The donations kept pouring in until the volunteers finally packed away the donation table out front. Those of us in Houston would like to thank all of our subjects for allowing us to tell their stories, the hard-working staff at Covenant House, all the volunteers, and the countless Houstonians who came out to Do 1 Thing today.
Andres checks out some donated sneakers in a room that was filled to overflowing. It took three rooms like this to handle the outpouring of donations from the community. (Photo by Smiley N. Pool)
Writer Jessica Johns Pool got into the spirit of the day. (Photo by Smiley N. Pool)
To learn more about Houston’s Do1Thing team, visit these Web sites:
Dave Einsel, photographer: www.daveeinsel.com
Amina Rivera, writer: www.dailycougar.com
Robert Seale, photographer: www.robertseale.com
Todd Spoth, visual journalist: www.toddspoth.com
Jessica Johns Pool, writer: www.jjpeditorial.com
Smiley Pool, photojournalist: www.smileypool.com
Andres has had his teddy bear since he was 1 year old and it’s traveled the world with him.
“I’ve had it everywhere through everything. I’ve had it since before my mother left me,” said Andres. “We’ve been to Nicaragua (his mother’s home), to New York, California, Washington, the road trips, the street.”
Andres likens it to the Harry Potter character who puts his soul into an object. “That bear is basically my soul.”
Andres loves baseball, wants to be a graphic designer and plays guitar.
Dave Einsel photographs Andres with his cherished teddy bear. (Photo by Smiley N. Pool)
Let me tell you about me, but I don’t know what to say, It started in the sixth grade. I met this boy the right way. He said what is your name, what bus do you ride and how old are you. I said Carlee 110 and I am thirteen. He said let me get one thing straight do you live in Wood Creek. Yes I do oh that is so cool, what street do you live on. Thorne Creek, I said Rose Heath. Carlee would you like to go to the park someday. Thank you but I don’t even know your first and last name. He said Darren Brantley that was so amazing.
How about today Carlee, and I said ok.
What are we going to do? Just talk and get to know you. He said, do you have a boyfriend? I said no. How about we get together and I’ll sing you a note. He was like you sing I sing we both sing for ice cream. Tell me more about you, Ms. L****. Valentines rolled around the corner and I didn’t receive a gift. I brought him a watch and a cute card too. The watch came from the side of the road but it’s the thought that counts the most. I was expecting a little something I waited all day long. But when I got back on the bus he said sit next to me. I was like hell no he grabbed my hand he said please give me one more chance. He said Carlee close them beautiful brown eyes and when I open them I nearly had a heart attack and died.
He had a ring beautiful and pink; I didn’t know what to say.
He got on one I was like boy what are you doing we only in the sixth grade. He said carlee promise me you will never leave my side, I said Darren I will never leave your side until you die. Three years down the road, I was like Darren you need to go because you are not going down the right road.
He said carlee you tripping girl you need to stop flipping. I was like what about three years ago when you got on one knee and you told me to close them beautiful brown eyes, and when I opened them, I nearly had a heart attached and died. He said carlee you need to stop because I do not know what you talking about quit tripping carlee I stole the ring from Jenny so you would have something on Valentine’s Day he said carlee don’t sweat it cause I am cheating on you any ways. I took off the ring and I said here you go I don’t want to see you any more he said carlee where are you going I said back to my man where I belong he grab my wrist he said who is this boy, and do he go to our school.
I said yes Darren it is your little brother and you are not going to nothing about it. Why are you so worry about me? He said I love you carlee, baby please give me one more chance I could not go to sleept that night because all I thought about was that fight. I called Darren up on the phone I said baby I need to talk to you I said I can’t live life like this anymore I am sorry, for every thing my and your brother was just a little thing. I promise I will never leave your side until you close them beautiful brown eyes.
Carlee is ready for Valentine's Day. (Photo by Smiley N. Pool)
Who says newspapers are dead? Almost every vehicle that drives up came because they saw the story in the Houston Chronicle. Staff have been busy answering the phone with callers wanting to get Covenant House’s address. The second largest group brought donations because they saw an article in the University of Houston’s Daily Cougar (or they were notified of Do1Thing by the enterprising reporter/PR maven Amina Rivera).
