For 10 days last month, eight Houston charities vied for the most online votes to win bragging rights as CultureMap’s 2017 charity partner, a designation that comes complete with an advertising package valued at $10,000.
And while all of the participating non-profits, including Bayou Buddies, F.R.E.S.H. young professionals, Friends of Depelchin, Homemade Hope, Planned Parenthood Young Leaders, Scene, Urban Green, and Young Texans Against Cancer, are worthy of the top spot for making Houston a better place to live, there can be only one winner.
This year, that title goes to Homemade Hope, which garnered nearly 41 percent of the votes.
Houstonian Blair Bentley, who founded the nonprofit organization in 2014, was inspired by her experience as a volunteer in homeless shelters, which began while she was at student at Memorial High School, as well as by her mother, the former executive director of a non-profit that does art therapy programs with children in shelters. "My mom has been my mentor and such a support system in starting Homemade Hope," Bentley tells CultureMap.
Homemade Hope, which currently serves five Houston-area shelters, provides weekly hands-on cooking classes for children living in homeless and transitional living facilities, introducing them to simple, nutritious meals they can prepare for their families with readily available ingredients.
During the holidays, the organization hosts celebrations where the children experience the joy of family meals, the nurturing power of creating healthy dishes, and the stability of developing traditions centered around food.
Homemade Hope also organizes field trips, introducing the kids to many of Houston’s iconic and educational sites while helping them to develop life skills otherwise limited by their circumstances.
"We are truly honored to have won the CultureMap Charity Challenge. Being able to spread the word about our mission means so much to a growing charity like Homemade Hope. Thank you to CultureMap and all of our supporters who voted in the challenge," Bentley says.
This September, Homemade Hope will hold its second annual gala honoring Yvonne and Rufus Cormier.
For more information, visit the Homemade Hope website.