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GRACE Blog

Giving as we have received to help those in need

GRACE First Up on Southlake Cares

Southlake Cares logo
Southlake Cares launched this week with ways to assist struggling social services agencies provide help for those in need.

This week marked the launch of the new Southlake Cares initiative. A small cadre of city staffers from the City Manager’s Office, the City Library, Public Relations Department, Volunteers, and Human Resources created this program to “pull our community together in support of the local service organizations that support us”.

Over the next six months, Southlake Cares will be asking for help in meeting the specific needs of local social services agencies.

The website for Southlake Cares launched Wednesday with this message: “Here’s your first mission in our Southlake Cares 6-month Challenge: The GRACE Food Pantry and Community Clinic have suffered reduced funding while trying to meet triple the demand. Help us stock their shelves.”

The site continued: “This is a difficult time for our nation and our community. The basics of food, medicine, shelter, and support services are desperately needed by families in our area. Our local service organizations have a heightened need of support from the community for money, in-kind donations, and volunteers. The organizations [in the program] have a long history of partnership with Southlake.”

Along with GRACE, the other agencies included in the Southlake Cares program are Alliance for Children, Call A Ride Southlake, Denton County Friends of the Family, Metroport Meals on Wheels, and Safe Haven of Tarrant County.

Each of the six agencies is included on the website, with links to the agency site and specific ways others can help. Also included are ways people in need of services can reach out to each agency.

On behalf of all those GRACE serves, our deepest thanks to the City of Southlake and to Maria Cameron, Cynthia Pfledderer, Pilar Shank, Lauren LaNeave, Lindy Calzada, and Dylan Welch for creating Southlake Cares, and for making our community a better place to live.

Thanks to the Air National Guard

ANG at GGG2
Members of the Air National Guard distribute food boxes at the GRACE Grocery Giveaway.

“We build strength with the communities we serve.” One of the mottos of the Air National Guard (ANG) has helped GRACE sustain the day-in, day-out duties of providing assistance to those impacted by COVID-19.

GRACE is normally a volunteer-driven agency with scores of people serving volunteer capacities throughout all GRACE sites. Since mid-March, and only recently with a select group of volunteers returning, GRACE has been running with staff only.

At the same time, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic nearly tripled the need for services over the same time last year. Into this situation stepped a squadron of ANG members to help.

GRACE was very honored to be selected as one of the assignments the Wing accepted in the North Texas area. The work accomplished by this group of dedicated people most certainly helped build strength in the community, and gave many GRACE families the food and supplies to sustain them through the worst of the crisis.

Staff Sergeant Tamara Dabney and her crew worked closely with the GRACE Food Pantry and the hunger-fighting sector of the GRACE mission. They were, literally, the boots on the ground at the Memorial Day GRACE Grocery Giveaway at the Community Outreach Center.

GRACE traditionally provides holiday meal distributions for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, with concerns about exposure to COVID-19, the first-ever Memorial Day distribution provided food and supplies for the three-day weekend.

For nearly two months, the GRACE Food Pantry swapped its self-select grocery-store style service for a drive-up curbside plan. Tamara and her team made sure the flow proceeded orderly with very little back-up. Tons of food were boxed, organized, and moved to the delivery area adjacent to the Food Pantry building.

With so many people within our community willing to help with food donations, the ANG group helped sort and organize thousands of boxes, bags, jars, and packages of non-perishable food, hygiene and cleaning products, infant supplies, and other essentials in the heat and distanced conditions of the warehouse.

Even knowing the food inventory numbering into the thousands of units only represented about two weeks’ worth of stock for the GRACE Pantry,  the ANG squadron understood their work was a tremendous support for the staff who were constantly restocking distribution boxes and provisions for the stream of client families coming through the Food Pantry parking lot.

The Air National Guard is stationed at the Fort Worth Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base and attached to the 136th Airlift Wing. During times of conflict and for peace-time training, the Wing’s mission focuses on delivering equipment and supplies.

The Wing’s airlift mission employs huge C-130 Hercules four-engine turboprop aircraft in a diverse number of roles, including airlift support, Antarctic resupply, medical missions, weather recon, aerial spray missions, firefighting duties with the U.S. Forest Services, and natural disaster relief.

We humbly thank the Air National Guard for their service at the GRACE sites, and all throughout North Texas for helping to build strength with the communities we serve.

For more information about the GRACE Food Pantry please contact Keith Hills, Food Pantry Manager, at 817-305-4677.

 

Shop Online or Come to the Stores

Online shopping
If COVID-19 is keeping you at home this holiday weekend, GRACEful-E helps cure the cabin fever blues.

