It’s difficult to comprehend how trying 2020 was for many in our Texas communities. Despite hardships, people have come together to help others during their times of need and for that we are all forever grateful. At GFF, we recognize two things as we tackle 2021. First, we are a strong company that was equally prepared and fortunate in its readiness to deal with the disruptive effects of COVID-19. We were prepared because our leadership and our IT staff had already invested in the infrastructure, technology, and training that would allow us to continue to do our jobs if we were forced to work from home. Second, we can continue to do our jobs because of the millions of brave Texans that have kept us afloat in extraordinary circumstances. Considering these two things, we have been especially mindful of what we can do to help those who have not been as prepared, fortunate, and supported this past year. We have asked our employees which organizations they supported this year and would like to encourage our readers to support them too! In a year when we have often felt powerless to change things around us, we’ve found strength in the work that these organizations are doing (and have been doing for a long time) to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities.
Arlington Life Shelter
There are an estimated 26,000 homeless within Texas at this very moment. The onslaught of a global pandemic has worsened conditions in 2020, pushing many already on the verge of losing their homes over the edge. “The mission of Arlington Life Shelter is to promote self-sufficiency by providing shelter, employment programs and transitional services for North Texans impacted by homelessness” and we need this organization more now than ever.
Get Involved – Like any organization that we will mention here, the best way to help is to provide a donation. The personnel running these organizations are the most qualified to take resources and allocate them for the immediate needs of those who need help. Donating food, supplies, and clothing is of great help but make sure to check out the organization’s immediate needs and donation guidelines before pulling together your contribution.
Pegasus Park Water Cooler
Pegasus Park has committed itself to empowering non-profits with its new Water Cooler program. As part of the new development, the organization is offering incubator space to new non-profits and has already offered space to five new impact organizations in 2020. These organization tackle issues like education and charitable community support through the philanthropy of our local network of businesses and patrons.
Get Involved – Our firm has donated to their cause this year because we believe in their vision to solve the world’s greatest challenges through the empowerment of non-profit organizations. If you or your business is looking for an opportunity to make our world a better place, we encourage you to seek out the Water Cooler program and offer them your financial support.
GFF is grateful to partner with many non-proft organizations. Being afforded opportunities to Create Memorable Places that provide support to those less fortunate is something that we cherish. This holiday season GFF has donated to two inspiring organizations, Arlington Life Shelter and Pegasus Park Water Cooler, for whom we have recently designed projects for in support of their charitable missions. We are honored to be able to contribute to such amazing causes and will continue to do so for years to come. Cheers to ringing in the New Year with the gift of giving!
Tarrant County Homeless Coalition
Operating since 1989, the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition works to make sure that homelessness is a problem of the present, not the future. Their organization “partners with over 50 organizations who provide services to those at risk or experiencing homelessness, provides training and technical assistance to more than 300 direct service staff and volunteers, has leveraged $15 million in federal funds for the community, leads the strategic planning process for the community, and has implemented technology to streamline and automate community-wide processes.”
Get Involved – The homeless need our help. Through volunteerism, donations, and financial contributions to the TCHC, we can help the more than 2,000 people without a home in Tarrant County find a way forward. The TCHC’s mission of a “a vibrant community where every individual has a place to call home and the resources to live their best lives” has been made more difficult during the pandemic and it’s our responsibility to lend a helping hand.
Austin Achieve Public Schools
Austin Achieve’s “whole child” approach includes guidance counseling, restorative justice, and family-based social services.” This means that their curriculum is more than a school, providing their students with an excellent education and programs beyond a standard education needed to prepare them for the best universities in the state and in the nation.
Get Involved – Donating to Austin Achieve will help the school fund their college preparedness, literacy, and technology programs and allow them to provide one of the best public educations in Texas. You can you help secure a bright future for Austin’s youth!
CityLab High School Foundation
Several GFFers had the unique opportunity to participate in CityLab High School programs in 2020. These experiences were rewarding, allowing us to see firsthand the excellent education being provided to future generations of students who will excel in architecture, urban planning and design, environmental systems, public policy and community development. We professionals were allowed to act as mentors and jurors for the students as they tackle real-world design problems that engage some of Dallas most culturally rich neighborhoods.
Get Involved – CityLab High School Foundation raises support to fund the school’s students and programs. Financial support can help to further enrich the academic experience that these students will have during their time at CityLab High School. There are many levels of support that you can provide, so contributing is easy whether you are a young professional or a large company.
Meals on Wheels
“VNA Meals on Wheels provides hot, nutritious, freshly prepared meals five days a week to Dallas County residents who cannot obtain or prepare meals for themselves due to illness, advanced age or disability. These meals contribute to the overall health and well-being of participating seniors, including those with chronic illnesses and frail seniors who are homebound.”
Get Involved – COVID-19 has been indescribably difficult for older generations. Why not contribute to VNA Meals on Wheels to ensure that visiting nurses have the best resources at their disposal as they take care of a generation of people that have always taken care of us?
