Casey McCollum, a Policy Development and Grant Research VISTA serving at Denton Affordable Housing Corp. (DAHC) has completed the necessary updates on the agency’s Personnel Handbook and is now back to grant writing. He has submitted a grant proposal for $15,000 to the Meadows Foundation. If awarded DAHC will use the funding to purchase a truck to use for maintenance and cleaning properties. A purchase of a maintenance truck will save DAHC from paying contractors to use their vehicles; thus allowing the agency to put other funding towards housing low-income clients.
Woman to Woman is now prepared for any size group the Denton Community can offer! Having a logistics plan for groups is key to ensuring their time is used appropriately and that important tasks can be completed efficiently. Being a logistics VISTA, Sarah was asked manage two very large groups that wanted to volunteer for Woman to Woman by serving in Twice as Nice Resale. The first group consisted of 15 students from the Texas Academy of Math and Science that volunteered two hours each. This group sorted over 15 bags of clothing and worked on the Twice as Nice sales floor making it aesthetically pleasing to customers. The second group consisted of 18 students from Texas Woman’s University that volunteered for two hours each. With the help from VISTA Adam Jones this group managed to put three racks of clothing on the sales floor, sort 15 bags of clothing, tag and mark three racks of designer label clothing and sort three baskets of housewares items! Sarah made sure that each group knew their work is of huge help to Woman to Woman and encouraged them to come back to volunteer. This encouragement even helped some group members ask for information on volunteering on a regular basis. Sarah’s logistics mind plans these group projects in hopes that individual will want to come back to be a Woman to Woman volunteer!
Tierra Bishop, an AmeriCorps VISTA writing grants with Christian Community Action (CCA), successfully secured $500.00 to jump-start next year’s Back to School program, which provides clothing for students whose families cannot afford to provide them with on their own. Additionally, Tierra completed a grant to the Wells Fargo Foundation, asking for $25,000 to support CCA’s Family Assistance Services program. Family Assistance Services is the entry point for all of CCA’s clients to receive comprehensive services that will aid them on their personalized path towards sustained self-sufficiency.
Rebecca Dake, Community Outreach VISTA at Interfaith Ministries (IFM) of Denton, got some amazing news this month. Her organization is going to be a featured story in the Winter 2016 edition of Denton Magazine. Rebecca contacted the magazine hoping for the inclusion of an event photo. That outreach piqued the interest of the editors at Denton Magazine. Rebecca worked to photograph and collect images of the amazing people and programs that represent IFM Denton. She is excited to see the feature this November, and she is completely confirmed in her belief that the media and the public wants to hear great stories. They will never know unless they are told.
Raven Carr is a VISTA member serving at Interfaith Ministries of Denton, Inc. (IFM) as the Volunteer Coordinator. Interfaith’s mission is to provide emergency basic needs assistance to the people of Northern Denton County with the goal of helping those people become self-sufficient. Before each school year begins, IFM provides a program to the Denton community called Apple Tree. Apple Tree provides school supplies, a backpack, and a shoe gift card to families with Denton ISD students that are on free or reduced lunch. Raven was in charge of recruiting volunteers to work the distribution day. She used Volunteer Match and personal contact with past volunteers as a way to recruit volunteers for the program. Raven recruited more than enough people to volunteer and had to cut the list to about 20 volunteers to help distribute the supplies, backpacks, and gift cards to 1,500 Denton ISD students.
During the month of August, Nicole Owens, the Community Education VISTA serving with Denton County Friends of the Family (DCFOF) spoke with over 490 people at resource fairs in the Denton area. Informational brochures were provided to parents, students and educators. Pens with DCFOF’s crisis line were handed out at the resource fairs. Nicole explained the power and control wheel to students at the University of North Texas and told parents at various school resource fairs about the community education programs that their children could benefit from.
VISTA member Kem attended Lewisville ISD’s (LISD) Back to School Fair, where families had the opportunity to receive school supplies, food, clothes and haircuts, in order to prepare for the start of school. This event also offered marketing tables for local businesses and non-profits. Kem manned a marketing table for Youth and Family Counseling at this event. The VISTA member informed parents about YFC’s School Referral Program which provides 6 free sessions of counseling to LISD students that are considered “at-risk” in some way. So many families were interested in the agencies programs that the VISTA ran out of items to hand out about half way through! Luckily another staff member was on the way to relieve the VISTA and brought more items.
Daisy Martinez, Resource Development VISTA at Giving Hope, Inc., a transitional housing agency, kept busy in the month of August with grant writing and fundraisers. She submitted the CoServ Charitable Foundation Grant requesting $17,500 for Emergency Rental Assistance Funds, the Walmart/Sam’s Foundation Grant asking for $2,400 to pay one month’s rent for 8 different homeless families, and the TEGNA Foundation Grant, requesting $5,000 to fund after school activities, summer camps, and tutoring for the children who are living in transitional housing units at Wheeler House as funds are note available for these types of enrichment opportunities. Daisy also had the opportunity to write an official Non-Discriminatory Policy for Giving Hope, Inc. which was required for one of the grant applications. In addition to grant writing, Daisy is coordinating the North Texas Giving Day (NTGD) for her agency. NTGD is the largest fundraiser Giving Hope, Inc. participates in each year. She has collaborated with Rose Costumes who has agreed to provide costumes for the staff members present at NTGD to help draw attention and donations from the crowd. Daisy created postcards to send to donors inviting them to donate to Giving Hope, Inc. on September 22nd. She also sent out letters requesting challenge funds from local businesses that have supported Giving Hope in the past. Stay tuned to see how Daisy’s efforts have paid off!
Chanell Rose, VISTA Leader for the VISTA North Texas Project, has been busy educating the surrounding communities and non-profit organizations about the VISTA North Texas Project and AmeriCorps VISTA. The month of August was jam packed with back to school tabling events, meetings, and resource events where Chanell actively promoted the VISTA program and the open November VISTA service opportunities. As the North Texas Project is a two man team, Chanell was able to help Project Director reach out to more people than an individual would be capable of. By creating marketing materials and reaching out to local interest groups, she was able to broaden VISTA North Texas Project’s reach in Denton, Collin, and Grayson counties.
Woman to Woman’s Twice as Nice Resale Store is the recipient of a new store layout. After three months of planning, VISTA member, Adam Jones, with the assistance of Twice as Nice staff, worked and managed a group of five volunteers who contributed about 15 hours to the completion of store layout. The new store layout offers shoppers a better flow and more room to find the items they are looking for which will lead to an increase in revenue for the resale store. Adam also contributed to the Woman to Woman-Twice as Nice Resale, by training 3 new volunteer cashiers. He created four new documents: Closing and Opening checklist, Toy and Clothing training seminars and Department task list to improve the efficiency of the Twice as Nice personnel.