Coke Scholars Rebuild Houston Homes after Harvey

Houston Coke Scholars rolled up their sleeves on Saturday, May 19, to help repair the damage done by Hurricane Harvey. The group worked with Rebuilding Together Houston, restoring houses damaged by the hurricane in the Independence Heights neighborhood by installing roofing, siding, and painting.

Coke Scholars Karen Yang (2016 Scholar), Jose Garcia (2011), Jennifer Nguyen (2009), and Shree Balaji (2018) paint a Houston home during the service day.

Coke Scholars Karen Yang (2016 Scholar), Jose Garcia (2011), Jennifer Nguyen (2009), and Shree Balaji (2018) paint a Houston home during the service day.

The day was spearheaded by Marc Eichenbaum, 2000 Scholar and Special Assistant to the Mayor for Homelessness Initiatives for the city of Houston, who witnessed the devastation of Hurricane Harvey first hand and knew his fellow Scholars would want to help.

“Watching these leaders from across Texas come together to give back to this Houston community and victims of Hurricane Harvey was humbling. They worked hard, got to know the home owners, and had a great time in the process!” said Carolyn Norton, Alumni Relations Manager for the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.

The mayor of Houston, Mayor Turner, visited the project and presented the team with a proclamation naming the day as Coke Scholars Day.

Houston’s Mayor Turner presents Jane Hopkins, President-Elect and Vice President of CCSF, and Houston Coke Scholars a proclamation declaring May 19 Coke Scholars Day.

Houston’s Mayor Turner presents Jane Hale Hopkins, President-Elect and Vice President of CCSF, and Houston Coke Scholars a proclamation declaring May 19 Coke Scholars Day.

“Having the Mayor join us at Houston Service Day was really special, and a testament to the impact made with Rebuilding Houston Together and local volunteers. It was an honor to accept his proclamation naming the day Coke Scholars Day,” said Jane Hale Hopkins, President-Elect and Vice President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.

In the thick of Hurricane Harvey, Coke Scholars had raised funds, cleaned out damaged buildings, set up childcare areas in nearby shelters, rescued displaced animals, collected items to donate to flood victims, distributed drinking water, staffed shelters, and much more, and this service day was an opportunity to revisit their efforts.

Matt Cheney (2001 Scholar) paints siding.

Matt Cheney (2001 Scholar) paints siding.

Each Coke Scholar received a college scholarship during their senior year of high school in recognition of their leadership and passion for service, and that passion brings program alumni from all ages together well after they graduate high school.

No strangers to hurricane clean-ups, Coke Scholars planned four service trips to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. In addition to these service projects, the Coke Scholars Alumni Advisory Board has organized weekend-long Service Summits in Denver, Austin, and Miami where alumni focus on how to best make an impact through service with hands-on activities, topical sessions with community leaders, and thoughtful discussions with each other.

Scholars at the 2017 Denver Service Summit discuss their individual service plans to improve their communities post-Summit. Left to right: Deena Whitwam (2015 Scholar), Akbar Khan (2014), George Pandya (2016), Kari Philbeck (1994), Harriet Pryor (2016), Kaitlyn Chana (2009), and Amy Pyle (2013).

Scholars at the 2017 Denver Service Summit discuss their individual service plans to improve their communities post-Summit. Left to right: Deena Whitwam (2015 Scholar), Akbar Khan (2014), George Pandya (2016), Kari Philbeck (1994), Harriet Pryor (2016), Kaitlyn Chana (2009), and Amy Pyle (2013).

“One thing that connects all Coca-Cola Scholars is their passion to serve others. They see a need in their community and take action to fill it while motivating others to join the cause. It’s incredible what they can accomplish when they all come together,” said J. Mark Davis, President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.

To cap the day of hard work, alumni and their families gathered for a backyard cookout at Marc’s home, enjoying treats from the grill and a bouncy house for the little ones.

Service Day participants Ariel Nixon (2010 Scholar), Morris Smith (Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages) and wife Tecoa Smith, and Matt Turner (1992) enjoy a cookout post-service.

Service Day participants Ariel Nixon (2010 Scholar), Morris Smith (Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages), Tecoa Turner (wife of Matt Turner), and Matt Turner (1992) enjoy a cookout post-service.

“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and Coca-Cola Scholars have a zest, have a zeal, not just for life, but for service, that is bar none,” said Marc.

 

 

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation celebrates and empowers visionary leaders who are refreshing the world. With its 30th class of Coca-Cola Scholars, the Foundation has provided more than $66 million in scholarships to over 6,000 program alumni who together have become a powerful force for positive change.

Starting in August of 2018, students who are high school seniors may apply to be Coca-Cola Scholars through October 31, 2018. Learn more at www.coca-colascholars.org.