The holidays are a time when people of all faiths and non-believers take a moment from their bustling lives to contemplate the meaning of life and the role that family, friends, and acts of kindness play in living a well-lived life. Codified in the teachers of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and other religions in the same kernel of wisdom — that we are our brother’s keeper.
Although charities live those values 365 days a year, it is around Christmas and other religious days of significance that those acts of daily kindness and compassion tend to be most appreciated. These nonprofits cannot run on goodwill alone. They require financial or in-kind donations, volunteers, and help spreading the word on their charitable missions. As you count your blessings this year, remember that many people were not as fortunate and consider a donation to one (or more) of these local nonprofits.
Funky Town Fridge
Funky Town Fridge is not a nonprofit as defined by the IRS, meaning they haven’t completed the expensive and burdensome process of gaining 501(c)3 status, but they do very much serve a charitable mission and are deserving of being on this list. Here, the vehicles for change are community fridges that are stocked with free food. The aim is to combat hunger and empower our communities. The venture is always in need of volunteers, businesses willing to collect foodstuffs, and property owners who can host a community fridge. Connect with these community visionaries by emailing FunkyTownFridge@gmail.com.
United Way of Tarrant County
United Way of Tarrant County stepped up in big ways to support the local community throughout the pandemic. Early into the lockdown, they launched the Creative Industry Fund to give $250 grants to artists, musicians, and other folks in the creative industries who were hit hardest by the closing of concerts halls and other entertainment venues and events.
United Way also created the Rebuild Tarrant County Fund to allow them to continue their broad mission of solving the county’s toughest problems while pivoting to meet the needs of Tarrant County residents. The fund helped locals pay rent and mortgages and provided them with other basic needs. Those initiatives literally kept mothers from facing the prospect of homelessness.
No matter what challenges Tarrant County faces, United Way of Tarrant County can be counted on to innovate a fast and effective response to those needs. You can support the ongoing effort to reimagine and rebuild our community by making a donation at UnitedWayTarrant.org/rebuild-tarrant.
Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth
In a city resplendently awash in world-class piano concerts, orchestra performances, operas, and ballets, you can be forgiven for not knowing that Cowtown has an equally world-class resident chamber music group. The Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth (CMSFW) has filled that important niche between large ensembles and soloists since 1987. Led by renowned violinist Gary Levinson, the nonprofit presents several concerts per year at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Like other performing arts groups, CMSFW ticket sales are not enough to pay the professional performers, so fundraising is always at the forefront for the volunteers who keep this venerable organization alive. Donations can be made at CMSFW.org.
Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas
Government accountability is impossible without government transparency. Compelling local government groups like the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and the Fort Worth police department to turn over embarrassing information and documents is no easy task. Our newspaper relies on the Texas Public Information Act, which, while imperfect, provides an important legal framework that allows journalists and residents alike to request copies of government documents.
One nonprofit has taken up government transparency as its central mission. The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas (FOIFT) provides several services that ensure that civic life in this state serves the citizens and not special interests. FOIFT staff educate folks in the media and general public about the often complex process of filing open records requests and appealing rejection attempts. When cities try to pull a fast one on taxpayers by denying public information, FOIFT’s team is there to remind those cities and groups that the law is the law.
An open government is an accountable government. To support FOIFT’s mission of keeping public information public, visit FOIFT.org and consider making a contribution.
For 40 jubilant years, Fort Worth’s only Black-led theater troupe has created and produced theatrical works that give voice to the African-American experience. Along the way, Jubilee Theatre has earned rave reviews and awards from this publication and many others. Fort Worth’s performing arts groups have made strong strides to diversify programming and hiring practices, and while Jubilee Theatre is no longer the lone voice in portraying the Black experience through art, it remains a leading voice in that vital part of our city’s cultural landscape.
Texas Jail Project
It’s hard to justify the mistreatment of members of Texas’ jail system once you understand their stories. Poverty is a major driver of jail populations and so is Tarrant County’s practice of requiring deposits (monetary bond) as a stipulation of release from the decrepit and often deadly conditions in Tarrant County Jail. Too often, bond amounts of $100 or $200 keep nonviolent defendants languishing in jail for months or even years.
Three out of four men and women in state jails are pretrial, meaning they are legally innocent of the crimes that they have been charged with. Texas Jail Project works to expose inhumane conditions in state jails and to provide resources to detainees and their family members.
The nonprofit recently hired a community organizer in Tarrant County. Tamera Hutcherson is keeping tabs on North Texas jails and documenting human rights violations. You can support this tiny but mighty nonprofit by making a donation at TexasJailProject.org.