The demand for safe, affordable housing is enormous. The United Nations estimates that more than one billion people around the world live in substandard housing. In the United States alone, almost two million people live with a hole in their roof, 3.7 million live with broken windows, and 2.5 million live in a house where the foundation is crumbling beneath them. More than one million people live without complete plumbing facilities.
As a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity of Smith County for almost a decade, Bootsaba “Boots” Walker has worked alongside other Habitat volunteers to build homes for low-income working families in Tyler and throughout the world through Habitat for Humanity International and The Fuller Center for Housing. Mrs. Walker travels with teams several times a year to desolate places around the world to organize and build homes and also works to raise money to make these trips possible.
Six years ago, after the tsunami in Asia, Mrs. Walker had an idea to hold a tennis tournament in Tyler to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity with those funds going directly to tsunami victims. Thus, the Hearts for Humanity Tennis Tournament was born. With an amazing amount of work in a very short amount of time, the family-friendly tournament raised several thousand dollars for Habitat.
Now in its sixth year, the Hearts for Humanity Tennis Tournament will be played July 29-31 at Hollytree Country Club in Tyler and at Tyler Tennis and Swim. Highlighting this year’s event is the special appearance of Mike and Bob Bryan, the number one men’s tennis doubles team in the world. The Bryan Brothers Bash, a poolside party at Hollytree Country Club, will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, and will include a performance by the Bryan Brothers Band and a live auction of Bryan Brothers’ memorabilia.
“The Hearts for Humanity Tennis Tournament brings awareness to the need for low-income housing while it raises funds for Habitat for Humanity of Smith County from donations, sponsors, and tournament participation fees,” Mrs. Walker said. “Funds from the tournament will be used for future home building.”
Born in Lampang, Thailand, Mrs. Walker has lived in Tyler for 38 years. She and her husband, Ramsay, are the parents of two adult sons, Victor and Justin. Mrs. Walker holds an associate of arts degree in accounting and computer science. She serves as a board member for the Tyler Community Tennis Association (TCTA). The TCTA promotes and encourages tennis activities for adults and youth while working with the Tyler parks and Recreation Department to maximize the use of the city’s public courts.
“I have dedicated my life to the well-being of others, especially those who are less fortunate. I find that Tyler always has a lot of opportunities for giving back,” Mrs. Walker said. “Our community is full of good and kind people, and I have made a lot of good friends here.” For more information about the 6th Annual Hearts for Humanity Tennis Tournament or the Bryan Brothers Bash, please visit www.smithcountyhabitat.org.