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Save The Date For GRACE Gala 2019

 

We are excited to announce the official date has been chosen and reserved for our Annual GRACE Gala.  So save the date on your calendar for our 2019 Gala on Saturday, October 26th! More details to unfold in the coming months!

GRACE Gets A Little Silly Ringing In 2019

 

Last week the GRACE Staff, family, friends, and Board Members gathered together to celebrate the beginning of a new year and let loose after a busy and productive holiday and year-end season.

It wouldn’t be a GRACE party without a Chef Ted Bilski’s Scratch Kitchen delectables, some friendly competition in a GRACE-themed Jeopardy showdown, a little Photoboth goofing around, and spirited fellowship and fun with our GRACE Team. Oh, and the cherry on top — chair massages for all!

 

Our CEO taking full advantage of the “party favors” compliments of Garry Commiato of Garry’s Relaxing Touch Massage Therapy. A much-needed perk!

 

Scratch Kitchen provided their signature Teddy Cakes, Crown Royal bacon wrapped shrimp, stuffed mushrooms, BBQ sliders, and our favorite Cowboy Cookies among other treats. A few adult beverages were enjoyed as well.

At GRACE, we see our individual roles as more of a calling rather than just a job, and our teams work tirelessly throughout the year. Our New Year’s celebration was a fun opportunity to enjoy some downtime together and get a little silly (or a lot silly – see pics for proof).

Check out all of the photo booth fun provided by Bryan Kennedy of Hollywood Photo Booth here.

An enormous thank you to Melissa Simpkins for planning and setting it up for us all to enjoy. It’s a lot of work, and those of us who attended appreciate your hard work and the fun evening. It was a wonderful way to celebrate a blessed 2018 and kick-off 2019!

Wishing and praying many joys to come to you in this new year!

 

 

Spotlight On Our Grantwriter Lora Atkinson

 

We are excited to shine the spotlight on Lora Blakeslee Atkinson, our Grantwriter here at GRACE.  Lora joined the GRACE team last year, bringing with her over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit realm.

Her career has been dedicated to the support and hope that nonprofits provide the community.  She joined GRACE in March 2018 as the Development Manager – Grants.  Lora earned her masters degree in nonprofit management from Regis University.  Prior to joining GRACE she held leadership positions with Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) – Mental Health Partners, Blue Sky Bridge, and Boulder County Rape Crisis Team, later MESA.

Her most favorite things so far about working with GRACE have been the privilege of helping support an incredible mission and truly feeling the passion and love that thrives within our volunteers and the individuals that make up our staff.

GRACE is so very thankful and proud to have her on our Development Team!

Pictured above at our GRACE Christmas Cottage Open House with Santa are (from back left) Melissa Simpkins, Director of Administration & Executive Asst. to the CEO; Shonda Schaefer, CEO; Melissa Maraki, Special Events Manager; Lori Stevens, Seasonal Programs Coordinator; Sara Armand, Development and Volunteer Coordinator; Lora Atkinson, Grantwriter; Mark Woolverton, Chief Development Officer; and (front left) Lara Hohweiler, Director of Community Engagement.

RED ALERT: GRACE Clients In Desperate Need Of Financial Support During Government Shutdown

Dear GRACE Family,

I am sending this Red Letter Alert asking for your help with the newly created GRACE Federal Employee Assistance Fund.

Because of the government shutdown, GRACE Emergency Services are in extremely high demand specifically for government employees who have not received paychecks or other funds. GRACE has been getting visits, calls and questions from distressed federal workers, wondering how they will manage to pay rent, pay utility bills, even feed their families during the longest shutdown in U.S. history.  The needs of this population are significant at this point in time and there seems to be no end in sight.

Believe me, we are scrambling right now to set aside funds specific for these families and individuals. I ask that you keep in mind the unique circumstances of this crisis, and that these are the exact situations where GRACE steps in to fill the gap where needs might otherwise not be met. Those affected are our neighbors and family members, who are hardworking, make a decent living, and are at their financial thresholds as they have not received paychecks for two weeks and counting. These families are people with mortgages and other costly living expenses.  Because their “income” exceeds most poverty guidelines, they will automatically be disqualified for assistance from other agencies and assistance programs – but NOT here at GRACE!

