Women’s History month is an important time to celebrate the accomplishments of women servant leaders. At the Houston Texans YMCA, there are many shining examples of women who dedicated their lives to living joyfully and making a difference. Congratulations to the Houston Texans YMCA Women’s History month honorees!
Wanda Williams, originally from Birmingham, Ala., has made a life and a career of being in service. She is the seventh child of ten, and after a long-distance relationship with a Texan she moved to Houston in 1983. It’s been history here ever since.
Wanda worked in fast food which gave her good customer service skills. Those skills led her to becoming a clerk at a local hospital. From that experience she learned how to operate as an administrative person in the medical field. After a stint at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, she began working for the State of Texas as a breast cancer researcher. Wanda recently retired after 32 years as a breast cancer researcher. How did she reach such great success in her career? She took initiative and utilized the access she had at the Cancer Center to study and develop her skills as a breast cancer researcher. She also has experience in brain and prostate cancer as well.
Wanda is proud of the work she did with the State of Texas. When new drugs and treatments arrived on the market, she was able to use her altruistic spirit and share the knowledge with her community.
“It’s such a beautiful thing to see people do something different,” she said. “You learn new things and then you are able to make different choices.
“God placed me there so that I can learn all of this medical stuff for my people.” Wanda is also a certified counselor and was a diversity champion at M.D. Anderson. In her spare time she loves to spend her time at the Texans YMCA and attends True Light Missionary Baptist church.
Toloria Allen leads a rich life full of love. She is originally from Kansas City, Kansas and is the baby of three girls. She followed one of her sisters to Houston after yet another midwestern winter. She had had enough of the harsh climate.
When she arrived in Houston she worked in the financial services sector and became employed at First Chicago National Bank, which later became JP Morgan Chase. She continued to work as a grant’s manager for 18 years. It was an interesting position and she enjoyed it. Working as a grant’s manager allowed her to build relationships with 10 to 12 foundations where she nurtured the accounts of important area charities. However, JP Morgan Chase continued to expand and she was laid off after the bank acquired BankOne.
She rebounded and worked at the Port of Houston as the Contracts Compliance coordinator in the Small Business Development division. And, is now semi-retired at 70.
In her spare time she enjoys doing volunteer work. She likes to walk and has been walking to the Houston Texans YMCA where she has been a member since it opened. At one point Toloria was a court appointed special advocate as a CASA volunteer as she enjoys volunteering in activities that are of interest to her, like the AARP and as a volunteer voter registrar. She is a doting dog mom and has an expansive extended family including six nieces and nephews and 20 great nieces and nephews.
Michele Latimore is a native of San Antonio, Texas. She moved to Houston to attend the University of Houston on a basketball scholarship. Michele worked 30 years in retail and 20 of those years were in management. She has been active in the community by donating bikes during the Christmas season to Children’s Protective Services and various local churches. Michele has also donated Nike shoes and clothes for the teenagers, specifically, at CPS because she feels that teenagers often feel left out.
Michele donates a lot of volunteer time to the Houston Texans YMCA. She helps with transporting donated items to the Texans YMCA and she has assisted with the coordination and distribution of food to the senior citizens. Some of the seniors were not able to drive to get their meals, and Michele came up with creative solutions to make sure they weren’t left out. Her volunteer work is important to her and she is always willing to help whenever asked.
Michele was taught “give and you will receive”.