When Paula Walker talks about helping people, her face lights up.
“It feels good to know that you actually can help someone get past something,” said Walker, a 311 customer service representative for the city’s Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department.
Walker, who spends her days answering calls that come into city’s 311 help and information line, learned early in life what it means to give back from her father, the Rev. Harvey M. Walker.
“He’s always showed us that no matter where we go in my life, we should always go back to where we started from,” Walker said of her father, who has served as senior pastor at the Crossing Community Church for the past 37 years.
It’s a life lesson that ignited a passion for giving in Walker, whose service doesn’t stop when she leaves work. Instead, she spends her free time volunteering at the Crossing, the same church where her father serves as senior pastor.
Walker serves on the committee for the women’s ministry, as the youth director and as co-director of Impact, a community outreach ministry that aids at-risk children and adults. Her selfless compassion for giving earned her a Bravo award this past May.
“Paula has been very instrumental in leading various community projects, which benefit both the children that we serve as well as their parents,” said Jessica L. Broadnax, Impacts’ executive director. “She has also stepped up to lead and teach groups of all ages and provide enrichment activities and resources.”
Impact, which serves the Sunnyside and South Park communities in southeast Houston, provides meals, classes, seminars and activities every other week during sessions held at the Crossing’s Life Center.
“I grew up in the southeast area,” Walker said. “There’s a great need for the program.”
“A lot of things we did growing up in that area, those kids are not able to do that,” said Walker of how Impact teaches and encourages children about what the Crossing believes are the essentials of purposeful and prosperous living.
“They are our next leaders,” she said.
But that’s not all.
Walker also serves as Crossing’s youth director. For the past six years, she’s organized programs and activities such as outings, dinners and lock-ins.
“We try to help build self-character and self-esteem,” Walker said of the weekly youth activities she organizes.
Most recently, Walker formed a peer group for teens.
“We just do rap sessions, where we talk about everyday issues they’re dealing with,” Walker said.
‘The love and compassion she has with the kids allows them to be open and honest with her throughout their relationship,” said Yolanda Williams, co-director of the Women’s Ministry and assistant treasurer of the Crossing. “The kids have shared how growing up and having Ms. Walker to talk was very instrumental in their childhood.”
Every second Friday of the month, Walker also helps organize the women’s ministry meetings. She’s served as a member of the ministry’s committee for the past two years.
“We just uplift each other,” said Walker. “We have different speakers come in; we do book readings.”
When she’s not busy volunteering at her church, Walker serves on the board of directors for the South Main Mustangs, a FUN Football League varsity team that her two sons play on.
“I am always there helping to do something,” Walker said of serving on the board and as the varsity coordinator.
Walker carries her uplifting spirit into her role for the city.
“Paula has earned a reputation as a solid performer,” said Bobbie Darden, an administrative manager for ARA. “She is extremely focused and dedicated to superior service.”
Walker’s commitment to excellence shows. She was awarded 311’s Keep It Short and Simple employee award six times in 2018. The award recognizes 311 agents who score a 100 on their monthly qualitative repost, which reviews their response accuracy, listening skills, and overall professionalism.
“Her consultative approach, both with internal and external customers, coupled with a commitment to quality, are the reasons she enjoys a reputation as a true professional,” Darden said.
“There’s always a need,” said Walker of her why she volunteers. “I don’t look at it as time consuming, but just as helping someone.”