First HUGS Event of the Year Features Pancakes, Bacon and a lot of Goodwill

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HOUSTON – Nov. 1, 2019 – Central Support staff members got a special treat Friday morning as the HUGS Committee hosted its first breakfast of the 2019-20 school year with a surprise panel of griddle cooks serving up pancakes to nearly 200 employees.

“I do this regularly at home, so I have a lot of practice,” said Spring ISD Superintendent Rodney Watson, who was among the five chefs recruited for the morning event, which included eggs, potatoes, bacon and fruit. “It’s a lot of fun hanging out with everyone in this relaxed atmosphere.”

That’s the primary goal of the HUGS Committee — to cultivate relationships and nurture goodwill among employees, who pay $15 annually to be a part of HUGS and enjoy its benefits — including Friday’s event, a Holiday luncheon, end-of-year celebration and a grab-and-go breakfast.

Gerald Points, an employee in the CTE department, said the dues are a small price to pay for the camaraderie fostered by HUGS, which stands for Honoring, United, Giving and Supporting.

“It’s a lot of fun just to have the chance to get together and do these sorts of things,” said Points as he enjoyed his pancakes. “It’s a great deal.”

Finance Systems Analyst Malane Gurganus agreed, having been a member of HUGS since joining the district in 2016. “It gives us the opportunity to meet and greet with people we don’t see everyday.”

This year’s HUGS Committee is headed up by Debbie Nelson and Cynthia Reza-Hernandez, both executive assistants. Supporting them is a group of 11 other committee members, representing departments across the district.

Maria Flores-Lopez, the superintendent’s executive assistant, is among the committee members who staffed the breakfast line on Friday, serving up a menu of eggs, potatoes, bacon, pancakes and fruit.

Flores-Lopez said she and her team members had no trouble recruiting Watson and others, including district Police Chief Kenneth Culbreath, to work as griddle cooks for the event.

“He loves to cook and serve our staff,” she said of Watson. Executive Assistant Irene Darby agreed, noting that there is still time for employees to sign up for HUGS and enjoy other events being planned for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. Anyone interested can email a committee member or speak with their department secretary or assistant about signing up.

Nathalie Ramirez, who joined the district in September as a bilingual communications specialist, said she didn’t think twice about joining HUGS when she learned about it. “It’s a support system for employees so I wanted to be a part of that.” And, she added: “What other districts have superintendents cooking pancakes for their employees?”

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