Scholarship Sunday spotlights successes of Stewpot youth
BY KRISTIN MERRON | August 15, 2019
On Sunday August 11, 2019, First Presbyterian Church of Dallas and The Stewpot held a special “Scholarship Sunday” service recognizing all current Stewpot scholarship recipients and previous year graduates.
As the former students and graduates were waiting for the 10:50am service to begin, students ranging from freshmen to recent graduates were able to interact with one another and exchange stories about what they are currently doing. Alma Reyes, Manager of Children & Youth Programs at The Stewpot says, “Everyone was nervous and excited to attend.”
As the service opened, Brenda Ewing-Snitzer, Executive Director of The Stewpot said a few words of welcome before introducing Suzanne Erickson, Director of Educational and Workforce Programs. On the Sanctuary stage, Suzanne called out the names of the recent graduates while Alma recognized those who are currently in school (i.e. trade, community college or university). One-by-one each participant was recognized by the FPC congregation.
Later, former student and scholarship recipient turned teacher, Mayra Chavez, shared her personal account on how The Stewpot's Children & Youth programming and receiving a scholarship, has made a difference in her life – she thanked the sponsors for providing her the support to succeed.
A reception followed with drinks and light snacks where the scholars were able to network and mingle with everyone in attendance. Many FPC members shared sentiments of “Congratulations” and kept saying how proud they were of the students and their hard work. It was truly a unique opportunity to meet and hear from current and former students and graduates whose lives have improved thanks to the services provided by The Stewpot's Children & Youth programming.
Kids put summer work on display in Kid Zine and at annual Talent show
BY KRISTIN MERRON | July 25, 2019
The Stewpot’s Children & Youth Summer Programs culminated with the annual End of Summer Talent Show on Thursday July 25th. This year’s theme was "Under the Big Top" and the kiddos dazzled us with their spectacular talents ranging from singing, dancing, and musical instrument to one act plays. Also on display at the event were various artworks from Kids’ Club and Venturing Crew.
Attendees of the talent show each went home with a copy of “Kid Zine” a magazine that was developed, created, and printed by children in the Stewpot’s summer program. Kid Zine is an elective that has been offered for several years as part of the Children & Youth’s continuing education programming that takes place over the summer. The class is a seven-week long course in which children (ages 8-11yrs) participated in producing their very own kid-centric magazine. Kid Zine is modeled after the Stewpot’s STREETZine street newspaper, which is a workforce enrichment program of The Stewpot providing financial opportunity to those at-risk of or experiencing homelessness.
Teachers and students worked together to discuss and collaborate on the subjects that were covered in this summer’s magazine, placing focus on issues that were of importance to the children. This year’s issue was the product of the hard work of seven of our wonderful students. We invite you to read the full issue (by clicking on the photo above) and see what fun and interesting topics the children chose to report on. We are so proud of all our children and youth and thank them for creating another summer to remember! Now it’s time to focus in on the school year ahead.
Stewpot Summer Programming Kicks Off!
As the school year wraps up and we head into summer The Stewpot’s Children, Youth & Family programming has a busy schedule ahead! On Saturday May 4th the Saturday Kids Club will celebrate the end of the school year during the Children & Youth End of Year Bash which will be hosted in the 508 Amphitheater at Encore Park Dallas. On May 8th, the Venturing Crew will host a celebration honoring their graduating high school seniors, and on May 10th Junior and Senior Venturing Crews will honor mothers with a Mother’s Day Luncheon.
From June 10-July 25 the Community Ministry Summer Programs of The Stewpot of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas will take place for grades 1st-12th. Once again The Stewpot will partner with Noggin Education Foundation for summer academic recovery classes to circumvent “summer learning loss.” Announced partnerships with planned activities for the children throughout the summer include the Dallas Museum of Art, NTRUPT, North Texas Food Bank, Cooking Matters and Our Friends Place. Highlights of the summer programming will include students attending sleep-away camp at Camp Gilmont June 23-29, The Juneteenth Celebration on June 19th with Memnosyne Foundation, and the Talent show on July 25th which signals the end of summer programming.
