(Photo by Rasy Ran)

(Photo by Rasy Ran)

This Garland Road nonprofit provides peace of mind for those in need 

White Rock Center of Hope has some impressive numbers to share. Since its beginnings in a church basement back in 1988, the nonprofit has distributed over 4 million pounds of food, more than a million items of clothing, over $2 million in financial aid and other basic needs to upwards of 450,000 individuals. Their focus is on residents of zip codes 75214, 75218, 75223, 75228, and 75228, but they help anyone who walks in the door.

You’ve likely seen, and maybe shopped at, their resale shop at 10021 Garland Road. The store generates the majority of the nonprofit’s revenue and will soon expand into the old Sali’s Pizza & Pasta location. Offices for the center are just around the corner and also will benefit from the new space with a larger facility to serve clients.

Executive Director Ted Beechler describes the typical client at the center: “They’re good people at their wits’ end and have no idea this kind of place exists.”

Many who appear at the door are unemployed or underemployed and have had unexpected expenses or losses: a car broke down, a long illness resulted in job loss, maybe even a hurricane forced a hasty evacuation.

The nonprofit relies on community donations and volunteer support. (Photo by Rasy Ran)

The nonprofit relies on community donations and volunteer support. (Photo by Rasy Ran)

“We’re just a bridge,” says Beechler, “over a pothole in the road of life.”

As an emergency aid facility, they offer food and clothing, as well as funding for housing and utilities, usually in the face of eviction or cut-off notices. Each fall the center distributes school supplies directly to Dallas ISD schools in the area. During the holiday season, they spread cheer with thousands of new toys.

Beechler stresses that the center has only seven staff members on the payroll, and the vast majority of the work is done by an army of volunteers, about 160 at last count, who contribute 40,000 hours annually. A recent weekday tour found the center bustling with activity, volunteers in every office, greeting clients, conducting interviews, dispensing bags of food from the pantry, and sorting food and clothes for distribution.

Every day, an average of 50 families appear at White Rock Center of Hope seeking temporary assistance. Emily Cassady, a volunteer for 18 years, typifies the spirit of camaraderie at the center: “I like being able to smile and shake their hand and help them feel comfortable.”

She recalls helping a nurse who became homeless after complications from surgery necessitated a long hospital stay, causing her to lose her apartment and her job. During her time at a homeless shelter, her clothes were stolen. The center provided clothes (so she could interview for a new job), plus food and her first month’s rent. “This is an example of how we help get people back on their feet,” Cassady says.

Beechler remembers a desperate man who drove up in a car bearing a Purple Heart license plate. A veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, his wife left him with two young children. The center helped him with food and the bit of money he was short for a new apartment. Beechler shakes his head as he recalls how the man “sat there and cried.”

(Photo by Rasy Ran)

(Photo by Rasy Ran)

Volunteer Jeanette Ferguson found the center three years ago as a “meaningful, engaging, and rewarding” place to use her extra time. She remembers a hot July afternoon when a woman with two children came to the center to request enough food to see her through a crisis. The food loaded into her car, the woman came back inside to request a broom.

“She began sweeping our sidewalk and parking lot, and although we protested her doing so, she explained it was her way of thanking us for our kindness. I will never forget her. She gave to us more that day than we had given her,” Ferguson says.

Pantry manager Patsy Chalmers, who volunteers long hours five-and-a-half days per week, describes a system which is truly circular. The pantry, which distributes food as well as hygiene and baby care items, frequently benefits from food drives conducted by supporting organizations: more than 50 schools, churches and businesses in the neighborhood. If the center receives items they can’t use, those are passed along to other agencies. Plus, the center recycles boxes and collects box tops to benefit schools in return.

“It stays in the ‘hood,” laughs Chalmers.

Says Beechler, “The community makes this place the way it is. It’s neighbors helping neighbors.”

Patti Vinson is a guest writer who has lived in East Dallas for over 15 years. She’s written for the Advocate and Real Simple magazine, and has taught college writing.
(Photo by Rasy Ran)

(Photo by Rasy Ran)

Help White Rock Center For Hope with these most-requested items
– Canned soup, corn, tomatoes, beans, green beans, meats (tuna, chili), fruits and vegetables
– Holiday foods such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie filling, instant potatoes
– Gently used clothes for men, women and children of all sizes
– New underwear and socks for men, women and children of all sizes
– New, unwrapped toys for children ages 13 and younger for the holidays

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