Department of Neighborhoods

Press Release

Annual Awards Recognize Exceptional Public Service



May 10, 2012 -- Houston Mayor Annise Parker honored 14 volunteers for exceptional public service at the 2012 Mayor's Volunteer Houston Awards ceremony, held at the Westin Oaks Hotel. The awards were sponsored by the Mayor's Office, in partnership Volunteer Houston and underwritten by Shell Oil Company.


Mayor Parker presented Volunteer Houston Awards to the following individuals: Peggy Ascherl, Charity Guild of Catholic Women; Cecelia Cai, Partnership for the Advance and Immersion of Refugees; Jack and JoAnn Crawford, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center; David Hughes, The Children's Assessment Center; Betty Key and Rita Isgitt, Casa de Esperanza; Janan Lenzy, Top Teens of America; Grant Manier, The Lady Horse Whisperer; John Martinec, Ellington Field Task Force; James H. Robertson, Cypress Creek Greenway Project, Cypress Creek Flood Coalition; Andrea Schmauss, Mothers Against Drunk Driving; Lorn Westfall, Neighborhood Centers, Inc.; and Gloria Medina Zenteno, Barrio Dogs, Inc.


The mayor also presented the first annual Volunteer Houston Lifetime Achievement Awards to H. Ben Taub with Harris County Hospital District Foundation and to Executive Service Corps of Houston.


"We take great pride in honoring these deserving individuals who have worked tirelessly and with so much heart and dedication to serve our community," said Mayor Parker. "We ask that they accept these awards as tokens of our deep appreciation for all the good things they are doing for the people of Houston. They are role models for all of us and sheer inspiration."


The Volunteer Houston Awards nomination process is open to the general public. Nominees must have conducted volunteer public service activities in the City of Houston. Award recipients are selected by a diverse panel of community judges. The awards program is coordinated by the Mayor's Volunteer Initiatives Program, a division of the Department of Neighborhoods. For more information, visit or


2012 Mayor's Volunteer Houston Award Recipients


Volunteer Houston Awards:


Peggy Ascherl Charity Guild of Catholic Women

Peggy, age 77, regularly provides over 1,230 hours a year to the Charity Guild Resale Shop and serves as president of the Charity Guild. She is hailed as a true leader and Guild volunteers and supporters rest easy knowing she has the ability to meet any challenge that comes up.


Cecelia Cai Partnership for the Advance and Immersion of Refugees

This University of Houston student and Chinese immigrant has become an excellent student leader and champion of at-risk students. She is the founder and chair of the UH chapter of PAIR, whose members work with children in major refugee resettlement areas around Houston.


Jack and JoAnn Crawford Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center

This dynamic husband-and-wife team has made immeasurable contributions to inpatients at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. Two to three days a week, they travel 60 miles from Crosby, TX, to the medical center and back and have logged more than 4,200 hours of volunteer service.


David Hughes -- The Children's Assessment Center

David's love of volunteering is especially important the Children's Assessment Center where he volunteers regularly in the Playroom. Considered legally blind, his condition has not altered his enthusiasm for serving youth and he is a true inspiration and friend to the young clients and staff at the Center.


Betty Key and Rita Isgitt -- Casa de Esperanza

This duo has volunteered as a team every Tuesday for the past 21 years at Casa de Esperanza, giving house parents much-needed time off.


Janan Lenzy Top Teens of America

This 11th grade honor roll student has logged an incredible number of hours in service to the community. She participates in volunteer projects through church, school, Girl Scouts and other community organizations. As a high school sophomore she earned her Gold Award by renovating a neighborhood park, raising funds and recruiting volunteers to clear the park of trash and graffiti and repair or replace playground equipment.


Grant Manier The Lady Horse Whisperer

This autistic teenager has distinguished himself through volunteer work, especially his involvement in equine therapy. He is also an accomplished artist with an amazing ability to inspire children and adults alike.


John Martinec -- Ellington Field Task Force

His leadership, creativity and influence brought members of the community together to stop the proposed closing of Ellington Field in 2005 as a result of the reduction of military forces. Thanks for his involvement in the Ellington Field Task Force, the facility is now a Joint Reserve Base and Houston's extensive resources remain under the close protection of the military.


James H. Robertson Cypress Creek Greenway Project as Part of Cypress Creek Flood Coalition

Mr. Robertson has been a keen environmental champion, serving as chairman of the Cypress Creek Greenway Project. He helped envision a multifaceted approach to improving the Cypress Creek watershed, making it an environmental asset for area residents and users of the Creek, while mitigating the potential for flooding. Like most projects involving watersheds, the benefits of his contributions ultimately reach far beyond the northwest part of town where he lives.


Andrea Schmauss -- Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Andrea created MADD's law enforcement appreciation team, which provides officers with kind words and a meal while they fill out the hugely time-consuming paperwork involved in drunk-driving arrests. She also makes sure that law enforcement appreciation programs are a big part of MADD's outreach. She was instrumental in developing the Citizen's Task Force Committee and she currently serves on the Mayor's Independent Police Oversight Board.


Lorn Westfall Neighborhood Centers, Inc.

Lorn is the volunteer manager of the Lakewood Church Neighborhood Tax Center, offering assistance in completing the tax returns to many families in Southwest Houston. In doing so he helps return hundreds of thousands of dollars to this community each year.


Gloria Medina Zenteno Barrio Dogs, Inc.

Gloria has helped change the face and culture of her East End neighborhood by tackling the problem of homeless and abandoned dogs. She does so by working to change people's attitudes about the problem, teaching residents about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets and empowering residents to address other problems to build a stronger, more vibrant community.



Lifetime Achievement Awards:


H. Ben Taub -- Harris County Hospital District Foundation

The nephew of philanthropist and medical benefactor Ben Taub, H. Ben Taub has been the driving force behind the Harris County Hospital Foundation's growth and investment in providing quality health care for Houston's most needy citizens.


Executive Service Corps of Houston

This organization has provided management consultant aid and skilled management mentoring to Houston nonprofit organizations for 27 years. ESCH relies on the skills of experienced, mostly retired professionals to serve as consultants who have helped thousands of nonprofits operate more effectively.