Women Making a Difference: Teacher opens home to student's family devastated by Harvey

By Sara Donchey - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - A teacher and student at YES Prep Southeast were brought together in a way neither could have imagined after Hurricane Harvey.

Special education teacher Erica Kang, who also teaches a college prep course, opened her home to one of her students and the student's four family members after their home was destroyed by floodwaters.

Bitia Alanis "Was the kind of student that every teacher wants in the classroom. She's very hard working, she advocates for herself,” Erica Kang said.

Kang taught Alanis during her college prep course, and was impressed at what a good student she was.

Alanis is planning to go to medical school when she graduates. Her parents, who immigrated from Mexico, have encouraged her to be the first in her family to attend college.

"When I was first holding a book, which was (at) 3 years old, my dad was like, 'You're going to go to Harvard!’” Alanis said.

But those plans were put on hold when the Alanis' home flooded during Hurricane Harvey. 

"Everything kind of stood in slow motion -- and it was just really, really terrifying to figure out how to keep everyone safe,” Alanis remembered.

Alanis, her two younger brothers and her parents were forced to cling to a mattress in the middle of one of the bedrooms while the rest of their possessions floated in two feet of water. When they tried to call for rescue, they were told that help could not reach them, so they waited out the storm inside the family’s home.

Nearly everything they owned was destroyed.

When Alanis returned to school at YES Prep, she ran into her former teacher, who made her an incredible offer.

"Me and my fiance have the space in our home and we would love to take you and your family in. So please, talk to your parents,” Kang recalled telling Alanis.

When Alanis pointed out that Kang had never met her parents or her brothers, Kang was unfazed. 

"I know you. I know the kind of person you are -- so I can only assume that you must have great parents to have raised such a great person. And so I would be more than happy to have your family stay with us,” she told Alanis.

After some discussion, the Alanis family decided to take Kang up on her offer. They moved the family in to her Heights-area home with Kang and her fiancé.

Kang drives the children to school most days, while Alanis’ mother cooks dinners in Kang’s kitchen. 

Kang’s fiancé even taught Alanis’ brothers how to play pool.

“God puts people in your life who are ideal for you in that moment. And I guess this time it was Ms. Kang who was there for us,” Alanis said with a laugh.

Kang said hundreds of YES Prep students were impacted during Hurricane Harvey.

To see a list of resources the school has gathered for flood victims, click here: http://www.yesprep.org/storm-resources

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