As our first spotlight, please enjoy meeting “Mr. Mike” and congratulate him on 25 years of quietly and faithfully serving people without homes in our community.
“What I’m asking is to give yourself a chance to move forward. Don’t give up on yourself. And that’s what it’s about.”
When you chat with Michael ‘Mr. Mike’ Blockson, Street Outreach Coordinator at Covenant House Texas, one thing is noticeably clear, it would be hard to find someone more committed to helping at-risk youth than he is.
On the same year Covenant House Texas celebrates its 40th anniversary, Mike is toasting to a milestone of his own: 25 years with the nonprofit. “It wasn’t a point of just trying to hang on for 25 years,” says Blockson. “It was just an ability to help people that were in need and not worrying about the time. It’s about giving them what they need and if you don’t have it, find people that could meet those needs.”
The Street Outreach program is led by Mike and two staff members. They often recruit Covenant House youth or community volunteers to help put together care packages. From Monday through Friday, you’ll find Mike and his team on the streets of Houston providing food, hygiene products, and a kind ear to listen to all those currently experiencing homelessness. Part of their daily ritual is making between 60 to 70 sandwiches to give away.
It takes the outreach team about 30 days to traverse the city looking to help people living outdoors. “Even though we’re focused pretty much on 18-to-24-year-olds, we are on the street and we’ll pretty much deal with anyone who needs our help,” says Blockson. “So, if there’s a need out there we try to meet it, whatever it is.”
If you ask Mike, he’ll tell you he’s helped at least 4,000 at-risk youth during his quarter century with Covenant House. He says he never tries to push a youth into Covenant House Texas, he just gently reminds them that it’s there for them when they are ready.
Mike says what makes this success possible is the relationships they’ve built in on the streets and in the communities. Mike makes it a point to share Covenant House’s information with neighbors, and even people who may not be experiencing homelessness, in hopes it’ll be passed along to someone in need. All they must do is call and Mike and his team will be there, no questions asked.
Despite the dozens of success stories, Mike says there is still work to be done. “What the general public needs to understand is they can help out,” says Mike. “It doesn’t take money. It doesn’t take too much of your time. It’s about spending 15 to 20 minutes with an individual and letting them know somebody cares. All they need is hand up. Not a handout, but a hand up. Somebody to touch them and give them an opportunity to move forward.”
When asked to describe his time with Covenant House in three words, Mike replied with a smile and light chuckle, “Awesome, outstanding and repetitive.”
“So as far as 25 years, it seems like it’s been less than five for me,” says Blockson. “Time has flown by, but the services are still needed.”