BY KRISTIN MERRON | May 1, 2019
Candidates for Dallas Mayor discuss homeless solutions during MDHA’s 2019 Mayoral Forum
BY KRISTIN MERRON | April 11, 2019
On April 11, 2019 The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) hosted a mayoral forum at the Communities Foundation of Texas to allow candidates for Dallas Mayor a chance to lay out their visions for ending homelessness in Dallas. While a number of Mayoral forums have previously been held, this was the first on the critical subject of homelessness, arguably one of the most important issues that will confront the next mayor of our city.
The forum was moderated by MDHA CEO Carl Falconer; four of the 12 candidates in the race were present to provide insight on their platforms and opinions surrounding this hot button issue. The candidates who participated were Lynn McBee, CEO of the Young Women’s Preparatory Network who holds a biochemistry degree from UT Austin and has served for several years on the board at The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center; Miguel Solis, a grandson of immigrants, former teacher, and the youngest Dallas Independent School District trustee in the history of the district; Scott Griggs, a lifelong Dallasite who donned cowboy boots and boasts an 8 year history serving on the Dallas City Council; and Alyson Kennedy, a Walmart cashier and representative of the Socialist Workers Party.
After a short welcome from Carl Falconer, each candidate was granted the mic to introduce themselves. Then the questions started with, “What would you do to dispel the myths associated with homelessness?” Candidates went on to address NIBYMism (the Not in My Backyard approach) and were later asked what steps they would take to ensure all Dallas service providers and funders are working together. Another major point of discussion was panhandling in Dallas, with the majority of candidates agreeing that an alternative approach needs to be taken other than just “victimizing” those who are already suffering. Later, a figure was revealed that Dallas spends more of its budget on the Dallas Zoo than on addressing homelessness, which led the moderator to ask each candidate to share how they envision prioritizing efforts to address homelessness in the city’s budget.
Finally, it was time for closing remarks, for which each candidate was given equal time to summarize their position. “You can’t just look at it as ‘this is Dallas’ and all I can think about is Dallas. You have to look at it as a whole world problem,” argued Alyson Kennedy. To illustrate her point, she displayed several works from Pathfinder Press, encouraging audience members to read and learn more about the Socialist Workers Party. “We’re not going to end homelessness, but we’ve got to figure out how we can all coexist together to find the best possible solution,” stated Lynn McBee, emphasizing her stance to dedicate a larger portion of the budget to addressing homelessness, while also working with those non-profit providers within the continuum of care. “Homelessness is an entrenched issue in this city and it’s going to take bold leadership to solve it. I want to rebuild the infrastructure of opportunity,” added Miguel Solis. In his closing remarks, Scott Griggs said we need to put a stop to the “corporate welfare” and posed a parting question to the forum’s attendees, “Do we want to live in a city that looks beautiful on a postcard or do we want to live in one where everyone can live?”
Following the forum, Brenda Ewing-Snitzer, Executive Director of The Stewpot, stated “It’s been great to hear from some of the candidates today and many who are running are knowledgeable on this issue. I know that not only the candidates here, but ones that were not in attendance, are concerned about homelessness. It is important for everyone that cares about this important issue to take a look at all the candidates running and where they stand on this issue impacting the most vulnerable in our city. It is my hope that the incoming Dallas mayor will work collaboratively with partners in the continuum of care to persist in addressing the city’s homeless population.”
Dallas constituents will have the opportunity to cast their vote for the next Dallas mayor on Saturday May 4th. Early voting runs April 22nd through April 30th.
Please note, The Stewpot of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas does not endorse any particular candidate or candidate’s committee. Furthermore, it should be noted that statements given by The Stewpot of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas and corresponding staff have not been authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee, and do not expressly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate.
For information regarding candidates refer to individual candidate websites. For more information on elections and polling locations in the city of Dallas visit https://dallascityhall.com
The Stewpot & FPC continue to help the community in new ways!
Stewpot temporarily extends early opening initiative with DDI
From February 11th thru March 8th The Stewpot in partnership with Downtown Dallas, Inc. launched an initiative to provide a safe space for the unsheltered to go who were being woken up and moved off the street before most Dallas shelters were open. The Stewpot, which normally opens for service at 8am, pushed their opening two hours earlier from 6-8am welcoming guests to come in, enjoy coffee/water, a pastry, access to restrooms and a reprieve from the elements. Folks were also permitted to sign-up for services that would begin at 8am.
