Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Feline Newsmakers

Any visit to the Stewpot needs to include saying "Hello" to Precious, our 2nd floor feline resident. She's a "Working Cat" and keeps other four legged visitors and some two-legged ones as well in check. She's a great companion and is very well informed about the Fine Arts (a la the Stewpot's Open Art Studio) and knows the ins and outs of Food Pantry management. About three weeks ago Precious came face to face with another of her species in a surprise encounter.

On a Sunday morning the mournful sounds of a cat were heard on the Stewpot first floor. A search to locate the Meow-er found Precious safe and sound and suspicions that another cat was nearby. Two days later without benefit of séance several people were enveloped by the calling of a cat from "beyond".

As best we can figure a cat wandered into the 15feet of space above the suspended ceiling of the 1st floor and the floor-boards of the 2nd. Most of us thought only the likes of John Malcomvitch inhabited these inter-floor zones. "Cat" was spotted, fed and wooed. She was captured in a stunning "Have-a-Heart" adventure. With the hopes she would be a suitable companion for Precious.

"Cat", an 8 month true calico, was taken to a vet where she spayed and determined she was feral. We were advised the most humane thing was to release her back downtown. She was given a casework referral letter, several bus passes and the number of Judy's special hot-line.

Over the years the Stewpot has rescued many animals. "At risk" dogs, cats, birds and rabbits have gotten 2nd chances along with people. Food, water and respite have long been de facto Stewpot service. Many of us have taken home "just temporarily" an animal that became a long-time companion. Oh well, we also have a shelter for unwanted 8-track tapes.


Precious the Cat

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Day of Celebration!

Last Thursday was truly a special day here at The Stewpot. We had our 24th Annual Stewpot Talent Show and a special lunch honoring Dr. and Mrs. Elgin Ware.

Dr. and Mrs. Elgin Ware were instrumental in bringing medical services here to The Stewpot in 1999. For 12 years, Elgin and Karen served our clients each Friday with the help of several volunteers. In June, Dr. Ware retired, and we were finally able to honor him! We invited past medical clinic volunteers and donors to a lunch. We enjoyed a great meal, great conversation, and a video of client/staff testimonies about the impact Dr. Ware and the medical clinic have had. The lunch ended with a special presentation to the Wares.

Parkland Hospital received a grant to expand our medical clinic. We are so excited about this new season. Construction should begin shortly. When it is complete the "Karen and Elgin Ware Stewpot Medical Clinic" will be open five days a week to serve our clients!

Following the lunch, we had our annual talent show. Clients are able to compete in five categories: performance, poetry, essay, art, and costume. There are cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. The theme this year was "Stewpot Hospital: Reflections on Healing". We are always so impressed with the creativity and talent of our participants.

We had a great day celebrating the gifts of so many people here - the gift of writing, the gift of singing, and the gift of healing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Holiday Project

Can you believe October is almost over? Thanksgiving is just 4 weeks away! Each holiday season we are blown away by the generosity of so many people in our community. Our holiday meal services are already full, however, we have a great opportunity for you and your families (or co-workers, church groups, book clubs, etc.) to serve our homeless friends. Every year we ask for people to donate a "Holiday Box for the Homeless". We collect thousands of these to hand out around the holidays. They make an incredible impact.

How to make a holiday box:
  1. Use an empty shoe box (standard size). Please only use boxes that have a separate bottom and lid. Please wrap the lid and the box separately. The box should not be wrapped shut when finished.
  2. Fill the box with a variety of small, inexpensive gifts. Use the gift ideas listed at the bottom of the page. Please fill boxes with ADULT, UNISEX items only.
  3. Once filled, place a rubber band around each box.
  4. In a separate envelope you may enclose a holiday card or note from you/your family or group. (Please do not include addresses or phone numbers.) Place your note inside the box.

Boxes may be delivered between Thursday, December 1 – Wednesday, December 14, 2011. Drop off at The Stewpot, 1822 Young Street, Dallas, 75201, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 3:30 pm


Gift Ideas

  • knit hat
  • small flashlight w/batteries
  • pens, pencils
  • knit gloves
  • disposable stick razors
  • stationary or cards w/stamps
  • tube socks
  • small umbrella
  • phone calling cards
  • plastic poncho
  • fast food gift card ($5 or less)
  • hard candy or gum
  • chapstick
  • small hand sanitizer
  • travel size Kleenex
  • small Bible or book of inspiration
  • used or damaged items
  • knives or weapons
  • chocolate or food
  • liquids
  • medications or vitamins
  • breakable items or glass containers
  • aerosol cans
  • money
We've already had a great start to the holiday boxes! 160 associates from the Frito Lay Controller's team in Plano donated holiday box items this week!
Questions? Call 214-746-2785, ext. 320: Jean Jones, Stewpot Volunteer Director

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Value of Volunteers

It's no secret that the staff of The Stewpot is unable to accomplish everything we do on our own. Our volunteers play a vital role in all of our programs. Did you know we have 42 volunteers each day just for meal services?

On top of that volunteers help us:
  • sign people up for services
  • hand out toiletries
  • sort mail
  • teach computer classes
  • manage budgets for Representative Payee clients
  • teach art
  • sort donations
  • give eye exams
  • teach Bible study
  • tutor students
  • teach ESL and so much more!
We really couldn't do it without you all! According to the estimated dollar value for volunteer time is $21.36/hour. According to that number, the estimated value of our meal service volunteers only for one month is over $54,000!

