By Laura Landsbaum
George Mitchell’s enduring vision of The Woodlands as a place to work, live, play and pray wouldn’t be possible without the work that Interfaith does in community building. Now in its 50th year, Interfaith of The Woodlands has 60 member congregations of many faiths and looks to maintain the community connectivity Mitchell first envisioned more than half a century ago.
“Our goal is keeping the community connected,” Interfaith CEO Missy Herndon says. Herndon has been with Interfaith since 2013 and stepped into the role of CEO in 2016.
The Interfaith of today looks a little different than it did 50 years ago — and it has certainly grown with The Woodlands. “We continue to program around community needs,” Herndon says. “And now, we are seeing the highest level of need in our community during a non-disaster year.”
Interfaith’s message is that “it’s all right to ask for help,” according to former CEO Dr. Ann Snyder. “The generosity of spirit is what makes Interfaith work,” Snyder notes.
Snyder recalls the time when a senior living complex caught on fire, and the community rallied around the displaced elders. “Conroe ISD provided buses to move residents over to Christ Church,” Snyder details.
She met with a group of the displaced seniors and asked them how she could help. “Don’t worry, honey, Interfaith will take care of us,” was the response from one resident, which warmed Ann Snyder’s heart.
And Interfaith did indeed step in and help those seniors get settled again.
What’s Next For Interfaith
Interfaith has several goals for the near term. A capital campaign is in the planning stages — the building the organization currently occupies at 4242 Interfaith Way was built in the late 1970s and needs improvements to meet the needs of The Woodlands community today. Programming needs are changing for the community too.
Herndon identifies several areas that she hopes Interfaith can address in the near future.
“We have a whole population of kids that are aging out of programs for the neuro-diverse,” she says. “Our hope is to create a group to develop services for a neuro-diverse population.”
Another group that Herndon hopes to expand services for is younger seniors — adults in their early sixties, who maybe wouldn’t engage with Interfaith for bingo, but might be interested in more educational programs like Lunch and Learns. Ultimately, one of Interfaith’s goals is to assist seniors as they age in place.
Herndon believes that providing enrichment programs for younger seniors is important, so that they are familiar with other services that are available to them as they age. Interfaith would like to develop a computer lab to offer classes in budgeting and computer skills as well.
These programs make fundraising for this invaluable community pillar more important than ever.
Woodlands Style is a new partnership with Howard Hughes offering hats, apparel and accessories with The Woodlands’ name and logos, some of it centered around The Woodlands upcoming 50th anniversary. Sales of this merchandise will benefit Interfaith to bolster funding for programming.
Interfaith recognizes that The Woodlands can be a home for everyone from those in H.U.D. housing to multi-million-dollar residences. But in the end, it’s the people that live in those houses that would have mattered to George Mitchell, according to Snyder who knew the founder of The Woodlands well.
“Interfaith is the soul of the community,” Snyder says. “Interfaith brings all stakeholders to the table to find solutions best for all of us as The Woodlands. Not for few, but for all. We take care of each other.”
Many thanks to The Woodlands 50th Anniversary Sponsors:
FOUNDING – Howard Hughes
LEGACY – Woodforest National Bank
HERITAGE – Waste Connections Inc.
GOLD – Entergy Texas, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital
SILVER – SVN/JBeard Real Estate, The John Cooper School
PRODUCER – The Woodlands Township