One year after a harrowing near death experience, Janice Weaver held her first blood drive.
“I thought that it was the right thing to do and pay it forward,” said Weaver, director of community relations for the Mayor’s Office.
Weaver, who was diagnosed with a rare blood disease in 2013, spent nine months in isolation and received 500 units of plasma to help save her life.
The experience fuels her passion for giving back to people who might find themselves in need of blood transfusions, she said. Through her nonprofit, One Body Networking, she organizes annual blood drives with community partners.
“I want to raise awareness and educate people,” Weaver said.
To date, her blood drives have saved more than 1,000 lives.
Weaver’s nonprofit recently partnered with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, Kroger, the Houston Police Department, the city’s Solid Waste Department, and the Houston Health Department to hold a blood drive and job fair at the Green House International Church.
Weaver said the blood drive also featured a job fair, with Kroger and SWD conducting onsite interviews and hiring, and HHD offering free COVID-19 testing and free COVID-19 vaccinations.
“It's always rewarding to … give back,” Weaver said. “Whether it’s through our school, churches or communities.”
Weaver also volunteers her time to KTSU radio station’s Fall Telethon, helping to raise funds for the community radio station that operates on the campus of Texas Southern University, a Historic Black College and University located in Houston.
Weaver said her nonprofit began awarding scholarships this year to college bound teens in need.
“Individuals who could not give blood decided they wanted to donate,” Weaver said. “The donations have resulted in being able to give 10 $500 scholarships.”
Weaver joined the city seven years ago, but she is no stranger to public service. She spent more than a decade working in the government and nonprofit sectors before lending her talents to the city.
Weaver said she developed her passion for service from her Catholic upbringing and her uncle, who spent a lot volunteering in the community and taking food to those in need.
Her strong connections to faith-based organizations have helped her pave a way to help Houstonians in her role for the city during the pandemic.
“In the community, Janice is a passionate advocate, who keeps the pulse of the faith-based community,” said Marvalette Hunter, the mayor’s chief of staff.
“Now that vaccinations are part of our messaging to end the pandemic, Janice has worked with the HHD and local churches to coordinate vaccination clinics. Thousands of people have been vaccinated due to her tenacity and commitment to protecting people in our community,” Hunter said.
Hunter said Weaver is also a key member of the Health Equity Response (H.E.R.) Initiative and Task Force, a component of Houston's COVID-19 response and recovery launched by the Mayor to support vulnerable and at-risk populations.
“Late last year, she coordinated the efforts of the Faith & Community Leaders Subcommittee, which provided reopening best practices for sanctuaries and faith-based organizations in the midst of COVID-19,” Hunter said. “Janice is a committed public servant, who is compassionate and dependable.”
“Being a humanitarian is life reward,” Weaver said.