Lee College Athletics reaches goal of donating 20,000 canned goods to community

Student-athletes joined by Lee High School Interact Club for latest donation of 1,300 items

The Lee College Athletics Department recently partnered with students from the Robert E. Lee High School Interact Club in Baytown to donate 1,300 canned goods to St. Paul Lutheran’s Church in an effort to help fight hunger in the local community. This latest donation allowed the athletic department to reach its goal of donating a total of 20,000 canned goods to the community since the “I Can, You Can, We Can” collection drive was started in 2009.

BAYTOWN, TX — With Thanksgiving approaching and many local families in need of help to fill their cabinets and pantries, Lee College basketball and volleyball student-athletes partnered with the Robert E. Lee High School Interact Club last week to donate 1,300 canned goods to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Baytown.

This latest donation allowed the Lee College Athletic Department to reach an ambitious goal set when then-Athletics Director and Head Basketball Coach Roy Champagne launched the “I Can, You Can, We Can” initiative in 2009: to collect 20,000 canned goods to help feed the hungry in the community.

After collecting 1,600 canned goods in the first year of the project, the athletic department has collected and donated 6,100 canned goods this year alone. Even more canned goods are still awaiting delivery to churches, charities and food banks all over town.

“It is a simple act that many of us take for granted — having food to eat,” Champagne said. “Our athletes do a tremendous job connecting to the individuals and families that receive these items within our Baytown community. I, myself, am overwhelmed at the amount of help that is needed just within our own city limits.”

Both Champagne and Head Volleyball Coach Paige Sorge believe Rebel and Lady Rebel athletes have a responsibility to volunteer their personal time and give back to the community in any way possible. Members of the basketball and volleyball teams regularly visit local elementary schools to speak out against bullying and encourage kids to be stellar students and avid readers; spend time with, mentor and cheer on high-school athletes at their games and practices; and help cook and serve free dinners to neighbors in need.

“It’s a good way to show the community they’re thankful and appreciative for all the support and resources they’ve been given,” Sorge said.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Foundation brings donors together with scholarship recipients

Six people posing, both donors and student recipients
Donors to the Lee College Foundation met the recipients of their scholarships Friday, April 7, 2017, at the 15th annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast. The annual gathering allows students to share with donors how their generosity has made a difference. Pictured from left: Louise Mann, donor; Drake Salinas, student; Nancy Mann, donor; Denia Aleman, student; Michael Mann, donor; and Claudia Wyles, representing corporate donor Community Resource Credit Union.

For the individuals and businesses that donate to the Lee College Foundation, there is no greater proof of the positive impact of their generosity than meeting and hearing the stories of students awarded tuition and textbook scholarships.

Students like Maryori Portillo, a first-generation college student and recipient of the Wallace Heaner Tuition Scholarship and John and Stella Pepper Textbook Scholarship who had children at a young age and dropped out of high school. After earning her GED and experiencing difficulties in her first try at higher education, Portillo came to Lee College and enrolled in two classes: English and speech. Instructors recognized she had special talent, but the cost of out-of-district tuition and other expenses nearly forced her to quit school after just one semester.

“They immediately saw potential in me that I didn’t see in myself and introduced me to the Honors Program,” Portillo shared April 7 at the 15th annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast, where donors connected with scholarship recipients and learned firsthand how the funds made a difference in their lives.

“Thanks to the scholarships, I was able to return to school,” she said. “I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to go to sleep without college tuition keeping you up at night. It’s a weight lifted off your shoulders and a worry gone. I would not be standing here without your help.”

Or students like Audra Smith, a process technology major and intern at Chevron Phillips Chemical who received a workforce scholarship from the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA). EHCMA donated $170,000 to Lee College this year for student scholarships and other support for craft and technology programs.

A donor and two students stand and pose.
The Lee College Foundation hosted a reception Tuesday, March 28, 2017, for students who received workforce scholarships from the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA) to meet managers and other personnel from the association’s member companies. EHCMA donated $170,000 to Lee College this year for student scholarships and other support for craft and technology programs. Pictured (l-r): Jarvis Booker, student; Bear Estrada of Ohmstede; and Tevin Goodman, student.