As a dear friend of GRACE, we know you are aware of our long history of stepping in and assisting families in crisis. We appreciate your past and continued support, and wish to emphasize the dire effects the government shutdown is having on your community. Without your help, our commitment to address these needs while continuing to provide our everyday services, will cause a drain on our funds.

Your support in insuring these families’ needs are met is needed now, more than ever. It is difficult to foresee the long-term effects this shutdown will have, but the time to act is now.

Donations can be made to the GRACE Federal Employee Assistance Fund by clicking here.  If making a financial contribution is not an option for you, I ask that you consider including this at-risk community in your family prayers.  Join me as we continue to pray for the leaders of our country, and a speedy end to this difficult period.

I am available to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to call me at (817) 305-4650, or email me at sschaefer@gracegrapevine.org.

Thank you in advance for all you do!

In His Service,
   
Shonda Schaefer
GRACE CEO

 

GRACE Community Garden Day January 19th

 

While the plant experts at the Grapevine Gardening Club concede that money doesn’t grow on trees, club members proved they know how to raise more than fruits and vegetables. Their Community Garden collection has taken place every year for the last 29 years! Proceeds nourish hundreds of families this year by supporting our garden initative and continuing GRACE programs.

Saturday, January 19th, we would be delighted to have your help out at the GRACE Community Garden.  We will begin primping and prepping at noon.  You may click here to sign-up!

Manure and Till Major Prep Day.  Final harvest of garlic, cabbage. Spread manure, blood meal and bone meal on all beds, work into beds. Fruit trees: prune dead or crossing branches, spray more dormant oil if needed. Repair damaged planter boxes.  Stake leaning tree. 12:00 noon till done.

 


The mission of the GRACE Community Garden is to cultivate a healthy community by building collaborations and providing organically grown produce to those in need.

Garden workdays are rewarding, feasible opportunities to help local families in a tangible way. Having access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a game changer for families, for whom fruits are a rare luxury and nutrition is key.

The GRACE Community Garden provides an average of 1,800 pounds of fresh, organic produce each year to nourish families in need. Be a part of what the Community Garden is yielding for families in need by joining us.

Most of the organically grown produce from the garden is donated to the GRACE Pantry.  If you would like to be on our garden e-mail list, please e-mail Alison Shumaker.

For volunteer opportunities or information on adopting a raised garden plot, please email Volunteer@GRACEGrapevine.org.

2019 Planting/Tending Schedule

Saturday, January 19 Manure and Till, MAJOR PREP DATE.  Final harvest of garlic, cabbage. Spread manure, blood meal and bone meal on all beds, work into beds. Fruit trees: prune dead or crossing branches, spray more dormant oil if needed. Repair damaged planter boxes.  Stake leaning tree. 12:00 noon till done.

Saturday, February 2 Early Spring Planting, MAJOR PLANT DATE.  Plant carrots, garlic, onion sets, potato sets, cabbage (plants), cilantro, parsley. 12:00 noon till done.

Saturday, March 16 Mid Spring Planting, MAJOR PLANT DATE.  Plant squash, melons, tomatoes and peppers (transplants) and interplant borage, garlic, marigolds and nasturtiums to ward off pests. Fruit trees: use fertilizer sticks.  Cage tomatoes and peppers as soon as planted. Weed and mulch crops planted on 2-3  Mulch walkways. 9:00 am til done.

Saturday, April 6 Spring Tending and Planting. Plant cucumbers, and replant where needed.  Weed and mulch generally, and around our newly established tomatoes, squashes and peppers, as well as replenish mulch in our walkways. Seed marigolds where missing. 9:00 am till done.

Saturday, May 11 Late Spring Planting and Tending.  Plant sweet potatoes, tomatillos, Weed and mulch as needed. Turn compost piles to aerate, water them. 9:00 am til done.

