Tarrant County’s nonprofits and faith-based groups worked miracles this year. Faced with a devastating pandemic — the likes of which haven’t been seen in more than a century — Tarrant Area Food Bank, SafeHaven, arts groups, and other nonprofits found ways to expand or pivot services to meet unprecedented levels of need in our community. The holidays offer an opportunity to support one or more of these worthy programs.
The arts are a vital part of any society. Fort Worth’s visual and performing arts groups pivoted to providing online educational resources and programs that directly addressed the COVID-19-related problems affecting our community. Amphibian Stage (AmphibianStage.com/donate) found new ways to provide De-Cruit workshops for trauma-affected veterans and civilians. The Near Southside nonprofit also hired unemployed theater artists to make protective gear for seniors and students.
ACH Child and Family Services
ACH Child and Family Services has more than a century of experience helping struggling families stay together and of guiding parents and children through the foster care process. The financial hardships that recently hit North Texans strained family budgets, and ACH stepped up with an emergency assistance program and free online therapy sessions. Real Help for Real Life offers free counseling and skill-building classes for families and youth ages 6 to 17. There are 12 Tips for Trying Times videos that can be accessed on YouTube by subscribing to ACHchildandfamily (free of charge). Donations to ACH can be made at ACHServices.org.
Catholic Charities Fort Worth
For 110 years, Catholic Charities Fort Worth has created paths out of poverty for deserving men, women, and children. Last year, Catholic Charities lifted more than 200 families from subsistence living to fulfilling jobs that pay living wages. Beyond proving job opportunities, the charity teaches life skills like budgeting and debt-free living. The large nonprofit also provides legal assistance to folks who are eligible to apply for immigration benefits. The number of programs offered by Catholic Charities Fort Worth is too vast to list in our Holiday Issue. To learn more about this group’s charitable work and ways that you can donate, visit CatholicCharitiesFortWorth.org.
Center for Transforming Lives
Center for Transforming Lives works to disrupt cycles of poverty within Tarrant County. Money management, housing, and education programs are just a few of the ways the charity serves our community. CTL’s newest initiative, Transform Tarrant County from Within, provides a roadmap for individuals, community leaders, influencers, and stakeholders to “activate six key elements” that address inequality within Fort Worth’s small business community. Black-owned businesses in Tarrant County earn five times less revenue than white-owned businesses, CTL leaders recently said in a public statement. Addressing poverty is a daunting task, and you can support that effort by donating at Transforminglives.org/donate.
Children’s Charities of Fort Worth
Children’s Charities of Fort Worth supports 14 local charities, primarily through the annual Fort Worth Margarita Ball. Even with the fundraising difficulties posed by the pandemic, Children’s Charities recently took three charities to Target for a $17,000 shopping spree to buy toys, clothes, and other items. Every dollar donated to Children’s Charities goes to groups like Alliance for Children, Child Protective Services of Tarrant County, Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth, and many more. To learn more about this charity, visit ChildrensCharitiesFW.com.
The Van Cliburn Foundation
The Cliburn is best known for captivating piano competitions. Since March, the charity pivoted to creating new online content for homebound kiddos. Cliburn Kids, hosted by the affable Buddy Bray, is viewable at Cliburn.org or on Instagram @thecliburn. Each video explores musical concepts through visual and auditory examples. More recently, the Cliburn launched Cliburn Masterpiece, which takes deep dives into important piano repertoire with commentary by past piano competition winners, composers, and other knowledgeable musicians.
CommUnity Frontline is a brotherhood of men who work to improve the quality of life in Fort Worth’s East Side. Founded by a group of Stop Six natives, the grassroots effort has grown into a network of civic-minded Fort Worthians who support the Eastside community through monthly meetings and by volunteering in “units” that tackle issues like over-policing, education, and health. Nonprofit cofounder Quinton Phillips said CommUnity Frontline volunteers coordinated food pantry efforts and delivered food to elderly Eastside residents early in the pandemic. There’s no shortage of work to be done in the culturally rich and historically underserved neighborhood of Stop Six. To support this nonprofit’s efforts, visit CommUnityFrontline.com/donations.
Creative Industry Relief Fund
Early into the pandemic, local singer-songwriter Rachel Gollay started a relief fund for out-of-work and underemployed artists and service workers. That initiative raised $10,000 before being picked up by Hear Fort Worth, Film Fort Worth, and the United Way of Tarrant County and rebranded as the Creative Industry Relief Fund. The fund continues to funnel one-time grants of $300 to Tarrant County musicians, filmmakers, and artists. The return of large live music events is months away at best, so consider giving back to the creatives who put the funk in Funkytown by donating at UnitedWayTarrant.org/ArtistsReliefFund.
Beginning in March, members of the Westside-based nonprofit LVTRise worked to avert a hunger crisis. The community around Las Vegas Trail largely subsists on jobs in administration and food services that were hit hard by the recent recession. Throughout the worst of the pandemic, Westside residents watched out for one another and shared what resources they had, said the nonprofit’s director Willie Rankin. Now, he and his team are fundraising for a community center that will serve as a neighborhood hub that offers classes in financial literacy and career development as well as meal assistance and other crucial programs. The communities around Las Vegas Trail are on the rise, thanks to this charity. Learn more at LVTRise.org.
Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County
The COVID-19 outbreak has made once-routine trips to the grocery store a potentially deadly endeavor for elderly folks or anyone with a chronic health condition. Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County provides hot and nutritious meals for homebound people all over Tarrant County. A visit from one of the charity’s staffers or volunteers can also help combat feelings of isolation. One holiday initiative, Silver Santa Giving Tree, allows donors to buy personalized gifts for homebound, elderly, or disabled neighbors in need. The Christmas gifts range from items like furniture and clothing to slippers and televisions. To learn how to donate time or money to this charity, visit MealsonWheels.org.
NAMI of Tarrant County
Millions of Americans experienced heightened anxiety due to COVID-19. For individuals with mental health disorders, those debilitating moments can be a daily fact of life. Turquoise Banks, president of NAMI Tarrant, and her team provided support group conference calls throughout the pandemic while helping locals find medications and access to online mental health treatments. NAMI is a nonprofit, not a government agency, so contributions are needed to keep this important mental health resource afloat. Donations can be made via NAMITarrant.org.
SafeHaven of Tarrant County
As economic stressors go up, so do incidents of domestic violence. Children are rarely spared from the violence and homelessness that accompanies spousal abuse. Standing between fleeing parents and uncertainty is SafeHaven of Tarrant County, a charity that offers a 24/7 hotline of help (1-877-701-7233). This year, SafeHaven is offering two Christmas programs: Santa Sack and Adopt-a-Family. In lieu of storefront donation locations, SafeHaven has gone online to provide families who are fleeing domestic violence with much-needed supplies and holiday cheer. Supporters can donate via SafeHavenTC.org. For more information on how to support SafeHaven’s programs, contact Lindsay Edwards at Ledwards@safehaventc.org.
Tarrant County Community Bail Fund
Due to the realities of over-policing and a monetary bail system that criminalizes poverty, hundreds of innocent men and women — facing charges does not equal guilt — languish in our county’s squalid jail simply because they cannot afford bail amounts of as little as $100. No fewer than 11 men and women have died in the Tarrant County Jail this year under the watch of the county’s Sheriff Department. The Tarrant County Community Bail Fund seeks to address those human rights abuses by posting bond for persons of color who have small or relatively small bail amounts keeping them from enjoying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Visit ActionNetwork.org/groups/united-fort-worth for information on how you can give a Tarrant County resident the gift of freedom (and the chance to meaningfully defend themselves in court) this holiday.
Tarrant Area Food Bank
The realities of America’s wealth gap and the severity of the 2020 recession mean that Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) continues to work overtime to ensure that local families do not go hungry. Julie Butner, Tarrant Area Food Bank CEO, told us this past April that the spike in food pantry lines may take up to two years to fully subside. Like other nonprofit directors, she worries that donors will underestimate the long-lasting effects of COVID-19’s economic damage. TAFB receives food donations from grocery distribution centers, but increased staffing needs and purchases of specific food items are paid from TAFB’s budget. To help local families meet that most basic of needs, donate at TAFB.org/donate.
Taste Project takes a novel approach to feeding those in need. The charity looks like just another trendy Near Southside restaurant, but the business model works on the idea that customers pay in one of three ways: what they can afford, what they would typically pay, and what they would typically pay plus a little extra. The high-quality and well-presented meals belie the fact that this is a faith-based charity at work. Taste Project welcomes volunteers to keep overhead down. Every dollar saved or earned goes in large part to providing a dignified and nutritional dining experience to someone who would otherwise not be able to afford the meal. To learn more about how you can support this laudable charity, visit TasteProject.org/howyoucanhelp.
Tested and Rested
Underserved areas of Tarrant County saw a further pullback of public health resources following the outbreak of COVID-19. The loss of free or affordable screenings for HIV, hepatitis, and other sexually transmitted infections left communities potentially blind to deadly outbreaks. To restore critical public health programs to predominantly minority communities, two nonprofits — reproductive justice group Re+Birth Equity Alliance (RebirthEquity.org) and drug overdose prevention nonprofit O.D. Aid (ODAidFW.org) — created Tested and Rested. The program provides affordable STI screenings, directions on what to do in the event of a positive screening test result, blood glucose tests, free condoms, and other essential public health services and items.
Texas Ballet Theater
Texas Ballet Theater (TBT) has served North Texas since 1961 by providing ballet classes to children, teens, and adults in addition to world-class performances and community outreach programs. The nonprofit, which calls Fort Worth home, was hit hard by the cancellation of concerts that bring in much-needed earned income. Throughout the pandemic, TBT prioritized the health of its dancers and audiences by postponing in-person performances. The cancellation of performances of The Nutcracker this month marked yet another loss of income for the charity. To support the mission of TBT and ensure that its staff and young artists have the resources to continue working, consider a donation via TexasBalletTheater.org/support.