From Farm to Pantry

ProduceNothing says summer more than a juicy bite of organic cantaloupe and watermelon, and the sweet yield of fruit at GRACE Community Gardens is finally ripe for eating.

It has been a banner year at both sites of the GRACE Community Gardens with an abundance of organic fruits and vegetables. Hundreds of pounds of home-grown potatoes, cabbage, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, melons and peppers were delivered to the Food Pantry this season.

In preparation for the fall, pumpkins, corn, tomatoes, peppers, melons, radishes, greens and sweet potatoes will soon be ripe for harvest and ready to deliver to worthy families. Like all things worthwhile, supplying healthy local sustenance to GRACE clients is a labor of love.

A great deal has been accomplished this year from the compost pile renovation, flower bed expansion and the installation of a new irrigation system. Many organizations, church groups and businesses have invested time and energy to make GRACE Community Gardens what they are today.

The soil has been fertilized, and squash and cucumbers are ready to grow, but not with eager volunteers ready to get their hands dirty! Helpers are needed on a weekly basis to water garden beds, gather produce and till the compost pile.

New fall stems are blossoming, and in a few weeks, broccoli, cabbage, garlic and cilantro will be planted during the GRACE Community Garden’s upcoming workday, Saturday, October 4. One-time projects and helpers available on a regular basis are needed to keep the gardens weed free and the harvest plenty.

We welcome corporate groups, church groups, individuals and organizations who have a green thumb or a servant heart. Contact Alison Shumaker for volunteer opportunities at alison.shumaker@yahoo.com .

The GRACE Community Gardens are located behind the GRACE Food Pantry, 837 East Walnut Street, Grapevine, TX 76051 and at the Heritage United Methodist Church, 4344 Heritage Avenue, Grapevine, TX 76051.

By: Heather Ortner

DaVita RX Village Pharmacy Donates Dozens of Backpacks

DaVitaBackpackDonation2

One hot afternoon this summer, the GRACE Main parking lot was filled with a caravan of SUVs, Trucks, and Mini-vans. As if on cue, the drivers began unloading an unending amount of large boxes, and soon an assembly line of sorts began passing the packages over the scorching blacktop.

When DaVita Rx contacted GRACE and said they were interested in supplying an ample amount of backpacks for back to school, we were thrilled. DaVita Rx’s donation of 48 backpacks filled with school supplies ensured that local elementary children are equipped to thrive in the new school year!

DaVita Rx, a full-service pharmacy that specializes in serving chronically ill patients, is one of many companies who have taken advantage of the rewarding experience of giving back to the community.

“DaVita translated from Italian means ‘to give life’,” says Christy Quaresma, Communications Manager for DaVita Rx, “putting life back in our community is part of our Trilogy of Care: Caring for Our Patients, Caring For Each Other, and Caring for the World.”

These goodwill initiatives are more than creating a constructive environment; they have the potential to change the lives of children, individuals and families by improving their quality of life or meeting their most basic needs.

Many employees of DaVita Rx have been personal supporters of GRACE programs, and DaVita Rx collaborated with GRACE on their toy drive to celebrate Christmas Cottage. Thank you DaVita Rx, for caring for your community, and your continued relationship with GRACE.

Whether you are part of business, scout troop, small group or as an individual, our year-round programs ensure there is always a place for you at GRACE. Please contact GRACE Volunteer Manager, Lara Sundell at lsundell@GRACEgrapevine.org for opportunities.

Fortune 500 Companies Can Double Your Dollar to GRACE

northtexasgivingday-1401739580.6132-facebook-cover-image__2014It’s no surprise that Texas dominates with the most Fortune 500 companies in the nation. Out of the 52 Top 500 U.S. companies, the Dallas area boasts 18 corporations on its list.

Even more eye-opening are the millions of dollars in unused funds dedicated to programs like GRACE. Corporate matching gift programs are charitable giving platforms intended to double or multiply a portion of an employee’s financial gift to the employee’s nonprofit of choice.

