure that every Texas student receives a well-rounded, high-quality education, and enjoy it while doing so. We want to extend our sincerest gratitude for the teachers here in Texas that are making that possible.
I had the pleasure of being a teacher and principal in Texas schools for ten years, and both of my parents were teachers. And while I’m proud of all of the teachers in Texas, I’m especially proud of one in particular – Shanna Peeples, a high school English teacher in Amarillo who was named the 2015 National Teacher of the Year.
Thank you Shanna – and each and every teacher across Texas – for your hard work, your dedication, and your commitment to ensuring that every child in Texas has the opportunity to succeed.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Whether you like an adventure or are looking to expand your cultural horizon, Texas has a wide variety of opportunities for outdoor and indoor fun.
Texas is home to many state and national parks perfect for your next outdoor getaway. Palo Duro Canyon State Park – nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of Texas,”is the second largest canyon in the country and is great for horseback riders seeking the 1,500 acres of equestrian-only trails as well as 17,000 acres of hiking and biking paths.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is an ancient pink granite dome located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. A variety of outdoor activities are sure to keep visitors busy, including hiking, camping, rock climbing, birding, geocaching and stargazing. Enchanted Rock has its fair share of legends – in fact, the Tonkawa and Comanche Indians feared and revered the rock and continue to conduct ceremonies and leave offerings at its base.
Parks in Texas aren’t just for hiking and climbing peaks, however. At the Padre Island National Seashore, visitors can stroll along 70 miles of coastline – the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. The seashore serves as a safe nesting ground for sea turtles and haven for over 380 bird species. It’s also rich in history – it was the site of the Spanish shipwrecks of 1554.
Caddo Lake State Park is a truly unique natural area located in East Texas. Thick bald cypress and a tangle of aquatic plants thrive in the waters at Caddo Lake and the lush vegetation makes much of the lake a maze of sloughs, bayous and ponds. Popular activities at the park include fishing, camping, hiking, canoeing, boating, picnicking and nature studying.
Whether you prefer the beach, the bayou or the rolling hills, Texas’ state and national parks have something for everyone. To learn more about the Texas park system, visit Texas Park and Wildlife. And to see for yourself some of the swimming holes you can cool off in, watch the #TexasToDo: Swimming Holes film below.
For those looking to escape the heat, Texas is a thriving art and culture destination.
The Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex is home to some of the premier art centers in the country, if not the world. The Dallas Arts District is the largest arts district in the nation, spanning 68 acres of museums, performance halls, churches and even a school. Nearby Fort Worth is considered “the museum capital of the Southwest.” Many of the museums in Fort Worth tip their hat to the region’s Western influence, but there are museums of all varieties to fit anyone’s interests.
In Houston’s three-mile-wide Museum District you’ll find 20 museums dedicated to art, science and history. If you’re in Austin, a must-see is the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the official state history museum of Texas. But no matter where you are in Texas – whether in big cities or small towns, you’re bound to find a museum or street corner that proudly boasts the history and culture of our great state. To get a glimpse of the creativity that awaits, watch the #TexasToDo: Art Appreciation film below.
Saturday, May 09, 2015
The roots of Texas history are deeply influenced by Spanish heritage. The Spanish Missions in Texas introduced livestock, fruits, vegetables and industry into the Texas region. In all, 26 Missions were maintained within the present boundaries of the state, and Texans and visitors still have the opportunity to visit these centuries-old historical sites today.
The first and most widely known of these missions is San Antonio de Valero, commonly known as The Alamo. It was established in the early 1700s and played a crucial role in the settlement of San Antonio, Texas and the Southwest.
Photo courtesy of the San Antonio CVB.
The four southernmost Spanish colonial missions—Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada—are included in the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and have been nominated to become a World Heritage Site. San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, the “Queen of the Missions,” is the largest mission in San Antonio and was established in 1720 before reaching completion in 1782. It provided sanctuary and social and cultural community for more than 300 Native Americans, and was surrounded by acres of fields and livestock herds. Mission Concepción currently stands as the oldest unrestored stone church in the country and looks much like it did in 1755 when it was first dedicated. Some of the original frescos remain in the mission’s rooms.
Along the San Antonio River in Goliad stands the Mission Espiritu Santo, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Although the original brick and stone of the building has deteriorated, heritage travelers can tour the Mission building reconstructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, where artifacts from the original Mission remain on display.
Although the original stone and mortar structures of the Missions have not all withstood the test of time, their spirit certainly has. I encourage you to visit these sites for a unique learning experience you can’t get from history books alone!