Volunteers help rebuild Rosharon greenhouses destroyed during Hurricane Harvey

ROSHARON, Texas – Dozens of volunteers had all hands on deck to help two Rosharon families still recovering after Hurricane Harvey.

The greenhouses were the residents' livelihoods, and now they are in a much better place to continue to grow their crops with the help of several local nonprofits.

Every hit of the hammer and dig of a shovel is part of the volunteers' mission.

"We want to get our hands dirty and help these families," said Linda Luong, Ascend Houston chapter president.

Ascend Houston is a local nonprofit whose members volunteered Saturday to help bring two immigrant families back on their feet after their greenhouses were severely damaged, some destroyed after Hurricane Harvey. 

"The greenhouses were these families' sources of income," Luong said.

Ascend Houston members volunteered under Alliance, a local nonprofit that aims to help refugees, immigrants and underserved residents become self-sufficient and improve their quality of life.

"This is what I grow," Hoang Zeng said, pointing to water spinach. Zeng, a Rosharon resident, has had her greenhouses more than 13 years. 

Water spinach or in Vietnamese, Zeng's native language, "ong choy," is Zeng's only crop.
"I grow the vegetables," Zeng said. "This is what I farm. This is my livelihood."

When Harvey hit, Zeng was worried she would lose everything.

"I was scared ... I was crying ... I was praying ... Keep praying to God," Zeng recalled.

The storm did damage her greenhouses and parts of her home. It has been a slow and long recovery process. However, Saturday, dozens of volunteers made Zeng smile from ear to ear.

"We're ripping out the plastic and the wood to eventually put a new frame up," one volunteer said.

All bared the heat and mild drizzles to help the Zeng family recover.

"I hope that they feel welcome here," said Maha Aziz, a volunteer representing AIG, a sponsor of Ascend, which raised funds from all over the nation to help families like the Zengs.

"We're all one community, and I think it's really great that Houston comes together," Rayn Roche, Ascend Houston's Executive Vice President, said.

The Zeng greenhouses will be restored. Just down the road, one could hear the clinking of metal. Dozens of volunteers also helped her neighbor a five-minute drive away.

Yensal Sao, another greenhouse owner, couldn't be more thankful. Sao's husband is in a hospital. Her greenhouse was destroyed. The Saos had been trying to grow crops without it.

"We're going to build her a new greenhouse," said Marin Yann, a disaster case manager with Alliance.

Volunteers took in the metal, which will soon be the framing of the greenhouse.
"I'm so happy! So very happy!" Sao laughed.

For these Rosharon cultivators, the help is life-changing.

"Thank you so much. I thank God every day for these nice people who are willing to help me," Zeng said, near tears.

Organizers of Alliance, the nonprofit that who spearheaded the project and collaboration, said they have the capacity and funds to help more families. 

Alliance: https://thealliancetx.org/

Ascend Houston: https://www.ascendleadership.org/