Passionate About the Community
and the Moms Who Live Here

Did You Know? There are 3500 Homeless Students in Dallas ISD

Let me just put the hard stuff out here first – there are approximately 3500 homeless students in attendance in the Dallas ISD; 442 of them in high school. Most of them are lucky enough to move around in relative safety while in the care of a parent or other trusted adult, but there are 112 documented cases of high school students living alone in a car, a park, a street, campground or abandoned building. These are the unsheltered students, mostly 9th graders. Why? Because not long after this age the kids just drop out.  

So what does homeless mean when we’re talking about school kids? It means kids who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Ranging from living in a motel or on a friend’s couch, these are the homeless school students stuck in a tough spot in life whether due to abandonment, family trouble, or financial issues. You know what? Just fill in the blank with all the imaginative and many situations that can cause a child to be put in a place he never counted on, then thank God that your own child isn’t sitting in that same chair.  

Y’all, currently there is not a facility in Dallas that provides shelter services, education and other support services, or 24/7 drop-in services under one roof for students enrolled in DISD schools. As much as I love that Dallas ISD is in the process of re-purposing an unused elementary school campus to be a 35-bed homeless shelter for students ages 14-21 with a homeless drop-in center for other kids available 24/7, it’s not yet ready at this writing.  

I think I knew even when my kids were in elementary school that there were homeless students in class with them. Not because they looked different or acted different, but because our school had a sort of quiet, behind the scenes program going on for certain kids to take backpacks full of food with them over the weekend.  Think peanut butter, bread, bottled water…. I honestly never took time to think where they might be taking it.  

I’m not sure I got the full picture of it till my kids started high school and I learned that each of the large Dallas ISD high schools has its own Homeless Students Drop In Center – a place on campus, usually open once a week, that provides breakfast, hygiene items, backpacks, and support for the kids at that school. We know there are about 50 homeless students using the center at my kids’ school – but give it time; it just opened this year and the administration is sure there are more that need it that just aren’t brave enough to stop by yet. I knew all year that our school opened a homeless drop in center, but my eyes were opened to the sadness of it all yesterday when I received a link to an Amazon wishlist of needed items for the kids at our school. 

I guess because they look just like every other kid there. All students wear uniforms, and with most of the student population being of low socio-economic status anyway, many receive their uniforms through donations, grants, or from the school’s uniform closet anyway. I guess I never knew who was or wasn’t getting what they needed. I’m feeling the mirror reflecting pretty dimly on me right about now.  

Maybe I’ve been so busy noticing the things going on with my own kids, the ones that have beds and clean clothes and no worries about where their next meal comes from, to be reminded of the ones that depend on people like me to supply donated items so they can have a jar of peanut butter. I guess I never stopped to put faces with the homeless name.  

Until yesterday, when I clicked on the Bryan Adams High School wishlist and let my heart feel the heavy need that these kids feel every day. I let my mind wander through the list of needs – backpacks, pre-packaged meals, and hygiene items –  and for a moment, hated my plan to stop by the bakery on the way home from picking up the boys from school so everyone could get a million of their favorite things. 

Y’all, I didn’t know. Or I didn’t want to know. But as I was talking to Kid 2 about it, the thought of that particular age, being such a roller coaster time anyway – the body changes, the hormonal ups and downs, the whole high school time being its own adventure in growing up and falling back down – I think the need for acne wash is what broke my heart. I thought about how easily we fill a prescription or run to Target when we run low on something. I thought about how hard those days are when my kids wake up and feel less than amazing because of just being 14 or 16 or 17,  trapped in a body that has a mind of its own – and I cried for the thought of the kids who are doing their cleaning up in the school bathroom. I said a prayer of thanksgiving that they can, but hope it doesn’t stay like that too long. I cried for the kids that need the comforts of home in a time like this, and I cried that I never took the time to do anything about it.   

What I’m doing to help homeless students in DISD

So today I am. Today I am shopping this school wish list on Amazon. And today I am sharing the list with you. I am asking you to share and shop,  and shop and share. Then shop and share some more.   

