Everyone Counts! Houston Homeless Youth Count! 2013.
And, for my next installment of Project: We See You…
Yesterday, I woke up overwhelmed.
As I do.
I spend much more time stressing out about the things I need to do, than it takes to actually do them. And, I’m not talking about husband-sex, weirdos.
I showered (2 points!), got dressed, and slipped on an old ring I found. It’s bigger than my hand and older than both my kids. I think it is probably something I picked up from from Urban Outfitters, back when I was still cool. Sometimes, I feel like it gives me extra sass and bigger balls. Like a hipster superhero ring of sorts.
Also, I figured if something went wrong with the transaction over at Raising Cane’s (in Cypress), I could just coldcock the general manager, Mike Guido, in the nose really fast and run off with the gift cards he’d offered me.
But, luckily, I didn’t have to knock Mike out, because he delivered – and BIG TIME!
He walked out with a huge handful of box cards, and a smile – a very cute one at that (no disrespect to his wife, of course)! I would’ve been happy with a mere fingerful of cards, but Mike gave me way more than that.
*Cue the standard, awkward Allison interaction*
OMG. THANK YOU SO MUCH. CAN I HUG YOU? Do you mind if I take your picture? Because, you can say no, my husband does all the time. I get it.
But, Mike didn’t leave me hanging, or make me feel like a dork. He accepted my awkward hug him and let me take his picture. Then, he handed me their card and said he’d love to help out whenever we need it!
I thanked him again, and headed back to my car to check that off my list and plan my next move. I drove away from Cane’s, then did a U-turn through a bank parking lot, and pulled right back up to the Cane’s drive-thru for some grub.
I hopped back on the highway and immediately went into hungry-raccoon mode, ripping into the chicken strips with my bare-hands. They don’t make blue-tooth for chicken fingers, so it was risky, but I can be pretty crazy like that.
It was my first time eating there and it. was. amazing! In fact, these chicken strips are so good, that if I’d been PMSing I probably would have just pocketed all the box-cards and gone underground for a week or two.
It got me thinking…who even needs Chick-Fil-A (besides them, of course.)?
My friend Justin told me that Raising Cane’s was known for generosity and helping out in their communities. Boy, was he right.
The best part was that Mike replied to my public tweet with a private message. He didn’t offer his donation to be acknowledged, he did it just to be good.
Aside – I nearly published this post with that last sentence reading “Pubic” tweet. Yay for editing!
Thank you so much, Mike! You rock! Almost as much as Cane’s special sauce.
I drove over to the Texas Medical Center, where the oh-so-helpful George Irvin of McDonald’s had arranged for me to pick up the remaining 150 Arch cards at their Texas Children’s Hospital location.
Mr. Irvin has been a god-send getting all of this figured out. Especially since I sleuthed out his number and cold-called him out of the blue one day, asking him to process 1,000 cards in a one day.
And, then continued to text him things like this….
He’s taken me in stride and been so gracious, bending over backwards to get all of this done in time.
Back to yesterday…
I pulled up to Texas Children’s to get the last bunch of cards for tonight.
Aside #2 – The building below is located right next to Texas Children’s and I’ve always thought the architect must have somewhat of a boob-fetish.
Where were we?
Chicken fingers….boobs….Oh, right, Arch cards!
This past Friday, they processed 850 $5 Arch cards at the same location, ringing them up one by one through the register, which took the manager her entire shift.
I offered to help speed things up this time around and they let me slide and activate the cards one by one.
This takes so much longer when you have to pee.
LaToiya Harris was the unlucky one who got stuck helping me. She put up with my very bad jokes throughout the entire process. Like, when we were nearing the end and I told her, with a fake cry, “I’m really gonna miss you when this is done.”
She was amazing, quick, efficient, and so gracious! Not an easy feat considering the woman behind me was yelling at her, “I JUST WANT ONE MORE BBQ SAUCE!”
I’d also like to take this moment to apologize to her for leaping over the counter to bear-hug her on my way out.
Juliette, the manager, came out to see how things went, and handed me a STACK of free sandwich coupons. So wonderful!
I told her I was going to tweet her and she looked at me like I had just offered her a weird sexual favor. So, I explained to her what Twitter was, as best I could.
I walked out with an unmarked, white paper bag of coupons, feeling like I’d just made a very important sausage biscuit drug deal.
With not a minute to spare, I booked it over to the homeless shelter to get trained for tonight’s youth count.
It’s not in the nicest part of town, so I ended up handing out a few coupons along the way.
Cities are required to take part in the annual point-in-time count. Per the Coalition, “The point-in-time count is a requirement of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the local Continuum of Care funding process which brought over $23,000,000 to the Houston, Harris County and Fort Bend County homeless assistance programs in the FY2011 application process.”
In other words, the PIT count allows the government to know how much money and what types of services are needed in each community.
This year, there’s a pilot program – Youth Count! – in nine cities (including Houston) across the country. They’re trying to come up with more efficient and comprehensive means of tracking and counting homeless youth in America, and get answers to questions like…
Why are these young people homeless?
How did they end up there?
What do they need?
I was saddened to hear that up to 40% of homeless youth here are gay. Some of them have been kicked out of their homes for simply being who they are, making their parents despicable monsters in my eyes.
Tonight, I’ll be stationed at a homeless youth shelter from 5-10 pm, where they’ll send in young, homeless people for me to interview.
The final numbers will measured and sent to HUD.
I shall slip into my professional pants and try not to adopt anyone tonight, but I can’t promise I won’t try to hug them.
It’s kind of a thing with me.