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Wreaths Across America - Remember. Honor. Teach.

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The nonprofit, Wreaths Across America, emerged from the generosity of the owner of the Worcester Wreath Company, Morrill Worcester. When the company found themselves with an excess of wreaths near the end of the holiday season in 1992, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s veterans by placing the spare wreaths at the Arlington National Cemetery. The annual tribute went on silently funded by the Worcester Wreath Company until 2005, when a photo of the snow-covered graves at Arlington, circulated the internet. The project attracted thousands of requests from people across the country wanting to help honor our nations heroes.

The Worcester family, veterans, and other civic organizations formed Wreaths Across America in 2007 to remember and honor our fallen soldiers and teach the future generations of the ultimate sacrifice made for their country. WAA now coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 1,600 locations all over the United States, as well as at sea and abroad each December 15th on National Wreaths Across America Day. WAA honors our fallen veterans throughout the year with the Remembrance Tree Program that gives families a living memorial of their loved one at the WAA Museum in Maine. The mission of WAA has touched the lives of thousands of school, scout, civic, and religious groups across the country. Through fundraising, these groups help ensure that the goal of placing a wreath on each hero’s grave is possible. In return, WAA distributes fundraising dollars to the groups to assist in furthering their own goals and projects.

Ruthie’s selected WAA for the RSK of November after hearing that there would not be enough wreaths for the graves of the DFW National Cemetery. There are over 41,000 plus grave sites and roughly 22,500 of those graves were given a wreath during December of 2018.  Becca Maddux started working with WAA in August of 2012 after she laid her father to rest at DFW National Cemetery. That December, they only laid about 3,000 wreaths for the 30,000 plus gravesites that were currently at the cemetery. “It was very upsetting to see so many gravesites bare and that were going without a holiday wreath,” Becca mentions. After that December, Becca and her husband decided they would start up a charity support group, DFW Wreaths for Heroes, so that one day they could cover every grave. Becca believes, “that the most important thing WAA and all [of their] volunteers share with the community is to REMEMBER the fallen, HONOR those that serve and their families, and TEACH the next generation about the value of freedom.” The wreaths that WAA lay every December are not purchased by the government. “These wreaths are one-hundred percent sponsored and bought with donations from individuals, companies, scout troops, churches, veteran groups, to name a few,” explains Becca. Ruthie’s collected $800 during November for WAA, sponsoring fifty-three wreaths for our fallen heroes. WAA and their mission were highlighted on the Ruthie’s food trucks and social media, during November. Becca conveys that, “without the support of companies like yours [Ruthie’s] we cannot do what we do every year for these fallen heroes and their families. For everyone that donates, we appreciate you and your support!”

Visit the DFW Wreaths for Heroes website for more information and to donate a wreath today for December 2019.

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The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation

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The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation’s mission is to provide free programming and educational opportunities for the enrichment of visitors’ lives, to showcase the multitude of cultures and talents Dallas has to offer. Through downtown Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park, The Foundation has established a town square where citizens may congregate and create traditions. Creating the first deck park in Dallas, the nonprofit has connected Uptown with downtown Dallas, eliminating the “moat” that has discouraged pedestrians from traversing. The concept of a deck park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway has been imminent since 1960s but it was not until 2002 that the idea resurfaced in the real estate community. Formed in 2004 by Jody Grant, John Zogg and Linda Owen, The Woodall Rodgers Foundation led the project from design to completion. Klyde Warren Park is a Dallas public park but is privately operated by the nonprofit. The Foundation studied great public parks to bring the best practices to the park’s operations, programming, and maintenance. The park has become the heart of the city for Dallas by expanding pedestrian connectivity and providing a natural landscape in the urban fabric of the city. The space will continue to strengthen our community and provide health, environmental, and economic benefits.  

The 5.2-acre deck park is built over Woodall Rodgers Freeway between Pearl and St.Paul streets in downtown Dallas and is open daily from 6am to 11pm. The urban green space is highly active, providing daily free programming varying from yoga, lecture series, outdoor concerts, films, food trucks, and more. The park features include the performance pavilion, walking trails, games area, dog park, children’s park, and the restaurants Savor and Relish. Nearly 1,300 free programming activities and educational opportunities are provided at the park each year. Paul Frushour, the director of events at KWP, says that the organizations greatest impact on the community is, “the way Klyde Warren Park brings Dallas together. [It is] something that no other venue or park in the city does. The Park has something for everyone to enjoy, and allows guests to create memories with each visit.” A 1.2 acres expansion for Klyde Warren Park is expected to be completed as early as 2022. The expansion will include extra green space and a 20,000-square-foot pavilion that will be home to the VisitDallas center.

