Just before Christmas, Harris Country Sheriff’s Lt. Robert Henry, met Da’Jon Gradney, along with his wife and four young children under the age of 5. The 23-year-old Houston father had lost his job back in October, and before he could find new work, he and his family found themselves on the streets.
“We were roaming the streets of Houston with our stuff in a basket and in a stroller and the kids carrying what they could,” Da’Jon told Samantha Ptashkin of Channel 2 News.
“They just seemed like a special family to us,” Lt. Henry said. The officer helped the Gradney family find temporary housing at the Salvation Army in Conroe.
But that was just the beginning.
In fact, Henry decided that the Gradney children just couldn’t miss out on Christmas, regardless of their circumstances. “My girlfriend and I went there and decided we were going to buy Christmas gifts for them,” Henry recalls.
But it just keeps getting better.
Henry mentioned the Gradney’s to one of his neighbors. That neighbor in turn decided to put the family up in a hotel for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. They then proceeded to help find the homeless family an apartment, which they also furnish, and they’re paying for the first three months of rent.
“This is unbelievable,” Da’Jon Gradney said while sitting on his new couch. “I mean, I didn’t think we would get any of this.”
Since meeting Lt. Henry, Da’Jon has been able to get back on his feet. He has a new maintenance job during the week and also works at a car wash on weekends.
“I don’t have to sleep on the floor. We don’t have to sleep in separate rooms any more. We’re together and we’re happy,” Gradney said. “We’re not going to be homeless again.”
All this is thanks to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and their new homeless outreach program, and of course, Lt. Robert Henry.
“It’s a very fulfilling feeling and a very humbling feeling to be able to have the privilege to help them,” the officer said.
Launched in November, the new community outreach task force helps homeless people by providing basic necessities such as shelter. So far, HCSO has helped over 200 people, including 30 who it helped acquire temporary housing.
There are an estimated 4,500 homeless people in Harris County.