Social Eyes by Faye Reeder

Faith communities step up support of Arlington Life Shelter to help fund expansion

Ever since the Arlington Life Shelter opened the doors of their facility at 325 W. Division St. in 1989 to provide homeless people with food and shelter, it is the faith communities in town that have provided the first half of that equation: food. And they do it 365 days a year to the tune of a half-million dollars in money saved for the agency annually.
Ever since the Arlington Life Shelter opened the doors of their facility at 325 W. Division St. in 1989 to provide homeless people with food and shelter, it is the faith communities in town that have provided the first half of that equation: food. And they do it 365 days a year to the tune of a half-million dollars in money saved for the agency annually. Courtesy

Ever since the Arlington Life Shelter opened the doors of their facility at 325 W. Division St. in 1989 to provide homeless people with food and shelter, it is the faith communities in town that have provided the first half of that equation: food. And they do it 365 days a year to the tune of a half-million dollars in money saved for the agency annually.

Now nearly 30 years later, the mission of Arlington Life Shelter has greatly expanded to provide much more than food and shelter as they now have programs in place to help the clients they serve stabilize their lives and return to self-sufficiency. And a big reason the shelter can focus on addressing homelessness on a broader scale is because of the faith groups and their continued commitment to taking care of the daily responsibilities of providing food.

“The faith communities of Arlington stepped up and took on the ministry of purchasing, preparing and serving food to shelter residents,” said Executive Director Becky Orander. “Sixty-one faith communities divide up this heavy responsibility so that food is provided for the 75-80 residents we serve each day. Food teams eliminate the need for the shelter to buy food and hire staff to cook dinner or prepare sack lunches for residents. Every year this results in a budget savings of over $500,000.”

But the faith communities have recently shown their help won’t stop with providing food only. When they learned about a new building project and capital campaign planned by the Life Shelter, donations from the food teams began pouring in.

Through recently acquired property adjacent to the building, plans are underway to use the land to build an additional 13,000 square feet of space and remodel the existing building at a cost of $4.2 million. The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation has provided $750,000 for the project and the Amon Carter Foundation an additional $250,000. And individual gifts from the faith communities now total more than $430,000 with more donations coming in daily.

The project will enable the Life Shelter to address the changing needs of the homeless population. Contrary to the belief of many that the shelter serves primarily chronically homeless men, the reality is that on any given day the Arlington Life Shelter population is made up of 25-30 percent women and 25 percent of residents are children. The Life Shelter board of directors and staff saw the urgent need to develop strategic plans to address the changes in who the agency is serving.

“I have volunteered at the shelter the past several years through my church,” said board President Brad Jay. “Arlington Life Shelter has to turn away families regularly. Doubling the number of women and children we serve will help keep families from having to live in unsafe conditions.”

“And expanded children’s spaces will help us better address the developmental delays often seen in our youngest children as well as help prepare our teen residents for the workforce,” Jay added.

According to the co-chairwoman of the capital campaign, Sissy Day, local support for the building project is excellent and she says the faith groups are at the heart of the campaign. In fact, the campaign is calling the giving program “Hearts of Faith” and will name the new kitchen the Hearts of Faith Kitchen.

“To launch our Hearts of Faith program, we visited Sunday School classes and met with many food team leaders and made presentations about the building campaign,” she said.

“We suggested Hearts of Faith donors make a potential gift of $1,000 payable in monthly installments of $27 for three years. Hearts of Faith then caught fire and continues to blaze as we have already received over $430,000,” Day added. Each faith community participating in Hearts of Faith will be listed on the donor wall in the new facility along with names of individuals contributing $1,000 or more.

“The heart of what the Arlington Life Shelter does comes from the more than 1,500 individual volunteers from Arlington’s faith communities who provide meals, pack lunches, do laundry, as well as many other duties,” said Orander. “This type of ongoing help in meeting basic needs enables us to broaden our scope to offer even stronger programs that help our families find jobs and get the skills needed to get their lives stabilized and back on track.”

Group presentation on the new project can be arranged by contacting Jim Reeder, capital campaign manager, at 817-548-1670 or jreeder@arlingtonlifeshelter.org.

Arlington Life Shelter staff invites anyone in the community to come by and see renderings of the proposed expansion project and take a virtual tour showing what the facility will look like when complete. To arrange, contact Tara Hutchins-Welsh, assistant campaign director, at 817-548-5885 x 3315 twelsh@ArlingtonLifeShelter.org.

Pancake Day celebrates 60 years of yumminess and community

If something sticks around for 60 years, it’s got to be good. And good is an accurate way to describe the 60th year for the upcoming Feb. 24 Kiwanis Pancake Day. Who would have guessed that when the Kiwanis Club decided to host a pancake breakfast back in 1958 that it would grow into an Arlington institution that now attracts more than 1,000 guests? My mother took me to that 1958 pancake breakfast and it became a little tradition for a mother and daughter for the next few years. Years later, I took my own children because it was just something you should do if you loved your community.

