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15th Annual Barrier Breaker Award Luncheon Raises Over $160,000 in Support of Career & Recovery Resources, Inc

Luncheon honors Jack and Ellie Sweeney for service to Houston community

Career and Recovery Resources, Inc. (CRR), a non-profit United Way agency that helps people identify and overcome barriers to employment, recognized the 2011 Barrier Breaker Honorees, Jack and Ellie Sweeney, and several of the agency’s Star Clients during the 15th Annual Barrier Breaker Award Luncheon held on Tuesday, June 28 in the Imperial Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency. The luncheon attracted more than 400 agency supporters and raised more than $165,000 in funding to support the agency’s numerous employment programs and recovery training.

Matt Musil of KHOU-TV emceed the event, which also featured remarks from CRR CEO Dr. Vernus C. Swisher, CRR Board Chairman Dr. William Harmon, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman Pete Olson, Council Member Ed Gonzalez, the Sweeneys and five of the agency’s Star Clients. Also in attendance were Jerome Gray, Ed Smith, Dr. James Bankston, Alma Swisher, Beverly Harmon, Jackie Martin, Regina Rogers, Lisa Foronda, Winell Herron, Nancy Olson, Dawne Proffitt, Vrinda and Dinesh Pejaver, Marsha and Tom Ramsey, Joyce and Ambassador Arthur Schechter, Patti and Gary Tuma, Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, De and Jeff Rose, Binh Ho, Matt Oliver, Jeff Cohen, Dr. Dorothy Caram and Art Contreras.

During the event, Dr. Vernus Swisher presented a tribute video honoring the Sweeneys and praised the couple as inspirational leaders whose service and dedication has positively impacted the Houston community. Jack Sweeney, publisher and president of Houston Chronicle, serves on the boards of United Way of Greater Houston, Greater Houston Partnership, Central Houston and the Anti-Defamation League’s Coalition For Mutual Respect. He also spearheads local fundraising initiatives that aim to increase involvement of individuals and businesses in order to raise additional funds for local programs. A local champion for children, Ellie Sweeney volunteers as a court-appointed guardian ad litem and board member for Child Advocates, Inc. to help abused and neglected children through the court system find safe and supportive homes. She also serves on the boards of DePelchin Children’s Services and Harris County Protective Services for Children & Adults.

Later, attendees listened as five of CRR’s Star Clients shared personal testimonials. Each shared their story of struggle and success and credited agency staff for not only helping them reach employment goals, but also allowing them to rebuild or reposition their lives. Star Clients included Beverly Webb, Michael Andrews, Melanie L., Dao Nunez and a special surprise celebrity Star Client, Jerome Gray.

“I have worked with Career and Recovery Resources for five years and continue to be impressed with the mission and goals of this agency, “ said Board Chairman William Harmon. “Our clients really are stars.”

This year’s Luncheon Host Committee Co-Chairs were Alice Aanstoos and Mark Yust, Leslie and Jack Blanton, Jr., Beverly and William Harmon, Vrinda and Dinesh Pejaver, Marsha and Tom Ramsey, Joyce and Ambassador Arthur Schechter, and Patti and Gary Tuma. Event sponsors and major supporters were The Houston Chronicle, Chicago Bridge & Iron, Macy’s, Randalls, Regina Rogers, Wells Fargo, Jeri and Marc Shapiro, Steven & Sheila Miller Foundation, Scurlock Foundation, and H-E-B.

To learn more about Career and Recovery Resources, Inc please visit Cut lines for attached photos are provided below. For additional high resolution images from the event, please contact Alison Zimmerman at


About Career & Recovery Resources, Inc
Established in 1945, Career and Recovery Resources, Inc. (CRR), is dedicated to helping people identify and overcome barriers to employment. The agency offers computer training, literacy education, career counseling and testing, job placement assistance and substance abuse treatment and education services. In 2010, CRR assisted over 9,800 adults and helped nearly 13,000 youth through a variety of activities.

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