Photo by Patrice Alsteen
In Harris County alone, there are approximately 28,520 non profit organizations that serve many purposes, all of which aim to improve quality of life for everyone. From animal welfare to education, these non profit organizations work tirelessly to achieve their missions. Fortunately, Houston is also home to a number of non profit organizations whose objective is to conserve the environment and protect natural areas that are at risk. Read below to learn about a few of these organizations in Houston and how they are helping to improve our environment and the quality of life for humans and animals alike.
The Houston Food Bank is a non profit organization that helps provide food to hunger relief charities by collecting food items from different food sources, including grocery stores and other food retailers, farmers, distributors and from the generous donations of individuals. They will then warehouse, sort, pack and redistribute this food to charities that will pass it on to those who are in need. Food industry sources such as grocery stores, will have thousands of pounds of food that if not donated, would be thrown out and end up in our landfills. Every year, the Houston Food Bank provides fresh produce, dairy products, fresh meat, various other frozen products, canned fruits, canned vegetable, pasta, fruit juices, peanut butter and many other types of food to approximately 800,000 people.
Although environmental conservation may not come to mind when you think of a food bank, these non profit organizations, like the Houston Food Bank, do have a great impact on the earth and our environment. Not only do these organizations help those who are in need of food, they also minimize food waste and help to keep food that is safe for human consumption out of our landfills. As food decomposes in landfills, it produces methane gas. This gas is considered to be a greenhouse gas that will harm our earth’s ozone layer. When the ozone layer is damaged, the threat of global warming and other climate disasters become greater.
If you are in need of food assistance, you can contact the Houston Food Bank Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 9 PM, Saturday from 7 AM to 4 PM and Sunday from 9 AM to 12 PM at 832-369-9390. A Houston Food Bank associate will help you to identify a hunger relief partner that serves your area. If you would like to donate to the Houston Food Bank, you can drop off smaller food donations at the Houston Food Bank lobby Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 9 PM, Saturday from 7 AM to 4 PM and Sunday from 9 AM to 12 PM. Food donations made by individuals must be non perishable. If you have a large food donation, these can be received through the Houston Food Bank warehouse Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM. Before dropping off a large scale food donation, please call 713-547-8643
The Houston Food Bank
535 Portwall St.
Houston, TX 77029
2. Air Alliance Houston
Air Alliance Houston is a non profit organization that for twenty five years has been fighting for clean air in order to protect the health of the people of Houston and all over the world. This organization believes that clean air is a right held by all humans and through research, education and advocacy, Air Alliance Houston is working to protect this right. Specifically, Air Alliance Houston thoroughly researches changes in air quality and how to improve negative changes so that they can better understand the impact of air quality on public health. They then educate the public about the state of Houston’s air quality and provide communities with the tools necessary to fight for clean air. Air Alliance Houston works with these communities, advocacy groups, policy makers and the media to inspire policies that will improve air quality and in turn, improve quality of life for everyone.
Air Alliance Houston’s primary goal as they work together to improve air quality is to protect public health and to achieve a healthier future for all. Because Houston is home to the United States’ largest petrochemical hub, millions of pounds of pollution are released into the air each year by way of these facilities. Heavy traffic is another source of air pollution in Houston. Unfortunately, Houston has never met the national air quality standard for ozone levels, as major chemical incidents happen frequently and industries rarely get reprimanded for illegally releasing pollutants into the air. This air pollution and its resulting poor air quality put many people at risk for health complications. Asthma attacks, heart attacks, cancer and the risk of other illnesses increase when air quality is poor. The most vulnerable members of our population, including children and the elderly, are especially sensitive to the affects of air pollution. If you would like to make a donation to Air Alliance Houston, please click here.
3. Houston SPCA
The Houston SPCA has been providing care and service to animals in need since 1924. This private non profit organization was the first and largest animal welfare organization in Houston and is committed to keeping animals safe from abuse and exploitation. Not only do they provide care to domestic animals, but they also protect and rescue horses, farm animals, and native wildlife. The Houston SPCA offers a variety of services and programs to the Houston community including sheltering and rehoming animals, a 24 hour injured animal rescue ambulance, animal cruelty investigations, programs for children, educational programs, community outreach and disaster relief. They also help to find loving homes for animals in their care whether through adoption partners or in animal sanctuaries. In 2018 alone, the Houston SPCA cared for 45,000 animals, investigated 6,000 cases of animal cruelty, provided 6,500 lifesaving surgeries and procedures, rescued 2,400 animals using their emergency ambulance, adopted 6,500 animals into new homes and reached over 200,000 people through their Humane Education programs.