This weekend has got to be one of the most unique Fourth of July celebrations in the history of the nation!

Masking in a 105-degree heat index, social distancing, and severely limited crowds are causing many of the traditional explosive activities to seem too much of a hassle.

Since we are still a few weeks away from baseball, online shopping is the perfect national pastime, and a cure for the COVID-19 cabin fever blues. GRACE has just the thing.

The wonderful GRACEful Buys selection and pricing is coming directly to you with GRACEful-E, the newest GRACE shopping experience.

GRACEful-E features the same one-of-a-kind treasures you’ll find in the stores at great GRACE prices. As with all GRACE merchandise, nearly all are one-of-a-kind offerings. All items are available with “Buy It Now” pricing, and shipping is free for most.

The selection ranges from an official complete set of Topps baseball cards from the 1986 season—some 792 picture cards in all, to a Rosenthal Weihnachtsteller 1978 Porzellan Bjorn Winnblad Limitierte Kunstreihen, which is basically a really nice vintage plate with an angel playing a harp.

GRACEful-E offers the same mix of rarities, décor, antiques and collectibles, fine jewelry, designer label clothing, shoes and accessories, and more found at the GRACEful Buys stores, and at Style & GRACE.

Look for GRACEful-E on eBay under eBay Stores—search on gracefuleonline, or simply use this link: GRACEful-E.

If, however, you do find yourself out-and-about, a stop at one of the GRACE shopping centers would be an extreme money-saving venture.

Starting today, Thursday, July 2, all three GRACE stores are selling everything 40% off. You can get some amazing bargains on the great furniture, décor, and collectibles at GRACEful Buys in Grapevine and Euless, and the wonderful jewelry and designer fashions and accessories at Style & GRACE in the Hobby Lobby shopping center.

In order to provide the safest shopping environment, all stores follow state and CDC guidelines for spacing and masking. All doors, counters, racks, shelves, and other areas are disinfected throughout the day.

Set your Maps to 418 East Northwest Highway in Grapevine, 700 West Euless Boulevard in Euless, or 2030 Glade Road, Suite 238, in Grapevine, for a terrifically therapeutic shopping experience.

The GRACEful Buys stores are open until 7 p.m.—6 p.m. on Sunday. Style & GRACE is closed Sunday but open until 7 p.m. all other days.

For more store information contact GRACE Resale Director Jennifer Rawls at 817-305-4470. For information about GRACEful-E contact Dorcas Holloway at 817-305-4683.

 

 

A Message from Friends & Family

[Sharing a message from Christine Szymaszek, GRACE Friends & Family Program Coordinator. Friends & Family serves an aging population in north Texas. Christine works with seniors to protect and improve their financial independence, reduce their isolation, and strengthen their food and medication security. She provides case management and transportation, and helps improve home conditions, maintenance, and safety.]

Good afternoon All,

I just wanted to share with you the beautiful experiences I had this afternoon.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we have had to cease doing face-to-face visits with our Friends & Family clients–probably the ones who need it most. Still, I do my best to keep an eye on them by driving by their homes and through their neighborhoods several times a week, at different times of the day.

Today, I went by the __________ Apartments. As I drove around, I spied one of my ladies, 90-year-old “Miss Ruth.”

The last time I saw Miss Ruth, she was at Baylor in the ER, having debilitating back pain. I must confess, she was quite amusing once the muscle relaxers kicked in.

I parked and went over–wearing a mask and stopping more than 6 feet away.  Once I pulled my mask down for a brief moment her face lit up and I received a very cheerful, “Christine! How are you?!”

As we chatted, her daughter, who was visiting (also a Friends & Family member), came out to say “hello”. We made plans to meet again—outdoors, socially distanced, masked up—so we could take care of her health insurance questions and applications.

Shortly after, another Friends & Family member stepped out to say “hi”.  As that visit ended, another began! What a joyous time it was for me!

Please know that one of the best parts of my job is the visiting face-to-face with these wonderful people. This afternoon helped to refill my spirit. I miss them greatly.

But wait, there is more. . . . As I was walking to my car, I heard a little voice call my name. This time it was “Miss Karen”.

Lady in a mask goodShe joined our Friends & Family family in 2015.  As I walked toward her she whispered, “Come here, and don’t fuss for what I am about to do.”

Next thing you know, she was handing me a $100 bill. I sputtered that I could not accept her money–but she insisted.

“Please, take this as a donation to GRACE, to thank you all for taking such good care of us seniors,” she said.

She was very adamant that I take her gift. She had been saving it from her stimulus check just for this moment. She had wanted to thank us in some way for a long time.

