Resembling barges held together with rigging, members of the commercial community of the Port of Houston, America’s second largest Port in terms of total tonnage, met last week in support of the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI). At the Fourth Annual Maritime Training Benefit Luncheon, the area’s leading maritime transportation companies assembled for a fundraiser at the Institute’s training center in Houston. The October 22nd event raised over $77,000 for SCI’s Center for Maritime Education, which provides training for thousands of professional inland captains and pilots.
An area hit in September by destructive Hurricane Ike, many operations in the Port sustained damage from the powerful storm, including SCI’s Center located within the 25-mile-long complex. “We were concerned with the safety and needs of the Port’s community and their families,” said the Rev. David M. Rider, Executive Director of SCI. “We wondered if continuing with the scheduled luncheon was the right thing to do.”
The luncheon turned out to be, in part, a testament to a community that in a time of trial showed strength. Rider continued, “This luncheon, in spite of recent events, including the global economic crisis, raised even more money than the previous year. These companies have a strong commitment to their employees and the high quality training they receive at SCI’s facilities.” The speaker at this year’s event, Ed Emmett, County Judge of Harris County, also praised the Port community and talked of a future with continued growth and valuable assets.
Dennis Steger of Channel Shipyard underwrote the cost of this year’s luncheon. Chairs of the event were Joseph H. Pyne and C. Berdon Lawrence of Kirby Corporation. Pyne also noted the strength of the crowd despite recent hardships. He said, “The Houston maritime community proved its resilience by breaking last year’s contributions record.”