Thank you for helping us serve second chances each day here at The Stewpot!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

phoneless. not hopeless.

Today we want to share some encouraging feedback from one of our Community Voice Mail clients. He receives a free voicemail number through our program.

“Good afternoon, this is Richard Sams.  Listen, I just can’t thank you enough to First Presbyterian Church and Community Voice Mail for providing me this number – it has helped me get into a veterans rehabilitation program, it’s also working right now as I’m on my journey for permanent employment for employers to contact me, and it’s also been a number for my family, by my family being out of town, to contact me and leave me a message if there is an emergency or if somebody gets sick such as my mother since she is in a nursing home now.  So I just want to thank you and I just pray that you continue this service – it helps get homeless people off the street and get employment.  It’s just been a blessing to me – it’s just been all positive.  I just thank you…”

It's hard to imagine that someone might not have access to a phone. So many of us are constantly connected to hundreds (maybe even thousands) of people through our phones - phone calls, texts, Facebook, e-mails. We forget what life was like before the never-ending stream of status updates and mass text messages. Thanks to programs like Community Voice Mail, people are able to stay in touch with family, employers, and health care!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Women's Tea

A few years ago I was reading a book about humanity and how we're wired - why we do what we do, why we want what we want. The book began with a story from the liberation of the concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen in Germany. The story came from the diary of Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin DSO who was one of the first British soldiers in the camp.

It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don't know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it, it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for those internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wantering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the post mortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick. At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tatooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.

This story forever impacted the way I think about service and meeting the needs of people. We as humans want love. We want to be acknowledged. We don't want to be just another number.

The Stewpot, with the help of other agencies, does an incredible job of meeting the physical needs of people by making food, clothing, and medical treatment accessible. What I also love about The Stewpot is the emphasis on the humanity of the people it serves. Throughout the year there are concerts, birthday parties, talent shows, and movie days.

In December we will the annual Women's Holiday Tea. The tea began in 2000 to reach homeless women who were less likely to access services (the majority of people served are male). Low self-image affects many of the women experiencing homelessness. Each year there is a guest speaker and representatives from other social service agencies in the area. But the great part? A fashion show and gift bags filled with makeup, perfume, jewelry, and other items that become a luxury when you're on the street. If you're a lady reading this you know how great you feel when you get a new lipstick or a new necklace! You feel fresh and beautiful. You feel confident. You feel valuable.

We'll do it again this year! And, as always, could use your help to make this day extra special for the ladies we serve. Currently we are in need of:

            • Small perfumes/perfume samples
            • Hotel soaps and toiletries
            • Hotel sewing kits/small sewing kits
            • Hair ornaments and costume jewelry
            • Purse sized brushes and pocket mirrors

Donations are accepted Monday-Friday, 8AM-4PM. Just pull into our parking garage (1822 Young Street)!

*Quote from:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Open House Art Show

These cooler temperatures have been great, haven't they? Fall is just around the corner which means the holiday season isn't too far off. Why not get a jump start on shopping this Saturday, September 24th?

The Stewpot 2nd Floor Art Gallery will be open from 3-7PM for all who want to enjoy several styles of art in one place.  Our "Open Art Studio" is open 5 days a week to artists to come and create works of art. Artists can choose to sell their work. They keep 90% of the profit. The other 10% goes straight back into the program for supplies.

Several artists have been commissioned to paint. One piece even had a home in the White House for a little bit. Each year the art program has several shows throughout the community. The Goodrich Gallery and The Dallas Public Library (downtown) have shows annually.

So come out this Saturday to take a stroll through our gallery. You might just find a painting you can't live without!

The Stewpot is located at 1822 Young Street, Dallas 75201. Free parking is available.

The show was on the Art and Seek blog:

A little taste of what you'll find here. This painting, by Leon Pollard, has been sold, but lots more available!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


It's been a great couple of weeks here at The Stewpot! One of our programs, STEP, focuses on job readiness - resumes, job searches, conflict resolution skills, etc. STEP last 3 months and is coordinated by our casework services team. Our most recent class started in August. Five participants were enrolled and in less than a month 3 have full time jobs and one more has a call back! We are ecstatic for those who are back to work. Employement (specifically for those with criminal backgrounds) is a tough part of the journey out of homelessness, but these success stories show that it's not impossible. With the hardwork of the participants and encouragement from their caseworker, Cindy Bailey, things are looking up! And we couldn't be happier for them.

You can help play a role in stories like this by donating to The Stewpot! Tomorrow (Thursday, September 15) is North Texas Giving Day. Between 7AM-7PM log on to our profile and make your donation. Make your donation go further by giving $25 or more. Donations of at least $25 are matched!

Are you an early bird? Make a donation by noon tomorrow and tag us in a picture on Facebook or Twitter of your "Best Pajama Get-Up". We'll send the picture to Donor Bridge and Energy Future Holdings will pick a winner. The prize is $2,500!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Volunteers Needed

Fall is just around the corner and the Children and Youth Programs are already busy planning for the school year programs. We have several volunteer opportunities that we are looking to fill!

Venturing Crew and Junior Crew - Tutors are needed to help middle and high school students with homework. The Venturing Crew (high school age) will have tutoring the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Wednesdays from 6:30-7:00 for students that need additional help in one or more subjects. Junior Crew (middle school age) will also be doing tutoring on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Wednesdays. Volunteers can commit to one, two or three Wednesdays a month. Math (Algebra, Calculus, Geometry), English, and Science expertise is especially needed. Volunteers can join the group for the entire evening from 6:30-8:30 where the programs have speakers and workshops, recreation and team building activities and community service projects or volunteers can just stay for the tutoring time from 6:30-7:00.

