Buy the Cookies!

It’s that time of year where those smart girls in blue, green, and khaki vests and sashes set up shop outside of our convenience stores, grocery stores, knock on neighborhood doors, and have their parents post videos on social media saying “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”

Your answer should be YES! Your answer should always be YES! Purchasing Girl Scout cookies is not about spending money on a box of cookies. Purchasing Girl Scout cookies is about supporting the largest girl-led business in the world. The Girl Scouts selling cookies are working toward a personally set goal.

Next time a girl asks you, “Do you want to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” Say yes and ask her what she’s going to do with her cookie proceeds. Ask about her goal.

When I worked for the local Girl Scout council, I started to ask the girls what their goals were. The answers amazed me. These girls knew exactly how many boxes of cookies they needed to sell to reach their personal end goal. Some girls wanted to sell 250 boxes, others wanted to sell 1,500 boxes, while others had even larger goals in mind. Here are some of the ways girls use their cookie proceeds when you buy the cookies:

  • Attend Girl Scout overnight camp
  • Go on a Girl Scout High Adventure Trip
  • Save to go to Europe with our troop before we graduate high school
  • Help a horse that was malnourished heal and learn about taking care of equine in the process
  • Go on an end of year or summer trip with their troop

Girl Scouts make plans, set goals, and sell cookies. Like any business, they learn goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. The shyest, youngest girl learns to be a top cookie seller and look adults three times her size in the eye and ask if they will buy cookies. The older girls learn the value of repeat customers (and are typically the customers who hear first that cookies are on sale each year). No matter the girls length of time in Girl Scouts, they learn how to run a business from the first cookie purchase to the last.

So, as you go about your shopping this year, and you see the girls out selling – stop and ask them what their goals are. Ask them how they plan to spend their cookie proceeds. And buy the box (or more) of cookies.

Need to find a Girl Scout selling near you? Check out www.girlscoutcookies.org and type in your zip code to find a booth location near you.

Q and A with Jaime Cobb, VP of Dementia and Caregiver Education, James L. West

PBx: How long have you worked for the organization?
JC: 8 years

PBx: Why do you believe in the work of this organization?
JC: We truly do provide the best care and are always learning. We are always applying our core values of passion, integrity, excellence, respect, and support. We are always trying help everyone affected by dementia.

PBx: Share your favorite organization experience?
JC: My favorite experience here is when I see family members come through our multi-session education classes and see how they positively transform from the first class to the last class.

PBx: Describe your organization in 3 words.
JC: Expert, Visionary, Caring

PBx: In what ways can someone get involved?
JC: People can get involved through being an advocate of our education programs and share our services to all families affected by dementia. We have volunteer opportunities to help our organization in a variety of ways.

PBx: What makes your organization unique?
JC: We are solely dedicated to providing dementia care and we are the only community we know of that has a department dedicated to providing education to families, health care professionals and medical students.

PBx: What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about your organization?
JC: We offer a Day Program, Respite Care, Residential Care, and we offer around 20 Educational classes in and outside our community.

October Nonprofit of the Month: James L. West Center for Dementia Care

Many of us today have been touched by a family member or friend who has suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s. In 1993, a group of Fort Worth residents understood the need for a center to care for those individuals whose specific needs change daily, and they created James L. West Center for Dementia Care.

James L. West is a not-for-profit organization which serves persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders and their families in a compassionate and spiritual environment. This Center is dedicated to providing individualized care and support to enhance the quality and dignity of each person’s life throughout the course of the disease. By participating in meaningful research and sharing its experience and knowledge, the Center is committed to enriching lives now and in the future.

Throughout the month, you will learn about the residential and day programs offered, as well as education classes and support groups.

To learn more now about James L. West, visit them on social media or the web:

Facebook
Instagram
LinkedIn
YouTube
Website

Transforming Lives

Family Housing

Christy was raised in an abusive home and cycled in and out of the foster care system. For most of her childhood, she was never shown love by her family. As an adult, she entered into an abusive relationship that left her homeless and living in her car, with nowhere to turn. Her housing instability resulted in her children being removed by Child Protective Services.​

Undeterred, Christy wanted a better life for her children. She was referred to the Center for Transforming Lives Rapid Rehousing Program. Christy overcame the obstacles of poverty by utilizing resources offered by the Center such as Financial Empowerment and Child Violence and Trauma Intervention Therapy. She worked hard to make sure she had a safe home for her children, and developed better parenting skills to become more loving and caring.​

Since then, Christy and her family moved into their own home. She is working and becoming more independent each day. The Center for Transforming Lives has been instrumental in making it possible for Christy and her family to experience safety, security, and belonging – in their own home.

