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Reading Partners of North Texas


The non-profit, Reading Partners, believes that reading is fundamental to a child’s academic success and their future. Their mission is to help children become lifelong readers by empowering communities to offer individualized instruction with significant results. The organization partners with under-resourced and low-income schools in hopes of bridging the immense educational gap that children growing up in poverty have to face. Reading Partners focuses on students who are at least one month behind in reading to give individualized instruction to help them master the reading fundamentals they need to reach grade level requirements. Committed community volunteers are trained to work one-on-one with these students to deliver a simple and proven successful curriculum each week to help the students improve their reading skills.

The organization systematically collects, analyzes, and uses data from annual student assessments, quality monitoring activities, researching the effectiveness of pilot initiatives and contracting for independent studies to improve their programs. Students reading skills are assessed three times during the year and formally surveyed by their teachers twice a year to track each student’s progress. Volunteer tutors write observational notes after each tutoring session and the Reading Partners site staff reviews the notes and uses the information to provide additional instructional support and guidance for the tutors throughout the year. Structured but easy-to-use curriculum provides targeted instruction and the practice of introductory literacy skills to help students gain the skills needed to become independent and successful readers. The non-profit’s one-on-one tutoring model provides each student with a caring coach to deliver support and success while working at the students’ pace and level. Through the Reading Partners program, students who have struggled in many subjects are now empowered to become proud and confident readers excited about learning.

The Ruthie’s crew nominated Reading Partners of North Texas for the Ruthie’s Snacks of Kindness (RSK) for the month of February because of the crew’s interest in throwing a book drive at Klyde Warren Park. The non-profit encourages students to build their own libraries at home by offering them gently used donated books from book drives and donations through their Take Reading Home program. The crew Reading Partners selected as the RSK recipient not only because of their Take Home Reading program but also because of their deep focus on educational equality through engaging communities to support students through trusted and proven literacy solutions. Ruthie’s held the book drive in front of the food tuck at Klyde Warren Park during the month of February and highlighted the organization on our website, social media, and food trucks. Grilled cheese sandwiches filled with cheesy encouragement were delivered to the AmeriCorps member of Reading Partners who are critical to the success of the organization. Some of the Ruthie’s crew also volunteered for Reading Partners as part of the Team Tutor Day at Kramer Elementary School in Dallas. External Relations Manager of Reading Partners North Texas, Amber Martin, mentioned how grateful she was for the help Ruthie’s contributed to the non-profit, “Thank you again for the grilled cheese and your willingness to help children learn to read. You all help our children make up critical sessions needed to achieve success of getting back on grade level reading.”

Ruthie’s is thankful for the impact Reading Partners is making to improve literacy outcomes for each student and the community. The organization cannot thrive without the support of the community. Volunteering to become a reading partners is a fun and effective way to change a life through mentorship. Visit the Reading Partners of North Texas website for more information.

Grilled cheese sandwiches delivered to the AmeriCorps members of Reading Partners North Texas February 2019.

Grilled cheese sandwiches delivered to the AmeriCorps members of Reading Partners North Texas February 2019.



New Friends New Life

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New Friends New Life (NFNL) restores and empowers formerly trafficked teen girls and sexually exploited women, including their children, by providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health, and spiritual support. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit human beings for labor or commercial sex. Currently, Texas ranks 2nd in the country for the most human trafficking with $99 million spent each year on sex trade in North Texas alone. NFNL focuses on the issue of domestic sex trafficking which by law means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act induced by force, fraud, or coercion or any of these acts performed by someone under 18. There are an estimated 400 trafficked teens on the streets each night in Dallas, contributing to the 100,000 children that are trafficked each year in the United States. The majority of those being trafficked are poor and have already suffered violence and abuse throughout life. Many victims of trafficking have learned not to feel in order to survive the exploitation and abuse they have endured and do not immediately seek help but through continued trust-building and patient interviewing to get the whole story, these women can begin developing their new lives.

