We are so excited to welcome Giving Hope, Inc. to the Serve Denton Center as our newest nonprofit partner! Serve Denton currently partners with Giving Hope, Inc. at The Wheeler House where their organization manages the transitional housing facility for moms and their kids. Since 2015, more than 100 mom and kids have transitioned out of a housing crisis into permanent housing because of this program.
Jainah loves to serve. She loves to minister to those who are overlooked, underestimated and outcasted in their own communities. When looking for a place to use her skill set, she came across The Wheeler House.
Jainah has been the House Mom at The Wheeler House since it opened in 2015 and recently concluded her time with us. While most people would have only stayed for one year, Jainah stayed for three.
Here are a few volunteer opportunities happening in May! If you volunteer for any of these opportunities please email us a picture of yourself or your group during the event. Tag us and use the hashtag #ServeDenton for the chance to be featured on our social media platforms!
I cannot speak for all college students, but I believe many of us have some kind of meaningful experience during college that inspires us to change the world.
Sometimes though, we may become disheartened by the circumstances and realities around us that seem to limit our ability to influence all of the people, societies and institutions that make up the world. That is not to say none of us will make an impact for the benefit of many because that can still happen. However, what I think we sometimes miss that we can impact the world in which we live in through the immediate world around us—our community.
We were able to honor Huffines Subaru Denton at our board meeting on Thursday, March 9, 2017, as our Business Partner of the Month for March! Huffines Subaru Denton has supported Serve Denton since 2015. They chose Serve Denton as the local charity for their 2016 “Share the Love” campaign. This meant Subaru was willing to donate $250 to Serve Denton each time a vehicle was sold or leased during December. We will announce the final numbers in April!
Serve Denton honored Denton County Young Professionals at their board meeting on Thursday, December 8, 2016. DCYP not only supports Serve Denton’s programs and events, but they have become faithful advocates of Serve Denton’s mission. In 2015, DCYP gave all of their membership dues to The Wheeler House, making it their charity of choice. The Wheeler House is a transitional housing facility for moms and kids in a housing crisis run by Giving Hope, Inc. and an affordable health clinic run by Health Services of North Texas, all managed by Serve Denton.
One of DCYP’s members and a Serve Denton board member, Alex Lee, raised money to compete in the Texas Water Safari. He donated all of the proceeds to help Serve Denton build a pergola at The Wheeler House - Helping turn the transitional housing facility into a home for the moms and kids. Every month, DCYP consistently shows up to volunteer at the Denton Mobile Pantry, which is organized by the Denton Hunger Coalition and Tarrant Area Food Bank and hosted by Serve Denton.
This past summer, DCYP planned a sand volleyball tournament at Bahama Buck’s to support Serve Denton and the Denton Community Food Center. They organized the tournament as well as recruited sponsors and volleyball teams for the event.
DCYP provides educational, social, networking and volunteer opportunities for Denton County professionals aged 21 to 40. To learn more about DCYP, visit their website by clicking the button below. You can also attend one of their weekly coffee events every Wednesday (except the first week of the month) and monthly mixers the first Thursday of every month.
[button url="http://www.dcyp.org" color="gray" customcolor=" custom_class="" ]DCYP Website[/button]
This Christmas season, Huffines Subaru Denton chose Serve Denton as the local charity of choice for their 2016 “Share the Love” campaign! From November 17, 2016, to January 3, 2017, Subaru will donate $250 to Serve Denton for each Subaru vehicle sold or leased at Huffines Subaru Denton located at 5150 S I-35 Exit 461, Denton, TX 76210.
More Ways Subaru Will Support
Huffines Subaru Denton has been a supporter of Serve Denton since 2015. Along with generously contributing financially to Serve Denton, Subaru management and employees will be volunteering at the January Denton Mobile Pantry, a free monthly food pantry with Tarrant Area Food Bank and the Denton Hunger Coalition that takes place in the Serve Denton parking lot!