While it’s often overlooked by nonprofits and donors alike, roughly 65% of these companies offer generous donations on behalf of its employees. These allotted funds are sources of free money, and the ability to maximize your gift to GRACE in the Dallas Fort Worth area is enormous. Nearly half of the same companies offer volunteer grant programs, allowing a paid day dedicated to volunteering at your favorite nonprofit.

In light of this brilliant fact, GRACE is proud to partner with North Texas Giving Day, an online giving event that allows donations to make a broader impact from 6 a.m. to midnight on September 18. This unique fundraiser maximizes each dollar of your donation, and amplifies your financial gift from $1.5 million dollars in bonus funds and prizes!

While corporate matching funds will not be eligible for bonus funds on North Texas Giving day, a donation September 18th would allow for BOTH North Texas Giving Day to amplify your donation AND possibly double your original donation based on your employer’s charitable program!

Every gift made on September 18 increases GRACE’s chances of winning prizes given throughout the day, ranging from $500 to $10,000!

Programs that provide additional funds for GRACE support our mission to help the GRACE community in these specific ways:­­

  • Emergency assistance to over 5000 unduplicated individuals in crisis.
  • Comprehensive healthcare staffed by dedicated volunteer physicians and nurses.
  • Long-term investment through our Transitional Housing program, providing housing, education and support for up to two years while families achieve independence.
  • Over 38,000 lunches for children during the summertime months
  • School supplies for over 250 elementary and middle school children.
  • New Christmas presents and warm holiday meals to over 600 families and 1600 children each year.

Whether or not you work for a large corporation, an online donation to GRACE on September 18 allows GRACE programs to serve the families and individuals in our community who need it most.

Visit northtexasgivingday.org and search for GRACE, or give directly here . Share our posts on our twitter and facebook page, and be sure tag us in your post!

By: Heather Ortner

Spooky Finds at GRACEful Buys

HalloweenThe summer air is starting to cool, school has begun, and our little ghouls and goblins are looking forward to the scariest of holidays– Halloween.  Graceful Buys is already decked out in Halloween décor and costumes.

There are endless ways to transform simple items available at GRACEful Buys to give your home a festive makeover.

An inexpensive frame purchased at GRACEful Buys can become a gothic scene (pictured). Simply cut some foam to size, and cover with two coats of chalkboard spray paint, and sketch some branches with white chalk. Use a small nail to determine the location of the glowing eyes in your ghostly forest. Insert twinkle lights on the back of your canvas.

Children and adults alike can rally around this sweet and simple project. Fill party hats with candy, cover in orange and yellow streamers and have an instant candy corn piñata!

We would love to see the creative ways you transform GRACEful Buys finds into spooky party ideas, gifts and home décor. Post your crafty Halloween pictures to GRACEful Buys’ Facebook page and you might spot your picture in an upcoming publication!

Crafting credit: http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2011/10/glowing-eyes-halloween-art/

By: Dave Mowers

GRACE President’s Award

At last week’s meeting of the GRACE Board of Directors John Elieson presented the annual President’s Award to former GRACE Director of Resale Debbie Haley. The award recognizes the GRACE employee of the year, but in Debbie’s case, it could mean the Employee of the Millenia!

When Debbie Haley retired in late June, GRACE staff members knew we would see her again, and often, but as friends instead of coworkers. So when Debbie arrived at the final Board meeting of the fiscal year and took her place among the other GRACE staff members, we knew something was up.

The ruse to get her to the meeting—that members of the Board wanted a chance to bid her a fond farewell—was fully effective and the wonderful surprise of being named the 2014 President’s Award winner dawned on her only when President John introduced her.

John cited her 21 years of dedicated service to GRACE, and her enthusiasm for and leadership of the GRACE Resale department.

“Debbie has been the driving force behind our Resale program,” said John. “Her passion for the GRACE mission has been a reliable constant over the years.”

