Brenda Snitzer continues strengthening community bonds with The Stewpot one year later

Brenda Snitzer addressing attendees at the 11th Annual Soup’s On! Luncheon

Brenda Snitzer addressing attendees at the 11th Annual Soup’s On! Luncheon

 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!”

FPC Dallas Hires Brenda Snitzer as Executive Director of The Stewpot

Brenda Headshot.jpg

The search committee in charge of finding a new executive director for The Stewpot is pleased to present Brenda Snitzer, M.S. Ed., as our choice for this vital and visible leadership position.

Brenda has a heart for serving the least among us, most recently as development director at Our Friends Place. Through her leadership roles with organizations such as Big Thought and Girls Inc., she will come to this post with substantial executive, managerial, communication, and development expertise. And, as a former probation officer who went on to work in social services, congregational Christian education, and nonprofit management, the Baylor University graduate combines a caring heart with strong resolve.

Brenda sees herself as a connector of people. This quality will serve her well in working with each of you and The Stewpot’s many partners. We know that she looks forward in getting to know each of you in the weeks and months ahead.

Brenda also has shown that she listens and leads. The committee came away with the strong conviction that she can lead from the middle, which means she can both collaborate and look several steps ahead.

Most of all, Brenda possesses gravitas and maturity. Those traits, along with her leadership skills and fresh perspective, will further the work of this crucial mission.

Our work over the last several months has included reviewing more than 30 resumes, conducting personal interviews, doing background checks, and holding deliberative discussions. Now that we have finished this process, we are honored to present Brenda Snitzer as The Stewpot’s next leader.

We look forward to the new era in this crucial ministry, which with Brenda’s leadership and your continued support will play an even greater role in meeting the needs of those among us who find themselves homeless or on the verge of living on our city’s streets.

Sincerely,

The Rev. Dr. Gareth Icenogle

Interim Senior Pastor and Head of Staff

First Presbyterian Church of Dallas

 

William McKenzie

Chair, Community Ministries Committee

Texas Faith: Pastor Bruce Buchanan finds his calling in helping the homeless

The Dallas Morning News, October 30, 2015

Bruce Buchanan, executive director of the Stewpot, stands in front of just some of the art displayed in the homeless center’s second-floor gallery. (Hunter Johnson/Staff Contributor)

Bruce Buchanan, executive director of the Stewpot, stands in front of just some of the art displayed in the homeless center’s second-floor gallery. (Hunter Johnson/Staff Contributor)

Bruce Buchanan has reason to be proud of the artwork around him. The walls of the second-floor hallway he stands in are covered in pieces ranging from acrylic paintings and penciled sketches to detailed fabric work and metal crafts.  The styles are diverse, ranging from abstract to incredibly detailed.

This hallway isn’t in the Dallas Museum of Art; this was in an upstairs portion of the Stewpot, a homeless center. Artists that are homeless created everything hanging on the walls.

It’s easy for some of us who aren’t homeless to doubt the potential of those who are. That’s an issue Buchanan himself doesn’t have. An associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas and the executive director of the Stewpot, he’s seen the potential of the homeless and needy. Guided by his faith, he’s worked for decades to improve their lives.

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Stewpot still growing to help homeless after 40 years

The Dallas Morning News 24 October 2015

Vernon Bryant/DMN Staff Photographer  Malaika Abdul-Rahman of the Dallas Street Choir danced as her group sang “This Little Light of Mine” during a celebration of the Stewpot’s 40th anniversary. With services that now include a medical and dental clinic, the Stewpot assisted more than 10,000 people in 2014.

Vernon Bryant/DMN Staff Photographer

Malaika Abdul-Rahman of the Dallas Street Choir danced as her group sang “This Little Light of Mine” during a celebration of the Stewpot’s 40th anniversary. With services that now include a medical and dental clinic, the Stewpot assisted more than 10,000 people in 2014.

Michael Bell used to sell drugs outside the Stewpot.

But with the help of the homeless outreach in downtown Dallas, he’s now in a different business.

Calling himself Michael the gardener, he tends more than three-quarters of an acre across from the ministry on Young Street.

“Working in the garden helps calm me down,” said Bell, 32.

The site of the garden was nothing but two concrete slabs before it was transformed into an oasis of 90 beds to grow produce.

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Dallas' Museum of Street Culture Will Challenge How We Look At Museums

centraltrack.com October 23, 2015

The museum began to take shape a few years ago when local filmmaker and author Alan Govenar was approached by Carol J. Adams on behalf of what was then called the 508 Park Project Committee with the idea of helping to conceive a new museum. The Stewpot had just acquired a perfect spot for such a concept -- the famed  508 Park Avenue  building located right across the street from its own headquarters.

The museum began to take shape a few years ago when local filmmaker and author Alan Govenar was approached by Carol J. Adams on behalf of what was then called the 508 Park Project Committee with the idea of helping to conceive a new museum. The Stewpot had just acquired a perfect spot for such a concept -- the famed 508 Park Avenue building located right across the street from its own headquarters.

Shot over two and a half years, Serving Second Chances is a documentary film about the homeless in Dallas and how they interface with The Stewpot, an organization that offers resources and opportunities for homeless and at-risk individuals. Last Thursday night, the film was shown at a sold-out screening at the Angelika as part of the Dallas VideoFest 28. Musician Gerald Williams, one of the film's principle characters, performed after the film. On November 5, a shorter version of the film will be released for television broadcast on KERA's Frame of Mind series.

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The Dallas VideoFest at the Angelika Film Center kicks off Thursday with a terrific documentary about the Dallas homeless, Serving Second Chances.

TheatreJones.com, October 15, 2015  

Dallas - One of the highlights of tonight's Dallas VideoFest programming is the world premiere of Serving Second Chances (7 p.m., Angelika Film Center), a stirring and enlightening documentary by Dallas filmmaker Alan Govenar, who spent three years documenting the both the day-to-day operations of the local homeless shelter and human services provider The Stewpot—now in its 40th year of service to the community—as well as the personal struggles of three of its clients to stabilize their lives.

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Documentary on Dallas homeless shelter The Stewpot premieres Thursday

Dallas Morning News, October 13, 2015

Filmmaker Alan Govenar met guitarist Gerald Williams at a Robert Johnson sound-alike contest in 2012.

Williams said he regularly slept on a bench in front of Dallas City Hall. Govenar spent the next 2 1/2 years documenting Williams’ life. He and two others are the central characters in the documentary Serving Second Chances.  

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The Big Screen: Dallas’ Distribution Past

KERA Art & Seek News:

508 Park Street in downtown Dallas is best known as the building where Robert Johnson, Gene Autry and other legends recorded. And that important piece of music history can overshadow the significant role the building played in movie history. This week, we talk about an era when some of Hollywood’s biggest films were distributed through Dallas.

The 508 Park Movie Night series begins Sunday and runs through Oct. 4. It’s free, but be sure to RSVP.