Homeless Senior Returns To Family In West Africa After 32 Years, Thanks To Dallas Shelter | KERA News

Homeless Senior Returns To Family In West Africa After 32 Years, Thanks To Dallas Shelter

Apr 17, 2017

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Dallas shelter funds homeless senior’s trip to Sierra Leone; Texans demand Trump’s tax returns; Houston school district to review its special ed department; and more.

A lot of time and space has kept a homeless senior in Dallas away from his family — 32 years and 5,600 miles to be exact. But today, Gershon Campbell, 74, will be flying back to Sierra Leone in West Africa thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Campbell tells WFAA his path to homelessness is a “long story.” Campbell came to Dallas in 1985 when a friend invited him. He got a visa and thought he was on his way to a better life. He worked as a janitor and owned and operated his own ice cream truck for 15 years. But his health declined; he received life-saving open heart surgery, and the expenses mounted. He then relied on the Austin Street Center, a Dallas emergency homeless shelter, for a safe place to sleep every night.


The street center has provided much more than a cot in a corner. Operators at the shelter knew Campbell wanted to return home to be with his two adult children and extended family before he got too sick or too old. So, they set up a GoFundMe campaign Thursday with a goal of 1,820 to “help Mr. C get home!” In less than a day, the money was raised for the plane ticket, a round-trip ticket for a nephew to be his chaperone and extra money for when he arrives. [WFAA]

  • Hundreds of Texans protested Saturday as part of a nationwide demand for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns. Demonstrators gathered in Fort Worth outside the Tarrant County Courthouse as part of what was dubbed the Tax March in nearly 150 cities, including Austin and Houston. President Trump was the first major-party nominee in 40 years to not release his tax returns, saying it was because he was under audit. He later said that voters don't care. Tuesday is the deadline for taxpayers to file their returns. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Associated Press]


  • The largest school district in Texas plans to spend $300,000 for an audit of its special education department. Houston Independent School District officials want to make sure the right resources, systems and processes are in place, according to the Houston Chronicle, which reported last year that Texas has systematically denied special education services to thousands of eligible students. American Institutes for Research will look at how the district identifies children needing special services from among its 215,000 students, how it serves them, and how it manages its budget and resources. [The Associated Press]


  • The number of Texas foster children without homes to stay in has more than doubled from February to March. The Texas Department of Family Protective Services on Friday said that 65 foster children slept at least two consecutive nights in a state office, motel or shelter last month, up from 29 the month before, The Associated Press reports. Gov. Greg Abbott and Republican legislative leaders have said increasing foster care capacity and improving Child Protective Services investigations are a top priority in this year's session, which ends May 29. Texas is under federal court order to improve its foster care system. [The Associated Press]


  • Alicia Eggert uses words to make art, but she’s not a writer. The Dentonite makes sculptures that look like signs; her work uncovers layers of meaning in common phrases and places. For example, in 2013 she created a wall-sized neon sign (view here) that reads “You are on an Island,” but when it blinks it reads, “You are an Island.” Eggert moved to North Texas in 2015 to teach studio art and the sculpture at the University of North Texas. Her artwork and installations are already gaining attention in the region. Learn more about Eggert in the Artist Spotlight. [Art&Seek]

The High Five is KERA's daily roundup of news stories from Dallas-Fort Worth and across the state. Explore our archives here. And sign up for our weekly email for the North Texas news you need to know.