With the rest of their final year of high school in jeopardy, local Sign Gypsy affiliates have been bringing smiles back to seniors by surprising students with signs and yard decorations to reiterate the appreciation of all their hard work.
Out of nearly 400 locations nationwide, the closest branch of Sign Gypsies to Sealy is stationed out of Columbus and owner Susan Slemp bolstered her ties to the community by providing sign decorations for the Cardinals’ football team en route to their state semifinal appearance.
It was one of those ties that transitioned her team’s efforts from mainly birthday parties to honoring seniors and making sure they are not forgotten during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Once (birthday) parties had to be canceled, people have been doing parades and driving by honking and saying hi,” Slemp said. “Nursing homes have been having parades as well that we put the signs up for.”
After reaching out to Columbus football moms, Eagle Lake wanted in on the action before the aunt of a pair of Sealy twins wanted to honor her nephews.
Colton and Jacob Evanicky were the Sealy nephews that were honored and their mother, Carolyn Thompson Evanicky, said she appreciated the gesture.
“Their aunt, Fay Ulbricht, chose to have them receive the recognition,” said Evanicky. “The boys will pay it forward to another classmate if the parents accept. It is a great way to show our seniors we have not forgotten their hard work and dedication.”
One of Jacob’s football teammates, Cory Barrett, was next on the list nearing the end of a tumultuous year after his show steer was shot to death just 10 days before he was going to show at the Austin County Fair. Additionally, the rest of the Houston Rodeo was canceled because of the coronavirus.
Slemp said celebration is the name of their game, regardless of the situation.
“That's our whole thing at Sign Gypsies is spreading joy; helping people celebrate the good times, even through the hard times,” she said.
Although her business didn’t catch on as quick as she thought it would at the outset, Slemp said people interested in the program have been calling constantly as of late, exponentially increasing her workload.
“At the Columbus location, I partnered with my friend I teach with in Katy and we have all of Fulshear, Richmond and Brookshire all the way out here to where I live. So, we had a massive territory and we just split it in January,” Slemp said. “It hadn't really caught on that much out here, and I was going to be happy if I did five signs a month. I thought, ‘That'll keep me busy,’ but I'm doing a tremendous amount of business, the phone has been ringing off the hook, it's been crazy how busy it's been. It's great that we can, I don't want to tell anyone no.”
That has led Slemp to an average of 20 senior signs per week, mainly between Rice Consolidated, Columbus and Sealy High Schools although she does expect a slight drop off in graduation signs soon with another holiday fast approaching.
“I'm already having people book the graduation signs because regardless if they have a ceremony or not, they want to celebrate their child or their senior, whether it's college or high school,” Slemp said. “We just had a conference call and they're foreseeing Mother's Day, and of course regular graduation, being big. When we do regular graduation, we're doing five to 10 signs a day so super busy during that time and I imagine it will continue to grow as the word gets out.”
Some of the easiest ways to get the word out is through social media and you can find Sign Gypsies-Columbus on Facebook or head right to the website at SignGypsies.com.
“The parents are so grateful, and they've been wondering what they can do to help me but I just tell them you can recommend me, like our Facebook page, share the word,” Slemp said.