Evelyn Emdin, Harris County Resources for Children and Adults Kinder Emergency Shelter program manager, and the 14 youth under her watch worked together to devise a plan for additional food items on Sunday.
They had been sheltered-in-place throughout Hurricane Harvey and remained optimistic.
“It was so exciting and amazing to know the strength of these children,” Emdin said Tuesday.
Emdin was one of several Harris County Resources for Children and Adults staff members who remained at the Youth Services Center throughout the record-breaking Houston disaster, and many more staff who remained committed to the community and their clients from the first day.
“Judge Ed Emmett has encouraged staff to volunteer this week, while our buildings are closed. But what’s amazing about our Harris County Resources for Children and Adults staff is they didn’t need that encouragement,” said Joel Levine, Harris County Resources for Children and Adults executive director. “They were already in the community, helping the public and each other.”
Community Youth Services (CYS) staff have volunteered at major shelters, such as those at the George R. Brown Convention Center and NRG Stadium, as well as those in their own communities. Kristen Ballard, a CYS program manager, said one of her staff members arranged the setup for a shelter.
CYS is a crisis intervention program housed in the community, primarily within schools, to provide counseling and assistance to youth experiencing crises.
“It’s normal that our staff would be among the first to volunteer,” Ballard said. “It’s very typical of who they are as people and the work that they do.”
Emdin and many staff members did not pause their work throughout the storm.
Staff with the Guardianship Program has worked with clients under the care of Harris County Resources for Children and Adults since Thursday to first ensure each had the necessary supplies and disaster plans, checked on each client throughout the storm and is now personally delivering items to clients.
Guardianship serves as the court-appointed guardian to more than 1,100 elderly and disabled adults in Harris County.
Meanwhile, Emdin, and staff ensured the needs of the youth were met throughout the event and kept youth in the shelter occupied with arts, crafts, movies and other activities throughout the weekend. An on-sight therapist, and staff from TRIAD Mental Health and Intake Diversion also assisted the shelter over the weekend and this week.
The Kinder Emergency Shelter is a temporary home-like facility for youth experiencing familial family crises.
Bernadette Green, Harris County Resources for Children and Adults operator/receptionist, was among the overnight staff who could not leave the building Saturday night and remained in place until Tuesday.
She helped answer calls from the community, directing them to resources and organizations who are accepting donations.
As Green prepared to leave for home Tuesday, she reflected on her four days in the building and all the stories she had heard about staff assisting clients.
“It says that we care,” she said. “We’re here for these kids and the community in any way we can be. I’m proud of that.”