The programs are also looking for speakers that can talk about their career, college preparation, life skills, or another topic that would be beneficial for teens.

Saturday School - Volunteers are needed to help with the elementary program. Volunteers would help from 8:30-1:00 on Saturday mornings during the school year by helping serve breakfast and lunch and also acting as a shepherd to lead a group of students as they rotate through classes such as computers, art, recreation, movement and music, Bible stories, science, and library. Volunteers can be individuals or small groups.

English as a Second Language (ESL) - Volunteers do practice conversations with students about daily activities and help teachers in working one on one with students on their assignments.

For the children and youth program a background check is required for all volunteers over age 18.

For more information contact Suzanne Dwight at 214-746-2785 ext. 2378 or

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Volunteer Giving Back

Our representative payee program has grown a lot in the last year! Both our caseworkers and an incredible group of volunteers have worked really hard to successfully advocate for clients in the program.

One representative payee volunteer in particular has been recognized by her employer. Linda Jones was selected from 500 Wells Fargo employee applicants to receive the 2011 Volunteer Service Award. As part of this honor, Linda received $10,000 to give to us!

We are so grateful for Linda's faithful service each Tuesday and for her generous donation to our organization. To celebrate we will have a reception next Tuesday for Linda, her co-workers, Stewpot staff, and clients!

The Stewpot has been blessed with so many great volunteers and donors. Thank you guys for all you do to help us accomplish our mission.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Donor Bridge - September 15th

Get ready! The 2011 “Get Up & Give” North Texas Giving Day is quickly approaching. And we need your help! On Thursday, September 15th from 7AM-7PM you can make a donation through Donor Bridge to benefit The Stewpot. All donations over $25 will be matched, which means your donation goes even further.

Help us spread the word and plan to make your donation that day. More information can be found here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Children and Youth Program Scholarships

This past spring, 100% of the senior graduates of The Stewpot’s Venturing Crew program made plans to go to college. This is fabulous news, bucking the trend that 70% of Hispanic youth in DISD drop out of high school. A total of 45 former Stewpot youth participants are enrolled in college this fall with CM scholarships funding 2011-2012.

Congratulations toErika Ayala at UT Arlington; Sergio Ayala at University of North Texas; Edith Barrera at El Centro; Robert Campos at Del Mar College; Francisco Chavez at UT Austin; Brenda Delgado at University of North Texas; Natalie Gaona at Mountain View; Janie Garcia at Mountain View; Nallely Garcia at Eastfield; Hugo Gonzalez at East Texas Baptist University; Adiel Guillen at Eastfield; Asael Guillen at El Centro; Yaritza Guillen at Richland; Luis Ibarra at Eastfield; Edgar Lucero at UT Austin; Liliana Manzano at El Centro; Christopher Martinez at Eastfield; Leonel Mendez at University of North Texas; Gaby Mendez at El Centro; Maria Mendez at El Centro; Ariana Najera at UT Dallas; Arlene Najera at Eastfield; Eileen Najera at Richland; Daniel Ortiz at Mountain View; Gabriel Ortiz at Eastfield; Sergio Patino at UT Austin; Norman Puga at DeVry; Danielle Rivas at Our Lady of the Lake; Diane Rivas at UT Austin; Diana Rodriguez at Anthem College; Isamar Rojo at Mountain View; Betsy Romero at Richland; Francisco Rosales at Mountain View; Joey Rosales at McPherson College, Kansas; Mayra Rosales at UT Arlington; Kevin Ruiz at El Centro; Ismael Salazar at Eastfield; Elizabeth Ibarra Soto at Mountain View; Rolando Sustaita at Tarrant County College; Roxann Sustaita at University of North Texas; Luis Vargas at Texas A&M; Alisia Vasquez at Texas Woman’s University; and Natalia Vasquez at Midwestern University. Additionally, Juan Faticati at Eastfield and Michael Martinez at Austin Community College have deferred scholarships.

Special congratulations to CM scholars who recently completed their degrees in fall 2010 and spring/summer 2011—Gerardo Altamirano in pschology at UT Arlington; Jennifer Figueroa in engineering technology at Texas A&M; Fanny Guillen in pre-dental at UT Pan American; Jeanette Hernandez in family studies at Texas Woman’s University; Vanessa Leyva in ethnic studies at UT Austin; Steven Medina in electrical engineering at UT Arlington; Angelica Salazar in bilingual education at UT Arlington; and Ilse Zumaya in business management at Texas A&M Commerce.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Happy 65th!

Last week was a very special week at The Stewpot. Our very own, Judy Pfenniger, celebrated her 65th birthday! Judy is our intake coordinator and has been working at The Stewpot for over 20 years. She is a special part of this place and it just wouldn't be the same without her. Our clients love Judy. And she loves them. Once you meet her, you'll never forget her!

We started off the week with a surprise cupcake reception. Monday evening some staff members stayed late to decorate the old dining area. When she walked in Tuesday morning she was blown away! At 10AM we all sang to her and enjoyed some cupcakes. Our art program director, Cynthia Brannum, even made a special crown. Volunteers and former employees showed up to share the day with her. Thursday we had a potluck lunch. Bruce brought out some old memories including photos and jokes that really helped make the day special.

