The honor for excellence in Mission, Vision and Practice for the GRACE 4th Quarter of 2019 was awarded to Fernando Trevino at the Wednesday, January 8 GRACE All-Staff Meeting.
The GRACE MVP Award is given quarterly to recognize exceptional customer service, outstanding attitude, innovative thinking, interdepartmental relations/teamwork and excellence in mission. These are, by the way, the very traits that have made Fernando an icon at GRACEful Buys Grapevine, where he is the assistant manager.
“Fernando has given many years of dedicated service to GRACE, and he does so with a smile and a helping hand,” said GRACE’s Director of Administration Melissa Simpkins. “He has a strong, steady spirit, and provides a welcomed calming influence.”
A leader on the GRACEful Buys team, Fernando is known by many shoppers for his great customer service. Whether short-handed or fully-staffed, at any time Fernando may be found helping load a couch or a recliner for a customer, or rolling new merchandise onto the showroom floor.
His dedication goes well beyond the store setting, too.
“When asked to help with situations outside his own site,” said Melissa. “He is always willing to say ‘yes’ and make it happen.”
Melissa continued, “It is a pleasure to work alongside this man and we couldn’t imagine GRACE without him!” Well said, and well-earned Fernando!
Winter Restaurant Week moves into overtime. Many restaurants that support GRACE have extended until Sunday, January 26.
Winter Restaurant Week is a promotion of 360 West magazine and sponsored by Ben E. Keith Co. Local restaurants offer delicious three-course dinners for $29, $39 or $49, with a variety of menu options in each price point. Restaurants can participate for one, two, or all three weeks.
The Tarrant Area Food Bank and GRACE will benefit from the $5, $6 or $7 per-dinner proceeds collected by participating restaurants.
As far as anyone can tell, it began life as a concept around February or March 2018. Purse Bingo. Lynda Warner had been part of events like this elsewhere, but none exactly like this.
Lynda, and her husband Robert, had just launched the 2018 GRACE Gala Campaign when the idea struck.
“Top-of-the line designer purses,” said Lynda, her eyes narrowed as the idea sparked into a cascading torrent of thoughts and possibilities. “Excellent entertainment. Fun games. And plenty of good wines and champagnes!”
That was the beginning of “Designer Bags & Bingo,” coming up 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. There have been many imitators, but this is the original and the best!
After her duties as Gala Co-Chair concluded—and a great success it was—Lynda’s follow-up was the first annual GRACE Poker Tournament last January. It was another resounding success (which will be repeated tomorrow night at the Second Annual GRACE Poker Tournament).
Finally, after all the finer details of the Poker Tournament were documented and filed, Lynda turned her laser-focused attention on Designer Bags & Bingo (DB&B), and started creating! Vantage Bank was the first to come onboard with a title sponsorship.
Then other sponsors, Randy White Real Estate Services. Elizabeth and John Huffman, owners of Black Door Renovations, jumped in. Then Joy Goodrum and the folks at Prism Dermatology. Next, Celebrity Cruises and Shannon O’Brien with Frosch Travel. And the rush was on!
And for good reason, proceeds from the event will support the GRACE Transitional Housing program.
“The [GRACE Transitional Housing] program works with homeless individuals and families,” said Lynda. “Intensive case management assists them in achieving education, career, and financial goals.”
Through Transitional Housing, the GRACE wrap-around services offer families the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness through a two-year program that focuses on education, employment, budgeting, and improving life skills, all aimed at achieving self-determination and self-sufficiency.
DB&B will feature many truly superior-value purses, with other additional prizes to be offered and won in unique ways. There are spies, so we are sworn to secrecy on the numbers of prize purses, designer names, side-bets and awards. All will be revealed to the DB&B players as they arrive April 23.
A table of ten is $900, a bargain off the per-ticket cost of $100. Sponsorships are still available with player spots part of all sponsorship levels. Each player will receive a wonderful swag bag of delightful and valuable items. Above all else, Lynda wants DB&B to be a fun event for all players, and a benefit to all those GRACE serves. Click Designer Bags & Bingo packet for more information.
“We promise to be wise stewards of your resources and to provide compassionate care to as many families as possible,” said Lynda. “Together we can make a lasting, tangible difference in the lives of families struggling in our midst.”
After working for a good three years with Lynda and Robert Warner, the GRACE staff and other volunteers know just how committed she is. As will all the many other events and activities she has developed for GRACE, this too will be a great success and continue for many years to come.
GRACE was both humble and proud to be recognized at the Colleyville Chamber Annual Awards Gala last night.
We were certainly among friends! Robert Earley, president and CEO of the JPS Health Network and chairman of the Teaching Hospitals of Texas, served as master of ceremonies, dressed all in black and white—the theme of this awards banquet.
Carolyn Sims, Colleyville Chamber president and long-time friend of GRACE, guided the proceedings.
