- What do you see alone or two of the greatest challenges to helping the homeless and the hungry in North Texas?
Understanding the problem(s) confronted by these beleaguered individuals is a significant part of how best to help them. Most North Texas residents are simply unaware of what homelessness really is…and very often give “helps” that create a danger or risk for people in need. OurCalling educates its volunteers on the realities of homelessness, introduces them to the systems in place (locally) which provide meaningful helps to people living in crisis, and equips North Texas residents to offer many appropriate helps smartly and personally.
- How would you describe your mission, and how are you specifically helping the homeless and the hungry?
OurCalling is a nonprofit organization that serves the poorest people in Dallas County — the unsheltered homeless. It is our mission to build long-term relationships with the homeless and provide the guidance necessary to help them develop sustainable lifestyles with accountability and integrity.
We operate a facility near Fair Park where homeless individuals come for food, mentoring, life skills development and personal products. Staff and volunteers invite the development of personal relationships and encourage our homeless guests to take meaningful steps towards positive life changes.
We provide: a cafe serving breakfasts and lunches; showers and lockers; life skills classes; addiction recovery seminars; mentoring; bible classes; resourcing of personal products. We also have “Search & Rescue” teams that track the unsheltered homeless under bridges, in woods, behind liquor stores, in drug houses, and within abandoned buildings.
Our mobile database and iPhone app allow us to identify where homeless individuals are living, or where they were last seen. We also collect information that allows our volunteers to further the personal relationships with individuals we serve.
- Can you give us an example of a person (named or unnamed) who has benefited from your services? How have they benefited? If it’s appropriate, tell us a short story.
A great example of successfully building solid trust with a homeless friend is that of Chris Silva. Chris was doing well at a long-term rehab program (elsewhere in Dallas) but recently relapsed and was temporarily suspended from it. Homeless once again, he literally had nothing and no one. He came directly to OurCalling.
Although we may not agree that Chris is doing all the right things at this critical time in his life, we consider it a “win” to be the ones who have earned the right to speak truth and grace into his life. In this way, we offer stability and emotional security that can only come through personal relationships.
Chris came back to OurCalling in a time of need because he knew that he would be known and welcome — and recognized as a friend.
- Is there anything new that you are focused on for the coming year? Any new initiatives?
YES. TECHNOLOGY INNOVATIONS (new app for iPhone).
We continue to enrich our relationships within the homeless community through the development of vital and impactful innovations. Most currently, we have created a new app for iPhone (Android version is coming soon).
This is an extraordinary innovation. The new app features a database of service providers in Dallas with over 250 resources available by location, category and qualifications. Users can view listings on a map, or sort the list by distance from the user’s location.
The app includes contact information and registration criteria for health care services, addiction and recovery services, Alcoholics Anonymous and various life skill training opportunities, along with many other local services and resources. This is an invaluable resource for volunteers and homeless individuals all over Dallas County. More information at ourcalling.org/app.
- What else should North Texas residents know about your work?
OurCalling is the only discipleship ministry for the homeless in North Texas.
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