Some people are born leaders and change makers. They are those that don’t just look at an issue and talk about it but try to figure out how to make things better. They rally the troops, make connections and get people excited about the possibilities. These are the people of our future. Are they politicians? Who knows. But, what we do know is that the City of Houston is very lucky that we happen to have some of the best and brightest living among us, and they are anything but normal. 28-year-old Abbie Kamin is exceptional, a born leader and has taken on the task of starting conversations about diversity and creating change with The Emma Project Texas.
Abbie Kamin grew up in Houston as was a change maker from an early age. While in High School, she wore the boys shorts of the uniform because the girls skirts were so thin, they flew up with the wind. She also started the girls softball and basketball teams at her school. For college, she chose Tulane. The day she moved into the dorms was the same day she moved out of the dorms due to Hurricane Katrina. Back in Houston, she and a bunch of students watched as the city flooded, not knowing what would happen with her college experience.
During Katrina, Abbie and her mother volunteered at the Astrodome to help those that had been displaced and that was life changing for her because she saw an aspect of humanity in how people were helping people that she hadn’t yet experienced, and she just kept thinking about how to prevent this from happening again. She also found out she couldn’t go back to Tulane and realized she had to find another school. Abbie packed up her car and drove to Austin and walked into the admissions office with her paper that said she had been enrolled at Tulane and asked where she needed to go to start classes and spent the rest of that year at the University of Texas.
When Tulane opened back up, she returned, but it felt like a third world country.
The rest of America didn’t get that this was going on. People were living in FEMA trailers in parking lots and opening their shops and restaurants part time. It was frightening.
Abbie got involved on the campus on why Katrina happened and got involved in environmental awareness. She had grown up in a house where her parents showed her how to be involved in the world, and she was following in their footsteps. After Abbie Kamin had graduated from Tulane, she went to law school, where became a lawyer for voting rights in Washington DC, but she missed Texas.
Abbie Kamin moved back to Houston and went to work with Brazil & Dunn as a voting rights litigator, and then Syria popped up onto her radar.
The Emma Project Texas
The Emma Project Texas was named after Emma Lazarus, who is the poet who wrote the sonnet that is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. When Abbie Kamin thought about the Syrian Refugees, she asked herself some serious questions. She realized that we can’t allow ourselves to be afraid of ISIS and be afraid of humanity, and our duty as humans is to help others in need. She also knows that we need to recognize that yes, ISIS is a threat, and we need to be responsible for that threat, but that helping the Syrian refugees relocate to the states can’t be ignored. She knew that there was no way to change the conversation if something wasn’t done about it, so she chose to start a conversation and talk about the issues and to continue to do the right thing with diversity.
The Emma Project Texas is all about building a coalition to raise funds, supplies, volunteers and help start dialogues to help settle the Syrian and other Arab refugees. Abbie is working with Interfaith Ministries and several Congregations throughout the Houston Community to achieve this. Tonight, The Emma Project Texas is having one of their first events, which is an Information Session and Happy Hour that will be held at 6:30 pm at Interfaith Ministries, located at 3303 Main St. It starts at 6:30 pm. and will give you information all about the project and the various ways you can get involved.
What’s important is having the conversation about things and not staying silent. Don’t sit by and let life happen. I don’t know what the end game is for me, but I know I want to continue to help people and make Texas as great as it can be.