We had a great week celebrating Judy! She is so special to all of us.

The Banner

Judy handing out cupcakes to all of our clients

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dallas Area Cooling Centers


Dallas Temple (Love Field Area)
Open Mon.-Fri; 9AM-4PM
6500 Harry Hines Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75235
(214) 956-6025

Oak Cliff
Open Mon.-Fri; 9AM-4PM
1617 W. Jefferson
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 941-5911 or 5914

Cedar Crest (East Oak Cliff)
Open Mon.-Fri; 9AM-4PM
1007 Hutchins Road
Dallas, TX 75203
(214) 941-7404

Pleasant Grove
Open Mon.-Fri; 9AM-4PM
8341 Elam Road
Dallas, Texas 75217

Carr P. Collins Social Services Center Open 7 days a week
5302 Harry Hines Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75235
(214) 424-7000


Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center
Mon.-Fri., 8AM-7PM; Saturday, 8AM-6PM
Dallas, TX 75215

West Dallas Multipurpose Center Mon.-Fri., 8AM-5PM
2828 Fish Trap Road
Dallas, TX 75212

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Skyline High School's "A Walk That Feeds"

The Stewpot is pleased to announce that The Stewpot’s "Loaves and Fishes" program will  benefit from the monetary donations collected by high school students at “A Walk that Feeds” on Saturday, September 24, 2011 from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM (CT).  If you would like to register, you may sign up at 

Thursday, July 28, 2011


A lot of people have their ideas about why people become homeless. Or why people can't get it "together". If you become involved in The Stewpot's ministry, or the work of another organization serving the homeless, you quickly realize how hard people are working. I had the chance to sit down with a lady (we'll call her Mary) who had received assistance from The Stewpot and other agencies around Dallas. As I listened to her story I was blown away by her persistence and determination. And reminded of just how fortunate I am.

Mary is 47. She was adopted as a baby and says she was on the streets at 9 years old. For almost 4 decades Mary has been battling to survive. She never really felt like she had a family - which is the case for a lot of people who come through our doors.

In October 2010 Mary was released from prison and put on a bus headed for Dallas. Not knowing where to go she planned on heading to the Salvation Army. When she got off at the Greyhound station downtown someone told her about The Bridge. Mary headed that way and began staying there. One week after coming to Dallas, she walked into The Stewpot. It was here that she was able to begin the process of getting her state ID. With the ID she could start looking for a job and housing. Two weeks into her stay at The Bridge, Mary was able to move out of the pavilion and into a room upstairs. Things were moving quickly!

Another step in her success was working with a caseworker at the Dallas Urban League. They have been helping her because of her felony. As she began setting more goals for herself, Mary joined a program called Back On My Feet. Through that program she started running and receiving some of the benefits that participants get.

Mary was doing an incredible job of getting plugged in and utilizing the resources available to her. Understanding it wasn't a one-step process, Mary took advantage of several programs offered and has achieved incredible goals. Though these organizations are not a real family, she feels “like they are my family. I can call my caseworker when I need help. The Urban League has kept up with me.” Her support system looks a little different than yours or mine.

While at The Stewpot Mary joined our STEP (Stewpot Transitional Employment Program). She graduated from the program in March. For Mary the STEP program inspired her. It was “a good foundation and helped me stay focused and motivated.” She developed a good relationship with her caseworker, Trina, who she still comes to see.

Not only did Mary graduate this spring from STEP, but she also got her own apartment! For the first time she has her very own space. With the help of local churches and food pantries Mary is able to get groceries and help pay bills until she is able to find a job.

In such a short period of time she has been able to accomplish so much. But she knows the journey isn't over yet. Because of her background it will be difficult to get a job. This is the reality for a lot of people we serve. But it's not impossible!

So today we celebrate Mary, her hardwork, and the opportunity for a second chance. We all need one from time to time.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mental Health Day 2011

Each summer The Stewpot invites local mental health agencies to come and share their services with our clients. Our hope is that our friends would get connected with the right agency to receive assistance and care.

This year we were happy to host ADAPT, Transicare, NAMI, ABC Behavioral Health, and LifeNet.

Each agency was able to share with clients what they do and how clients could get plugged into their services. We ended the afternoon with some delicious ice cream sundaes.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Feast of St. Martha at The Grape

Restaurateurs and service veterans Courtney and Chef/Owner Brian C. Luscher of The Grape on Greenville celebrate the 2nd annual Feast of St. Martha, Thursday, July 28 – Saturday July 30.

Honoring St. Martha, the patron saint of servers and cooks, Chef Brian will feature a 3-course set menu nightly for $38 per person, $55 with wine pairings. $5 from each prix-fixe menu will benefit the Stewpot Alliance which was founded to support The Stewpot in downtown Dallas. The Stewpot prepares and serves three meals a day for more than 700 individuals, 365 days a year at the City of Dallas’ homeless assistance center’s Second Chance Café located inside The Bridge.

“Each month, more than 1300 volunteers help The Stewpot and The Second Chance Café kitchen staff every day to dish up delicious and nutritious meals for clients of The Bridge,” says Luscher. “My wife Courtney and I have been involved with the annual Soup’s On! fundraiser for The Stewpot Alliance for a few years and we wanted to do something special in honor of those in the kitchen cooking and serving the meals.”

