Stories & Articles - Archive


Charles Dickens once wrote, “A very little key will open a very heavy door.”

This concept resonates with us at COMPASS.  Our homeless clients face many barriers to a more stable life, and we’ve learned that the simplest help can ultimately have a huge impact.  After 34 years, we know which small keys open the heavy door of homelessness. The little keys we use are woven into our intensive case work with nearly 1,400 men and women each year.

Handing a pair of reading glasses to a middle-aged man who temporarily calls the streets home will not immediately put a roof over his head. But it will allow him to work on a résumé, pore over job leads, and send emails, which can all lead to a long awaited job interview.  Just getting an interview will build up his battered confidence.  And the third or fourth one may lead to the job he so desperately seeks.   

We know that the $7.50 in bus fare we give a diabetic client will not be her ticket out of a homeless shelter.  But it does mean she will keep her doctor’s appointment on Tuesday and get back on the insulin she needs, which will make her feel better.  Good health is invaluable, homeless or not. Feeling well will foster the enthusiasm she needs to pursue the goals we’ve helped her identify. It improves the chances of the larger successes she’s been hoping for.

Having something as simple as a mailing address at COMPASS does not solve all of a client’s problems. Yet, it is through the mail that he will get his social security card, driver’s license, voter registration card, letters from family, and food stamps or social security benefits.  The ability to receive mail is truly a small key that opens a door every time one of our clients comes by to pick up his mail.  After all, one thing leads to another. 

For COMPASS clients, unemployment, mental illness, a poor education, substance abuse, incarceration, bad health, and isolation from family – the list goes on and on all compound the weight of an already very heavy door.  As you can imagine, the door seems especially heavy during the Holidays.

What you may not know is that you can help open it.  You hold the key.

Please consider making a holiday gift to COMPASS this year. We rely on individual gifts, and the need is great.

Warmest Wishes for the Holidays,

Cynthia Brannon
Executive Director
December 2015

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Houston COMPASS, Inc.
1212 Prairie St.
Houston, TX 77002

Telephone: 713-229-8319
FAX: 713-229-8560