History of SEEDS
The SEEDS program was started in 2001.
The Houston Federation spoke at an ABPW breakfast meeting about their program to inspire girls in science and technology. Specifically, the statistics indicated that the Hispanic population was rising at a fast rate in the Houston area and that there was not enough emphasis on educating Hispanic females. The Federation began programs to encourage girls in science and technology areas. ABPW wanted to develop a program to encourage females to continue their education in general.
Evolution of SEEDS committee over time:
A committee of about 15 ABPW members met and named the program SEEDS, representing ABPW planting a SEED in the minds and lives of families.
ABPW decided to reinforce and encourage mothers and families on the value of educating their girls. Studies showed that mothers traditionally had the most influence on the family. It was decided that the best way to do this was to start at the elementary level. McWhirter Elementary School, in Webster was considered one of the schools with the lowest economic demographic, and it had a very large Hispanic population and thus a higher population of ESL (English as a second language) students.
ABPW volunteers initiated a fund raising garage sale for the McWhirter community, that was extremely successful.
Volunteers also painted, decorated and purchased new furniture for a parent’s room just inside the front door of the school and added computers for families to use and toys and a play area for younger siblings.
ABPW volunteers attended the first day of school, brought and served refreshments, collected relevant pamphlets, and invited parents to come to the parent’s room any time. The intent was to encourage parents to be an active part of their children’s education.
ABPW hosted a Tamalata event and asked some of the mothers at the school to teach ABPW volunteers how to make all different types of tamales representing many regions of Mexico and South America. It was thought that the parents would become more engaged if they were asked to share their cultures with one another. ABPW invited their families, city leaders and politicians to come to the event. It was a great success and over 600 tamales were served to students and their extended families.
McWhirter became a Lab School for UH/CLC. They had more projects and volunteers than they could handle and ABPW’s efforts were no longer needed. It was time to move on.
Second Generation of SEEDS:
ABPW met with staff at Clear View Alternative High School in Webster, a school for high risk students who needed more individualized attention in order to graduate. A monthly mentoring program was set up for the senior girls.
ABPW volunteers provided lunch & mentored girls on many life skills including goal setting & job interviewing skills.
ABPW also provided a scholarship award and donated $880 to provide graduation caps for the graduating seniors and gifted a $1500 computer to the school in 2012.
In 2016, there was a leadership change at the high school, and the SEEDS program was no longer supported. It was time for a new direction.
Third Generation of Seeds:
A 2016-2017 survey revealed that the membership wanted to do more for the local domestic violence crisis centers.
In August 2017 it was decided that ABPW would explore & reinvent its SEEDS program. A special committee was formed and it was decided that the Goal/Mission would shift to a mentoring program for the women at the Bridge Over Troubled Waters and the Bay Area Turning Point.
Initially, there were two events - a “Like What You See in the Mirror” – a Make-up and Hair demonstration and “The Road Blocks in Searching for the Right Job” program, at the Bridge. In addition, Renu Bonner formed a committee to help build a children's garden on the side of the day care facility so the young residents could learn to grow and care for vegetables and be encouraged to eat healthy food.
After meetings with the social workers and the director of the Bridge, it was decided that ABPW volunteers would attend mandatory bi-monthly “House Meetings” to gain insight on how ABPW could best help the women. ABPW 's goal was to give them what they needed and wanted rather than trying to guess what would be helpful.
SEEDS 2019: Growing ABPW Involvement
The committee agreed to provide activities with the following guidelines:
- Make it fun
- Work on self-esteem, confidence and encouragement
- Daytime events for the women only
- Evening events for the women and their children
- Door Prizes
After meeting with the staff of the Bridge about their goals for the clientele combined with the known interests of the clientele, the SEEDS Committee held a planning meeting and laid out a total plan for the year 2019. The plan was designed to involve and entertain women as well as children.
January was Bingo Night hosted by Renu Bonner.
February was a Valentine's Party & Crafts w/ Kids hosted by Trisha Barita.
March was Garden Planting w/ Kids headed by Renu Bonner.
April was Movie Night for Moms hosted by Vicki Upchurch.
May was a Mother's Day Party and Crafts w/ Kids hosted by Patricia Donham.
June was Painting for Moms hosted by Patricia Donham.
July was Bingo Night hosted by Sylvia Hicks.
August was Create Your Own Vision Board hosted by Paula Durrett.
November was Family Movie Night hosted by Angela Bivins.
December was a Christmas Party hosted by Angela Bivins.
Average attendance at each session ranged between 10 and 30 depending on the event and the number of children in the shelter.
Another significant element of SEEDS was added with SEEDS' commitment to support women who are working to get their GED's. This meant paying for workbooks, practice materials and test segments. In 2019, ABPW funded $ 245 to cover workbook supplies and fees for test segments.
New in 2019: ABPW SEEDS Co-sponsorship of The Bridge's Domesttic Violence Awareness Dinner in October
ABPW volunteers provided a full service dinner for 50 residents and staff at The Bridge. Ten tables were draped with white cloths and purple organza overlays which were then donated for future use by The Bridge. Gold or silver chargers were laid and napkins were folded with silver utensils. Silver sashes were draped on the back of chairs.
Chocolate dinner favors in mini cake stands were placed at each plate. Centerpiece plants were given to residents after the event.
Printed song lyrics were placed under each charger and closing ceremony included handing out purple glo stick wands and playing Helen Reddy's “I am Woman" and Katy Perry's “Shout". Residents sang along and waved their wands in the dark to demonstrate the importance of increasing awareness about domestic violence.
Kathy Viscariello and her staff at Angelo’s prepared and delivered the delicious three course meal and also delivered a separate meal for all the children in the shelter.
Ivonne Khan prepared sparkling grape welcoming toasts in champagne flutes served on trays to women as they entered.
Betsey Ennis and her daughter Gracie handled photographs of each guest who wanted one in front of a photo backdrop prepared by the Bridge staff.
The Bridge offered door prizes throughout the evening and brought in a dynamic speaker to talk to the ladies, share her story, to empower residents and to encourage them to support each other.
ABPW volunteers helped with providing supplies, decorating, setup and service, clean-up and putting away afterwards.
Domestic Violence Awareness Dinner Committee Members: Lynn Shigekawa, chair; Kathy Viscariello, Carol Keough, Ivonne Khan, Libby Jones, Betsey and Gracie Ennis, Sally Jordan, Paula Durrett, Melody Macaulay, Sylvia Hicks and Kelly Railean.
2019 SEEDS COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Angela Bivens, Debra Dunn, Jackie Lawson, Kelly Davis, Linda Kloss, Lynn Shigekawa, Pam Culpepper, Patricia Donham, Paula Durrett, Renu Bonner, Sylvia Hicks, Tamra Gann-Curry, Trisha Barita, and Vicki Upchurch.