Two sisters team up to help combat homelessness through local nonprofit Homemade Hope.
Homemade Hope founders Blair Bentley and Brooke Bentley Gunst
In 2014, Houston native Blair Bentley launched a local nonprofit, Homemade Hope (homemadehope.org), to serve homeless and at-risk children through the culinary arts. Cooking, she explains, is a skill that engages all the senses, and therefore it captivates young people.
Three years ago, Brooke Bentley Gunst, former KUBE-57 sportscaster—and Blair’s sister—came aboard as the organization’s development director. “I couldn’t ask for a better person to work with,” Blair says of her sibling. “We have different strengths and that is so valuable; what she brings to the table is different from what I do.” Since then, the duo, along with a small leadership team and about 20 devoted volunteers, have remained dedicated to their mission, and city, where homelessness remains a pervasive problem.
Homemade Hope partners with a variety of well-known chefs to provide weekly cooking classes at local shelters and schools, where children can prepare nutritious meals to share with their parents and siblings. (Past chef partners include Kiran Verma, David Cordúa, Lee Ellis and Omar Pereney.) Not only do students acquire culinary prowess, but they also gain life skills, build self-esteem and receive academic support that will set them on a path to future success.
Each year, to support its programs, Homemade Hope hosts a Home is Where the Heart Is gala, which in 2018 raised over $130,000. This year, the event will be held Sept. 27 at The Ballroom at Bayou Place.
“Houston is so diverse, and it’s such an incredibly compassionate city,” says Brooke. “There are so many people who are philanthropic and want to give back, but it’s amazing to see how many needs there really are.”
Photography by: Candace Moore