“I worked so hard for this park for so many years. This is the vision that I had,” Woodward said. “You can find a purpose and a project. One person can make a difference.”

In front of Westbury High School in the garden she helped create, Rita Woodward, a Brays Oaks community advocate, was honored with a flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol.

On Monday, April 30, U.S. Representative Al Green presented the U.S. flag to Woodward, who spent 10 years lobbying the Houston Independent School District (HISD) for the green space now known as the Rita Woodward Environmental Nature Park.

The Willow Waterhole Nature Reserve in Westbury has been chosen as the site of Trees for Houston’s Tribute Grove for this year.

A Tribute Grove is a designated area in which donors can donate trees in commemoration of special occasions, honor a friend or family member, or make a memorial gift. Planting will start in the fall of 2012; the number of trees in the grove is determined by the number of donations.

If you have wanted to make a donation to Trees for Houston, now is a good time as the trees will be planted in our neighborhood! Check out www.TreesForHouston.org for more information.

It’s much better to see a sermon than to hear one,” Green said, referring to the garden as “the sermon that Rita preached.” He also quoted Ghandi and said, “We should all become the change that we seek.”

State Representative Borris Miles also presented Woodward with a Texas flag, and other local, state and federal officials sent messages of their regard for her.

The park was formerly the site of HISD’s Oceanography Center, built in the late 1960s, and then it became the Living Resource Center, a warehouse for biology specimens. When the science center’s function was moved to a different location, the building on the corner of Chimney Rock and Gasmer fell into disrepair.

That’s when Woodward, now 84, began her campaign to acquire and renovate the space in front of the high school. It only took her 10 years to convince HISD officials to donate the land and to round up contributions to beautify it with roses, other landscaping and a mosaic “W” at the base of the school’s flagpole. Donations came from local businesses, residents and from the fund-raising efforts of the Friends of Westbury High School Foundation that Woodward founded in 1992.

Written by Deb Hensel


View photos from the Flag Dedication Ceremony: