The Ninfa Laurenzo Scholarship Fund is a 501C3 organization

                      1923 Washington Ave. Suite 2027 Houston, TX 77007


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May 11, 1924 - June 17, 2001

M A M A' S   S T O R Y

As  a  young  girl,  Ninfa  learned  the  skills  and  caring  needed to  create  delicious  and  unique  Mexican  dishes.  Steeped  in the  beautiful  culture  of  Mexico  and  the  Rio  Grande  Valley, she  learned  how  to  make  tamales,  the  delicate  skill  of making  flour  tortillas,  and  a  multitude  of  traditional  recipes. Primarily,  she  learned  to  use  her  imagination  and  creativity to  invent  new  recipes  inspired  by  an  endless  variety  of flavors. This  culinary  mix  included  her  family  recipes,  flavors of  the  Rio  Grande  Valley,  and  the  Italian  traditions  of  her husband,  Thomas.  


Ninfa  met  Thomas  Laurenzo  in  Rhode  Island.  One  year  later, in  1946,  they  were  married  and  subsequently  decided  to move  to  Texas  to  plant  their  roots.  There  they  started  a food  manufacturing  company  named  Rio  Grande  Food Products,  featuring  pizzas,  tortillas,  and  Mexican  food specialties  serving  Houston  and  the  Gulf  Coast  region.  The venture  provided  a  modest  income  for  the  couple  and  their five  children.  They  often  spoke  about  their  dream  of opening  a  restaurant.  Sadly,  a  most  unfortunate  intrusion  of fate  occurred... Thomas  suddenly  passed  away  in  1969.


After four years of struggling with increasing regulations and shrinking profits, Ninfa gathered the family and they unanimously decided to fulfill their dream of opening a family restaurant. The small factory was converted to a 10-table restaurant in June 1973. She used the pots and pans from her home, and her children, relatives, and friends worked where needed. Life's hardships dealt one more blow as if to test the family's resolve. A fire destroyed part of the restaurant only one week after opening. Once again Ninfa rallied the family and through her strength and leadership, they worked non-stop to re-open the doors one week later.  

Within ten years, the single restaurant expanded into a multi-million dollar business with nine restaurants in Houston and one in Dallas. The remainder of the story is one of hard work and success while always giving back to the community. 
Ninfa often talked about the importance of giving.  “We all have so much that we must share with each other.”  


Ninfa received many awards such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Award.  In 1982, Theater Under The Stars made her life story into a musical called Ninfa! by Jim Bernhard, Frank Young, Ned Battista, and Don Elam.  


In 1984, Vice President George Bush appointed her to be one of five goodwill ambassadors to welcome Pope John Paul II to Puerto Rico.
Mama Ninfa was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame in 1998.  


Ninfa Laurenzo represented her community politically as well. In 1988, she seconded George H. W. Bush’s nomination for President at the Republican National Convention in Houston.  She delivered the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening session of the Republican National Convention on August 17, 1992.   


Mama Ninfa passed away in 2001 but her legacy of good deeds and goodwill is remembered by many and still serves as an example for others.  


In 2004 Houston Independent School District built two facilities exclusively for the use of prekindergarten students. In recognition of Mama Ninfa as a community leader, the Ninfa Laurenzo Early Childhood Center was named in her honor.   


The Ninfa Laurenzo Scholarship Fund is proud to continue Mama Ninfa's vision by supporting quality education and scholarship programs in Houston.