Third Ward Community Cloth gears up for 30th anniversary, future service
Sylvia Brooks, Pastor Marilyn White, U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Theola Petteway. Photo by Aswad Walker.

The Third Ward Community Cloth Cooperative (Cloth), an “organization of organizations” focused on resources for children and families in the greater Third Ward area, is not only celebrating 30 years of service, but preparing for the next 30 years.

Starting with 16 organizations in 1992, the Cloth has grown to over 325 community-based organizations, churches, schools and businesses serving one of Houston’s oldest neighborhoods. The Cloth is a direct outgrowth of two community initiatives: SHAPE Community Center’s Project Harambee implemented in 1990, and Houston Area Urban League’s Coffee and Conversation organized in 1992.

“There were several Third Ward organizations providing overlapping services and vying for grant funding from the same sources, thus creating the possibility of none of the organizations getting funded,” said Theola Petteway, a member of the Cloth’s leadership team. “To address this, Sylvia Brooks, the force behind the Cloth’s founding, gathered those founding organizations in an effort to work together to more efficiently serve our constituents.”

“The mission of the Cloth is to identify, mobilize, as well as coordinate resources that would effect children, youth and entire families, their bodies, souls and minds, in the Third Ward area,” said Marilyn White, pastor of Trinity East United Methodist Church, a Cloth member organization.

“The Cloth serves organizations that serve families and children in the Third Ward area,” said Gayle Munirah Waden, a member of the Cloth’s leadership team. “We support those groups through capacity-building workshops and monthly meetings where people can come together and network and talk about any specific programming or grant opportunities that come available.”

“Our motto is ‘There is strength in unity’ and that we can do more together when each of our organizations bring what we have to the table,” said White.

Third Ward Community Cloth gears up for 30th anniversary, future service

During a recent luncheon, the Cloth kicked off its fundraising efforts for its anniversary celebration and plans for program expansion.

“Our 30th Anniversary celebration will be on Oct. 28,” said White. “One of the exciting things we plan to do is secure our first permanent location at One Emancipation Center, right across the street from Emancipation Park.”

White said, because the Cloth has been made up of volunteers, having a permanent space was difficult. However, the move into their own office space will open up new possibilities.

“We’re excited about our plans to add permanent staff so we can do more, like increase capacity-building for our organizations, provide training and do more to help our member organizations. We not only have large organizations but also small organizations that maybe can’t afford their own office space. So, there will be a shared suite where they will share office space and have a place to conduct their business,” said White.

Waden said the Cloth also plans to expand its existing internship program and partnership with the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work.

To make these things happen, the Cloth has a six-month fundraising goal of $200,000 to fund these endeavors.

“We’re looking for people who support the vision and mission of the Cloth to donate and help make this possible so that collectively we can bless our community,” said White.

Attendees at the Cloth’s recent luncheon included U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (honoree), George Baugh (honoree), Diane Iglehart (honoree), Michelle Barnes (Community Artists Collective), Deloyd Parker (SHAPE), Georgia Provost, Algenita Scott Davis, Judge Zinneta Burney, Sheila Savannah, Bishop Frank Rush, Naomi Carrier, Maia Shelby, Ken and Dolores Rodgers, Jolanda Jones, Helen Stagg (Change Happens), Rev. Leslie Smith (founder, Change Happens CDC), Nikki Dupard (YWCA Houston), Byron Parker and more.

The honorary chairs for the Oct. 28 anniversary celebration are Karen White (Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Frost Bank) and Judson Robinson III (director, Houston Area Urban League).

MORE ON THE CLOTH

The Third Ward Community Fund Management Corporation (TWCFMC) was created in 1995 to support Cloth Members. Here are the Core Values of the TWCFMC:

  • CAPACITY-BUILDING: Strengthen the economic sustainability and stabilization of The Cloth nonprofit and our community partners, with knowledge and skills, expanding their capacities to meet the needs of children, youth and families in the Greater Third Ward area.
  • UNITY: Strengthening existing connections between our coalition of Cloth members to increase partnership and cooperation, based on a foundation of trust, transparency, and synergy.
  • RESOURCES: Enhance the information sharing of resources amongst Cloth members that help address current community issues and the needs of residents in the Third Ward.
  • SHARED PROSPERITY: Increasing the operational capacity of the Cloth by recruiting full- time staff and Cloth leadership within the threads who can help improve the quality and volume of services provided to support the economic sustainability and stabilization of Cloth members.

FOUNDING MEMBERS

  • PABA
  • Pilgrim Congregational Church
  • Riverside General Hospital 
  • Riverside Public Health Center
  • Sew Much Fabric
  • SHAPE Community Center
  • South Central YMCA
  • University of Houston-African American Studies
  • Access Health
  • Communities in Schools at Yates
  • Community Artists’ Collective
  • FUUSA (now Change Happens)
  • Houston Area Urban League
  • MLK, Jr. Community Center
  • Operation Smart
  • Over the Hill, Inc.