May 14, 2012 – On May 10, 2012, Mayor Annise Parker honored 14 Houston area volunteers for their exceptional public service at The Volunteer Houston Mayor’s Award luncheon. Melanie Lawson of KTRK-TV 13, Greg Hurst of KHOU-TV 11, Khambrel Marshall of KPRC-LOCAL 2 hosted the program.
“We take great pride in honoring these deserving individuals who have worked tirelessly and with so much heart and dedication to serve our community,” said Mayor Parker. “We ask that they accept these awards as tokens of our deep appreciation for all the good things they are doing for the people of Houston. They are role models for all of us and sheer inspiration.” Among the honorees is a member of The Nations Law Firm family, Andrea Schmauss. Andrea is a champion for the appreciation and support of law enforcement officers. Through her work at The Nations Law Firm she met Linda Kitazaki, then director of MADD Southeast Texas. After several years of pleading with Andrea to become involved and help in any way she could, Andrea finally agreed. After studying MADD’s many volunteer opportunities MADD, it didn’t take her long to realize where her heart belonged. The lack of appreciation and respect for the work that all law enforcement officers face while dealing with drunk drivers astonished her. She saw the lack of citizen support and created MADD’s existing Law Enforcement Committee. To further understand the challenges faced by law enforcement, she completed the HPD and Sheriff’s Office Citizens Police Academy classes and is now active in the Alumni Associations.
Andrea has personally spent countless hours in her free time, assisting and rewarding officers with meals and moral support while they are out arresting drunk drivers in the middle of the night. The paperwork for a drunk driving arrest is a long and tedious process. Often times an officer does not have the time to eat while on shift. Andrea has made it her mission to let these officers know that they are appreciated. For over 7 years she has spoken appreciation and love at roll calls and No Refusals, to officers parked on the street, to officers coming in to a station to write reports, through press conferences, and briefings. It is estimated that she has personally attended and given of herself to over 250 gatherings of law enforcement personnel. The biggest difference Andrea has made for the officers on the street is to raise morale and tell them eye to eye, face to face that they are appreciated.
In addition, Andrea also has assisted on many programs for raising the public’s awareness on drunk driving. Together with several law enforcement officers they pulled together a team that presents workshops for the youth in the Juvenile Probation system on the consequences of alcohol and drugs. She served as a community partner on the “Chronicles of a Teen Killer” video; was instrumental in creating the Crime Stoppers Citizen’s Task Force Committee; and now serves on the Mayor’s Independent Police Oversight Board.
In 1972, before there was MADD or any outrage against drunk driving, Andrea’s fiancee was killed when struck by a vehicle as he crossed the street. It was 25 years later when she discovered that he had been killed by a drunk driver. She now stands with officers in grief when one of their own is killed in the line of duty, and she is a friend and a shoulder to lean on to officers and family members of fallen and injured officers.
Of all her volunteer efforts, the one that brings the biggest joy to her heart is to walk up to an officer on the street or in a restaurant and hand them a challenge coin and say “Thank you – you are appreciated!” Andrea personally purchases the coins that were designed by a retired police officer.
Andrea always has a smile and kind word for law enforcement and it is not uncommon for them to literally line up to hug her when they see her! When asked, Andrea says that without a doubt, her greatest achievement has been earning the respect and trust of law enforcement. Every time an officer from any agency meets her they walk away KNOWING that there are many citizens who do appreciate them. “The officers are a family to me,” says Andrea. “I wish I could do twice as much. And I will do it as long as I have breath-these fine men and women need to be told thank you. And my hug, a bite to eat, and a challenge coin does just that!”
Pictured, Left to Right
Row 1: Josie Hidalgo (TNLF), Charles Bailey (TNLF), Joanna Meinecke (TNLF), Andrea Schmauss(TNLF), Dree Montoya (TNLF), Catherine Evans (HCDA), Amber Stanford (TNLF)
Row 2: Denicia Ortiz (TNLF), Lori Stevens (MADD), Alicia Parmley (MADD) Kimberly Bouchard (Niece), Susan Phillips(Sister), HCSO Cpt. Nancy Hennessy, Gloria Gonzales (TNLF), Erika Dehoyos (TNLF), Chris Do
Row 3: Heather Smith (MADD), Teresa Clark (TNLF), DPS Cpt. Derek Rodriguez, Becky Abercrombie (TNLF), DPS Sgt. Mark Phillips, Julio Zaghi (MADD), John McNamee (MADD), HCSO Lt. Darryl Coleman, HPD Ofc. Don Egdorf, Kim Truongle (TNLF), Howard Nations (TNLF)
For more information on Volunteer Houston, please visit – http://www.volunteerhouston.org/