After early success, The Stewpot is pleased to report that DDI has secured additional funding to provide security for staff so that they may continue to provide early morning service to folks who truly need it. The pilot program is now being extended for an additional 50 business days through mid-May. The hope is that the extension will help to provide a three month visual so that a proper evaluation and assessment of the impact and effectiveness of this revised schedule can take place. “We are thankful we’re able to provide this service to help folks who have no place to go and grateful that we can fill this gap with something that not only impacts our neighbors experiencing homelessness, but that has a broader impact on the community as well,” says Brenda Ewing Snitzer, Executive Director of The Stewpot.
BY KRISTIN MERRON | March 10, 2018
Stewpot Art being hosted in Dallas Law Firm
In mid-March The Stewpot Art Program installed 200 pieces from artists who create at The Stewpot to be hosted at the new Sheppard Mullin law offices located on the 24th floor of Chase Tower in Downtown Dallas. The installation will remain up for two months through mid-May for employees of Sheppard Mullin to admire and enjoy. The Stewpot installation will be the 1st community art exhibit hosted by the Dallas firm. The idea of hosting community art was original conceptualized at the Sheppard Mullin Chicago offices which led to this Dallas partnership. The institution of their "Art for the Sake of Community" programming is part of the firm's commitment to civic and charitable engagement. Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP is originally based out of California with offices in the U.S. and abroad. To learn more about their community art initiative, you can watch the video on their Chicago-based website here: https://www.sheppardmullin.com/chicago
BY KRISTIN MERRON | March 19, 2019
The Stewpot hosts TWU students to encourage community outreach education for nursing majors
Early this year, Director of Casework Services at The Stewpot, Laura Westerlage was approached by Chin-Nu Lin, RN Assistant Professor for Texas Women’s University-Dallas College of Nursing, about a shadowing program for her students at The Stewpot. Each week, now through the end of April, Texas Women’s University is sending two nursing students to shadow staff at The Stewpot for a day in an effort to introduce future nurses to a broader population and better prepare them for real life nursing scenarios.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Samiera Heydari and Laci Felderhoff, both pursuing Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees, who had spent a Wednesday in late February shadowing activities at The Stewpot. The women started their day sitting in on several appointments with our caseworkers, then headed to a Dallas Street Choir practice, visited with artists in the Art Program, served lunch at The Bridge, heard from our in-house Counselor, and ended the day with a discussion with a STREETZine orientation leader and vendor.
Following a busy day of activities at The Stewpot, I asked the women to give their initial reactions. Samiera said she was overwhelmed by the amount of assistance we provide, “It’s amazing that these services are even available and that I didn’t even know about them!” Laci added, “Seeing the types of resources available and knowing about them I found very eye-opening.” Laci said the most interesting part of her day was learning about the Art Program. “I think it’s a really great starting point for individuals without having to have everything in order. It’s so cool that the artists get to make money and can pursue their passions at the same time.” Samiera mentioned she enjoyed the opportunity to sit and talk with a few people who offered to share their stories, “It gave me a broader understanding that homelessness is a compound issue and I enjoyed hearing people open up by sharing with me what their dreams are after they are able to move out of this phase of their life.”
The Stewpot is excited at the opportunity to host young and inquisitive minds and hopes that this partnership will encourage future and recurring interactions with the next generation of volunteers. As it came time for the ladies to say goodbye, they shared, “We had a lot of fun and are already trying to organize a group volunteer day with our entire class and The Stewpot!”
BY KRISTIN MERRON | March 6, 2019
Love can change a life
It’s Valentine’s Day week and in the name of love we are revealing real life love stories with roots in The Stewpot of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas. Learn about how romance has fostered in mission work and discover how Love Can Change a Life! We hope you enjoy this series of heartwarming stories!
