As president of the Promise Center board of directors, Fred Aguilar knows what’s going on at the organization committed to serving the people of west Baytown—but his fellow board members were still able to surprise him Thursday with the announcement that they want to attach his name to the Center.

Agustin Loredo, a board member of the center, invited other board members up to join in the announcement during the organization’s fifth annual awards banquet, held at IMPACT Early College High School.

The Promise Center, more formally known as Our Promise for West Baytown, started out 14 years ago primarily with a service of helping students with homework. While that service remains central to the group’s work, the Promise Center has added other services for residents of the neighborhood where Baytown began.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo was the keynote speaker for the event. While she is now the chief executive officer of Harris County, Hidalgo has much in common with many of the residents of Baytown’s west side as an immigrant to the United States who came from a poor family.

Hidalgo has just been in office since January, but has already experienced challenging times for Harris County, with two major floods, four chemical plant fires and a shutdown of the Ship Channel by Greenpeace protesters dangling from the Fred Hartman Bridge.

Two of those fires, along with the bridge chaos, happened in west Baytown, which was also affected by the floods.

She said the community gains much from the adjacent petrochemical complexes and the high-paying job opportunities they offer. “But that doesn’t mean that we don’t worry about having cancer and breathing air that you wouldn’t want to breathe and that we shouldn’t be informed or we shouldn’t hold bad actors accountable.

Her administration has made substantial investment in both staff and equipment to monitor and respond to pollution so that those who abide by the rules are not at a disadvantage over those who do not, she said.

She wants Harris County to “be an example for what it looks like to truly co-exist and celebrate both the incredible opportunities and continue to do better.”

In addition to hearing from Hidalgo and honoring Aguilar, the Promise Center also presented its 2019 Service Awards. 

One went to IMPACT Early College High School, represented by Laura Reyes, principal, Emily Patrick, Kristi Pizana and Erika Camarillo. The other went to Tony and Barbara Hinojosa.

Three #iPromise2Succeed scholarships were awarded to Tiarra Stewart (IMPACT), Alyssa Vasquez (IMPACT) and Sierra Guillen (Robert E. Lee High School).

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