Founded in 1893, Sheltering Arms Senior Services has devoted more than a century to providing Houston’s elderly population with care, advocacy, and community support. Despite its long history, the nonprofit organization is only looking forward. Between 2011 and 2012, it provided seniors with 128,658 hours of personal-care assistance—including meal preparation and housekeeping—and fed 2,182 seniors a nutritious meal. And their specially designed Adult Day Center, which provides top-notch care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Factor in the organization's more than 20 Houston-area senior centers, where staffers offer recreational activities, health education, and legal advocacy, and it is clear that Sheltering Arms is only building upon its 120-year foundation.
Sheltering Arms' mission begins with its committed corps of staff members and volunteers. Certified nurses’ aides customize and implement home-care plans that include light housekeeping, meal prep, and medication reminders. Social workers advocate for members at risk of being institutionalized by managing their financial and health casework. Volunteers make daily safety checks on seniors who are living alone and organize arts-and-crafts classes, game nights, and dances.
Nearly 80 exhibiting galleries gather at the George R. Brown Convention Center for the Texas Contemporary Art Fair, a chance for the local community to get a look at dynamic creations from around the country. Installations—such as Troy Stanley's gently moving Zephyr and R.MUTT, Buster Graybill's urban escape vehicle—contribute to the vast diversity of exhibit, during which guests can simultaneously enjoy the art and shop.
And if all that art seems a bit overwhelming, you can take part in TCAFs robust weekend of events, all designed to offer additional insight, link pieces thematically, and grant access to some of the fair's most exciting artists and curators. The "Under $5,000" tour highlights some of the collection's most dynamic and affordable pieces, and the "Artist Residencies" panel brings together four experts to discuss the impact of residency programs on their communities. You can also listen in as one of Houston's top gallery owners offers insight on the contemporary-art world and top-secret sculptor handshakes in her "Insider Information" talk.
Seven days a week, the Houston Museum of Natural Science cultivates knowledge with interactive exhibits that shuttle minds into such far-flung realms as tropical rainforests and outer space. Permanent exhibits house everything from the skeletons of brachiosauruses in the recently expanded Hall of Paleontology to a diverse set of artifacts spanning 6,000 years of history in the Hall Of Ancient Egypt. Housed inside three stories of glass, the museum's Butterfly Center teems with more than 1,500 winged wonders from around the globe, which frolic around a 50-foot waterfall, flutter through exotic plants, and—most amazingly—pull nickels from behind children’s ears. Visitors can also gaze skyward in the Burke Baker Planetarium, which casts more than 10 daily shows with curve-mirror projection technology. Eyes marvel at the planetarium's 30'x18' full-dome digital theater, capable of transporting families to the aurora borealis in the Arctic Circle or to the nougat-flavored center of a black hole.
AV Flight Simulations' director of operations, Kevin Gabriel, is an experienced pilot, and even he would agree that not everything about contemporary flight training is perfect. Enter the Redbird FMX flight simulator, an FAA-approved advanced aviation-training device with lifelike motions, controls, and graphics. Inside the simulator, students and AV Flight Simulations' certified instructors can freeze situations in real time, giving them the opportunity to analyze problems as they occur. These issues could range from being in a skewed holding pattern to the plane joining a flock of migrating birds. This advanced simulator training can also be a more cost-effective alternative to traditional flight schools on account of rising fuel costs and other expensive expenses. Though students will have to helm a plane eventually, simulators help them get certified with various lessons, including instrument rating, proficiency, and practical tests.
Maximum Scuba's team of PADI-certified instructors caters to all levels of aquatic adventurer with a wide roster of name-brand equipment and all-inclusive classes. PADI open-water certification courses employ textbooks and at least four open-water dives to acquaint underwater neophytes with the joy of subaquatic breathing, enabling them to finally explore timeshare options in Atlantis. The PADI advanced open-water certification course sends previously certified divers on five adventure dives, plumbing watery depths to discover ocean-floor wrecks. Other specialty classes deepen underwater adventures and arm explorers with the know-how to defeat Blackbeard's ghost by teaching skills in spearfishing and technical or cave diving.
Dance shouldn’t be formulaic. That’s why at Studio Tropa, owner Jerry Maese leads a dynamic, multi-cultural team of dance instructors that help students build better bodies. Six days a week students rock and rollick to sultry Tropa international sessions and the Latin-inspired grooves of Zumba classes. Instructors also get pulses racing with Tropa funk, their self-devised take on hip-hop. Students are encouraged to bring water, wear comfortable clothing, and sport athletic shoes that have good arch support and aren’t covered in Vaseline. Studio Tropa was recently selected to be a part of a promotional video release in conjunction with the release of the film, The Great Gatsby and was also part of the Galleria Mall flashmob for the release of the Zumba Rush Xbox Kinect video game.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.