My heart filled with love and I was humbled.

Guys, there is not a whole lot I would not do for my seniors. Moments like that one makes me want to do even more! Thank you for the opportunity to serve them every day. I have the BEST job!!!!

With gratitude and appreciation! Christine

 

COVID-19 Cancels Bingo

DBB Canx2With a saddened spirit GRACE CEO Shonda Schaefer announced the cancellation of the Designer Bags & Bingo event at last night’s meeting of the Board of Directors.

“We are crushed by this decision,” she said. “Our volunteers have worked so hard to make this a premier fundraising event for our Transitional Housing program. The events of this past week made it very clear we cannot hold the event and keep everyone safe.”

Shonda cited increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations, a pause in the phased opening of businesses, and masking and spacing mandates as some of the many factors in the decision.

Designers Bags & Bingo (DBB) was originally planned for Thursday, April 23. The rescheduled date was Thursday, July 16. A sell-out gathering of more than 300 guests was expected.

The dealership managers at Park Place Jaguar Land Rover DFW in Grapevine reworked their schedule to accommodate DBB in their showroom. Ted Bilsky at Scratch Kitchen had cleared his calendar to serve an overflow crowd that evening.

“It’s ironic. Just a few months ago we visited Park Place in hopes of finding more space for our guests,” said Lara Hohweiler, GRACE Director of Community Engagement. “Last week we returned to measure distancing restrictions, reduce seating, and cut our guest list by half.”

This past week, Lara and Christina Cates, GRACE Special Events Manager, sent a survey to guests asking for input on the Go/No Go Decision. The returns were nearly unanimous. Concerns about coronavirus exposure, large gatherings, masking requirements, and other elements were universal.

“We are so sorry for the inconvenience this has caused,” said Shonda. “Our volunteers and staff are regrouping and setting plans for Spring 2021. Next year, with the pandemic behind us, Designer Bags and Bingo will offer a wonderful way to celebrate.”

Many guests indicated a desire to convert their admission costs into an outright donation to support the GRACE Transitional Housing program. Shonda has directed staff to personally call all donors, sponsors, guests and volunteers within the next week to confirm.

For information, contact CiCi Cates, GRACE Special Events Manager, at 817-305-4672.

Please Mask at GRACEful Buys

Masks Required
GRACE resale shopping centers in Grapevine and Euless are open and operating at the capacities approved by state authorities. Public areas are being hygienically cleaned throughout the day. Point of sale counters and credit card readers are being wiped frequently with disinfectant wipes.

All precautions are being taken to ensure a pleasant and safe shopping experience. We ask one thing: “For the safety of our customers, staff, and community, we ask all shoppers to wear protective masks while shopping in our stores,” said Jennifer Rawles, GRACE Director of Resale.

Since opening on May 1, all staff members have been masking, observing spacing limits, and following strict hand washing and cleanliness guidelines. While many shoppers also mask, recent mandates have confirmed the need to take it one step further. When all people in an enclosed area are masked the exposure risk is reduced by up to 98.5%.

Children age 2 and up are also asked to wear masks. Face coverings may include homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, or a handkerchief. Hand sanitizer is provided for all shoppers. Distancing measures are taped on the floors and fitting rooms are closed at this time.

Capacity has been capped at both locations based on available shopping space. If capacity is met, we will ask you to wait in your car or at a safe distance until we can serve you.

While mandates do not require masking in outdoor spaces, shoppers in the GRACEful Buys Grapevine Backlot area are encouraged to keep their mask on, especially when within 6 feet of other shoppers or staff.

GRACEful Buys Grapevine is located at 418 East Northwest Highway in Grapevine. GRACEful Buys Euless, 700 West Euless Boulevard.

For more information, contact Jennifer Rawles at 817-305-4470.

 

Introducing Gala Auction Chairs: Kayanne and Matt Forney

Forney's
Kayanne and Matt Forney will lead the GRACE Gala Auction activities for the 2020 campaign.

Kayanne and Matt Forney officially took the reins of the 2020 Gala Auction at last week’s Planning Session. Gala Chairs Tina and Vic DeVincenzo introduced the Southlake couple to the Gala Committee.

“Only a strong and enthusiastic team can take on an event the magnitude of the GRACE Gala,” said GRACE CEO Shonda Schaefer in her welcome to the Forney’s. “From sponsorships, to auction, to raffle—every part needs to be in place and running at peak efficiency. And that’s all before a single centerpiece is placed on the tables!”

The Forney’s will lead a large team that acquires in-kind gifts, unique experiences, travel opportunities, and other donations from local, national and international contacts. These gifts will be on sale in the Silent, Big Board, and Live Auctions during the night of the Gala, Saturday, November 7.

