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The 12 Days of Ruthie's Snacks of Kindness: Part 1

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The Ruthie’s mission, “to provide exceptional service and quality comfort food in order to impact our local community and non-profit organizations”, has never been more exemplified than during the second annual 12 Days of Ruthie’s Snacks of Kindness (RSK). Before December, the Ruthie’s crew came together to select twelve different non-profits to thank for their generous work within the community. The twelve diverse organizations have missions that are close to the teams’ hearts, individually and as a whole. During the month of December Ruthie’s delivered delectable grilled cheese sandwiches to some of the members and employees of the selected non-profits. Donation drives for tangible items needed by some of the organizations were held in front of the food trucks during public events for the month of December. Ruthie’s also highlighted the non-profits of the 12 Days of RSK’s on the food trucks and social media to inform Ruthie’s customers of the organizations and their benevolent missions.

Smoked sliced turkey, crispy bacon, house made slob sauce, and melted sharp cheddar cheese on grilled sourdough bread topped with Santa! The Turkey Trot was one of the grilled cheese sandwiches delivered during the 12 Days of RSK’s.

Smoked sliced turkey, crispy bacon, house made slob sauce, and melted sharp cheddar cheese on grilled sourdough bread topped with Santa! The Turkey Trot was one of the grilled cheese sandwiches delivered during the 12 Days of RSK’s.

Richardson Area Young Life (RAYL), nominated by Ruthie’s employee, Ben, was the first non-profit of the 12 Days of RSK’s. Young Life is a Christian ministry that reaches out to middle school, high school, and college-age kids in more than 90 countries around the world, as well as groups for military kids, teen moms, and special need kids. The Young Life mission is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and to help them grow in their faith. They accomplish their mission by inviting kids to personally respond to the Good News and by walking in friendship with them regardless of their response, as well as providing fun, adventurous, life-changing, and skill-building experiences. RAYL provides a weekly club night, described as “a party with a purpose” to share a simple message about God’s love for them and a weekly meeting called Campaigners, for kids who wish to learn more or grow in their faith through study and service. Young Life also hosts a camping trip for kids to get away from the pressures of everyday life, have fun with friends and their Young Life leaders, as well as hear the message of God’s love in terms they can understand. The Ruthie’s crew made some delicious grilled cheeses for the staff of a local high school Young Life as a thank you for their commitment to the community. Visit the RAYL website for volunteer opportunities or if you would like to make a financial contribution.

Ruthie’s team member, Marie, chose The Concilio as the second recipient of the 12 Days of RSK’s. The non-profit’s mission is to build stronger communities by empowering parents to improve the lives of their families. Since 1981, they have fulfilled this mission by focusing on two areas; health and education. The organization offers programs that advance educational attainment by bridging the gap between parents and the educational system. Parents Advocating for Student Excellence (PASE), is a program that teaches parents how to positively influence their child’s education by being actively engaged. The Concilio helps families overcome unfavorable conditions that interfere with their health and access to equitable healthcare. The Healthy Kids, Healthy Families (HKHF) accelerates healthy lifestyle changes in communities and creates a lasting change by focusing on preventative health, nutrition and wellness, and physical activity. By promoting parental involvement in their children’s lives, The Concilio has been able to serve thousands of families each year, and help unlock students potentials. A donation drive of school supplies and care package items was held at the Ruthie’s office before December. The donations and grilled cheese sandwiches for the enthusiastic staff were delivered during the first week of the 12 Days of RSK’s. Visit The Concilio’s website for more information about volunteering or donating to the wonderful cause.

Ruthie’s employee, Cully, delivering grilled cheese sandwiches to the staff of the Greater Dallas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Ruthie’s employee, Cully, delivering grilled cheese sandwiches to the staff of the Greater Dallas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Greater Dallas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association was selected by Ruthie’s employee, Lori, in honor of her mother. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia with symptoms that develop slowly, get worse over time, and cause difficulties with memory, thinking, and behavior. There is no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues today. The Association’s mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, provide enhanced care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. The Greater Dallas Chapter provides connections to local resources, care consultations, caregiver seminars, educational programs, and support groups for those who have loved ones with Alzheimer’s. A national 24/7 Helpline connects people living with the disease, caregivers, families, and the public to specialists and master-level clinicians to offer confidential support and information. As a thank you for the chapter’s strenuous work with those affected by Alzheimer’s, Ruthie’s delivered comforting grilled cheeses to the thoughtful staff. The Greater Dallas Chapter staff member, Megan, wrote to Ruthie’s about the delivery, to say, “These sandwiches brought happiness to our office!” To help in the fight to end Alzheimer’s, visit their website to learn how to donate, advocate, or participate in the fundraising activity, The Longest Day!

