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Inaugural BOLD Awards presented by Coca-Cola

The Houston Texans BOLD Awards presented by Coca-Cola was established to recognize Black, Outstanding Leaders and Doers making a difference throughout the Greater Houston area. With that, we are celebrating African Americans who are positively influencing our city through community engagement, business development or entrepreneurship, social equity, nonprofits (philanthropy), civil service or a rising young leader. Five winners were selected and received a $5,000 donation made in their name to a nonprofit organization of their choice. These award winners were recognized at our August 28 game.

Jennifer Prothow

Jennifer Prothow, co-owner and founder of ErmaRose Winery

Established in March 2019, Prothow introduced the Houston community to ErmaRose Winery after being encouraged by her doctor to find a hobby while battling through injuries from her time serving in the Marines.

"While I was going through therapy for injuries, my doctor told me to find a hobby and winemaking was a hobby that I landed on," said Prothow.

This hobby took a turn Prothow could not have predicted, becoming a great opportunity for her and her dad to grow closer.

"He was my sampler and my encouragement," Prothow said. "When all of my friends and family started to really love the wine, always asking for wine, my dad told me we should turn it into a business, so we took the steps, went to classes and found mentors to build ErmaRose Winery together."

With an unfortunate turn of events, Prothow's father passed very suddenly - right before their first tasting, but with family and community support, Prothow was encouraged to continue.

"My family pushed me to continue with the winery even though he wasn't here and my mom stepped in his place." Prothow said. "One of the things my dad and I always wanted to do was be mentors, job providers and give back to our community."

A few months ago, Prothow hosted a Black History Month Festival at her winery, featuring 10 black-owned businesses, three black-owned food tricks and several black entertainers with the goal of raising funds for students who might otherwise be unable to attend Houston Community College. Utilizing her platform to encourage and assist others became an easy reason as to why Prothow needed to be one of the Houston Texans inaugural BOLD award nominees with her focus on prioritizing doing great things for Houston.

"Winning the Houston Texans BOLD Awards presented by Coca-Cola means a lot." Prothow said. "It'll help our organization give out more scholarships and do more in the community. It'll also help ErmaRose Winery get our name out there. We're a young business that was hurt by COVID, and this is just another thing to help us recover and get our name out there."

ErmaRose Wine is now being sold at Houston-area H-E-B stores and was featured on MSNBC. The winery has received several awards in less than three years since premiering the first wines in 2018.

Be sure to visit ErmaRose Winery, open Wednesday-Saturday and enjoy live music, food trucks and wine. Look out for 1958, a special bourbon barrel-aged blackberry wine dedicated to Prothow's father, with 20% of the proceeds going to the family's foundation created in his name with the focus of awarding scholarships to younger generations and helping the elderly and veterans.


Kirk Jackson

Kirk Jackson, community activist and urban planner for LINK Houston

Throughout his career, Jackson has worked tirelessly to improve the health of Third Ward residents by providing access to healthy food in the community. Jackson maintained a focus on health and wellness through various endeavors in the Third Ward.

His passion first began in 2010 when the former TSU student, along with professors and other graduate students, had an idea for a vacant property on campus. With his background in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, Jackson helped Blodgett Urban Gardens, a local urban garden, blossom into a cornerstone of access to healthy food in the community.

"It was tough from the beginning but we constantly worked at building the garden and expanding it and finally became a thriving productive space that provided vegetables and fresh produce for the community," Jackson said. "That is where I found the most reward in being a part of that garden because I knew we would make a difference in the food insecurity overall in Third Ward."

A resident and voice of the Third Ward community, Jackson helped expand the access to this fresh produce by partnering with Urban Harvest to ensure SNAP benefits were accepted and other benefits programs were useable by clients. Jackson was part of a research team with Rice University that did a community assessment on Third Ward residents. Through their findings, Jackson learned that 51 percent of Third Ward households reported that they had experienced some type of food insecurity in a 30-day period.

"Right there that triggered my instincts and also they needed something that had to be done," Jackson said. "So the garden was playing an intricate part already in combatting food insecurity, however, I knew there needed to be more done to combat food insecurity in Third Ward."