Saturday, June 2 Early Summer Planting,.  Plant tomatillos, succession tomatoes, cage them, plant succession watermelon, cucumber and cantaloupe. Turn compost piles to aerate, water the piles, add leaves.  Weed and mulch generally. 8:00 am till done.

Saturday, July 20 Tomato Pruning, . Gather tomato fruits.  Prune back vines planted on 3-16 to promote second growth of new stems and blossoms for fall production. Weed and mulch generally. 8:00 am till done.

Saturday, August 17 Last Summer Tending.   Plant winter squash. Weed and mulch generally; turn compost piles, water them. 8:00 am till done.

Saturday, September 7 Early Fall Tending. Remove spent crops, apply manure and/or finished compost. Replant where needed. Weed and mulch generally. 8:00 am till done.

Saturday, October 5 Late Fall Planting.  Plant cabbage transplants. Turn compost bins, add leaves.  Weed and mulch generally. 9:00 am ‘til done.

December: Bring bags of leaves to use as compost and mulch. Place along fence line.

 

Every Week, Gathering, TendingThursdays, some Saturdays. Gather ripe produce, do spot weeding. Also, spent produce, leaves and other organic materials must be added to compost piles. Turn compost piles to aerate and water the piles. Spot water crops if needed. Schedule with Becca Clarke, 817-454-0731.

 

Ongoing Community Garden Needs:

  • Volunteer on scheduled work days – garden clean up/planting
  • Monetary donations (see below for information)
  • Donation of seeds and plants for planting days

Make a monetary donation. Please mention GRACE garden in memo.

garden.JPGGarden Club representatives present: Dinah Chancellor, Ella Barber, Candace Kyler and Robin Pond

It’s Time To Ante Up For The GRACE Poker Tournament

For the first time ever, GRACE is hosting a Charity Poker Tournament.

Southlake poker celebrity Bryan Campanello – a WSOP Circuit Main Event Champion with over $1,000,000 in winnings – will be in attendance.

Campanello will start things off with a brief overview explaining the ways in which professionals play differently than friends.

Only a limited number of players can buy into this tournament for $1,000, and, as of this week, there are only a few seats left.  Each player is welcome to bring their favorite “good luck charm” person with them to cheer them on!  Spectators are welcome to join in the evening’s fun at $100 per ticket.

The poker tournament will be held on the evening of January 19th at The Marq in Southlake.  Classic Wine Storage of Southlake will be serving collector-level wines for the evening.  A delectable “High Roller Meal” will be provided by Scratch Kitchen. There will also be a complementary full bar.

The Grand Prize Package includes a 3 day, 2 night stay at the luxurious Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas provided by Shannon O’Brien, travel by American Airlines, and bragging rights as the first-ever GRACE Poker Tournament winner!

Please contact Melissa Maraki at 817-305-4672 as soon as possible if you are interested in joining the tournament.

How GRACE Saved Christmas

 

We call it the most wonderful time of the year.  The enchantment of twinkling lights and decorations, mouthwatering meals and delectable treats, children filled with excitement as they awaken Christmas morning to presents under the tree as families and friends gather together to share cherished moments.

But the happiest time of the year can just as easily become a season of anguish and heartache.  The dread of Christmas Day arriving without gifts, without a special meal, and the absence of loved ones who are now part of Christmas memories past can be overwhelming to bear.  Putting up the tree is too painful a task.  Can Christmas be cancelled?  Can we sneak by treating it as any other day?

Most anyone would agree that this season cannot pass by unacknowledged.  Even during the most difficult year and trying circumstances, some semblance of joy and festivity must be mustered.  We owe it to our families.  We owe it to the miracle that Christmas represents.

Brandy Webb, a Grapevine native and client of GRACE, found herself seemingly trapped in this exact situation.  “We as a family unit have struggled beyond words this past year with the passing of 2 very dear leaders of our family and huge strains on our financial status.  There were many days where some of us found it hard to keep going, but we did.”

