Founder & President - The Rev. Dr. Helen Appelberg

The youngest of three girls, Helen grew up in Tyler, Texas. After many years of education, marriage and owning a business in Houston, Helen was ordained in the Episcopal Church in 1990. She then served as Assistant Director of Pastoral Care for St. Luke’s Episcopal and Texas Children’s Hospitals. In 1994 Helen founded Community of Hope, and from 1996 until retirement was the full time director. Today, Helen is Board president of the Community of Hope International.

Helen has served on the Diocese of Texas Executive Board, Clergy Pastoral Care and Standing Committee. She is a graduate of Seminary of the Southwest and in 1995 received a Doctorate of Ministry from the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She is a graduate of the Pecos Benedictine Monastery School for Spiritual Directors and an oblate in the World Community for Christian Meditation. 

After retiring in 2002, Helen moved to Galveston where she became a Visiting Scholar in the Sealy Center on Aging at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Now a Fellow, she is Director of the Center for Spirituality of Aging. She also serves as Associate Rector at Grace Episcopal Church in Galveston and co-facilitates their Community of Hope training center.

Every day Helen is grateful for God’s amazing gift of grace and blessing, especially for her daughter Katrina, husband Scott, three delightful grand children, devoted friends and community.

Board Members

New in 2018!

Carrie Watson


The COHI board welcomed Carrie Watson as the board vice president last fall and is excited that she has returned to serving our community in that capacity. Carrie was born and raised in East Texas and completed her BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Texas in Austin. She served over 30 years as a psychologist, program developer, and manager of programs for children and adults with special needs in Texas, Arkansas, and Kansas. Carrie also has experienced living in a contemplative prayer community for a year and a half and owning and operating a bed and breakfast for seven years.

During her 13 years as the director of pastoral care at a church in Wimberley, Texas, Carrie heard about Community of Hope from The Rev. Dr. Helen Appelberg and began a COHI program at her church in 2000. This center is still going strong! In addition to previously serving on the COHI board for several years, Carrie has established a second COHI program this time in Huntsville, Texas where she now lives. Her previous service includes volunteering in the Victim Assistance program at a local sheriff’s office and Meals on Wheels programs. Currently she is a lay chaplain at a local hospital and a Benedictine oblate with Holy Cross Monastery in Beaumont, Texas. Carrie says, “I am so pleased to once again serve on the COHI board. We have come a long way in the past few years and it is an honor and pleasure to work alongside such wonderful people.”

Rev. Dr. Richard T. Kleiman, D.Min.

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 4.57.13 PM.png

Richard was born in San Antonio, Texas. After graduating from Alamo Heights High School he earned a B.A. in Psychology from Baylor University, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Seminary, and his doctorate from Austin Seminary.  In 1978 he became the Associate Pastor of Ridgeview Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas. Since that time Richard has served a number of churches as Senior Pastor. From 1982 to 1992 he was he Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Navasota, TX. He was called as the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Baytown in October of 1992. In 2006 First Presbyterian Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church merged to become Faith Presbyterian Church of Baytown. Richard served the Presbyterian Church in Baytown until June 2012. He received the status of Honorably Retired Minister of the PCUSA in July of 2012.  Since retirement Richard has served as Assisting Clergy at Grace Episcopal Church, Houston, Texas. Richard currently serves as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church and Memorial Lutheran Church, Texas City. During his retirement years he also served as a He also works as a Chaplain/Counselor for Hallmark Hospice.

Richard has served on a number of boards of nonprofit organizations and other civic and community endeavors over the years.  He has served on School Boards; was a board member of the New Horizon Family Center and Habitat for Humanity also serving as Board President. He was the Executive Director of the Senior Center Ministry (Meals on Wheels) of the Presbyterian Church. He has served on a number of committees in New Covenant Presbytery from Chair of the Nominating Committee, Delegate to The General Assembly Presbyterian Church USA. He has served on numerous committees and taskforces in the Synod of the Sun.

Elsa, Richard’s spouse, is a retired 6th grade math teacher in the GCCISD. She currently teaches at Lee College in Baytown.  Richard is an avid reader, guitarist, a Benedictine Oblate in the World Community of Christian Meditation.


The Rev. Dr. Helen Appelberg           President and Founding Director of COHI  (Galveston, TX)

Br. Michael Gallagher OSB                Member-at-Large
(409) 504-5283 (cell)                            (Beaumont, TX)

Pam Heidt                                                        Secretary and Interim Regional Representative for West/Northwest Region               (Rockport, TX) 

Cynthia Oliphant                                      New Center Start-up Coordinator
(832)651-0251 (cell)  
(Highlands, TX)

Carrie Watson                                             Vice President
(512) 627-6623 (cell)                                      (Huntsville, TX)

Michael Patton                                    Treasurer
(361) 790-7775 (home)                                   (Rockport, TX)

Jude Arceneaux                          Parliamentarian
409.273.1732 (cell)                                   (Lakeland, FL)

Rev. Dr. Richard Kleinman                             Chaplain                                                 (Baytown, Texas)

Maria Wellisch                                      Member-at-Large
(210) 859-0783 (cell)                                         (San Antonio) 

Jennifer Sassin                                           COHI Executive Director
713-569-4546 (cell)