Reservations are recommended. Located at 2808 Greenville Avenue, The Grape is open for dinner nightly at 5:30pm and Sunday Brunch. For reservations call 214-828-1981 or visit the website at Complimentary valet parking always provided.

Media Contact:
Amity Thomas

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Do What You Love

The Kingdom of which Christ spoke was one in which the poor, the sick, the grieving, crippled, slaves, women, children, widows, orphans, lepers, addicts, prostitutes, mentally disabled, prisoners, and aliens-the “least of these (Matt. 25:40)-were to be lifted up and embraced by God.

I grew up exposed to adults struggling with a wide range of addictions. After several years of watching them struggle one decided to get sober, and the others followed suit. I came to know Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), and Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.) at the age of 14. For several years I was frustrated with A.A. and N.A. only because I was unable to comprehend the necessity of the meetings. The only thing I was able to understand at such a young age was the time they took my family away from me. I was frustrated with the meetings often because they came first and foremost. I now know the very importance of having a group of individuals who has been where you have been, and who can relate and help keep one accountable, sober, and off the streets. I now understand the vitality of attending such meetings, and encourage other to attend.

I did not know then that God would take my past, and my family's past, and use it for something beautiful to help others.

At the same time when I was first exposed to A.A. I made a new friend , Allie, who later became one of my best friends. Her father was homeless. She would tell me stories of the shelters he lived in and the hardships her family went through. He was able to get married, have four wonderful children, and hold a decent job. Allie was 12 when her father became homeless due to depression. Her father is a wonderfully bright man who is very encouraging and extremely knowledgeable of the Bible. He was homeless for six years.

I attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches TX where I was working on getting my Sociology Degree. I became involved in a Bible Study group that worked weekly with GODTEL, a local homeless shelter, where my heart for the homeless was molded by playing cards, talking outback where they were allowed to smoke, and living along side them. I was exposed to homelessness that had a name, face, and story. The homeless in Nacogdoches were then seen as people who just needed someone to listen; they were not a population to be scared of, or angry at. The homeless were then seen as a population that just simply needed love, a love that would surpass all understanding (Eph. 4:17-19).

Today I now work at as a caseworker at The Stewpot which offers a safe haven for homeless and at-risk individuals of Dallas, providing resources for basic survival needs as well as opportunities to start a new life. I was drawn to work at The Stewpot for many reasons. The first thing that drew me to the Stewpot was the fact that First Presbyterian started this ministry and supports it. It was refreshing to know that a church would be so involved in a Homeless Ministry that they would invest in a building right next door to their sanctuary in order to serve the very poor that Jesus mentions throughout the Bible. The Stewpot puts a name and a story with each individual. We speak of the positive things in which each individual has the ability to accomplish and that we as a ministry seek to see them accomplish. The staff at The Stewpot are aware that ‘the poor will always be with us’(mark 14:7), but are still called to love and they all do it exceedingly well.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

“Preach the gospel always; when necessary use words.”- St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Future of 508 Park Avenue: Second Chances for a Historic Building

On June 28th, 2011, The Stewpot/Community Ministries of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas completed the purchase of 508 Park Avenue, Dallas, and the adjoining properties on either side of it, 1900 Young and 1905 Canton. 508 Park has received national and international attention because of its unique history as one of only two locations where the legendary blues musician Robert Johnson recorded. As an example of a Zig Zag Moderne building, 508 Park also has great architectural significance; it was designed by the New Orleans firm that designed the Louisiana State Capitol.

What does the purchase of the property mean and what do we plan to do with it?

We are pleased that we can help protect and, in time, return to use as an occupied and functional building, this precious property—precious to all lovers of blues, and important as the city of Dallas’s specimen of Zig Zag Moderne.
A detail view of the top of the entry tower showing 
the stepped and layered facade, with cast stone bas-relief panels 
suggesting the Garden of Eden. Curtains in the stair-stepped
panel above the narrow window reveal a mother and baby bird. 

Abstract natural and vegetable motifs are common in Art Deco 

We wish to preserve and maintain both parts of this building’s unique legacy, and we see this as part of our ministry to this community. In 1963, the time of the last renovation of 508 Park, the building was practically gutted of all its interior original walls. It has been empty now for twenty years and has been vandalized repeatedly. The distinctive exterior light sconces disappeared years ago. While many complaints were raised about the homeless, most incidents were the work of others. Court records show that the people apprehended for vandalizing the property were not homeless. 
Many ideas for upgrading the adjoining properties and specific plans for the safeguarding and restoring the 508 Park property have been developed. We envision a place of vitality, open to all.

Detail at the entry surround, illustrating multiple
layers of the facade in brick, cast stone relief and
three colors of natural stone. The repeated stair-step
profiles, complex layering and scalloped detail above
the building address are characteristic of Zig Zag Moderne.
Specific programs will benefit the congregation of First Presbyterian Church and Stewpot clientele. The long-standing year-round educational outreach to at-risk inner-city children and youth are some of the intended beneficiaries of these efforts. But, this historic building is being preserved for the entire community and reflects the belief in the ongoing vitality in our city’s southeast downtown community.
While it is well known that Robert Johnson was born 100 years last month, and that he recorded 13 songs at 508 Park, it is less well known that construction began exactly one hundred years ago on the sanctuary for First Presbyterian Church of Dallas. At that time its front door faced Harwood and Wood. Two doors were built, under the engraved words
“God is Light” and “God is Love.”

