Deep in the Heart of Texas
A Personal Blog of Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott
Thursday, March 24, 2016
I developed a love for the arts at a very young age, when I began playing the piano. For me, and for many young Texans, the arts – whether it be visual arts or performance arts – is both a valuable means of self-expression and an important part of a well-rounded curriculum. Art programs can help children develop initiative, creativity and discipline — traits that are essential to success inside and outside of the classroom.
In Texas, we are lucky to have many outstanding educators and programs that encourage children to explore their artistic interests. One such program is the Youth Art Month State Capital Artwork Exhibit, where artwork made by Pre-K through 12th grade student artists are selected for exhibition in the State Capital. From this group of art, a handful of selections are chosen to be showcased in the Governor's Business Office in the State Capitol for one year. It was my pleasure to participate in this tradition – like First Ladies before me – last year and again this year.
Here I am viewing some of the artwork in the 2016 Youth Art Month State Capital Artwork Exhibit.
To highlight the value of art programs to children throughout our great state, Greg has designated March 2016 as Youth Art Month in Texas. Please join us in celebrating the arts and the important role they play in the lives of many young Texans, and the extraordinary contributions they add to the uniqueness and richness of our state.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Yesterday Greg visited portions of Southeast Texas that have been hit hard by rain and severe flooding. Greg surveyed the damage and received a briefing from local and state officials. After his briefing, Greg had this to say:
“I want the people of Southeast Texas to know that the state has and will continue to assist them with any and all challenges they have. Our top priority is to ensure no loss of life. It is important for residents to understand that the rise in water is not over, and I urge you to continue heeding the warnings of local officials. I want to express my deepest gratitude to the first responders and all the volunteer agencies who are helping all those displaced during this challenging time.”
To view photos of Governor Abbott’s aerial tour of the floods, click here.
To watch Governor Abbott’s press conference, click here or on the image below.
I also want to say “thank you” to all of the first responders and volunteers who are answering the call to help their fellow Texans in this time of great need. To Texans in the affected areas: please remember to remain diligent, heed warnings from local officials, and avoid flooded areas as emergency personnel continue to ensure the safety of all those affected. Greg and I will continue to keep you all – those who have suffered loss of or damage to property and belongings, local and state leaders, emergency personnel and first responders, and volunteers – in our thoughts and prayers.
Friday, March 11, 2016
March is Women’s History Month in Texas! Throughout the rich history of our state, women have made lasting contributions, and I am so pleased to join Greg in the celebration.
Greg said it best in his proclamation as he recalled a number of Texas women and their impressive achievements:
Texas women claim many firsts, like Mary Austin Holley, who wrote the first English book about Texas in the 1830s. Miriam "Ma" Ferguson, who governed our state for five years, was among the first female governors in the nation. Sally Ride was the first American woman in space. Others broke the glass ceiling in business, like Carrie Marcus Neiman, cofounder of Neiman Marcus, and the legendary Mary Kay Ash. Still others have made their mark and inspired countless fans through music, art and writing. And in Texas, women serve in critical roles in our government as elected and appointed officials.
Greg has also declared March to be Women Veterans Month in Texas, so this month we commemorate the bravery and courage of women who have dedicated their lives to service to their country by serving in the armed forces. Throughout our nation’s proud military history, women have played a vital role. I hope you will join me in thanking them for their service.
Finally, this week is Women in Construction Week in Texas. Texas women have contributed significantly to the construction industry’s success, as they play vital roles as chief executive officers, engineers, architects, surveyors, financial and legal advisors, tradeswoman, and much more.
Greg and I ask you to join us this month as we recognize and celebrate the many accomplishments of Texas women and their immeasurable impact on our state’s success.
Wednesday, March 02, 2016
Reading has always been one of my favorite things to do! And as a former teacher and principal, I know that the most important thing for the future of the state of Texas is education, and that starts with sharing with our children the joys of reading. That is why I joined individuals from all across Texas and the United States in celebrating Read Across America Day today. I celebrated by reading to first graders at Parker Elementary School in Galveston. Together, we read “Sam Houston, Standing Firm". It was so much fun to be back in the classroom and to see the passion for education among the students.
Reading is so important. When children do not learn to read, they cannot read to learn. By promoting and encouraging reading, we are equipping our children with the tools necessary to build the strongest possible foundation for their education and for the future of Texas.
Friday, February 26, 2016
Earlier this week, Greg and I had the privilege of attending the 25th anniversary luncheon for Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (Texas CASA). Greg delivered remarks about the important services Texas CASA provides thousands of children, and we were honored to receive CASA’s “Champions for Texas Children” award.
