HISD campuses may have been closed for months, but the team at Highland Heights Elementary School has been working around the clock to make sure their school community is safe, clothed, fed, and supported.
The Highland Heights Resource Center officially opened its doors on Monday, welcoming new and old Honeybees to the first-of-its-kind center, which offers families much-needed items such as food, clothes, shoes, and toiletries.
Highland Heights Wraparound Resource Specialist Brendella Chavis has worked diligently to make sure students were supported.
“Our center is designed to undergird and support our scholars and our families, so when COVID-19 hit, we took everything home with us and found ways to get our community what they needed,” said Chavis, who has spent the last year bringing the center to life. “We are so excited for what is happening on our campus. I always encourage our parents to call us if they need any assistance because we are here to help.”
Parent Jonette Franklin, who benefited from the resource center when she lost her job, witnessed firsthand how Chavis jumped into action during the shutdown.
“She was packing things up from home,” Franklin said. “She even hosted a drive-through where parents could pick up diapers, wipes and clothes. We are all so grateful to Ms. Chavis.”
Housed in the school’s first-grade pod, the center features a comfortable lounge and TV area, a food pantry stocked with healthy foods and beverages, and shelves upon shelves of donated clothing, shoes, household items, as well as hygiene and school supplies.
Once a month, parents are invited to make an appointment to stop by and “shop” free of charge, where they are welcome to one “big ticket” item – like an air fryer or microwave – and four smaller items like jackets, undergarments and toiletries.
“We provide for our parents and students. If they need uniforms, diapers, a pillow to lay their head, rental or bill assistance – we provide it,” Highland Heights Principal John Flowers said. “As long as they walk through that door, we will provide it because this school cannot stand by itself in the community. We stand with the community.”
Aside from the everyday necessities offered at the one-stop-shop, students and their families also have access to other support services that they may not otherwise have access to, like haircuts, campus laundry facilities and resume assistance.
While these services have addressed critical, non-academic issues that may impact students’ ability to learn, they have also been a source of inspiration for those they have helped, like Jonette Franklin, who now assists Chavis in the center.
“After my experience with the Family Resource Center, I wanted to join in and be a part of it,” she said. “I knew there were a lot of parents at Highland Heights that needed those resources, so I thought I’d help her bring more parents in.”