One in six kids in Virginia struggles with hunger. During the summer, kids who rely on school-provided meals may not have access to food during the day. That’s why, at Friendship Court, where all kids qualify for free and reduced lunch programs at school, we’re providing breakfast, lunch and a snack to residents aged two to 18. In addition, thanks to the generosity, of Myrtle Houchens, a community leader and former Friendship Court resident, for three weeks of the summer, an evening meal is available Monday through Thursday. For several years, Ms. Houchens has been preparing meals during a portion of the summer to help bridge the gap for nutritious meals during the summer. We are grateful for Ms. Houchens’ commitment and dedication to the children in Friendship Court and for the resources given by Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
“Growing kids are always hungry,” said Claudette Grant, Friendship Court community organizer. It’s great to be able to provide programs at the community center to keep them busy and the nutritious meals keep them fueled.
Resources for some of the meals are provided through USDA and the Virginia Department of Health, along with generous donations from our local community. Your donation can help fill the gap so no kid goes hungry during the summer, or at any time during the school year. Give today, and help us feed the kids of Friendship Court.
Myrtle Houchens, a former resident of Friendship Court, is a member of Friendship Court’s redevelopment advisory committee, which was formed in February 2016. The committee will provide guidance to the Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life.
You could say that Myrtle wrote the book on community life at Friendship Court, as the driving force behind establishing the neighborhood’s community center. “It wasn’t just housing,” she says of her 22 years living at Friendship Court (then called Garrett Square), “it was home.” Although she hasn’t lived there for almost a decade, and both of her own children have grown up and graduated from college, Myrtle faithfully returns to “her” Friendship Court community center for several weeks each summer to run a kids’ cafe, providing nightly dinners for the neighborhood’s children.
As a single mother, Myrtle originally moved to the neighborhood from Louisa County in the 1970s to be closer to UVA Medical Center, because her son required regular visits to the hospital. For the past 29 years, Myrtle has worked for Charlottesville schools and parks and recreation, as an instructional assistant (first at Clark Elementary School and now at Venable), and in neighborhood community centers. For her unwavering commitment to others, Myrtle was named one of the Daily Progress’s “distinguished dozen” in 2009. In the paper’s profile, it was noted that “[s]aying ‘no’ just doesn’t seem to be part of Myrtle Houchens’ vocabulary.” The advisory committee is so fortunate that this dynamic and inspiring community advocate has said “yes” to providing leadership in the neighborhood’s redevelopment efforts.