Melissa Gomez announced Operation Rising Star winner 112110

Melissa Gomez announced Operation Rising Star winner 112110
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2010 Operation Rising Star host GeNienne Samuels announces Melissa Gomez (left) of Fort Bragg, N.C., as winner of the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command-backed military singing contest Nov. 19 at Wallace Theater on Fort Belvoir, Va. Runner-up Maj. Serelda Herbin of Fort Hood, Texas, stands on the right. (U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs, cleared for public release, not for commercial use, attribution requested)

Army wife Gomez wins Operation Rising Star military singing contest

By Tim Hipps
FMWRC Public Affairs

FORT BELVOIR, Va. – Melissa Gomez, who left Soldiering to become a full-time Army wife and mother, won the 2010 Operation Rising Star military singing contest Nov. 19 at Wallace Theater.

Gomez, 29, of Fort Bragg, N.C., prevailed over runner-up Maj. Serelda Herbin, 34, of Fort Hood, Texas, and third-place finisher Senior Airman Joanell Jackson, 24, of Fort Polk, La.

“I thought for sure Serelda was going to win,” Gomez said.

Gomez, who works with a large Army Community Service group at Fort Bragg, had family supporters in her hometown, Philadelphia, and her father’s native Puerto Rico voting early and often in the contest based on the premises of FOX Television’s American Idol.

“ACS and Fort Bragg totally represented for me,” she said. “I didn’t think I had that many people on board, but last night I was getting lots of calls from people saying, ‘We’ve been voting …’

“They were showing everybody the show.”

After Spc. Nicholas Davis of Grafenwoehr, Germany, (originally from Rockingham, N.C.) was eliminated, the Tar Heel State boarded the Gomez bandwagon.

“North Carolina, in general, was representing after Nick fell out,” Gomez said. “Some of his people said they just needed North Carolina to win.

“I had my church in Philadelphia, my family, my mother’s work, my family in Puerto Rico – they were all watching the show online and voting.”

Gomez joined the Army at age 17 and promptly married a Soldier. She served six years before leaving as a sergeant to become a full-time military mother.

“They kept deploying us separately and I had to keep sending my children to live with my mom,” Gomez explained. “I was in a really active MOS. It was mostly me who kept coming down on orders, so I had to decide to be a mom.”

A self-professed late bloomer, Gomez began singing around age 12. She also plays a few Latin percussion instruments. In 2004, she toured domestic military installations and Korea with USA Express, a stage band sponsored by Army Entertainment Division.

For winning Operation Rising Star, Gomez will record a three-song demo CD at Firehouse Recording Studios in Pasadena, Calif., paid for by the Army Family and MWR Command.

“I can’t wait! I can’t wait!” she said. “I’m mentally prepared for the worst and just hope for the best. I look forward to really, really working with Victor [Hurtado] and Joey [Beebe], two completely talented people that I know can make me sound amazing, and Miss [Debra] Byrd.

“That’s what I look forward to big-time.”

Lisa Pratt, the 2009 Operation Rising Star winner, gave Gomez some tips about what to expect during the whirlwind week in Hollywood, where the new champion hopes to unveil some ideas of her own.

“It feels like I’m going to get to represent spouses and veterans in a positive light,” Gomez said. “I want to focus on keeping it where it needs to be because we have a hard job. I’ve been through it nine months of the year without a husband.”

“Life goes on for us whether he’s here or not – and I’ve got to keep it rolling.”

Gomez rolled through Operation Rising Star Finals Week by singing “I Need You” and “How Do I Live” by LeeAnn Rimes, “Out Here on My Own” by Irene Cara, “I Ain’t Got Nothing” by Alicia Keys, and “Turn the Beat Around” by Gloria Estefan.

Herbin presented a strong challenge with “At Last” by Jennifer Holliday, “I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain, “My Heart Will Go On,” by Celine Dion, “One Moment in Time” by Whitney Houston, and Holliday’s “I Am Changing,” which nearly brought the house down during the semifinals on Wednesday night.

“I think I just said to throw it on the stage,” Operation Rising Star judge Debra Byrd, a vocal coach for American Idol, said to Herbin after her performance of “I Am Changing.” “Well, ladies and gentlemen, she just threw down on the stage. I applaud you because you came here with the determination of song choice, song choice and song choice.

“From your last two performances, you kicked it up into high gear and put a hot sauce on it. I applaud you. I applaud you. Well done.”

The three finalists delivered an entertaining medley of Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” Keys’ “I Ain’t Got Nothing” and Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” during the semifinals on Wednesday night.

“You guys picked these songs to win and I don’t blame you,” Byrd said. “You want to get these biggie songs in. I applaud you for your effort. … I applaud you for the courage to pick these bombastic songs because that’s the mind of a winner – you want to pick the biggie.

“Whew, I know you’re glad that’s over with. I applaud you ladies.”

Second-place finisher Herbin said she was “content, happy and grateful for being here, but it is a competition and we knew the rules.”

“Hey, there can only be one,” she said with a teary-eyed smile and a laugh. “Overall, I had a great time.”

Third-place finisher Jackson, a last-minute substitute in the top 12, was content with the outcome and elated by the experience.

“I’m happy with the outcome,” she said. “I had fun. It was a great experience. Two weeks, 12 people, and now we’re family. I didn’t have that much time to advertise, but people really enjoyed my voice. I was really shocked that I made to the final round.

“I have accomplished what I need to accomplish to prove that I am a singer and that I enjoy singing and that I do have a talent.”

Jackson said she would love to continue entertaining troops.