“We are honored to be serving GRACE,” said Kayanne. “We are so impressed by the volunteers and staff who work so hard to make [the GRACE Gala] a success.”

In addition to guiding the auction volunteers, the Forney’s bring to GRACE a deep portfolio of relationships they have forged in numerous volunteer and professional capacities.

Kayanne has dedicated much of her life in volunteer service including working with the Young Men’s Service League with her four sons. She has served with Moms In Prayer and the AWANAS group.

Kayanne led the Fair Oaks Ranch Elementary PTO as president when she established the annual Cowboy Breakfast and Carnival, the largest fundraiser for the San Antonio-area school.

Matt has coached many of his sons’ youth sports teams and taught Sunday school class with Kayanne for several years. Kayanne jokes it was probably the only preschool class that involved a professional PowerPoint presentation.

“Matt led them as he would any other organizational team,” said Kayanne. “Somehow they seemed to respond to it!”

Now in its seventeenth year, the 2020 GRACE Gala is the most important one yet. Funds raised will provide relief to families struggling to get back on their feet from the furloughs, layoffs, health concerns, and economic collapse brought on by COVID-19.

“Now more than ever GRACE’s services are needed,” said Kayanne. “We pray that, despite these unprecedented times, this year’s Gala will be a tremendous success and enable GRACE to continue its service.”

To be a part of the Gala Auction, or other Gala activities, please contact GRACE Special Events Manager Christina Cates at 817-305-4672, or GRACE Community Engagement Director Lara Hohweiler at 817-305-4653.

What Will Happen When School Starts?

School MasksCEO’s Corner
with
Shonda Schaefer

“What will happen when school starts?” That is the question I am fielding most often these days.

Traditionally, GRACE has worked with various community partners, companies, and individuals to make sure that ALL kids have the necessary tools they require to get off to a strong start in the fall. We provide backpacks, school supplies, clothing, and other essentials of “Back to School”. The reality is that 25% of the district’s 13,000 students are on Free/Reduced Lunch programs and families are faced with making decisions between basic needs and crayons. To that end, GRACE is dedicated to supporting these families.

However, the current state of our world has put educators into a tailspin. What will school look like? Can we return to the traditional classroom? Will children and educators be protected and safe? What would a virtual learning environment look like? These are difficult questions, and quite frankly, left to those much more qualified than me!

At the same time, delaying preparations for much-needed supplies would mean that we, here at GRACE, would be unable to provide even the most basic needs come fall. So, to that end, we are doing what we can right now to be prepared for whatever support our families require.

Rather than the traditional supply drives, GRACE is launching a Gift Card Drive. By collecting Walmart, Target, and Amazon gift cards in increments of $25, $50, and $100, we feel we can be flexible and responsive to the needs of our clients. These cards may be used to purchase crayons, paper, and backpacks…or masks, sanitizer, and gloves…or earbuds, flash drives, and other technology. Whatever reality we are living in come fall, GRACE will continue to be there to provide the best learning environment possible.

So in answer to the question, “What will happen when school starts?”, we say, “Whatever the environment, GRACE will be here. Ready, willing, flexible, and committed to helping families be successful!”

For those interested in helping these young children prepare for school, as well as other valuable supportive programming, we recommend e-gift cards to Walmart, Target, Amazon sent to: kids@gracegrapevine.org.

If you would like to host a donation drive (virtually or otherwise), please contact Mark Woolverton, GRACE Chief Development Officer, at 972-743-8556, or CiCi Cates, GRACE Special Events Manager, at 817-305-4672.

 

Five Star Subaru at Feed Our Kids

Subaru Table
Dee Boyett (center) and other staff members from Sam Pack’s Five Star Subaru of Grapevine served children today from the neighborhoods surrounding the Community Outreach Center on Mustang Drive in Grapevine.

Sam Pack’s Five Star Subaru of Grapevine pulled out all the stops today, Friday, June 19, at the Community Outreach Center Feed Our Kids site.

Nearly 200 youngsters from the neighborhoods surrounding the Outreach Center enjoyed packaged meals and a visit from the Tikiz ice cream truck.

Feed Our Kids wrapped up its third week by posting some of its largest numbers served to-date. Thursday, nearly 630 children were served at six locations around the city. Today’s number is expected to top that.

Next week, volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have reserved two sites for the entire week. The same volunteers will return to those sites, 121 Church and the Outreach Center, for the final week of the program, August 10-14.

Many thanks to all of the Feed Our Kids volunteers for making this summer a great experience for so many children.

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