Amid tough times for police officers in America we can always find that the citizens of Houston support their men and women in blue every which way.
Herewith the latest example: Barbara Freilich, a retired legal secretary and self-styled “people person” who volunteers her time – and money – to help those she deems to be in need.
Freilich has not sought glory or special recognition, even for her three terms as president of the 7655 South Braeswood Homeowners Association.
For one of her more significant volunteer efforts, this note-worthy volunteer emerged on the HPOU radar screen.
A Resourceful Lady
“This is one more example of the citizens of Houston stepping up and helping Houston police officers when we’re in need,” HPOU 3rd Vice President Tom Hayes told the Badge & Gun. “She wanted to help officers who suffered damage to their homes in the freeze. She brought in clothing, toys for children and necessities such as toiletries for those in the greatest need.
“This is just another example of somebody unknown to us with no connection whatsoever coming in to help.
“We have a list of officers who have damage to their homes. We are able to contact them and get these items into their hands.”
The determined Barbara Freilich said she’s not through supporting HPD officers, a personal crusade that began many years ago.
“I always wanted to give back to Houston,” she said. “I thought of a way when stores – unfortunately – were going out of business. I save a little money. I’m a senior on Social Security. I wait until items are 80 or 90 percent off.
“I go to stores and buy a variety of items – children’s clothes, adults’ and teens’, toiletries people can use. I wanted to give back to fallen officers’ families and just officers in general. I don’t think they’re thanked enough. I, for one, thank them whole-heartedly.
“I started making phone calls to see how I could deliver the items that I had. I had quite a few items.”
Her drive took a turn for the best when she dialed the HPOU, and Tom Hayes came on the line.
“It was a wonderful day,” she remembered. “I had boxes of toys, bags of toys bags of clothes, men’s, women’s and children’s, even maternity clothes.
“There were several items I knew would go a long way. It was just a great feeling. I wish more people would do it.”
Freilich left the tags on the items to show recipients that they were in fact new. She also used her resourcefulness in other ways – obtaining ex-lib books from a special source who specializes in obtaining used books. Her targets were the children’s books in the used batches. These would be perfect for the younger children and even the teens among the recipients of her largess.
Freilich shows reluctance to take credit and specially recognized her next-door neighbor, Jean Smith, who son wrangled the books.
She learned of one officer’s son whose wardrobe was hit hard by the freeze. She went to Target and bought him clothes and Astros souvenirs – “because he loves the Astros.”
“There are other organizations who help the needy,” this great friend of Houston officers explained, “but I know of nobody who has asked the police officers if they could help them.”
When an advocate like this seeks the goods, she believes are needed, she finds a use for anything and everything. “I found these little stuffed animals that the officers could keep in their squad cars so if they run across somebody hurt, they would have something – anything that puts a smile on a family’s face or a child’s face is great.
In a Victim’s Shoes
“I am a very caring person. I’ve never been wealthy or had a lot of money. When stores are going out of business, I feel it’s something I can do.”
There is the inevitable question that crops up: Did Freilich experience something in her past that helped to enhance a special admiration for police officers?
Yes, there is.
It happened decades ago and still is not a pleasant subject.
A native Houstonian and graduate of Westbury High School, Freilich hales from a business-oriented family.
Her father founded Camp Young Judaea for young Jewish kids. He also owned a washateria business and at one time operated an Army/Navy surplus store with his brother. Her grandparents operated a liquor store on Liberty Road.
“When I was very young my grandfather was murdered at the liquor store,” Freilich recalled. “I have always had respect for the police or servicemen. I have always been the type of person that when I see a policeman next me I ask him to roll down the window and thank him (or her) for their service.
“I also have been known to buy them lunch. I give them an elbow in the pandemic. It’s something that has always been important to me.”
The shooting happened on New Year’s Eve in the presence of Freilich’s grandmother.
The shooter wasn’t lucky and soon became a prime example of how the American justice system is supposed to work.
“They did catch the people and the person who pulled the trigger got the electric chair,” the victim’s granddaughter said. “The other got life in prison without parole.”
Of the latter culprit, Freilich said, “Dad said he was released. He was so old, but they had to tell the family when they were releasing him. I’ve always felt like that I would be able to be a good advocate for people who went through something like that because I went through it.”
She was about seven years old when it happened.
Houston police relied on a citizen dedicated to law and order and helping the good guys.
“There was a lady in the washateria who heard the shooting,” Freilich said. “She came outside and got the license plate.”
Over her life Freilich has done – and continues to do – volunteer work such as reading to abused children. She said she isn’t afraid to ask people and businesses for donations. She serves as a board member for Friends of Westbury High School Foundation, which furnishes scholarships for graduating seniors. Also, on her everyday agenda is serving as a caregiver for the elderly.
And Barbara Freilich always has – and always will – support her local police in her special way of supplying clothing, toys, and toiletries for those in need.
“I will try and do this again,” this special activist said. “I got a picture and I’m going to be putting it on Facebook. I want my friends to donate either very good clothes or buy clothes to donate. I’ll get them to give me a call and I will tell them where to take them.”
To HPOU on State Street.