Ruthie’s chose The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation during the month of October as the Ruthie’s Snacks of Kindness recipient in celebration of Klyde Warren Park’s sixth anniversary. The Foundation was highlighted on the Ruthie food trucks and social media during the month. Ruthie’s invited representatives of The Foundation to our informational day at Klyde Warren Park where flyers for the park’s upcoming Park & Palate fundraiser were handed out to customers. The annual full fundraiser features some of Dallas’ favorite culinary artist, the trendiest wineries, breweries and spirits in the area, as well as cool tunes and one-of-a-kind activities. Comforting grilled cheeses were delivered to the incredibly hard-working staff of Klyde Warren Park the day of the fundraiser.

The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation has helped to define Dallas by providing what major cities all over the world have, a signature park. Klyde Warren Park is intended to be a facilitator for the ongoing transformation of downtown Dallas, where people can build new traditions, share experiences and have fun. You can support the park by visiting Klyde Warren Park or by donating online. Visit their website for more information.

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Heart House

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Heart House is a place for refugee and underprivileged children to move from chaos to calm. The nonprofit provides safety, education and opportunity to children living in the low-income neighborhood of Vickery Meadow. Cultural embracement and celebration is incorporated through the programs of Heart House to reflect the diversity of their students. A majority of their students are non-native English speakers and have been displaced from their country of origin due to crime or political instability. The vision of Heart House is to use education as a catalyst to combat poverty and level the playing field for some of the most vulnerable children in our city while assisting the family as a whole. They provide after school programs, tutoring, mentoring, counseling and play therapy services through their Head, Heart, and Hands (H3) program. Head embodies their focus on students’ cognitive development which helps to build academic skills. Their concentration on social-emotional learning and counseling represents the heart. Hands is symbolized through acculturation and experiential learning. Using an integrated educational-mental and behavioral health model to establish a pathway to success in school and life, the organization is the only of its kind in Vickery Meadow.

Lenita Dunlap is the Heart House CEO and has been with the company since 2014, explains, “Providing mental health and trauma informed care to refugee children in the afterschool space completely free” is the organizations greatest impact on the community. Heart House has become indispensable in Vickery Meadow by offering a safe environment for disadvantaged children, as well as, radically changing the lives of their students. Working with the organization for four years has really given Lenita, “a greater passion by purpose to advocate for access to mental health.” She believes that, “everyone, regardless (of) their socio-economic status, should have access to mental health.” Refugee children that have been exposed to war-related trauma can have behavior problems, mood and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a range of other adjustment difficulties. If these problems are tackled early, the children can successfully acculturate. Lenita explains how her work at Heart House, “has deepened (her) passion and call to promote and provide equality, to work hard to ensure all children are well provided for, in doing so, we have a stronger future in our city.”    

During September, the nonprofit was highlighted on the Ruthie’s food trucks and social media to inform our customers of their devotion to the refugee and underprivileged children of Dallas. The Heart House team and volunteers dedicate hours to improve the terrible conditions these children face. Ruthie’s was able to serve some of the volunteers and employees our comforting grilled cheeses during one of their training sessions, as a thank you for all their selfless work.

The incredible people of Heart House could not continue their essential work without the help of the community. The cornerstone of the organization are the volunteers and donors who sacrifice their time, money and resources to make an enormous difference in the lives of the students. The non-profit is in constant need of financial donations, supplies and volunteer hours. Please visit the Heart House website for more information.

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Resource Center

 
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Resource Center is a trusted leader that supports and empowers all people affected by HIV by providing transformative education and advocacy, improving health and wellness, and strengthening families and communities. The organization began in 1983, as the Foundation for Human Understanding, with a focus on education and service, and a goal of achieving equality, recognition and equal rights for the gay and lesbian community in north Texas. Through health and medical services, the Center is a frontrunner in HIV/AIDS education, prevention and services, and provides a full spectrum of STD prevention education, screenings and treatments. The Center provides behavior health and counseling services for youth, adults and seniors and their families, in a safe and healing environment. Their community programs provide vital services for men, women, youth, seniors and transgender individuals. With more than 1,200 volunteers and over 50 paid staff, the nonprofit is one of the largest centers of its kind in the United States.

