Ascension Assists Tasby Middle School
Homeless children are enrolled in schools across the state and while the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) reports some decline in homeless students, the District reported in January of 2015 over 2,200 homeless children and teens— some even unaccompanied by an adult. This number is staggering and with continued influx of refugee families entering this country there will be more needs…..yet, we are called by Jesus to take care of the poor in our land…
For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:11)
Several months ago, Mark Pierce, Manager of Homeless Programs for Dallas Independent School District, contacted me. Mark, who assists schools with homeless children and teens shared with me the needs of Tasby Middle School (6-8th) located in the Vickery Meadow area just south of Ascension.
Tasby Middle School has over 800 students all of who qualify for the free breakfast/lunch program. Approximately 60% of the school’s students are refugees. Many of the refugees are from Asian countries and do not speak English. Ms. Shundra Jones with Tasby explained that at least 60-100 children have been identified as homeless by DISD. This means that these children do not have a permanent address and could be “sofa surfing”, living in below standard housing and/or with multiple families/friends living in a one-bedroom apartment. Tasby has become the “social service agency”; helping to feed, clothe and educate these children.
Mark Pierce’s goal was to create a food pantry for Tasby so when children leave the school in the afternoon and during the weekend, they would have a backpack full of food. After learning the needs, I discussed with Fr. Paul and he approved for us to move forward to assist Tasby.
We first purchased some food for their immediate needs thanks to our Food Pantry account. We also received two sets of shelving as donations and purchased additional shelving for the space that was allocated at Tasby. On Dec. 19th, 2015 several Ascension members came together to assemble the shelves for the pantry. Many thanks go to Ernie and Diana McAfee, Nancy and John Johnson, Sue and Lanny Ross, John and Beth Dexter, Bob Orton and Tom Dwyer.
We will continue our partnership with Tasby assisting with food and clothing needs. Samira Izadi founder or Gateway for Grace is also now involved to help many of the refugee families. I feel blessed that we have this opportunity to assist another school in need and look forward to a growing partnership.