Child Development Center

Alone with a baby, Veronica wasn’t sure where to turn. She desperately needed a job to provide for her daughter, but didn’t have anyone to watch sweet Vivian while she worked. Then she learned about the Center for Transforming Lives and scheduled a tour of the Arlington Child Development Center.

She immediately felt comfortable with the warm and welcoming staff, and she noticed the rooms were filled with natural light, learning centers, art projects, and books. The curriculum was award-winning, and the teachers were highly trained. Best of all, a sliding payment scale was available for those who need it. Veronica would not have to spend nearly her entire paycheck on child care – she would have money left over for groceries and rent. 

Once Vivian was enrolled, it was not long until Veronica knew she had made the right decision. Vivian quickly became attached to her teachers. So did Veronica! The teachers not only took wonderful care of her daughter but also provided support to Veronica as a first-time mom. They taught Veronica how to help wean Vivian off her pacifier, and they helped with potty-training.           

The teachers scheduled regular meetings with Veronica to discuss Vivian’s development, keep her informed of her progress, and talk about techniques to use at home to enhance her learning.  Veronica was impressed with Vivian’s development and could not believe how fast her child’s vocabulary was growing.

In a recent visit, Vivian – now 5 years-old – commented that markers are her favorite art tool, and she loves to draw.  “I’m an artist,” she said proudly.  She also shared, “I have lots of favorite friends here,” and in Miss Sasha’s classroom, “I felt like I was home.” 

Family Strengthening Services

Shafeeqa made six-figures in a corporate career and owned her own home. When she suddenly became ill, she lost her job, savings and her sense of stability. She had no other choice than to keep going because she had a young child to feed.  Shafeeqa carried a passion for food in her heart and had a desire to heal, so she starting cooking. After studying ways to heal the body, she dedicated her kitchen to healthy, plant based vegan food—PlantChicks. Trying to manage her business and family, she was strapped to  make ends meet. She could not take her business to the next level since her sales were only making enough to balance her monthly income and expenses. Due to the damage on her credit report, she did not qualify for traditional lending from a bank.

Shafeeqa’s friend suggested that she apply for the Individual Development Account (IDA) offered by Center for Transforming Lives. Shafeeqa saw this as the perfect opportunity to learn how to establish a plan for her business and get funding to purchase equipment and other materials for PlantChicks. Shafeeqa began networking and marketing her way to success. She is part of a co-op in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex where several small businesses share a kitchen that provides space for each business to prep meals and various delicacies. The IDA program funding helps Shafeeqa continue working toward her best possibilities.

“Prior to coming to CTL, I was not able to separate my personal finances from the business, make long-term plans, or attempt to substantiate my passion in a reputable way. Sharing a beautiful space with women all focused on personal & professional growth is empowering.”

Shafeeqa considers herself a “mommy-preneur” and has learned to balance the needs of her business and commitment to family. Her mentors and leadership at the Center for Transforming Lives Financial Empowerment Program hold her accountable and offer tools that have set her up for success. “I am so grateful for the measurable growth of PlantChicks categorically and the confidence to keep growing with tools and a network of people that champion its success. Not only is Plant Chicks making lives better, I am better as a small business owner.”

Giving Days Should be Every Day

North Texas Giving Day was last week. This event has skyrocketed over the years as people give to organizations all in the name of competition. But why focus on just one day? Shouldn’t we consider a gift to our favorite organizations when our heart (and wallet) says it is time to give?

Don’t get me wrong. The fact that for one day, North Texans donate more than $50 million does not go unnoticed. We live in a philanthropic society, which is why we can successfully have a giving day. But I often wonder, is all the hoopla around the day worth it?

Giving Days should be treated like any other special event fundraiser. In the end, we may or may not know who all donated to our organization, we may have put much more effort into marketing the giving day than the ROI reflects, or we completely knocked it out of the park and can celebrate a huge success. It is amazing to see the multi-million dollar grand total at the end of the day. And if your organization is one of nearly 3,000 that receives a portion of that $50 million, then wonderful! The entire day is built around giving back as a community, competition, fun activities, and, much like a one-day holiday celebration, is meant to celebrate all of the nonprofits in our community by raising money for them. Each organization manages their participation in giving days differently. Some raise $500,000 or more, while others are happy when they reach $1,000, and others are listed but do not receive any donations.