Just before she started classes, Smith lost her home to a fire and learned her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. Four months into the program, her mother passed away – and soon after, so did her father and grandfather. Knowing she would not have to worry about paying for school helped her persist in the program despite her losses, determined to earn her degree and keep the promises she made to herself and her family.

“Workforce scholarships help us, as students, achieve our greatness,” Smith told managers and leaders from EHCMA’s member companies in late March at a student and donor networking reception hosted by the foundation. “By donating money for these scholarships, you all are changing lives every day.”

Under the leadership of its Board of Directors, the Lee College Foundation has raised outside funds since 1968 to provide for student needs. The fund balance for the foundation now exceeds $10 million and all students are eligible to receive scholarships — those pursuing academic and technical degrees, as well as those enrolled full-time, part-time, in dual-credit classes for high-school students to earn college credits, in non-credit classes offered by the Center for Workforce and Community Development, and in the Lee College Huntsville Center prison program.

Although the foundation has historically focused on accepting scholarship funds, board members consider other worthwhile initiatives that directly affect student success and promote the student’s ability to reach their education goals. To that end, tax-deductible contributions from industry and private donors also support the Student Success Fund, created to help those facing extraordinary circumstances pay for college-related expenses that might otherwise derail their journey.

“One of the most heartwarming things about Lee College is knowing how much this community loves this institution,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “The consistent outpouring of generosity helps ensure students can do the three most important things: enroll, persist and graduate. We want them to get here, stay here and leave here with a degree.”

For more information about donating to the Lee College Foundation, contact Executive Director  Pam Warford at 281.425.6361 or pwarford@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Runnin’ Rebels Basketball makes giving back to the local community a team priority

Program has notched more than 530 hours of service, donated thousands of canned goods

Players serve food at Curt's Kitchen
Lee College Runnin’ Rebels Basketball players Roc Johnson, KaJon Brown and Javonte Cooper serve free dinners to neighbors in need at Curt’s Kitchen, a ministry of Cedar Bayou Grace United Methodist Church, during a visit in August 2016. The team has completed more than 530 hours of service to the community since then and donated more than 6,000 canned goods to local food pantries since the 2015-16 basketball season, and is now looking for fans to “Rock the Red” and bring even more canned goods to the home game set for Saturday, Jan. 28.

BAYTOWN, TX — Between the classes, practices and games that fill their busy weekly schedules, the Lee College Runnin’ Rebels Basketball Team has made it their mission to roll up their sleeves and get to work helping others in Baytown and beyond — completing more than 530 hours of community service since August 2016, and donating more than 6,000 canned goods to local food pantries in the last year alone.

To Head Coach Roy Champagne, volunteering their personal time to support worthy causes is an essential responsibility of being a Lee College student-athlete.

“It’s important for our guys to be a part of the Baytown community,” said Champagne, who started the team’s “I Can, U Can, We Can” collection and donation drive for canned goods. “The Baytown community affords these players the opportunity to get scholarships and be able to attend Lee College. Our service is a small way of trying to give back.”

The Runnin’ Rebels have visited six elementary schools in Baytown and Highlands to speak out against bullying and encourage kids to be great students and avid readers. They’ve cheered for young athletes at youth basketball nights and team try-outs. They’ve pulled on aprons and plastic gloves to dish up free dinners at Curt’s Kitchen run by Cedar Bayou Grace United Methodist Church. They’ve delivered thousands of canned goods to food pantries at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and the Missouri Street Church of Christ, among others. And they’re mentoring students at Charles R. Drew Elementary School in Barrett Station, which the college has adopted as part of its Cradle to Career Network.

Now, the team is asking the community to join their efforts at the home game against Angelina College, which is set for a 6 p.m. tip-off on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Lee College Sports Arena. Fans aged 19 and older who bring two canned goods will be given free entry in exchange for helping the team reach its goal of collecting 20,000 canned goods to help feed the hungry in the local community.

