YWCA Board and 2018 OWL Honorees OWL Attendees
The YWCA of Houston is chartering new territory with the launch of the WYNDOWS Project. The new program was unveiled during a press conference on May 24th held prior to the organizations Outstanding Women’s Luncheon (OWL). YWCA Board members and Leadership Team announced the new project along with luncheon keynote speaker, abduction survivor, Elizabeth Smart. The WYNDOWS Project seeks to provide the only 24-hour emergency housing for women ages 18 and older who are victims of human trafficking.
“The WYNDOWS project is an emergency assessment center for adults. We are launching the project to help meet the needs of adult survivors to help close the gap”, said YWCA of Houston board member, Jennifer Hohman.
The press conference kicked off the 2018 Outstanding Women’s Luncheon hosted at the beautiful Royal Sonesta Hotel. The annual affair applauded 11 honorees whose work in the Houston area exemplified the luncheon’s theme: Women on the Rise! A Legacy of Commitment and Service.
The keynote speaker, Elizabeth Smart – a human trafficking prevention activist, author and ABC News contributor – received international attention when she was taken from her Utah home at age 14 in 2002 and held for nine months. As the founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, she advocates vigilance by everyone and hope for all missing children – which connects to YWCA of Houston’s strong advocacy of human trafficking awareness and abolition.
“You can’t go in guns blazing it’s not enough. It’s not enough to rescue them, unless you have services in place and a safe place for them to go and be treated medically and to get the phycological care needed for them to become a functioning member of society. It’s not worth rescuing them because they will turn around and go right back and become a victim again,” said Smart.
The WYNDOWS Project will launch Fall of 2018. YWCA of Houston will partner with local law enforcement agencies, Rescue Houston, the Human Trafficking Hotline, and The City of Houston Anti-Human Trafficking Office.
The press conference and launch of the WYNDOWS Project was a great segway to the 2018 Outstanding Women’s Luncheon. The esteemed honorees, by category, were:
Education: Ruth Simmons, Ph.D., President, Prairie View A&M University
Business: Edna Meyer-Nelson, Founder, President, and CEO, The Richland Companies
Oil and Gas: Shawn E. Simmons, Ph.D., Engineer, Environmental and Permitting Manager, ExxonMobil
Dorothy Height: Edith Irby Jones, M.D., pioneering physician and humanitarian
Art: Beth Merfish, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Houston-Clear Lake
Healthcare: Juliet Breeze, M.D., CEO, and Medical Director, Next Level Urgent Care
Law and Government: Jessica Farrar, Houston legislator, Texas House of Representatives
Community Philanthropy: Roxann Chargois, Western Area Director, The Links, Inc.
Outstanding Youth: Lauren Elie and Jordan Fein, Flower Power Gives
STEM: Paula McCann Harris, Engineer and Director of Global Stewardship, Schlumberger
This year’s honorary luncheon chair was Jacqueline W. Bostic, the YWCA of Houston Board Chair Emeritus, and the honorary luncheon co-chair was Jacqueline Bostic McElroy, the YWCA of Houston Board Chair.
Nearly 500 people were in attendance at the annual Outstanding Women’s Luncheon, a charitable event that helps the YWCA of Houston increase awareness of its mission and programs. This year’s fundraising affair has heightened importance as the YWCA of Houston – the city’s second-largest provider of senior services – continues to respond to the critical needs of elder community members still recovering from Hurricane Harvey and as the organization launches the city’s first and only emergency shelter specifically designated for adult women who have been trafficked. Connect to #YWCAHOUSTON @YWCAHOUSTON on social media.
Media Contact: Kelly P. Hodges | firstname.lastname@example.org | 832-865-4722
About YWCA of Houston
YWCA of Houston is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. We are part of one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the nation, which serves more than 2 million women and girls and their families. YWCA has been at the forefront of the most pressing social movements for more than 150 years — from voting rights to civil rights, from affordable housing to pay equity, from violence prevention to health care reform. Today, we combine programming and advocacy to generate institutional change in three key areas: racial justice and civil rights, empowerment and economic advancement of women and girls, and health and safety of women and girls. Visit www.ywcahouston.org to learn more.
OWL attendees celebrating Elizabeth Smart and YWCA of Houston