First Presbyterian Church is now completing a new Welcome Center that faces the crossroads of Young and Park, and so our front door rotates 180 degrees. This new front door looks down Park Avenue. The garden of light and love at the intersection of Wood and Harwood now is widened to embrace the crossroads of Park and Young. 

The property redevelopment will begin with the demolition of 1900 Young Street, the empty building that stands at the southeast corner of the crossroads of Young and Park. In its place, an outdoor performance amphitheatre will be constructed.  The two-story stacked stone corner of the current building will be preserved as a corner tower and a perimeter wall will help replicate the previous building’s footprint. Trees and grass will grace this new cityscape. The amphitheater will host concerts, performances, and outdoor worship.

1905 Canton Street (the south side of 508) now a vacant lot and enclosed by chain link fence, will receive a new perimeter of trees and an iron fence to complement the existing fence adjacent to the Masonic Temple.

The Rev. Dr. Bruce A. Buchanan, Executive Director of The Stewpot and Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church said, “508 Park has long been a place of pilgrimage for Blues lovers. We understand the great desire to step into the building where Johnson recorded, and we have every goal of not just bringing it up to code, but preserving and restoring historically-significant areas of the building. We hope to create a state-of-the-art recording studio in the area where Robert Johnson was known to have recorded his legendary music those hot June days in 1937.  Additionally, plans are under consideration for the first floor of this 3 1/2 floor, 23,000 square foot building to be used for music education, an art gallery, and a Spirit of the Blues empowerment coffee bar.” 

The Rev. Buchanan continued, “The Stewpot has been devoted to recognizing and supporting the talents of homeless individuals and enriching the lives of inner city children and youth. Acquiring these properties, construction of the amphitheatre, and creation of related creative arts programs will advance our current employment and educational goals while providing a performance venue for all genres of music for the community.  For ten years The Stewpot’s semiannual concerts have been wonderful gatherings for all. For twenty years, the Annual Talent Show has highlighted original music composition and performances. These and other events will be featured at the amphitheatre.”

In closing, Rev. Buchanan said, “The Stewpot ministry is a ministry of second chances; now we are able to give a second chance to 508 Park, and in doing so, we are creating a new intersection of love and light.”

Graphics copyright (c) 2011, Good Fulton & Farrell. Used by permission.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summertime with the Children & Youth Program

The Stewpot’s Children and Youth Program are off to a great start since we kicked off on June 13! Summer Crew has been doing some exciting activities. They took a field trip to Half Price Books to pick out a book to read for the summer and they will be doing activities based on their book. They are also doing an architect project led by Oscar, one of the Summer Crew staff that has an architect degree. The Summer Crew is doing a computer class each Wednesday where they are doing various projects including designing their own website. They have been on field trips to Nickelrama, the movies and roller-skating.

The program that has been traditionally called Summer Day Camp has changed names to Summer Kid’s Club. They are studying different continents in their “World Tour 2011”. They have already toured North America and South America and will be going to the other continents throughout the summer. They also participated in the Shake-It-Up Café VCS curriculum by incorporating the theme into their normal day camp activities. They are rotating through classes such as reading, computers, art, recreation, small games, music, drama, and library time. The camp has also been on field trips to roller skating, bowling, and the Frontiers of Flight Museum.

Our first Summer Visiting Youth group was from Lake Jackson, Texas. They visited English Language Ministry (ELM), Vogel Alcove, Grace Presbyterian Village, acted as Junior Counselors for the day camp, led a Bible study at The Stewpot and served dinner at The Bridge. It was a full but great week.

The second week some of the Summer Crew members served as the volunteer group for the day camp. Many of them have been part of the program for many years and are now able to give back. We had a great time at the pool party sharing about their experiences in the children and youth programs.
We have been enjoying the new computers which include 15 desktops and 30 laptops and a projector that were donated by an anonymous donor for the children and youth programs. They have opened up new opportunities for us to incorporate technology into the children and youth programs and expand the number of students that are able to use computers at one time. All of the children and youth love them and they have already been used a lot!

A fun day out at the skating rink.

Working hard on the computers recently donated. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grocery Shopping for a Cause

Several grocery stores have incentive programs like Tom Thumb's Reward Card or Kroger's Plus Card. These can be linked to The Stewpot and a percentage of the purchase benefits us! Easy, right?

The three stores you can do this at are Tom Thumb, Albertson's, and Kroger.

Tom Thumb: Link your Reward Card to #1507. This remains active year round.

Albertson's: Scan a barcode each time you purchase groceries. To receive this barcode email This also remains active year round.

Kroger:  Link your Kroger card to The Stewpot annually after July 1st. The program runs from July 1-April 30.

If you have any questions please contact Lee Hutchins ( or Stephanie McKee (

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Let's eat!

In 1975 First Presbyterian Church saw a need to start feeding the homeless and hungry. They called the meal service "The Stewpot". By the early 1990s, the program, which now included casework services, had grown so much we moved across the street into our present building. Over 30 years and several additional programs later, The Stewpot is still working hard to make sure our friends on the streets have the most basic need - food.

In May 2008 The Stewpot became the sole meal provider at The Bridge, Dallas' homeless assistance center. Instead of five meals a week, we began serving 3 meals a day every day of the year. A huge jump, but our volunteers and staff have stepped up to the challenge in a big way!

Just to put it in perspective:
Almost 50,000 meals are served each month. So far we've served 19,600 meals in June. With an average of 43 volunteers per day we have approximately 1,300 volunteer slots a month.