Frost Bank’s Mimi Tran, a dedicated GRACE Gala volunteer and newly-installed chairman of the Colleyville Chamber Board, offered a moving dedication, and hopes for a “grand year” in 2020. Loveria Caffe catered the banquet, and is also one of the restaurants participating in the Winter Restaurant week supporting GRACE.
Throughout the evening we applauded friend after friend as they mounted the steps to receive their awards. GRACE nominated Nancy and Jim Reid of 91 Design for Business of the Year. We were ecstatic when Nancy walked to the stage to receive the very well-deserved award.
Frost Bank, a very strong supporter of GRACE, took the award for Corporation of the Year, going head-to-head with Beall Investments, GRACE’s nominee. Robert Beall donated the location for GRACE Christmas Cottage in 2018 and 2019.
We nominated our friends at First Colleyville for the Outstanding Service Organization of the Year. So many of our friends were up for this honor. We were thrilled when Crown of Life Lutheran Church and School was named the recipient.
Morgan Sundell, GRACE’s nominee for Youth of the Year, received the top prize in this category. Congratulations Morgan! Well done!! We were truly inspired by the wonderful stories of commitment and selflessness with all of the Youth nominees.
GRACE nominated Randy White of Randy White Real Estate Services for the Leadership Award. He is generous corporate sponsor of GRACE events, and donates to GRACE personally. He also dedicates his time as a member of the GRACE Board of Directors, and is a constant source of learned advice and guidance.
Yet, the evening’s loudest applause from the GRACE tables came when our own chief executive officer, Shonda Schaefer, barely edged Randy out. Coincidently, it was Randy who nominated Shonda for the award.
Last, but not least, the Citizen of the Year award featured many acts of generous dedication, kindness and support by an impressive group of individuals committed to making our communities great places to live and work. GRACE nominees were Linda and Terry Steele, who give so much of their time, talent, and treasure to the GRACE Food Pantry and help feed families in need.
We were elated when another great GRACE friend, supporter, and volunteer Nancy Coplen walked away with the honors.
GRACE congratulates all who won or were nominated for their excellence this past year.
Sometimes the journey is long, uphill and coiled, with many merges and turns, with the end forever just over the horizon.
While no case is “routine”, most of the patients coming for help to the GRACE Community Clinic are seen by our volunteer medical professionals, treated, and scheduled for return visits.
But, when asked about “a complicated case”, Clinic Nurse Manager Shirley Roberts, RN, BAS, CCM, opens the chart to Maria A.
“Maria A. has been in our clinic for several years but we had not seen her since 2013,” said Shirley. Her last mammogram was performed on November 6, 2012. The results were normal.
She returned to the Clinic in late 2019. “We noticed a lump in her right breast. She said it had been there for about a month. We sent her for lab work and set her up for an appointment with one of our doctors.”
A diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound were ordered through Envision Imaging, one of GRACE’s many collaborating partners. The diagnostics revealed masses in both breasts—highly suspicious for neoplasm. Biopsies were recommended.
“Maria was referred to Kupferle Breast Center (another GRACE collaborator) but no grant funds were available for thee biopsies,” said Nurse Shirley.
Another GRACE partner, the Moncrief Cancer Institute, was contacted by GRACE and the biopsies were performed on October 28. The biopsies revealed breast cancer.
“I called Maria in,” said Shirley. “Our medical team and those from Moncrief discussed the diagnosis and her options with her.”
A referral was made to Carolyn Garner, MD, a Denton-based surgeon, for a breast cancer consult shortly after. “We also gave her and her family information about JPS [John Peter Smith Health System] and Parkland systems,” Shirley said.
“Maria decided to have her surgery with Dr. Garner,” said Shirley. Her bilateral breast mastectomies were performed on November 19.
“Our GRACE team found her a recliner through The Healing Chair Organization,” Shirley said. “It was delivered prior to her surgery.” A “healing chair” is an electric reclining lift chair controlled electrically with hand-held controls and designed to embrace and support breast cancer patients during the healing process.
Community Clinic staff also assisted her in applying for a grant through Mimi Tran’s Me2 Foundation and Maria was granted funds to assist her with some of her surgical and treatment expenses.
After surgery, her treatment plan required her to see an oncologist. After several tries with other agencies, GRACE found the Greater Dallas Arya Samaj (GDAS) Cancer Clinic in Richardson, an organization that provides oncology consultations and chemotherapy treatments for low income clients.
GRACE helped Maria get her port placement through Moncrief, and she has started her chemotherapy treatment at GDAS.
“We are helping with whatever ancillary services she needs,” said Shirley. GRACE has also partnered with Project Access to provide some additional diagnostic tests which are required every three months over the next year while she is in chemotherapy.
GRACE has also secured another resource through Cancer Care to assist with transportation expenses and other support services.
