Nanette Light – The Dallas Morning News –  February 3, 2018

This year’s Dallas Morning News Charities campaign raised slightly more than last year’s drive, bringing in more than $1.25 million from roughly 1,550 donors to aid North Texans who are hungry, homeless and unemployed.

The annual drive, which began in November at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas and ended Wednesday, marked more than three decades of raising money for local charities. This year’s campaign benefited 20 nonprofits that feed the hungry; house homeless families and children; and help others pay the bills.

“We are extremely proud of how the community, our employees and our charity partners have responded during this campaign season,” said Richard Jones, former chairman of The Dallas Morning News Charities board who oversaw this year’s drive. “There were several opportunities to give this past year, and your generosity and willingness to take action came through each time, allowing us to exceed our prior year’s results.”

This year’s campaign launched with more than $545,000 already in the organization’s coffers — the largest fundraising kickoff amount in the Charities’ 32-year history. It included a $100,000 donation from an anonymous donor, along with support from the J.L. Williams Foundation, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, the Hertich Estate Fund at the Community Foundation of Texas, 2017 North Texas Giving Day, The Dallas Foundation, employees of The Dallas Morning News and The Murrell Foundation.

“I’m grateful for the generosity of all of our customers who learn about the charity through reading The Dallas Morning News in print or online every year,” said Jim Moroney, publisher and CEO of The News. “I am so grateful for the generosity that they demonstrate year after year. These funds will provide a great amount of goods and services for those most in need in our city.”

‘People are so generous’

This year’s campaign, whose honorary chairman was Dallas businessman John Murrell, had a goal of $1.5 million. Last year’s drive also fell slightly short of its $1.5 million goal, raising more than $1.24 million from nearly 1,600 donors. The record for contributions was in 2006-07, when more than $1.8 million was donated.

“We had a very good start for the campaign and had high hopes that we would reach a goal slightly higher than $1.2 million, yet I never am disappointed when people are so generous,” Moroney said.

Since 1986, The Dallas Morning News Charities has raised more than $30 million. The Dallas Morning News covers all administrative costs of the campaign so that 100 percent of donations benefit the 20 charities.

Camille Grimes, executive director, The Dallas Morning News Charities, from left, Ellen Magnis, CEO of Family Gateway and Richard Jones, chairman of DMN Charities, pose during the Dallas Morning News Charities kick-off event at the Winspear Opera House on Nov. 15.  (David Woo/Staff Photographer)
Camille Grimes, executive director, The Dallas Morning News Charities, from left, Ellen Magnis, CEO of Family Gateway and Richard Jones, chairman of DMN Charities, pose during the Dallas Morning News Charities kick-off event at the Winspear Opera House on Nov. 15.
(David Woo/Staff Photographer)

But the charities don’t just provide homes and food to those in need, said Camille Grimes, executive director of The Dallas Morning News Charities. Many of these organizations help provide people with clothes, life skills training and employment.

“That’s probably one of the biggest things all of our Dallas Morning News Charities give to our neighbors in need is the gift of hope and help for their future,” Grimes said.

‘Couldn’t be more appreciative’

Money raised through the annual fundraising drive is Family Gateway’s largest financial contribution to support its effort to house homeless families and children, said Ellen Magnis, the nonprofit’s chief executive officer. The organization also provides case management and an education program, among other services.

“We couldn’t be more appreciative” Magnis said of the Charities’ contribution.

Last year, the nonprofit helped provide about 400 families and children with shelter and supportive homes. Family Gateway houses homeless families in 30 rooms at its facility on South St. Paul Street, along with 105 units of supportive housing in apartments.

But Magnis said the need for affordable housing options is always there. Staff members receive about 300 to 400 calls for help a month.

“By the time folks get to us, they’re pretty bad off,” she said.

Family Gateway has created a new program called Assessment & Diversion as a way to help people, besides putting them in a shelter. That could mean mediating with landlords to keep families from being evicted or negotiating with family members to take loved ones in.

“Shelter space is so scarce. We had to find a different way,” she said.

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