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Urban Garden Opens in North Houston, Texas


Texas Women’s Empowerment Fund opened an urban garden with funding help from Blue Cross Blue Shield. The opening ceremony was held on October 2, Friday at 10:45 AM.

Please excuse some of the camera shakes.

News Report:

Houston, TX: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) has generously made available $60,000 in grant money to the Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation (TWEF), a non-profit organization to start an Urban Garden to benefit kids and their families living in the North Houston area by I-45 and  Mitchell Rd. The Empowerment Community Center is located at  8333 Sweetwater Lane Houston, TX 77037. The members of the community along with 50 children met at the ribbon cutting and groundbreaking ceremony on October 2nd, Friday, at 10:45 AM. This is part of the $1.5 million that Blue Cross Blue Shield has made available to organizations that supports the Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiative. Total in grant application requests have surpassed $12M.

Lori Ivanoff, Network Management Divisional Vice President, and Marina Angelica Coryat, Senior Manager, Media & Community Relations, Southeast Texas Region from Blue Cross Blue Shield took part in the event.

More than 25 percent of children living in Harris county face food shortages.  They end up eating food that is lacking in nutrition.  The locale where TWEF is located has been designated a “food desert” because residents have to drive four miles round trip to the closest grocery store to get produce and food items. Children in this area live in abject poverty. They have so far only seen wax and plastic fruit.

A faith filled Nzinga Rideaux emceed the event and welcomed the guests. The opening prayer was by Pastor Stephen Barlow.  Other speakers were Lori Ivanoff, Misty Grantt and Deavra Daughtery.  Lori Ivanoff spoke about the strong ties that Blue Cross Blue Shield has been establishing with families and communities in Texas. She then presented the grant check to Deavra Daughtery.  Misty Grantt with LOGOS University said that the university is set to give certificates to all the elders in the community who learn to garden. It will provide the elders a chance to mentor children as well, she said.

Deavra Daughtery the founder of TWEF cut the ribbon for the land she donated to be the new urban garden. She said that her son, Chaz Hammonds, CEO of Soul Fit Grill, is the true visionary behind the concept of the garden. Chaz said he felt this garden provides an opportunity for families and children to eat healthy daily. His family members were beset by diabetes, and obesity  problems, which motivated him to cultivate organic vegetables.  The community leaders gathered helped turn over a pile of mud with shovels and officially declare the urban garden open.

This urban garden will help provide fresh fruits and vegetables to a nearby farmer’s market. This program is intended to promote positive behavioral changes amongst children and youth. The joy of gardening is aimed to provide intergenerational and cross-cultural connections between elders and children of the community. This initiative will help foster better nutrition, increase physical activity and community involvement among participants. The local farmer’s market that will be an off shoot of this urban garden will teach entrepreneurial skills to the youth.

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s signature program “Healthy Kids, Healthy Families ® has impacted nearly 9 million children and their families in Texas through support in areas of nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, and supporting safe environments.”  It is committed to improving the health and well-being of families in the communities that they serve. This social responsibility has been reflected through their corporate giving, improving community relations, encouraging employee volunteerism, promoting diversity and inclusion of communities, while developing wellness and sustainability initiatives. To learn more about BCBSTX’s social responsibility efforts, please visit http://bcbstx2014srr.com/   (source: BCBSTX).

Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps families reach their fullest potential in all areas – self development, business, education, handling finances, and developing the community as a whole. TWEF provides scholarships and empowerment initiatives for families.


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