A Record-Breaking Day for North Texas Nonprofits

This year’s annual North Texas Giving Day event, hosted by the Communities Foundation of Texas on September 20, 2018, was a wonderful success! The event celebrated its ten year anniversary with an incredible outpouring of generosity. Total gifts from North Texas Giving Day’s inception year in 2008 reached $4 million; ten years later, North Texas nonprofits saw a more than ten-fold increase, with 2018 totals topping out at over $48 million, proving once again to be the largest community-wide giving event in the nation! 

This year’s $48 million total sets a new record for funds raised on a single day, surpassing last year’s total by $9 million.  A total of 2,690 nonprofits participated in the giving day event, which also saw 11,137 donors pledge over 400,000 hours of volunteer time in the next 12 months. Gifts to North Texas nonprofits came in from 50 states and 27 countries.

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So how did the FPC Dallas family stack up?  Encore Park raised $396, First Presbyterian Church of Dallas Developmental Day School received $6,499 and FPC Community Ministry The Stewpot brought in $54,409 in donated funds. The Stewpot also saw an increase in the volume of individual gifts over the last two years with donors leaving loving messages of support saying, “Thanks for all you sacrificially do day-in and day-out,” and “what a great ministry, keep up the good work!” As North Texas Giving Day’s momentum continues to grow with each passing year, we are humbled by the outpouring of support from North Texans that will benefit a countless number of people.

Congratulations to Communities Foundation of Texas, all participating 2018 nonprofits, and Honorary Chair Laura Bush on an incredibly successful event! And a very special thank you to members of the FPC family who donated, pledged volunteer hours, or helped to spread the word about North Texas Giving Day. This year’s success proves that a community that gives together, grows together!

BY KRISTIN MERRON  |  September, 21 2018

Stewpot making significant strides in effort to house 100 this summer

It’s inevitable, every year the Texas temperatures begin to rise and suddenly we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of 100 degree days. For those of us with homes and access to air conditioning and swimming pools, it’s not a problem.  For those living in shelters or on the streets, it can be a life-or-death situation.

 HOUSING BY THE NUMBERS

HOUSING BY THE NUMBERS

While there are several overnight shelters available throughout Dallas, many who stay in shelters have to leave during the day. That’s why for decades unsheltered members of our community have been flocking to The Stewpot to find solace in our day shelter, in addition to utilizing our other vital services. As Stewpot Executive Director Brenda Snitzer recently mentioned in her mid-year appeal letter to Stewpot supporters, “Giving folks a cool place to sit and quench their thirst is a critical role we play all summer long. Without a place to escape the elements and rehydrate, those we serve risk heat stroke, dehydration, and even death. Summer is the hardest time for our friends who find themselves on the street. It is also a hard time for the nonprofits who serve them.”

Recognizing the real challenge summer poses with its recurring 100 degree days, this summer, as the Texas sun bakes the sidewalks of our city, The Stewpot has decided to launch an initiative to get 100 people housed, out of the heat, and off the street. From June through early September, The Stewpot is working to get more than 100 folks in housing while collaborating with city partners to get even more in treatment, and given access to the services they need to become self-sufficient.

Since the housing initiative launched in June, The Stewpot Casework Services team has made some admirable accomplishments. Here’s a breakdown of our successes so far. Since June 1st collectively we have helped 49 adults and children obtain birth certificates, specifically so they could be housed in either emergency, transitional, or permanent supportive housing. Stewpot Representative Payee Courtney Ray-Riddle is helping two of her rep payee clients find new housing, in addition to supporting and keeping her 45 other clients housed. In cooperation with our partners, we have helped three clients move into housing: one into a permanent supportive housing apartment through CitySquare, one in the Shared Housing Program, and another into a supportive boarding home with wrap-around services. Stewpot staffers also recently contributed donated items to stock the apartment for a newly-housed client.

Currently, The Stewpot is working closely with four other individuals to find apartments and affordable housing. If you’ve been keeping count, that's a total of 58! Meaning, we are well on our way to our 100 goal!

Of the progress made so far in the 100 campaign challenge, Director of Casework Services Laura Westerlage says “It is going great, we are getting so much done, and I am beyond proud!” We invite you to celebrate these victories with us and we hope your continued support will bolster our success beyond our 100 housing goal!

BY KRISTIN MERRON  |  July, 11 2018

Stewpot Welcomes Bridge Guests After Fire

Being challenged in life is inevitable. Being defeated is optional.

That’s the sentiment members of The Bridge shared in a Facebook post following a fire that made local headlines in early June.

Late in the afternoon on Saturday June 2nd, a transformer at The Bridge, a homeless recovery center where The Stewpot has served meals since 2008, exploded leaving the shelter without power and inoperable on one of the hottest days of the year.

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Staff members at The Bridge noticed the smoking transformer in the parking lot off of Corsicana Street and were quick to alert Oncor and Dallas Fire-Rescue officials, but before help could arrive, the smoke turned to fire and eventually sparked an explosion.

Staff members noticed smoke and alerted Dallas Fire-Rescue officials, but before help could arrive, a fire erupted. 

Dallas Fire-Rescue extinguished the fire, but not before power to the entire campus had been knocked out, displacing hundreds of people who utilize The Bridge for meal and shelter services.

