DALLAS - A once shuttered Dallas elementary school is now providing a place of comfort to Dallas Independent School District students without a home.
The non-profit CitySquare decided to create the safe permanent place. The first-of-its-kind youth center opened in southern Dallas in June and already leaders said they are seeing a positive impact on students.
When a student doesn’t know where he or she will be after school, it makes it harder to focus in school.
“Before, I had to find money to wash clothes or get a shower. Now I have a free place to shower, wash my clothes and if I need anything they help me,” said Yasmine Smith, a student at El Centro College.
The Fannie C. Harris Youth Center serves homeless Dallas ISD students and young adults who have aged out of the foster care system like Smith.
“When foster care is there for you and helps you with everything, then you have to do everything on your own, it is really hard,” she said.
Smith said the center provides stability at a time in her life that is anything but. She is studying nursing at El Centro College but she doesn’t have a permanent home.
“If it wasn’t here, I would be struggling like before,” she said.
The once-closed elementary school is now a place with the comforts of a home.
It has a kitchen, showers, laundry facilities and most importantly places to take a load off, study and hang out with friends who are in similar situations.
Dallas Cowboys player Kerry Hyder recently dropped in at the center to help. He said he was inspired by a news story he saw on it.
“My wife was moved by it and wanted to see how we could help. We put our heads together and decided to do this,” he said.
Hyder bought the kids dinner and set up a pop-up shop with new Champs clothes and shoes.
“Me and my mom have had struggles, tough situations. To come back and help kids in situations I was in, I want to help out,” he said. “If I can be here and be a light to them I want to do that.”
Currently, Dallas ISD has about 135 students who don’t have homes. Some don’t even have parents.