Since the Bridge opened in 2008, Stewpot staff and volunteers have helped prepare and serve 1,856,900 meals! Since 1975 The Stewpot began in 1975, we have served over 4,158,668 meals!

It really is incredible! So, how can you be involved? Of course you can always sign up for a meal service. All sign ups are done online through our website.

Another option is to donate to our Loaves and Fishes program. The Loaves and Fishes Program allows you to "underwrite" part of the cost of a meal or a day of meals. Individuals, groups, businesses and congregations are coming together to make this happen. Adopting a meal or a day of meals makes a great gift!  Acknowledgement cards are sent to honorees per your instructions and posted on this website. Our Calendar is updated weekly.  For more information you can call Lee Hutchins: 214.746.2785 ext. 236.

A huge, huge thank you to everyone who has played a part in our meal service!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Staying Connected

You know how disconnected you feel when you leave your phone at home or in the car? No one can reach you and if something happens you won't know. Now imagine not having a phone and how disconnected you would be all the time.

The Stewpot serves as the host agency for Dallas Community Voicemail, a program providing free voicemail numbers to those who need it. People receive a phone number with a Dallas area code that they can use to apply for jobs, receive information from doctors, or just stay connected to their friends and families.

The really cool thing about this program is the broadcast messaging feature. Our Community Voicemail program director, Betty Heckman, is able to send out one message to all CVM participants at once. Each week she sends out messages including information on job openings, community events, healthcare, and even inspirational messages.

Listen below to some of the responses from a recent survey about the benefits of Community Voicemail!

Learn more about CVM National
Learn more about Dallas CVM

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dallas Heritage Village Partnership

The Stewpot's STEP program targets homeless individuals living on the streets or in a shelter. Participants are placed in small groups led by Stewpot caseworkers who offer job readiness training, job search assistance, case management, voice mail, and other benefits.

The STEP program has partnered with Dallas Heritage Village to give participants a special opportunity. Clients have been hired to do restoration work on several buildings throughout DHV. To identify the best candidates for these positions the Stewpot casework team worked together and discussed each client's experience. Clients were also interviewed by the manager of casework services. One participant had prior engineering experience, so he was a great candidate. The work so far has been very rewarding for him.

Several clients have worked on this project. They are currently working on the Worth Hotel. Below you can see the progress they're making.

Picture Courtesy of Dallas Heritage Village

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stewpot Children & Youth Programs Director named Alumna of the Year

Suzanne Dwight
Suzanne Dwight, LMSW, Director of Children & Youth Programs at The Stewpot, is an inaugural graduate of Baylor University's Masters program at the School of Social Work. Suzanne was named Alumna of the Year, and was recognized at a dinner at Baylor on April 28th.

Chosen for her work as a congregational social worker with children and youth in inner-city Dallas, Suzanne received the Louise Brandon scholarship for graduate school. At The Stewpot, she oversees 38 college students who are receiving scholarships through The Stewpot's children and youth program. "As I see the difference that the scholarship makes to those students it has helped me to appreciate the scholarship that I received even more."

Suzanne joined The Stewpot in 2004 and coordinates all Stewpot programs for Dallas inner-city and homeless children and teens ranging in grades from first grade through college. When she started, she reports that "there were 13 scholarship recipients and now with program expansion we are able to help many more students achieve their dreams. Many of the students I work with are first generation college students and also the first person in their family to graduate from high school. It has been a pleasure to be able to help them through the process of preparing for college as high school students and then also to follow them through their college career."

Since joining The Stewpot, children and youth program attendance has increased by 25%, and the number of youth attending college has increased by more than 50%. "I am expecting ten of our students to graduate from college this year," reports Suzanne. "To many of the students the thought of going to college is a completely new experience and The Stewpot programs are able to provide guidance and support they may not receive otherwise."

Suzanne initiated the formation the ESL program for parents of the Stewpot’s Saturday School, and implemented the formation of Junior Crew to hold and recover former Saturday School participants that otherwise would not have participated in the programs. Suzanne has built programs and increased participation in events through surveys, evaluation tools, and new initiatives. This summer she will be supervising a bi-lingual Exxon Mobile Intern to work with the parents of the children in our program, and to evaluate curriculum.

"During a typical year, my staff and I work with about 350 or more students in 1st grade through college doing enrichment programs and also 20 parents in an English as a Second Language class that I was instrumental in implementing. These are individuals and families that live in the downtown Dallas area but they themselves do not attend First Presbyterian Church. They are however able to experience the ministries that the church has to offer. In fact the two summer camps that we implement each summer utilizes the church space as much if not more than the church members do during that time. This is what being a community ministry and living out the Christian faith is about. I love that I am able to do that as part of my job."

"If I could make a recommendation to the students that are here today, it would be to take every opportunity to learn from what the faculty has to offer and teach. Also, in your field placement don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn as much as you can. I have found from being a field instructor that some days especially during supervision, I learned as much as the student did."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Homeless artists to paint murals in Deep Ellum’s Pillar Park

The Stewpot Open Art Program has 20 artists working on proposals for Pillar Park. Their work will be displayed April 13 at an exhibit, where guests can vote on the eight best pieces for the eights sides of the pillars. The winning artists will each receive a $200 stipend and paint supplies.

The art exhibit and judging will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. April 13 at the Deep Ellum Foundation, 2630 E. Commerce St., Dallas.

