Success Spotlight: John VanNoller
Another example of Shell Houston Open Dollars at work
John VanNoller, a Channelview native, was first introduced to The Boys & Girls Harbor his freshman year of high school through a friend and former Harbor resident. “A friend of mine had lived at the Harbor when he was about five,” John said. “He would go back there on weekends to play basketball and I started going with him.”
It wasn’t until 1991, during John’s junior year of high school, that he was given the opportunity to become a resident at the Harbor. “I had been raised in a broken home,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of love or structure or discipline. I got all of that as soon as I moved to the Harbor. I felt welcomed and a part of the family from the instant I arrived.” A Shell Houston Open core charity, Boys and Girls Harbor invites children from families in crisis to live in one of 11 residential cottages on the Harbor campus.
Each cottage has house parents who provide the residents with a warm and loving environment to help the children grow into productive and self-confident adults. There are currently 68 children living at the Harbor. Over the course of a year, the Harbor serves more than 100 children. John was placed in a cottage with five other boys and house parents. The group functioned like most traditional families, something John said he had never experienced.
“We had bed times and wake-up times and sit-down family dinners,” John said. “We instantly became a family and my roommates became more like my brothers. I still have weekly or monthly phone calls with four of them.”
At the Harbor, John says he learned discipline and respect. For the first time in his life, his actions had consequences. “In high school, I would skip school or say I was sick 30 or 40 times a year,” he said. “I couldn’t do that at Harbor. Missing school meant missing after school activities. By my senior year, I was making good grades and not missing class.”
After graduating from La Porte High School, John briefly attended Blinn Junior College before enlisting in the United States Army where he served for seven years. Today, John and his wife Amy, who will celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary in March, live in Katy and have three children.
John is an independent real estate consultant with Keller Williams in Katy and is active in his church, Parkway Fellowship, where he leads a small-group, bible study for junior-high-aged boys. John is also still active in the Harbor community.
He volunteers at the annual basketball tournament, where so many of his Harbor memories took place. By the summer, he hopes to become a host family, an off-campus family for residents to visit on weekends and holidays.He will also be recognized as the “Alumni Honoree” at Boys and Girls Harbor annual gala this year. “Without Harbor, there is no way I would be where I am today,” he said. “I am extremely grateful for the Harbor and the path my life took because of them.”