Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Terence Narcisse of East Harris County Empowerment Council Is Helping To Change Our World
You will work twice as hard developing an idea. There is a myth that a nonprofit takes less work to develop or come up with the idea, which is simply not true. Many think it is just about applying for grants and funding initiatives, but there are millions of nonprofits. It boils down to how one can set their nonprofit apart from the rest, which takes time and research.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terence Narcisse, Founder and CEO of East Harris County Empowerment Council.
Terence Narcisse is a nonprofit management professional with over 10 years of experience leading change, developing people and transforming communities. As a leader, Terence has successfully created, managed and sustained East Harris County Empowerment Council to be a living, transformational organization. He has experience in developing strategic partnerships with public and private institutions, securing financial resources to support programs and operations and establishing policies and procedures. Through careful and thoughtful actions, Terence has also implemented solutions-oriented programs to enhance the quality of lives of men, women and children. Terence is passionate about empowering people to lead change in their own lives and communities. He firmly believes in investing in our future and providing youth with “the rules of the game.”
Thank you so much for doing this with us. Before we begin our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”?
I grew up in Crosby, TX, which is one of the communities my nonprofit serves and I am a proud product of my community. Crosby is located in East Harris County which is outside the city limits of Houston. East Harris County Empowerment Council (EHCEC) exists to improve the quality of life of individuals within this community and help them reach their full potential. The organization proudly serves communities of Channelview, Crosby, Galena Park, North Shore, Sheldon and Jacinto City.
Can you tell us the story behind why you decided to start or join your nonprofit?
After the passing of a childhood friend, I asked myself what my legacy would be if I were gone tomorrow. When I attended the service, the pastor asked, “What would your legacy be when you leave here?” At that point in time, I didn’t even know what a legacy was.
Those who spoke about my friend emphasized how he impacted their lives. I thought to myself that I wanted the same thing when it’s my time to go. I didn’t think it was possible to lose someone at such a young age, but it really made me reevaluate my life and what it would take to be recognized as an impactful person. Shortly after, I began volunteering in my neighborhood cleaning the cemetery where my friend was buried. Eventually, after working on a variety of projects, I was able to identify the issues my community was facing and I wanted to make a difference and be a part of the solution.
Can you describe how you or your organization aims to make a significant social impact?
EHCEC begins by asking, “Are people aware of the resources available?” and then work to connect people in our community to resources to help them improve their lives. EHCEC works to provide our neighbors with access to resources in a handful of different categories, such as health, finances, education, disaster recovery and housing. For example, EHCECcould host a small business class to help aspiring entrepreneurs; start a vaccine drive; provide rental assistance for stable and secure housing; or simply hold a school supplies drive for students. Overall, we want to give community members access to the right people and resources because many times all it takes is one connection to change the trajectory of our lives.
Without saying any names, can you share a story about an individual who was helped by your idea so far?
During the COVID-19 financial assistance rollout, Harris County and its partners approached our organization to distribute $1.2 million of COVID-19 financial assistance. Based on the size of each household, EHCEC was able to provide families with $1,200 or $1,500 increments. We wanted to especially encourage our senior citizen community to apply for this assistance and make sure they didn’t get left behind due to a lack of technology skills. When many of the community members believed it was a scam, we created a senior outreach committee to help answer questions, demystify the process and share available resources. Our committee provided information about eligibility and gathered the appropriate information for each applicant. As a result, we were able to help 875 households with this project and received sincere appreciation and baked goods as a thanks. One woman thanked me personally with tears in her eyes saying that it was the money she needed to keep her home from going into foreclosure.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Firstly, politicians and community business owners can help by increasing the minimum wage to give people with adequate living means. Secondly, politicians can help by creating and implementing policies that strengthen our educational systems. This second step would ensure that students are getting the tools and resources they need in school to become productive citizens. Lastly, on a societal level, we need to normalize cross-sector partnerships between nonprofit organizations and engaged businesses and companies to solve problems within our communities.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is the ability to influence others with the intent to make an improvement. For example, starting a business with the intention of hiring others from the community where it’s based. . A leader also advocates for change and stands up for themselves. Having a stance on an issue and actively working toward making a difference makes someone a strong leader.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 things a person should know before they decide to start a non-profit. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Nonprofit organizations are businesses. These organizations follow the same business development process as for-profit counterparts. It is important to create a business plan and become aware of the entrepreneurial cycle.
2. You can be a nonprofit and make a profit. Many times it’s assumed that it is not possible to bring in more money than it takes to operate an organization like this, but it’s a myth.
3. You will work twice as hard developing an idea. There is a myth that a nonprofit takes less work to develop or come up with the idea, which is simply not true. Many think it is just about applying for grants and funding initiatives, but there are millions of nonprofits. It boils down to how one can set their nonprofit apart from the rest, which takes time and research.
4. Deepen and develop relationships with various people, organizations and groups. Be collaborative and outgoing. You never know how you will be able to partner or collaborate with someone you meet and how they could help further your mission. For example, I shared my story with someone, and they ended up donating $10,000, which then became an annual recurring gift for the past four years. I thought I was answering a simple question, but by sharing my story I was able to gain a loyal donor. Nonprofit is a “we” sport, and if we all work together, we can make an impact.
5. Clearly define the problem you seek to solve. By clearly articulating the problem and your approach, you will be able to identify potential funders for the issue. In turn, you will be able to bring in more resources for the nonprofit to continue to do the work needed.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world who you would like to talk to, to share the idea behind your nonprofit? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.
I would share my idea behind East Harris County Empowerment Council with Tyler Perry. We have a similar story when it comes to challenges and reaching success. I’d like to believe he would appreciate learning about our work and appreciate the hustle it took to get to where we are.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson” Quote? How is that relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is, “Progress is a process.” Life is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve noticed that all things happen and work out when they are supposed to and I’ve learned to enjoy the journey. I would advise any aspiring nonprofit entrepreneur to never stop learning, moving and dreaming.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your mission.
Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Terence Narcisse of East Harris County Empowerment Council Is… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.