37, 568 Smiles

Last Friday marked the last day of Feed Our Kids, a program that has provided lunches to at-risk children each summer for over a decade.

Like all our seasonal programs, their success rests solely on the dedication of volunteers and donors of this community. This year the community rallied around our neighborhoods to serve 37,568 meals to children in areas where they are most vulnerable to hunger.

To put it visually, if we lined 37,568 lunch sacks from Bob’s Steak & Chop House on Main Street in Grapevine, we would have enough to line both sides of Main Street all the way to Donation Station, and we would still have enough sack lunches to feed 390 children!

On any given weekday, as many as 856 meals were served by volunteers, which mean 856 well-fed children and 856 smiling faces. A variety of summertime fare was provided courtesy of local restaurants, including Which Wich Sandwiches, Chick-fil-a, Bottle Cap Alley and Wise Guys Pizza, who generously gave their resources to meet the community’s needs.

Feed Our Kids might have reached completion, but our work to serve children is never over. Believe it or not, plans are already under way for Christmas Cottage, our next seasonal program that allows parents to select new, unwrapped gifts in a festive, store like setting. On average Christmas Cottage provides holiday gifts for over 1,600 children each year.

Christmas Cottage is an obvious favorite for many local groups and individuals, and this year will require “elves” with every skill to help us transform a bare warehouse into a winter wonderland.

Throughout the year new toys are generously donated to ensure every child in the community has a magical holiday season. Gift cards, dolls, toy trucks and family gifts are needed every year, with a year-specific list to come out this October.

The holiday trend forecast this year is for Minions, and new bicycles are always a classic way to bring excitement to a child who might not be accustomed to getting new toys. We will keep you updated on needs. If you or your group is interested in volunteering for Christmas Cottage, contact me at

Thanks to the following groups and friends who offered 37,568 smiles in Feed Our Kids 2015:

Young Men’s Service League, National Charity League Southlake, National Charity League DFW Metroport, Southlake and Colleyville LDS, First United Methodist Church Grapevine, Compass Church, First Presbyterian Grapevine, Rachael Koch and Friends, Tracy Kettler and Friends, City of Grapevine, D Dallas Airomotive, GCISD, Kids Matters, Kohl’s, Covenant Church, Crown of Life, Robin Austin and Friends, First Baptist Southlake, Embassy Suites in Grapevine, Home Depot, Frost Bank, First Baptist Grapevine, Allison Wendler and Friends, American Airlines, Sabre, Church of the Cross, Abiding Grace Lutheran, Randy White and Friends, State Farm, Gina McPhail and Friends, Susan Larabee and Friends, First United Methodist Colleyville, SOSA, Girl Scouts, Horrace Mann, Lions Club, Box Insurance, Sound Physicians, Lonesome Dove Church, Kim Dillion and Friends, Altrusa, Good Shepherd, Countryside Bible, Jennifer Clark and Friends, CHHS Cheer Team, Robin Carson, D’ray Rice, Southlake Women’s Club, Kerrie Russell, Sheri Mills, Missy Hill, Kim Bell

By: Lori Stevens, GRACE Seasonal Manager


Last night GRACE Board President John Elieson presented Food Pantry Manager Rusty Thigpen with the President’s Award, GRACE’s most distinguished award honoring one individual who exhibits excellence in his or her field.

Rusty Thigpen has been a part of the GRACE family for fourteen of the twenty years he has called this community home. Rusty’s vision, work ethic and relational approach with volunteers, donors and staff set the standard for GRACE.

Rusty works hard to secure, sort and display food to feed an average of 400 families per month.  He also coordinates volunteers, food drives, and distribution of holiday food baskets for nearly 500 families for Thanksgiving and again for Christmas.

Not only does Rusty organize and schedule all volunteers in every aspect of the Food Pantry, he offers an opportunity to Grapevine residents to give back to their community. Rusty consistently adds new volunteers, and finds ways to utilize a wide variety of talents among groups and individuals wanting to serve at GRACE. His integrity has also earned the loyalty of his volunteers, many of whom have worked alongside him his entire tenure at GRACE.

Rusty is a man of great character and is respected throughout Grapevine and its surrounding communities.  It is hard to go anywhere with Rusty where someone doesn’t know him. As the coordinator for over 150 donations each month, Rusty is often the face of GRACE, personally thanking organizations and individuals for making sure no families in the community experience hunger.

Providing food for families at risk for hunger addresses a core need in our community, and we can’t imagine anyone more worthy of the responsibility. We admire Rusty for his kindness, vigor and humor, and could think of no one better to restore dignity, worth and hope to families in need. Congratulations, Rusty!

Read more about Rusty’s work from an article written earlier this year, “Rusty Made Headlines”.