Texas Master Naturalists
Has all of the time spent inside made you long for more time spent outside? Do you want to help care for our environment? The Texas Master Naturalist Program might be the right calling for you. “The mission of the Texas Master Naturalist Program is to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.”
Get Involved – Becoming a Texas Master Naturalist comes with all kind of opportunity. Mainly, you can learn how to educate yourself and others in ways that we can care for our beautiful state. Our natural resources are precious and you can offer a helping hand in taking care of these resources in addition to meeting new friends that share your joy for our natural world.
Literacy is one of the greatest challenges for our society. When we can communicate fluently, we can take better care of ourselves and our loved ones. Aspire, an organization that recently merged the Aberg Center for Literacy and Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT), makes educating those for whom English is a second language a priority. Education gives these individuals confidence from childhood to the pursuit of a career and enables them to achieve a more fulfilling life.
Get Involved – In addition to making a financial contribution (which goes to pay for crucial resources), you can volunteer with Aspire and pay it forward. When we are fluent in English, we have been given a great gift. Let’s help make life better for those around us who have not had the same access to language classes and programs.
Cane Rosso Rescue
GFF gladly volunteered its services this year to help Cane Rosso Rescue design a new space for homeless animals. But the biggest challenge is helping these cute creatures find their “forever home.” It’s our responsibility to take care of others, even when the others in question have a tail and paws. Cane Rosso Rescue, the charitable wing of Cane Rosso the pizza joint, is doing a great job getting these animals into new homes with loving owners. They were able to move over 400 animals off the street and out of shelters in 2019 alone.
Get Involved – There are many ways that you can join their cause. First and foremost, do you need a new friend? You can find a lovely cat or dog to keep you company if you (like us) have been spending more time at home as of late. Otherwise, Cane Rosso Rescue can always use volunteer and financial support. These resources can go a long way to make sure we are doing everything we can as a society to eliminate animal homelessness.
Leadership Arts Institute
Do you love art and its role in making our society more vibrant? Do you fancy yourself a leader? Do you want to lead an organization that combines art and leadership? Some of our GFFers have joined Leadership Arts Institute to acquire professional training in their pursuit of future board positions within the art world. The organization provides the education, resources, and networking opportunities that can accelerate your ability to foster the creative community here within Texas.
Get Involved – This is an especially unique opportunity if you are part of the business community within Texas. Leadership Arts Institute will help you to meet other like-minded business professionals with a heart for the arts. If we all work together, we can make the arts a priority within our community and continue to build on Dallas’ strong history in promoting the arts for many generations to come.
North Texas Food Bank
Recently, one of our GFFers noted that the best part of volunteering with North Texas Food Bank at one of their events in Seagoville, Texas was getting to meet the individuals that have dedicated nearly every one of their Saturdays to making sure members of their community do not go hungry. He told us about the humble (and hilarious) crowd that he spent that morning with and how impactful it was to watch one volunteer, a kind young woman who had lost her job in the early stages of the pandemic, be so dedicated to the cause of feeding others despite her own challenging circumstance. North Texas Food Bank brings together a diverse crowd of selfless individuals working together for the most noble of causes.
Get Involved – Organizations like the North Texas Food Bank will need our help more than ever in 2021 as they prepare to lose millions of pounds of food. In addition to volunteering to help package and distribute the food, we suggest that you consider financially supporting the organization so that they can continue to feed families during a year that has been financially difficult for the most vulnerable in our communities.
No Kid Hungry
The pandemic has worsened an already difficult problem: when children are not in school, they often go without proper sustenance. No Kid Hungry has been tackling this problem for years. “No child should go hungry in America. But millions don’t know where their next meal is coming from. No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger by helping launch and improve programs that give all kids the healthy food they need to thrive. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry is a campaign by Share Our Strength, an organization working to end hunger and poverty.”
Get Involved – In the flurry of COVID relief legislation, No Kid Hungry has finally been able to secure additional SNAP funding to provide additional relief for low-income families in need of meals. But it’s not enough and you can help No Kid Hungry secure more meals with your financial support. If you are fortunate enough to provide meals for your family please consider helping other families within our community feed their children.
The health of our fellow Americans has been at the forefront during the pandemic. Critical to the recovery of hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 patients is access to blood. If you have had COVID-19, you can donate plasma that has anti-bodies that can help fight the virus. Donating blood is not a bad way to find out if you have had COVID in the past (without knowing it) as they will test your blood for anti-bodies.
Get Involved – You can schedule an appointment with Carter Blood Care to donate your blood and plasma if you want to make a difference today. If you are part of business or organization, you can schedule your own blood drive and make an even bigger impact on the supply of blood to patients everywhere.
Wesley-Rankin Community Center
As a faith-based 501C3, the Wesley-Rankin Community Center has a long history of providing education and opportunity for the people of West Dallas. Their tradition dates back to the time of Bonnie & Clyde when Hattie Rankin wanted to ensure education for those burdened by a community of crime. The organization provides support in the form of education, fellowship, and sustenance to a diverse community that spans many different generations.
Get Involved – Community centers like the Wesley-Rankin Community Center are vital to creating upward mobility at a local level. You can volunteer to help assist with deliveries, provide meals, mentor young people, and many other opportunities. Your financial support will help the WRCC build programs and inventory that will assist the amazing West Dallas community.