I’m asking you to call the Dallas ISD Homeless Education Program and ask what they need TODAY. Then call them again next week and ask again. 

I am asking you to take a look at this non-profit organization, Hope Supply Company – a local organization that maintains a large warehouse of critically needed items for children and youth including diapers, wipes, hygiene items, school supplies, and school uniforms. These items are distributed to 60 partner agencies including the Dallas ISD Homeless Education Program. Then give something – your time, your talent, your gifts.  

And I’m asking you to go into your own kids’ schools and check on this very thing. Then do something about helping the homeless students in your school.  

Maybe I can only buy deodorant for a needy kid today. That’s okay because it’s something they need and so do I  – to think of someone else’s kids other than my own  – as if they were my own – and put a face with the problem and make it real to me. Then I want to ask as many people as I can to do the same. 

Part of me wants to forget about the problem. Part of me hopes that I never can. 

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26 Responses to Did You Know? There are 3500 Homeless Students in Dallas ISD

  1. tamber johnson February 27, 2018 at 5:55 pm #

    I went on the list to purchase some things and the address for Bryan Adams did not populate via Amazon what is the address?

    • Ashley Marshall February 28, 2018 at 11:21 am #

      When you go to check out an address for Jody Martin should be an option(the gift registry contact). You can send it to her, Amazon masks the full address for safety reasons I suppose.

      • Kristi Walters
        Kristi Walters February 28, 2018 at 6:02 pm #

        Thanks Ashley for getting to this reply so quick. You are correct and I will also contact Jody to see if she can put BA more prominently in the list title.

        • Ashley Marshall March 1, 2018 at 8:57 am #

          You’re welcome Kristi! Thank you for this article. I am the manager of the homeless education program for the district and someone sent this article to me. Thank you for helping shed some light on our homeless youth in the district.

          • Kristi Walters
            Kristi Walters March 2, 2018 at 3:22 pm #

            Ashley, I included the phone number for one of the district offices in the post as well. Was it yours? If not, I hope you can let that person know the phone number was shared, and I seriously hope the phone starts ringing with offers of donations and help. I know the link for BA is already seeing some response, and if we get a world full of donations, I know it would be wonderful to spread the love around to other centers as well. I’ll follow up with Jody about that, too. Please let me know if there are any other concerns or issues that you feel important to share. We have a very active and loving audience in our Dallas mamas.

          • Kristy F September 5, 2018 at 9:58 pm #

            Ashley where do we send things?

    • Kristi Walters
      Kristi Walters February 28, 2018 at 6:01 pm #

      Yes, Tamber… hope you got it answered for you already, but the address that it will be listed under has the name, Jody. She is the director of the Homeless Drop In Center at Bryan Adams, and when I asked her she said the delivery address she has on file is of the school. I will contact her to see if she can change the name on this list to better reflect that it is for BA. Thank you for clicking and shopping and donating.

      • Ashley Marshall March 7, 2018 at 7:06 pm #

        Yes-that’s my number! Look forward to meeting you soon! Thank you for the amazing article!

  2. Mary Ann Hernandez February 28, 2018 at 10:44 pm #

    I can help with anyone that wants to donate to our students at Molina High School.

    • Kristi Walters
      Kristi Walters March 2, 2018 at 3:26 pm #

      Mary Ann, does Molina have a link to a wish list on Amazon like the one I provided in the post? If you do, please share it here. Trust that if I would’ve had the lists for every school at the time my post was due, I would’ve included them all. My hope for this post was of course to shine some light on an issue we all need to know more about, but also to share some tangible love and resources with the schools. I can’t wait to see what the next week or so brings as people read and learn and help.

  3. Julie Davenport March 1, 2018 at 12:46 pm #

    So thankful for your article. Journey to Dream built Kyle’s Place in Lewisville Texas because of this very issue. We are so excited but sad it is needed. Every community needs to rally around these kids and help. It is an epidemic and it is not improving, but it can with people doing just a little each day!

