By M.G. Angulo –
Memorial native Shelley Barineau is the embodiment of hope. She is a wife, mother of four children, a professional, and she is a determined volunteer for the Texas Children’s Cancer Center in Houston. Since 2007, she and her father, who was the president of the Ronald McDonald House when she was a child, have served on the advisory board of the Texas Children’s Cancer Center together.
“In addition to my husband and children, these hours spent with my dad are the most significant moments in my life,” said Barineau. “The motivation I feel for community service comes from within. I feel called to help others almost like a vocation. When I stopped practicing law, I felt a bit lost, and my husband said to me, ‘Just do what makes you happy.’ I realized that serving others gives me the most joy. So that’s how I spend my extra time, and I have never regretted one hour spent volunteering.”
Much of Barineau’s volunteering involves raising money and awareness for Texas Children’s Cancer Center. “I want my volunteer hours to make a significant impact, so I chose organizations that I think are the best in their field,” Barineau said. “I believe Texas Children’s is the epicenter for the pediatric cancer therapies that will lead to the cancer cure.”
One woman who knows first-hand the benefits of Texas Children’s is Laurie DeClaire, a mother whose son, Patrick, was treated at the center and is now recovering from Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system. Innovative therapy saved Patrick’s life, and since then, Laurie has dedicated herself to raising funds for the researchers who saved her son. Patrick’s story was the inspirational spark for Barineau.
In 2016, Barineau and Laurie started the Trees for Life campaign, which encouraged companies to dedicate their holiday tree as a “Tree for Life” by decorating it with special ornaments, sending emails to employees to support the campaign and detailing donation instructions with a sign next to the tree. Patrons donated by texting “Tree” to 800-77 on a cell phone and following the steps. The ultimate goal of Trees for Life, Barineau said, is to “make anyone and everyone feel a part of the cure.”
The campaign began in September, and by early December, more than 50 business agreed to showcase a Trees for Life holiday tree. Also included in the campaign were six-foot, three-sided cards placed next to each tree where people could write well wishes for cancer patients. During the first week of January, 55 cards inscribed with thousands of well wishes were delivered to patients.
Although Trees for Life began with the holidays, Barineau said it will not be limited to that period. “This campaign has gone viral, and we’re chasing it trying to keep up,” she said with a laugh. “We want it to happen year-round. We steadfastly believe that children with cancer have hope and blessings in their lives. These blessings include the countless people who support cancer research and fight for a cancer cure.”
Her work with Texas Children’s is just the tip of the iceberg for Barineau, who volunteers alongside her husband, Newt, and their children Blake, 19, Will, 17, Blair, 15, and Pierce, 11. Barineau serves on the Board of Trustees of Episcopal High School and the Advisory Council of the University of Texas, Undergraduate Studies. She is on the Invite, Welcome and Connect committee at St. Francis Episcopal Church, she and one of her sons participate in the Memorial Chapter of Alpha Charity League, and she and her daughter serve in the National Charity League. In addition, Barineau is involved with the biennial Kappa Kappa Gamma Pilgrimage, Post Oak Little League, and this is her 10th year as team mom for her husband’s Spring Branch-Memorial Sports Association basketball teams.
“Volunteers immeasurably enrich a community and meet emerging needs,” Barineau said. “They provide the warmth and feeling at the institutions we frequent and create lifelong memories for our children. Volunteers serve from the heart, and I believe everything you do from your heart is right.”
Visit treesforlife-tccc.org for more information about Trees for Life.
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