Hometown Heroes: Andres Novoa

Andres Jr.,  Andres, Alvaro and Carlos Novoa.

By M.G. Angulo –

Andres Novoa is more than a successful business owner. He is a husband. He is a father. He is also a profound advocate for local senior citizens.

For the past 12 years Novoa has devoted himself, and his restaurant to what he calls “a great and noble cause” — the Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels, a local nonprofit dedicated to proving meals and other free services like transportation and home repair to local senior citizens.

“Our seniors shouldn’t be without,” said Novoa, owner of La Cocina Mexican Restaurant in Richmond. “Especially because most of them have done so much for our country.”

More than a decade ago, Novoa, who was at the time was just getting into his groove at La Cocina, discovered there were local seniors who were in need of services that most people did not give a second thought about, like food delivery, wellness checks and simple conversation. The news not only shocked and appalled Novoa, it motivated him. “I immediately said, ‘Not our seniors. Let’s do something. Let’s crush hunger,’” said Novoa.

So on the fifth anniversary of La Cocina’s opening, Novoa started a tradition that has continued to flourish. “I wanted to do a big party, a charity fundraiser,” said Novoa about La Cocina’s inaugural Cinco de Mayo Bash. “With the help of our community, we throw a big, festive party where we featured a live band, raffles, silent and live auctions and direct donations from neighbors, friends and small businesses in our community.”

La Cocina’s Cinco de Mayo Bash event benefiting Fort Bend Seniors raised $60,000. Ray Aguilar and Manuela Arroyos from Fort Bend Seniors received the check from La Cocina’s owners Rachel and Andres Novoa.

Last year’s event raised $60,000, and since its inception, the Cinco de Mayo Bash has raised more than $350,000 for Fort Bend Seniors. The bottom line is not the money, though, Novoa stressed. It is spreading the word about a continuous support for local seniors.

“We not only raise money for our seniors, but we also create awareness, volunteerism and community involvement by delivering meals to our elderly by people who not only deliver, but provide social interaction.  So many of our seniors are lonely and that volunteer is the only person they may see or interact with.”

The thought of a senior in need hits home for Novoa, whose own 84-year-old mother lives far away and needs attention and services. In Novoa’s mind, every senior is somebody’s mother, somebody’s father, someone who is loved.

In December Novoa and his restaurant will play a role in another important Fort Bend Seniors initiative called Secret Santa. This holiday event is a senior gift-giving program in which Fort Bend Seniors provides ornaments — each one featuring a senior’s name and what he or she wants for Christmas.  Novoa hangs ornaments on the Christmas tree in his restaurant. When patrons visit, they have the option to pick an ornament, buy the gift and return it to Novoa who then delivers the gifts to Fort Bend Seniors. “No senior goes without a present on our watch,” Novoa said.

While he says his business is “built around a great product,” what Novoa is most proud of is “giving back and being involved in the community is a vital part of my business brand.”

“Businesses have a duty to give back to the community in any way they can,” he said. “ Our community is gorgeous, it is dynamic and it is a big family because people are willing to give back. That is what makes this county different. Volunteering is crucial to me because I care deeply about my community.”

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