The Runnin’ Rebels hope to pack the 1,500-seat arena for the game against the Roadrunners and are encouraging all fans to “Rock the Red” and show their spirit. Additional information about “Rock the Red” is available online at www.lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Sell-out crowd expected for Lee College Foundation Gala

Highly anticipated event raises money for scholarships and other student support

Photo of those attending the 2015 Gala.
The 30th annual Lee College Foundation Gala held in 2015 drew 350 guests and raised a record-setting $150,000 for scholarships and other forms of student support. Tickets for this year’s gala have already sold out.

BAYTOWN, TX — A sell-out crowd will enjoy food, music, silent and live auctions and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Lee College students at the 31st annual Lee College Foundation Gala, which will be held at Sylvan Beach Pavilion to raise much-needed funds for scholarships and other forms of student support.

The gala is set for Thursday, Sept. 15, and will begin with a social hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by a seated dinner at 7:30 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by Lee College student musical ensembles and Skyline, a Houston-based band well known for deftly performing a wide range of styles — from classic rock and country to Motown, Latin, jazz and the big band sound that was popular at the historic pavilion in its heyday.

“Over the years, attendance and proceeds from the gala have increased due to the generosity of individuals, businesses and industry in this community and the surrounding area,” said Pam Warford, executive director of the Lee College Foundation. “These donors believe in education and realize that it can change lives and open doors to opportunities. Students continue to be amazed that contributors have given money to help someone they’ve never met attend college.”

The first Foundation Gala was held in the early 1980s at the suggestion of board members — both to raise money, and to raise awareness of the foundation’s mission to provide for the needs of Lee College students through scholarships and other types of student support. Under the leadership of its Board of Directors, the foundation will award more than $450,000 in scholarships in this academic year. The 30th annual Foundation Gala held last year raised a record-setting $150,000.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College Lady Rebels volunteer at ‘Curt’s Kitchen’

Lee College Lady Rebels pose while volunteering at Curt's Kitchen
The Lee College Volleyball Team volunteered on the serving line and spent time this week with Mason, 5, and other children and families at Curt’s Kitchen, a ministry of Cedar Bayou Grace United Methodist Church in Baytown that provides a free weekly dinner to those in need. The Lady Rebels will begin competing in the San Jacinto College Tournament on Sept. 1, with home games set for Sept. 9 and 10 at the Lee College Sports Arena.

BAYTOWN, TX — The Lee College Volleyball Team brought their signature Lady Rebel spirit this week to the serving line and dinner tables at Curt’s Kitchen, a ministry of Cedar Bayou Grace United Methodist Church that provides a free meal every Wednesday to hundreds of the hungry in Baytown and surrounding communities.

Wearing aprons, plastic gloves and glittering visors, the student-athletes and their coaches joined church volunteers to dish up sausage, beans, buttered noodles, pie and drinks – then spent time posing for photos, signing autographs and personally inviting diners to see the team in action Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Lee College Sports Arena against the Coastal Bend College Cougars. Former-LEE, the Lee College alumni association, will host the free Redzone Tailgate Party for fans before the game.

“It’s important to give back to the community that gives us the privilege to coach and play the sport we love,” said Head Coach Tracie Johnson, noting how humbled the team felt by the warm reception they received. “What we are doing for them is so small; we gain so much more by being here. It shows the coaches and players how fortunate we are, and I think it will make all of us work even harder in appreciation of what we have.”

Nita Davis, who coordinates Curt’s Kitchen for Cedar Bayou Grace, said she enjoyed having the team serve and share time with the more than 100 people that come to eat each week at the Coat of Many Colors in Baytown, where the ministry hosts the dinner. The program operates strictly from donations and volunteer support, preparing dinners for crowds that can top 250 patrons.

As diners finished their plates and packed up free canned goods and loaves of bread to take home, the Lady Rebels cleared tables and chatted with Curt’s Kitchen children and families.

