Many new members may not have heard about the Harris County Drug Courts — four of them — and how we at Emerson have helped 624 convicted drug addicts become “clean.” Emerson members helped establish a two-year program to finance residential treatment, relapse prevention, anger management, parenting, and job readiness. You can see the plaque honoring our 81 contributors in the hallway in Westwood Hall.

When Commissioners Court set up the first drug court (we now have four), it provided no funds for treatment. So three Emerson members–Dr. Max Buja, Chrystel Erickson-Collins and yours truly– set up the Harris Count Drug Court Foundation, and scoured the city for funding: $6,500 for each convicted felon that allowed them into the program and not into prison. In addition to support from Emerson members, we received $45,000 from Houston Endowment, $10,00 from the Catholic Archdiocese, and individual contributions from several churches.

Now the three of us have stepped aside, to applaud the newly-elected board of community leaders carrying the project forward. Think of the ripple effects of returning these graduates to the community and how this effort changed criminal justice reform in Harris County!

Are Emerson members ready for another “big” project like the Drug Court Foundation? If so, contact me, Gabe Gelb, at