Many people see needs in their communities, but much smaller groups of people are the ones to create change. Such is the case of Cleveland ISD Police Chief Angela Allen, Cleveland ISD Police Officers Chondra Beatty and Allyson Lopez, and Allen’s daughter, Jessica Burns.
During last month’s freezing weather event in the Cleveland area, they saw a well-known local homeless man, Daryl Woods, struggling to navigate his wheelchair on icy streets.
“I had seen him before the holidays and realized that he had recently had one of his feet amputated,” said Chief Allen. “My daughter saw him, too, and called me crying. We thought we should do something to help him.”
Around that same time, some of Allen’s staff members came to the same conclusion that something needed to be done to help Woods. Pooling their energy, they came up with an idea to create a Go Fund Me account to solicit financial support from the community to purchase a motorized scooter for Woods.
“I thought we could raise the money within a few weeks but we had all the money raised – $2,800 – within 48 hours. In addition to that, people had given me another $900 to help. That money was used to buy Daryl blankets, jackets and gloves. We are putting a little bit back just in case he needs a charger or something else for his scooter,” Allen said.
They surprised Woods on Friday, Feb. 4, by delivering the scooter.
“He was smiling from ear to ear. He was so excited. He is a man of few words but we could tell he was happy because of his smile,” Allen said.
While Woods might be homeless, he is not without friends and people who show compassion for his plight. According to Allen, the Super Kwik Food Store on Houston Street next to Hometown Donuts have agreed to let Woods charge his scooter as needed.
“Austin Memorial Library has agreed to help him in any way they can. He has places all over town where he gets out of the rain. Some local businesses don’t seem to mind him coming up to their business to get out of the weather,” Allen said.
As for Thursday and Friday nights, during the most recent cold snap in February, Woods is staying warm inside a warming center set up at Calvary Baptist Church.
Allen said she is in awe of the quick response from people in the community to help Woods.
“I didn’t expect anything less from my community. I just thought it might take a little longer,” she said. “Our community may be changing in some ways, but it’s still a great community.”