ABOVE: L-to-R: Ken Wells, COCI President; Michael Scott, Urban Enrichment Institute; Lawrence Battle, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis’ office; and Brandi Walker, GEMS Program Manager
This past Saturday, February 20th, Cherish Our Children Inc. (COCI) delivered hot meals to many Trinity Gardens and Kashmere Gardens residents who are recovering from the unprecedented winter storm that knocked out power and left residents without water in the Greater Houston area.
COCI board members, volunteers and staff distributed hot and frozen meals in a COVID-safe drive-through event in the Greater Emmanuel Family Worship Center parking lot.
Perry Rice, an alumni of Kashmere High and owner of Perry & Sons BBQ, volunteered his truck and crew to prepare the meals.
COCI had just started an innovative new program called Gaining Empowerment in Middle School (GEMS), for students at Key Middle School who are the children of incarcerated parents, when the winter storm hit.
“Our students need a village of support if they are going to thrive and right now that village is suffering,” said Brandi Walker, GEMS Program Manager. “Our goal was ease the burden for students, their families and their neighbors.”
GEMS takes a holistic approach to the challenges faced by children of incarcerated parents. The program combines classes to help with social and emotional development, family outreach and role models.
A representative of Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis’ office, Lawrence Battle, and Michael Scott of The Urban Enrichment Institute (formerly the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program), joined COCI for the event to hand out PPP and vaccine information.
“Middle school can be a really tough period for any child,” said Ken Wells, COCI President, “but when you combine that with the stress and other challenges that children face when a parent goes to prison, this is when so many promising young men and women slip through the cracks.”
For more information on the GEMS program, go to www.cherishourchildren.org.