Johnnie & Jennifer
Johnnie met his girlfriend Jennifer during the summer of 2017 while they were both residents at The Bridge. After volunteering at The Stewpot’s Second Chance Café during his stay at The Bridge, a Stewpot staff member offered Johnnie a referral to join Stewpot staff. Recently, Johnnie was hired by The Stewpot of First Presbyterian Church to do grounds keeping at the church and facilities maintenance at The Stewpot.
Thanks to housing assistance provided by The Bridge, in cooperation with services from The Stewpot, Johnnie is happy to announce he will be moving out of the shelter and into an apartment this Valentine’s Day weekend! Johnnie who has been experiencing homelessness for a little over a year says, “I was worried about being able to pay all the bills but I’m grateful The Stewpot gave me a job here, I love working here and everybody is really nice.”
With Jennifer now working at Goodwill, Johnnie at The Stewpot, and both of them moving out of the shelter and into an apartment, Johnnie says he is looking forward to starting a new life together with Jennifer. “I’m happy it’s all finally seeming to come together at just the right moment!”
Who knows, maybe cupid will strike this Valentine’s Day week and Johnnie & Jennifer will have something more to celebrate soon!
Becky & Thomas Zamora
When two individuals with hearts for service align, magical things can happen at The Stewpot. Becky began her relationship with The Stewpot as a part time English as a Second Language teacher in the spring of 2005. In august of 2012, she joined the full time staff. Becky says she met her husband Thomas while working at The Stewpot.
Thomas was a frequent volunteer who often came to help out with both The Stewpot and Crossroad Community Services volunteer duties. Becky recalls their first interaction, “I had heard that he was also a mechanic and I needed help fixing something with my mom’s car. One day he was walking down the hall past my office and I shouted out, ‘Hey—you work on cars, right?!’…the rest is history.”
When asked why they both have a heart for working with The Stewpot Becky says, “we both love The Stewpot because it is a place where you feel welcomed, not prejudiced for who you are or your circumstances. We are glad to be a part of The Stewpot family- this is a place where you are respected.”
Today, Becky continues to aid The Stewpot daily as the Manager of Family Stabilization Programs; she and Thomas have been married for 3 years.
Suzanne & Scott Erickson
Suzanne & Scott met one afternoon during lunch meal service at The Stewpot back when lunch was still served in the Community Ministries Building of First Presbyterian Church. Scott would often volunteer during his lunch break from The Dallas Morning News because he wanted to help his fellow Dallasites who were experiencing homelessness. At the time, Suzanne was on staff at The Stewpot and was asked to help serve lunch that day because they were short on meal service volunteers. Suzanne recalls their first interaction, “We met in the middle of the lunch room serving milk and water and shook our pitchers at each other since neither of us had a free hand. We both remember that moment well!”
Fast forward to today where Suzanne & Scott have been happily married for 6 years! They chose to get married at First Presbyterian Church because of their history tied to meeting at The Stewpot. Former Executive Director of The Stewpot the Reverend Dr. Bruce Buchanan even served as one of the pastors at their wedding ceremony.
Suzanne & Scott say “We love the mission of The Stewpot. We love that The Stewpot brought us together and from the very start, we both knew that we each had a passion to serve others. It’s a piece of what attracted us to each other from the first day. We then learned we had similar faiths, and that service was an important part of that.”
Today both Suzanne & Scott continue to be resolute supporters of The Stewpot where Suzanne serves the ministry daily in her role as Director of Educational & Workforce Programs for The Stewpot.
Vicki & Bill Gies
Vicki & Bill met in November of 2010 while they were both staying at The Bridge homeless recovery center. Vicki says they bonded over shared experiences and hardships and says “we went from best friends, to soul mates, to one day realizing we loved each other.” The two decided to tie the knot on September 28, 2014. “We promised God, Pastor Leon and each other that’d we’d be together as long as we both shall live,” says Vicki, who says they plan to do a 5 year vow renewal this year to uphold that promise.
Vicki & Bill have been through a lot of ups and downs together but say The Stewpot has been a critical piece of their relationship. As a victim of rape in 2010, Vicki attributes the counseling she received from her Stewpot caseworker as a significant factor in helping her overcome some of the trauma that resulted from the experience. The support and friendship provided by Stewpot caseworkers, in conjunction with the array of service offerings she and her husband were able to take part in, have been valuable tools along their journey. “It’s helped a lot with Bill’s drinking,” says Vicki.
