Several decades ago, Houston had only two area codes.
First there was 713, which initially served the growing number of phone numbers all around the city.
Massive growth led to a second area code, 281.
“The 281s,” as the people with the new code were labeled, lived in far-out places like Missouri City, 1960, Katy and other places just inside or just outside the lands Houston was capable of annexing.
Finding the Needy
Lloyd Anderson was a youth minister at a Baptist Church about the time 281 came into vogue. While having answered the call to ministry, Anderson also felt another special call to enter and graduate from HPD Academy Class No. 160 in 1995.
Like many of his fellow officers – particularly in the Christmas and New Year season – the man who became a senior police officer looked for ways to respond to the needs of the less fortunate Houstonians who appeared on his human radar screen. You know, the easy victims or the under-served families that often easily resort to wrong-way streets that lead to crimes and misdemeanors.
“I took some courses about outreach and working with urban youth,” Anderson recalled in a more or less historical perspective. “It opened my eyes. I wanted to work with youth and families in the inner city. Most of those kids in the 281 were in church.”
So his full attention returned from the “far out” 281 to the close in 713. As he puts it, “Once I was aware and felt the urge to work with kids in the inner city, I formed a non-profit and named it 713 Ministries.”
And, now, for eight years, this Houston officer is known by the area code he ministers to.
“Our vision is to give hope, love and offer faith to the underserved at-risk families in apartment communities in the Houston area,” he explained. These are holistic services to include and not include faith services. But 713 is not just religious services but all forms of services that connect in the community and bring services to these under-served families.”
SPO Anderson gets excited when he provides 713 details to the Badge & Gun.
He talks like if you named a new service that would be appropriate in this ministry that he would find a partner that would enable him to provide it. He works day shift and uses his late afternoons and nights to put the 713 pedals to the metal.
We’re talking health, education and computer training – and basic parenting. When he mentions these, he’s quick to point out that he and his volunteers – which include other HPD officers – are not themselves entrusted to provide the services and the training. “No, we don’t actually do this ourselves,” he said. “We network with the community and partner.”
Anderson loves talking partnerships. He starts with “BDD.”
That stands for Bridging the Digital Divide. A really special partner in BDD is Ricky Winslow, a member of the storied Phi Slama Jama University of Houston basketball team of the early 1980s. Winslow played alongside Clyde the Glide and Hakeem the Dream (Drexler and Olajuwon).
“He offers computer training as well as computers on the property to be able to educate the residents on computer literacy,” Anderson explained, referring to the 713 program at the Villa Americana apartment complex in South Park. “They’re for children and adults. He takes the computers to the property – we use the club room at the complex – and has a few of them hooked up to the Internet.
“They don’t have it (computer service) in their home. This is a whole computer lab. That’s what BDD is. The people learn to do resumes, do job searches and even social media.”
Winslow and Anderson have thought of every possibility to build up computer knowledge and expertise for these underserved individuals.
“They (the younger computer enthusiasts) are also able to compete in a competition held by Ricky at the UH. It’s called the Computer Olympics. We take the kids out there for the competition because of the training they get regularly on computers. It’s held once a year on the UH campus.
“Those computers have the software where the Computer Olympics is on BDD software. One young man won two golds.”
There are other community partners. One that also stands out is Stoney Creek Camp, a Christian camp located in the Columbus area. At discounted rates provided to 713 Ministries, 12 teenagers attend camp for a week during the summer.
“It provides opportunities for kids to go to enjoy themselves, have fun and learn about Christian faith,” Anderson pointed out. He also explained that 713 “is not a church” but as the faith of both the younger and older members of Villa Americana families strengthens, he and other volunteers work with nearby churches to enhance faith connections.
The officer puts it this way: “Our total goal is to win them over to the lord and direct them to the local churches. In the faith area, we network with the local churches like we network with the local clinics, so that if someone is in need of spiritual enrichment the church can help.
“We want to be the bridge to the local church within the community. We don’t want to be the church. We’re not trying to be the local church. We’re trying to network to the local church.”
Anderson said 713 Ministries also includes, among other services, three days of after-school programs and a mentoring session at least one night every week.
Anderson’s church, Bible Way Fellowship Baptist Church, provides “a generous yearly donation” to the cause as well as the use of church buses for use on field trips and to the summer camp. Residents are also taken to movies and other activities, such as UH Cougar football games and workouts at the Southside Track Club around Chavez High School.
The families and especially the sons and daughters got to meet Neil Bush, the brother of one president (George W.) and son of another (George H. W.), as well as Channel 2 personalities Rachel McNeil and Khambrel Marshall, the latter two while on a field trip to the station. Bush viewed a warm-up for the Computer Olympics.
The fact that 713 is based at Villa Americana was no accident.
“I am a former resident of Villa Americana,” Anderson said. “I was 12 years old when we moved to Houston. I was in college when we had to move my mom (LaRue Anderson) due to heavy drugs, crack and violence.”
Recognizing 713 Supporters
Anderson attended Prairie View A&M University, where he played alto saxophone in the band and went on to serve as drum major.
But the band of volunteers he currently leads has many devoted individuals and organizations. The nearby American Legion Post 416 provided funding for the computer lab. HPD Officer Clifford Jackson spearheads the back-to-school backpack drive and Lt. Joselyn Johnson, HPOU board parliamentarian, is a former 713 Ministries board member.
Anderson was afraid he would leave out some people if he tried to name every HPD officer involved in 713. He did single out SPOs David Meza and Kimberly Neal-Smith for their volunteer help and pointed out that the whole Juvenile Intake Section at Southeast (Mykawa) contributes time and monetary donations.
After 22 years at Juvenile Intake Anderson now is in Southeast Patrol. Southeast officers have been a big help over the eight years of operation, he said, saying “at least 20 to 25 have continued to mentor more than 50 kids that we are still in contact with.”
HPOU recognized the ongoing work of 713 Ministries recently with a $1,000 donation.
He said he couldn’t make the computer lab work without the help of community activist Carol Moore, who served as the bridge between 713 and the management company that owns Villa Americana.
Anderson had high praise for 713 Ministries board members and other community activists, many of whom will be present at the group’s annual fundraiser on Jan. 25 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Breck Porter Building on the Union campus. Dinner will be served and all partners and donors will be recognized and honored. The night’s fundraising goal is $10,000.