So what about the other 364 days of the year? As fundraisers, we need to build a year-long giving campaign to make every day a Giving Day. Goals are important. And just like your fundraising luncheon, end of year direct mail, and anniversary campaigns, a giving day campaign complements the annual budget. But, why not do your own one-day push? Have an organization birthday you celebrate each year? Celebrate with asking for donations on or around that day for the number of years you have been in existence. It’s amazing what that can do to stir people’s hearts to give at a special time of year for your organization. Trying to determine how to increase awareness of your organization? Focus on an awareness campaign that shares how dollars make a difference, which allows for a soft ask. And don’t underestimate Giving Tuesday, that Tuesday after Thanksgiving where nationwide people are focused on end of year giving.

Giving Days are great. They show the power of crowdfunding. They show the power of the community. And just like other fundraising events, they are important to a lot of organizations’ annual budgets. They key, as fundraisers, is making sure that our budgets are not highly reliant upon one particular day that we struggle the rest of the year. And the key, for donors, is to remember the organizations other times of year as well. So, to the 160,000 plus people who logged on last Thursday, thank you! And to the others community minded folks out there who missed giving day, there are lots of days to give before the end of the year.

Q and A with Carol Klocek, CEO, Center for Transforming Lives

PBx: How long have you worked for Center for Transforming Lives?
CK: 10 years

PBx: Why do you believe in the work of this organization?
CK: I’ve gotten into this work because I wanted to help people like myself. I grew up in poverty. I see myself in each one of the women we serve. I want to help these families so children don’t have to grow up in these circumstances. I want to break the cycle of poverty for women, and I want to break the cycle of trauma. At CTL, our team continues to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by spreading awareness; helping one family at a time.

PBx: Share your favorite organization experience?
CK: I can’t choose just one, but I love to see the complete before and after transformation with a mother and child, particularly when the family achieves far more than most thought possible.

PBx: Describe your organization in three words.
CK: Dual generational impact

PBx: In what ways can someone get involved with CTL?
CK: We need volunteers to serve as ambassadors to share our mission and stories with others.

PBx: What makes your organization unique:
CK: We are focused on homeless women with children, and we provide quality, nurturing childcare so that mothers can focus on their journey while their children are growing.

PBx: What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about your organization?
CK: We provide services to support our women in every facet of their life to ensure long term success. Currently, we are looking to grow through our pilot program, an opportunity center. This will be a highly collaborative, unique environment with business incubation and accelerators, classes for adults to facilitate access to employment, a makerspace, on-site drop-in childcare.

Guest Post: The Hidden

by Carol Klocek, CEO, Center for Transforming Lives

In late February, I had an opportunity to speak about family homelessness at a forum designed to address the growing reality in our community and in our country. 

On the panel with me was a courageous young mother who told her story of waiting to get into a homeless shelter after her infant son left the NICU. They were first told that they did not ‘look homeless’ and turned away.  After living in a tent for a time behind a hotel, she returned and was put on a list.  Every Friday she called to see if a spot had opened for her and her newborn.  After three long, frightening months of living in a tent, being helped by other homeless strangers, they were admitted.  And their lives began to change.

With braces, nervous giggles and tears, and bright blue hair, this young woman told her story.  She is proud of how far she has come and knows their future holds more struggle and difficulty, but she describes herself as determined. “I’m going to make it” she said – over and over again throughout the day. 

I wonder if I could I be that strong?  That fearless?  Or was she hiding her true feelings because she is so used to being judged?  I don’t know. 

What I do know is that there are many more young mothers just like her, and they need our help. 

The Center for Transforming Lives led a collaborative effort, resulting in a report, The Hidden Homeless: Early Childhood Homelessness in Tarrant County.  Recommendations were developed by this group to effect change to systems so they work better for children and more effectively take their needs into account.

Key points:

  • An estimated 14,981 children experience homelessness each year in Tarrant County, meaning they and their families live in other people’s homes, motels, shelters or sleep in cars. 
  • All forms of homelessness for children cause trauma, negatively impacting their developing brains, as well as harming physical and emotional health.
  • The homeless service system is not equipped to handle these unseen families.
     

We’ve created the Coalition for Homeless Children to effect these changes by:

  • Championing change in the homeless service system through and alongside Tarrant County Homeless Coalition’s Task Force on Family Homelessness, 
  • Engaging faith communities by bringing Bridge of Hope programming to Tarrant County, 
  • Establishing a pilot project serving 30 families, to demonstrate how integrating safe housing, affordable child care, employment and transportation is more effective at eliminating homelessness for families with young children, 
  • Working with policy partners in local, state and federal level system to better meet the needs of children and families experiencing homelessness.

If you’d like a copy, please visit https://www.transforminglives.org/hidden-homeless. 

At the Center for Transforming Lives, this collaborative effort has taken us out of our comfort zone and pushed the boundaries of our transformative work.  Sometimes you have to go big so kids can go home.

