AmeriCorps VISTA member, Victoria Jackson, serving with Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance has spent the past few months finalizing and perfecting the New Tenant Resource Guide (NTRG). In this guide, newly-housed clients will find a Birth Certificate application, a Voter Registration Card, and a resource directory that ranges from employment needs to medical needs that can be fulfilled in Dallas and Collin Counties. In January, she gathered the participants of December’s pilot program, in addition to representatives from several other agencies for training and distribution of the first official New Tenant Resource Guides. In this meeting, she trained the representatives on the 60 pages of the NTRG, from the instructions on how to access critical documents to the ten-page resource directory at the end of the guide. To prevent too many general funds and office hours being used on putting together each individual guide, Victoria uploaded each element of the guide to Basecamp, a website meant to organize cooperative projects. In this way, all agencies funded by the Continuum of Care or the Emergency Solutions Grant now have access to this guide and can print it with ease and at no cost.
Hurricane Harvey shifted the dynamic in fundraising efforts for Epilepsy Foundation’s Community Outreach VISTA, Rashika Smith. The Dallas office took over the calls for the Houston clinic August 25, 2017. The Epilepsy Foundation wanted ensure the crisis would not have a big impact on patients receiving much needed medication. The calls Rashika received helped her understand how important funding is to keep the clinic open. Epilepsy Foundation staff worked with the doctors and pharmacies to make sure patients received their medication wherever they were. Rashika took on a personal challenge to increase the in-kind donation for our upcoming fundraiser in November, Race for the Cure. In August, Rashika sent out over 343 inquiries for donations and has received over 43 items so far with a value of $10,000. She has also helped secure sponsorships worth $38,000. The secured donations increase the likelihood the fundraiser will bring in more money than before.
In August 2017, AmeriCorps VISTA Business Development Officer Melanie Cheney helped raise nearly $26,000 in matching funds to help motivate donors on North Texas Giving Day (September 14). By giving a presentation to the theatres’ Management Boards in July, Melanie secured donations from excited board members who are interested in raising as much money as possible on the day of the fundraiser. Her organization raised $28,000 total last year, so the fact that she was able to raise $26,000 in a matching fund alone, a month before the actual fundraiser, means that there is the potential to raise so much more this year.
Resource Development VISTA Daisy Martinez has worked hard alongside Events & Marketing Coordinator, Morgan Collins to help grow their upcoming fundraising event, “Ladies Purse Auction & Brunch”. This fundraising event is one of the three largest fundraisers that Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center hosts each year. Daisy hopes to exceed their fundraising goal through engaging the local community, and spreading awareness of their mission. Each day, Daisy reaches out to businesses, and women in the Denton Community asking them to participate in the Purse Auction by “adopting” a purse of their choosing from a selection of donated purses located in the W2W office. After adopting the purse, the woman or business takes the purse to fill it with goodies of their choice. The purses are then returned to be auctioned off to the highest bidder at the Purse Auction & Brunch event on June 24th at Robson Ranch. All funds raised go directly towards providing services to the clients of the nonprofit.
In February 2017, AmeriCorps VISTA Melanie Kuriger was able to write and submit a grant application for $20,000 from the Andrea-Mennen Family Foundation. The grant money, if received, will be used to strengthen North Texas Performing Arts’ Therapeutic Drama program for children and adults with special needs. In the preceding weeks, she created an outline and wrote several drafts of the application. She also generated statistics based on information she was able to obtain from archived 2016 documents. Upon approval from her supervisor, she submitted the application in mid-February.
Tierra has taken on CCA’s grants Spring Cycle in full force this month. So far, she has completed and submitted a total of six grants for a potential of $74,000 to support CCA’s comprehensive services and programs to assist low-income individuals across North Texas. Tierra has already secured $15,000 in funding from CoServ Charitable Foundation to assist CCA’s CoServ clients with utility assistance, as well as $5,000 in funding from Direct Energy’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor program to assist Direct Energy clients with utility assistance as well. But it doesn’t stop there! Tierra is already working on six other grants for CCA, including an application to the Texas Emergency Shelter Grant Program with a Denton County Collaborative, including Giving HOPE Inc., Denton County Friends of the Family, Salvation Army of Denton and Interfaith Ministries to reduce and prevent homelessness across the County.
Aleisha Tunstall is the Grant Research and Development VISTA at Our Daily Bread (ODB). ODB is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit community soup kitchen located in Denton, TX, that provides nutritious meals, special services and referrals for other services to those in need. Currently, Aleisha is assisting the Executive Administrator to plan for ODB’s Volunteer Appreciation Event. Aleisha is assisting with organizing and developing event flyers, decoration themes, giveaway items, and scheduling. The event takes place on Thursday, April 27th from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. There will be music, an ice cream sundae bar, and a gift giveaway at the event. The purpose of the Volunteer Appreciation Event is to ensure that all Our Daily Bread volunteers receive a personalized and meaningful acknowledgement for their efforts.
As a resource development and grant writing VISTA with Youth and Family Counseling (YFC) VISTA April Neal has been meeting and collaborating with different restaurants and organizations to set up fundraisers for her agency. She met with three General Managers in the area to set up monthly “Family Fun’d Nights” where YFC invites families and local community members to come out, play games, meet the staff and board of the agency while raising 15-20 percent of the proceeds. This month, April had the opportunity to confirm two local dine in fundraisers. One will be in March at Lewisville IHOP and the other will be in Denton at Rosa’s Café. April is excited to meet more people in the community and give them information on Youth and Family Counseling. April also sought out in-kind donuts and coffee from both Dunkin Donuts (who LOVE YFC) and Good Morning Donuts. She has launched a new Instagram page for the Lewisville YFC, and hopes to gain followers and spotlight their “get to do’s” through social media.
February was the last month of service for VISTA Casey McCollum, and he focused his efforts on ending one of his larger projects. Through a grant awarded in the previous month, Casey focused on procuring a work van for his agency Denton Affordable Housing (DAH). Through research, he found a great deal on a used van in Ft. Worth. It is a 2011 model vehicle with 95,000 miles, in really good shape. The grant was awarded for $18,000, but the VISTA was able to talk the seller down to $14,000 which will allow DAH to use the remaining funds for signage on the van and an insurance policy. The remaining amount will be sent back to CoServ. This van will be a great asset to DAH by saving money paid out to contractors for mileage to their personal vehicles.
In the month of January, VISTA Sean Enfield’s time was primarily devoted to the Plano Children’s Theatre’s volunteer show manager position. Early in the month, he, the managing director, and a senior volunteer organized a meeting of last year’s show managers in order to receive their feedback. From this meeting he and the staff hope to develop a “Best Practices” and a series of trainings for the position of Show Manager. Already, he has developed two new resources for show managers–one PowerPoint template and a new form for recruiting the remaining production volunteers. This is the first month these two new resources have been utilized, and while there are still kinks to be ironed out, Sean hopes that these new documents will continue to be used by future productions.