“I loved it,” said Hannah Larsen, a sophomore outside hitter and defensive specialist from Dickinson. “I met new people I wouldn’t otherwise have met, and it was special to see how appreciative they were to have us. It helps us remember how much we’re blessed.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Basketball Team rolls up sleeves to serve those in need

Program has also donated more than 6,000 canned goods to local churches & food pantries

Basketball team spends time with children
Members of the Lee College Runnin’ Rebels Basketball Team spend time Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2016, with children at Curt’s Kitchen, a ministry of Cedar Bayou Grace United Methodist Church in Baytown that provides a free weekly dinner to people in need. The team volunteered to assist with serving the meal and also donated 600 canned goods to the ministry as part of ongoing efforts to give back to the community.

BAYTOWN, TX — Members of the Lee College Runnin’ Rebels Basketball Team recently tied on aprons and pulled on plastic gloves to help Cedar Bayou Grace United Methodist Church serve barbecue sandwiches with all the trimmings to people in need in the Baytown community.

The student-athletes also gave 600 canned goods to Curt’s Kitchen, the church ministry that feeds the hungry every Wednesday at the Coat of Many Colors in Baytown. The Runnin’ Rebels have donated 3,000 canned goods to numerous churches and local food pantries since the summer began, and more than 6,000 canned goods since the start of the 2015-16 basketball season.

“It’s important for our guys to be a part of the Baytown community,” said Head Coach Roy Champagne, who joined his players on the serving line at Curt’s Kitchen and invited the diners to attend an upcoming basketball game on campus for free. The 2016-17 basketball season begins in November.

“The Baytown community affords these players the opportunity to get scholarships and be able to attend Lee College,” Champagne said. “Our service is a small way of trying to give back.”

As some players scooped up potato salad and passed out homemade desserts, others filled up glasses of tea for the Curt’s Kitchen patrons and assisted the ministry volunteers by washing dishes and helping to clear tables. Children got high-fives from the team, asked questions and posed for photos with their favorite players.

Basketball team volunteers at Curt's Kitchen
The Lee College Runnin’ Rebels Basketball Team donned aprons and plastic gloves Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2016, as volunteers at Curt’s Kitchen, a ministry of Cedar Bayou Grace United Methodist Church in Baytown that provides a free weekly dinner to people in need. The student-athletes also donated 600 canned goods to help keep the ministry’s shelves well stocked for its patrons. Pictured on the serving line, from left: Roc Johnson, Julian Powell and Javonte Cooper.

Nita Davis, who coordinates Curt’s Kitchen for Cedar Bayou Grace, was impressed by the team’s generosity and willingness to share their time with the more than 100 people served by the ministry each week. In addition to dinner, the church also provides daily sack lunches to children in the neighborhood who would otherwise be unable to eat during summer break. The ministry works strictly on donations.

“To come in and work in the kitchen — that’s what makes you tear up,” Davis said of the Runnin’ Rebels, adding that their gift of canned goods would also make a difference to those in need. “They were so excited and anything we asked them to do, they did. It’s a tremendous thing.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Student group sponsors benefit for Flint water crisis victims

BAYTOWN, TX – Students in the Reaching Excellence Against Limitations (R.E.A.L.) Organization at Lee College are hosting a benefit May 10 for Flint, Mich., residents still reeling from lead contamination in the city’s tap water.

“Let’s be Real for Flint,” is set for 3:30-7 p.m. in the Student Center on campus. The event is free and open to the public, and will include entertainment from a live DJ, a silent auction, a bake sale and complimentary refreshments for those who attend.

Cash donations and cases of bottled water will be accepted at the benefit and sent to Flint to help victims of the water crisis, which has created a public health emergency that has lasted more than 2 years. Lead exposure can cause behavior problems and learning disabilities in children, and kidney ailments and other health problems in adults — and while treatments are available that reduce the levels of lead in the blood, there is not yet a cure for lead poisoning.

Launched at Lee College in 2015, R.E.A.L. is a student organization that aims to educate and empower black males by enhancing their skills and creating positive change. The group recognizes four pillars: educating the black male on who he was, is and can be; empowering the black male voice on campus and helping put their thoughts in action; enhancing member skills to form a strong foundation from which they can build their futures; and creating a campus climate that helps increase retention rates for black male students.

For more information about the upcoming “Let’s be Real for Flint” benefit, contact R.E.A.L. adviser Jessica Falla at 281.425.6421 or jfalla@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.