Vicki & Bill have both participated in The Stewpot’s Enrichment & Workforce programming. Both maintain their status as vendors of the STREETZine newspaper and both were previously docents offering guided tours of The Muesum of Street Culture during its exhibition of the Mary Ellen Mark exhibit at the Stewpot in 2017-2018. Vicki says the income from these programs has assisted them in a variety of ways.
Last February, Vicki & Bill were living in a tent outside of White Rock Lake but critical flooding forced them out, “we woke up one morning waist deep in water, our tent, Coleman stove, clothing and belongings were all wrecked.” In July of 2016, Bill was diagnosed with lung cancer, recently doctors discovered another tumor which continues to grow. Vicki & Bill are currently staying with guests in separate houses but will soon be forced to leave, they are hoping to put some money down for rent on a house. “I’m really stressed right now,” says Vicki, “it’s hard being away from Bill, I never did good by myself. I’m co-dependent on him.” Vicki says what she loves most about Bill is his loving and caring nature and the way the two of them are always playing pranks on one another. “We’ve never had a whole lot to celebrate with, but we can always celebrate our love for each other,” she says. Vicki’s Valentine’s Day wish is that they will be able to find a place to stay together quickly. “I don’t care if it’s in a tent again, as long as I can be with him,” she says.
Adrienne & Wilson Nicholson
Wilson and Adrienne met through their shared Presbyterian faith in June of 2010 when they were both serving as Family Ministry interns at First Presbyterian Church San Antonio. The two were married in January 2012 and later Wilson served as the Communications Coordinator at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas from 2015-2017. In August 2017, Wilson went on to pursue his Masters in Divinity at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The unconditional support, loyalty, mentorship, and encouragement that Wilson received during his time on staff at FPC Dallas greatly impacted his decision to attend seminary and for that, Adrienne says “we are both eternally grateful.”
In a letter to the FPC congregation Wilson wrote, “Many of you do not know this about me, but before arriving at FPC Dallas I had previously served other Presbyterian churches in a variety of capacities and at one point had even started the seminary discernment and application process. However, after some difficult experiences, I started to seriously doubt that call. It was being able to see FPC Dallas in action that reignited that passion and feeling that this is what I am called to do, and for that I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am forever grateful for you, the staff and members of FPC Dallas, and will take the memories from my time here wherever my future ministry leads me. I appreciate you for allowing me to be a part of your uniquely special community.” Now, as he is halfway through seminary, Wilson says he still receives unparalleled encouragement and support from FPC.
Roughly 7 months ago, the position of Meal Services and Volunteer Coordinator at The Stewpot became open, and compelled by her husband’s life changing experience at FPC, paired with her own positive experience of serving as a senior in high school during the summer visiting youth program with The Stewpot, Adrienne knew that there was no place that she would rather work than alongside The Stewpot of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas family.
“Even though Wilson and I are now having to commute between Austin and Dallas to see each other on weekends and on breaks, we have no doubt that this is where I am meant to serve. First Presbyterian Church has become like family to both of us and in this church we have found something we have longed for – a genuine community,” says Adrienne. She goes on, “We have been married 7 years and we are forever thankful that FPC has been such a cornerstone in our lives. We remain humbled and in awe by the staff and congregation of First Pres Dallas whose dedication and determination to share the love of Christ by serving communities near and far never waivers. We are just two of the COUNTLESS lives that have been radically transformed by First Presbyterian Church Dallas, and we are forever grateful.”
Ashlee & Allen Hueston
“My husband Allen asked me out for the first time outside The Stewpot on Young Street,” says Ashlee Hueston, Director of Operations and Volunteers for The Stewpot.
Allen & Ashlee had known each other and been friends for a while. Ashlee had been working in The Stewpot dining hall since June 2010, and got caught up filling out paperwork late one evening after meal services.
Ashlee remembers the day with distinct clarity, “It was June 26, 2011 and there had been an incident in the dining hall that I needed to write up before going home, so it must’ve been close to 8pm. I walked out the side door on Young St., and was crossing the street to the Church Garage, when a group bike ride came rolling by. All of a sudden, I heard my name and a cyclist turned around. It was Allen and he asked me out for the following Thursday.”