Their employees will also be partnering with experts from Texas Woman’s University to build a professionally designed butterfly garden at The Wheeler House, a Serve Denton project. The Wheeler House is a transitional housing facility for moms and kids in a housing crisis managed by Giving Hope, Inc. and an affordable health clinic managed by Health Services of North Texas. Subaru’s experts will help make The Wheeler House a zero landfill facility by developing a variety of practices that will be taught to the families.
More Ways You Can Support
Aside from purchasing or leasing a car from Subaru, another way you can get involved in the “Share the Love” campaign is by downloading Subaru’s recording of, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” This song was recorded by an amazing cast of people whose lives have been positively affected by this yearly event. All profits from this song will go toward Subaru’s national charity partners whose mission is to provide services to those in need.
We are so grateful to have been chosen as Subaru’s charity of choice and are looking forward to the many ways they will help us make an impact on the city of Denton! Since "Share the Love"’s inception in 2008, Subaru and its retailers have donated almost $90 million towards organizations that provide services for those in need. The “Share the Love” campaign is more than just purchasing a car; it’s about making a positive impact in the world and in local neighborhoods.
For more information about the ‘Share the Love” campaign, email co-founding board member Priscilla Sanders at email@example.com.
We talked with Tracy Maddoux from Denton County MHMR about the LOSS Team, which is a program that provides immediate support and resources to suicide survivors (someone who has lost a loved one to suicide) as close to the time of their loss as possible. Suicide survivors volunteer to be part of the LOSS Team, which brings a different sense of comfort and hope that mental health professionals can't provide. Denton County is fortunate to be one of two counties in Texas that have a LOSS Team in place. They are fully funded by grants and donations, so if you would like to support their program, you can donate by clicking the button below.
[button url="http://www.dentonmhmr.org/LOSS/" color="gray" customcolor="custom_class="" ]Donate to the LOSS team[/button]
If you’re a Topgolf fan and Serve Denton’s mission tugs on your heart, we have the perfect opportunity for you!
For those who have never experienced Topgolf, check out this video below to learn how it works. You can also check out Topgolf’s FAQ page by Clicking Here.
On November 3, Topgolf is hosting Serve Denton’s third-annual golf tournament from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.! All proceeds will benefit Serve Denton to help lower overhead costs for local nonprofit agencies that office with us so more of their money will go toward their mission.
Each bay accommodates four to six golfers and costs $500. This will include unlimited soft drinks and appetizers, so you won’t be leaving hungry!
Individual golfers can also register for $100 a piece. All participants will receive a Lifetime Membership card, which allows participants to keep track of their score. The card also provides free golf clubs for adults (men and women) and kids. They even have clubs for you lefties out there.
We will be having some fun competitions throughout the afternoon, with great prizes for individuals and teams! Some of these competitions include: Longest Shot, Hole-In-One, Best Overall Team Score, Best Individual Score, Battle of the Banks, Car Race, Beat the Pro, Top Lady’s Score and more! The nine winners will compete for prizes such as rounds of golf for four, steak dinners and a Yeti cooler. There will also be 15 silent auction items with packages including rounds of golf for four and themed baskets.
We will have three sponsorship opportunities: Champion, Eagle and Birdie.
Here’s the cool part, the Champion ($5,000) level sponsor will receive a one-year Topgolf Corporate Platinum Membership valued at $5,225! This sponsor will also receive two platinum bays to accommodate four to six people. Your company logo will be placed on Serve Denton’s website and social media platforms, your company banner will be placed at Topgolf during the event, and your logo will be displayed on seven of Serve Denton’s private lounge T.V.s.
The Eagle ($2,500) and Birdie ($1,000) sponsorships include premium bays along with highly visible advertising opportunities for your company.
The fundraiser will take place at 3760 Blair Oaks Dr. The Colony, TX 75056. We would love to have you be apart of our first Topgolf Tournament. If you want to sign up, just click on the button below!
