Two organizations we support in Grand Prairie, Texas serve community members who struggle with financial insecurities: Grand Prairie United Charities and LifeLine for Families. While each has its own mission and programs, they serve many of the same clients due to their shared foci on meeting basic needs. This overlap in clients and services has led to a strong collaboration that benefits the community.
Grand Prairie United Charities
Grand Prairie United Charities (GPUC) was founded in 1955 with the goal of providing immediate emergency relief to Grand Prairie citizens experiencing financial distress. The facility houses a food bank that can be visited once per month. They also provide diapers, wipes, toiletries, and pet essentials when they are available. Financial assistance is offered for rent, utilities, and prescription medication, and their budgeting program teaches clients to better manage their finances. The primary stakeholders are the 22,000 residents served annually, staff members, board members, volunteers, and donors. GPUC has a small staff and relies on volunteers, some of whom are former clients, to serve the community (GPUC). In fact, one full-time staff member was formerly a regular volunteer (Awareness Wednesday). In 2016, they reported a balanced budget of $1,022,000 including gifts and grants, earned income, and special fundraising events, and 79% was spent on direct programs (Grand Prairie United Charities Inc) This resource-heavy program requires partnerships to secure human and financial capital.
Lifeline for Families
LifeLine for Families began its work in 2003 with a mission to “reduce homelessness among families of school children in crisis who are enrolled in the Grand Prairie Independent School District, by providing emergency assistance, temporary shelter, and life skills training for their parents” (LifeLine for Families Inc, 2019). Students currently or at risk of experiencing homelessness are referred to LifeLine by the school district and matched with appropriate resources. LifeLine is not a physical shelter. Rather, they work with families to provide scaffolded financial resources to either keep families in their current homes or secure housing zoned for the students’ current schools. In 2019, LifeLine secured housing for 67 families and other resources and services for 251 clients with a balanced budget of $318,000 (LifeLine for Families Inc, 2019). Their primary stakeholders are clients, their two staff members, board members, donors, and school district personnel. With a tighter focus and smaller client list, they do not rely on volunteers the same way as GPUC, but partnerships for resources and referrals are critical to their mission (Awareness Wednesday).
These two organizations have worked together since LifeLine was incorporated in 2003. While not all GPUC clients need LifeLine’s services, all LifeLine clients are served by GPUC’s food bank and some participate in their budget workshops. Due to this client overlap, the organizations share a Case Manager who splits her time between the organizations. Throughout the pandemic she has officed solely at GPUC, enriching this relationship. The organizations share a board member and several donors, often collaborating on grant proposals. Together, they spearheaded a team grant proposal with several local charities that consolidated the most common resources their clients needed into one efficient program housed at GPUC. The leaders have become good friends who collaborate instead of competing, evangelizing for each other’s organizations to raise awareness, secure funding, and increase the positive impact on the homeless community (Awareness Wednesday).