Alas, Thursday, February 21, was one of those stay-in-bed days. Not only was it more than brisk and the clouds looked like cauliflower gone bad, there was hail falling. Despite the gloom and doom of the day, the 2019 Crystal Charity Ball gals filled the Craig Vogel Savvy Transportation Services bus with Vincent Williams at the wheel to get a firsthand look at the ten 2019 beneficiaries thanks to Layne Pitzer‘s and Joan Eleazer‘s sponsorship. Since not all of the beneficiaries had locations for visiting, tour coordinator Tiffany Divis had arranged to have two of the non-visit types to kick off the morning on board the bus.
Mercy Street Inc. Development Director Wynne Whiteman and Primary and South Dallas Mentor Coordinator Joey Darwin told how over the next three years the $751,758 grant would allow them to expand their West Dallas mentoring and leadership development programs to South Dallas. The plan was to help break the cycle of poverty in the Fair Park area, where 34% of families live below the poverty line. The funds will allow for additional staff and support to help approximately 100-175 children in kindergarten through high school.
As Wynne and Joey left the bus, Readers 2 Leaders Executive Director Norma Nelson couldn’t resist sharing the staff’s reaction when they learned that they had been made a beneficiary. It was their first time to submit and they were jumping up and down in the hallway. She went on to explain that the $750,000 grant would be used over a three-year period to expand its high-quality reading tutoring program by adding a new in-school site, more after-school availability and additional staff support benefiting approximately 2,050 children between the ages of 3 and 12.
As soon as Norma left the bus, the CCBers were off to their first stop at Cristo Rey Dallas High School Inc. As the bus approached Cristo Rey in Pleasant Grove, vets were impressed by how the campus had grown from its start when it took over St. Augustine Catholic School. The campus’ old gym and classrooms had been joined by new buildings for students and faculty. Greeted by Cristo Rey ambassadors with umbrellas, the CCB-ers were broken into small groups to tour the campus. Student Ambassador Dipaouly Shah had had a busy 24 hours. She told her group that just the day before she had attended the Cristo Rey Breakfast, where it was announced that she had won the Second Annual Grit Award. Dipaouly laughed that her father claimed that his tears of joy were due to allergies upon hearing the news.
One stop on the tour was the area where the CCB $910,799 grant would be used to create The Crystal Charity Ball Corporate Work Study Suite in the new Innovation Center with its conference rooms, collaborative work space and computers for the more than 500 students.
After a group photo with the students and faculty, the CCB-ers were thanked by the student Ambassadors who lined the way to the bus.
On the way to the next stop at Promise House’s Fannie C. Harris Youth Center in Southeast Dallas, New Member Liaisons Amy Hegi and Libby Hegi introduced the newest CCB members (Julie Bagley, Christy Berry, Kim Hext, Sunie Solomon, Molly Thomas and Merry Wyatt) sans Nancy Scripps, who was recovering from knee surgery.
The next stop was the former Fannie Harris School in Southeast Dallas. So far, the 50-degree temperature and gusts of wind hadn’t been much of an issue. The rain had stopped and there was no hail. But once inside Promise House’s future Fannie C. Harris Youth Center, the CCB-ers noticed that it was even colder in the raw space.
Donning hard hats, they were shown the plans how the CCB grants for $756,072 over three years would provide additional emergency shelter for approximately 200-250 children from ages 14-18. Thanks to 26 beds on the second level, the facility will be able to double the program’s unsheltered youth in the area.
Side note: The Center was named after Fannie Chase Harris, who had been born on a plantation in Georgia. Her mother had been a slave and her father had been “the master’s son.” Earning her education attending a Quaker public school and Clafton Normal School, Fannie came to Dallas in the late 1800’s and “became one of three teachers who taught in the first Dallas High School for African-American children.” Fannie married attorney Frederick Dodd and had a daughter Frederica Chase Dodd, who graduated from what would become Booker T. Washington in 1910 and also became a teacher. Following the death of her husband, Fannie married Dr. Charles A. Harris.
While the CCB-ers were finishing up their tour, Jubilee Park and Community Center President/CEO Ben Leal boarded the bus. Since the Youth Center was part of the 62-block Jubilee neighborhood and the tour was ahead of schedule, Ben served as a tour guide telling about the Jubilee’s history. Once a middle-class neighborhood, it fell upon hard times when the highway system cut off resources into the city and the Ford plant closed down in 1970, taking away jobs.When the Jubilee program started in 1998, the neighborhood was 88% African-American. Today the population is 86% Hispanic. The average household income is $14,825 for a family of five. Forty-two percent of the kids are being raised by single moms or grandmas. And 72% don’t have a high school diploma.
As the bus pulled up to the Community Center, a woman was seen across the street sweeping the porch of her home at Jubilee Park’s Gurley Place. She was Miss Di, who had lived in a shotgun house where the park now stands. The mother of five, she lost two of her sons to murder. Before moving in the senior housing Gurley Place, she’d had no heater or air conditioner. When she turned on a switch on the wall, she didn’t know what was making a horrible noise; Miss Di had never had a garbage disposal.
On the street next to her home, Dallas Police Officer Raymond Hailey had parked his car. After the CCB-ers commenced their tour, one person stood by the bus. Raymond recommended that the person get back in the bus. Why? He pointed to dogs roaming nearby.
But within the safe confines of Jubilee Park, Ben pointed to the three-acre community park that included a soccer field, a basketball court, a junior court and a playground. On the other side of the property were David’s Place and Jeanie’s Place that provided resources for three- to five-year olds and under three-year olds, respectively.