[button url="https://servedenton.kindful.com/" color="gray" customcolor="" custom_class="" ]Sign Up[/button]
Denton is in a labor-short fall, which means we don’t have enough qualified people to fill the available jobs. There is such a demand for people with talent and skill that companies are waiting to find the right candidates. There are also plenty of people who currently have a job, but want to move on to a better opportunity. Then there are some who have recently been laid off or have been job searching for far too long. The Denton Community Job Fair worked to solve these problems by connecting qualified job applicants with top-notch companies.
There were 167 job seekers who visited with 28 hiring employers and nonprofit agencies. How did they say it went? Well, we sent out a survey to get some feedback, and we were more than pleased with the results.
Twenty-five percent of the people had an on-spot interview, and two people were hired the day of the event. A handful of people were hired at a later date or had interviews set up for later on. Most people left with three to nine leads, and a few even left with TEN leads. Over seventy percent of the job seekers rated the event very good or excellent, and over seventy percent of the hiring employers rated the quality of candidates a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale.
One bank had fourteen qualified candidates, and UNT had as many as eleven job openings. One company had been waiting a FULL year to find a bilingual therapist, and thank goodness for the job fair because they finally found one - The perfect candidate for the job!
We look forward to putting on this event again next year! If you would like to be involved as a hiring employer or sponsor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will make sure information is sent your way. If you attended the job fair and have suggestions for next year, please let us know by using the email above.
We talked with two mentor navigators from NewDay Services' Fatherhood EFFECT Program, which is a class that gives male caregivers the skills they need to become more involved and stronger dads. They meet at Serve Denton every Saturday morning to go through the curriculum. Check it out!
There are around 728,000 people in Denton County, with an unemployment rate of 3.2% (April 2015). This means about 23,322 people are unemployed. And when we say people, we could be talking about your aunt, best friend, neighbor or the man you just walked across the crosswalk with. Serve Denton is entering into this space by providing a job fair for the Denton community. The purpose of this event is to connect people who need jobs with businesses who have job openings!
Local nonprofit agencies like Vision Ministries, Health Services of North Texas and Giving Hope, Inc. will also attend the job fair to provide information about their services to job seekers. These local businesses and nonprofit agencies will be giving 20-minute seminars throughout the day on topics like Banking 101; Your Resume is a Marketing Tool, Not a Biography; How to Apply & Interview for Jobs; and Getting a Job with a Troubled Past. There will also be an interview room on-site for employers to go through the interview process with applicants. The faster we can help people find jobs, the better.
We want all job seekers to be able to take part in this event, so there is no cost to attend. Job seekers are encouraged to dress professionally and bring plenty of copies of their resume!
For more information about the job fair and sponsorship opportunities, please click on the button below or email Joye Williams at email@example.com.
[button url="http://servedenton.org/dentoncommunityjobfair/" color="gray"" custom_class="" ]Learn More[/button]
Aunt Bertha is Serve Denton’s special aunt that helps people find the care they need in difficult times. Aunt Bertha is the Aunt we all had growing up. She tells it like it is. She’s the first one to give you a high-five when you make the honor roll. She’s the friendly face that won’t judge you when you get in trouble. She’s who you call or visit during those times when you get real with yourself. You see, Aunt Bertha is not a real person but a company whose mission is to make human service program information more accessible to those in need in order to help more people reach self-sufficiency. Aunt Bertha picks up where Uncle Sam leaves off by making it easy to find food, health, housing and education programs based on need.
It began with a simple idea – that every person and family should have one place online where they can find help in a time of need – and they’ve been transforming the way social services information is organized and delivered ever since. For people in need, Aunt Bertha is building the country’s most comprehensive online directory of social service organizations. By putting the information in their hands, they’re bringing dignity to the experience of finding help. And for organizations offering help, they are giving them tools and insights to deliver the right services to the right places and to do more with less.
She (Aunt Bertha) may not save the day – that’s up to you – but she can give you some perspective with a clear set of eyes and a full heart. – Founder, Erine Gray
By organizing the world’s human service program information, people can easily find out which programs they qualify for in a matter of seconds. Aunt Bertha also helps human service organizations administer programs better by offering easy-to-use web-based case management software.
