Union’s low-key network sees Gulf Coast Windows help elderly crime victim in need of window repairs

Tom Kennedy

The HPD help network came through once again in its typically low-key fashion without TV cameras or any other kudos-seeking maneuvers.

As usual, it started with a crime against an innocent person, in this case an elderly homeowner.

Let’s tell the complete story, complete with a happy ending, thanks to the unsung network.

On the evening of Jan. 8 an aggressive teenager sought a meeting with his girlfriend, who was residing with her 77-year-old grandmother, Jane Harrison, in the 8100 block of Hoffman on the Northeast side.

The girl was afraid of the boyfriend and she and her grandmother refused to open the door to him.

The individual, Joseph Simon, 18, grew angry, grabbed a ceramic vase and used it as a club to bang out the glass in the front windows of Mrs. Harrison’s wood-framed home, according to a report compiled by the Burglary & Theft Division.

The situation left a woman on a fixed income with little or no hope for getting her windows fixed.

Sgt. Troy Triplett of B&T knew what to do. He called HPOU President Joe Gamaldi and pled the case. Gamaldi and his predecessor, Ray Hunt, knew they could count on KTRH Radio personality Michael Berry, a devoted friend of all Houston police officers, for ideas.

Berry referred the HPOU leaders to Gulf Coast Windows, whose owner, Jim Fiume, responded with a generous, unconditional offer.

Fiume goes back three decades as a 740 KTRH advertiser and has grown to know radio personality Berry over those years. The two know what the good guys do.

When Berry told Fiume what happened, “we contacted the person, questioned the lady and went over there and she had a few of her windows busted out,” Fiume explained.

“We’re going to put in better glass, IG glass – or insulated glass – but had to put plywood up where the damaged windows were. About a week from now we should have the replacement glass for each window that’s busted out.”

He said he crew learned that all six of the front windows were ruined and “there’s not much more windows left.”

Fiume admitted he didn’t know the specifics of what happened to Mrs. Harrison’s windows but offered what amounted to an expert opinion.

“When we see something like this it’s always a boyfriend, family member or wife. We usually get a cal back from a man or woman who say my girlfriend (or boyfriend) left my house and busted out every window in my house or my car. Nobody gets six or seven windows broken out in storms. It’s usually a human being.”

By the way, the company’s owner never sought any television glory or recognition, preferring the low-key approach often used by the Union and its dedicated community partners.

It all happened fast.

“Within a half hour Michael Berry put us in touch with Gulf Coast Windows,” Gamaldi explained. “The owner agreed to send out a crew and replace the windows for free. We invited him to our meeting but he told us he didn’t need any credit, no accolades. He was doing something great like this but at the same time did not want the credit for it.

“We don’t have any access to what it cost. They just took care of it.”

Gamaldi spoke to Mrs. Harrison on the phone and found her to be “incredibly gracious.”

“She said, ‘Praise Jesus! I didn’t know how I was going to pay for this. Thank Michael Berry and Gulf Coast for doing this.”

Simon the suspect was arrested on Jan. 30 but made bond. He and the granddaughter broke up.