Two years later, Ashlee & Allen were married on May 4, 2013. Stewpot staff even threw Ashlee & Allen a wedding shower in The Stewpot day room where they played wedding games and ate cake with clients! In the following years, Ashlee became pregnant and continued to work in The Stewpot dining hall throughout her pregnancy. “A number of clients shared in the excitement of my pregnancy and some even brought me gifts for the baby.” On October 2, 2015, Ashlee & Allen welcomed their first son Stephen. Eight years later, Ashlee continues to serve The Stewpot daily with her talents, and her son even attends the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas Day School. The Hueston’s are a family truly woven into the fabric of First Presbyterian Church and The Stewpot!
BY KRISTIN MERRON | February 11, 2019
Annual Holiday Women’s Tea pampers clients for a day
On Wednesday December 5th, The Stewpot hosted the annual Women’s Holiday Tea. This special event is hosted for female and female-identifying clients of The Stewpot each year. Women are treated to a special day of pampering and decadence that isn’t something they are typically accustomed to.
The Stewpot Alliance supplies volunteers for the event, and collects and organizes donations of items throughout the year, which are distributed to the women on the day of the holiday tea. As in year’s past, the Dallas chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier prepared and served a delicious gourmet lunch to female clients of The Stewpot. While clients dined on a three-course meal of shrimp cocktail, roast chicken and caramel cake, guests were treated to a musical performance by vocalist Denise Lee, who sang holiday tunes and ballads of women’s empowerment throughout the afternoon. Volunteers from The Stewpot Alliance poured tea and water in champagne flutes among tables drenched in red table cloths, garnished with ornaments, wreaths, and decorative garland.
Following lunch, attendees were treated to a special collection of donated self-care items put together by The Stewpot Alliance. Each woman received a stuffed tote filled with an assortment of items including gloves, perfume, toiletries and clothing. Women were also invited to select a new handbag from the purse wall, were given the option to choose a piece of jewelry from an array of donated items, and had the choice to select from a variety of stuffed make-up bags full of travel-size items. To top off the afternoon, as guests were dismissed they were each gifted a $25 Target gift card.
Following the event we received this special thank you note from a client:
BY KRISTIN MERRON | December 13, 2018
A Record-Breaking Day for North Texas Nonprofits
This year’s annual North Texas Giving Day event, hosted by the Communities Foundation of Texas on September 20, 2018, was a wonderful success! The event celebrated its ten year anniversary with an incredible outpouring of generosity. Total gifts from North Texas Giving Day’s inception year in 2008 reached $4 million; ten years later, North Texas nonprofits saw a more than ten-fold increase, with 2018 totals topping out at over $48 million, proving once again to be the largest community-wide giving event in the nation!
This year’s $48 million total sets a new record for funds raised on a single day, surpassing last year’s total by $9 million. A total of 2,690 nonprofits participated in the giving day event, which also saw 11,137 donors pledge over 400,000 hours of volunteer time in the next 12 months. Gifts to North Texas nonprofits came in from 50 states and 27 countries.
So how did the FPC Dallas family stack up? Encore Park raised $396, First Presbyterian Church of Dallas Developmental Day School received $6,499 and FPC Community Ministry The Stewpot brought in $54,409 in donated funds. The Stewpot also saw an increase in the volume of individual gifts over the last two years with donors leaving loving messages of support saying, “Thanks for all you sacrificially do day-in and day-out,” and “what a great ministry, keep up the good work!” As North Texas Giving Day’s momentum continues to grow with each passing year, we are humbled by the outpouring of support from North Texans that will benefit a countless number of people.
Congratulations to Communities Foundation of Texas, all participating 2018 nonprofits, and Honorary Chair Laura Bush on an incredibly successful event! And a very special thank you to members of the FPC family who donated, pledged volunteer hours, or helped to spread the word about North Texas Giving Day. This year’s success proves that a community that gives together, grows together!
