Greetings from Houston, also known as H-Town, The Bayou City and Space City! Greater Houston is the most ethnically-diverse metropolitan area in the United States and is geographically larger than the whole state of New Jersey. It is home to two more of our Kindness in Community (KiC) Fund grantees, the Montrose Center and Young Audiences of Houston.
Founded in 1978, the Montrose Center is Houston’s LGBTQ+ community center. Their mission is to empower their community—primarily lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals and their families—to live healthier, more fulfilling lives, by providing a wide array of critically needed programs such as counseling and therapy, substance use recovery, anti-violence services for victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, and hate crimes, and specialized programs for senior, youth, and those living with HIV, education and outreach. They are the hub of Houston’s LGBTQ+ community.
Now in its 66th year, Young Audiences of Houston implements over 3,000 programs each year with nearly 200 talented artists that reach approximately 190,000 students and teachers annually at schools, libraries, community centers, and hospitals with limited programming for college and adult continuing education programs. Young Audiences of Houston primarily serves children Pre-K through the 12th grade within the boundaries of the 51 greater Houston area school districts.
My colleague Terez Hanhan (who lived in Houston for many years) and I joined both organizations for a deeply moving tour of the Montrose Center’s headquarters, which took us on a historical journey through many decades of the LGBTQ+ movement in Houston. We saw firsthand how the Montrose Center directly empowers clients through case management, including rapid rehousing, therapeutic services, and life-saving, educational support. Importantly, the Montrose Center has a state-of-the-art pantry supported by H-E-B Grocery, which offers an array of essential food and hygiene items to those in need.
We also joined the staff for “Hatch Youth Night,” which is a social group at the Montrose Center dedicated to empowering LGBTQIA+ youth between the ages of 7 and 20. As part of Hatch Youth Night, staff from Young Audiences of Houston led us through a “Healing Through Visual Arts” workshop, where we partook in a breathing exercise and an artmaking activity. We listened to personal stories of what led people to create their kindness-filled paintings, and we left feeling grateful and honored for the experiences.
We invite you to check out ways to support and get involved with both the Montrose Center and Young Audiences of Houston. Off to The Sunshine State of Florida, next! Miami, we’re almost there – the final stop for The Chromatica Ball Summer Stadium Tour!