It all started with a student named Gary. From the time he was born in 1994, there has been one challenge after another. His mother died in 2005, and his father has never been in his life. Although he has several siblings through his father, he has never met any of them and those he has have disowned him. His family bounced around from East Texas, Oklahoma, and beyond. He has several family members who have given up on their relationship in one form or another and he has been the subject of several physical, emotional, and psychological abuses. Because of the instability of his familial support, Gary bounced around to four different school districts trying to complete his education. Soon he became homeless, and began couch surfing with friends.
In Gary’s junior year, he was training for track, running along one of those sleepy roads where hardly any traffic has been stirring. Unfortunately this day, he was struck by a drunk driver and had been left for dead. When authorities finally came, there were prepared to give last rites. Then a miracle happened, and Gary lived. He might have pulled through, but not without any scars. He spent two months learning how to walk again and he also had to have part of his skull replaced with titanium.
The summer after the accident our principal, Dr. Mossige, heard Gary’s story and reached out to Dr. Johnson and Susan Cook to get resources for Gary. He needed shelter, food, clothes, counseling, and medical attention. Immediately, Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Cook began to contact local organizations that could help us attain these resources for him. However, there were too many waiting lists, too many long referral processes, and we needed to help him now. Discouraged and not knowing what to do, Mrs. Cook reached out to a community leader and Paschal parent. While brainstorming they were able to find shelter for Gary. Later an entire community of parents came together to give him food, clothes, furnish his new home, and later would help him get transportation. Through Dr. Johnson, he was able to get assistance in dealing with his medical bills, we were able to get him on food stamps, and it was finally looking up. Throughout the rest of his time here at Paschal, along with school personnel and families, we continued to look out and care for him. He was no longer worried about food, or where he would sleep. He finally had a home and a support system that was rooting for him.
After graduation, through a partnership with Texas Wesleyan, he was able to get a full ride (all inclusive) for all four years of his education. Into his freshmen year, he began to attend counseling to help him heal from everything he had gone through. He signed a contract, promising to remain in the stable home that had been created for him, maintain a high GPA and school attendance, and continue to pursue counseling.
I had the privilege of meeting Gary this last fall during a college visit for some of our students to Texas Wesleyan. Through his smile and joy you would never have known the suffering and dark times this kid has endured. He is now a sophomore, he has moved onto campus, has maintained a high GPA, and is looking to be on the Dean’s List this year while pursuing his degree in psychology. This is the heart of the Paschal Harvest Project: to intervene in the life of a student during their time of need to potentially make a difference in their academic achievement and future possibilities. With almost 60% of our population being socially economically disadvantaged there is a great need here at Paschal. Whether its food, clothes, or even counseling or emotional needs we are trying to meet, we are creating a support system for those that lack it. We are offering a helping hand, that will hopefully teach students that regardless of their circumstances, they can reach the end. Each case is different, and not all are as severe as others, but in the end if we can fulfill some of these needs and provide support and encouragement, we can make a difference in a child’s life.
We hope this helps give you a better picture of who we are and what we do. We have seen so much growth in the past semester. Through different partnerships with community organizations, foundations, churches, and leaders we have been able to come together to better serve our community, school, families, and students.