“Maybe when I finish my mission at Fort Polk and I’m done with my military career, maybe do what Michael has done,” she said of Military Operation Rising Star judge Michael Peterson’s affinity for performing for troops. “I’ve been in Tops in Blue and being able to travel to encourage troops is a great opportunity – I would really love to do that.”

Serving in the Air Force with a husband in the Army, Jackson, who also serves as a mother of four, said someone needs to change careers.

“We’re in two different branches and we’ve been separated for awhile,” she explained. “I want to live with my husband. I miss him so much. I love the military, it’s a great thing, but I really do want to have my family near.”

Kreitler Environmental Fund Announced at Virginia Seminary

Alexandria, VA (PRWEB) September 13, 2006

The Very Reverend Martha J. Horne, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), announced the creation of The Kreitler Environmental Fund, aimed to empower clergy and the church with a strong environmental ethic in order to help conserve and preserve the environment.

“The Kreitler Environmental Fund is a wonderful tribute to the Kreitlers, as well as a splendid new resource for this community,” said Dean Horne, “It is vitally important for those who would be leaders in the Church to understand the responsibility we have to safeguard ‘this fragile earth, our island home’… this generous gift will enable us to equip men and women for the critical work of environmental stewardship in the congregations and neighborhoods in which they live and carry out their ministries.”

The Kreitler Environmental Fund is being established by Peter Gwillim Kreitler (VTS ’69), his wife Catharine B. Kreitler, brother Jay Kreitler, and friends, in memory of John (Jack) Henry Kreitler and Muriel (Billie) Gwillim Kreitler, the parents of Peter Gwillim and John (Jay) Taylor Kreitler.

“Our family has initiated this Environmental Fund because Virginia Seminary has had a long and distinguished heritage of sending men and women into the world in service to God throughout all of God’s creation,” said the Rev. Peter Gwillim Kreitler, minister for the Environment in the Diocese of Los Angeles and creator of the Southern California television Series, Earth Talk Today, “…this legacy has inspired the Kreitler family and friends to help foster and embolden new leadership informed by a strong environmental ethic that will help form a sustainable model for the future.”

“Our parents, Billie and Jack Kreitler, always had a great love of the Episcopal Church and God’s natural sanctuaries from Cape Cod to the Florida Keys… they became increasingly concerned that future generations would not inherit as healthy an environment and they encouraged me, my brother Jay and all our family in our desire to preserve the places we love.”

Once fully funded, the Fund will support initiatives such as lectures, fellowships, and scholarships. The Kreitler Environmental Lectures, which will be held at the Seminary every other year, will explore the ways one’s appreciation and stewardship of the environment is enhanced by informed theological beliefs; the Kreitler Environmental Fellowships, awarded to a member of the Episcopal Church on an every other year basis, who would be in residence at the Seminary for one month, will provide recipients opportunities to deepen the Seminary community’s understanding and appreciation of why, from a Christian perspective, the environment matters; and the Kreitler Environmental Scholarships, will provide financial assistance for a student or member of the faculty of the Seminary to participate in a significant international or national consultation, conference, or event related to the environment.

Contributions to support this important ministry may be sent to The Kreitler Environmental Fund at Virginia Theological Seminary, c/o The Very Rev. Martha J. Horne, 3737 Seminary Road, Alexandria, Virginia, 22304. For more information, contact Edwin K. Hall, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at 703-461-1711.

Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church and was founded in 1823. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 40 different dioceses and 9 different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas.


Community Leaders Eager to Address Urban Radio Concerns in Chicago Advisory Committee Announced Today

(PRWEB) June 4, 2004

Today in Chicago, community leaders announced the formation of the Community Advisory Committee about Urban Radio. The committee will deal with issues concerning the relationship between the management of urban radio stations and the local community. The committee is looking to meet with the management of WGCI-AM (now renamed WGRB)/FM as soon as possible.

“First we would like to meet with the management of the number one rated radio station in Chicago WGCI, we have concerns that the station’s management has become disconnected from the community, particularly since it unceremoniously let Marv Dyson go. Marv was the leading African-American radio station manager in the nation. We feel that WGCI’s ownership needs to listen more closely to the community,” said Reverend Michael Pfleger, Pastor, Faith Community of Saint Sabina.

“The committee is looking to create a dialogue between radio station owners and our community. Over the past few years ownership of some urban radio stations has changed and we feel this new management has lost touch with the community it serves,” said Rev. James Demus, Executive Director NAACP, Chicago Southside Branch.

“We want station ownership to be responsive to the needs of the community. We are taking this step to ensure that the ownership hears the voices of our community. We want station ownership to be responsive to the needs of the on-air personalities, producers and other staff who work for the various stations. These are the people who come from our community, and we do not want the members of our communities treated like slaves. Clear Channel can not continue to benefit from the fruits of the laborers, and not reward the laborers for their hard work.” said Reverend Reginald Williams, Associate Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ.

Other committee members include Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ, Rev. Leon Finney, president and CEO, Woodlawn Organization, Dr. Conrad Worrill, National Chairman of the National Black United Front

Currently Urban Radio stations in Chicago include V-103 (WVAZ), WGCI AM/FM (Now WGCI-AM is conveniently renamed WGRB) which are owned by Texas-based Clear Channel; and Power 92 WPWX, Soul 106 WSRB owned by Colorado-based Crawford Broadcasting. Only WVON-AM remains a locally – owned and operated Urban Radio station.

The committee will address though a productive dialogue a variety of issues including: community support and involvement; programing; relationship between on air talent and community; treatment of all employees, public service programing; and local music and performers.


For more information, contact:

Kevin Lampe


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