From top left: Noah Rattler, Vin Zeal, Miráq the okapi, Terry Grier, Victor Trevino, Kristi Cooper, Anna Holliday, and Blake Butler

Ah, January, when hope springs eternal and indomitable spirits dominate. Noah Rattler—a local, and author of children’s book Noah’s Walk, about his 1,800-mile journey on foot from Houston to Los Angeles to bring attention to homelessness—is trying to make the world a better place through story time, a mission we can stand firmly behind. Teen sensation Vin Zeal is in possession of both a soulful voice and an important mission: using her music and appearances at local schools to help stamp out bullying. The Houston Zoo’s adorable new okapi, Miráq, is the first of its endangered species to be born there, and not the last, we hope. Terry Grier, HISD superintendent, revealed plans for the district’s new Arabic Language Immersion School, which should open next fall (Arabic, by the way, is the district’s third most common language spoken at home). Victor Trevino, meanwhile, who finally resigned as Precinct 6 constable after pleading guilty to stealing from his charity, is no doubt plotting a redemption tour. We bet Kristi Cooper, recently honored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals for securing an anonymous $50 million gift for Baylor College of Medicine, has already set her sights on the next big donor. Anna Holliday, a Houston resident for over 30 years—who, oh yeah, was knighted by the Queen of Denmark in 2009—has been named Royal Danish Consul of Houston. And finally, there’s 19-year-old Blake Butler, former waiter at local chain Kelley’s Country Cookin’, and not someone to let a hateful slur slide. After a customer scrawled a complaint on a receipt—"Don't want to listen to a f----t through my whole meal”—he was offended, yes, but doubly so by his manager’s response, which was to apologize to the customer. Butler quit his job and spoke out, and for that, he’s always welcome at our table.

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