During the pandemic, Jackson identified unique issues related to food accessibility and mainly, a lack of coordination among food distribution sites that resulted in mismanaged resources (both food and personnel.). Jackson founded the Third Ward Health Collaborative. He worked with leaders from various community-based organizations to create "one table" for all to gather and work towards common goals.

The person who nominated Jackson writes:

"Kirk Jackson is a pillar of the Third Ward community. He has remained rooted in Third Ward and has shown incredible dedication through getting involved in all neighborhood efforts. He is the most well-known attendee in all meetings he attends and is trusted widely by community residents. He works to lift up everyone he encounters, always ready to listen, offer input and guidance, but remains flexible and open to new ideas."

Jackson's next goal is to take his work one step further to combat food insecurities through his new non-profit, Everybody Eats.

"What Everybody Eats will do is to provide a source of food any day of the week, at any given time, for anybody who needs it," Jackson said. "It will also bring together a network of all the organizations that are involved with food, giveaways, pantries, dealing with the food insecurity issue, it will provide a network of resources so that the communication will be in place so that one church won't have a food give way at the same day and same time three blocks from another."

As a Houston Texans BOLD Award presented by Coca-Cola recipient, Jackson will receive $5,000 to use towards a non-profit of his choice. His will be Everybody Eats. Jackson calls it "a miracle," being able to kick start Everybody Eats to help Third Ward residents reach food independence.

"Everybody Eats will definitely benefit from having a $5,000 foundation to work with," Jackson said. "Of course, we'll be writing other grants, find another benefactor, donors and monitor resources but this is a great start and great beginning for the organization."

To learn more about Jackson's work, visit The Third Ward Health Collaborative.


Mary Young

Mary Young, first female Chief of Police at Texas Southern University

Mary Young is a difference-maker, in a few profound ways, but instead of patting herself on the back, she's looking to pay it forward for those who might someday follow in her footsteps.

After spending more than two decades in law enforcement with the Houston Police Department, Young became the first female Chief of Police at Texas Southern University.

That's her day job and it's an impressive one, but she's a Houston Texans B.O.L.D. Award-winner because of her involvement with the Santana Dotson Foundation, as well as with the Pretty Girls Rock Organization.

The Santana Dotson Foundation provides financial and emotional support for challenged -- yet deserving – high school students, so they can get a college education. The Pretty Girls Rock Organization is all about reinforcing positive self-esteem in girls and women.

"Those two organizations are extremely instrumental in the community," Young said. "The Santana Dotson Foundation has been a part of my journey to helping the community for the past twenty-three years. We do Thanksgiving, turkey giveaways, we do Christmas giveaways, shop with a cop/shop with a jock, we go to the back-to-school event."

Young also treasures her time and enjoys the help she provides with the Pretty Girls Rock Organization and is adamant about the "idea" of beauty.

"We let everybody know that you are truly and genuinely pretty," Young said. "And pretty is just a word. It's the behavior, it's the work that you do, it's the things that you say, it's everything that makes you pretty. So don't ever let anybody tell you that you're not pretty because you're pretty enough to be the best."

Young took over as the TSU Chief of Police in 2017 and she wants to see other deserving women succeed her, as well as succeed in other leadership roles across society.

"I don't want to stay the first," Young said. "I want to make certain that I am paving the way for others behind me, those that are around me, that I am being that voice of reason and I am being that person that people can say I looked up to her because this is what she did for others. So, that's what this award means to me. I want to make certain that I bring others along the way."


Dr. Stephanie Bluth

Dr. Stephanie Bluth, director of graduate student services at Sam Houston State University

Labeling Dr. Bluth's title as just a director is a true disservice considering her huge role with the Montgomery County Women's Center.

Along with her responsibilities at Sam Houston - working directly with students, clinical adjuncts, Victim Services Management programs and the College of Criminal Justice System - Dr. Bluth trains advocates and community coordinators, teaches and serves on the board of directors for the Montgomery County Women's Center.

