Dedicated, passionate, and caring are just a few words to describe the beautiful Helen George, an advocate who has made her impact on society. Born in Keatchie, Louisiana on December 4, 1940, just 35 miles outside of Shreveport, she attended an elementary school called Mission Point and described some of her experiences from having to use the outhouse for a bathroom, and the food that she and her classmates took in. She stayed in Louisiana until the third grade, and then her mom took a job in Houston where she would spend the rest of her childhood. A young Helen did not want to leave Louisiana, but her mom said, “children go with their parents.”
In Houston, she attended Bruce Elementary and then went to E.O. Smith Junior High School. Everything was going well until one day she took out the trash to burn it and accidentally got caught in the flames. A 13-year-old Helen was rushed to Hermann Hospital where she was put in a coma to help her recover. She suffered extensive burns over her body, all of which had to be reconstructed. She missed a year of school because of it and fought hard to get back to being her strong and independent self.
After she recovered, she returned to school at E.O. Smith, and then attended Wheatley High School. After graduation, she enrolled at Texas Southern University (TSU) where she became involved with different programs and activities. While at TSU, she started working at Methodist Hospital in the food service department where she made 75 cents an hour. With hard work, she was granted a raise, which took her pay to one dollar an hour. Helen was determined to get a better life as that is what her parents instilled in her and her siblings. She graduated from TSU with a major in history and a minor in psychology. Her journey then took her to education where she became a Head Start teacher. She also became a counselor and then moved to administration and was head of the program where she supervised different individuals.
In 1983, Helen received a great opportunity and was recruited by the Texas Department of Community Affairs Office of the governor in Austin, Texas, and took the role of an Executive Assistant. While in this role, she was able to learn, grow, and travel all over the United States where she was able to learn about different programs and work with many different people.
In addition, she was selected to the board of KLBJ, a radio station which was owned by Lady Bird Johnson, and had a role in the development and creation of Women in the Public Sector State Agency Liaison Group, which helped give women in state agencies the chance to move up in administrative positions.
The Women in the Public Sector came to Helen because of her attending the manager’s program with the State of Texas and talking to the head of the department. When she would go out and represent her state director, she found very few women in these meetings. “I proposed a problem to be solved when I was mandated to go to the state’s manager’s training program by working with the head of that program, asking why there weren’t more women in upward management positions like me? From which came the question as to what I would do to look at that situation?”
That’s when Helen recommended to the head of the Top State Managers Training program she would get with the University of Texas School of Social Work to conduct a study to find out where women were in state government, and form a year committee with a representative from those state agencies to look at how the agencies improved within a year, and recognize them for having done so.
In 1987, she made her return to Houston and started a new role as Unit Manager in the Houston Office of the Texas Attorney General, where she played an integral part in launching a campaign for enforcing child support in Texas. In 1989, Helen became the regional director of the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) in Houston, where she became a big advocate for our youth. Helen would advocate and fight for the children that may have been neglected or forgotten about and would give her best to help them succeed. She attended important town hall and community meetings on behalf of TYC and spoke about their programs and the importance of volunteering. Helen truly believed that with the right resources, volunteers, and time, juvenile restoration is possible. She has always looked out for our youth and has done everything in her power to make sure the youth had everything they needed, and that they were exposed to positive things. At the end of the day, Helen has always believed that every young person has a chance for a better life, a better future. “My time at TYC was the most wonderful time I could have spent in helping families and children, being able to turn their lives around from having themselves classified as juvenile defenders, until getting positive reinforcement such as going to school and becoming citizens recognized in a positive way.”
Helen has dedicated her life to helping others and has excelled beyond measure. Over the years, she has been a part of various organizations including the Houston Business Procurement Professional Club and The March of Dimes. Because of this, she has won many awards and has been recognized by many all over including the Texas State Agency Council Outstanding Women in Texas Government. She has also received an NAACP Award for Excellence, Anheuser-Busch Award of Excellence, Texas Statewide Award for Community Service presented by Governor George W. Bush and others, just to name a few.
When reflecting over all the amazing work and impact Helen has made in the world she said, “I was able to help make changes in the world, not only in making people recognize that there were better ways to develop, but it also gave me a personal feeling of satisfaction to which I was able to continue my life as I do today. Subsequently, I still spend time, energy, and effort still on helping to improve the quality of life for all those individuals, including myself.”
Even though Helen isn’t working, she is still making great changes within her community. She does work with her church, and in education, and she was just recently called by the former director of the City of Houston TV station to serve on a committee. It’s one of the many committees she’s involved with.
Helen has also made it a goal to help others make changes in their lives. “What I have to give to others is the knowledge that I have acquired…support and even get people in their lives that they can utilize and make the change. By putting them in touch with people throughout the state of Texas, Houston as well, and other states to accomplish that goal.”