A group of Reliant employees huddle quietly (but excitedly) outside a coffee shop in The Heights, with balloons that spell “1-0-0-K” in hot pink. They wait to surprise a group of passionate people devoted to raising awareness of human trafficking.
Inside the doors are sounds of your typical café, yet this isn’t your typical coffee shop. On the walls, the stories and numbers speak of a much deeper mission.
A Second Year, A 2nd Cup
This is the fourth time in the last 12 months this same situation has unfolded: rewarding a very deserving nonprofit that rallied votes in the Reliant Gives campaign. For A 2nd Cup, the outreach paid off. The organization received the top donation of $100,000, a financial boost that will help launch a coffee and culinary work program for human trafficking survivors.
A 2nd Cup combats human trafficking through an interesting and unique way — coffee, the favorite drink of many. Established in 2012, the organization not only focuses on this prominent issue in Houston, but also develops resources that create a second chance for survivors. In fact, the headquarters double as a coffee shop and place where supporters organize and collaborate to make an impact. The store’s profits help fund aftercare solutions for survivors, including counseling, mentoring, work experience, and education.
The Reliant Gives donation will go toward a new holistic program that provides important skills for survivors, from resume writing and interview techniques to customer service and financial training, as well as barista, roasting, and culinary skills to help rebuild their lives through meaningful employment.
In 2016, Reliant introduced Reliant Gives as a way for its employees and the public to support the causes they are most passionate about in Texas. The program invites people to vote to direct more than $100,000 of donations to three Texas charities nominated by company employees. The enthusiasm is shared by the nonprofits, who encourage their supporters and the public to vote for them during a 10-day window.
Last year alone, the Reliant Gives program supported nine nonprofits across Texas with $345,000 in donations. Check out their inspiring stories in the 2016 Reliant Gives Community Impact report.
Empowering Girls in STEM, and Helping Continue Life
While A 2nd Cup received the top donation in this round of Reliant Gives, two other deserving nonprofits also benefited from the program: Girlstart in Austin received $10,000, and Southwest Transplant Alliance in Dallas received $5,000.
Girlstart’s mission is to increase girls’ interest and engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through innovative, nationally recognized education programs. Last year, the organization served more than 16,000 girls in Texas, including 388 in the after-school education program right here in Houston. Thanks to its supporters, 95 percent of girls participate at no cost to their families.
Southwest Transplant Alliance serves as the bridge between those who decide to donate their organs and those needing a life-saving transplant. Whether educating people on the benefits of being an organ and tissue donor or having difficult conversations with families facing the loss of a loved one, Southwest Transplant Alliance helps lives continue across Texas on a daily basis.
Hands and Feet in the Community: positiveNRG Week
Giving is in Reliant’s DNA, exemplified by programs like Reliant Gives and positiveNRG. The Reliant Gives donations were timed to coincide with positiveNRG Week, which is dedicated to volunteerism across the country by Reliant’s parent company NRG.
Over the past decade, Reliant employees have served tens of thousands of hours, and this past week employees across Houston rolled up their sleeves to be the hands and feet at an array of Houston organizations, including:
- A 2nd Cup
- Casa de Esperanza de los Ninos
- Dress for Success Houston
- Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels
- Galveston Bay Foundation
- Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council
- Hermann Park Conservancy
- Houston Area Women’s Center
- Houston Food Bank
- Houston Zoo
- March of Dimes
- Snowdrop Foundation
- Urban Harvest
- YMCA Cinco Ranch
Whether it’s organizing food drives, planting trees, walking for a cause, or fundraising on behalf of nonprofits, Reliant is committed to giving to the communities where we live and work. For more information on Reliant Gives, visit giving.myreliant.com.
Elizabeth Killinger is president of Reliant and NRG Retail.