The latest cold front wasn’t due to arrive until mid-afternoon on Thursday, February 17. For 2022 Crystal Charity Ball Susan Farris it had just been two weeks before when another weather event had forced her to make a decision to hold the general meeting of the committee on Friday, February 4, for the final presentation of the year’s beneficiaries. Despite school districts and even DART shutting down, Susan, committee members and the beneficiary finalists gathered with The Agape Clinic, Baylor Oral Health Foundation, Behind Every Door, Educational First Steps, Family Compass, Hope Supply Co., Southwestern Medical Foundation and United To Learn being selected.
Now, the committee was on board the bus in Turtle Creek Village for the 70th anniversary bus tour of the 2022 beneficiaries sponsored by Layne Pitzer and Joan Eleazer of Briggs Freeman | Sotheby’s International Realty. Due to existing COVID restrictions, not all of the sites would be available so representatives would present on the bus.
But as UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Dr. Lina Chalak approached the bus, it was obvious that the cold front had made a brisk early arrival. Lina had already been by the Parkland’s intensive care to check on her newborn patients. Neonatal Neurology Intensive Care Program, babies in NICU were being cared for not just for the immediate needs but to assure long-term wellbeing. She said that if the committee members had been able to see the unit that morning, they would have seen two babies under cooling blankets because their brains were at risk during the dramatic delivery and two premature babies that were born at night and “are getting caffeine to not only help them breath but “also helps them develop five or ten years down the line.” As a 2022 CCB beneficiary on behalf of the UT Southwestern Foundation, the Neuro Wellness in Brains of Infants Program’s Neonatal Neurology Intensive Care Program currently only at Parkland will be able to use $960,000 over a three-year period for personnel, equipment, supplies, conferences and research to expand to UT Southwestern’s Clements University Hospital, Children Medical Center and Texas Health Dallas allowing an projected 1,200 babies to receive life-changing treatments.
After Lina departed, Tour Coordinator Cara French briefly reviewed the day’s agenda before Educational First Steps CEO Vickie Allen arrived. She explained that EFS’s mission is to inspire the minds of children from birth to age five “because what we know is that the greatest brain development happens between those ages. However, when children grow up in poverty, that brain development has the ability to be stunted and stunted in ways that really prevents them from realizing their true, actual potential.” Thanks to EFS, the youngster are “introduced to a rigorous curriculum that challenges their mind mentally and that nurtures them in a way that they get excited about being academic scholars. So that on that first day of kindergarten they can walk through that door with pride and beam with joy knowing that they are ready to participate in that classroom.” Over a two-year period the CCB $500,000 grant will help them grow their program by 10% in critical areas like South Dallas, West Dallas and Pleasant Grove.
The final speaker on the bus was United To Learn Founder Abby Williams explained how U2L has “married together the very best that is going on in the private sector with what is happening in the public sector to exhilarate student achievement” for 26,000 children around the city across 49 schools. U2L invests in social and emotional learning, as well as environments. According to their research a child who can read by third grade is more likely to go to college and more than 90% of new jobs require more than a high school diploma. “That [literacy] is essential for children to break the cycle of poverty for their own family and contribute to our city.” She said that due to the disruption created from the two-year pandemic there was a good chance that the majority of third graders in 21 schools that CCB is supporting only have first-grade academic skills and first-grade stamina. The result is that they have to accelerate their learning skills to make up for the loss. As an example, she pointed to U2L’s partnership with Cigarroa Elementary School and Principal Douglas Burak. Over the years they have gone from having “9% of their third graders on a college-ready pace to more than 60% even through the pandemic.” With the $1,206,022 grant from CCB, United To Learn will be able to expand into 21 newest Dallas ISD elementary school partners in Southern Dallas over the next three years improving literacy rates for 10,466 elementary students living in chronic poverty. Currently, only one in four students is reading on grade level. Providing educator trainings, classroom literacy resources, and specialized tutors, U2L will propel students toward college and career success, effectively charting a course out of poverty for children within Dallas’ highest need areas.
Arriving at Cedar Crest Community Center in South Dallas for CCB beneficiary’s Behind Every Door just before 10:30, President Darrion Lewis hopped on the bus and said that due to construction, they wouldn’t be able to visit the center, but they would make a quick tour of the football field and then go to the chapel for a deeper conversation. Since the afternoon cold front was only starting to drop temperatures, it was decided to take the traditional group photo on the bleachers. As the committee members cozied up for the picture, Darren decided to take jump in providing a humorous break from the chattering teeth.
Inside the chapel, he shared a video and explained how Behind Every Door’s mission is to build relationships by utilizing community centers for after-school programming and providing resources. Its newest undertaking is the massive renovation of Cedar Crest Community Center.
With a CCB grant of $692,244 over two years, faith-based Beyond Every Door will be able to support an important academic support, mental and physical medical services, enrichment services, one-on-one coaching, spiritual enrichment, summer camps, hot meals and athletics for 1,000 teenagers and children in the Cedar Crest Community Center neighborhood.
Formerly owned by The Salvation Army, the eight-acre Center’s is currently going through a three-phase project.
Phase 1 calls for the present 4,000-square-foot Chapel to be transformed into a gathering place with enhanced audiovisual equipment for programs as well as to provide learning opportunities for youngsters to become adept in creating AV presentations.
Phase 2’s 20,000-square-foot Community Center itself is presently under major renovation for its gym and to be readapted for “3-4 rooms for art, literacy, activities, etc., a living room/lounge area, counseling space (private and play therapy), tutoring rooms, a fitness room, and a commercial kitchen.”
Phase 3 is the football field that will be reconfigured included a baseball field thanks to the Kershaw Foundation and an adjoining playground.
