Denton Christian Preschool, or DCP, kicked off its 31st annual Mexican Supper Fundraiser at the beginning of the month with the much anticipated performance from the Folxlorico dance group from UNT. The event ran smoothly and quickly thanks to the 30 volunteers recruited by DCP’s Marketing and Fundraising VISTA, Zuleima Melendez from the UNT community service groups Alpha Phi Omega and Talons. The Mexican Supper fundraiser generated $2,533 after expenses that will go toward much needed office and classroom supplies from DCP’s Essential Items list found in their Amazon Wishlist. Obtaining these funds for supplies supports DCP’s mission to prepare its preschool students for kindergarten by providing the supplies so parents do not have to worry about additional costs of attending school. DCP strives to involve their parents in many of the school activities to get them in the habit for the rest of their journey through public school. To do so, DCP had its Costume Parade in which parents brought candy and fall party snacks. Zuleima also recruited volunteers for this activity along with candy donations valued at around $30 to make the students’ experience a little more enjoyable. Zuleima is busy at work looking for new ways DCP can collaborate with other organizations in the community. Zuleima got in contact with a digital specialist from Goodwill to come and present at a Family Night in the spring semester to speak to DCP parents about resources available to them through the Goodwill program. Zuleima also attended a nonprofit mixer at St. Andrews Church to hear from other nonprofits and seek ways to collaborate.
Standing Together on Meth Prevention (STOMP) Hosts Fall Fest Carnival to Raise Awareness and Educate the Community About the Hazards of Drug Use
Cailli Perry, a Drug Awareness and Prevention VISTA, is serving with Jack County STOMP (Standing Together on Meth Prevention), located in rural Jacksboro, Texas. STOMP’s primary focus is to educate the communities of Jack County and create a greater awareness of the dangers of methamphetamine use, crime awareness, and prevention. On Saturday October 26th, 2019 STOMP provided Bryson, Jacksboro, and Perrin communities with a fun-filled Fall Fest Carnival. There were 25+ booths, games, and food for attendees to enjoy from 2:00-6:00pm. Jack County STOMP wanted to provide an event that would allow the communities of Jack County to come together in support of one another, as well as bring a time of enjoyment and laughter for all the families living within these communities. Cailli worked on many of the preparations for this event. She recruited 91 volunteers from 25 local community/school organizations who helped run the various booths, games, and concession stand during the event. She created a spreadsheet database as well as signage for each of the booths. She, along with the recruited volunteers, provided a total of 469 service hours in preparation for/during the event. Approximately 500 Jack County residents came out and enjoyed all the fun which helped raise $1790. STOMP hopes through events such as this that the communities of Jack County will continue to come together in the fight against drugs!
On Thursday, September 18th, Network of Community Ministries participated in North Texas Giving Day. This is a day dedicating to giving to nonprofits in North Texas and inspiring volunteerism and philanthropy. During the past three months, VISTA member Ashley Edling has been working diligently on ways to market for this large day of online giving. She was able to implement new techniques such as the creation of a ‘storyboard’ email that went out weekly prior to the event which told stories of client and how Network’s programming has impacted the community. As a result of her hard work, Network DOUBLED the amount raised this year compared to last year! Hitting almost $82,000, this was a record-breaking fundraiser! After debriefing with all the staff at Network, the organization was able to look at what changes were implemented this year, evaluate how many new donors were brought in, and already set goals and plans for next year. Examples such as this really show how impactful a VISTA can be when empowered to make a change for the better for an organization.
Katie has completed her second month at Children At Risk, a non-profit organization that strives to improve the quality of life of children through the use of research, policy analysis, collaboration, and advocacy. This month, Katie continued to reconnect with community partners participating in Collaborative for Children, a coalition sponsored by Children At Risk. The purpose of this coalition is to bring non-profit organizations and government organizations together, in an effort to help bridge the communication gap of these entities who are helping to support children and their families’ recover from Hurricane Harvey.
In light of the federal administration’s decision to extract funding from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), Katie has been researching the potential impact this action will have to survivors of future natural disasters, and the risks this course of action will have on current/future recovery efforts. Finally, Katie has also been researching the correlation between climate change and the frequency of natural disasters occurring in the United States. Specifically, verifying the benefit constant climate change mitigation has to the plant and overall health to current/future generations.
Ashley Edling, an AmeriCorps VISTA in her second month of service, is working towards developing healthy futures for the Richardson Independent School District in Richardson, TX. Serving at Network of Community Ministries, she has been working to develop funding for the nonprofit’s numerous programs. Grant writing and fundraising are the primary tools used to address financial needs for the organization. After submitting many letters of inquiry and applications, Ashley landed a large grant of $25,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through their Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program. Having received these funds last year, Network uses this money to ensure the food pantry has enough produce and other forms of food to share with their neighbors. This year, Network is expanding their food pantry to also include a mobile food pantry, which means they need any penny they can obtain to supply both programs. This $25,000 grant will help the continual operation of the food pantry to feed our neighbors in need.
“As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Katie Blair volunteers in the Programs Department of Network of Community Ministries. Network’s mission is “caring, coaching and empowering our neighbors in need as they seek an improved quality of life.” The goal of Katie’s VISTA project has been to improve the overall client experience by creating, refining, and coordinating systems that promote smoother service delivery. Katie has played a huge role in a large-scale project that has fundamentally changed service delivery in Network’s Food Pantry and Clothing Closet.”
Katie’s commitment and determination in creating a better and more dignifying experience for Network client’s, has significantly and positively impacted Network and the satisfaction of their clients. We are thrilled that her hard work and determination has been recognized in such a monumental way! Congratulations, Katie!
VISTA Member Genesis Herrera serves with CHILDREN AT RISK. CHILDREN AT RISK provides children a voice, conducts research on the various aspects that impact children and advocates for policy change. Throughout the month of July, Genesis Herrera has been preparing for the publication of the report and the Hurricane Harvey Summit. During the Hurricane Harvey Summit, “The Game Changers ” presented and disseminated information about their SAY application. By hosting them at the Summit, Genesis hopes to reach more children. These children will have the opportunity to share their Hurricane Harvey experience and CHILDREN AT RISK can use this data for their policy and advocacy of children.
VISTA member, Rebecca Harms, serves with CHILDREN AT RISK in Houston, Texas. CHILDREN AT RISK is a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy, strategic research, public policy analysis, education, and collaboration to improve the quality of life for children. On July 30th, she helped organize and hold a summit focused on Hurricane Harvey’s impact and long-term recovery efforts. Over 70 people attended from various organizations across the City of Houston. Attendees were very interested in the information that was shared and took pictures of the posters we created. The feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive with most attendees expressing that their knowledge of Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts increased! This information will allow organizations to utilize available resources and help better serve the communities that are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
On July 30th, Chanel Brown and her fellow VISTA members at Children at Risk hosted a summit. It brought together over 90 nonprofit leaders and government officials. They had TX State Representative Armando Walle, who gave a presentation of the legislative efforts around Hurricane Harvey. Also Marissa Aho, the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Houston. Chanel and the VISTAs spoke on a panel and discussed the research they had done around Hurricane Harvey recovery. They also had the GameChangers, high school students who created an app where children could share their stories about how Hurricane Harvey impacted them, give a brief presentation. Finally, Wendy Wiseburn, principal of Frazier Elementary School in Pasadena ISD, closed out the event and shared her story. Chanel and the team received so much positive feedback and, overall, the attendees thought that it was excellent.