The forth non-profit chosen for the 12 Days of RSK’s was Foundation 45 and was nominated by Ruthie’s team member, Sara. The mission of Foundation 45 is to start a difficult but necessary conversation about suicide and support people struggling with suicidal thoughts and mental illness as well as those struggling with the collateral damage of losing a loved one by suicide. The Foundation recognizes that musicians, artists, and creative types are often at a higher risk of mental health issues and addiction but suicide affects more than just a neighborhood or community, it affects us all. On average, one Texan dies by suicide every three hours. The organization provides help for anyone suffering from mental illness, depression and addiction; many of whom do not have access to mental health resources. Their goal is to stand up against suicide and bring an end to these needless deaths by breaking the stigma, promoting living, and fostering creativity. The Interlude 45 Support Group is offered three times a week for adults to share their battles and successes with mental health issues and suicide. All sessions are led by dedicated licensed professional counselors that are committed to helping those struggling in the Dallas community find answers. Sara delivered a lunch of cheesy encouragement to the some of the counselors and staff of Foundation 45 before one of their board meetings as an appreciation for their tireless efforts with those whose lives have been impacted by suicide. Join the mission to break the silence and support solutions for real people by donating, volunteering, or throwing a benefit on the Foundation 45 website.

The staff of DCAC enjoying lunch from Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe!

The staff of DCAC enjoying lunch from Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe!

The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) was nominated by Ruthie’s crew collectively because of the organizations mission to improve the lives of abused children in Dallas county and to provide national leadership on child abuse cases. The DCAC manages the investigation, prosecution and healing services for the most severe cases of child abuse in Dallas county. They aid over 6,500 children (and their non-offending family members) who have been sexually abused, severely physically abused, or have witnessed a violent crime. The DCAC’s average client is a 9-year-old girl who has been sexually abused by someone she knows and trusts. The non-profit provides victims of abuse with a forensic interview, support for their family through advocacy and financial assistance, and therapy. Children who have been victimized and receive therapy are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, grow up to become victims of domestic violence, become involved in some sort of criminal activity, suffer from a mental disorder, or develop suicidal thoughts and self-harm. The organization believes education is one of the best defenses against those who seek to harm children and offers training programs for the community. The DCAC’s Crimes Against Children Conference and Research Institute provides leadership on evidence-based practices and has become a promoter for a nationwide and transformative change. To thank the organization for providing justice and restoring hope in the young victims lives of Dallas County, Ruthie’s served some delectable grilled cheese sandwiches to the compassionate staff of DCAC. The non-profit relies on the help of the community to achieve its life-changing mission. Visit the DCAC website for more information about advocating, volunteering, donating, or attending an event.

Bonton Farms was selected as the sixth non-profit by Ruthie’s staff member, Sherri. Bonton is a South Dallas community located in an “urban food desert”, an area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. 63% of residents do not have personal transportation and the closest grocery store is a 3-hour round-trip bus ride away, leaving beer & wine stores as the only option with over-priced, outdated, and processed foods. In Bonton, 85% of men have been to prison, poverty is rampant, and jobs are scarce. The influence of these circumstances on the neighborhood’s health are detrimental and impacts the community’s ability to work and be productive. Cardio-vascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer rates are all 45% to 61% higher than that of the city of Dallas. Bonton Farms is on a mission to change the community from within by restoring lives, creating jobs, and igniting hope in the most forgotten and neglected neighborhoods for the most marginalized and vulnerable people. The now 40 plus acres farm is one of the largest urban farms in the United States. Adhering to organic standards, Bonton Farms is determined to grow the best tasting, healthiest, and freshest food. The farms free-range chickens, goats, turkeys, rabbits, and beehives provide plenty of fresh eggs, milk, and honey that can be purchased at the Market. The Market also offers a variety of enrichment classes on healthy cooking, financial management, parenting, and much more. The Ruthie’s crew provided some savory grilled cheese sandwiches for the dedicated and passionate team of Bonton Farms. Toiletries items collected during the one of donation drives were given to the non-profit for people of the community of Bonton. For more information about visiting the farm or Market, visit the Bonton Farms website.

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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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