The places we live bind our communities together in a rich fabric of shared networks, experiences, and spaces. For populations across Texas, the threads of daily life intertwine and connect as residents face hardships like navigating the pandemic’s twists and turns. With a commitment to strengthening local people and places that goes back 75 years, The George Foundation carries forward a family legacy to improve lives in Fort Bend County, Texas.
“We aim to invest in local nonprofit organizations that weave a more powerful tapestry of opportunity within our community, especially to support our most vulnerable neighbors,” says Roger Adamson, CEO of The George Foundation.
The foundation’s roots originate with Henry and Nancy Jones, settlers who established a successful farming and ranching operation in the wilderness of the Mexican territory of Tejas. Their descendant, Mary Elizabeth “Mamie” George, along with her husband Albert P. George, created the foundation in 1945 to positively impact people in the area now known as Fort Bend County.
In line with their mission, the foundation has partnered with UTHealth Houston for more than 30 years to improve the health of local residents through supporting initiatives such as providing scholarships to local students and strengthening public prekindergarten programs.
“Our partnership with UTHealth Houston has enhanced the availability of highly qualified nurses within our local community and the broader region,” Roger says. “This has an immediate impact today that will transcend into the future as the global pandemic has highlighted the growing need for health professionals.”
Thanks to the foundation’s latest commitment, the UTHealth Houston Nurturing Resilience Initiative is helping children in Fort Bend County access mental health care to build resilience and thwart the influence of past adversity.
“In thinking about what families are experiencing today, it’s not just the pandemic. It’s also social unrest and global uncertainty,” says Rocaille Roberts, MPH, Program Officer at The George Foundation. “The skills children will develop through the Nurturing Resilience Initiative will prepare young people for adversity, which we know is certain to come.”
Led by Funlola Are, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Faillace Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, the initiative includes four unique programs that work with local organizations in Fort Bend County to help children learn socioemotional skills and how to manage their mental health.
“We partner with different community organizations who have different needs,” says Are. “Through the Nurturing Resilience Initiative, we can tailor our programming for the specific children and families our partners serve.”
The initiative’s programs focus on improving mental health for children of all ages. Generous philanthropic support from The Henderson-Wessendorff Foundation combined with The George Foundation’s commitment will provide virtual and in-person group meetings to strengthen attachments between babies and their caregivers. In collaboration with BakerRipley, these efforts will help caregivers foster safe, secure, and healthy attachment relationships with their young children.
Are and her team will further enhance afterschool and summer programs that serve older children and teens at the Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA locations in Fort Bend County, and they will help children feel prepared to deal with emotions and stress throughout life.
“We looked at the long-term mental health needs of families in the area,” Are says. “To ensure they can continue accessing care for years to come, we are also implementing training programs for students and local therapists.”
The Nurturing Resilience Initiative includes a new clinical rotation for UTHealth Houston fellows in child and adolescent psychiatry to engage with children through Child Advocates of Fort Bend, a community partner serving survivors of abuse. Are and her team are further working to provide specialized trauma therapy training to local practitioners so that current experts can meet the growing mental health needs of their communities.
“Support from The George Foundation gives us the ability to go out in the community, and that is so important for this kind of work,” Are says.
Thanks to The George Foundation’s generosity, Are and her team are weaving together local people, community partners, and experts in health and education to help build brighter futures in Fort Bend County.