The question posed was “What do Lake Houston residents not know about your not-for-profit organization?”

The answers? The Lake Houston YMCA is more than just a gym. FamilyTime provides a 24-hour rape crisis center at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital. Humble Area Assistance Ministries is supported by acoalition of churches and organizations. The Humble ISD Education Foundation receives funds each year pledged by teachers in the district.

The question was asked by Carole Brady, executive director of Family Promise of Lake Houston, who moderated “Community Matters,” the April 24 Lake Houston Chamber meeting at Walden Country Club.

Participating were Chris Butsch, community executive director of the Lake Houston Family YMCA and East Montgomery County YMCA; Judy Cox, executive director of FamilyTime Crisis and Counseling Center; Millie Garrison, executive director of Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM); and Jen Sitton, chair of the board of the Humble ISD Education Foundation.

Asked about the top programs offered by their agency, Sitton listed the foundation’s innovative education grants, teacher wish lists, and campus campaigns.

“We award more than $300,000 each year to teachers to allow them to do things in new ways,” said Sitton.

The competitive grants are awarded by a “Prize Posse” that surprises teachers and students at their schools with oversized “checks.” The next Humble ISD Prize Posse will be held May 4.

The foundation also encourages teachers to create an online list of items they need.

“When schools raise funds through our foundation, they don’t have to deal with a private, for-profit organization that often can take a large percentage of the funds that the students and our parents raise,” said Sitton.

Cox of FamilyTime stressed that her agency has the only shelter in Lake Houston providing a haven for abused spouses. She advocated for FamilyTime’s Thrift Shop located in Porter that helps support the agency’s mission and helps provide clothes and other necessities to shelter residents.

The YMCA offers after-school programs that nurture student development as well as sports and fitness programs that include and encourage all kids regardless of their ability, according to Butsch.

Garrison emphasized the empowerment that HAAM offers Lake Houston residents who find themselves in a crisis.

“We offer services designed to help our clients build their lives,” Garrison said. “We want to help them build their lives and their employment skills so that, ultimately, they eliminate their dependence on assistance.”

HAAM also aids seniors including “Meals on Wheels” which, Garrison said, is adding a fifth route and will need additional volunteers who generally spend around two hours delivering meals in a 15-mile radius.

The panel then turned to the impact Hurricane Harvey had on their agencies.

Neither FamilyTime nor HAAM facilities took in water in their local facilities but FamilyTime found itself offering counseling to people affected by flooding, and families who had never had to ask for assistance before came to HAAM for help.

The Lake Houston YMCA was flooded with 10 feet of water and has been challenged with continuing their programs without a main building. Part of the solution was to offer “pop-up” centers for the kids. By June, the “Y” will have a temporary wellness center, pool, locker rooms, Child Watch and a group exercise studio, according to Butsch, and a completely rebuilt facility by the end of the year.

Sitton said the Humble ISD Foundation had to go out of their traditional playbook to help teachers and students affected by Harvey. Teachers were asked to make school as normal as possible for kids who may have lost everything or who found themselves living on the second floor of their home. The foundation gave gift cards totaling $80,000 to teachers who were affected by the hurricane.

Asked to reveal a success story, Garrison said she received a letter from a former client who thanked her and HAAM for helping her through her difficult time. She enclosed $1,000 to continue the HAAM mission.

Cox spoke of a 50-year-old abused lady who sheltered at FamilyTime, began working two jobs and eventually earned enough money to get her own apartment.

“When she left us, she insisted on donating to FamilyTime,” Cox said “She’s got the right attitude. She’s going to make it.”

The panelists emphasized the importance that donations and volunteers play helping the Humble ISD Foundation, HAAM, FamilyTime and the Lake Houston YMCA to assist Lake Houston families. Go to any of their websites or social media postings and click on the donation or volunteer button.

The next chamber luncheon, State of the County, will be held May 29, 11:30 a.m., at Walden Country Club. It will focus on engaging the business community with Harris County leaders about the status of the county. To register, call 281-446-2128 or visit lakehouston.org.

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.