With temperatures soaring, the heat was an immediate threat to the safety of The Bridge facility occupants and staff.  No power to the building meant no A/C and no refrigeration for food stored at the facility.   

In an emergency response, The Community Ministries Team at The Stewpot were quick to jump into action assisting with the evacuation of several hundred Bridge occupants, staff members and even 12 dogs. The decision was made to open The Stewpot to receive all of the guests of the Bridge affected by the fire.

The team including spouses and children, worked collectively to coordinate with Stewpot partners to assist in the emergency efforts.  What followed required a great amount of cooperation and coordination among entities, hard work, and good humor, as well as patience and understanding from the guests of The Bridge.

First Presbyterian Church of Dallas members were on point helping with phone call connections to Dallas city leaders. Mayor Mike Rawlings even stopped by the following day to provide his support and see to it that everyone was safe.

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The Office of Emergency Management was able to provide cots so that those displaced by the fire could pass the night in The Stewpot building. 

Fortunately, Dallas Fire-Rescue was able to report no injuries were sustained as a result of the fire and the shelter itself sustained minimal damage.

“I cannot tell you how proud I am of you all! You were on point, had incredible hospitality and patience and were so loving and giving. Blessed to serve with you!” said Executive Director Brenda Snitzer in an email addressed to Stewpot staffers. The entire Stewpot team along with their collaborative partners are to be commended for an outstanding orchestration of logistics!

BY KRISTIN MERRON  |  June 2018

Welcome to The Stewpot

"We Serve Second Chances"

Here at the Stewpot we provide an expansive portfolio of services to aid our neighbors who are experiencing and at-risk of homelessness. While our services are vast, we are still most well-known for our meal services which provided the initial foundation upon which all subsequent services have been built.

 Since May 2008, The Stewpot has been providing meal services at The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center in the Second Chance Café, serving upwards of 1,000 individuals 3 meals per day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year. Our unofficial motto “We serve second chances” has paved the way not only for the way we approach our meal services, but carries throughout all facets of our organization and through the ways in which we care for our clientele.

In a recent Stewpot staff roundtable discussion, Cindy Bailey, Manager of Frontline Operations for The Stewpot, shared a story about a true second chance opportunity for one Stewpot client.

As Manager of Frontline Operations, one of Cindy’s many responsibilities is working with the STREETZine street newspaper. Cindy’s regular STREETZine duties entail interfacing with the magazine’s vendors on a daily basis. STREETZine vendors are homeless or economically disadvantaged individuals who are granted self-employment opportunity through the distribution and sale of the STREETZine newspaper.

As a STREETZine vendor you are required to adhere to a code of conduct; violation of that code can result in being barred or banned from paper distribution services.  Clients of The Stewpot can also be barred or banned from Stewpot resources for a number of behaviors including illegal activity, harassment and other forms of misconduct.

One such STREETZine vendor, whom we will refer to as “Frank” has hand a long-standing relationship as a Stewpot client.  Frank started visiting The Stewpot for support services over 10 years ago.  Roughly five years into his time with The Stewpot, Frank began struggling with some substance abuse issues.  His habits quickly consumed him and led to some unfavorable behavior that ultimately resulted in him being barred altogether from Stewpot services. 

“When you spend your time seeing these folks day-in and day-out, when they suddenly aren’t around, you worry for them and hope they’re doing OK.”
— Stewpot Caseworker

For a time, Frank was absent from The Stewpot and his well-being was weighing on the hearts of Stewpot employees. “When you spend your time seeing these folks day-in and day-out, when they suddenly aren’t around, you worry for them and hope they’re doing ok,” says a Stewpot caseworker.  Frank’s absence began to weigh heavily on the heart of one particular caseworker. Their response was to take action to initiate a conversation about how The Stewpot might be able to deliver on the promise of a second chance for Frank.   

After input from a number of employees who had interacted with Frank, meetings to set some new parameters for a pathway to rehabilitation, follow-through and execution by a dedicated team of individuals, a game plan was created for Frank’s second chance.

With these new guidelines in place, Stewpot employees were able to facilitate a conversation with Frank and give him guidance to empower and encourage him towards a path to recovery.  After taking some personal responsibility and some rehabilitation steps, Frank’s ban was eventually lifted and he was able to return to The Stewpot.  Three years later with the assistance provided by Stewpot caseworkers and a series of anger management classes, Frank showed enough improvement that he was eligible to be reconsidered as a STREETZine vendor.

Today Frank continues to work on his road to recovery.  The Stewpot is happy to report that Frank has enrolled himself in an in-patient treatment program through a library resource and is receiving counseling services with a Licensed Professional Counselor at The Stewpot. He has been granted temporary permissions to return as a STREETZine vendor and if he proves himself under the provisional period, he may be granted full privileges in the future. 

Frank’s story is just one example of a second chance granted to an individual who made their way through The Stewpot doors.  His is a testament that collaborative team efforts, perseverance, and dedication are being dished out daily here at The Stewpot.  While Frank’s journey is far from over, he serves as a reminder that it is important for us to recalibrate our definition of success for those experiencing circumstances unlike our own.  With enough small wins, over time, we can make BIG changes in the lives of those we interact with.    

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BY KRISTIN MERRON  |  June 1, 2018