2018 brought the Leone Webb family what felt like unending struggle.  Brandy’s family moved back to her hometown of Grapevine to assist with ill family members only to encounter a steep road of challenges ahead.  Her grandfather’s health required that he be placed in a senior living care facility.  Their two bedroom apartment became home to Brandy, her husband, their daughter and her two children, and their nine year old son who faces his own daily difficulties with Asperger Syndrome and ADHD.

The family vehicle gave out, and Brandy’s husband was forced to ride a bicycle to work until they were able to purchase a vehicle that has required more expense to maintain than the amount it initially cost.  Not to mention her husband works nonstop.

Then June brought the passing of her dear grandfather followed shortly in August with the loss of her aunt to pancreatic cancer.  Brandy found herself unable to work due to the immense wave of grief causing severe anxiety and depression.  Circumstances made it impossible to afford diapers, bills, even food for their family.

A friend suggested that she reach out to GRACE for assistance, but she felt unable and overwhelmed to ask for help, much less speak with anyone about the family’s discouraging situation.  Yet she conceded, and found from the very moment she stepped in our door and was greeted by Vicki, our Intake Coordinator, she was met with nothing but love, care and generosity.

Brandy tells of becoming overwhelmed with gratitude instead of the shame she feared, crying on many supportive shoulders, and feeling comfort through the kindness and prayers she received.  From Vicki’s beaming smile at the front door to our compassionate casewokers to every other passionate member of our staff, and each and every donor and volunteer who contribute their time and resources which keep the GRACE mission thriving, the Leone Webb family is thankful from the bottom of their hearts.

“We would not have had a Thanksgiving or a Christmas this year if it were not for GRACE,” she explains.  Seeing her son, grandchildren, and daughter’s smiles as they awoke Christmas morning to wrapped presents and the many other blessings provided confirmed there is joy to be found amidst the deepest struggles.  She is so very grateful for GRACE and, in particular, GRACEful Buys for making it possible to create a home for their family.

“GRACEful Buys is a godsend.  We didn’t have anything, and they helped and changed everything.  GRACE has been a life saver for our family this past year.  So thank you to each and everyone of you. And also I must not forget all the amazing people that donate to this incredible organization.  GRACE makes a difference in the lives of their clients.  I know because I am a client.  Thank you to every last soul that has made Christmas possible for our family.”

We would like to thank you, Brandy, for entrusting GRACE and sharing your story which will provide hope and encouragement for so many others.

 


Brandy Webb made a promise to her late aunt to adorn her Christmas tree with purple each year until a cure for pancreatic cancer is found.  The beautiful family tree is pictured above surrounded by gifts made possible by the GRACE Christmas Cottage.


 

VITA Free Tax Preparation Services

 

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance provided through a partnership between United Way, the City of Ft. Worth and GRACE is excited to offer 100% free-of-charge tax preparation services to families who earn less than $56,000 annually.

This program puts hard earned dollars back into the hands of the individuals who earned them.  Not only have these services rendered better tax benefit returns in past years, but our volunteers are also here to help with long-term financial planning, advising and education.

VITA tax preparers are trained to catch details that are easily and frequently missed by other tax preparation offices that charge high fees for their services.  For many families, tax returns are the one time in the year they have cash to cover bills, debts, and other expenses, and making the most of these returns is vital to ongoing self-sufficiency.

Paying a high cost for returns or a portion of the tax return to walk away with the cash that day is steeling that money right out of the hard-working individual’s hands!  We are talking about a difference of hundreds and in many cases thousands! This free resource is too valuable to not take advantage of this tax season.

Last year, a total of $352,045 was returned to more than 200 families who came to GRACE to file their income tax returns for free. Families who came to GRACE averaged an additional $2,000 in Earned Income Tax Credit that might have otherwise been missed by other paid tax return preparers.