Keller Fields is an Executive Administrative Assistant for Resource Center and started working there because Keller believed in the mission of the agency. “The Center is a catalyst for change in the LGBTQ+ community through advocacy, health, and community.” Keller conveys, “It’s easy to feel proud working here when you see the lives impacted by the work our staff and volunteers put in each day to make Dallas a safer and more inclusive space for everyone.” The Center assist more than 60,000 people each year through its programs and services. The nonprofit’s services are all essential to the LGBTQ community, but Keller mentions that their services and their accessibility are the most important parts of the organization. “We don’t hide who we are, and we work hard at Resource Center to make sure that when you stop in, you can get the services you need. Resource Center provides a continuum of care for persons living with HIV and the LGBTQ community, from youth to seniors.”

Resource Center was chosen to be one of the Ruthie’s Snacks of Kindness (RSK) recipients not only because of their incredible work but also the personal connection some of the Ruthie’s employees has with the LGBTQ community. The center was highlighted on our food trucks for the month of September to educate our customers about the nonprofit’s thoughtful work, in addition to, informing the community how they can support the organization. Ruthie’s went to spread some cheesy cheer with our gourmet grilled cheeses to the wonderful staff September 10th at the Community Center. The Resource Center team is bursting with compassionate and loving energy that is extremely contagious. They have a few different campuses all over Dallas so Keller says, “there is rarely a chance we get to all come together to enjoy one another’s company - and there aren’t too many things that bring people together like delicious food (and Ruthie’s is delicious!)” They also express how, “kindness has a sort of domino effect – once it hits you, it must keep going until it hits the next person, and I am already looking forward to the next time I can pay it forward to make someone’s day a little brighter... and it all started with a grilled cheese.”

Thank you, Resource Center for providing help, love and acceptance to the LGBTQ individuals and to the people affected by HIV/AIDS. You can offer support by donating or volunteering through their website, www.rcdallas.org.

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Parkland’s Victim Intervention Program (VIP)/Rape Crisis Center

The Victim Intervention Program (VIP)/Rape Crisis Center at Parkland strives to prevent violence towards women, men and children. They promote safety and recovery for victims of abuse and/or violence. VIP helps women, men, teens and children over the age of four that have experienced abuse and violence. They assist and support victims of sexual assault, family violence, intimate partner violence, human trafficking and other types of violent crimes. They provide crisis support, advocacy and counseling to patients at Parkland Hospital as well as residents of Dallas County. Their services include a 24-Hour crisis hotline and hospital response to victims of abuse and violence who are cared for at Parkland by their experienced advocates and counselors. Through training and workshops, the staff of VIP are educating the community on how to recognize and address those affected by violence and abuse. Their website provides more information on how to identify the different types of abuse and how recovery is possible.

VIP originally contacted Ruthie’s to book us for a an employee appreciation event at their offices. Once we found out about their remarkable work for the community, we knew they would be a perfect Ruthie’s Snacks of Kindness (RSK) recipient. Lyndsay Sather, the Interim Director for VIP, started as an intern and has been with the nonprofit for 5 years. What has kept her with the organization is “watching individuals find their own voice and meaning of hope.” She says, “It is a beautiful thing to walk alongside individuals recovering from trauma and help them see their strength from the journey.” The VIP program is unique in how they may be the first emotional support a sexual assault victim receives after checking in to Parkland. The importance of the organization to the community is their “multi-pronged approach in serving trauma survivors. Each component plays a critical role which directly impacts the others’ and collectively works towards creating an emotionally healthier community.”

As our RSK recipient, VIP was highlighted on our food trucks for the month of August to inform and educate our customers of the compassionate nonprofit’s work. Ruthie’s also collected toiletries and small gifts for victims of sexual assault to donate the day of our RSK event. Through comfort food, made with love, we strive to show how important this nonprofit is to our community. We arrived to the VIP office to serve our gourmet grilled cheese to their kindhearted advocates on August 30th. The atmosphere of the center was exceptionally calm, creating a perfect safe place. The small staff, of about thirty people, were genuinely enthusiastic about Ruthie’s coming out to brighten their day with some cheesy encouragement. Lyndsay mentions that “Ruthie’s acknowledgement to the work we do in addition (to) their kind gesture brought tears to our eyes. It was such an impactful reminder that our hard work and dedication does not go unseen, and we too deserve to be ‘taken care of’ at times.”

Ruthie’s was truly privileged to serve the incredibly sympathetic and supportive employees of the VIP/Rape Crisis Center. We are humbled by their devotion to victims of such horrific crimes. Visit their website for more information about their services and how to get involved.

Victim Intervention Program (VIP)/Rape Crisis Center at Parkland

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