By Celine Wallace
The city of Houston is known to be a “global city” for the position it holds economically in the world. Having many strengths in industries of business, technology, architecture, entertainment, and more, the poverty rate is typically overlooked. Houston’s last census bureau was in year 2014, estimating 22.9% for poverty rate. The sad part about this count designed by the American Community Survey, is that it is one of the only questionable rates within the statistics. There is a warning symbol on the estimated rate of poverty in Houston, Texas stating, “Source 2014: American Community Survey (ACS), 5 year estimates. Estimates are not comparable to other geographic levels of poverty rate.” (http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/4835000).
Does the warning spur an inquisitiveness of why the count cannot be detailed to an estimate of the present time? Has the rate increased or decreased in poverty? How is the community moving in to take note of these people struggling on the streets?
Stepping into the commonly popular neighborhood of Montrose Houston located in Midtown, you would come upon two types of people: the River Oaks residencies or the street roamers pleading for help. The amount of homeless Houstonians walking Montrose is discouragingly abundant.
Percy Lee Kennedy, founder of SPIRIT: changing the face of single parenting, took this factor in Houston to heart. Along with other events he holds for single parents and children of single parents, he has a strong sentiment toward the less fortunate community. Kennedy teamed up with Sprinkles Cupcakes, an as you would title “upper-class gourmet hand crafting bakery,” and delivers the cupcakes he receives every fourth Wednesday of the month to the Montrose Street Reach.
Why every fourth Wednesday of the month you ask? The financial assistance being supplied by the government eventually starts running out for the homeless. It gets harder at the end of the month to pay for food. Montrose Street Reach, which holds weekly Wednesday church services, uses the fourth Wednesday to bring in many people with the food offered but most importantly, the opportunity to hear a good word and for them to meet people that care.
Kennedy uses this day at Montrose Street Reach to provide the dessert. The Sprinkles cupcakes vary with many types such as red velvet, carrot cake, chocolate, vanilla, cocoanut, cinnamon, and lemon. He titles his group of volunteers’ work as, “Cupcakes for Champs.” The volunteers are able to assist Kennedy and Montrose Street Reach with picking up the cupcakes from Sprinkles, serving main meals, cupcakes, and drinks, taking photos for the website, assisting the church volunteers with taking down the set up, and most importantly showing compassion toward the people in need.
Sprinkles boxed packages passed out at Montrose
Percy Lee Kennedy (white collared shirt), founder of Cupcakes for Champs, assists passing out drinks with ice.
“The goal is to bring families together every month and turn our faces from meeting our needs to the needs of others. By focusing on their needs, our lives are changing along with them. The impact Cupcakes for Champs has made has not only been seen in the people being served, but the people serving,” stated Kennedy.
The Montrose Street Reach team started up for about 4-5 homeless people, then eventually built its way up to assisting 80-120 forgotten and at risk street kids and the elderly homeless. “Many of them exist as prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, transsexuals, and drag queens working the streets of our city to survive. We seek to instill Christian values and give practical assistance through our Wednesday night outreach.” (http://www.montrosestreetreach.com/).
Ariana McClendon, a high school student who volunteers at the Montrose Street Reach with Cupcakes for Champs, started attending fourth Wednesday services in August of year 2015. Seeing what impact could be made with the less fortunate of Houston, she has now become a monthly member. “It was very eye-opening to see the struggles people in my own city were facing. This ministry made me realize some things we take for granted so easily and then how blessed we are. I recommend outreach groups for everyone and their communities.”
Montrose Street Reach volunteers assisting in prayer, worship, and photography.
Ariana McClendon handing out Sprinkles with Cupcakes for Champs.
Numerous amounts of people in Montrose Houston live in poverty with the everyday struggle of finding shelter, warmth, water, food, clothes, baby formula, diapers, medical attention, and other necessities. If the government is not able to help them and their needs to support a family, who will?
The Montrose Street Reach and Cupcakes for Champs organizations have made a positive impact on the community with service toward the less fortunate. Whether it be just handing a cupcake over or providing a place to stay to the homeless, any help is accepted by the people of Montrose Houston. Imagine what great impression we can put on the city of Houston or any other city if we extend out a helping hand to others in need.
For more information on Cupcakes for Champs, check out: http://www.voicesofthefatherless.com/