Mary with her husband Henry celebrating his birthday last October in Curacao.
Name: Mary J
Where do you live? Houston, TX
Where were you born? Houston native, born and raised
What’s the highest level of education you have completed? BA, Journalism, Photojournalism from University of Houston
Do you have a family? Yes! Great husband and best friend, Henry; no kids; Jack, the smartest shelter dog in the world; cats Fritz and Smoke – one shelter, one feral; seven brothers and sisters; lots of brilliant nieces and nephews. Henry and I both come from big Catholic families who lived within 10 miles of each other for over 50 years and never met until Henry was 29 and I was 32.
My 87-year-old mother lived with us for over two years after my father died in March 2008. She temporarily moved out recently, starting a 6 month “road trip”, staying with other siblings through the summer.
How did you hear about the Year of Giving? Your post on 29Gifts.org
How long have you been unemployed? Since May 2008
What happened? American National Red Cross had its largest layoff in history, removing mostly field staff across the US who reported to National Headquarters in Washington, DC. I volunteered with them for a bit following the layoff.
Do you currently volunteer? YES! Way too much, according to Henry… I’m the volunteer Content Manager for 29Gifts.org and support numerous charities and causes. Favorites include Sewing Hope and blankets4babies, two groups on 29 Gifts; Texas EquuSearch, a search & rescue group; local and Caribbean animal shelters, among others. Volunteering is a win-win during unemployment, as it keeps my technical skills up-to-date, you never know when a connection might lead to a full-time job lead, AND it feels so darn good to give someone a hand up. I truly enjoy helping others. It’s amazing how a simple moment of kindness can affect someone’s life, even if for a day.
Who have been your biggest influences? My parents. Both Henry and I have unbelievably incredible parents who raised their children with just the right amount of discipline and never-ending love, guidance, support and laughter. They instilled in each of us a strong and honest work ethic, a thirst for adventure and knowledge, respect for everyone – especially those most different, and the confidence to change the world. Though money was tight in both families, our parents were kind and thoughtful people who never hesitated helping others. Couldn’t ask for better role models. Man, I miss my dad.
What is your favorite food? If going out, pan-seared Tilapia, garlic green beans and fried okra from Peppers in Pasadena, or spicy tuna sashimi, salmon sushi rolls and green tea ice cream at Masa Sushi in Webster.
Staying in with fam? Too many faves to list, but I’ll take a stab at it - preferably with a knife and fork: Henry’s jerk chicken and seafood gumbo. David’s prime rib. Becky’s potato salad. Anything Sean & Maureen make. Steven’s Thanksgiving dressing (winner of the dressing throwdown at last T-Day dinner). Cheryl’s squash casserole. Mike & Kathie’s lobster thermidor. Traci’s chocolate mint and peanut butter candy. Glenn’s iced tea. Susan’s crème brulée bread pudding, Mom’s chicken noodle soup and kolache rolls. Dena’s beef stew. Chris & Carol’s eggrolls and fresh mozzarella. Bonnie’s gourmet cole slaw with toasted ramen noodles. Cheri’s mom’s thousand dollar four layer pie. Valerie’s pecan and pumpkin pies. Tracy’s chicken & dumplings. Amy’s sausage queso dip. Juliana’s johnnycake and guava jelly. Pearl & Gladys’s short rib Caribbean stew. Steve H’s grilled fish and lobster. And anything curry.
What is the most meaningful gift you have ever received? Unconditional love from my parents.
Describe your ideal job: I want to join an organization where I can use strong director-level global communication, management and technical skills to make the world a safe, secure and productive place. I want to work with a creative team in a progressive, forward thinking environment, where all staff are seen and treated as key contributors and partners to success. I want to work with leadership who “get” that when we expect and encourage the best from our employees, we will get their best in return, and success will inevitably follow; a place where we all learn from mistakes and we all celebrate successes.
Web content management… communications… problem resolution… policies & procedures… research… total quality management… customer service… team building… mentoring… disaster preparedness and recovery… search and rescue… sustainable project management… fundraising… vendor negotiations… teaching… training… travel… relocation… It’s all good.
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