Aunt Bertha is all about trying to help people understand options that are out there for people with low income. In the United States, there are 89,000 government organizations, over a million public charities and more than 300,000 congregations. Many of these organizations offer programs designed to help people with food, health, housing or education needs. But navigating through the information available can be intimidating – and all too often people give up and fall further into crisis.
Serve Denton is fortunate to have Aunt Bertha as one its strategic partners. They have helped us think through many issues and brought a capability to Denton County that few places have.
This June and July, they embedded some of their team with key nonprofits across Denton County to learn how to make Aunt Bertha easier to use for case workers and provide the functions those people wish they had. At the same time, they spent time with people called “seekers” who are searching for help.
They collected data during the monthly mobile food pantry and are using it to refine the system. All in the hopes of empowering everyone to find help when they need it and use their time efficiently rather than driving all over town asking for help and finding they need to go someplace else.
Serve Denton partnered with Aunt Bertha to create CAReS. It is the same database, just geared toward Denton County social services. Click on the button below to check out the website!
We look forward to continuing the collaboration and seeing Aunt Bertha grow in its use.
[button url="https://cares.auntbertha.com" color="gray" customcolor="""_top" custom_class="" ]Visit CAReS[/button]
Human Trafficking in Denton
When you think of human trafficking, you probably think of a few different things. The first could be history—you know that the buying and selling of humans has happened since—well, since always.
But you may not think it happens so much now, and where you believe it does happen is influenced by the second thing that comes to mind when you think of trafficking: Hollywood.
Movies like Taken brought a very specific, problematic kind of trafficking to light, which focuses most Americans’ attention to trafficking overseas. What you’re unlikely to think of is North Texas. You’re unlikely to think of people living in places like Southlake and Denton being trafficked, but the reality is this: it does happen here, and it happens often.
Vision Gets Involved
That’s why Vision Ministries has decided to host Human Trafficking 101: Our Children at Risk. We sat down with Carrie Powell, Women’s Coordinator at Vision Ministries, to talk about this community awareness event to understand more about what folks in Denton can get out of attending this seminar series.
What’s important to know, first and foremost, is Vision Ministries is not an organization that combats human trafficking directly. Vision Ministries is an outreach of Denton Bible Church that helps people get on their feet and get connected to the church and a faith community through programming and providing food, clothing, and other essentials.
As Carrie puts it, Vision is a “comfortable place” that the community relies on. They serve a diverse group of clientele and work with a faithful core of volunteers. They are eyes in the community, and what they see is a growing human trafficking problem.
Responding to a Crisis
In response to this, they’ve decided to jump into the fight against human trafficking. One way is through participation in the Denton County Human Trafficking Coalition, hosted and facilitated by Serve Denton. The coalition is a space where agencies that serve possible victims of human trafficking can come together to learn more about the issue and work collaboratively to stop trafficking in Denton County and surrounding areas.
Human Trafficking 101 is one of the efforts being made collaboratively to educate the community about what’s going on in Denton County. Over the course of four sessions, different agencies in North Texas that combat human trafficking in a variety of ways will present the community at large with information about how to recognize and report human trafficking as well as how to get involved as volunteers.
Carrie says they decided to hold the event because Vision is committed to taking ownership of Denton’s problems. “I’ve lived in Denton for 20 years. I feel like this is my town,” she says. According to her, initiatives like Human Trafficking 101 create the kind of awareness that “takes idleness and turns it into action.”
And there is a lot of action to be taken. North Texas is home to a growing number of agencies related to human trafficking and are always in search of new volunteers for a wide variety of needs; anything from writing to women who live in shelters to renovating group homes to participating on intel teams that use social media to find potential trafficking victims and perpetrators.