BY KRISTIN MERRON | September, 21 2018
Stewpot making significant strides in effort to house 100 this summer
It’s inevitable, every year the Texas temperatures begin to rise and suddenly we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of 100 degree days. For those of us with homes and access to air conditioning and swimming pools, it’s not a problem. For those living in shelters or on the streets, it can be a life-or-death situation.
While there are several overnight shelters available throughout Dallas, many who stay in shelters have to leave during the day. That’s why for decades unsheltered members of our community have been flocking to The Stewpot to find solace in our day shelter, in addition to utilizing our other vital services. As Stewpot Executive Director Brenda Snitzer recently mentioned in her mid-year appeal letter to Stewpot supporters, “Giving folks a cool place to sit and quench their thirst is a critical role we play all summer long. Without a place to escape the elements and rehydrate, those we serve risk heat stroke, dehydration, and even death. Summer is the hardest time for our friends who find themselves on the street. It is also a hard time for the nonprofits who serve them.”
Recognizing the real challenge summer poses with its recurring 100 degree days, this summer, as the Texas sun bakes the sidewalks of our city, The Stewpot has decided to launch an initiative to get 100 people housed, out of the heat, and off the street. From June through early September, The Stewpot is working to get more than 100 folks in housing while collaborating with city partners to get even more in treatment, and given access to the services they need to become self-sufficient.
Since the housing initiative launched in June, The Stewpot Casework Services team has made some admirable accomplishments. Here’s a breakdown of our successes so far. Since June 1st collectively we have helped 49 adults and children obtain birth certificates, specifically so they could be housed in either emergency, transitional, or permanent supportive housing. Stewpot Representative Payee Courtney Ray-Riddle is helping two of her rep payee clients find new housing, in addition to supporting and keeping her 45 other clients housed. In cooperation with our partners, we have helped three clients move into housing: one into a permanent supportive housing apartment through CitySquare, one in the Shared Housing Program, and another into a supportive boarding home with wrap-around services. Stewpot staffers also recently contributed donated items to stock the apartment for a newly-housed client.
Currently, The Stewpot is working closely with four other individuals to find apartments and affordable housing. If you’ve been keeping count, that's a total of 58! Meaning, we are well on our way to our 100 goal!
Of the progress made so far in the 100 campaign challenge, Director of Casework Services Laura Westerlage says “It is going great, we are getting so much done, and I am beyond proud!” We invite you to celebrate these victories with us and we hope your continued support will bolster our success beyond our 100 housing goal!
BY KRISTIN MERRON | July, 11 2018
Stewpot Welcomes Bridge Guests After Fire
That’s the sentiment members of The Bridge shared in a Facebook post following a fire that made local headlines in early June.
Late in the afternoon on Saturday June 2nd, a transformer at The Bridge, a homeless recovery center where The Stewpot has served meals since 2008, exploded leaving the shelter without power and inoperable on one of the hottest days of the year.
Staff members at The Bridge noticed the smoking transformer in the parking lot off of Corsicana Street and were quick to alert Oncor and Dallas Fire-Rescue officials, but before help could arrive, the smoke turned to fire and eventually sparked an explosion.
Staff members noticed smoke and alerted Dallas Fire-Rescue officials, but before help could arrive, a fire erupted.
Dallas Fire-Rescue extinguished the fire, but not before power to the entire campus had been knocked out, displacing hundreds of people who utilize The Bridge for meal and shelter services.
With temperatures soaring, the heat was an immediate threat to the safety of The Bridge facility occupants and staff. No power to the building meant no A/C and no refrigeration for food stored at the facility.
In an emergency response, The Community Ministries Team at The Stewpot were quick to jump into action assisting with the evacuation of several hundred Bridge occupants, staff members and even 12 dogs. The decision was made to open The Stewpot to receive all of the guests of the Bridge affected by the fire.
The team including spouses and children, worked collectively to coordinate with Stewpot partners to assist in the emergency efforts. What followed required a great amount of cooperation and coordination among entities, hard work, and good humor, as well as patience and understanding from the guests of The Bridge.
First Presbyterian Church of Dallas members were on point helping with phone call connections to Dallas city leaders. Mayor Mike Rawlings even stopped by the following day to provide his support and see to it that everyone was safe.
