CitySquare's COVID-19 Response
CitySquare continues to need critical funds to aid in our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We set up an Emergency Relief Fund to cover the unexpected costs associated with caring for our neighbors during this crisis.
Life as we all knew it changed more than five months ago. I’m sure many of you, like me, are ready to return to our “normal lives.” We’re still not there yet and continue to guess at what the “new abnormal” will look like. I do want to let you know our CitySquare team is encouraged and feeling hopeful thanks to your ongoing support.
Our community has generously supported CitySquare with monetary donations, in-kind donations, volunteer hours both on-site and virtually, gifts of food and coffee sent to our team, and notes and calls to let us know that you see us, and are firmly committed to joining us in the work we’re doing to fight poverty. Thank you does not seem adequate, but nonetheless, thank you very much!
Because of you...
We are supplying healthy groceries through our Food Pantry via a modified drive-thru and walk-up model that minimizes risk. The walk-up option offers Food Pantry access for neighbors who rely on public transportation. The Pantry became a hub of activity, and from mid-March to mid-June, the team served 6,652 unique neighbors more than 840,000 pounds of food! Previously the Pantry served 170 neighbors per day; however, this surged to 300 neighbors average per day, with more than 40 percent new to utilizing a food pantry.
The Child Nutrition program delivered food all summer through our Afterschool Partners and the Mobile Food program, and supplied more than 21,000 meals each week! Eighty-nine percent of Dallas ISD students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, and we’re committed to helping address child nutrition needs. We provide breakfast and lunch (5 breakfasts and 5 lunches) to children Monday-Friday at our Afterschool Partners, and in addition, our Mobile Food team delivers food where the children live, removing transportation barriers. For the first time, our Mobile Food program will continue this Fall since so many children are learning virtually and don't have access to free or reduced-price meals.
Our Food Recovery program is working hard to reclaim food that otherwise would go to waste. It's estimated by The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that as many as 6 billion pounds of food are wasted each month in the U.S. From April - June 2020, the team created more than 8,200 meals! These are prepared and packaged at CitySquare, and distributed to our neighbors through the Food Pantry, to youth accessing our TRAC Drop-In Center, and to other non-profit partner sites, like the Bridge, the Stewpot, and the West Dallas Multipurpose Center.
Those neighbors who need our support with housing, case management, emergency services, and transportation are being assisted by our Neighbor Support Services team, and for our youth aging out of foster care, through the Transition Resource Access Center (TRAC). There are currently more than 1,400 neighbors in these programs, and they are overcoming obstacles in “normal times,” so you can imagine how those are compounded during this crisis. The young males in our TRAC program are most vulnerable as they are not prioritized for services at other agencies. Phone calls, grocery delivery, hot meals, and more are literally a lifeline. We are continuing to move new neighbors – more than 50 in the few months - into permanent supportive housing so they have a safe place to shelter. Our case managers go above and beyond every day.
The team bravely providing transportation through the Dallas Connector Project is working longer hours to ensure our neighbors can safely reach the shelters and services that are open and needed. We increased the hours the Connector runs per a City of Dallas request, as we now transport neighbors to the temporary homeless shelter at the Convention Center, averaging 275 neighbors per week.
We also restarted our Homeless Outreach Team - “HOT.” They are conducting outreach again to our unsheltered neighbors. This unique program meets our neighbors where they are, such as in encampments, city parks, at airports, or under bridges and overpasses. The work of this team is vital as they reach those neighbors who might not otherwise seek assistance. They compassionately ensure the basic needs of these neighbors are met, through building rapport and encouraging them to participate in available programs. The end goal is to help the neighbors move into housing.
CitySquare’s commitment to our neighbors and our belief in community compels us to continue to serve. We are doing what we do best at CitySquare - finding smart ways to do the right thing. And we remain able to do this work because of your belief in community and your continued support.
While we are seeing an increased demand for services now, we anticipate this demand will be increased for the long-term, and your donations to the Emergency Relief Fund allow us to provide neighbors with both the short- and long-term assistance they need to restore their lives. Monetary support is critical and most appreciated to ensure we can continue to deliver services to our impacted neighbors. We set a $1 million goal for our Emergency Relief Fund, with 100% of these funds designated to support our neighbors.
In-person volunteer opportunities are available, but limited, as we take every precaution to ensure the health and safety of our community. Some volunteers are hosting at-home drives for in-kind needs such as reusable grocery bags, antibacterial hand soap, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies - click here to learn more about our virtual volunteering opportunities. Others have sent a light meal or snacks to our on-site team and volunteers as they're not always able to take a lunch break. If you're interested in volunteering either on-site or remotely, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note any on-site volunteers must be scheduled ahead of time.
You may also send a note of encouragement to our front line team – just click here.
Please refer any friends, family, and neighbors experiencing economic distress to CitySquare. If you're a high-risk individual (defined by the CDC here), we will ensure you can receive our services without jeopardizing your health.
We will continue to keep you updated, and please know we greatly appreciate your support and donations. We are committed to serving and caring for our neighbors until they recover from the physical and economic toll of this crisis.
Your friend in the fight,
CitySquare President & Chief Operating Officer
We remain committed to being open to serve our neighbors and continue to follow guidance from Dallas County Health & Human Services (DCHHS) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure we can do so. Our team is focused on maintaining the health of our neighbors, staff, donors, and volunteers while also working on the front lines to meet increased demands for our services. In the event we are instructed by local health officials to cease operations, we will post an announcement here, as well as use all available channels to keep you informed.