Five months ago Valentine’s Day was a real downer for The Family Place. In addition to struggling through a year of challenges presented by the pandemic, Winter Storm Uri had not just give an frigid cold shoulder to North Texas, it had sent TFP’s Sally’s House reeling. The 21-year-old Safe Campus where 52 women and 71 children had sought shelter from domestic abuse had itself suffered a devastating battering from the days of freezing temperatures. As bad as the first couple of days without electricity and heating was, it only got worse when ceilings caved in and pipes burst flooding rooms and the clients’ precious belongings.
For TFP staff the challenge was more than salvaging the building. It was also reassuring the clients, who were already suffering from the trauma of abusive home lives that they needn’t “give up and return home where their lives were in danger.”
Luckily, TFP had friends who stepped forward. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson arranged to have the water turned off that had been flooding the facility for four hours. Wilshire Baptist Church Pastor George Mason immediately sent the message, “They can come here, we have power right now.” The City of Dallas sent over five buses to transport 123 clients to the church. The Salvation Army DFW Command provided cots. Local restaurants came through with food. But the relocation was only a temporary fix as the church itself had pipes burst that not only left them without water, it flooded the church’s basement.
Luckily, extended stay lodgings were located and food and transportation were provided for around 16 weeks as TFP staff and supporters went into recovery mode to put Sally’s House back together again.
TFP CEO Paige Flink laughed as she compared that the facility to an aging woman in need of a facelift. But unlike the usual plastic surgery that addresses exterior appearances, this one would be taken down to the studs.
However, TFP had two big things going for it. First of all, Paige and her crew had experience in construction after building the 50,000-square-foot Ann Moody Place facility. Second, TFP’s legion of supporters were eager to help despite the fact that most construction crews and materials were still trying to rebuild North Texas following the October 2019 tornado.
Today after four months of work, the results were revealed at the in-person rededication of Sally’s House with a roomful of board members and friends like Sally’s House namesake Sally Hoglund, Betty Regard, Jennifer Staubach Gates, Nancy Bierman, Margo McClinton Stoglin, Cecilia and Tim Norwood, Elizabeth Saab and Jena May, who along with Paige, Sally and Tammy Granger had been there 21 years ago when Sally’s House opened for business.
After comments made by TFP Board Chair Harold Ginsburg, Paige, Mayor Johnson and Pastor Mason and a quick red ribbon cutting, a tour of the renewed Safe Campus proved it was like a phoenix rising from the ashes. There was the smell of freshly painted walls, the feel of new flooring, the spic-and-span community dining room and the newly decorated ensuite bedrooms with views of the playground and messages of hope for those who are escaping hopeless situations.
In the days ahead, the final loose ends will be finished to welcome home the women and children who, like Sally’s House, will be transformed for the better.
For additional looks at the renewed Sally’s House, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.