Hart: Preschool Proves Itself To Homeless Mom | Houston , Texas | Chron.com
Wendi Hay had faith and less than $400 when she arrived in Houston three years ago.
She’d fled Alabama and a “domestic violence situation” in the middle of the night with her four daughters. After they stayed briefly with relatives, Houston beckoned.
“I came to Houston to make a better life for myself,” Hay told me recently. “I came on faith.”
It was rewarded by two Houston nonprofit organizations: the Star of Hope Mission and SEARCH Homeless Services, which provided day-care to her three preschoolers.
“How they treated my children was amazing,” Hay told me.
Each morning, a “little green van” would pull up to Star of Hope and whisk her daughters away to House of Tiny Treasures, a preschool program operated by SEARCH.
While her children were gone, Hay attended a substance abuse program and eventually entered a work-study program at Houston Community College.
“I brag to everybody about House of Tiny Treasures. My youngest is now in pre-K and she’s already reading,” Hay boasted. “My twins are in first grade and reading at an advanced level. I really directly attribute that to House of Tiny Treasures.”
As I wrote on Friday, the Tiny Treasures program is one of many outreach efforts operated by SEARCH Homeless Services under the direction of its CEO, Thao Costis.
Costis, who came to the United States from Vietnam in 1975, exemplifies a “pay it forward” gratitude for the kindness shown her by Houstonians, particularly teachers.
For Costis, education is a key factor in ending the cycle of poverty and homelessness, and that’s why she’s working to expand the House of Tiny Treasures program.
Currently, 32 homeless children are enrolled, at a cost of $16,000 a year – paid for mostly with private donations. Costis hopes to triple the size of the program within the next two years, and her agency has been making plans to raise $2 million to acquire a new location near downtown.