A “CASA,” or Court Appointed Special Advocate, is a volunteer who is appointed by a judge to represent and advocate for a child that has entered the state’s foster care system. As Greg mentioned in his remarks at the luncheon, CASAs are volunteers – there is no government requirement that children in the state’s foster care system have an advocate. That is one reason why CASAs are so special and important. With open arms, a warm heart and a determined spirit, CASAs are transforming lives, one child at a time. Children with a CASA are more likely to find a safe, permanent home, do better in school, and they are more likely to have a positive attitude about the future. Because of CASAs, more Texas children will go on to get jobs, lead productive lives, raise families of their own, and become beacons of hope for others.
Because of the work of CASA volunteers, the future will be brighter for so many Texas children. Greg and I extend our heartfelt thanks to Texas CASA for making a difference, one child at a time.
Monday, February 22, 2016
Earlier this month, Greg issued a proclamation naming February 2016 to be African-American History Month in Texas. Since the earliest days of our great state, African-Americans have made tremendous contributions to Texas and our society — contributions that are quintessentially Texan. I encourage all Texans to join Greg and me in celebrating and remembering the many contributions of African-Americans to the Lone Star State.
Below is the full text of Greg’s proclamation:
In Texas, we embrace our diversity. But we also understand that we share a unique culture, shaped by people of all races, nationalities, religions and backgrounds who have come here seeking hope and opportunity. In particular, African-Americans have made tremendous contributions to our society — contributions that are quintessentially Texan.
The Buffalo Soldiers, regiments of African-Americans in the post-Civil War U.S. Army, overcame harsh conditions and prejudice to tame the Texas frontier, serving our nation with distinction. Bessie Coleman grew up in Atlanta, Texas, and inspired people all over the world, shattering long-held stereotypes as the first African-American to become a pilot. Barbara Jordan rose from humble beginnings in Houston to become the first African-American state senator in Texas in more than 75 years and a leader of the civil rights movement. And Wallace Jefferson, raised in San Antonio, twice made history — as the first African-American justice on the Texas Supreme Court and the court’s first African-American chief justice.
In a state renowned for its varied and robust heritage, there is simply not a facet of life that has not been shaped in some way by the contributions of African-Americans.
Each year, February is designated African-American History Month to remember and celebrate these many contributions. At this time, I encourage all Texans to take pride in the strength that diversity brings to our great state and nation.
Therefore, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim February 2016 to be
African-American History Month
Friday, February 05, 2016
It is well known that Texas women are resilient, and our undeniable strength reflects our state’s independent spirit. However, an important part of knowing and owning our strength is also being aware of our vulnerabilities. For women across Texas and the nation, one of the greatest risk factors to our health and well-being is heart disease.
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for women, taking the lives of 1 in 3 U.S. women each year. Heart disease, whether caused by congenital heart defects, old age, family history, lifestyle choices or other factors is a serious women’s health issue that cannot be ignored. Thankfully, awareness about the detection, treatment and prevention of heart disease is quickly increasing in large part due to the efforts of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign.
By providing women with the tools to educate ourselves on everything from the symptoms specific to women of a heart attack to understanding risk factors for heart attack and stroke, Go Red For Women is tackling the threat of heart disease head on, and I encourage all Texan women to do the same.
Today is National Wear Red Day, and is dedicated to raising even more awareness about the dangers of heart disease in women, promoting research about cardiovascular health, and encouraging women across our state and nation to make our health a priority by scheduling a preventative checkup so we can all take our health into our own hands. By wearing red today, we, as women of the great State of Texas, will showcase our strength and the power that comes from the knowledge we have gained.
To learn more and find ways you can get involved visit, www.goredforwomen.org.
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Earlier this week, Greg released the first “Report to the People of Texas.” The report took a look at the shared successes of Texas during his first year as Governor, and emphasized some of the numerous events Greg and I participated in over the last year, and the thousands of Texans we were fortunate to have met. It highlighted Greg’s work during the 84th Legislative Session, his focus on the vitality of our state’s economy and business climate, and other ways he has worked to keep the Lone Star State a beacon of individual liberty and economic opportunity. The report also spotlighted the dedication of Texas’ law enforcement officers and first responders, our men and women in uniform, and everyday Texans who help make our state the envy of the nation. In addition to the report, the Governor’s Office also released a video providing an overview of our busy but extraordinary 2015.
Greg and I are privileged to serve the people of this great state. As Greg said, “If we can accomplish this much in a year, I am confident we will continue to elevate the Lone Star State to even greater heights in the future.” We look forward to continuing to work by your side to ensure that the future is bigger and brighter for generations of Texans to come.
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.