It is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge the recent passing of C. Shane Wilbanks, who passed away quietly in his home Friday, August 21 on the 51st anniversary of his wedding to his beautiful bride, Paula. To the community at large he was Mayor Pro-tem, Community Leader, former GRACE Board Member, philanthropist, and servant, and played an instrumental role in virtually every civic capacity for forty years. But to me, he was my dear friend and mentor.

In my many talks with Shane, he always had an equal measure of insight and tenderness. One distinct memory in particular reminds me of his character. Years ago, Shane and I were sipping coffee at Main Street Bakery discussing the programs and future of GRACE and the families served.  He began to share with me some of his personal interactions as a GRACE volunteer, and the deep respect he had for the clients he had met.  As Shane reflected on the community he loved, a tear came to his eye. He told me of the many blessings he had been provided: his wife, his children and this community.  And he acknowledged the responsibility that comes with so many blessings.

Shane shared with me his sincere desire to instill generosity in his children. He laughed when he told me about how each of his children had begun to try to “outdo” the other with lavish birthday gifts for their dad.  So, Shane sat them down and told each of them what he really wanted. Shane wanted his children to privately serve someone in a meaningful, creative way and write it on his birthday card…. and nothing more.  He told me of the stories each of his children had written in those cherished cards, and how he kept each of them as personal treasures.  The pride he felt for his children and the work they have done for others, welled up in his chest. For a successful leader and businessman, these humble offerings were a priceless gift.  This was the type of man Shane Wilbanks was.

Although I feel a profound loss with his passing, I believe we will honor Shane if we live as he lived, to “act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.”

In His Name,

Shonda's signature

Shonda Schaefer, GRACE Executive Director


We are grateful to have the support of CA Technologies as the Official Feature Sponsor of the wine and spirits for the upcoming GRACE Gala.

As one of the largest independent software companies in the world, CA is a pioneer among the Cloud computing environment. CA was among the first mainframe architects that continue to change the way we utilize applications in business relations and everyday life.

The support of CA and corporate partners like them underwrite some of the most enjoyable aspects of the Gala, including world class cuisine and impeccable wine pairing, which is hand-selected by wine sommeliers.

The dinner, courtesy of Feature Sponsor Alsbridge, is comprised of delectable dishes you can’t find at any restaurant. Creative harmonies like “smokey orange vinaigrette” and “prosciutto cups adorned in fig” are stunning to look at, delightful to eat and heavenly when paired with the perfect Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Patrons will receive two beverage cards courtesy of CA, and enjoy a cocktail hour for guests to mingle and bid on coveted auction items. As enticing as these elements of the evening are, the true benefit is being a foundational supporter of programs that advance the GRACE mission for a healthier, stronger community.

As GRACE’s largest fund raising event of the year proceeds from the Gala allow GRACE to give hope to families facing crisis. A special thanks to CA for their support!

The 2015 GRACE Gala will take place on Saturday, October 10 at the Irving Convention Center. Sponsorships range from $1,500 to $15,000. Individual tickets are $300, and a table of ten is $2,750. Auction item sponsorships are also available.

For details how your business can be showcased at the GRACE Gala as an event or auction sponsor, visit


Fall is the season that reminds us of our abundant blessings, and few things are more tangible and rewarding than gathering the harvest and cultivating new growth at the Community Gardens.

GRACE is recruiting volunteers on Saturday, September 5 for our Early Fall Planting Day at 8:00 a.m. Volunteers of all ages are needed to prune spent crops, cultivate compost and make room for new growth. Volunteers will also be planting winter squash and mulching fruit trees.

Volunteering at the Community Gardens is a feasible, rewarding way to provide wholesome nourishment for families in need. Projects at the Community Gardens are ideal for families, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, employees and church community groups.

RSVP to the September 5 planting day here.

Fun Fact: Since its cultivation over 5 years ago, the GRACE Community Gardens has gathered an average of 3,000 pounds of fresh produce each year!


If there ever was a perfect way to embody the spirit of GRACE in the community, it’s through the pure heartedness of our young citizens who look for ways to help struggling families.

Also, if you’re looking to support GRACE and enjoy some sweet summer treats all at once, you might want to scout your neighborhood for some benevolent young vendors. Quinnly and Cameron are two of several children who braved the heat this summer to sell baked goods and fresh lemonade to give 100% back to their community.

“Anna” and “Elsa” made a special appearance for Quinnly and Cameron’s lemonade stand, and graciously gave photo opportunities, donuts and lemonade for a donation to GRACE. The lively duo raised $80 to provide school supplies to young families in need.

Reagan, Audrey, Elizabeth and Erica took an ambitions route; half sold lemonade, and the other half sold cupcakes. Their mothers said that after the fire at Donation Station in February, their daughters collaborated to find a feasible way to give back. The friend team gave over $80.