As always, the Kiwanis volunteers will flip and serve up well over two thousand pancakes – and sausages to go with them – in a festive atmosphere of civic pride throughout the morning from 8 a.m. to noon at the First United Methodist Church.

“For all of us at the Kiwanis Club of Arlington, the success of Pancake Day and what it has come to mean for our community is a source of enormous pride,” said Kiwanis Club President Bob Landon. “We can’t wait to share 60 years of pancake-day history with everyone on Feb. 24.”

And equally impressive to the staying power of this event is the nearly $1,000,000 it has raised for countless community, civic and charitable causes. According to spokesman Al Becker, last year alone the event raised more than $45,000 to fund scholarships for high school students, support school service clubs, and support many local charities. The money also supports the annual Kiwanis Teacher-Of-The-Year Awards for outstanding elementary, junior high school and high school teachers in Arlington schools.

Guests at the event always have fun perusing the expansive silent auction that features hundreds of new or like-new items ranging from A to Z. Anyone who wants to donate a new or pre-owned item in great condition can contact the club to make arrangements.

“Anyone who purchases a Pancake Day ticket, or donates an item for the Silent Auction, is really making a big difference in the community,” said event chair Bonnie Watkins. “Virtually all the money we raise goes right back into the community, most of it benefiting the children who are our most precious resource.”

The Kiwanis Club sponsors Key Clubs at each of Arlington’s high schools and K-Kids Clubs at Little and Swift Elementary Schools. Local charities who receive support from Kiwanis include Safe Haven, Alliance for Youth, Arlington Life Shelter, Arlington Urban Ministries, Mission Arlington, Arlington Charities, Arlington Boys & Girls Club, and Salvation Army.

Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased at the door or in advance by contacting the Kiwanis office at 817-650-7111, or by email at txokdist@swbell.net.

Iced to Perfection: Bakers sculpt cake art to benefit Arlington Museum of Art

Far from just a piece of cake — incredible designs created by local bakers will be on display at the upcoming Eat Your Art Out party at the Arlington Museum of Art on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. The sculptural works of culinary art will be created exclusively for this event now in its second year.

After guests sip champagne as they mix and mingle while viewing the remarkable cake art on exhibit, it will all disappear in a delightful tasting as chefs cut into their works of art and serve the culinary masterpieces to guests. I attended the inaugural event last year, and the cake designs were amazing.

The hardworking event committee includes Paula Pierson, Lorie White, Doreen Bruner, Nancy Tice, Marty Hubble and Nadia DiStefano.

“I believe this is one of the most fun and tasty events around,” said Pierson. “The works of art are amazing, and the different flavors are exquisite. Back again is a champagne bar, and this year Urban Alchemy will provide a coffee bar.”

Bakers that participate in the event are given complete freedom to come up with the design of their cakes, and event the event organizers won’t know what they’ll be ahead of time. The only specifications are that cakes must be a work of art that is at least two-feet high and no more than three-feet wide.

Among the bakeries bringing their art is Stephen’s Sweets Sensations (Fort Worth), The London Baker (Fort Worth), The Cakery (Arlington), Whole Foods Bakery and Sugar Bee Sweets (Arlington).

More cake sculptures will be created by Sweets by Belinda, Nothing Bundt Cakes (North Arlington), TCC Southeast Campus, Arlington ISD Culinary Arts (Alice Monroe), Lyndsey Dewey, Greg’s Kitchen, That's the Cake and Bradi Carney (owner of the Tin Cup).

To add some playful fun, guests can participate in a little quiz of questions about each baker. The person getting the most correct answers will get a surprise gift at the end of the party. Though it’s hard to imagine any of the delicious cake art being uneaten, there may be a limit to how much yummy goodness one can hold – so plans are to treat first responders to the cake remaining.

Museum director Chris Hightower said funds raised will go toward financing upcoming exhibits. Tickets are $100 each and can be purchased at the door or in advance at arlingtonmuseum.org/ or by calling 817-275-4600. The museum is located at 201 W. Main St.

Learn about sorority rush at Greek Meet Feb. 25

An informational meeting for all young ladies interested in joining a sorority is planned for Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. at The Oakridge School, 5900 W. Pioneer Parkway. Parents are also invited and encouraged to attend to get the scoop on sorority recruitment (also referred to as rush). Hosted by the Arlington Alumnae Panhellenic Association, attendees will find out about Greek life at universities and have an opportunity to register with the Panhellenic group. How to register for the sorority recruitment session at various universities will also be covered. RSVP for Greek Meet at www.arlington-panhellenic.org.

freeder@star-telegram.com

Twitter: @FayeReeder

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