LUBBOCK, Texas — Two weeks ago, Teri Fontenot and her two dogs braved strong storms of the year under an awning at Clapp Park. Facing an empty bank account and full shelters, a metal bench was her only support in the world.
This week, she returned to Clapp Park in her new car – sporting a new wardrobe and a newfound confidence that her and her dogs had a warm place to sleep. Her most prized new possession, though, was a long hand-written list of who to thank.
After Teri shared her story on KAMC News on Aug. 31, dozens of donations totaling more than $4,700 came in from across the country.
“It was just an accident, really a coincidence, but it was definitely a miracle,” Teri said. “I just want everyone to know that miracles still happen today. I didn’t even expect a dollar. I didn’t expect anything. I was very, very thankful. It’s like, Lord, he just opened up the Heavens and poured blessings on us.”
As Teri showed off her new shoes and hoodie, emblazoned with the word “Blessed” across the front, she expressed her gratitude for those who have donated money and offered her countless other priceless gifts.
“We got help just in time,” she said. “I really don’t know what I would have done. I would have been stuck, I would have been in trouble. And so I’m very thankful for the help. Because winter’s coming. It’s going to be cold.”
She said one man drove all the way from north of Idalou to find her on the night her story first aired.
“He had a red truck, and he had hay in the back of it, just a good ole boy,” she remembered. “The help he gave us lasted and helped us so much with bus tickets, food, and things that we needed until the money came in from the GoFundMe. And I just want to say thank you to him. And then a couple of ladies came in, Sandra and Carol. They’re babysitting the dogs for us. And that’s a big help, we were able to move around a lot more, you know, not having the dogs with us at the moment.”
Teri has been on the streets of Lubbock for about two months, along with her daughter, who she says has also been a constant source of safety and comfort.
“She could have gone to her friends and hung out there, but she chose to be on the street with me to protect me and support me and help me and she didn’t have to, but I just want to say thank you to her and her friends. They did give us showers sometimes,” she said. “And there was a lady, some nurse, her name’s Lisa. She let us in house couple of times and let us shower. And I want to say thank you to her. And I got a whole list of people.
“The StarCare care lady, her name is Norma, she came in and she has loads of resources,” she continued. “And she helps us with bus passes and food and clothes and things like that. And Lubbock Impact, they helped us, and my son, he helped us. I just owe this to people.”
Teri especially remembers the support from the Plainview Police Department, who offered her a safe place to sleep in her car instead of reprimanding her.
“I went and found a real dark spot next to this building so I would be able to crash there. I was just getting ready to relax and then here comes this police officer, and then another one, and then another one,” she said. “I was like ‘what did I do wrong? I’m not speeding, I’m parked,’
“He said, ‘We’re looking out for your safety. Why don’t you come park next to the police station? There’s a quiet, dark spot there and that way you will be protected.’ So I crashed there and I didn’t have any fears. I want to thank all the police officers from the Plainview Police Department for looking out for me.”
Teri has accepted all of this help from the community apprehensively, but gratefully. Yet she still has challenges ahead. She works most days with Redcap staffing, but the wages are not yet enough to qualify her for a permanent apartment.
“We did get transportation, we did get a place for the dogs, Praise God. But we still didn’t get shelter yet. I’m sorry, but we didn’t we’re trying. And so that’s what’s been going on the last two weeks. A lot of positives, a lot of encouragement. I’m blessed. Thank you.”