Wednesday, 19 July 2017 19:58

Spiritual connection weaves service and community together

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This is the first installment in our series of 2017 Bravo Award winners. Stay tuned for profiles on the rest of our winners in the coming months. This is the first installment in our series of 2017 Bravo Award winners. Stay tuned for profiles on the rest of our winners in the coming months. Photo credit: David Smith

Brenda Arnold-Scott serves residents and a higher power.

Brenda Arnold-Scott has dedicated her life to serving the underserved. Throughout her 28-year career with the city, she ensured vulnerable populations received the help they needed. And a higher calling set her on a path to become a pastor, which allowed her to empower her community through spiritual guidance.

“I felt like I was placed there by a higher power,” said Arnold-Scott, who retired in May as Deputy Director of the Housing and Community Development Department’s Planning, Grants Management, and Support Services division. “To serve the citizens of Houston gave me an opportunity to address the holistic needs of people.”

Whether overseeing federal grants that fund social services in low income communities, or helping children in need through her advocacy work, Arnold-Scott consistently works to impact the lives of residents.  And it’s why she earned a Bravo award at Houston City Council meeting May 2.

“Brenda’s career contributions to the City of Houston, along with her dedication to her community, her church and the nonprofit organizations she founded to assist underprivileged children exemplify the selfless service which the Bravo Awards seek to honor,” said Tom McCasland, Director of HCDD.

 “I hope to bring a better quality of life to people,” said Arnold-Scott.

Three years ago, a chance encounter with a little girl prompted her to start Happy Feet, a program that donates brand new shoes to children in need.

“I was at church one Sunday,” said Arnold-Scott, who serves as senior pastor for Mt. Calvary African Methodist Episcopal Church in Acres Homes. 

“A little one was sitting there and she was crying,” she said. “She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said my feet hurt.”

“I thought about these kids that come from these tough situations,” she said. “We don’t really begin to have a sense of the struggle of some of these parents.”

That day, Arnold-Scott took all the children in church to buy shoes.

“I had posted on my Facebook page about the event and one of my friends was like, 'Oh you made their little feet happy,' And that was it. Happy Feet was born,” she said.

Photo courtesy of: Brenda Arnold-Scott

Brenda Arnold-Scott’s Happy Feet Program donates two pairs of shoes, socks, and backpacks filled with school supplies to children in need.

Since 2014, the Happy Feet program in partnership with Payless ShoeSource has provided more than 120 families about 300 items including shoes, socks, and backpacks.

“I’ve been doing it every year right before school,” Arnold-Scott said. “I take donations all during the year and on that day.”

Two years after founding the Happy Feet program, Arnold-Scott began researching how to get involved with agencies that help abused children.

“I was trying to figure out what I could do to get involved with getting these kids back to a place of restoration so they can have a life,” said Arnold-Scott of why she founded the Children’s Therapeutic Outreach Program.

After reading about stuffed animal therapy for children, Arnold-Scott contacted the Children’s Assessment Center offering to collect and donate stuffed animals for abused children in their treatment programs. 

“A teddy bear or stuffed animal gives them something to hold during sessions, provides much-needed comfort, and helps in the healing process,” Arnold-Scott said.

Through Arnold-Scott’s C-TOP Program, 102 new stuffed animals were donated to CAC in 2016.

“I’m thankful for my projects,” she said. “I always pray and ask God to show me where the gaps have not been filled.”

And she keeps busy by filling those gaps.

Along with her child advocacy work, Arnold-Scott provides start-up assistance to nonprofit organizations, and provides free counseling to families.

 “I still have a multifaceted life,” she said. “Pastoring is a part of that.”

“Right now, I’m focused on my Happy Feet project,” she said.

“When you’re in the business of providing services to people who need them the most, you provide that from an advocacy perspective. But when you’re speaking for them it’s a bit different,” she said. “Now I’m in different place of advocacy.”