665 square miles.
12 counties making up Greater Houston.
274 schools in HISD.
2,300 children in foster care. (Over 4,000 if you include the 12 counties surrounding Houston).
All of these numbers tell a true story about Houston.
But what we know is most important about the makeup of our community is not just the numbers, but the people.
Every week, we get to see people invest their time, energy, resources, and care all along the River. They give of themselves. They care deeply. They show up again and again.
The truth is that it takes many different people with many different passions placed along the River to truly transform Houston. Together, we are able to build a stronger community where families heal and children thrive.
As we are in the midst of the holiday season and reflecting on what each of us are grateful for in our lives, we recently reached out to many of those who are making a difference in the foster care community here in Houston and asked them why they feel grateful to serve this community. We wanted to share their responses with you today.
We hope this is an encouragement to you and reminds you what makes serving Houston so meaningful!
Here’s why 14 community leaders are grateful to serve Houston:
"I am grateful to serve in the mission of foster care because I am reminded everyday about the importance of children being in healthy families and our community’s response to this need. Houston has always been home to a very generous community with a heart that is bigger than Texas. Being a native Houstonian, I know that our city is built on resilience which they grow in the families and children that DePelchin serves. No matter what happens, Houstonians are here to help, building strength, growing hope and achieving well-being."
Jenifer Jarriel, CEO, DePelchin Children’s Center
"I’m grateful to serve the foster care community in Houston because I get the feeling that people here are eager to collaborate and support one another. At TRP, we have always prided ourselves on being collaborative. To do so in a city that wants the same thing is encouraging and motivating. As the desire and capacity to collaborate grows, our ability to positively impact the lives of vulnerable children and families also grows and that is what I want to see more of in Houston."
Kathleen Cowie, Director of Agency Partnerships, The Riverside Project
"I am very grateful to be a part of the foster care community in Houston and the outlying counties in order to assist in meeting the needs of the family and children we serve. It is pulling the community together in utilizing resources with all hands on deck to serve those who are in need with one child, one family at a time."
Jarita Wharton, DFPS Regional Director, Investigations/Alternative Response, Region 6B
"I am grateful to be serving the foster care community in Houston because these young people are so very deserving of every bit of advocacy that we can give. I also get back from them as much as I give: watching our PEARLS and EAGLES grow and thrive and watching them develop relationships with mentors and form their own community fills my heart in a way that nothing else does. It is more than doing for them, it is helping them learn to do for themselves, and I am so honored to be able to be a small part of that."
Hon. Dena Fisher, Co-founder & Executive Director, Houston PEARLS
"I am grateful to serve the foster care community because it is rewarding and inspiring to see the positive change that can be made in a child’s life when people come together to make a difference. In addition, I am grateful for the dedication of those that I work alongside and for the resiliency of the children we serve."
Kathy Nevarez, Program Director, Child Advocates
"At Arrow, we are grateful to serve because it is in our DNA. We feel called to serve children and families in love and aspire to serve as Jesus served."
Scott Lundy, CEO, Arrow Child & Family Services
"I am grateful for the loving hands that join together in crafting our wonderful community that cares for children and families. I am grateful for the imperfect blend of people with collected experiences and backgrounds that tie us together and create a net of security for our youth. My gratitude overflows this year for the overall resilience of children, parents, caregivers, child advocates and community leaders and the strong bonds that I have formed with so many others in the childcare sector."
Donte Abram, Director, Promise Rose Residential Care Home
"I am grateful that despite great suffering, those serving in the foster care community are undaunted. I am grateful to be part of a community who cares for the neediest amongst us."
Dr. Christopher Greeley, Chief Public Health Pediatrics, Texas Children’s Hospital
"I’m grateful to be serving the foster care community in Houston because I love bringing smiles to children who are where I once was. I love getting to interact and build relationship with them and offer encouragement and hope."
Mireya Scholes, Atascocita Community Church
"I am grateful for each opportunity to serve kids in foster care to remind them that they are loved, seen, and not forgotten."
Carmella Gonzalez, CT Church Pasadena
"I love getting to collaborate and learn from so many serving in this community. It's amazing to see the work being accomplished by individuals in different sectors working for the same purpose—restoring and supporting those in and along the River."
Heather Wolf, Director of Church Outreach, Woodridge Baptist Church
"Supporting vulnerable families, especially those children and families impacted by the foster care system, takes a level of vulnerability, determination and heart that is often not seen or told in the community. I have had the fortunate opportunity to work with the foster care community in Region 6 for the past 5 years. I have seen countless people put their own needs aside to meet the individual needs of these children and the families that care for them. I am amazed at the dedication and heart of the people in this community. Working in this space is extremely hard. Yet everyday people walk in this space, through this hard path to support children who matter and deserve a life where they can thrive."
Diane Kaulen, Texas Children’s Hospital
"I am really grateful for The Riverside Project! They've given us a wider opportunity to assist several families in the midst of their needs. We haven't done it alone, but in collaboration with different churches and other colleagues. It's been amazing to see the differences fading away to serve our Houston community."
Gustavo Echemendia, The Foundry-Espanol
"I am grateful to be serving the foster care community because it is important work, and nothing has shown me the gospel more clearly than foster care. The more involved I become, the more aware I am of how deeply rooted the issues and brokenness goes. At the same time, the more involved I become, the more I am encouraged by how many people are stepping into the work. It can be overwhelming to see how great the need is, but it is such an encouragement to my heart when I realize that one person, one church, or one organization is not alone in the work. We are in this together, and it is truly amazing how many people in Houston care enough about children and families to show up and serve them. It is an honor to walk alongside every single one of them."
Stacey Pruitt, Christ Community Church
Want more info? We have some thorough guides for prospective foster families, current foster families, kinship care, and community support on our website. You can find them here.
Where is your place along the river? Whether it’s pursuing education through our resources, finding a place to serve, or giving to make this work possible, it’s when we work together that we can make the biggest impact here in Houston.