Helping people in need is at the heart of the holiday season, especially after the year we’ve been through. In addition to the Sundt Foundation’s quarterly grants to Metroplex nonprofits last month, employee-owners from our Dallas office and jobsites across North Texas are partnering with local nonprofits GRACE and Grace Like Rain Ministries in their Christmas drive efforts and beyond.
When “Unprecedented” Fails to Do It Justice
GRACE is a Grapevine, Texas based relief agency that provides food, clothing, financial assistance, and other necessities to individuals and families in crisis. As with many nonprofits, nothing could have prepared GRACE’s staff for 2020. “Last fiscal year, we served just over 5,600 people. By the end of this fiscal year, we served over 11,000,” said GRACE Grant Writer Kristina Davis. “That includes some of our own past donors and even temporarily furloughed staff members. 2020 has just been a harsh reminder for everyone who thought ‘That will never be me.'”
Crisis comes in all forms, and COVID-related hardships have broken several social boundaries and assumptions. “It could be a single parent whose childcare options have run out. It could be a middle-upper-class family that faces a job loss or a big medical expense, or both. Our client could be anyone.” That’s why, said Kristina, GRACE does the work that they do. “Especially now, it’s not where you’re from or what you do; it’s about ‘what do you need?'”
Beginning December 7th, GRACE will open its Christmas Cottage—socially distanced, by appointment only this year—to families in Northeast Tarrant County. The event allows families to “shop” for Christmas, giving parents a set amount and letting them choose gifts specifically for their kids. And the best gift isn’t always a “thing,” according to Kristina. “Sometimes the most important gift we can give is having a conversation with a client. For them to just have someone listen to what they’re going through, and to hear someone say, ‘This is hard. But it’s going to get better’—that’s often the first step they need to overcome their situation.”
Addressing the Whole Cycle of Poverty
It’s easy to misjudge the difficulty of escaping poverty, particularly if you haven’t lived through it yourself and faced the sheer number of barriers to getting out. According to Kody Jones, Director of Development at Grace Like Rain in Denton, Texas, people often take one step forward only to take two steps back. “A person might be able to find work, for example, but they can’t find reliable transportation. Or, if they save up some money, emergency expenses derail their budget, even more so if they never learned basic financial planning skills.” There’s a cyclical nature to these stories, and that’s where Grace Like Rain focuses its efforts.
The organization comes alongside families that are struggling and provides them with community, supportive relationships and resources to address the underlying circumstances of poverty and homelessness. The past year has laid bare a huge need in Denton County for this kind of safety net. “We’ve served over 400 families this year just through our COVID Case Managers,” said Kody.
Grace Like Rain is also hosting a drive for their 2020 Christmas Party family shopping experience, which allows parents to shop for their kids, as well as kids to shop for their parents. “We think it’s just as important for the kids to be able to give gifts as it is to receive them,” said Kody. Sundt’s project team at the new Denton County Courthouse is sponsoring a toy drive for Grace Like Rain at their jobsite.
There is a time when families need relief, but not a hand-out, Kody explained. “With stimulus money having run out and a moratorium on utility bills ending soon, hundreds of families in Denton County will need assistance.” For many clients, the larger goal is long-term stability. “We’re helping people gain the skills and resources they need to become self-sufficient,” said Kody. “The transitional housing, the meals we provide, the cooking and financial literacy classes we offer at the Serve Denton campus—these are all meant to give people that confidence and agency needed to change their situation.”
If you’d like to donate to Grace Like Rain’s Christmas drive (open through December 8th) and want more info on wish lists and toy drop-off locations, please visit their 2020 Christmas Party page. Or, if you’re interested in making a general donation or getting more involved, please visit Grace Like Rain’s Donate or Volunteer page.
The Sundt Foundation’s Mission in North Texas
GRACE and Grace Like Rain are each working to transform and restore people’s lives, and Sundt’s purpose is to build environments where our communities prosper. “It gives us great joy as employee-owners and Sundt Foundation members to be able to partner with these organizations,” said Elizabeth Harvey, the Sundt Foundation’s North Texas board member. “We encourage our staff, family and friends, subcontractors and other partners to give back this holiday season; no matter the amount of time or resources you can spare, everything makes a difference.”
The Sundt Foundation awards quarterly grants to area charities that support disadvantaged children and families. Nonprofits are selected through an application process and reviewed by a committee of local Sundt employee-owners. The foundation was established in 1999 as a way for employee-owners to give back to the communities in which they live and work. The organization is funded primarily by contributions from Sundt employee-owners, which are matched by the company. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than $11 million in donations.
For nonprofit organizations interested in applying for a grant, please visit sundt.com/community-involvement. We’ll be accepting applications for our next quarterly grant cycle until December 15th.