Human Trafficking 101 will take place over the course of four nights from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Denton Bible Church, located at 2300 E. University Drive Denton, TX:
To learn more about the Denton County Human Trafficking Coalition, please email Katelynn Blasavage at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This summer, we had the privilege of having Hannah Rodriguez intern for Serve Denton. She is leaving us this week to finish her last year of the interior design program at the University of North Texas. In just a short three months, she helped start an initiative here in Denton, one with the word “tiny” in the name, but no tiny task at all – the Tiny House project. She is one of the reasons the conversation about legalizing tiny houses in Denton has been brought to light. Instead of me blabbing on about what she accomplished this summer, I’ll let her answer the questions!
What was your role at Serve Denton?
Conceptual Synthesis. So my job was essentially to explore and sort through tons of ideas with the help of my team and put together the most helpful ones.
From there, I tried to figure out how these ideas are represented and felt in the built environment. How can a house or a neighborhood embody a holistic community environment—what does that physically look like? How does someone build that? What is it in the physical environment that makes people want to interact? My job was to figure that out.
What have you accomplished so far?
I created a site plan and five preliminary tiny house designs. To do this, I collaborated with many homeless outreaches and tiny house owners in DFW.
With the generation of this visual starting point, I think I’ve been able to foster a strong sense of unity within the team and that is something I’m extremely proud to have been able to create.
[button url="http://docdro.id/wFKCiL7" color="gray" customcolor="" iconcolor="white="_top" custom_class="" ]Final Site Plan[/button]
What have you learned?
- I learned a lot about Denton and it's people.
- I learned that people aren’t what they look like and shouldn’t be measured by my own standard of living.
- I learned how to learn from opinions with grace and an open mind rather than allowing different viewpoints to offend me. I think I’ve fully grasped the power of positivity in the face of negativity.
What do you see happening with tiny houses (in Denton) in the future?
Denton is full of unique individuals who are unafraid to venture outside of norms. I think this is the perfect city for tiny houses to flourish. A lot of what I’ve done, I see as not simply for one demographic or one crisis, but as laying a foundation upon which anyone can build. I think people, especially in Denton, are starting to look around and realize they don’t need a lot of (fill in the blank) to have a full life. Tiny houses in all their forms are perfect for that kind of idea, and I think they’ll catch on once the initial step is taken.
Any cool stories/ experiences/ people you've met?
I’ve met and worked with several city officials, which I kind of find cool because I’m a bit of a nerd. I’ve hung out with Alexis and Christian from the Tiny House Expedition which was one of the coolest tiny house experiences I’ve had so far. Also, everyone at Serve Denton is so inspiring. They are literally always stoked by making an impact in people’s lives.
I’ve met lots of homeless residents. I made a really cool homeless friend named Michael who always reminds me that God loves me which is super encouraging. I’ve spent a lot of time at the library which is always filled with homeless people on the weekends.
Any Final Words?
I sought out this internship because I wanted to help people. What I got out of it was a VIP ticket to a new world. At the beginning, I was really challenged by my unconscious misconceptions of people who aren’t like me. I don’t think I’d ever really taken the time to think about homelessness before. I knew it was a sad thing, but I never really thought about why. Growing up, homeless people were kind of the epitome of stranger danger, and I never really thought about why. It has been truly eye-opening to now be in a position of service to people I’d always kind of pitied from afar.
I’m just at the edge of my seat in anticipation for the day I get to come back to Shiloh Village and be able to meet someone and ask them how they like their house. I mean, hopefully, they don’t hate it. Haha! That’d be pretty depressing.
But seriously, that day is literally the day of my dreams.
On a hot July Saturday, a little over a year ago, volunteers from the Denton community, agency representatives from the Denton Hunger Coalition (DHC), and Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) came together for two purposes—distribute fresh produce to hungry families in Denton County and make community resources available to them. The event was called “Summer Harvest.”
Serve Denton participated by offering space for the event, and its reception was overwhelmingly positive; the DHC distributed food to 521 families (adding up to 1,951 individuals) that day.
