Social Eyes by Faye Reeder

From nonprofits, the best of 2014 and the plans for 2015

With only a few days remaining in 2014, we thought it would be fun to randomly contact a few local nonprofit groups and ask what they believed was the most significant achievement of their organization this year. And looking ahead, we got nosy and asked for their New Year’s resolutions.

Here’s a sampling.

SafeHaven President and CEO Mary Lee Hafley pointed to new initiatives as the agency’s biggest 2014 achievement. “We launched a new collaborative project with the Everman ISD that includes The Women’s Center, Communities in Schools, Tarrant County Juvenile Services, Hispanic Women’s Network, Everman [police] and two churches. It’s a massive three-year project to prevent domestic/dating violence, provide intervention, create a peer leadership program and more. We believe this can be a transformational model for communities not just in Tarrant County, but across the U.S.”

Hafley’s New Year’s resolve: “Since I’m retiring early in 2015, my resolution is to discover my new niche. My family and friends want me to learn to stop and breathe. I don’t know if I can do that.” She added, “Do I even want to do that?”

Greater Keller Women’s Club President Janice Smith was proud of the club’s membership growth. “This has been a historic year for us in many ways. It is our 25th year, and our 20th year of returning money to our area,” Smith said. “Our volunteer service and distribution of funds — which this year reached a million dollars returned to the Tarrant County Community — are only achieved with great members.”

For the year ahead, Smith said, “I hope to see GKWC become more dynamic and [for] our membership to continue to be a vibrant group of women who strive to give the very best to the community.”

Fort Worth Junior League President Paige Pate said she is proud of the membership growth in recent years and added, “I am particularly proud of the 45,000 volunteer hours we contributed to improve the lives of Fort Worth children and families this year.

“In honor of our 85th anniversary, the Junior League was able to provide volunteer support and $85,000 to a signature project with The WARM Place, an effort that will benefit children in our community for many years to come.”

Looking ahead, Pate said, “Our organization strives to identify areas of community need, and my main resolution for 2015 is to encourage our 2,000 members to do what we do best: providing trained volunteer leadership to build a better community.”

From the Fort Worth office of the American Cancer Society, media relations director Joy Donovan Brandon said: “We are so grateful to Tarrant County for its continued support. Country entertainer Tracy Lawrence headlined the annual Cowtown Ball in April at La Paloma, the rambling, rolling ranch of Marcee and Grant James.

“Even though storms wiped out power a mere 24 hours before the event, thousands showed up early on a Saturday morning at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer North Texas 5K walk at the University of Texas at Arlington to celebrate breast cancer survivors. Deanna Dewberry, NBC 5 anchor and herself a three-time breast cancer survivor, donned a pink tutu to cheer on the walkers.”

As the official sponsor of birthdays, the American Cancer Society resolves to make this a world with less cancer and more birthdays in 2015. Tarrant County residents can help make that happen by following screening guidelines, not smoking, wearing sunscreen, exercising more and eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Patti Diou, executive director of Arlington’s Levitt Pavilion, trumpeted attendance as its most significant accomplishment this year. “More than 127,500 people attended our 63 free concerts,” she said.

“When we look back on the concert year, we don’t just think of the great music and awesome musical artists, we think of the people who have become our Levitt family — people like the Hintons and our air guitar hero, Alan,” Diou said. “And the Holpins and Hunter, who took his first steps on our lawn and is now showing his little sister how to be a music fan. There’s cancer survivor Sally, who pursues her photography at our concerts, and the Regalado family, who chose the Levitt as the place to say goodbye to a beloved husband, father and teacher much too soon. And Michele and Louis, who had their first date on our lawn and got married there this summer.

“Engagements, birthdays, anniversaries, neighborhood gatherings and class reunions, they all have happened on the Levitt lawn. We are honored to be a part of all of them.

And for a New Year’s resolution — “Work hard to make 2015 even bigger and better than the one before.”

Colleyville Woman’s Club President Carol Wollin said, “Our club celebrated its 36th birthday in January and its ongoing mission of caring with commitment for its community. We held our 29th Fashion Show Benefit and our 30th Holiday Home Tour. Both were tremendous successes.

“At our Caring With Commitment Celebration in May, we gave out over $93,000 in grants and scholarships while recognizing youth volunteers and the support of our local businesses and members.”

For the new year, Wollin hopes the community can continue to “see the actions of the hearts and hands” of the club’s 205 members “result in many positive ripple effects spreading throughout our community in our continued commitment to caring.”

Arlington Life Shelter Executive Director Becky Orander said a story about a homeless man who came to the shelter in 2011 with an addiction and limited work history is a hallmark of the year. “This man was featured in the Community Foundation of Texas annual report as an agency success story because he has changed his life and has now become a financial supporter of the shelter.”

For the year ahead, Orander reflected on the 95,000 meals served this year by 46 local faith communities at an audited value of over $400,000, and resolves to “spend more time with our partner faith communities this year thanking them for their service and educating their new team members.”

Arts Council Northeast President Lee Koch is proud of the marked increase in attendance at its Triple Crown event and at the Taste of Northeast, which enables the council to support local programs. “Most significant is the increase in attendance at our three Summer Arts Camps,” Koch said.

“We added three additional camps — two at the Community Enrichment Center and one for GRACE plus a day of music education for the children at the Community Enrichment Center,” Koch said.

Looking toward 2015, Koch hopes the council can “provide more grants for the arts in our area and to touch even more children and adults with arts and music.”

Jeannie Deakyne, president of the Arlington Junior League, said: “JLA’s most significant achievement of 2015 is our 15 percent increase in membership, which grew our capacity for community impact, fundraising, and leadership development by leaps and bounds.

“Being awarded with the 2014 Association of Junior Leagues International Membership Development Award was the icing on that cake, and was a direct result of engaging our members more effectively through a new member program that makes more sense for women in North Texas, giving our members access to more effective learning opportunities and providing them with more meaningful ways to contribute to the community.

For the year ahead, Deakyne looks forward to more time with her family and to her new role on the AJLI Governance Committee, where she can “share our research and outcomes with women across the world looking for ways to create meaningful impact in their communities.”

From me as your Social Eyes reporter, may I offer hearty congratulations and heartfelt thanks to all the Tarrant County nonprofits, charities and civic organizations for your remarkable collective contributions to our great community.

I am thankful to have another year’s worth of opportunities to cover society news in print along with delivering the digital scoop, too. Please put “Submit Social Eyes News Items” at the top of your list of resolutions. May everyone have a safe and happy New Year in 2015 — the best is yet to come.