We can’t go without mentioning the studious brothers, Colton and Cade, who last month donated the $70 they made from their lemonade stand on Main Street in Grapevine.  The pair is part of Cub Scout pack 1225.

Since yesterday was National Lemonade Day, their gifts couldn’t be more appropriate. Timelier still is the pressing need to restore hope to struggling families through gestures great and small.

For all the glasses of lemonade and boxes of sweet treats, thanks for reminding us that immense love often comes in small packages (and Disney costumes)!


Check below for the latest group projects at GRACE!

Pictured this week:

  • National Charity League DFW Metroport help at the GRACE Grocery Giveaway
  • Our friends at ARI help haul heavy equipment
  • Echo in Grapevine hosts a meal for Feed Our Kids near the GRACE Food Pantry
  • A group of friends from various congregations enjoy their second year as hosts for Feed Our Kids.
  • Elizabeth, Audrey, Erica and Reagan pose with their $70 lemonade stand and cupcake stand revenue. 100% was donated back to help GRACE families!
  • Quinnly and Cameron become “Anna” and “Elsa” to sell “Frozen” lemonade for GRACE! The duo gathered $80 to help with school supplies for GRACE families!

Like us on Facebook for the latest news and pictures!

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We welcomed Social Services intern’s Haley Borland and Roxana Reid this spring, and we are delighted that Alysa Franks has accepted the role the GRACE Development and Marketing intern in 2015.

Alysa will play a supportive role in promoting the Gala and assisting with interactive social media platforms the night of the event. She will also shadow multiple roles within the Development Department to enrich her understanding of marketing, design, press relations and community engagement.

It is Alysa’s hope that a broader understanding of the non-profit sector will play a directive role in choosing a career that gives back to her community in a meaningful way. Alysa has already utilized her talent by writing a fantastic interview piece with Grapevine Craft Brewery owner Gary Humble following the great success of his matching fund campaign to GRACE.

“GRACE has such a profound impact on Grapevine and surrounding communities,” notes Alysa, “It is truly inspiring to see the employees and volunteers at GRACE strive to improve lives every single day. I’m humbled to be here and contribute to this amazing organization.”

Let us further introduce Ms. Franks in her own words:

  • What do you find most rewarding?Making someone else’s day. It’s music to my ears to hear the phrase “you made my day.” Kindness is contagious, so we should spread it like wildfire!
  • What is your area of expertise? I love to write. I had a teacher in fourth grade that instilled a passion for writing in my brain and it stuck. For the past three years I’ve been studying journalism, and I’ve expanded my knowledge of public relations writing as well as newswriting.
  • Who is your inspiration? My parents. I’m so incredibly blessed by their unending support, and a lot of my drive stems from their encouragement. They inspire me to make the most out of my life, and to be the best person I can be on a day-to-day basis.
  • What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done? A couple years ago during spring break my best friends and I decided last minute to take a road trip all the way to Destin, Florida. Those 30 hours we spent driving there and back were definitely worth all the memories made.
  • Lastly, who do people say is your celebrity look-alike? I’m not sure I see it as much as other people do, but the one I get most is Miranda Lambert. We both have a round shaped face and blonde hair. I think she’s awesome, so I always take it as a compliment when someone mentions it. On another note, my baby pictures look strangely identical to Michelle Tanner from Full House…no kidding, I could’ve been Mary-Kate and Ashley’s triplet.

Alysa expects to graduate in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications from University of North Texas, and has already exceled in her projects. Welcome to the GRACE family!


GRACE is pleased to have the loyal support of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as the exclusive Reception Sponsor for the GRACE Gala. PwC spans across the continents as the second largest professional services network worldwide.

The Fortune 500 Company has ranked among the “Best Companies to Work For” for a decade. PwC is also heralded for their dedication to working mothers this past decade, which has earned them multiple awards for their dedication to working women, particularly when it comes to adoption. The Dave Thomas Adoption Foundation ranked PwC among the “Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces” and was also named one of the “Top Ten Companies for Multicultural Woman” by Working Mother’s publications.

It is fitting that such a well-renowned corporation as PWC is the inaugural Reception Sponsor for the GRACE Gala as reception is the gateway for individuals to become directly involved in making their community a better place for those in need by stabilizing families and guiding them toward self-sufficiency.

PWC’s mantra of “building relationships, creating value” is seen clearly through the Gala as relationships are forged and the community comes together for one night to rally around the common goal of offering hope and life-changing aid to individuals and families who need it most.

As GRACE’s largest fund raising event of the year, the revenue from the Gala provides foundational support to further the GRACE mission. The 2015 GRACE Gala will take place on Saturday, October 10 at the Irving Convention Center. Sponsorships range from $1,500 to $15,000. Individual tickets are $300, and a table of ten is $2,750. Auction item sponsorships are also available.

For details how your business can be showcased at the GRACE Gala as an event or auction sponsor, visit

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