In the Community Center he showed classrooms, where youngsters come for after-school programs. On the wall were timelines of the afternoon’s agenda. Thanks to the $474,650 provided by CCB over three years, the Pipeline of Learning Program will provide “updated technology for students and teachers, transportation, extracurricular programs and additional staff” benefiting 750 children under the age of 18 annually.
As the committee members had box lunches courtesy of Cassandra Fine Catering, the bus drove them to the corner of Ross and Matilda, where Interfaith Family Services Donor Relations Director Jessica Rood and staffers stood in front of a small aging apartment house. Across the street construction was underway for Interfaith’s Family Empowerment Center that was due for completion in two years.
However, until then the current apartment house with its 25 apartments would provide shelter for families in need. Despite its age, the hallways were lined with art and the individual units were furnished for families to have a safe haven. But in addition to providing housing for homeless families, it also offers programs for youngsters to keep up with their studies.
To fund “an onsite extended hours childcare facility for residents and children,” the CCB’s $314,152 will “support a portion of the childcare budget that will not be covered by program fees as Interfaith launches and ramps up the program.”
Heading north to Richardson, the bus was early for its next stop at For The Nations Refugee Outreach. As they were escorted to a room in the back of the building past a large gathering of Outreach clients attending a class, the CCB-ers learned that the Outreach had been created by Kaitlyn and Cameron Mullens. She had been a teacher and he had attended seminary school. Her working with “a diverse student population led her into a refugee ministry among her students’ families and friends.” The couple realized that the growing refugee population in Dallas required far more than part-time involvement. While “refugee resettlement agencies offer thirty days to six months of follow-up for new residents, it takes two to five years for these newcomers to become independent and productive.”
Kaitlyn and Cameron quit their jobs and created Outreach in 2011. By 2017, they were working with 2,000 refugees.
Unfortunately, the demand has outgrown their facility. The open area at times must accommodate all types of activities including ballet lessons. Thanks to CCB’s $711,857.30 over a two-year period, the second floor of the building will be finished out to accommodate a number of children’s programs and activities like music, dance and martial arts. It is projected to serve 1,500 children under the age of 18.
Vincent headed the bus to Harry Hines Boulevard for the group to visit the Child And Family Guidance Center. As noted by the plaque, the Center had benefited from CCB in years past. Established in 1896, the Center provides services to adults and children experiencing mental illness. In working with children and adolescents with “severe emotional disturbance,” its Youth Empowerment Service (YES) Waiver program focuses on creating “an individualized treatment plan that encourages and sustains at-home placement” with their families.
The CCB funding of $953,800 for the HOPE (Health, Outcomes, Prevention, Evaluation) Program would be used to expand the program as well as the YES Program Wing (updating the lobby and medical records room and adding a revenue-generating on-site pharmacy).
As CFO Jeff Keehan told the committee members, one of the challenges facing a family dealing with mental health is getting medication easily. In the past, a client might have to leave their appointment at the Center and then go across town to pick up their prescription. Since getting there is sometimes limited to public transportation, that can be a struggle. With the new on-site pharmacy, a client can get his/her medication following an appointment with the Center’s mental health professional. More that 4,500 children will benefit from the expansion of services and facility improvements.
As the bus pulled into the front entrance of the new home of Community Partners of Dallas in the Stemmons corridor, CEO/President Paige McDaniel and Development and Communications VP Joanna Clarke were outside to greet the CCB-ers. Having just recently moved into their new digs, CPD staffers were still unpacking and settling in.
For CCB-ers who had visited the two-story former office building in 2016, it was a remarkable sight. Instead of a dingy 1980s lobby with light trying to stream through dirty skylights, it was spotless and dazzling with “Thank you” in lights on the wall opposite the entrance. Where once the floor had been dominated by abandoned inset planters filled with dirt, it now looked like a grassy lawn ideal for a picnic with a couple of picnic tables and vivid green carpeting. Overhead small clusters of white, fluffy clouds hung from the clear skylights.
Immediately on the right side of the lobby was the Rainbow Room, where Dallas County Child Protective Services workers could gather toys, supplies and clothes for children who’d been taken from neglectful and dangerous situations. In another part of the ground level were adorable little suites with whimsical drawings for children who needed a temporary place to bath and sleep. For caseworkers, there was everything from state-of-the-art conference rooms to a relaxation room.
Everything had been designed to help the children’s first step into a better life thanks to uplifting, comforting and secure surroundings, as well as supporting CPS workers.
Over the next three years, CCB’s $660,552 will be used to expand The Rainbow Room’s inventory and storage facilities, support its Kids in Crisis program by creating an endowment for perpetual support of CPS, and provide a full-time staffer to oversee both programs.
It is estimated the 12,000 children under the age of 18 will annually benefit.
The final stop of the day was a brief one. It was at Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic on Singleton Avenue in West Dallas. Before entering the three-story building, CEO Leonor Marquez asked that anyone who had not had a flu shot not be part of the tour.
Like other sites, Los Barrios’ facility needed help. Over a two-year period, the CCB’s $558,390 will be used to remodel a portion of the building on the second floor to “more effectively accommodate its share medical appointments program, [and to] launch the CenteringParenting® Program that will provide well-child examinations and health education for a baby’s first years.” In all, 316 children will benefit from the grant.
Now that the tour was completed, the work for 2019 CCB Chair Pat McEvoy and her committee of 99 got underway to provide the ten beneficiaries with $6,842,030.
For more photos of the beneficiaries and the CCB members, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.