HOUSTON, TX. October 30, 2008. 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.”
About the Seamen’s Church Institute and Maritime Education
Founded in 1834 and affiliated with the Episcopal Church, the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York & New Jersey (SCI) is the largest, most comprehensive mariners agency in North America. Annually, its chaplains visit 3,400 vessels in the Port of New York and New Jersey and along 2,200 miles of America’s inland waterways. SCI’s maritime education facilities provide navigational training to nearly 1,600 mariners each year through simulator-based facilities located in Houston, TX and Paducah, KY. The Institute and its maritime attorneys are recognized as leading advocates for merchant mariners by the United States Government, including the Congress, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, the International Labor organization and maritime trade associations.
SCI opened its maritime training center in Houston, Texas in 2001. The Institute’s instructors provide practical and relevant training specifically for inland, coastal, and deep-sea mariners.