    • Kristi Walters
      Kristi Walters March 2, 2018 at 3:34 pm #

      Julie, I just looked at the Journey to Dream site and WOW. I wish I had known about all the amazing organizations out there tackling this very issue before I submitted the post. I know if you are at all like me you want to solve the entire problem, worldwide, and in only one day. But I have to slow myself and remind myself … that even a simple blog post that directs help to a handful of recipients can make a decent dent in the need – for a time. The we start all over again. Thank you for reading and sharing this.

  4. Julie Davenport March 1, 2018 at 12:47 pm #

    Information about Kyle’s place can be found on the Journey to Dream website.

  5. Olanders Tasby March 8, 2018 at 9:28 am #

    I am ashamed to say that I was a graduate of the DISD school district in 1986 and had no idea of the magnitude of our homeless students back then or today. I will definitely reach out and assist in whatever way possible. I have been prayering about what God wants me to do and kids continue to come up in my spirit. If there is anything I can do to volunteer and help with please let me know. Thank you Kristi for the post and God bless all that you are trying to do for the kids

    • Kristi Walters
      Kristi Walters March 11, 2018 at 6:37 pm #

      I am a DISD graduate as well and you know what? I think kids are just living the life of kids and all we see are kid things, teen things and butterflies – if we take a second to avert our view of life onto something outside of our own selfish interests. I’m totally with you on the ignorance of this and almost every other issue – and having kids of my own going through public school has made me wake up and notice some reality. So first, let me share the phone number of Ashley Marshall, DISD Homeless student liaison. 972-749-5789. The week of 3/12 is spring break so not sure if anyone will answer. Next, the number for volunteer services is 972-925-5440. Anyone can volunteer, but all must go through the district volunteer screening first. Then you’re good to go. What part of Dallas are you in? I can help you get hooked up at both Hill middle school and Bryan Adams High School in east Dallas if you’re interested in that. If so, email me at [email protected] and I can help you.

      And may I also add that I am involved with a volunteer in Uganda that has just opened a school for children, and she is looking for both pen pals and sponsors for kids to attend school. Let me know if you are interested in this also. I am a pen pal and sponsor of a little girl and let me promise you that I am totally in love with this little angel and thank God for introducing me into her and her family’s life.

  6. Lena Anderson March 9, 2018 at 8:48 am #

    I taught high school for 42 years in DallasISD. Retired in 2011.

    How do I connect with a homeless student or just a student in need to become become a person of interest in their lives. For example: Eating out, shopping out, ect.

    • Kristi Walters
      Kristi Walters March 11, 2018 at 6:44 pm #

      Lena, first, let me share the phone number of Ashley Marshall, DISD Homeless student liaison. 972-749-5789. The week of 3/12 is spring break so not sure if anyone will answer. Next, the number for volunteer services is 972-925-5440. Anyone can volunteer, but all must go through the district volunteer screening first. You already know that… why am I telling a 42 year DISD veteran that bit? And a giant salute to you for your tireless service, effort and gifts to us all through teaching.

      What part of Dallas are you in? I can help you get hooked up at both Hill middle school and Bryan Adams High School in east Dallas if you’re interested in that. If so, email me at [email protected] and I can help you. I will tell you this though, …. I had access to the data shared with the school board in September to attain these facts – and the most cases of homeless students on their own are at Skyline High School. I do not have any contacts there, but maybe you do? I also know that Church of the Incarnation works with the homeless kids at North Dallas High School, and they may be good to contact about helping.

  7. S Korioth March 12, 2018 at 2:16 pm #

    I saw this article on my neighborhood facebook page and was really troubled by it. I ordered several items on Amazon from Jody’s list and had shipped to her mystery wish list address, but today I’m getting messages from Amazon that they can’t deliver because the “business is closed.” Seems pretty lame-brained for Jody, whoever she is, to set an address that can’t take deliveries. Now that I read your comments I notice that this is spring break week for DISD – would have been nice to put this in the original post for those of us whose kids are in their 20’s and 30’s.