The Houston SPCA receives no government funding or help from other animal organizations. They rely solely on generous donations from businesses, grants and individuals. If you would like to become involved with this organization, you can volunteer, donate, adopt or foster an animal. To donate to the Houston SPCA, please click here and to learn more about how you can become a volunteer or foster an animal, please click here.
4. Galveston Bay Foundation
The Galveston Bay Foundation, or GBF, is a dedicated non profit organization whose mission is to keep Galveston Bay healthy and productive so that it can be enjoyed by future generations to come. This organization was founded in 1987 and addresses an array of issues related to Galveston Bay. The Board of Directors of Galveston Bay Foundation include those who represent sport and commercial fishing groups, government agencies, recreational users, environmental groups, shipping, development, and business interests. Through various programs, Galveston Bay Foundation serves to preserve and protect Galveston Bay while also educating others about the importance of keeping this area healthy and flourishing.
Galveston Bay Foundation’s advocacy programs allow this organization to guard Galveston Bay by reviewing a wide variety of projects that might affect the bay and to seek solutions to disputes among the many diverse groups who actively use Galveston Bay. Through their advocacy, Galveston Bay Foundation has successfully helped to pass state and federal legislation that will protect Galveston Bay, including the Texas Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act, the Texas Estuaries Act, the Texas Coastal Management Program and the Federal Clean Waters and Estuary Restoration Act of 2000.
In the past fifty years, Galveston Bay has lost more than 35,000 acres of wetlands. The conservation programs supported by Galveston Bay Foundation work to preserve and restore the wetlands in this area. The wetlands present in Galveston Bay are home to a number of wildlife, including finish and shellfish and also provide foraging areas for wild birds. In addition to its importance for wildlife, these wetlands also filter water and naturally improve the water quality for surrounding areas. Because Galveston Bay is often used for industrial purposes, it is crucial that these wetlands remain in tact to help keep the water healthy, clean and safe from potential pollution caused by these industrial endeavors. The wetlands of Galveston Bay also help to control flooding which is especially important to the city of Houston and its inhabitants.
The education initiatives of Galveston Bay Foundation aim to create a well informed public, from young children to public officials and policy makers. These education programs use scientific environmental evidence to inform the citizenry about the ways in which a flourishing and robust Galveston Bay can improve the quality of life for the entire Houston and Galveston communities. Some education programs offered by the Galveston Bay Foundation are the youth focused program “Bay Ambassadors” and the school based marsh grass nursery program “Get Hip to Habitat.” The Galveston Bay Foundation also hosts the annual “Bike Around the Bay” event which allows participants to view Galveston Bay’s natural beauty while also striving to encourage citizens to preserve the bay and appreciate its importance to Galveston and the surrounding areas.
Finally, Galveston Bay Foundation research programs keep track of the quality of the wetlands, restored habitats and the quality of water that is close to the shores of Galveston Bay. This organization also manages research on the population of bottlenose dolphins in Galveston Bay. If you are interested in helping to conserve Galveston Bay and would like to get involved with the Galveston Bay Foundation, please click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities.
5. Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition
The Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition, or TWRC, provides services for native and non-native Texas wildlife that are found in Houston and surrounding areas. This organization specializes in the care of small mammals, migratory songbirds, small raptors and reptiles. The goal of the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition is to rehabilitate the animals in its care. After successful rehabilitation, these animals will be released back into the wild.
At the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition, care for wildlife can be provided in two different ways. The first way in which this organization provides animal care is through in home rehabilitation. This type of care is carried out by permitted rehabilitators who have extensive knowledge of and experience with a particular species of animal. The Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition’s on site Animal Care Program is the second way in which this organization delivers care to at risk wildlife. Animals that are still in the neonatal stage or that need critical or long term care will usually be placed into an in home rehabilitation setting. The Animal Care Program offers care for lower risk animals and gives members of the community a chance to get involved with the care and rehabilitation of wildlife through volunteer opportunities.
This organization holds four core values, each of which reflects their care and concern for vulnerable wildlife. The Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition’s first core value is compassion which allows them to appreciate and believe in the dignity and worth of all living beings, including wildlife. Their second core value is stewardship. This value inspires the organization to help the public see the significance of conservation and how protecting and rehabilitating native Texas wildlife is beneficial for all. The third core value that the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition holds is commitment. This value reflects the dedication that this organization has to working together as a community to fulfill their mission of wildlife rehabilitation. Each member of the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition community is encouraged to challenge and inspire one another become the best caregivers and professionals in their field. The final core value of this organization is leadership. The members of this organization aspire to create future leaders in this field through their work with organizations including Boy and Girl Scouts as well as local universities and colleges. To learn more about how you can become involved with the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition as a volunteer, please click here.