The services and resources offered by the non-profit include counseling, support groups, the Children’s Academic Program, financial assistance, budget coaching, life-skills and parenting training, education programs, second chance jobs, and spiritual support, all are geared toward rehabilitation. A soul healing and faith-based program is dedicated to mentoring and affirming members of their inner strength and courage by developing the skill of self-compassion. The comprehensive program is offered to more than 1,200 formerly trafficked teens, women, and their children each year including women and teens that are currently incarcerated.

Ruthie’s food is so delicious and it’s a luxury our members don’t often get to have, so for them to be able to order from the truck and get some truly mouthwatering food is really awesome to watch.
— Melany Vargas

During the month of January, the NFNL organization was highlighted on the Ruthie’s food trucks and social media. The Ruthie’s crew delivered delicious grilled cheese sandwiches to the kindhearted and dedicated staff of the non-profit. Volunteer Manager, Melany Vargas mentioned how the staff works “day in and day out to handle all sorts of hurdles that come up for the members who are working hard to overcome their past trauma, survive in their present situation and plan for a better future.” Some of the program members were served grilled cheese sandwiches from the food truck during one of their educational training classes as well. Melany expresses how “Ruthie’s food is so delicious and it’s a luxury our members don’t often get to have, so for them to be able to order from the truck and get some truly mouthwatering food is really awesome to watch.” The members or clients of the program are truly committed to changing their lifestyle by living within a budget, remaining drug and alcohol free, and attending training to gain the education and skills needed for a future job. After graduating, clients still have access to support services and leadership opportunities for life. None of this would be possible without the devotion of the supportive staff and advocates of NFNL who provide a careful and empathetic approach to restore and empower the lives of their members.

There are many ways to join the mission of helping women and teens escape the degradation of sexually oriented businesses to build new lives for themselves and their children. NFNL depends on volunteers, their Circle of Friends, local businesses and partners, advocacy groups, and interns to achieve the purpose of the organization. The non-profit is always looking for opportunities to bring awareness to the issue of commercial sexual exploitation and the real-world struggles of sex trafficking in the United States through speaking engagements. Visit the NFNL website for more information about how to help women and children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty, and limited opportunities.



The 12 Days of Ruthie's Snacks of Kindness: Part 2

The seventh organization chosen by the Ruthie’s crew, is not a non-profit but an institution that wholly impacts the Dallas community. The Dallas Police Department (DPD) is dedicated to serving the people of Dallas and strives to reduce crime and provide a safe city. Helping people at every opportunity by offering preventive, investigative, and enforcement services is the DPD’s goal. By respecting and protecting the rights of citizens as determined by the law, being an example of honesty and integrity, and performing their duties with the knowledge that protection of the lives and property of all citizens is their primary responsibility, the men and women of the DPD accomplish this mission. The Police Department realizes that they alone cannot control crime and must act in harmony with the community and the rest of the Criminal Justice System. The importance of involving the community to help combat crime and increase the quality of police service is acknowledged by the DPD through the Community Engagement Unit (CEU). The CEU assists citizens with developing crime watch groups and other programs that assist the community including iWatch Dallas, Amber Alert, and youth programs. A couple employees of Ruthie’s delivered some tasty gourmet grilled cheese for the officers of the Jack Evans Headquarters for their dedication to the citizens of Dallas. Visit the Dallas Police website for more information.

Vogel Alcove was selected by Ruthie’s team member, Amber, for the 12 Days of Ruthie’s Snacks of Kindness (RSK). Their mission is to help young children overcome the lasting and traumatic effects of homelessness. The vision of the non-profit is that every child in the Dallas community has a home, a self-sufficient family, and a foundation for success in school and life. As of 2016, 30% of Dallas children are growing up in poverty, the number one reason for family homelessness. Children suffering from homelessness are four times more likely than their peers to display delayed development and 33% of homeless children over the age of 8 will have a mental disorder. The organization intervenes with children at this crucial time in brain development and provides trauma-informed care that helps to counteract the effects of homelessness. Through therapeutic early childhood programming and school-age services, mental health integration, health services, and the family support program, Vogel Alcove has tailored their approach to meet the needs of homeless children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old. By providing a place free from hunger and trauma, where children are allowed to learn, grow, and thrive, the non-profit gives homeless families a chance to overcome their circumstances. Ruthie’s served lunch to compassionate staff as a thank you for their dedication to the children of Dallas experiencing homelessness. Greg Brinkley, Chief Development Officer for Vogel Alcove, conveyed how grateful the staff was for the comforting lunch. “Our teachers and case workers have very, very difficult jobs. The children we serve are in trauma, and it takes special people to help them heal and grow. In addition, our teachers absorb the pain our children and families experience. The fact that you chose to support our staff made them feel special. We need more people like you and companies like Ruthie’s to support our team! Plus, the sandwiches were awesome!” In order to continue offering services for homeless children and their families at no cost, the organization relies on the support of the community. To learn more about donating or volunteering for Vogel Alcove, visit their website for more information.

