Willena Gatson was honored with the eighth annual Alfreda Houston Community Service Award on Saturday. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Established in 2004 at St. Vincent’s House 50th Anniversary celebration, the Alfreda Houston Community Servant Award, known affectionately as the Houston’s Heroes Award, serves as a permanent tribute to the life and legacy of Galveston’s own Steel Oleander, Alfreda Baptiste Houston, Director Emeritus of St. Vincent’s House; long time social/political activist and consummate community servant. This award seeks to ‘recognize and honor’ those unheralded individuals whose life and work have exemplified the same passion and tireless dedication to underserved and disadvantaged population of the greater Galveston community.
An active member of Grace Episcopal Church, Alfreda Houston was the Executive Director of St. Vincent’s House from 1975 until her retirement in 1999. Even after her retirement, Ms. Houston remained a steadfast, devoted and outspoken advocate of the disadvantaged. Her working life and her volunteer activities were all dedicated to making the Galveston community a better place. She referred to this city as “the sweetest mess I know ”; reflecting her deep understanding of the many challenges that the poor and disadvantaged face in Galveston. She served on many boards and committees during her tenure at St. Vincent’s House; receiving numerous honors and accolades by state, local and national organizations for her many years of passionate commitment to Galveston. She often stated that she didn’t want or need another award…so in memoriam, this award was established in her name. The award has become apart of the annual St. Vincent’s Day festivities and is presented during a special reception.
St. Vincent’s Day is a community homecoming celebration commemorating the spirit and vision of St. Vincent’s House namesake and patron saint, Saint Vincent de Paul, apostle of charity, advocate and caretaker of those in need- the hungry, the homeless and the disadvantaged. Everyone who has ever been associated with St. Vincent’s House -past and present- preschool alumni and teachers, board members, medical students, nurses, physicians, volunteers, staff, is invited.
Candidate nominations are solicited from the community. The criteria for consideration are that a person be an Island resident, with ten or more years of [volunteer] community service to the disadvantaged and underserved of Galveston; whose work has modeled the legacy of Alfreda Houston’s community service and involvement…a real ‘servant’. - by Corlie Jackson