ACE Mentor Program – DFW Chapter
If you are member of our professional design community, there are many opportunities to secure a brighter future through mentorship of high-school students. “ACE Mentoring of Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) introduces area high school juniors and seniors to the many rewarding career opportunities offered by the Architectural, Construction and Engineering professions. Through programs that integrate hands-on activities, tours, field trips and weekly interaction with mentors from area industry firms.”
Get Involved – Get in touch with ACE and give the gift of mentorship or financial support so that we can continue to strengthen or design community. We often catch ourselves saying “If I knew then what I know now…” You have the opportunity to teach someone that will one day be in your shoes, giving them the confidence as a future designer that will continue to make our community great.
2020 has been a monumental year of change in our nation’s commitment to justice and equality. Our design community is no different. One way that we can support diversity in our profession is to support organizations like NOMA that fight for equality for minority architects and architectural students. “NOMA’s mission, rooted in a rich legacy of activism, is to empower our local chapters and membership to foster justice and equity in communities of color through outreach, community advocacy, professional development and design excellence.”
Get Involved – You can do your part by supporting NOMA’s mission both vocally, financially, and through volunteerism. Your financial contributions will support diversity in our profession by supporting programs such as NOMA’s Project Pipeline which funds summer programs designed to encourage students of color to enter our profession. Your company can become a member of NOMA and secure more opportunity for minority architects in the future.
“Dallas County has the highest youth poverty rate in the state with 1 out of 5 children living below the poverty line. Living situations for these families range from motels, shelters, cars, doubling and tripling up, to Section 8 and HUD housing. Most of these families are one paycheck, sickness, or accident away from living on the street and often times fall through the cracks due to a lack of being identified. According to Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, homeless families are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population comprising nearly 40% of the total homeless.”
“Of the Dallas high school students who take college entrance exams, only 10% score in the “college-ready” range and 87% of students in DISD are considered economically disadvantaged. Persistent childhood poverty and residential instability/homelessness may contribute to difficulties in academic success. Therefore, Incarnation House strives to provide an essential wrap-around program that fills the gaps and help students overcome obstacles, achieve their goals, and reach their full potential.”
Get Involved – Help Incarnation House secure a better future for Dallas’ at-risk youths. Through financial support, donations, and volunteerism, you can give the gift of hope to a young person who feels left behind.
Harvest Project Food Rescue
“The Harvest Project Food Rescue is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit started to help fight food insecurity and food waste in the city of Dallas. We are supported and run by our volunteers. With the help of our community partners, we are able to distribute free fresh produce baskets to hundreds of families a month.”
Get Involved – Imperfect produce does not make it to the shelves in your grocery stores. Historically, that food has been tossed and wasted while thousands of families go hungry. The Harvest Project Food Rescue has found a way to redirect this produce, imperfect and yet unspoiled, to the tables of families in need. Your support and volunteerism can advance their mission and prevent thousands of Texas from going hungry.
The Storehouse of Collin County
The Storehouse of Collin County is committed to feeding, clothing, and supporting low-income families and at-risk members in their county. “With 1 in 6 households (16.1%) facing food insecurity and 1 in 5 children (21.6%) affected by hunger, the needs of the Collin County community are great.” St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church founded the Storehouse in 2009 and provides support to over 1,000 families each month.
Get Involved – If you are a resident of Collin County, the Storehouse is a fantastic opportunity to provide support to the 130,000 Collin County families in need of assistance. Join forces with their organization by volunteering and offering financial support.
DFW Toys For Tots
For many of us, the 2020 holiday season was a much needed reprieve from a tumultuous 2020. For others, the holidays were the cherry on top of a financially difficult year in which they were not able to provide gifts to their children. DFW Toys for Tots makes Christmas joyful for low-income families by helping them to provide gifts for their children. Take a few minutes and read through some of the stories of the beautifully caring ways that the organization has brought Christmas to a child who may not have experienced it otherwise.
Get Involved – GFF has had great success in the past organizing donation drives for DFW Toys for Tots. You can contribute by providing individual donations, financial support, and volunteering your time to help organize the giving of gifts. Let’s make try to make 2021 DFW Toys for Tots most successful Christmas yet.
After 8 To Educate
Would you be surprised to learn that there are over 4,000 homeless youths currently enrolled in Dallas’ Independent School District? It’s an incredible problem and these children need help so that their current circumstances do not cause them to fall behind in their education or to fall into homelessness permanently. “Founded by Dallas entrepreneur Jorge Baldor, After8toEducate (“After8”) is the first all-encompassing program to support unsheltered high school youth in Dallas. After8 brings together community resources to reduce the number of unsheltered young adults and foster self-sufficiency.”
Get Involved – If you would like to help get these children off the street and into a secure environment, consider offering support to the program. After8 will use your financial support to provide shelter, housing, clothing, hygiene, and education to these struggling youths. Your money will help to contribute to things like turning Fannie C. Harris Elementary School into a shelter for the youth.