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What Community Service Taught Me as a College Student

What Community Service Taught Me as a College Student

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.

Serve Denton Welcomes Four New Board Members

Serve Denton is excited to welcome four new board members to the 2017 Serve Denton board of directors! The new board members include Cynthia Foster, Roxanne Del Rio, Desiree Patterson and Charles Crouch. Safran HR Manager Cynthia Foster has been a contributing member on the Serve Denton Communication Committee in 2016 as an independent and critical thinker. Roxanne Del Rio is the North Central Texas College Dean of Strategic Student Initiatives & Multicultural Outreach. Roxanne’s relationship building, follow-through, and problem-solving skills will be real assets to the Serve Denton team. The Crouch Group Account Executive Charles Crouch was previously the Serve Denton student board member and has now accepted a full position on the board of directors. Desiree Patterson, a Sports Nutrition graduate student from Texas Woman’s University is an honors student and the new student board member. Desiree is passionate about research and helping people make lifestyle changes to live better lives. We are so pleased to have these individuals on our team!

Additionally, Serve Denton also appointed a new chair, vice chairs and treasurer for the upcoming year! The Crouch Group President, Tim Crouch, is the new Board Chair. Tim Crouch has served on the board since our inception and continues to be a Serve Denton advocate. Denton Depot Owner Larry Parker moved up from Second Vice Chair to First Vice Chair. Guaranty Bank & Trust Vice President of Marketing Michele Barber is the new Second Vice Chair. DATCU Chief Financial Officer Melanie Vest is the new Treasurer.

We are looking forward to a great year full of a powerful and positive future! We now have 41 board members who are experts in many different fields such as banking, legal work, government, ministry and education. Thank you to the new and existing board members for your willingness to serve the community in this unique way. For the full list of board members, click the button below:

The Serve Denton Mission Coming to Life

Serve Denton currently partners with ten local nonprofits with NewDay Services being one of those! They started officing with us back in June of 2014 and have made a significant impact in our community.  

What is The Fatherhood EFFECT Program?

 

In 2016, they expanded their programs in Denton and began the Fatherhood EFFECT program. The Fatherhood EFFECT stands for Educating Fathers for Empowering Children Tomorrow. This is a partnership between the Department of Family and Protective Services, Prevention & Early Intervention Division (PEI) and NewDay Services for Children & Families.

The purpose of this program is to help fathers and other family members improve their relationships with their children, family sustainability, and to increase their economic stability. This is done by connecting the fathers and other family members to a variety of community services and through intensive mentor-navigator engagement provided by NewDay Services.

 

The Impact of the Program

 

Since starting the program in Denton, they have served 20 dads, which has positively affected 48 kids in our community. Their Fort Worth program has served 58 dads, affecting 81 kids. Altogether, NewDay Services has made an impact on 78 dads and 129 kiddos solely with their Fatherhood EFFECT program! 

 

Michael's Story

 

NewDay Services began working with Michael (name changed to protect privacy) at the beginning of October. At that time, he was unemployed, without a vehicle and struggling to pay his rent. Marc Thompson and David Taylor with NewDay Services stepped in to help connect Michael with a permanent job so he could start consistently paying rent. He now has a plan in place to purchase a vehicle by early 2017 and move out of the extended stay hotel his family has been staying in with his wife and four children. They are on a really positive path as a family but are still struggling to pay for anything other than necessities, such as Christmas gifts.

 

How Subaru Got Involved

 

This December, Huffines Subaru hosted a toy drive for Serve Denton as part of their "Share the Love" campaign. In turn, Serve Denton was able to give many of the toys to NewDay Services to pass along to this family for Christmas. We loaded them up with Star Wars Legos, a coloring book & pencils, family games, and other items to fill their Christmas with some normalcy this year.

This is the perfect example of how people can become self-sufficient when agencies are willing to collaborate together! The Serve Denton mission is coming to life more and more every day. For more information about NewDay Services, email Marc Thompson at marc@newdayservices.org.

DCYP Named Serve Denton’s Business Partner of the Month

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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How 16,264 People Were Fed

An Experiment

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. Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 12.07.51 PM

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 dentonhunger@gmail.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.