September Nonprofit of the Month: Center for Transforming Lives

Welcome to Center for Transforming Lives (CTL), our first Reader’s Choice nonprofit of the month feature. Beginning as the first YWCA in Texas in 1907 as a boarding house for poor women, the organization expanded services over the years, and in 2015, changed its name from YWCA Fort Worth and Tarrant County to Center for Transforming Lives, directly describing the organization’s mission. Their mission: lifting women with children from poverty to possibility.

CLT provides safe homes, early childhood education, and financial and career coaching for women and children in Tarrant County. Through these programs, they serve 3,500 annually, helping to break the cycle of poverty.

This month, I hope you will follow along with us as we hear from their Chief Executive Officer, Carol Klocek and share stories of CTL’s success over the years and the women and families CTL has impacted.

Learn more now:
www.transforminglives.org
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube

When the Vision Comes True

The vision of Fort Worth Metro is to see the generational cycles in the inner city of Fort Worth be broken in children and their families by providing them with hope and resources. Here is a story of that vision coming true for one special Metro family.

Story by Ruth Calzada, Executive Director, Fort Worth Metro

Meet Mrs. Tamara Royal.  She has a son who is 27.  He attended Metro from the age of 7.  He is graduating this fall from the University of Houston, and you can bet for sure Metro will be there. Her youngest is 11.  We have practically helped raise her kids in the Stop 6 area.  However, Mrs. Tamara got an amazing opportunity to make a new way for her family this past April.  She moved from the Stop 6 Projects into a beautiful new apartment complex.  She called me one day because she was struggling financially.  She works for the school and when they are not in session, she does not have income. I rallied and collected groceries for her.  When I delivered the groceries, I discovered they were living in this apartment and it was empty. They had NO FURNITURE!

She gave me a tour of the empty shell of an apartment, and she was SO PROUD!  Proud to have made a new way for her family!  I discovered that the projects she had moved from were so infested with bugs and roaches, that she left all of her furniture behind.  Yet she was SO PROUD of her new place.  She said, “It’s like a mansion isn’t it!?!” 

I spent the next few days rounding up furniture for her, and within a week her apartment was fully furnished. She is thriving and has successfully paved a new path for her and her family!

Help Fort Worth Metro continue to live out their mission and vision by supporting them with your own time, talent, and treasure. We’ve spent the month sharing Metro stories and ways to get involved. Now learn how your dollars can make an impact on Metro and the families they serve:

How Your Dollars Help

  • $50 buys a child a new bike
  • $25 buys a new toy
  • $20 buys a frozen turkey
  • $72 fills the Metro truck with fuel for mobile outreach
  • $20 buys a brand new pair of tennis shoes
  • $15 buys a package of socks
  • $200 buys our weekly give away for our students
  • $250 month helps us maintain our sound and equipment resources for our mobile outreach

No matter how you want to get involved, stay connected with Fort Worth Metro on the web, Facebook, or Instagram.

Get Involved with Fort Worth Metro

Fort Worth Metro not only goes out into the community on a weekly basis to bring hope and lasting change, they hold three annual events to continue to provide for Fort Worth citizens. To get involved with one of the events listed below, visit their website to learn more.

SOLES4 SOULS
The highlight and largest outreach event of the year of Fort Worth Metro’s year is their Soles4Souls event. Fort Worth Metro gives away more than 1,000 brand new tennis shoes. Guests take a seat in a tent, sitting across from a Metro worker who has a towel and a water bucket. The Metro team washes guests’ feet and prays with them before supplying them with a brand new pair of tennis shoes.  It is an opportunity for the guests to feel SO SPECIAL, even if it’s just a for that one short moment. 

THANKSGIVING
Thanksgiving time at Fort Worth Metro means the annual turkey drive, collecting frozen turkeys to give to the families they serve.  One year more than 900 turkeys were handed out to families in need. 

Metro Executive Director, Ruth Calzada recalls one special woman from the event. “One day at our Stop 6 event, I looked out into the crowd and saw a mother crying.  I went to check on her and asked her is she was ok.  She said ‘I was wondering how I was going to feed my kids while they were out on Thanksgiving break.  This turkey is going to feed them and I’m so grateful.'”
Gift cards in multiples of $20 are a great way to give back for this event. The more turkeys Metro can provide, the more families they are able to serve during the time of year where we wish thanks on all.

BIKES
Fort Worth Metro gives something big away at Christmas, whether bikes, scooters, stockings, etc.  Two years ago, there was a young lady named Cindy.  She had received her bike, and she came up to Mrs. Ruth crying.  She said “Mrs. Ruth thank you so much for my new bike.  I have NEVER had a bike of my own.” We got to make her dream come true!