WHAT ARE THE HUG AWARDS?
The Houston’s Unsung Greats Awards (HUG Awards) are sponsored by Attorney Stewart J. Guss to honor those local men and women who make a special contribution to the community of Houston.
Each month we award a prize of $100 and a Houston Hero t-shirt, and each year we give one of the local heroes $1000. These blog posts highlight the great work done the the charity workers who are among this year’s 6 contenders for the annual award.
THE CHARITY: HOUSTON HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
Number four in our list of contenders for the annual HUG Award is the tireless Leela Krishnamurthy from Houston Habitat for Humanity. Houston Habitat believes that everyone deserves a decent place to live. Houston Habitat empowers low income Houstonians to build a better future for themselves and their families.
Houston Habitat homeowners contribute hundreds of hours of “sweat equity,” including completing financial and homeownership training and helping to build their own homes. They purchase their homes with affordable mortgages. Houston Habitat also helps countless other families preserve their homes by providing critical home repairs, and we operate the Houston Habitat ReStore – a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center open to the public.
With a hand-up, Houston Habitat homeowners are able to remove barriers to opportunity and success and achieve strength, stability and self-reliance. Since 1987, Houston Habitat has built over 1,050 homes, has repaired countless others and has been involved in the revitalization of 14 Houston neighborhoods. Houston Habitat was named Houston’s most effective charity by the Houston Chronicle based on its Charity Navigator rating of 4-star, exceeding industry standards in financial health, accountability and transparency metrics. Houston Habitat is also an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, which was named the “Most Loved” and “Most Trusted” brand in the social services nonprofit category by the Harris Poll in 2016 and 2015.
Learn more about the life-changing work of Habitat for Humanity in Houston in this video.
THE NOMINEE: LEELA KRISHNAMURTHY
Leela Krishnamurthy is well known for her work in Houston as a local community activist and philanthropist. Leela has a longstanding record of service to the Houston community – giving to and raising money for numerous national and international causes, helping individuals with a hand-up, establishing partnerships in the nonprofit community, she has done it all. To say Leela Krishnamurthy makes things happen would be an understatement. Her track record of charitable work is amazing and she is a true inspiration to the local community. Here is what Allison Hay had to say when sending us Leela’s nomination for Houston Habitat:
Leela Krishnamurthy is the chair of the Homeowners Services Committee of our Board of Directors. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that low-income Houstonians have a decent place to live. She engaged the Indo-American community to build two homes and she chaired our 25th anniversary Gala. Wishing to empower single moms to become homeowners, Leela convinced First Lady Cecilia Abbott to participate in our annual Women Build project to help build a home for a single mother and her children and spotlight the barriers to obtaining affordable housing they experience. Leela always thinks of our homeowners first.
THE CASE STUDY: CHANDRA
Like many of our homeowners, Chandra is a single mom struggling to provide a better future for herself and her children. She beams as she talks about her son and daughter who have great academic goals and dreams and her nieces and nephews, who she wants to have “a place to ride their bikes, play in the backyard, and sit outside on the porch.
Chandra is now the proud owner of the 2016 Women Build home. “Every time I talk about it, it brings me to tears,” she says of her time during Women Build, when volunteers including Mrs. Abbott and Mrs. Krishnamurthy stood beside her and helped her build her home. “They were sweating and swinging hammers! When you can get somebody to volunteer and help you—that’s like family. You don’t have to have a shared bloodline to be family. That’s what I’ve learned through this journey.”
The first thing Chandra did in her new home was host a big family Sunday dinner. Thanks to Leela and her continued advocacy and service to Houston Habitat, Chandra and countless other families can do just that, knowing that through homeownership they have also achieved strength, stability and independence. As Chandra says it best: “That’s a blessing!”
To find out more about the fantastic work that the Houston Habitat for Humanity does go to their website at http://houstonhabitat.org/ or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr or Pinterest.