Following the success of this trial run, TAFB and DHC made a commitment to the Denton community—monthly mobile pantries on each second Saturday, and thus the Denton Mobile Pantry (DMP) was created. Including the Summer Harvest, the DHC and TAFB fed 1,969 families (7,673 individuals) in 2015 and have served 2,479 families (8,591 individuals) to date in 2016.
Second Saturday Success
Each month comes with its own set of challenges and rewards, but one constant across the board has been volunteer engagement. The DHC achieved what many groups struggle to do in its very first year operating the DMP—establishing core volunteers from diverse sources, including Catholic Daughters, Denton County Young Professionals, Young Men’s Service League, UNT, the Target Distribution Center, and more. Some volunteers, like Mr. Fritz, show up every second Saturday bright and early to make a difference in the community.
Others are able to commit less frequently, but make large commitments. For example, bringing large groups of volunteers or additional resources like free flu shots. An average of 50-60 volunteers show up each month. In 2015, the time they gave to the community collectively valued $23,370 in volunteer hours. In 2016 to date, that time adds up to $31,560. We cannot understate the importance of DMP volunteers, because they drive its biggest success—community engagement.
Without terrific volunteers, the DMP would simply have been an event that distributes food. While that function of the pantry is essential, it relies on the community built around it for continued success. The Denton Mobile Pantry is more than a resource; it’s a community event bringing families, friends, and volunteers together. It’s part of a growing culture of service and generosity in Denton County.
The DHC is also committed to ensuring the DMP is waste-free. Denton Mobile Pantry coordinators arranged for Shiloh Fields to receive and compost all spoiled produce, and distribution materials like boxes and pallets are reused when possible and otherwise recycled.
When It Works Best
While the first year of the DMP has been an overwhelming success, the DHC is committed to making improvements that will help it grow with the needs of the community. That’s done in a few ways by the coalition: tracking GIS data helps the coalition understand where in Denton County people reached, talking with clients to understand how food is being used at home, and pursuing agency partnerships to increase DHC capacity. Additionally, the coalition identifies factors influencing attendance each month to develop targeted solutions.
The DMP takes place outside, so weather is an important factor in attendance; water is provided in the summer when possible. Accessibility is an issue as well, so a collaborative effort with Primrose Senior Apartments and Heritage Oaks Senior Apartments means that seniors and homebound folks are able to receive food from the DMP each month through the work of Primrose staff and volunteers that pre-register recipients and deliver food directly to residents.
Availability of food for the whole family, including four-legged friends, contributes to the success of the DMP as well; a new partnership with Don’t Forget to Feed Me allows the DHC to distribute dry dog and cat food to DMP recipients.
However, data shows that what may be the most important factor in DMP success is its involvement of the community. Three times in its first year the DMP was hosted in conjunction with a community resource fair, and these three months were among the highest in terms of attendance. People come for the food, yes—but they often have other needs as well, and providing access to community resources makes the DMP an even more effective event.
Steps for the Future
The first year of the DMP has exceeded the expectations of the DHC. There is excitement among members for what is to come and passion for continued growth in the face of Denton County’s increasing needs for access to healthy food.
The DMP is an excellent model for community engagement and provision, and it’s beautiful to see people being served and walking away happy, hopeful, and sure of their next meal. The DHC is just getting started, and Serve Denton is glad to be a part of it.
The Denton Mobile Pantry is operated by the Denton Hunger Coalition and committed community volunteers. Food is provided by the Tarrant Area Food Bank, and space is provided by Serve Denton. If you’d like to get involved with the Denton Mobile Pantry, visit the Denton Hunger Coalition Facebook page, email email@example.com, or sign up to volunteer and receive updates at http://vols.pt./Ohqu3M. To learn more about mobile pantries like Denton’s, visit TAFB at http://tafb.org.
This is the second segment of our "Homelessness in Denton" episode! We talked to Leslie Wisenbaker, the chair of the Denton County Homeless Coalition, and Michael Pirtle, the director of Vision Ministries, about what is already going on to alleviate homelessness in Denton and what the community can do to help.