Crime Stoppers of Houston Gala and Ceremonial Groundbreaking for 

Houston's First Public Safety and Crime Prevention Block

By Connie Kwan-Wong   |    Photography by  Michelle Watson     |     Date: November 2, 2015

Crime Stoppers of Houston Gala and Ceremonial Groundbreaking for 

Houston's First Public Safety and Crime Prevention Block

 

Official Naming Announcement:

The Dave Ward Building, Crime Stoppers of Houston

 

HOUSTON (November 2, 2015) - Houston media icon Dave Ward, ABC - 13, was honored at the 2015 Building the Block Crime Stoppers of Houston Gala on Thursday, October 29, 2015 at the Omni Houston Hotel. The Annual Gala, which serves as the organization's largest fundraiser, welcomed more than 560 guests and raised over $510,000 for Crime Stopper's Tip Line and crime prevention programs, which empower, educate, and engage the community in important conversations about crime, public safety and the protection of society's most vulnerable citizens.

 

Chairs Joella and Steve Mach, along with auction chairs Courtney Zubowski Haas and Dr. Eric Haas, led the grand effort and celebration that marked a significant achievement and announced plans for the future. The evening began with a VIP reception with keynote speaker, best-selling author and Emmy award winning journalist, Ted Koppel. VIP guests were able to mingle with Koppel and then continued in to the silent auction and big board, all in support of the Crime Stoppers' mission. The cocktail reception opened up with a warm welcome from Rania Mankarious, Crime Stoppers Executive Director and invocation by Monsignor Frank Rossi, followed by emcee Melanie Lawson of ABC-13 taking the stage to kick off the night's festivities and surprise performances - all of which Ward knew nothing about! The entire evening was weaved together perfectly with the direction and guidance of the visionary, Laura Ward.

 

The focus of the evening was to honor Ward for playing an instrumental role in creating the "media" reach of Crime Stoppers of Houston back in the early 1980s. It was his creativity and ingenuity that contributed to the famous (and internationally recognized) Crime Stoppers' reenactments. Thanks to his vision, Crime Stoppers of Houston has created a model that now leads the nation. Koppel was honored to be in Houston to celebrate Ward's contributions to Crime Stoppers and his incredible achievement of being the only news anchor to stay almost 50 years on one anchor chair, in one station, in one city, in one state. Surprise video tributes from two very special friends of Ward, former First Lady Barbara Bush and NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly all the way from outer space, were played during the night.

 

The celebration continued with messages from several 'Friends of Dave', Governor Mark White, 43rd Governor of the Great State of Texas, Edna Meyer- Nelson, Founder, President and CEO of The Richland Companies and John Eddie Williams, founding partner of Williams Kherkher.

 

One of the biggest highlights of the night was a surprise visit from a very special friend of Ward who insisted on flying to Houston for this special occasion - Grammy and Emmy Award-winning artist and producer Steve Tyrell who sang "You've Got a Friend in Me" live on stage for his friend. 

 

Before the night was over, the surprises continued as a well-kept secret was finally revealed. Because of Ward's dedication to his city, career and Crime Stoppers, Mankarious announced that the first-ever Crime Stoppers of Houston headquarters will forever be named The Dave Ward Building Crime Stoppers of Houston. Ward was astonished by the big unveil and was lost for words as he stood in front of the podium. He compared the extraordinary moment to his wedding day and birth of his children.

 

The evening left Ward speechless, but the celebration continued on the next day, Friday, October 30, 2015 at the 3000 Block on Main Street for the Crime Stoppers of Houston Headquarters Groundbreaking Ceremony. Koppel along with the Board of Directors, elected officials, men and women in blue and others joined in for photos to commence the city's first Public Safety and Crime Prevention Block. Welcoming remarks were made by Crime Stoppers Executive Director Rania Mankarious, Capital Campaign Co-Chairs Kathryn Stasney Childers and Fenner Weller,Franco Valobra of Harris County Sheriff's Office Foundation, Dave Ward, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, Houston Police Department Chief Charles McClelland and Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman. State Representative Gene Wu presented a resolution honoring the work of Crime Stoppers and recognition of Dave Ward at the 2015 Gala. Closing remarks were made by Crime Stoppers Vice Chairman of the Board Hazem Ahmed.