Read all about it at the DMN.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Soup for the Soul initiative helps feed homeless individuals

Corporate philanthropy took a interesting twist in the first months of 2011 at JPMorgan.  A "Soup for the Soul" initiative set regions moving to participate in a philanthropic "contest" to win more points than the other regions.   For the DFW area, employees earned one point for each can collected for a food drive and 20 points for serving a meal to hundreds of homeless individuals coming for meals at The Stewpot's Second Chance Café where over 1,500 meals a day are served to those in need. The JPMorgan department with the winning points received an all expenses paid trip to the Sabine for a pizza lunch.   Hooray for corporate America in giving philanthropy a competitive edge!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Stewpot Has Many Chef’s

Friends of the Stewpot, thank you.
The word leverage is used by just about everyone these days. We use the word to describe how we overcome inertia with energy and movement. Leverage is an example of cause and effect, of action and reaction. Leverage is an application of basic laws of nature. But we know leverage is more.
Our bones act as levers blessing us with movement. From classroom to home, from workshop to factory that simple lever works hard. That ancient Greek, Archimedes, claimed thousands of years ago, and the truth of what he said still echoes today: “give me a lever long enough and a place on which to stand and I can move the world.”
Another voice from the ages past, the Prophet Isaiah, answers that challenge and reminds us how to change the world. From the 58th chapter of Isaiah (6-9): “Is not this the fast that I choose; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; and when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.”
I know it’s a tough sell to mention fasting when we recognize the wondrous, God-given gift of food, artfully and lovingly prepared. The prophet uses the word fasting not to lap-band our stomachs but to leverage our hearts, minds and souls to move the world. He tells us to stop doing one thing and start doing something else.
The abiding beauty of the lever and its incredible usefulness lies in its multiplying effect. Place the fulcrum in the right place and the effort you put in will have astounding results.
For 36 years the Stewpot has been blessed with chefs who have used their ladles as levers. What a testament to the multiplying effect of the simple lever first tipped to fill a bowl in October of 1975 that has been multiplied to serve over 4 million meals.
Be they chefs that cook, chefs that serve, chefs that teach, chefs that sort mail, chefs that manage money, teach art, or chefs that mentor our 40 college scholars they are the chefs that help to answer that call. They lead the way, helping us to stop doing what holds down and back and they help us to start doing what helps grow justice and achieve potential. It has been my blessing to “leverage” with the best.
Morton Myerson came to the Stewpot and with leverage skillfully tipped pitcher to glass and filled empty cups with milk and water. Later, perhaps a “Here I am” answer to the prophet, he pictured music as another nurturing way to fill what is empty. Through music, song and dance I saw what the prophet claimed would happen erupt with joyful applause, smile and laughter. When silence was filled with sound it made true what the prophet said: “Your light break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up speedily.” Mort, thank you for listening to that inner voice.
Mort has been our Chef of Music but truly our Stewpot Alliance has been of Chefs of Magic. They have now, for three years, taken an idea and with great love, imagination and hard work leveraged that idea into a premier community event that changes lives.
I can attest to and predict there can never be enough chefs for the Stewpot.
Our sincere appreciation to Mort and the Alliance, our esteemed Chefs and you all who give in many ways. But there is a special place in today’s celebration of someone else who answered a call to help heal and build by saying so often in so many ways: “Here I am.”
I can say nothing greater than Gil and Billie Thomas gave us a place on which to stand from which we have, with your help and God’s blessing, changed lives.
Thank you.

Remarks spoken at Soup’s On event – January 25, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Children and Youth Program Community Ministries Scholars graduate

Congratulations to the Stewpot Children and Youth Program Community Ministries Scholars that graduated in August and December from college!

Blanca Duran received her Bachelor in Broadcast Journalism from Texas A & M University at Commerce. She currently works at Ernst and Young as a phone representative and plans to go back to school to get her teacher certification.

Nallely Ramos-Garcia received her Associates in Nursing from El Centro College and after passing her state board exam will start working as a Registered Nurse in the ER at Presbyterian Hospital.

Steven Medina received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from University of Texas at Arlington. He is working at Alcon Labs.

Jennifer Figueroa received her Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology from Texas A & M University. She currently works for Vendor Safe Technologies while looking for a job in her degree field.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Volunteers needed for homeless census

It is once again time to conduct the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) annual homeless count and census. The census is conducted each year in the last week of January so that Dallas and Collin Counties can collect information on homeless residents.  With MDHA’s renewed commitment to end Chronic Homelessness by 2014 and the opening of the Bridge Homeless Assistance Center in May of 2008, the Homeless Count and Census allows us to monitor our progress in achieving this goal. The Census helps us to complete a needs assessment for the community and encourage the development of programs to fill identified gaps. The information compiled during the census is also used by several interested groups, including non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, media outlets and various departments in Federal, State and local government.

DATE: Thursday, January 27, 2011
TIME: 5:30 P.M. sign-in

LOCATION: Dallas City Hall – 1500 Marilla, L1 F North Auditorium Park in City Hall underground parking (entrance traveling east on Young Street). Enter through the GREEN door.

HOW TO HELP: Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. Those conducting the census should remember to wear clothing appropriate to the weather, comfortable shoes, bring a flashlight, writing pen, and clipboard. Training on how to conduct the census will be provided for volunteers on the night of the Count. Volunteers will sign-in from 5:30 – 6:15 p.m., and training will begin at 6:30 p.m. For more information, please contact Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance at 214-670-1112 or