The Office of Emergency Management was able to provide cots so that those displaced by the fire could pass the night in The Stewpot building.
Fortunately, Dallas Fire-Rescue was able to report no injuries were sustained as a result of the fire and the shelter itself sustained minimal damage.
“I cannot tell you how proud I am of you all! You were on point, had incredible hospitality and patience and were so loving and giving. Blessed to serve with you!” said Executive Director Brenda Snitzer in an email addressed to Stewpot staffers. The entire Stewpot team along with their collaborative partners are to be commended for an outstanding orchestration of logistics!
BY KRISTIN MERRON | June 2018
Welcome to The Stewpot
"We Serve Second Chances"
Here at the Stewpot we provide an expansive portfolio of services to aid our neighbors who are experiencing and at-risk of homelessness. While our services are vast, we are still most well-known for our meal services which provided the initial foundation upon which all subsequent services have been built.
Since May 2008, The Stewpot has been providing meal services at The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center in the Second Chance Café, serving upwards of 1,000 individuals 3 meals per day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year. Our unofficial motto “We serve second chances” has paved the way not only for the way we approach our meal services, but carries throughout all facets of our organization and through the ways in which we care for our clientele.
In a recent Stewpot staff roundtable discussion, Cindy Bailey, Manager of Frontline Operations for The Stewpot, shared a story about a true second chance opportunity for one Stewpot client.
As Manager of Frontline Operations, one of Cindy’s many responsibilities is working with the STREETZine street newspaper. Cindy’s regular STREETZine duties entail interfacing with the magazine’s vendors on a daily basis. STREETZine vendors are homeless or economically disadvantaged individuals who are granted self-employment opportunity through the distribution and sale of the STREETZine newspaper.
As a STREETZine vendor you are required to adhere to a code of conduct; violation of that code can result in being barred or banned from paper distribution services. Clients of The Stewpot can also be barred or banned from Stewpot resources for a number of behaviors including illegal activity, harassment and other forms of misconduct.
One such STREETZine vendor, whom we will refer to as “Frank” has hand a long-standing relationship as a Stewpot client. Frank started visiting The Stewpot for support services over 10 years ago. Roughly five years into his time with The Stewpot, Frank began struggling with some substance abuse issues. His habits quickly consumed him and led to some unfavorable behavior that ultimately resulted in him being barred altogether from Stewpot services.
For a time, Frank was absent from The Stewpot and his well-being was weighing on the hearts of Stewpot employees. “When you spend your time seeing these folks day-in and day-out, when they suddenly aren’t around, you worry for them and hope they’re doing ok,” says a Stewpot caseworker. Frank’s absence began to weigh heavily on the heart of one particular caseworker. Their response was to take action to initiate a conversation about how The Stewpot might be able to deliver on the promise of a second chance for Frank.
After input from a number of employees who had interacted with Frank, meetings to set some new parameters for a pathway to rehabilitation, follow-through and execution by a dedicated team of individuals, a game plan was created for Frank’s second chance.
With these new guidelines in place, Stewpot employees were able to facilitate a conversation with Frank and give him guidance to empower and encourage him towards a path to recovery. After taking some personal responsibility and some rehabilitation steps, Frank’s ban was eventually lifted and he was able to return to The Stewpot. Three years later with the assistance provided by Stewpot caseworkers and a series of anger management classes, Frank showed enough improvement that he was eligible to be reconsidered as a STREETZine vendor.
Today Frank continues to work on his road to recovery. The Stewpot is happy to report that Frank has enrolled himself in an in-patient treatment program through a library resource and is receiving counseling services with a Licensed Professional Counselor at The Stewpot. He has been granted temporary permissions to return as a STREETZine vendor and if he proves himself under the provisional period, he may be granted full privileges in the future.
Frank’s story is just one example of a second chance granted to an individual who made their way through The Stewpot doors. His is a testament that collaborative team efforts, perseverance, and dedication are being dished out daily here at The Stewpot. While Frank’s journey is far from over, he serves as a reminder that it is important for us to recalibrate our definition of success for those experiencing circumstances unlike our own. With enough small wins, over time, we can make BIG changes in the lives of those we interact with.
BY KRISTIN MERRON | June 1, 2018