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Strength in the Tapestry that Weaves Together Different Faiths

Gala Finance Chair Swatantra Jain and his wife Bimla receiving an award, from IM President & CEO Martin B. Cominsky and IM Board Chair Paula Sutton.

Gala Finance Chair Swatantra Jain and his wife Bimla receiving an award, from IM President & CEO Martin B. Cominsky and IM Board Chair Paula Sutton.

HOUSTON: Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston was proud to honor Shell Oil Company at its ninth annual Tapestry Gala, held on Wednesday, May 3.  Close to $550,000 was generated by the festive evening, which celebrated Shell’s philanthropic efforts in the community and Houston’s great diversity in cultures, ethnicities and faith traditions.
More than 500  guests were on hand at the Hilton Americas-Houston to recognize Shell and to support IM’s many programs including Meals on Wheels/aniMeals, refugee resettlement and interfaith relations.

“IM was deeply honored to recognize Shell for its generous contributions and deep commitment to the Houston community,” said Martin B. Cominsky, IM’s President and CEO. “Shell is a valued partner of IM. It has been one of the lead sponsors of Meals on Wheels for years and Shell employees are stalwart volunteers in our program to feed more than 4,000 homebound seniors each weekday.”

Swatantra Jain, Dr. Sushma Mahajan and Dr. Sippi Khurana on stage reciting passsages from their faiths.

Swatantra Jain, Dr. Sushma Mahajan and Dr. Sippi Khurana on stage reciting passsages from their faiths.

Among the audience were members of Galveston County Senior Services – Carla Ayala, Jennifer Krups and Susan Brace, and drivers Dominica Zepeda and Robert Neal  – who run a similar meal program on the island. They were excited about the recent association with IM’s Meals on Wheels to take over and administer the program, which would alleviate the burden on their small organization.

The evening began with a shared prayer from different faith leaders who stood onstage reciting a verse from their holiest texts while the symbol representing their religion was projected on a red background behind them. Among them were Dr. Fatima Mawji reciting a Muslim passage; Swatantra Jain reciting a Jain passage; Dr. Sushma Mahajan reciting a Hindu passage from the Gita and Dr. Sippi Khurana reciting a Sikh passage.  

IM Board Vice Chair Shaukat Zakaria and Boardmember Dr. Sippi Khurana.

IM Board Vice Chair Shaukat Zakaria and Boardmember Dr. Sippi Khurana.

The evening also featured musical selections by the Phillip Hall Singers who sang a soulful rendition of John Lennon’s I and two other pieces, A Place Called Love and Lean on Me, featuring Kenneth Gale, Mary Griffin and Bubba McNeeley and also a finale at the end of the program. It concluded with the presentation of the 2017 Tapestry Award by Houston City Mayor Sylvester Turner to Scott Ballard, Shell’s Executive Vice President for Human Resources.

This year’s honorary chairs were Philamena Baird; IM Board Member Swatantra Jain who was presented with a crystal bowl for contribution to the event as the Finance Chair and IM Board Chair Paula Sutton. Lisa Malosky, sports reporter and former KPRC-TV news reporter served as the evening’s emcee.

The evenings guests included: Shell EVP Scott Ballard, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, Houston City Mayor Sylvester Turner, Cindy and John Kellum, Paula Sutton and Bill Gross, Philamena and Arthur Baird, Bimla and Swatantra Jain, Karyn and Charles Crisp, Susan and Dan Boggio, Sippi and Ajay Khurana, Brigitte and Bashar Kalai, Houston City Councilmembers Amanda Edwards, Steve  Le, Mike Laster and Robert Gallegos, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and 2016 Tapestry Gala honorees Lily and Charles Foster.

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