We need more people like you and companies like Ruthie’s to support our team! Plus, the sandwiches were awesome!
— Greg Brinkley, Chief Development Officer for Vogel Alcove

One of our community partners, Café Momentum, was chosen by the Ruthie’s crew as the ninth non-profit of the 12 Days of RSK’s. The Dallas-based restaurant and culinary training facility transforms young lives by equipping our community’s most at-risk youth with life skills, education and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. By providing a positive environment in which youth who have spent time in juvenile facilities receive intensive culinary, job, and life-skill training, as well as continuous mentorship and support, the organization empowers the at-risk youths to transform their lives and achieve their full potential. Participators of the pre-release program alternate through every aspect of the restaurant from waiting tables to washing dishes, while working side-by-side with reputable chefs. Café Momentum collaborates with the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Department to teach young adolescent men and women that it is possible to break the cycle of violence and crime that many of them have endured. To ensure a more successful future for their interns the organization concentrates on creating environments where they can attain self-confidence and learn marketable skills. The 12-month paid post-release internship program begins with a 13-week orientation at which time interns are connected with case managers to address basic crucial needs, build a baseline of stability in their lives and set personal goals. Working their way through all areas of the restaurant, the interns learn about legal employment, social and life skills. Case managers provide financial literacy training, parenting classes, educational assistance, and career exploration as well as help working through issues such as anger management, trauma recovery, fatherlessness, and abandonment. Successful interns are placed in a job with one of the non-profit’s community partners after graduation and become contributing members of society. Ruthie’s served gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to the interns and amiable staff of Café Momentum before their Thursday night dinner service. Toiletries that were collected at the Ruthie’s food trucks during public events were delivered to the interns of non-profit. The restaurant is opened for dinner Thursday through Sunday for reservations and walk-in guests. The Sunday Supper Concert Series is an intimate acoustic evening with a new artist every week and family-style dinner and drinks. Visit the Café Momentum website or restaurant to eat, drink and change lives.

The tenth non-profit, Equest, was nominated by Ruthie’s employee, Kelly. Enhancing the quality of life for children and adults with diverse needs by partnering them with horses to bring hope and healing through equine assisted activities and therapies is the mission of the organization. The non-profit offers a variety of programs tailored to each individual client including Therapeutic Horsemanship where instructors teach equestrian skills to participants with a variety of special needs. Participants experience a freedom of motion and ability they don’t or can’t enjoy in other aspects of their lives. Therapeutic Carriage Driving provides the same experience for those with special needs who cannot or do not wish to be mounted on a horse. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy is available to clients while mounted on the horse through the Hippotherapy program. The equine-assisted therapy may also positively affect psychological, cognitive, behavioral, and communication outcomes. Equine Facilitated Counseling at Equest addresses metal health issues for clients with a team of licensed professionals and the horse. The Hooves for Heroes program is offered to military veterans and family members at no cost and empowers participants to take charge of their civilian transitions and assume new roles as civic leaders. Benefits that veterans receive from the therapeutic horsemanship include improved self-awareness and self-confidence, healthier relationships, enhanced emotional regulation, and opportunities to serve the community. The non-profit also hosts the Dallas Police Department and their Police Activities League (PAL) program through a comprehensive horsemanship program that moves children from their first introduction to horses to advanced riding skills. Individuals wanting to gain firsthand experience through sensory immersion can participate in the Equine Assisted Learning program or the Mini Ambassador Program to learn about the unique healing bond between humans and horses. Ruthie’s delivered grilled cheese sandwiches to the empathetic staff of the organization as a thank you for their dedication to improving the quality of life for children and adults with diverse needs. Equest offers over 30,000 volunteer hours each year for individuals and groups with no prior horse experience needed. The organization will teach you everything you need to know and offer an opportunity to partake in riding lessons. Visit the Equest website for more information about volunteering, donating, and upcoming events supporting the non-profit’s mission.

