Wisdom’s “I Pledge” Campaign Raises over $11,000 for Students in Need

The Almadina Market (3210 Hillcroft) has helped provide thousands of dollars worth of groceries to needy students & families of Wisdom High School

Wisdom HS News

The Almadina Market (3210 Hillcroft) has helped provide thousands of dollars worth of groceries to needy students & families of Wisdom High School

David Fanucchi, News Adviser

Wisdom High School – located at Richmond & Hillcroft in the Gulfton area of Houston ISD – serves one of the most unique and diverse student populations in the city. It is a wide-ranging mix of cultural and economic backgrounds, with a massive array of native languages spoken by both students and parents.
So when the Coronavirus Pandemic shut down all in-person school activities in Mid-March, it was clear to administrators that the needs of their students were going to exceed the resources they had available. That is when Wisdom Wraparound Specialist Wagma Isaqzoy decided to activate a plan, to provide immediate assistance for families in need of food and rent payment help.
The plan materialized into a campaign she dubbed “I Pledge” where anyone can directly fund the cost of food and rent to students with the highest qualifying needs. Together with her Wisdom Wraparound teammate Julia Roman, the duo worked in sync to implement the rollout. It took an arsenal of phone calls, text messages, and emails at different times of the day and night to incrementally inch towards their goal. After over a month of hard work, Isaqzoy is proud to say they have raised over $11,000 in funds that have gone directly to over 60 Wisdom students and their families.
“It is very uplifting to see the passion, generosity, and collaboration of the Wisdom High School community addressing the needs of our families experiencing crisis during this pandemic,” Isaqzoy said.
A key pillar of support came from Almadina Supermarket owner Mr. Akram Habazi, who has provided the food and discounts to jump start the initiative. When funds come in earmarked for groceries, Isaqzoy provides the student with a code to present at checkout at the Almadina market. The cashier then runs the items and presents a receipt that the family can share with the Wisdom Wraparound department, and they then allow the sponsor/donor to call the market and pay the bill directly using his/her credit card. For rent payments, the sponsor/donor writes a check or money order directly to the leasing office. For students to become eligible for this assistance, they must fill out a Student Assistance Form that can be submitted by a parent, teacher or Wisdom staff member.
Some of the amazing supporters include community members Abdur Raouf, Dr. Faiza Zalila, Dr. Tzu Fann Shao and Mrs. Jeannie Shao, Luis Flores, Spojmai Nawabi, and University of Houston senior Redouane Hafassa, whose kindness has especially touched the hearts of many Wisdom administrators. Hafassa – who just graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering – is originally from Algeria but moved to Houston with his family when he was five years old.
The Hafassa family had a hard time acclimating to the American culture and the people, and creating a livelihood was a challenge, because none of them spoke English. They were not wealthy and Redouane had to begin working at the age of 14, because he knew how important it was to understand the value of money and to help provide for his family. Hafassa has taken it upon himself to generate pledges from strangers using social media, and has donated over $3,300.
“I sympathize with the students at Wisdom and I believe that they shouldn’t have to suffer for basic necessities such as groceries, school supplies, and clothing,” Hafassa said. “I do what I can in order to give back because I know how it feels to always be on the short end of the stick, living check to check, and having a difficult time making ends meet. It is a burden that no student should have to carry. The knowledge that I am helping others is hugely empowering and makes me feel happier and more fulfilled. Giving back strengthens my personal values and makes me feel like I am living in a way that is true to my own ethical beliefs.”
Donations have also been provided by Wisdom faculty members Badri Johnson, Christopher Robinson, Vernon Schmidt, Garrett Reed, Gaylyn Smith, Joohee Cho, Paul Paris, Ronda Rhodes, Principal Michelle Wagner, and former Wisdom Principal Jonathan Trinh. In addition, Houston ISD’s 2020 Beginning Teacher of the Year Jennifer Simmons – who teacher Business CTE classes at Wisdom – donated her $500 check to the campaign. Isaqzoy has also received support from many other anonymous donors.
While the majority of the donations have been dispersed, pledges are still being accepted at the link: Wisdom “I Pledge” Campaign.