Dallas Morning News Charities gives help, hope and second chances to people in need
Richard Chandler believes a change is coming. He even sings about it. The homeless man, a client of The Stewpot and The Bridge, stood at a podium Friday morning in front of dozens of nonprofit leaders.
He didn’t say much about his story to the crowd — about how he’s kicking an alcohol habit, hoping to live a good life and have a home one day.
But his song said it all.
Chandler, 56, sang Sam Cooke’s R&B tune “A Change Is Gonna Come” to a crowd at The Dallas Morning News Charities kickoff event at the Omni Hotel. This is the 27th year of the campaign, which has distributed about $23 million to agencies that offer counseling, job training, food assistance and shelter.
“The song is an inspiration to me,” Chandler said after the event. He has been homeless for eight months after prison time for burglary of a vehicle and jail time for a parole violation. “Because I know some day, I’ll see a change in me and like the song says, it’s been a long time coming.”
Chandler has been living at The Bridge, a homeless assistance center. He hopes that through counseling and education there, he’ll move from The Bridge’s emergency shelter to its transitional units and eventually permanent housing. The Bridge is one of 23 agencies that benefits from funds raised through DMN Charities, a donation drive that continues through Jan. 31. “We know people are still suffering,” said Jim Moroney, publisher of The News and vice president of the DMN Charities board. “And the 23 agencies selected to receive funding from the campaign provide hope and a second chance to many who have no place to turn.”
The Dallas Morning News pays administrative costs so that 100 percent of the donations go directly to the selected agencies.
As in most years, there is no specific goal for fundraising, said Elise Longpree, campaign administrator, but she hopes contributions will total more than $1 million as they have for the past 15 years.
Whom to help
The selection of the agencies by DMN Charities and the Communities Foundation of Texas is based on quality of services, geographic and demographic coverage of the area, board and volunteer involvement, and sound fiscal management. A balance is maintained between shelters, emergency services and rehabilitative programs.
This year, some agencies, such as McKinney-based Community Lifeline Center, report funding cuts for case management. The nonprofit offers emergency help to families in northern Collin County and has a case manager to make sure families stay on track, and that the needs of the family continue to be assessed. The agency’s two case managers often work long hours to help families.
“We could use another one,” said the center’s executive director, Christine Hockin-Boyd. “Those caseworkers are on the front lines and really understand where the family or individual is coming from and what they really need.”
‘Just so humbled’
Hockin-Boyd said the demographics of clients of Community Lifeline Center have changed. Many are educated and unemployed for longer periods as they search for higher-paying or more skilled jobs.
“Their worlds are just turned completely upside down,” Hockin-Boyd said. “And so they come to us and they’re just so humbled.”
Doling it out
This year’s campaign kicked off with a total of $180,000, which was disbursed to the agencies Friday morning. Brent Christopher, president and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas, told event attendees that a grant of $10,000 was transferred from the Granville C. and Gladys H. Morton Fund, managed by the foundation.
Jennifer Sampson, president and CEO of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, presented a check for $75,000 to Charities officials. The lead campaign gift — $125,000 — was donated by Jonell Williams, president of the J.L. Williams Charitable Foundation.
So far this campaign, DMN Charities has collected $390,000.
Fort Worth author Ron Hall spoke at the kickoff and shared his experience as a homeless advocate, the basis of his book Same Kind of Different As Me. Moroney said he hopes to give a copy to every DMN Charities donor.
The book, a story of Hall and a homeless man he befriended, has inspired many acts of kindness, Hall said.
“I wish every donor of this campaign the peace of knowing that the blessings that they share will make a difference,” he said. “I pray that the ripple effect from today will be never-ending.”
By CHRISTINA ROSALES
The Dallas Morning News
Published: 16 November 2012 10:40 PM
Permission to reprint granted.