The Texas Health and Human Services Commission was awarded the Seedling Foundation's Capacity Award on July 20 for providing more than 10 volunteers in a year. There are currently 34 HHS employees mentoring children whose parents are incarcerated.

Twenty Texas Health and Human Services employees have stepped up since December to mentor children whose parents have been incarcerated, coming to the aid of a program that is dedicated to providing guidance to those kids.

There are now 34 HHS employees serving as mentors for the Seedling Foundation, the Austin-based non-profit that runs the program. Executive Commissioner Charles Smith has volunteered with the foundation for several years and said it has made a profound difference in his life and the lives of his mentees.

At a July 20 breakfast ceremony, Chief Operation Officer Heather Griffith Peterson accepted the organization’s Capacity Award for providing more than 10 mentors in a given year.

Mentors meet once a week with their students for 30-45 minutes at school during students’ lunch break for one academic year or more. Depending on the child’s age, a mentor might color with them, read to them, play a game, or simply spend the time talking about mutual interests, or solving problems. There’s no academic tutoring or counseling; all mentors need to do is be there, be themselves and listen without judgment.

For more information on the Seedling Foundation and their work, visit