Stephanie Foy volunteers her time as the leader of community outreach at Unity of Houston. She recently wrote a letter to Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Public Works Director Carol Haddock regarding how a city employee who’s quick thinking and professionalism allowed her group to continue their planned food distribution event.
Hello Mayor Turner and Ms. Haddock,
I am writing to give applause and appreciation to one of the public works team leaders: LaQuinn Harkless.
Last Wednesday, June 23rd, he and his crew began work on road repairs at the intersection of Unity Dr. and Fairdale. I am a member of Unity of Houston and a leader of our community outreach team. Each Wednesday since early in COVID, we have offered a food distribution on our church parking lot. We average serving 1,000 households and 5,000 individuals.
The flow of the distribution causes cars to line up along Fairdale. As you can imagine, when we saw the intersection being closed for repairs, we understood quickly that the impact on our food distribution was going to be significant. The cars were already circling trying to figure out how to cope with the road closure, the temperatures and tempers were already heating up.
I walked over to the crew and asked for the crew lead. I was introduced to Mr. Harkless. I told him I needed help, explained our food fair, and asked him if there was anything he could do to help us manage the traffic. He suggested he could reschedule the repair and asked me about that afternoon or the next day. I assured him there would not be the same issue at those times. He said they would come the following day. He then had the crew cover the hole and remove the cones so our traffic could once again flow easily.
I also want to commend Mr. Harkless for his professional and courteous demeanor in our exchange. He was on a large digger of some sort when I approached. He turned it off, got down, and spoke with me directly. This could have caused great frustration, and anyone could have easily been irritable, instead, he was considerate and helpful.
We are grateful for Mr. Harkless and his responsiveness. His response would likely not have been possible had he not had the power to make that decision, suggesting an empowered working environment at public works. Kudos to the leadership there.
I know that often the city and its workers get more complaints than praise, so I wanted to be sure that you know how much this citizen appreciated the extra effort of Mr. Harkless and his crew. If there is any opportunity to formally recognize Mr. Harkless, I would be happy to submit any further documentation.