Members of the Fort Bend County Chapter of the Links, Inc. have put the world on notice that not even a global pandemic can stop them from providing life-changing community service via efforts geared at a variety of big issues.

“We’re committed to delivering impactful, sustainable and transformational programs within our community,” said Debbie Hutchinson, the organization’s second vice president of programs. “We definitely [provide] service with our heart in the name of sisterly kinship, and we take pride in serving our communities with excellence and grace, as well as ensuring that our programs strengthen our friendship.”

Some of those service programs enacted during the organization’s fiscal year 2012-22 include mobile mammography screenings, fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk, webinars educating participants on voting rights and deadlines for voter registration, donating nearly 400 books to Missouri City’s Glover Elementary in recognition of National Literacy Month and more.

According to Hutchinson, the Links’ programs are not one-offs, but rather exhibit an ongoing commitment beyond any one activity. Regarding the mobile mammography screenings Hutchinson added, “A fundraiser for $5,000 was launched in October 2021 to continue providing breast care services including biopsies within Fort Bend.”

The organization’s president, Dr. Nicole McZeal Walter, provided more insight into Links’ service efforts.

“We have an umbrella project that relates to the Emerald Family Academy, where we support families in the Fort Bend area,” said Walters. “We have a wonderful partnership with the Fort Bend County Sheriff, Eric Fagan, including a school supply drive. And just recently, we did a collaboration with the Women’s Center of Fort Bend to collect toiletries and gently used clothing for their clients.”

But that’s not all.

“We’ve also wanted to get involved with the legislative process and we hosted a few state legislators to support voting rights and other legislative actions that have been impacting our community,” she added.

When asked which of the organization’s projects elicited the most powerful reaction, both Hutchinson and Walter concurred that it has been their four years of work to bring awareness to the issue of human sex trafficking.

“Fort Bend County is a thoroughfare for human sex traffickers coming into the city. Even though Houston is big, you hear a lot of the things that come out in the news centering around Fort Bend County. So that was really one of the instrumental programs we had last year,” said Hutchinson, who added that after the program, scores of youth told her, ‘Wow, the person being trafficked could have been me.'”

Walters remembers the specific testimony of one of the event’s panelists.

“We had a young lady who was actually a survivor of human trafficking and she said that she was so delighted and really quite overwhelmed. She was choked up that she was able to share her story so that hopefully others would be impacted, that others had not asked her for her story.

“And as a young woman who had been trafficked for about six or seven years, she fled and survived. So, she was really overcome with saying, ‘I want more organizations to give us a platform to talk about our stories and to put a picture and a face to what human trafficking is. Thank you for giving me a platform, a safe space to share my story.’”

To learn more about the story of service by the Fort Bend County Links, and to learn of new initiatives, visit www.fortbendcountylinksinc.org.