Port Arthur EcoWerks donates thousands to help feed area residents in need

Published 12:35 am Thursday, December 3, 2020

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Saying he’s been blessed beyond measure, EcoWerks CEO Michael Laws wanted to find more ways to give back to his community.

“With a lot of bad news, pain and suffering going on, I wondered how can we make an impact,” Laws said.

Fr. Sinclair Oubre, a Port Arthur native who pastors St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Orange, helped Laws reach out to local feeding organizations in need of funds to continue serving Southeast Texans in need following weather events in the middle of a nearly yearlong pandemic.

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EcoWerks on Wednesday made a $5,000 donation to the United Board of Missions, Hospitality Center of Southeast Texas, Orange Christian Services and St. Vincent de Paul’s Society of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Orange.

Each charity received a $1,000 check, but when Laws asked how he could do more, he presented the United Board of Missions an additional $1,000 to go toward its Meals on Wheels program.

Mae Terro, UBM’s executive director, said Laws’ contributions are phenomenal.

“We’ve gone through rough times the last five years,” Terro said. “We’ve had to relocate after Hurricane Harvey, and we’ve had other storms, but the walls blew off at our resale shop. It’s been one thing after another, and insurance has a deductible. We’re doing more with less because a lot of people did not come back to work.

“Local people are hurting. This is a godsend.”

More than food, Laws said, those who utilize the charities seek human interaction at a time when people are more isolated than scared of COVID-19.

The donation is enough for Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas, the umbrella organization of the Hospitality Center, to feed people for “the next few months,” said Colton Morris, Catholic Charities’ director of development.

“It helps us to let people know we’re open every day,” Morris said. “Just to continue to provide daily service to people.”

Orange Christian Services, Oubre said, is similar to Port Arthur’s UBM in that it’s supported by churches but also powered by individuals.

“I hope other businesses in the local community will take on the challenge to feed those in the community,” Oubre said.

EcoWerks is a Port Arthur-based water purification company that recycles oily waste from industry, Laws explained.

The company, located on Procter Extension, made a big assist at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic when it made 20,000 gallons of hand sanitizer with the help of Bluebonnet Petrochemical Services and donated them to first responders and healthcare providers.

“A lot of businesses were struggling due to the pandemic, and I thought getting them high-quality sanitizer at wholesale pricing might help the community out a little bit further,” Laws said.

EcoWerks financed the sanitizer production and made the donations free of charge.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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