There was a line around the corner on the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 20, for the Mission Milby Sunrise Center’s Family Winter Fest. Doors opened to a hall of holiday fun and resources for community members in need.
Families arrived with children of all ages in tow to enjoy festive activities like holiday face painting, a balloon animal station, and holiday card decorating. Community partners came to offer information and support the event, including the Houston Dynamo, Houston Community College, and the National Financial Literacy Campaign. Harris County Public Health was also present to provide no-cost immunizations.
“We’re here to provide some fresh holiday feelings for the families and the communities that we serve,” said Sunrise Centers Operations Coordinator Prentiss L. Collins Jr. “Mission Milby was one of the first Sunrise Centers that we opened up, and people have really poured in here needing the resources and services that we’re here to offer, and what’s a better time to show our love as a district to our families and our students? We’re here to give them peace of mind that we’re here to support them and serve them throughout the holiday season.”
The biggest draw to the Mission Milby Winter Fest was a turkey giveaway that gave community members in the area, which is a food desert, the opportunity to have a festive holiday dinner at no cost. According to the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, more than 500,000 Houston residents live in food deserts, and the Sunrise Centers aim to help Mission Milby combat this inequity by adding HISD resources and partnerships to the center’s arsenal.
“This is a predominantly Hispanic and non-English-speaking community, and they feel comfortable coming to Mission Milby because we’ve been here since 2002,” said Maria Aguilar, Executive Director of Mission Milby and former Assistant Principal of Milby High School. “Now that we have the Sunrise Center, they’re able to access more of the resources that we weren’t able to provide before.”
Mission Milby is a staple in the community, providing ESL classes, aerobics classes, counseling services, and after school tutoring programs as well as access to resources such as Justice for All Immigrants, which offers immigration legal services and advocacy to low-income families in need. With the added support of HISD’s Sunrise Center initiative, Mission Milby continues to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding Milby High School.