July 2020

As we stretch into July and the long days of summer, we still find ourselves in an unprecedented time in our history. At least for this summer, gone are the long leisurely days at the beach with family and friends, hearing the crack of a bat on a summer’s evening, or for Houstonians, sitting under the stars watching a performance at Miller Outdoor Theater. Instead, our cities and our communities look and feel different – uncertainty and fear surrounding COVID-19 and civil unrest and disparity as well as distrust and cynicism have invaded our consciousness and countless lives have been irrevocably changed. 

For our guests at Halo House, the stress of living with cancer and being far away from home only adds to the challenges that we as a nation face. To that end, the Halo House Board of Directors, as well as my staff and I, are more determined than ever to find ways to ease the strain that our guests experience. Not only are we being even more cautious in our response to the pandemic, but we are also rethinking how we are doing our work so that we can best serve our resident guests and their families.  

Two of the biggest and toughest decisions that we have had to make have been to cancel our Checkmates Benefit Concert and to switch our 10th Annual Halo House Gala to a virtual event. While difficult, these decisions were made with the health and safety of patients, doctors, and all other supporters top of mind.  Our plans for a “virtual” gala are moving forward so continue reading for more information about our  Be Kind & Rewind Halo House Gala  and how you can join in on the fun no matter where you live!  

I also want to thank all of you, our Halo House loyal friends, for your continued faithful support. I know that there are many wonderful causes and nonprofits out there that need assistance and I am grateful that Halo House has continued to be on the top of your list. I continue to hope and pray that you and your family are safe and healthy in these uncertain times.   

Kristen Stubbs 
Executive Director 
Make Plans Now to Join us at the  
Be Kind & Rewind: Your Favorite Decade Replayed Halo House Gala! 
The 10th annual Halo House Gala is going virtual and we want everyone to join in on the fun! On November 14, 2020, you can relax in your own living room while live streaming the event or become a “Gala Host” and invite a small group of your closest family and friends to join you as we celebrate 10 years of Halo House and over 35,000 days of housing patients and their families.

Dress up in attire from your favorite decade and decorate your gala “ballroom” to match, all while having a blast with us. We have some great live auction items lining up so don’t miss out on your chance to win!  

Should you choose to become a Gala Host, we will provide you with a Gala Toolkit with fun ideas on decorations, signature cocktails for each decade, restaurant menus and delivery options, and more. Stay tuned for how to register as a Gala Host or an Individual Participant and don't forget to mark you calendars for November 14th for an evening of fun, hope, and inspiration as we  Be Kind and Rewind  and raise money to support patient housing at Halo House.
Halo House Hero - Bill Kersten
Bill is our Halo House Hero for July. Bill first learned about Halo House while he was volunteering at MD Anderson on the inpatient stem cell transplantation floor and talking to a stem cell patient who told him his wife was back at Halo House taking a nap. Intrigued and curious to know what Halo House was, Bill googled us and decided to apply to become a volunteer.    

Bill comes to us as a retired director of management and operations for the Children’s Learning Institute at UT Health. Before his time at UT Health, Bill worked at MD Anderson as the clinical business manager for the stem cell transplantation outpatient clinic before switching to the palliative care department as their operations manager and then back to the stem cell transplantation outpatient clinic. Bill served for 8 years as the executive director of Bering Omega Community Services in Houston, a nonprofit that assists individuals affected by HIV and AIDS. Bill’s experience as an executive director of a non-profit as well as his time at UT Health and MD Anderson make him a very resourceful Halo House volunteer.
Haircutting at Halo House

Diana Mohor, a Houston area hairstylist, volunteered her time to come to Halo House and give a few of our residents a much-needed haircut! Since COVID-19 began, getting a haircut has been a difficult task for everyone. Our residents were extremely excited to finally have an opportunity to get a haircut without having to worry about leaving the safety of Halo House to do so.
Pictured here is Mary Berry, a caregiver of one of our residents, enjoying her haircut!
Featured Family - Sharla & Dallas Taylor
Sharla and Dallas Taylor are probably the most happy and positive people you will ever meet - every time they were seen around and about at Halo House, they both had the biggest smiles on their faces! Dallas, a FedEx driver from Mobile, Alabama for over 26 years and Sharla a real estate agent are so bubbly that it is not surprising they chose the careers that they did. Even when they received a cancer diagnosis, the Taylors continued to stay upbeat.

In March 2019, Dallas started having chest pains while at work which he thought were just pulled muscles. When the pain wouldn’t stop, he went to the doctor for CT scans. By the end of April, an oncologist in Mobile confirmed that Dallas had myeloma. The oncologist recommended that Dallas and Sharla go to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to receive the best possible treatment and a stem cell transplant. After several rounds of chemo and testing and numerous trips back and forth from Alabama, Dallas received his stem cell transplant in November 2019.  

Sharla and Dallas moved to Houston for treatment and initially lived either in the hospital or a hotel. While this time in Houston wasn’t like being home in Alabama, they were welcomed with open arms and love during their stay and the connections with people they met along their journey helped them pull through. The Taylor’s befriended anyone and everyone that they crossed paths with whether it was in restaurants, the hospital, or even the local Kroger store! Having to live out of a hotel was the only thing that held them back from truly feeling at home but after weeks in the hospital and hotels, Sharla received a call from Halo House that an apartment was available for them.   
4th of July Door Decorating Contest
In full patriotic spirit, we held a “4th of July” Door Decorating Contest for our guests. Similar to our “Welcome Spring” Door Decorating Contest we held back in April, we supplied the guests with paper, markers, and other decor items. All the residents who participated were extremely creative and fully utilized the supplies we gave them while also adding their own special touch. 

Our first-place winner was Beth and Richard from Dallas, Texas. Beth and Richard went all out and decorated the entire door top to bottom even featuring battery operated tea lights in the design. Congrats Beth and Richard!
Meet The Staff
Operations Manager -
Hannah Alfred

Say hello to Hannah Alfred, Operations Manager for Halo House. Hannah joined our team in August 2018 and is from Montgomery, Texas on Lake Conroe – just an hour or so north of Houston. Even though she grew up in the “country”, she never felt far from the hustle and bustle of Houston. Hannah grew up doing volunteer work and recalls that her earliest volunteer job (at the age of 6) was visiting nursing homes and singing for the residents with a nonprofit called K-Kids. The desire to give back has never left her and has continued into adulthood.

Hannah graduated from Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas in 2018 with a B.A. in Social Entrepreneurship and a B.B.A. in Marketing. She started out her college career as a Finance major but after taking an Intro to Social Entrepreneurship course she learned that she could have the great career she’s always wanted while still doing good in the world. Throughout her college career, Hannah volunteered at the local women’s violence shelter where she learned of the horrors of human trafficking. Hannah put her degrees to use to create her Senior Capstone; a social venture focusing on the eradication of human trafficking through the education of high school and college age women. Because of her work on this project, Hannah developed an appreciation for the vast amount of work that goes into starting and supporting a young nonprofit organization. Seeing how far Halo House has come in just 10 short years, she knows it will continue to serve and grow exponentially. Hannah’s favorite part about working at Halo House is talking with the guests, hearing their journey, and knowing how much of an impact Halo House has made in their lives. 

When Hannah is not at Halo House, she enjoys time with her family in Montgomery and going to musicals or watching old movies with her grandma. She has always had the travel bug and hopes to do a lot more of it in the future. Hannah also likes to garden with her parents, but the best part is watching their two Golden Retrievers, Maggie and Rosco, try (and successfully) sneak the fresh produce out of the buckets for themselves.  
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