May 2020
Letter from the ED:  

Welcome to our first edition of  Halo House Happenings  – our new monthly e-newsletter where we keep you, our loyal friends, in the know. While all of us have been affected in some way by the recent pandemic known as COVID-19, blood cancers treatments and housing needs continue, and support from our extended Halo House family is more crucial than ever. 

Like many people in our city, my staff and I have been working remotely and while challenging at times, we have all gotten to know each other just a little bit better. I’m sure you’re asking yourself how that is possible if we were not sitting in the same office working together! Well, each morning we had a virtual “staff meeting” not only to discuss what was on everyone’s plate for the day but also to share a little bit about our lives through fun little known facts, silly stories about pets and family, and most of all, shared concern for our Halo House families. It has been a time of unknowns, but we are all looking forward to getting back in the office and are ready for “normal” life to resume! 

Throughout the last couple of months, a lot of original and clever things have popped up on the Internet and one of my favorites was John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” on YouTube. If you haven’t seen his videos yet, you should check them out – I challenge you not to smile! Watching them made me realize that we all need some good news in our lives – especially now – and so this edition of  Halo House Happenings  is filled with good news and happy stories about survivorship, new life, and coming together for the greater good. 

Be sure and check out the link to a very special Checkmates video gift to us all.  Our annual concert had to be postponed but that didn’t keep these guys and gals down! What a wonderful example of coming together and creating some “good news”. 

I hope you enjoy the first edition of our e-newsletter and I welcome your feedback and ideas. We all look forward to getting back into the groove of our normal routines and pray that you and your family came through this uncertain time safely. 

Kristen Stubbs 
Executive Director 
Checkmates Sing for Halo House 
After our annual Checkmates concert had to be postponed due to COVID-19, the group “got together” to create a Zoom recording of a fan favorite. With an introduction from Dr. Nathan Fowler, co-founder of Halo House and an oncologist at MD Anderson, the Checkmates once again bring a smile to everyone’s face!
Featured Family
Imagine being 36 weeks pregnant and being told that you have leukemia. That nightmare is exactly what happened to Taylor Diercks, a nurse from Alabama. After being sick on and off for a while, Taylor knew something was wrong. Her doctors  were unable to come up with a diagnosis and because she was pregnant and medications wouldn’t be good for her baby, they were powerless to do much for her.

At her 36-week checkup, it was discovered that her blood pressure was high, and she was immediately hospitalized. After undergoing a multitude of tests, the next morning a doctor whom she had never met came to Taylor’s hospital room to tell her she had cancer.  
"Welcome Spring" Door Decorating Contest
In April, Halo House held a “Welcome Spring” Door Decorating Contest to encourage our guests to be creative and have a little fun at the same time. We set out paper and markers and other craft supplies and let them go to work. More than half of our residents participated, and the entries were amazing – we wish we could have awarded everyone a prize!  

First place winner, Charlotte, is from Burleson, Texas and her caregiver is her husband Jeremy. Her door design was beautiful and inspirational, and we were excited to award her first place in the First “Welcome Spring” Door Decorating Contest at Halo House.  Congrats Charlotte!
Grateful Giving
As a nonprofit, Halo House relies on donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations to continue our programs and services. We take our role as good stewards of these gifts very seriously, and we strive to keep expenses low and programs and services high. Halo House guests (both present and past) have been particularly generous over the years and through their grateful giving have donated over $33,000! Several of our guests have even donated their security deposit after moving out and going home. A big thanks to all of our donors who help make Halo House such a success!
Halo House Hero - Evelyn Martinez
Volunteers at Halo House add unique value to our organization, and each month we'd like recognize a special volunteer for the extraordinary work that they do as our "Halo House Hero."

This month, our Halo House Hero is Evelyn Martinez, a young lady who drives all the way from Montgomery County twice a week to volunteer at the front desk. Evelyn first heard of Be The Match (BTM) and the National Marrow Donor Program from her boyfriend who had been a donor for a local Houston woman. She also remembered seeing a social media post from a childhood friend about BTM and Halo House. Coincidentally, one of Evelyn’s Health Administration courses in college required the students to gain experience in a related field, so naturally she reached out to her friend who works at Halo House to see if she could volunteer.  
Meet the Staff 
Executive Director – Kristen Stubbs  
Kristen Stubbs, our new Executive Director, joined the Halo House team in January of this year and has jumped into her role with both feet. As a native Houstonian, Kristen’s roots in our community run deep.  She grew up with her 4 sisters and 1 brother in the Memorial neighborhood and lived in Houston until 1995 when she and her husband moved to Midland with his job. “Raising my two boys, Taylor and Cameron, in West Texas - where life was slower and people felt safer, was a wonderful experience – our sons were able to run around the neighborhood all day long with their friends, play football and baseball and truly have an idyllic childhood.” Kristen remarks. 

She began her nonprofit career with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in Midland as a Special Events Coordinator and fell in love with nonprofit work. Kristen remained with the Society for nearly 15 years and has also served in leadership roles with the ALS Association, JDRF, and most recently the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.   

Kristen chose to apply for the ED position at Halo House Foundation for a variety of reasons but the one that was the most significant to her was wanting to give back in a way that was very personal and hit close to home. In 2015, her youngest son was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25. Fear, shock, and heartache that she felt was almost unbearable but the realization finally hit her that her family was very blessed – they lived in the city with the best cancer care in the world and where Cameron would get the best treatment and, they lived in the city with the best cancer care in the world and could stay home while Cameron was being treated. Today, her son is cancer free and looking forward to his upcoming wedding in September.  

If you happen to be in the area, please stop by to meet Kristen. You will recognize her by the Longhorn tags on her car and the pictures of her sons and her 8 year old Golden Retriever, Mallory in her office!  
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