For more than 16 years, Sonya has been improving the lives of the elderly through her work in Client Services at West Houston Assistance Ministries (WHAM) by providing food, clothing, financial assistance, employment assistance, holiday meals, and referrals to senior clients.
In the days immediately following Hurricane Harvey, Sonya coordinated plans for how Client Services would handle the huge job ahead, first from home, and then as one of the first employees to open the agency and begin serving storm victims.
She tirelessly stayed extra hours on the job handing out food, water, clothing, and cleaning supplies. She was a leader of the major task of requesting funds and organizing donations for quick distribution of disaster relief at WHAM. Sonya created a program to help seniors who had been relocated from one senior living facility to another facility near WHAM. Many of the seniors had lost most or all of their personal belongings.
Sonya led a team of volunteers to spend time with the seniors and brighten their day, and each person received gift cards to Kroger and Walmart and clothing to help replace some of their losses. Sonya also heard about a meeting to match seniors with disaster relief services being held in a heavily storm damaged neighborhood, and even though the area was not in WHAM’s regular service area, she drove to the location, set up a table, and spent the day handing out grocery and home repair gift cards. Sonya was touched by the stories of many of the elderly who had not known how to navigate the disaster relief system and were still in flood-damaged homes with no way to make repairs. Not wanting to turn anyone away, when the gift cards ran out at the event, Sonya invited the seniors to come to WHAM, and over the next week, many more people received gift cards at the agency location. During the months since Harvey, Sonya has overseen disaster services for over 14,700 people and regular services for over 8,000 individuals, including many senior citizens. Sonya shows her community what it means to be an everyday champion.