 

The new home of Crime Stoppers of Houston will be a state-of-the-art facility serving as a hub for crime prevention, housing centralized operations, staff, volunteers, law enforcement, safe school, safe community and media teams in a single 28,000-square-foot building. Outside the facility, a 12,800-square-foot Harris County Sheriff's Officers Memorial Garden will pay tribute to heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

 

Thursday's celebration (Gala) was supported by many individuals, community partners and generous underwriters, including The Mach Family, Ellen and Paige Cokinos/The Higginbotham Community Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. C. Richard Stasney/Mr. and Mrs. Staton Childers. Among guests were, Trini Mendenhall, Cora Sue and Harry Mach, Maria and Neil Bush, Maria and Christopher J. Pappas, Wendy and John Granato, Henry Florsheim, Katherine and Bobbie Hatcher, Stephanie and Ernie Cockerall, Roula Christie, Leisa Holland-Nelson, Michelle Heinz and Vicki Rizzo.

 

Notable guests include Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman, Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle and Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniels,Mayor Annise Parker, City Council members Brenda Stardig, Jack Christie, Dave Martin, David Robinson, Robert Gallegos and Ellen Cohen, State Representatives Jim Murphy, Gene Wu and Sylvester Turner, plus Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, Jr.

 

Others celebrating with Ward included Linda Heatley, Jim Holley, Rachelle Rowe, Shelby Hodge and Shafik Rifaat, Dan Pastorini and Pam Morris, Carol and Tom Sawyer, Roz and Alan Pactor, Pamela and Jack Wright, Lindsey and Scott Aronstein, Cathy and John Crapitto, Melissa Davis, Paula Goldstein, Nancy Sims, Allison and Stephen Lewis, Sidney Evans II, Bryan Beene, Gina Gaston Elie, Toni and Bob Lawrence, Bob Meehan, Sonya and Jeff Vaden, Yvette Webb, David Wilson II, Mike Wilson, plus many more!

 

If you would like to learn about Crime Stoppers of Houston and our prevention programs, visit www.crime-stoppers.org or call 713-521-4600.

 

 

About Crime Stoppers of Houston

 

Crime Stoppers of Houston is Houston's only non-profit dedicated to public safety and since 1981 has remained committed to its mission to solve and prevent serious crime in the Greater Houston Area in partnership with citizens, media and the criminal justice system.  Through close collaboration with local law enforcement agencies and the citizens of Houston, Crime Stoppers of Houston has successfully solved nearly 33,000 felony cases and arrested over 25,000 felony fugitives through its 713-222-TIPS Tip Line Program.The Tip Line Program continues to be a national crime prevention model and strives to empower and motivate citizens to report crime.

 

Additionally, Crime Stoppers of Houston works diligently to empower, educate, and engage the community in the important conversations about crime, public safety and the protection of society's most vulnerable citizens. In 2014 alone, its Safe Community Program, whose focus is to prevent crime through public education, educated over 3 million Houstonians on important crime prevention trends and safety tips. Outreach through the Safe School Program reached students from kindergarten through high school in over 21 Greater Houston Area campuses, including all of Harris County, and was the direct result in over 36 solved cases including the removal of illegal drugs and 7 weapons from our schools.

 

Stay connect with Crime Stoppers of Houston via their e-newsletter, on Facebook, Twitter@CrimeStopHou and YouTube

 

 

About New Crime Stoppers of Houston Headquarters

 

Occupying an entire square block in Midtown, the new Crime Stoppers facility will be the city's firstPublic Safety and Crime Prevention block. The state-of-the-art, $10 million facility will serve as a hub for crime prevention, housing centralized operations, staff, volunteers, law enforcement, safe school, safe community and media teams in a single 28,000-square-foot building. Outside the facility, a 12,800-square-foot Harris County Sheriff's Officers Memorial Garden will pay tribute to heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

 

Each facet of the new Crime Stoppers headquarters will work to expand the organization's programming and serve its vital mission. Within this highly secure setting, the number of Detail Officers servicing the world-renowned Crime Stoppers Tip Line will increase. Community members will frequent safety seminars and informative events. Students and citizens from all communities will be welcomed to tour historical law enforcement exhibits and attend educational classes. Victims of crime, their families, associated investigators and media members will access safe and secluded consultation rooms. Press conferences will take place, while media members will use on-site tools to relay important, time-sensitive information to news outlets.

 

The Harris County Sheriff's Officers Memorial Garden will comprise a significant portion of the 3000 Block of Main Street complex. This serene setting, overseen daily by an on-site officer, will welcome any and all to honor fallen heroes. Moreover, this inviting square will serve as a graceful addition to the revitalized Midtown Houston cityscape and constant reminder of our community's commitment to crime prevention and resolution.

 

Dave Ward, Laura Ward, Rania Mankarious, Ted Koppel

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