"It's really about community all the way around: community on campus, community in my classes and community on the board," said Dr. Bluth.

The community building blocks received speaks volumes to Dr. Bluth's character, as someone who has experienced and benefitted directly from the Montgomery County Women's Center resources.

"The services I received helped give me everything I needed, the building blocks to go forward," Dr. Bluth said. "I already had a lot of educational background. I already had a Master's Degree. I already had advocacy experience within the system, but I didn't have the direction I wanted to stay until I received services myself. It gave me a path."

"I've done all of those things through the Women's Center, which is why I'm so passionate about giving back, but I also know that where I came from added to what I learned. I had to see it from the outside to best serve the community and what the community needs."

The Montgomery County Women's Center provides a safe refuge to survivors of domestic violence, from legal assistance to emotional support and everything above, below and in between. Dr. Bluth experienced her own victimization with her ex-husband as well as the flawed system that doesn't understand the true devastation and destruction that comes with experiencing domestic violence.

From her anonymous nomination, the person explained: "[Dr. Bluth] uses her personal experience to advocate for other victims. All too often, victims are silenced by an equally abusive system that doesn't understand this preventable public health crisis. Her passion is giving a voice to the voiceless."

Receiving the news about Dr. Bluth's recognition with the Houston Texans BOLD Awards presented by Coca-Cola was an empowering and important moment for her.

"Being recognized with the Houston Texans BOLD Awards presented by Coca-Cola was life-changing," Dr. Bluth said. "What it will do, I believe, is keep me moving and keep me going on those tired days. It says to keep going, keep providing services the community needs, and that the community is benefitting from me being here."

With the award recognition, winners receive a $5,000 donation to a nonprofit organization of their choice, with Dr. Bluth's being the Montgomery County Women's Center.

"This money and this award for the agency will help shelter women, provide more hours of volunteerism for our hotline. It's going to provide the opportunity for one more service to provide to a victim. It's going to sponsor more hours of staff on face-to-face services, so I really want to thank the Houston Texans and Coca-Cola for this opportunity to give back to women and children coming through our doors and give us the opportunity to do even more for our community."

To learn more about the Montgomery County Women's Center, click here.


Kameryn Sampson

BOLD Award winner Kameryn Sampson is Program Coordinator for Girls Empowerment Network, a Houston-area nonprofit organization.

Nominated as a rising young leader, Sampson is a fierce advocate for girls with Girls Empowerment Network who also assists with volunteer management, speaking engagements, donor site visits and fundraising projects. On her own, she has raised over $5,000 through her speaking engagements and tapping into her personal network for support which has translated to approximately 140 hours of services for girls.

Sampson has contributed to mobilizing nearly $200,000 through her assistance with relationship-building with foundations, the United Way Education collaborative, and corporate sponsors. Because of her relationship with the United Way of Houston, Sampson's agency was eligible to submit the largest grant request for Houston-based services in agency history. This $900,000+ ask would radically transform services with the potential to reach over 1,000 girls impacted annually in the greater Houston community.

According to the anonymous person who nominated her, Sampson is an integral part of her organization who leads with her heart and her passion for helping girls.

"Kameryn has had many accomplishments, which show that she is an all-around super-star at our organization, who brings our mission to life with girls, who mobilizes the community's support, who authentically connects with everyone she meets and who lives our mission daily as a role model to both our girls and her own daughter, Adriana. To have watched Kameryn work full-time, finish her master's program, and become a new mother all in the span of one year was a testament to her work ethic, passion, professionalism and exemplifying excellence."

At just 25 years old, Sampson is described as "a powerhouse in the girls' service world in Houston" and very deserving of recognition of her contributions.

"Because so much of her current reach and influence is currently on the adolescent girls she works with directly, it could be said that she is somewhat flying under the radar compared to someone who has a large media presence or a prominent platform. We have nominated Kameryn for a BOLD award because we want her to receive the visibility and recognition she deserves in the community, as she has helped so many girls believe in their own power."

As a Houston Texans BOLD Award recipient, Sampson will receive $5,000 for a nonprofit of her choice.

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