Check out how Port Arthur LNG powered 13 local Environmental Champions with $55K in grants

Published 12:34 am Thursday, April 7, 2022

A garden project to give students a sense of ownership while working with plants from seed-to-harvest is getting a boost courtesy of a local grant.

The Memorial High School project is bringing together the general student body with students from the school’s Life Skills Department.

On Wednesday, Memorial educators Michael Oliver and Ilynn Berdoza received a grant to help with the garden.

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Port Arthur LNG teamed up with Port Arthur Newsmedia to launch the 2022 Environmental Champions Initiative. The Life Skills Department was one of 13 non-profits garnering a piece of the $55,000 in grant monies awarded.

Kelly Prasser, left, senior manager of external affairs for Sempra LNG, speaks to the crowd at the 2022 Environmental Champions banquet. Team member Anya H. McInnis is seen at right. (Chris Moore/The News)

Oliver said, in a conversation prior to the event, the idea of the garden came up seven years ago as a way to give the students an opportunity for a hands-on experience at working with plants. Through the years it looked as if the project would come to fruition, then the pandemic hit and the plans were delayed.

Oliver and Berdoza partnered up and brought general population students together with Life Skills students. It became a buddy system, he said.

The Dick Dowling Lions Club in Sabine Pass will also see a boost for their beautification-like project.

Adam Saunders said Sempra LNG and Port Arthur LNG have been supportive of the community and the Lions.

The grant will also help fund beautification and improvements to the Sabine Pass Community Center and spray park.

“This makes citizens feel good about the community and also reflects well to those who come into our community for fishing or other outdoor recreation,” Saunders said.

Saunders was represented at the event by his wife Julie.

Community members gathered for the Port LNG 2022 Environmental Champions banquet. (Chris Moore/The News)

The grant will be used to upgrade landscaping at the community center and spray park, replace lost trees, as well as clean, repair and add to Lions Park in Sabine Pass with trees and landscaping.

Daryl Miller, marketing and public relations with Gulf Coast Youth Soccer Club, was also thankful for the grant funding.

The club, located at 5601 Twin City Highway near Hogaboom Road, will be planting trees that will provide shade and beautification to the 34-acre, 26-field soccer complex.

Miller explained the organization is looking at the future as organizers plan on the tree planting. They hope, in the next five to 10 years, to see better parking, more restrooms, a new barn and clubhouse. An immediate need, though, is the trees.

“This is very positive,” Miller said. “It’s nice to see companies come into our area and reach out to reinvest in the community.”

Prior to the pandemic, there were 1,500 kids taking part in soccer there. That number is a little low, currently between 1,200 and 1,300, he said.

“We are grateful for their generosity,” he said of PA LNG.

Port Arthur News Publisher Stephen Hemelt greeted attendees and dignitaries at the opening of Wednesday’s award reception, which was held at the Texas Artist Museum.

Kelly Prasser, senior manager of external affairs for Sempra, called on Regional Vice President Brian Lloyd to make a few comments before the grants were awarded.

Lloyd spoke of the great group of 13 organizations that are helping with environmental issues as thanked the selection team that chose the winners.

Those receiving grants include: The Willie Carter Outreach Center, Memorial High School Life Skills, The Golden Triangle Audubon Society, Port Arthur Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., Bob Hope High School, Gulf Coast Youth Soccer Club, Dick Dowling Lions Club in Sabine Pass, Sea Rim State Park, Salt Club, Nederland Economic Development Corp., Building Our Children Ministry Inc. and Thomas Jefferson Middle School.