Brenda Snitzer continues strengthening community bonds with The Stewpot one year later
One year ago, Brenda Ewing Snitzer, M.S.Ed. became Executive Director of The Stewpot following the retirement of the Reverend Dr. Bruce Buchanan at the end of 2017 after 30 years of steadfast and faithful service. The First Presbyterian Church of Dallas search committee spent several months reviewing and interviewing more than 30 candidates before selecting Brenda for this important role at The Stewpot to develop an even greater integration with First Presbyterian Church’s larger vision. As a former probation officer and Presbyterian Christian Educator with a background in social services and executive leadership in nonprofits around the inner city, the committee noted that throughout her career, Brenda had demonstrated an innate ability to make valuable connections with a heart for serving the least among us.
When Brenda stepped in, the culture on Park Ave. – where The Stewpot resides –had become an ongoing challenge facing city officials and residents. “When I first arrived, neighbors and the city were at odds with The Stewpot and other homeless providers,” she says.
Brenda got to work recognizing pain points and identifying her first year goals which included to 1) continue and deepen the excellent leadership of Stewpot staff by utilizing their tremendous strengths and strategically promoting and broadening their responsibilities; 2) further the trauma-informed approach by casework staff by renovating and beautifying the 1st floor of the facility; 3) create more connections and improved relations in the community with FPC/Stewpot neighbors, other agencies and the city, along with creating a more respectful and collaborative approach to helping the homeless and those in poverty.
Brenda’s incredible strength as a connector of people has proven steadfast over this past year. Her tenacity and resolve was tested and demonstrated in the early summer of 2018 when a transformer exploded at The Bridge, a homeless recovery center where The Stewpot has served meals since 2008. In the face of unexpected tragedy, Brenda led her team into action, reaching out to partner agencies across Dallas to orchestrate a collaborative effort that resulted in the compassionate and timely care of citizens experiencing homelessness in the Dallas community.
As the year went on, Brenda continued to strengthen those relationships by showing up and participating in countless community meetings and forums aimed at supporting the homeless and at-risk populations in Dallas. “Just last week, city officials commented to our staff that they were ‘very happy’ with how well we were working with them and all the changes that have been made at The Stewpot. They recognize that not only are we helping our clients, but also cleaning up the streets in the neighborhood around us,” remarks Brenda.
In collaboration with The Stewpot management team, Brenda has continued working to identify and implement changes to enhance the effectiveness of The Stewpot's service offerings, while also giving focus to the staff and facility which serve their clientele. Additional staff were hired to provide more varied forms of assistance and increase the volume of visitors which The Stewpot facility can accommodate. The Community Ministries Building of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas –where The Stewpot is housed –underwent some major renovations to update the facility in order to create a more inviting, comfortable and trauma-informed space for clients. There continues to be an increased focus on developing new programming and The Stewpot has expanded its casework service to include individual and group counseling services.
“I’m honored and humbled to be working alongside such a wonderful group of staff and volunteers from The Stewpot and First Presbyterian Church who commit themselves daily to our clients. Now, a year later, I feel great that we have all continued working together to serve the most vulnerable,” says Brenda.
In December, The Stewpot served its 8 millionth meal marking a major milestone in the ministry’s 44 year history. Recently, The Stewpot celebrated the accomplishments of 2018 with nearly 800 supporters at the 11th Annual Soup's On! Luncheon which raised $433,177 in donations from attendees and sponsors to support The Stewpot’s forward momentum in 2019.
Looking ahead Brenda says, “My goal this year is to make sure we are continuing to work with all our neighbors and partners to find more affordable housing and get more people housed, while still caring for those who are in shelters or unsheltered. We want to continue to be a provider that looks at what others aren’t providing, while continuing to do what we do best!”