For those on limited budgets or fixed incomes, a well-earned return from the Internal Revenue Service has a significant budget impact, and creates a ripple effect that is far reaching, including the intangible support given during tax season for financial stewardship awareness, job coaching, and continued education resources to increase each family’s earning potential.

“The value of this service could not be overstated,” said Stacy Pacholick , GRACE director of programs. “Not only are refunds rightfully given back to the people who paid them, the teachable moments are boundless.”

If you are interested in taking advantage of the VITA program, volunteers will be at GRACE Main Offices, 837 E. Walnut St. in Grapevine, beginning January 28, every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Fridays, 2 – 7 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. through April 17.

Please bring valid photo identification, a Social Security card or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) for all family members, all W-2 forms, a copy of the 2018 tax return, if possible, and 1099 forms, cash income amount & work expenses, 1095 Health coverage form, and direct deposit information. If filing jointly, both spouses must be present.

The United Way of Tarrant County has twelve other VITA Locations available. VITA offers tax filers the opportunity to drop off tax information. Returns are processed within three days.

The key to the massive outpouring of support for this program is centered in the volunteers who provide the service. Hundreds of tax preparers, intake specialists and interpreters will be working through the April 17 filing deadline to assure all who qualify can take advantage of VITA services.

If you are passionate about helping families overcome hardship through financial education, VITA – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – is still in need of tax help volunteers. No prior qualification is required to be a VITA volunteer. Volunteers will not be liable for accounting errors, and a staff person will be present at all times.

Tax Preparers will assist families with simple tax returns. Intake Specialists are needed to greet families, ensure they have the necessary documents, and explain the VITA packet. Intake Specialists will attend a one-hour training session. Interpreters are also needed.

GRACE is holding training for VITA tax preparers on Saturday, January 19. Anyone who is interested in giving their time and efforts to assist may contact our Chief Program Officer, Stacy Pacholick, at SPacholick@GRACEGrapevine.org or (817) 305-4636 for more information.

Again, please contact our Chief Program Officer, Stacy Pacholick, at SPacholick@GRACEGrapevine.org or (817) 305-4636 for more information.

Stacy Pacholick, Our 4th Quarter GRACE MVP!

 

GRACE Chief Program Manager Stacy Pacholick received the Fourth Quarter MVP Award at the January GRACE Staff meeting this week.  The award winner is nominated based on outstanding attitude, interdepartmental relations, teamwork skills, and excellence in mission.

Stacy is a true example of the GRACE Mission and Core Values.  She has always been a strong advocate for the GRACE Mission and its clients as well as her own department and staff.  During the 4th quarter though, she really put her best foot forward.

From coordinating details of the move to our new facility (3 different moves) to ensuring little to no stop in services provided to our clients, she kept calm, cool and collected during the hectic holiday season and made sure all things got done.  Clients received necessary care and provisions, staff got moved and settled and this happened due to her organization, guidance and leadership.

Stacy joined the GRACE staff in 2013 as Director of Programs.  In this capacity, she oversees GRACE’s Client Services, Clinic, Food Pantry, Transitional Housing, and the Friends & Family program as well as seasonal events like Feed Our Kids and the Christmas Cottage.

Prior to her work with GRACE, she gained eight years of management experience with other social service programs, including The Parenting Center in Fort Worth, where she served for six years, and The Salvation Army in Kansas City.

Stacy and her husband, Rick, have two daughters, Mallory and Presley.  In the past, she and her daughters volunteered for GRACE through the National Charity League, working at the Food Pantry and Donation Station.

Additionally, Stacy has served on several committees with GRACE representatives during her time with The Parenting Center. She is a graduate of Leadership Grapevine.

Stacy was commended for helping to increase employee morale, great customer service and building “an upbeat and positive atmosphere,” according to her award citation.

Stacy displays excellent customer service, a genuinely friendly and outgoing attitude, and is willing to work whenever needed.  It is a pleasure to work with her, she is an asset to the organization. We are blessed to have her on board.

Our clients, staff, volunteers and community cannot thank her enough.  Congratulations, Stacy!

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