Southwest Key Walk of Heroes Inducts Bertha Williams
Community activist Bertha Williams was inducted into the Southwest Key Walk of Heroes on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at the nonprofit's East Austin headquarters,
Bertha Williams is a beloved, long-time resident of the Govalle/Johnston Terrace neighborhood in East Austin who volunteers regularly at Southwest Key's monthly mobile food pantry and is also a founding member of Neighbors United for Progress, a community organization created in partnership with Southwest Key. Williams played an integral role in removing the toxic oil tank farms from East Austin in the 1990s through PODER (People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources) and now sits on the board of PODER. She is deeply dedicated to her volunteer work at St. James Missionary Baptist Church.
A group of community leaders, friends and family of Mrs. Williams were present to pay homage to her. "My mom is a hero because in 1970, her and my father chose me and explained to me through action that it's not about the blood, it's the bond of a human that makes you family." says her son, Sheldon Williams.
"Across the country, across the state of Texas, there are people who give their lives, their blood, sweat, tears to make a contribution. And many of those people are never recognized. They go through their lives and are never given an award for the work they do," says Dr. Juan Sanchez, founder and CEO of Southwest Key Programs. "And here at the Walk of Heroes, we're recognizing people for many many years to come. Their mosaic and picture will be on the Walk of Heroes. Mrs. Williams is always engaged. She's always involved. She's always contributing to help improve the quality of life of people in this community and, to us, that's a hero."
"America is liberties and I care about the liberties and I don't want anybody to have to suffer, not having a place to live, not having clean air, not having fresh water and that's why I get involved," says Bertha Williams. "If I can let anybody know anything that is not right in this neighborhood, I plan to do that."
The ceremony closed with the unveiling of a mosaic portrait of Mrs. Williams to be permanently displayed on the Walk of Heroes. The piece was created by Houston artist Rosalinda R. Toro, who has designed all the mosaics on the Walk of Heroes.