Founded in 1893, Sheltering Arms Senior Services has devoted more than a century to providing Houston’s elderly population with care, advocacy, and community support. Despite its long history, the nonprofit organization is only looking forward. Between 2011 and 2012, it provided seniors with 128,658 hours of personal-care assistance—including meal preparation and housekeeping—and fed 2,182 seniors a nutritious meal. And their specially designed Adult Day Center, which provides top-notch care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Factor in the organization's more than 20 Houston-area senior centers, where staffers offer recreational activities, health education, and legal advocacy, and it is clear that Sheltering Arms is only building upon its 120-year foundation.
Sheltering Arms' mission begins with its committed corps of staff members and volunteers. Certified nurses’ aides customize and implement home-care plans that include light housekeeping, meal prep, and medication reminders. Social workers advocate for members at risk of being institutionalized by managing their financial and health casework. Volunteers make daily safety checks on seniors who are living alone and organize arts-and-crafts classes, game nights, and dances.
Trees for Houston has been dedicated to planting, protecting, and promoting trees for more than a quarter century. In that time, the organization has helped more than 420,000 trees spread their roots in the Houston community. Its mission is to use the benefits of lush vegetation to improve air quality, slow storm-water runoff, reduce urban heat, and reestablish the connection of people with nature.
Volunteer projects educate communities about urban forestry and reforestation. In addition to planting at schools, parks, and medians, Trees for Houston's volunteers donate seedlings at events, and work with third- and fourth-grade students to impart the importance of trees.
Supporting the Texas Center for the Missing, Champions for Children presents benefactors with an evening of hilarious standup and delectable cuisine while helping fund the Center's philanthropic mission of missing-child prevention and recovery. Guests dig into toothsome chow, choosing from a variety of vegetarian and meat-laden dishes while chortling at hilarious standups and mad libs whispered to the comedians by the servers. After an opening set from Cliff West, nationally recognized laughmeister Bob Smiley headlines the event, bringing his manic energy and quirky physicality to anecdotes on relationships, raising kids, and everyday life. Live and silent auctions offer further opportunities for charitable largesse, and an event-wide raffle gives guests the chance to win fabulous prizes and impress dates with their raffle-fixing abilities. Attendees' vehicles can eagerly listen in on the show from free parking spots.
Child Advocates raises funds for its charitable kid-advocacy mission with a four-hour chili-cook-off competition that hosts popular area restaurants and their chefs. Nine eateries compete in this year’s spice-off, including Zelko Bistro, Haven, and BRC Gastropub, stuffing the roster with more VIPs than a continually updated list of spelling-bee champions. Guests can taste the chili concoctions that emerge from the competition, assessing their favorite flavors and knowing each bite supports a positive local cause. The chili cook-off raises funds to help curtail child abuse, universally considered a better way to support kids than firing chili-filled canons over elementary schools.
At the Holcombe House, each guest room includes two queen-size beds and one full bath, plus guests can access free laundry facilities, WiFi, and fully stocked kitchens. The approximate cost of housing a family at Holcombe House is $142 per night, and Holcombe House relies on private donations to cover accommodation costs. Families are asked to donate $25 each night, but no one is ever turned away for an inability to pay.
Amigos volunteers—mainly high-school and college students—live and work in a host community in Latin America for six–eight weeks. Volunteers work with the community to identify potential projects, build community awareness about the selected project, and organize local fundraisers to offset project costs. Past projects have included painting schools, establishing wool cooperatives, and laying new pipe to bring in clean water. In addition to improving communities, the projects help improve volunteers’ confidence, problem-solving, and public-speaking skills. To set the work in motion, Amigos covers the majority of the costs through private donations.