Lynda Zelenka leads the way to making life better for kids in her community.
Lynda Zelenka serves as a shining example of someone who leads a rare and powerful life.
Lynda leads by example as the Executive Director of Cy-Hope, a non-profit that she and a group of other concerned citizens formed in response to rapidly changing demographics and high rates of poverty in her community of Cy-Fair. As a result of Lynda’s leadership, Cy-Hope has grown into a vibrant community outreach organization that, after only four years, received recognition from the Cy-Fair Chamber of Commerce as the community’s Non-Profit of the Year and recognition from the Cy-Fair Independent School District as one of it’s 75 most influential organizations over its 75-year history! While she serves as Cy-Hope’s Executive Director, on any given day of the week (including her days off), you’ll find her pulling weeds, painting offices, or doing whatever chore needs done that particular week. She never asks her volunteers or staff to do something she herself would not do.
Lynda’s positive outlook on life is infectious and gives hope to the hopeless. One of our Cy-Hope interns, Ivan, credits Lynda and Cy-Hope for giving him the resources and opportunities he needed to find hope for overcoming abandonment by his father, bullying at school, and depression as an adult. Ivan just accepted a position as Cy-Hope’s Assistant Hope Center Director after graduating from community college.
Even though most people see Cy-Fair as an affluent community, 38% of kids in Cy-Fair ISD live below the poverty line and their families cannot afford food. Lynda found this unacceptable, so she created Cy-Hope’s Backpack Program. She quickly realized she needed help to make a real difference in fighting hunger in Cy-Fair and partnered with the Houston Food Bank to grow this effort from two schools and 80 bags of food per week in 2011 to 72 schools and 1,500 bags of food per week last school year.
Her tireless energy revitalizes people in despair. When 500-year floods wreaked havoc on the Cy-Fair community this April, Lynda helped organize work teams to go out and repair people’s homes and provide them with needed supplies. She personally served on as many teams as possible and helped countless families recover. The school district called on Lynda and Cy-Hope to help them collect the funds needed to help affected families.
Lots of people say they want to do something, but Lynda actually does it. When it comes to children in need, she doesn’t take no for an answer. She recognized the need to give children a safe place to learn and thrive, creating two Hope Centers in Cy-Hope’s first year of operation – one in a low-income trailer park where she’d been driving kids to and from church for years, and one in a low-income apartment complex. Those Hope Centers now serve 100 children every week and have produced some of Cy-Hope’s new leaders through our intern program. Lynda wanted a Hope Center feeding into every Title I school in Cy-Fair, but knew that could take a while. So, she purchased a used school bus from Cy-Fair ISD, and has gathered the donations and grants needed to launch this bus as a mobile STEM lab to reach all of the underserved kids in our community. Lynda recognized the importance of providing quality mental health services to families at affordable rates and created Cy-Hope Counseling in January 2013. In just three-and-a-half years, Cy-Hope has grown The Center from 77 appointments per month and a staff of two counselors to an average of 550 appointments per month and a staff of ten counselors. Lynda’s willingness to step in where needed helped establish Cy-Hope’s Providing Opportunities Program, which allows high-achieving, low-income students to earn college hours or professional certifications in high school. Lynda continues to lead Cy-Hope in a way that keeps it nimble and responsive to the most critical needs in Cy-Fair.
Anyone in Cy-Fair will tell you that Lynda’s faith, her work ethic, and her devotion to serving others has allowed her to lead a rare and powerful life that has positively impacted so many people and that inspires others to want to do the same.