As many people can confidently say, Houston is a truly unique city. It is the only city of even remotely comparable size in the country to do completely without zoning restrictions. The freewheeling, diverse nature of Houston, many believe, is in fact to a large extent a result of this special kind of freedom. Houston is also an economic engine of an almost unequaled sort, with everything from globe-spanning petroleum companies to some of the world’s leading banks maintaining their headquarters there.

Given such a unique and impressive environment, it is perhaps unsurprising that some similarly singular people call Houston home. While cities like New York and Chicago might boast more in the way of patrician, long-established society families, Houston has a wealth of enterprising, energetic leaders who make an equally compelling impression.

Local developer Haidar Barbouti, for example, has made a mark on Houston that contributes greatly to the attractiveness and adopted animals overall quality of the place. An avid fan of the fine arts, Haidar Barbouti is a leading patron of some of the city’s top ballet companies, for instance, sponsoring and raising funds for these worthy causes almost continually.

While that would be enough in the way of extracurricular work for many, Barbouti has gone quite a bit further, turning his attention also to problems of another sort. For the past ten years, for example, as is related on Haidar Barbouti’s official website, he has been a sponsor of one of the busiest and most successful animal adoption centers in Houston.

By providing not only tens of thousands of monthly dollars worth of space, but also support of other kinds, he has allowed the shelter to find homes for countless animals that otherwise would have had a rough time. In fact, many of those animals would likely even have been put to sleep, if not for this important work that his contributions have enabled.

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Another entry on haidarbarbouti.org describes an equally impressive bit of philanthropy. When three local children were orphaned by an accident, he began a fund raising campaign, matching every donation, dollar for dollar. That provided crucial support to children who would otherwise have been very vulnerable, helping to make the best of what was undeniably a tragedy to begin with.

While not every resident of Houston has such an impressive record, the fact is that this unique city boasts far more such human assets than most. The special, distinctive qualities of Houston, then, extend far beyond the realm of things like zoning and industry and right into the hearts and lives of locals.