“We appreciate all of the wonderful community partners who have rallied behind Maria,” said Shirley. “And helped her along her journey.”
Sometimes the journey is long. But a friend with a guiding hand, and the strength to walk beside you, helps you see over the horizon.
[This story is set on Christmas Eve, as most of these stories are.]
A hospital orderly wheeled Olivia through the sliding glass doors to an awaiting car—a friend’s. Olivia had no car of her own. She barely had a roof over her head—the 4 days she just spent in the hospital would put a dent in her housekeeper’s wages from one of the large local hotels.
This moment, though, all was fine. She gently rose from her wheelchair and swung around into the car’s passenger seat. The faces of her three young children, all smiles, peered over the seatback. They would have mom back home for Christmas! A few days before they weren’t so sure.
Olivia’s trip to the hospital was sudden and unexpected. Her treatment and medications would be costly. Her meager budget would be stretched even further than it already was. But Olivia was the family’s only means of support, and she had come to GRACE months before.
GRACE case managers worked with health and human services agencies to make sure her healthcare was covered. Some of her medications would be provided by the Community Clinic, and the others would be deeply discounted by GRACE partners.
GRACE Client Services made sure her rent was kept up, and utilities paid. The Food Pantry had groceries in her home; the Clothing Room had given her coats and warm bedding.
Still, it was Christmas Eve. She was in the hospital when her appointment at GRACE Christmas Cottage came and went. Tomorrow morning would come, and there would be nothing from Santa.
[Miracles take form in many ways. This particular miracle took the form of a phone call, to the right person, in the right place, at the right time. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve.]
Shonda Schaefer explained it in her Facebook post: “Got a call from a young mother who was just released from the hospital and missed her Christmas Cottage appointment. Several phenomenal folks banned together and I am now awaiting her arrival at the closed Cottage. And generous donors are still showing up to bring gifts! Y’all, this is what it’s all about—neighbors helping neighbors. Can’t think of a better way to spend Christmas Eve!”
Arm-in-arm, Shonda helped Olivia shop for her children. A few toys, a set of workout clothes, gloves and scarves, a gift card for her eldest, a couple of games, some books, three stockings and stocking stuffers. Santa would stop at Olivia’s home.
Olivia’s journey is far from over. She is getting stronger every day and working part time. She believes her stamina will let her go full time very soon. GRACE will be with her every step of the way with assistance, guidance, encouragement, and appreciation.
Sometimes that’s what it takes to make a miracle happen.
At this writing, 19 seats have been booked. The tournament design calls for a cut-off at 24 seats with 8 players at each of three tables.
“We won’t stop at three,” said Lara Hohweiler, GRACE Director of Community Outreach. “We will seat as many people as want to play.” Contingent plans for tournament expansion are in place to make it fair for all players, to keep the odds of winning reasonable, and to preserve speed of play, she said.
To witness this kind of growth in only its second year is encouraging. Word of mouth, an exceptional venue, and great food and beverages have drawn attention to the event. Mark Nelson of Classic Wine is charge of the drinks, and Ted Bilsky, owner of Scratch Catering & Fine Foods, will bring the edibles.
“We had a great tournament last year, great prizes, great competition,” said Lara. “But having Bryan [Campanello, World Series of Poker champion] attend and advise the players puts this event way over the top.”
The incredible contributions of GRACE volunteers will be recognized at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, Thursday, February 6. Doors to the Hilton DFW Lakes Texas Grande Ballroom will open at 11 a.m. for the hundreds of volunteers who give their time so those in need can have better lives.
“I am exceedingly proud to lead an organization with so many volunteers,” said GRACE Chief Executive Officer Shonda Schaefer, “We even have clients give back by volunteering their own time once they are able.”
The history of GRACE has been written by thousands of volunteers who formed this grassroots organization nearly 35 years ago. Annually, more than 2,500 active volunteers serve in essential capacities at all GRACE sites.
Lifelong volunteers serve at the Food Pantry and Donation Station. Medical professionals come from their clinics and hospitals to treat patients at the Community Clinic. Church, business, school, and social groups volunteer together on special projects. Volunteers drive Feed Our Kids and Christmas Cottage. Board members volunteer the benefit of their experience and influence to lead GRACE in stable and strong directions.
“GRACE relies on the hours our volunteers give,” said Shonda. “The Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon gives us a chance to fully honor those who give so much.”
Each GRACE Department will recognize their top volunteers, and the GRACE Volunteer of the Year will be announced. There’ll be t-shirts, photo booths, fun giveaways, and a chance for all GRACE volunteers to receive acclaim and thanks for jobs well done.
“Formal invitations are on the way,” said Shonda. “But to all GRACE volunteers who gave their time in 2019, and touched the lives of so many in need, please join us on February 6.”
Celebrate the many contributions our volunteers have made throughout the year. RSVP by emailing Alicia Fike or calling 817-305-4655.