Deep in the Heart of Texas
A Personal Blog of Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott
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.
Friday, April 15, 2016
Since 1967, the Governor’s Commission for Women – a division of the Texas Governor’s Office – has served as a liaison between Texas women and government agencies, as well as private entities addressing women’s needs. The Commission helps women identify information and services best suited to their needs, as well as find solutions to emerging issues facing women. The Commission also promotes opportunities for Texas women through outreach, education, research and referral services. And, the Commission serves not only individual needs, but also those of organizations working to help women in their communities.
The Commission has been tasked with increasing opportunities in five key areas:
- Women-owned businesses
- Education through STEM
- Women and children’s health
- Women Veterans and service members
Another important duty of the Commission is coordinating and hosting the biennial Texas Women’s Hall of Fame Awards, which honors outstanding women in Texas. The Commission is now accepting nominations for the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame. Nominations must be submitted by Friday, April 29th, 2016 at 12:00pm.
In March, Greg issued an Executive Order relating to the Commission, and also announced the appointment of 15 new amazing commissioners. These women represent many diverse professional and personal backgrounds and hail from all regions of the Lone Star State. They reflect the incredible strength and diversity of women leaders in Texas, and Greg and I look forward to working with the Commission and its 15 new commissioners to empower women, families, communities, and the entire State of Texas.
(PHOTO: Office of theGovernor, 3/30/2016)
Tuesday, April 05, 2016
The Texas Governor’s Commission for Women is now accepting nominations for the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame. Nominations are open to any native or current residents of Texas, living or deceased, who have made significant contributions that have benefitted the State of Texas.
Coordinated by the Texas Governor’s Commission for Women, the Hall of Fame includes former first ladies, astronauts, entrepreneurs and Olympic athletes - just to name a few. These extraordinary women have inspired generations of Texans through their many invaluable contributions to the greatness of our state - whether it be in public service, philanthropy and community service, business, education, or the arts. If you know someone who fits this description and deserves to be inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame, I encourage you to nominate them!
Nominations must be submitted by Friday, April 29th, 2016 at 12:00pm. To view and download a copy of the application, please click here .
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
In Case You Missed It - WFAA: Celebrating National Women’s History Month at Texas Woman’s University
I wanted to share with you this wonderful story that WFAA TV in Dallas-Fort Worth put together featuring Texas Women's University in Denton and the many exhibits TWU has celebrating Texas women, including the Texas Women's Hall of Fame, the Texas First Ladies Historic Costume Collection, the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II archive, and others. To view the clip, click here or on the image below.
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