    • Kristi Walters
      Kristi Walters March 12, 2018 at 4:45 pm #

      First, thank you for purchasing items from the list. But please let me clarify,… it has never been a mystery list or mystery address. It is actually the Amazon wish list for the Homeless Student Drop In Center at Bryan Adams High School in east Dallas. The director of the drop in center at Bryan Adams, whose name is Jody, is actually the best thing that has happened to these students in a long time, so I think lame brained is not only sort of harsh, but actually mean. The items are delivered to the school address, and yes, the week of March 12 is DISD spring break week. I would’ve included that in the post had I known that the post was going to continue to be shared beyond my expectations. I had no way to know that it would still be circulating as it is weeks after its publication date. I do apologize for the confusion, and hopefully for those people having items delivered this week, I feel sure that Amazon will be able to deliver when the school re-opens. But giving this comment some thought, my actual concern is more for the students that do not have access to this or any other DISD drop in homeless center located on school campuses due to the break. The purchased items will take care of themselves, but the kids? I hope they will, too.

    • Maggie March 13, 2018 at 1:27 pm #

      Man, name calling is not going to solve this problem! If you want to call someone a name who has dedicated her career to the homeless students in Dallas ISD, why not call her “inspirational” or “selfless” rather than the name you chose?

  8. Teri Gilley March 19, 2018 at 8:47 pm #

    I was Pregnant at 16, and my Mother went to prison. I was alone and on my own. A Church in Fort Worth found a home for me to stay at and the school there sent a teacher out to teach me. She was so sweet to me and took me under her wing. I was the only student she had out of the four Girls that was going to give my baby up for adoption. But she spoke to the other girls in the group and we had some classes together. I was alone and had a box with all I owned. So instead of a baby shower for me, a church gave me a shower with clothes, Shoes, Pj’s and GirLie things. I left the hospital not sure where I was going to live. But I called the man that my mother, and I lived with and asked him if I could stay with him till I finished school. I went to the school and spoke to my Principal and he assured me that I could walk with my class and I did. I did not tell anyone till my 20 year reunion. It was a shock to most how I kept this to my self. I’ve worked hard to have what I have now. Oh I have 2 children grown know, and my son that I gave up for adoption is in my life now. He is 40 yrs old and moved in with me. Homelessness is real and even harder now. My kids have had kids spend the night or longer with us. Helping those less fortunate especially a young adult/child is a must, a descendant thing to show you own how fortunate they really are!! Teach your kids compassion and you’ll never have bullies in school, it’s a life lesson, you can’t buy it.

    • Kristi Walters
      Kristi Walters March 30, 2018 at 1:55 pm #

      Dear Teri, I really don’t even know how to reply to your story. I guess the best I can offer is a thank you for sharing this with me, with the readers, and for your hard honesty. I wrote this post on student homelessness from the perspective of a mom whose kids have never held that fear, and mostly – from the perspective of a person that has never walked in any shoes like yours. I love that your story has both ups and downs, but the fact that the ups win out makes my heart sing for joy. I am thankful for you today, for telling me this, for giving hope to the young people who may be experiencing something so similar.

  9. Angela March 20, 2018 at 7:04 am #

    Thomas Jefferson high school in Dallas, Texas is having the same issue. Please call principal’s office for more details. Thank you!

    • Kristi Walters
      Kristi Walters March 30, 2018 at 1:57 pm #

      Angela, I am actually meeting with the homeless student department soon and I hope we can expand our efforts even beyond where this post has taken us. Feel free to email me at [email protected] with any other details.

  10. Erin March 21, 2018 at 1:18 am #

    Thank you for your post. I wish there were a sponsorship program that could connect us directly with a child to help.

    • Kristi Walters
      Kristi Walters March 30, 2018 at 2:00 pm #

      Erin, I am hoping something like this can show up someday as well. I have a meeting next week with some people FAR MORE important than I am…… and I will share your comment. I totally agree – and after the outpouring of support for this post, I have no doubt about the ability and willingness of all our sweet Dallas people to step up and start making some changes.

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