Debbie graciously thanked John and other members of the Board, GRACE staff and volunteers for the honor.

She reminisced briefly about the beginnings of GRACE resale and how it started as a “garage sale” to help raise money to provide food and assistance to people in need.

She told how Johnny Esparza, of Esparza’s Restaurant, donated his mother’s house to GRACE after she passed away.

“We didn’t know what we would do with it at the time,” said Debbie, “but we moved the house down Main Street to the back lot at Shady Brook.”

The little white cottage became the first GRACE Resale outlet.

Debbie was humbled by the award as well, and credited the many people guided and assisted her over the years.

“This award is as much theirs as it is mine,” she said—said the Employee of the Millenia!

By: Mark Woolverton

GRACE Embraces City of Grapevine

grapevineThe time-honored beauty of Historic Grapevine and Americana atmosphere embody the heritage the City of Grapevine has made great strides in preserving. This sense of civic responsibility and stewardship makes GRACE proud to be a pillar in the Grapevine community.

Many GRACE volunteers and staff members participate in Grapevine community events to show our appreciation for what the Grapevine community has done for GRACE. Earlier this year, in partnership with GRACE, the City of Grapevine pulled the community together to build a playground which frames the front of GRACE main offices in an effort to support family cohesiveness and playground accessibility for neighboring families.

The 2013 Gala commemorated their heritage of service by awarding the City of Grapevine’s Angel of GRACE award, GRACE’s highest tribute. William D. Tate accepted the award on behalf of the City of Grapevine.

Grapevine’s leadership and generosity have blessed GRACE with an outstanding community of volunteers and ambassadors, which have allowed GRACE to expand their programs with the guidance and support of the city.
You might spot a GRACE volunteer enjoying a fresh slice of local pizza on Main Street, or one of our GRACE staffers daydreaming behind the dash of a finely-crafted Italian sports car at the Italian Car Festival at Nash Park.

Whether it’s enjoying a show at the Palace Theatre, delighting in a warm funnel cake during Main Street Days, or listening to live music during GrapeFest, GRACE is eager to partner in all Grapevine events to support and strengthen the Grapevine community.

The 2014 Angel of GRACE award will be announced at GRACE’s VIP Party in mid-September. The GRACE Gala is the most-anticipated evening in Northeast Tarrant County. Select seats and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Contact Heather Ortner at hortner@GRACEgrapevine.org for details.

By: Heather Ortner

GRACE Board and Staff Celebrate a New Fiscal Year!

FiscalNewYearCakeA brief program at last night’s New (Fiscal) Year’s Celebration culminated with the burning of a single piece of paper to the applause and hurrahs of GRACE Board members, staff and friends.

While the act of lighting a sheet of paper on fire may not seem like a reason to celebrate, getting to the point of striking that match took years of dedicated fiscal responsibility, community support and budgetary belt-tightening.

The single piece of paper represented the retiring of a debt, taken on years ago, and paid down methodically each year until the final payment just last week.

First Financial Bank Southlake President and Chairman Mark Jones officially stamped the note “paid” before GRACE President John Elieson and other members of the Board and former Board members bid it a fiery farewell.

The celebration that followed included wonderful food from Brio Tuscan Grille sponsored by First Financial Bank, games, door prizes, massage therapy and fun green-screen photographs. All who attended received “Team GRACE” t-shirts.

GRACE Executive Director Shonda Schaefer and Executive Assistant Melissa Simpkins hosted “GRACE Jeopardy!” based on the television game show. The “questions” were responses to “answers” posted in the GRACE Main Board Room.

Many volunteers and staff members were joined by their spouses; still others brought their children to enjoy the festivities in what was truly a celebration for the “GRACE Family.”

Throughout the evening, in speeches and conversation, great credit was constantly given to all who support GRACE through their gifts of time, money and goods—all supporters who played a role in the GRACE mission to help those in need.

By: Mark Woolverton