Over a two-year period, Behind Every Door’s grant of $692,244 will provide the “children’s program at the center with important academic support, mental and physical medical services, enrichment services, one-on-one coaching, spiritual enrichment, summer camps, hot meals and athletics.”
Still ahead of schedule, the bus arrived at Family Compass in East Dallas where CEO Ona Foster came on board to explain how it is the only agency in North Texas that’s sole focus is on preventing the child abuse and neglect before it takes place. In too many cases, the father figure is available occasionally and/or uncertain of his responsibilities. Through education and support from Family Compass, the goal is to create a more stable family environment in which the children can thrive.
With its CCB $899,665, Family Compass will be able to expands its existing Community Education and Home Mentoring programs for fathers over a three-year period by “hiring and training an additional two staff members” to provide education, tools and resources to become informed, engaged and supportive.”
Just down the street the tour arrived at The Agape Clinic, where Executive Director Paul Hoffman led the tour through the pharmacy, exam rooms and dental areas before heading upstairs. While he reported that with Omicron cases calming down, the clinic had had to include pandemic protocol including mask requirements, Plexiglas partitions and vaccinations on Friday afternoon. With about 18,000 patient visits a year with 6,000 duplicated patients, the Clinic’s staff did have to hold some virtual visits, but there was only “about three weeks in which we weren’t seeing patients.” One of their goals is to better educate women about their own health and pediatric care.” The clinic receives about $8M worth of medications donated yearly by Americares and Direct Relief. Another partner is LabCorp, which donates $1M worth of lab work each year. On the second floor a large space will created with a reception area and pediatric space to provide services for children. When asked how they get referrals, Paul said in addition to word of mouth, they work with churches, schools and other hospitals. They are in discussions with Mission East Dallas to provide behavioral health care.
Thanks to CCB’s $550,000, a pediatric nurse practitioner, medical assistant and occupational therapist will be hired in collaboration with TWU to provide services for 3,000 uninsured children over the next three years in the second floor’s newly reconfigured space.
The next stop was at the Baylor Oral Health Foundation’s Texas A&M University College of Dentistry on Gaston that opened last year. The Foundation had been created nearly 30 years ago to provide funding for the dentistry program. Due to COVID restrictions, Foundation President Bob Bigham and Clinical Affairs Associate Dean Dr. Steve Griffin came on board the bus to explain how the CCB grant of $1,602,596 would be used for a Special Needs Dental Clinic to provide “increased access of critical oral health care to a widely underserved pediatric, special needs patient population.”
Considered the “newest and most innovative” in the country, the school annually has about 106 students entering its four-year program including every single specialty. With the new building they hope to increase that number to 125 students.
Steve, who graduated from the College in 1985, admitted that he had “put my heart and soul into this building my entire life.” Thanks to its design and the state of art equipment, the students are coming from across the country to study dentistry. Thanks to the grant, they will not only be able to help those in need but also special needs children. “Every dental student will get out of here with about 100 hours of experience with these special needs patients, so that they’ll be able to mainstream them in their practices. In 1985 I got nothing about treating special needs patients. Even now I wouldn’t feel comfortable treating special needs patients.”
Before the pandemic the school had about 105,000 patient visits a year of which 22,000 were unique patient visits. The school’s students graduate with the experience of 40 to 50 crowns opposed to other schools where other schools only have 12 to 15.
Steve added that “We treat everybody from all walks for life especially our specialty clinics. It’s not just a safety net for the poor in our community.”
The final stop of the tour was at Hope Supply Co. in northwest Dallas. From this warehouse facilities, supplies such as diapers, wipes, hygiene kits, baby food and formula, clothing, school supplies and toys are provided for 55 area non-profits like Dallas Life, The Salvation Army of North Texas and Interfaith Family Services. As the bus arrived, CEO Barbara Johnson along with the Hope Supply Co. mascot teddy bears were outside to welcome the group. Once inside the building’s lobby, she pointed to a doorway at the side of the room and explained that it would turned into Crystal Charity Ball Diaper Pantry. Thanks to the CCB grant of $770,028, the funds would provide a redesign of the room to supply diapers, wipes and hygiene products and social worker, as well as the support of an existing project — Critical Needs Program for Infants and Toddlers — serving 9,000 children through partner agencies.
The committee then toured the warehouse with its towering storage racks. Warehouse Manager Robert Dudley started off pointing a “snapshot” of the types of supplies including birthday items that were provided by Hope Supply Co.
In explaining the “from soup to nuts” process, Robert said that once an order is place, the non-profit organization can opt to pick up their order or have it delivered to an East Dallas location. It is then that the order goes through the various stages of fulfilling the order and preparing it for receipt.
As he led the group through the warehouse he explained the operation of how the layout had been created for seamless assembly of supplies for each order placed.
Near the end of the tour, Robert admitted that “We were always that efficient.” There was a time when everything was done manually on paper of spreadsheet. Toyota came on board to consult them on the operation.
“We were under the impression that we needed a bigger warehouse. That’s why we reached out to Toyota to see how they could help us out. But they said ‘You don’t need a bigger warehouse. You need a better system. One thing about the Toyota way is not necessarily spending more money on better systems but taking what you have and being able to evolve it. So they looked at what we had and they helped us to tweak a couple of things. The cool thing about Toyota is you tell them how you do things and they don’t just take over and say ‘This is what you’re going to do.’ You provide your input and you co-develop something. It was a great experience that I wouldn’t change for the world.”
As the bus headed back to Turtle Creek Village and the committee departed, their work was cut out for the months ahead to provide more than $7,180,505 for this year’s Dallas County children’s non-profits.
For more looks of the day’s tour, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.