NETWORK of Community Ministries
- What do you see as one or two of the greatest challenges to helping the hungry in North Texas?
NETWORK distributes 10,000 pounds of food each week, and our food warehouse must maintain a minimum of 40,000 pounds of food on hand to meet the demand of the hungry in our community. Currently, the biggest challenge facing NETWORK is getting food donations into the building. We have seen a decrease in food drive participation within the community, as well as a decrease in the amount of food coming in from food drives. Simply stated, NETWORK cannot run out of food if we are to keep addressing hunger in the lives of our neighbors.
- How would you describe your mission, and how are you specifically helping the hungry?
NETWORK often encounters clients whose entire sense of stability rests on a few hundred dollars of rent or utility assistance — not a lot of money to most but, to someone who is facing having their electricity or water turned off or homelessness with their children, it’s everything.
NETWORK remains on the frontlines of basic needs survival for impoverished families, individuals and seniors. Hundreds come to NETWORK each week for help, and 90 percent will request and receive food assistance, and for numerous disabled elderly, we’re making home food deliveries each week. Food is a basic human need, and is the centerpiece of NETWORK’S services.
Second, yet equally paramount, is having a place to live. The fear of becoming homeless is a constant worry among the poor. Our homeless prevention services give temporary lodging to families facing displacement due to abandonment or eviction. NETWORK also will pay utilities to help stabilize a crisis. Clothing is another basic need we address for family members from 0 to 85+ in age. Four times a year, families can select garments from our clothing center.
Our mission is every family’s mission; to care, coach and empower our neighbors in need as they seek an improved quality of life.
- 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.
Recently, an extremely intelligent, devoted, and hardworking 36-year-old mother of two came in for rent assistance. She lost her job in November as an insurance claims adjuster, and with Christmas just around the corner, she was barely getting by on unemployment.
She went from having a dependable salary of $46,000 a year to the constant struggle of caring for her two children on a meager subsistence of less than $23,000 per year. Because searching for a job was proving futile, she was terrified that she and her children might become homeless. This single mother did not need much, a mere $200 would solve her problem, but she was at a loss as to where to find the help she needed.
This NETWORK client had suffered such a streak of harsh luck that when NETWORK interviewers met with her, she was positive that she would not receive the help she so desperately needed—she was ready to hear “no.”
When she was told NETWORK was going to help her, she wept tears of relief. The dedicated volunteers at NETWORK went the extra mile that day, and took this mother to our Toyland Express Store to see to it that this family got holiday presents. Eventually our client got a job with United HealthCare, where she will be able to work from home, ensuring that she can provide adequate care for her children while also earning a living.
- Is there anything new that you are focused on for the coming year? Any new initiatives?
We have several exciting additions coming up that will make NETWORK the go-to resource for the job seeking community. One of our big upcoming projects is the renovation of our Job Resource Center.
We’ve discovered the most effective way to fight poverty is to support our clients in securing jobs which will allow them to earn a good living. Many of our clients desire a stable career, but they need help in developing the skills required to get a good job. Our job Resource Center will provide the three missing pieces to the employability puzzle; GED, language proficiency, and entry level job skills.
- What else should North Texas residents know about your work?
An unexpected crisis could change any of our lives. Each of us at any moment could find ourselves in a situation requiring the care and compassion of an organization like NETWORK. The Richardson community has stepped up consistently through NETWORK to help neighbors in need. It takes everyone pulling together as a community to make the work we do possible. We at NETWORK continue to be amazed and humbled by the support of generous donors, and the work of committed volunteers, they make NETWORK what it is, a beacon of hope in the community.