Laura and Alex Laywell spend most of their days working with refugee kids in Dallas’ Vickery Meadow neighborhood. At night, they open their home to them.
More than neighbors
Drop by the Laywell’s apartment and you’ll likely find several kids hanging out.
The Laywells and a group of teenagers sit at the dining room table playing Ultimate Werewolf. In this card game, everyone assumes a different role: a villager or a vampire or a werewolf. Players have to figure out which one of them is the werewolf.
After the game and some pizza, they watch the movie “Little Giants.” It’s one of several movie nights the Laywells host throughout the year.
For the past couple of years, the Laywells have opened their apartment to help kids in Vickery Meadow. People from all over the world live in this densely populated neighborhood in northeast Dallas.
For the kids who live here, Alex and Laura Laywell aren’t just neighbors – they’re friends, teachers and counselors. For Thu Khaing, who’s 17, the Laywells are also like parents.
“When I was having problems, I couldn’t tell nobody I was having a hard time, but they see that something was wrong so they speak up, and they talk to me, and they would talk about it and we, we cry together,” Thu says.
Thu used to go to the Laywells apartment every day to do homework. Thanks to them, she says, she’s become a better student at Conrad High School.
“They help me with a lot of stuff in school,” Thu says. “They help me with my sport, and they help me with my homework to get my grades up. They also help me with reading, so I don’t fall behind in reading.”
Different backgrounds, same issues
The Laywells, who are both 27, met in high school. When they started dating, they realized they shared a passion for working with refugees.
Alex learned about Vickery Meadow from his sister. He felt an immediate connection to the neighborhood. During his last semester at the University of North Texas, he took classes online so he could live there.