In order to provide some much-needed, daily resources during this most difficult and challenging year of public education, Wisdom High School Principal Michelle Wagner and her grade level counselors felt like it was time to find a better way to meet the basic needs of her students, their families, and the community.
The Wraparound Services office was constantly being tapped into with students asking for food, clothing, and school supplies. They needed more space, and an area where students could go to look through items that had been donated. She also wanted the space to be somewhat private, so that students weren’t embarrassed to be accepting free things.
So, Wagner simply decided to build a store in a corner area of the school’s cafeteria.
Longtime Wisdom supporter and philanthropy organization The Shao Foundation assisted with funding the project, along with local State Representative Gene Wu.
“We are a Title I school filled with immigrant students who qualify for free meals and whose families struggle financially even when we are not in a pandemic,” said Wagner. “Given the community participation in the food distributions we have held on campus and the continued need as reported by our students, we recognized the necessity of providing assistance to families in our school and within the community on a regular basis. The store allows us to meet needs every school day.”
In addition to food, students and their families can receive multiple other essential items and obtain information regarding community resources. Essential items and a wide variety of perishable and non-perishable items such as fresh produce, soups, canned meats, canned vegetables, canned pasta, tuna, ramen, rice/beans are available at no cost. Clothing, shoes, jackets, blankets, casual business pants/shirts/blouses, t-shirts, hygiene items (deodorant, body wash, toothpaste, etc.) school supplies, and household items are also available.
The General Store is open before and after school and during each of our three lunch periods; however, any student or person in our community can receive assistance at any time of the day, upon request.
“All of the items in our student assistance center have been donated or purchased by the community or school staff,” said Wagner. “We will be working with community businesses, assistance ministries, and private donors to keep the pantry full.”
Wagner acknowledges the incredible support of the business community surrounding Wisdom High School, and wanted to specifically thank some specific contributors that helped with the project: Westco Ventures, Teacher Aid, West Houston Assistance Ministries, Houston Food Bank, and Servant of Nations Church. Also, some members of the Wisdom staff that were instrumental include Julia Roman, Joan Wagner, Drew Thurman, Brett Guillory, Frank Alderete, Lisa Jasek, Kenya Washington, Xochitl Echeverz, Philip Joseph, and Leticia Arreguin.