After Hurricane Harvey blew through the Houston area last August and left us with devastating flooding, the biggest story dominating national news was how our community came together to help one another, with rescues, recovery, and rebuilding.

It was particularly heartening to see all of our community volunteer organizations really step up their game and rally to the aid of those who needed it most. Our Brays Oaks community is particularly rich with non-profit organizations that do amazing work every day––not just in times of crisis––and they rarely get all the recognition that they deserve.

I think it’s wonderful that the Brays Oaks Management District is able to harness that energy and help magnify the efforts of those organizations and volunteers. We certainly appreciate their efforts to enrich the quality of life in our area.

The Westbury Community Garden, for instance, provides education on sustainable growing methods, ecology, and good nutrition, and also offers a community gathering space for growers from different cultures and backgrounds. The Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy (WWGC) is dedicated not only to the conservation of this significant water feature in Southwest Houston’s coastal prairie, but also to making it a cultural destination and music venue for the city.

I came to the Brays Oaks Management District through my work with WWGC, and now I’m proud of our efforts to support developments there. Most recently, the District has aided in making infrastructure improvements to Dryad Street leading to the waterhole (to be completed by the end of the year), and has secured park benches and picnic tables for the park.

Other areas where the District is involved in infrastructure improvements and flood mitigation projects are the Fondren Ditch and the Willow Waterhole Bayou. We’re also in the planning stages of a joint project with Harris County Precinct One to develop a loop of trails between Brays Bayou and Willow Waterhole, and have provided $150,000 to launch that project.

At Houston Community College’s Brays Oaks Campus, the District is also dedicated to helping develop and sponsor adult education curriculum, particularly small business writing classes. Other classes may help new homebuyers navigate mortgage lending and take advantage of lending programs like Homes for Heroes, which benefits educators, veterans, firefighters, law enforcement officers and others.

Last year, Brays Oaks applied for and was awarded a $250,000 Livable Centers study grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Council. Right now, we’re developing our Economic Development Strategic Plan to align with the concepts of Livable Centers, which are communities whose residential and business areas are supported less by cars, and more by walkability and alternative forms of transportation like bicycles and public transportation. It’s a great goal for which to strive.

You may already be aware of all the District does to aid with graffiti abatement and beautification of the neighborhood. Meanwhile, we’re also implementing a Business Recognition Program that rewards our community business partners for their positive efforts to help keep Brays Oaks beautiful. Trash pick-up, repainting, security lighting, recycling, and landscaping all make a significant difference.
Maybe you know of a business that is actively working to enhance the look of the community, their shopping center, or their apartment complex. Maybe you’ve heard of a business owner contributing to the community in another notable way. If so, we encourage you to contact us and tell us about them so we can shine a spotlight on their positive initiatives. (Nomination forms are on our website.)

It’s important to remember that every effort, every act of volunteerism, and every positive change––no matter how small––can go a long way toward our common goal: Safe, clean, and green.

Ralph Rieger, Chairman
Brays Oaks Management District Board of Directors