Houston, Texas is the fourth most populous city in the United States of America and is known as the world capital of space exploration. In April of 1970, astronaut Jim Lovell contacted mission control from space in the Apollo 13 spacecraft with the famous saying, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Lovell and fellow astronaut Jack Swigert, with the help of many others on the ground, were able to lead out in overcoming that problem and making it safely back to Earth.
Big Ocean Women also has an out-of-this-world team of problem solvers in Houston! The Houston Cottage (the term used to describe each small group within Big Ocean Women) exemplifies what it means to identify problems and lead out in efforts to help solve them.
The Houston Cottage is led by Nikki Brown, wife and mother of 6 “unique and fun-loving kids,” ages 5 to 16. She works part time as a therapist at a local private practice, will soon be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and is completing additional training to become a Registered Play Therapist. She describes herself by saying, “I am at an intense stage of life with many moving parts, so I am constantly honing my ability to focus on what matters most… family and faith… and then helping others through the meaningful contributions I can make.”
Nikki recently explained, “I have been involved with Big Ocean Women since Fall 2018. I discovered Big Ocean Women’s involvement through the United Nation’s Council on the Status of Women. I admired the collaborative approach and incredible ability to build bridges at the community level and then magnify globally.” Nikki turned her admiration into action and advocacy by starting the Houston Cottage and becoming an active bridge builder in her local and international community.
In March 2022 the Houston Cottage hosted a fundraiser to support “Lifting Hands International” in providing relief for people of Ukraine. They gathered as women of all ages to make bracelets and “Freshies” (hanging air fresheners).
Then, in April 2022 they gathered local young women and joined with young women from their “Sister Cottage,” in Jos, Nigeria, to discuss the power of faith in recognizing who we each are. They discussed turning to true sources, like scriptures, to remember our worth. Later, cottage leader Nikki Brown said, “They had no idea what to expect but were touched to share their thoughts and have so many youth in Nigeria share their thoughts.” Helping the rising generation on two different continents feel a part of something bigger than themselves and better understand their true worth is a powerful example of the mission of Big Ocean Women.
Additionally, every three months (most recently in August 2022), the Houston Cottage collaborates with a local nonprofit called Family Promise to support families that are transitioning out of homelessness. They help provide meals and join the families for dinner. Autumn Larsen, a teen participant in a Family Promise dinner, said, “When we went to have dinner with the homeless family I was worried it would be really awkward and strange, but it turned out to be really fun! I had a good time playing with the young girl!”
When asked how her involvement with Big Ocean Woman has impacted her life, Nikki shared, “Big Ocean Women has created a forum for me to connect with other women (of all faiths) and develop collectives to work toward things that matter to us. That looks different with every project we pursue, which is very meaningful to me. In a world full of problems I love being an active participant in creating and nurturing good.”
The world is indeed full of problems, but women like Nikki Brown remind us that the world is also full of love, concern, resources, initiative, and solutions!