After the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, an inspiring group of Texas residents is working to make healthy, fresh produce available for those whose lives were turned upside down by the storm.
The center’s executive director, Brenda Myers, said she was inspired to help others after she was hit by a drunk driver in 2004. About 15 years ago, she started the Impact Center, which runs a thrift store that gives its proceeds to charities in the area, as well as working to organize events in the community like their annual Hug a Tree, Kiss a Fish Youth Adventure, which helps bring fun and outdoor education to local families.
Myers said that the area was hit hard by the hurricane – and the situation was made even worse by the county’s high poverty rate. The U.S. Census Bureau found that about 20% of people in the county were living below the poverty line. Many of those who were most affected by the storm were senior citizens living on fixed incomes or using food stamps to survive.
“Their incomes were already so low that when Harvey happened, they were devastated,” Myers said of the seniors in the area. “They lost everything.”
Myers said the last straw was when one senior from Camilla Bottoms said that she had been eating dog food to survive. When Myers told her youth volunteers at the Impact Center, they decided to take action, and came up with a plan to bring food to the people who need it.
The group has been making progress – they’ve started tilling the land and collecting seeds for crops including peas, tomatoes, and squash, and Myers said that they’ve been recognized as an official Master Junior Gardening program. Texas A&M University has also sent materials including books about gardening and soil to help the young volunteers learn about growing their own food.
Once the vegetables have grown, the Impact Center plans to have volunteers set up a stand where seniors can come to pick up free produce. For those who don’t have cars, the center will have a team of trailers to help transport local seniors to the produce stand.
“Our motto is to stomp out hunger,” said Myers proudly.
The group even hopes to turn the garden into a learning experience, encouraging seniors to come help with the garden and share their wisdom with youth volunteers.
“We’re not just growing a garden,” said Myers. “We’re growing with love.”
Even with the efforts of the Impact Center, there’s a lot left to do in San Jacinto County. Myers said that many are still without homes, and trying to rebuild their lives.
“People think the hurricane is gone, but its effects are actually still here,” she said.
The Community & Children’s Impact Center is also in need of donations. Myers said that the group can use gardening tools like rakes, hoses, and hoes, along with fertilizer and seeds to grow produce. You can contact Myers to make a donation or ask how you can help at 936-499-2632.
Lead Image Source: Ryan Hyde / Flickr