The Veterans Resource Center was selected by the Ruthie’s crew in honor of the homeless veterans of Dallas. The center is managed by Homeless Veterans Services of Dallas, Inc. (HVSD), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless or at-risk veterans and their families. By providing the first point of contact for veterans needing to connect with non-profits, employment and educational opportunities, and resources offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs the organization offers a path towards self-sufficiency. Alleviating the problem of homelessness among veterans and their families by assisting with transitional and permanent housing if the main goal of the Veterans Resource Center. Since opening the center’s doors, over 45,000 veterans have received assistance from the organization. The Ruthie’s crew served 150 grilled cheese sandwiches in addition to chips and drinks to the courageous veterans receiving aid from the center. During the lunch service, the generous non-profit organizations Operation Once in a Lifetime and Boot Campaign delivered blankets and boots to the veterans as well. Operation Once in a Lifetime’s mission is to make the dreams of U.S. Soldiers and their families come true by providing free financial and morale support to all U.S. Service members, their families, and veterans regardless of rank, deployment, physical condition, branch, or service. Boot Campaign is dedicated to providing life-improving programs to help veterans and military families nationwide and helping to bridge the military-civilian divide. The veterans received new boots and blankets along with a warm and comforting grilled cheese sandwich in recognition of their sacrifices and for their dedication to our country. For more information about the Veterans Resource Center and how to support their mission, visit their website.

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All of the employees of Ruthie’s loves animals so the last non-profit nominated for the 12 Days of RSK’s was Paws in the City. The animal rescue group is committed to ending the overpopulation, abuse, and neglect of Dallas area dogs and cats by finding every adoptable dog and cat a loving home. As an all-volunteer non-profit organization, Paws in the City shares resources with like-minded groups, assists in emergencies, and work harder to find homes for hard-to-place pets. By taking dogs and cats that are overlooked due to illnesses, old age or breed, the charitable non-profit is reducing the euthanizing of animals at local city shelters. A training program to help solve behavior issues and rehabilitate dogs with issues due to human neglect and abuse is offered to all of the adoptable dogs that Paws in the City home, giving them a second chance. Through community outreach and financial support of vaccine and sterilization clinics, the program Fixin’ to Save helps diminish the numbers of unwanted litters in Dallas. Pet owners may attend to have their animals vaccinated or sterilized for free at the various clinic that organization support. The Guest Dog/Cat Program helps citizens who have found a stray or need to re-home an animal by posting the pet on social media, inviting them to attend adoption events, and connecting them with a discounted vet. As a thank you to the magnanimous volunteers of Paws in the City, Ruthie’s delivered some delicious grilled cheese sandwiches to the Pawliday Pawty, one of their exciting and unique fundraisers. Being one of the largest and most respected animal rescue groups in North Texas, the organization depends on their volunteers and the donations from the community. To learn more about the non-profit and how to get involved, visit their website.

The organizations selected for the 12 Days of RSK’s are just a few of the organizations that are creating a positive change in our community. All of the affectionate, generous, and supportive volunteers and team members of the organizations have dedicated more than just their time to making Dallas and the surrounding neighborhoods a better place. Serving grilled cheese was just a simple thank you that has hopefully warmed and brought comfort to every recipient of the Snacks of Kindness. A total of 535 sandwiches were served in December to impact our community in the cheesiest way. Ruthie’s was honored to be able to recognize and acknowledge the dozen non-profits and organizations represented in the 12 Days of RSK’s.



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