In 1989, Reverend Leslie Smith II founded community-based non-profit Families Under Urban & Social Attack to “help people empower themselves.” He focused first on at-risk families in Houston’s Third Ward.
Since then, we’ve experienced many changes, including a 2009 re-brand to a more positive moniker, Change Happens!.
With hard work, we grew from just one program to 28 programs today. Our handful of staff grew to 80 talented professionals.
- help avert youth from a life entangled in the juvenile justice system;
- enable families to access health insurance;
- shepherd young, pregnant women into responsible parenting;
- give youngsters an option to substance abuse;
- make abstinence a matter of self-honoring;
- disrupt delinquency.
- keep children safe and engaged after school and during long summers;
- improve academic performance;
- reduce disciplinary infractions;
- teach problem-solving, learning and coping skills;
- mentor and provide role models for young people surviving households with financial, mental and emotional health challenges and drug and domestic abuse issues
Over the years, our corporate structure also changed. Today, we stand independent, proud of the shared accomplishments of our staff and program participants, empowered to move forward with intentionality.
And so it again comes time to shed a skin that has served us well, but is no longer a fit for who we are, what we cause, and the founding philosophy we live by to this day to: “help people empower themselves.” The time arrived for us to write our next chapter, beginning with a new name … Civic Heart.
You may ask, why? What’s not to like about Change Happens!?
We know so well from our work, day in and day out, is that change doesn’t just happen. At least not good change. Not meaningful change in the life of an individual or in a community.
That kind of change requires choice over chance.
That kind of change requires committed, constructive action.
Requires courage over complacency.
Requires having the heart to get to the heart of the matter.
Requires civic responsibility for the common good …. by each of us, not just a few of us.
You know, the clients we serve put their whole hearts into changing their own lives for the better. They face more obstacles than most any of us will ever encounter, yet they muster the courage. They push through the forces weighing against them. They stay in action, even when it seems no change is happening. They make change happen, and so must we. If we are on mission. If we are more than our words.
For our communities to thrive, we must each marshal the life-giving power of our hearts to have a meaningful impact in our community, one life at a time. We must put our civic hearts, our time, and our money to work. Because, only then does “change happen.”
I invite you to consider what’s possible with all our civic hearts in action.