The Fox26 story that ran earlier in the week generated a few calls, said Carolyn Garrard, PR director for Covenant House, and many church groups responded to the call for donations. But by far, the largest response came from newspaper readers.
The first thing you notice about Curtis is the bling. He’s got a long, triple-wide rhinestone necklace plus earrings that he wears every day. Today it’s worn over a black tee and jeans. Curtis is a tall, quiet-spoken guy who somehow ends up talking to the all the girls.
The first thing he’ll share is that he’s looking for a job. He was laid off recently from HISD where he worked in food service. He’s also studying for the math portion of his GED. Once that’s out of the way he plans to attend trade school for auto mechanics and get certified as a canine dog handler.
That’s his real goal – to be a police officer on the canine patrol. “I like dogs that are intelligent and police dogs are very friendly and intelligent,” said Curtis. “Plus, I like to help other people. I’m always helping someone else.”
Asked what he’d tell other kids out there, Curtis said, “If they can, they should try and come here to make a better life for themselves because nothing good ever comes out of being on the street. Do what you need to do to live independently.”
Curtis, right, hangs out with girls. (Photo by Smiley N. Pool)
Carolyn Garrard, public relations director, for Covenant House Houston explains that their kids want to wear all the same labels and brands that other teens wear. So the donations that aren’t age-appropriate, either for small children or older adults, go to other shelters. “Nothing ever goes to waste around here,” said Garrard.
Of course, the many men’s suits that have been donated today are especially appreciated by the residents for job interviews.
In between unloading the big laundry hampers, residents have been stuffing packets with Covenant House information.
Curtis checks out donated menswear. (Photo by Smiley N. Pool)
Did you know that 1.3 million people under 21 live on the streets or in shelters? That’s why services for homeless teens are so needed, and why Do1Thing wants to bring attention to these children in need.
Here at Covenant House in Houston, donations continue to come in. More toiletries and clothes have arrived, along with a big pile of sofa pillows. The San Jacinto Girl Scout troop 3599, clad in badge-covered vests, are working hard, waving in vans, cars and trucks to the unloading zone. Everyone gets a red heart lollipop as a thank-you.
The first tour just finished, and as she was leaving one of the ladies, commented, “I’m so glad to know this is here.”
Services provided by Covenant House to youth under 21 include:
- Shelter designed to teach independent living
- Medical care, such as physical exams, HIV/AIDS testing and referrals to specialists
- Counseling, bible studies and other support
- Life skills training, such as budgeting and interviewing skills
- GED classes, tutoring and vocational training
- Six months of after-care for youth who transition to independent living
A resident sits on the porch as volunteers wait for donations. (Photo by Smiley N. Pool)
Angela, featured in today’s Houston Chronicle, also stopped by for an introduction. To say she’s lively is an understatement. She and Corderro are both getting teased non-stop about their “new-found fame,” as one of the counselors said.
Angela is president of the resident council, which she says is similar to a student council at school. She’s proud of being competitive, she says, and teases her counselor Shaun about owing her another dinner at Dave & Buster’s. However, the teasing focuses back on Angela when she introduces fellow resident Curtis as “one of my cabinet.”
Angela hugs a fellow Covenant House resident. (Photo by Smiley N. Pool)
Plenty of people are already doing one thing! Donations began arriving at 9 a.m. today and by 9:45 cars were streaming by, with Girl Scouts and Covenant House residents helping to unload bags of clothes, toiletries, a painting and a pair of crutches. Two industrial-sized laundry hampers are already filled over the brim.
The supplies are much needed, so bring your donations to Covenant House at 1111 Lovett Blvd. It’s located just behind the Copy.com, Half-Priced Books and Spec’s store on Westheimer at Montrose.
The Houston Chronicle ran a story in today’s Metro section, so go get a copy if you haven’t seen it already. The story, written by reporter Claudia Feldman and photographed by Smiley N. Pool, features Covenant House residents Angela and Corderro.
Angela is working on getting her beautician’s license and Corderro is working his way up the restaurant career ladder with the goal of becoming a pastry chef and restauranteur.
Read about these kids on www.chron.com.
Girls Scouts from Troop 3599 help collect donations on Valentine's Day at Covenant House Texas. (Photo by Smiley N. Pool)