The HUG Awards: Helping Those Who Help Houston

by Julie Tereshchuk on May 4, 2016 in Living Texas, Houston,
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What do Mary Ellis and William T. Carter have in common? She is an enthusiastically dedicated  pre-K/K teacher at Houston’s Small Steps Nurturing Center. He is a supporter of Family Houston. Through its many programs and outreach services, Family Houston builds stronger families by teaching the life skills necessary to face financial, health, relationship and other critical challenges. The couple shares the distinction of being the first two winners of the monthly Houston’s Unsung Greats Awards. (Carter in January, Ellis in February.) Now they’re eligible for the annual $1,000 grant.

The efforts of the HUG Awards, and many of those who make it possible, helps enrich the lives of local children. Courtesy photo
The efforts of the HUG Awards, and many of those who make it possible, helps enrich the lives of local children. Courtesy photo

From a $100 monthly recognition grant to a $1,000 annual grant, the Houston’s Unsung Greats (HUG) Awards allow everyday people who make a positive impact on the community to continue their great work or contribute to the charity of their choice.

Read on to find out how can you nominate someone with a heart of gold for a HUG. They could be a teacher (like Mary Ellis), a community leader, a policeman, a charity worker, a foster parent, a fund raiser; anyone at all whose selfless acts deserve to be talked about, recognized and celebrated.

First, though, let’s hear from attorney Stewart J. Guss, a native Houstonian, about what inspired him to found the awards in 2015.

“All my life I’ve seen people go out of their way to make a difference in our great City of Houston and the surrounding areas.  Their dedication to their fellow Houstonians is just amazing.  While these “everyday heroes” certainly do not do what they do for any fame or glory, I truly feel that their efforts deserve to be recognized, appreciated, and encouraged.”

Guss privately funds 100% of the administration of the HUG Awards and the HUG grants with the hope that they “will encourage and inspire my fellow Houstonians to think about ways that they can serve our community and become heroes themselves.”

Houstonians make a difference in the community, and it is because of this that the HUG Awards continue to grow. Courtesy photo
Houstonians make a difference in the community, and it is because of this that the HUG Awards continue to grow. Courtesy photo

Nominating someone just means filling out a simple form. You can even include a short video about your HUG Award candidate, rather than writing about them. How easy is that?

Monthly HUG winners are entered for the annual HUG Awards. Monthly winners receive $100 and a HUG t-shirt. The annual HUG Hero receives $1000. “It’s our way of saying, ‘Thanks from Houston,’” explains Jim Davies, Project Coordinator for the HUG Awards.

This kind of grassroots project can have a major impact, so stay tuned for great things to come from this unique idea. But let’s leave the last word to HUG Award founder, Stewart Guss, as he looks to the future.

“Houston is in my heart and soul… the people are friendly, faithful, and generous,” says Guss. “For years I’ve joined my fellow Houstonians who come out in droves to volunteer after a hurricane, celebrate our heritage at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, share our triumphs and mourn our losses…  Now I hope these awards will recognize the unsung greats that make this such a wonderful place.”

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