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Houstonians can help their community amid COVID-19 on a virtual 'day of action'

Help out your fellow Houstonian on this Day of Action on Friday, June 26. Getty Images

The renewed spread of COVID-19 and its adverse effects on individuals and communities has sparked a desire in many to give back. But just how to do so has been confounding in this era of social distancing.

To the rescue comes the United Way of Greater Houston, which is hosting a virtual "Day of Action" volunteer event to support those in need. Those who participate in the Friday, June 26, event can complete volunteer projects from the comfort of their home at little to no cost, according to a press release.

All participants will receive a project guide prior to the event with details for each project and can join a kickoff webinar on the morning of June 26.

Volunteer projects fall into the following categories:

Disaster response
Notes of encouragement for essential workers; hurricane preparedness kits; and care cards for seniors or families living in shelters.

Basic needs
Assembly of breakfast bags for homebound senior citizens or snack packs for students who rely on school resources for meals; activity kits to keep seniors engaged and busy while remaining isolated due to COVID-19.

Summer learning
Assembly of family game kits and summer activity kits to keep families and children beat boredom and stay mentally engaged during time off from school; donation of books and design of a printable bookmark for each donated book.

To view available projects and register, visit the Day of Action site.

When the projects are completed, participants are asked to deliver the finished item to a suggested nonprofit organization in their community by July 3.

"Now more than ever, families and individuals in our region need support as they face the unknown due to COVID-19," said Emily Faron, manager at United Way of Greater Houston, in a statement. "The Day of Action is a great way to not only give back to those in need, but understand what United way does year-round to support our community's most vulnerable."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

As of this week, Lara Cottingham is the chief of staff at Greentown Labs. Photo via LinkedIn

The country's largest climatetech startup incubator has made a strategic new hire.

Lara Cottingham is the new chief of staff for Greentown Labs, a Boston-area company that opened in Houston earlier this year. Cottingham previously served as the city of Houston's chief sustainability officer and the chief of staff for the city's Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department for the past seven years. In her new role, Cottingham will oversee the day-to-day operations and communications for Greentown's CEO Emily Reichert, along with key stakeholder engagements and strategic initiatives for the incubator.

"Lara brings a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience to our team from her dynamic leadership role at the City of Houston," says Reichert in a news release. "Her breadth of knowledge in sustainability, climate, and the energy transition, and her expertise in regulatory and stakeholder aspects of the energy industry, will be incredibly valuable to our team and community."

Under her leadership at the city of Houston, Cottingham was the chief author of Houston's Climate Action Plan, an initiative aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Houston, and getting the city to a point where it meets the Paris Agreement goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Cottingham helped the city move to 100 percent renewable electricity, according to the release, and helped turn a 240-acre landfill into the nation's largest urban solar farm.

"In leading the Climate Action Plan, Lara helped spark Houston's leadership in what has become a global energy transition and was a passionate advocate for climate action in Houston," says Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in the release. "While she will be missed, this new role will only strengthen our partnership with Greentown. I look forward to working with Emily, Lara, and the Greentown team to meet our climate goals and make Houston the energy capital of the future."

Before her work at the city, Cottingham worked at Hill+Knowlton Strategies' Houston office range of clients across the energy sector. Earlier in her career, she served as communications director for two congressmen in the U.S. House of Representatives. She began her work with the city in 2014.

"In working with Mayor Turner and Climate Mayors across the U.S., I saw how important partnerships are to helping cities decarbonize," says Cottingham in the release. "There is no better partner or place for climate action at work than Greentown Labs. Greentown is 100 percent committed to attracting and nurturing the energy companies of the future and making Houston the energy transition capital of the world. I'm excited to join the team and see how climatetech can help cities reach their climate goals."

Greentown Labs first announced its entrance into the Houston market last summer. The new 40,000-square-foot facility in Midtown across the street from The Ion opened its prototyping and wet lab space, offices, and community gathering areas for about 50 startup companies opened in April. Greentown was founded in 2011 in Somerville, Massachusetts, and has supported more than 400 startups, which have raised more than $1.5 billion in funding.

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