Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stewpot’s Caring Center to Expand with Decision to Purchase 515 Park and 500 St. Paul

Plans will dovetail with The Stewpot’s vision for 508 Park, the historic and architecturally significant building acquired in June 2011.


Stewpot Announces the Park Avenue Campus will be called Encore Park: “Building community at the crossroads of creativity and caring.”

Rendering by Sam Ringman 

The Stewpot, founded in 1975 and located since 1991 in the historic Otis Elevator Building at the corner of Young and Park, is a resource center for Dallas homeless and at-risk individuals and children and youth. It offers a wide array of services that nourish the entire person including an I.D. Program, casework services, entrepreneurial programs such as The Streetzine, the homeless newspaper for Dallas, as well as an educational outreach program working with more than 200 inner city children from Kindergarten through college. It also provides the meal services at The Bridge.

Over its more than thirty-five years of existence, The Stewpot has pioneered a service provision practice of collaboration with other service providers by offering them space for their operations in The Stewpot.  Along with The Stewpot’s own diverse services, currently housed in The Stewpot’s anchor building are Crossroads Community Services, the largest food pantry in Dallas. Last year they distributed over 2 million pounds of food out of the second floor of The Stewpot.  In addition, Metrocare, a mental health provider, a Dental Clinic, as well as the designated barrier-free homeless medical clinic operated by Parkland, are all housed at The Stewpot.

The Rev. Dr. Bruce Buchanan, Director of The Stewpot and Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, explained, “We are bursting at the seams with programs, and acquiring the property that surrounds us will allow us to significantly expand existing ministries and partnerships. In addition, new partners will be joining us at 515 Park.”

The Park Avenue Campus will be called, “Encore Park.” Buchanan explained the name “taps into not only the musical heritage of 508 Park, but also the restoration of that historic property, and the resurrection and new life this project will bring to our community, our neighborhood, our clients, and the volunteers who come to serve.  The Stewpot's motto is ‘we serve second chances.’ With the creation of Encore Park, we see ourselves providing second chances to a neighborhood, to buildings, to services, and to people.”

As part of its services, The Stewpot has developed ways of nurturing the creativity of homeless and at risk individuals, including its well-known Open Art Studio. Encore Park will continue The Stewpot’s commitment to creativity. The Open Art Studio will move to 508 Park, where a Museum of Street Culture, an Art Gallery, and a recording studio will also be created. To the north of 508, a community amphitheater will be built, and to its south, a Community Garden is being established.

The Rev. Buchanan continued, “In our experience, when you bring together creativity and caring, miracles happen. We are building a campus where we are going to address many issues and we are going to address them together because in our experience you can’t just feed someone’s body, you have to feed their soul in order for them to become a whole person. We have experience in all areas: to help the body, to help the soul, to help the city.”

Joe Alexander, the chair of the Development Committee for Encore Park, explained, “With this development, we are going to build on the strength of the Stewpot. The Stewpot has shown that the best secret in town is to bring together caring and creativity. We are uniquely positioned right now in downtown Dallas, because we have been living and working in this critical area of downtown for so long. We know this community and we know what this community needs.”

The Stewpot is a ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas. According to Presbyterian polity, all property acquisition must be approved by the congregation. This step was taken on Sunday, June 26th, when the congregation of First Presbyterian Church unanimously approved a motion authorizing The Stewpot’s purchase of 515 Park Ave and 500 St. Paul.

Buddy Jordan, chair of the First Presbyterian Community Ministries committee, said, “Encore Park will create an integrated social impact campus for downtown Dallas, combining core Stewpot services with innovative new channels to meet the growing needs of the people of Dallas. It will also set the culture and tone for the next phase of downtown development by preserving important, irreplaceable historic buildings and offering new venues and cultural attractions that will enhance the entire neighborhood. Importantly, it will also create investment in the last undeveloped section of downtown.”

The Rev. Dr. Joe Clifford, Head of Staff of First Presbyterian discussed the Church’s historic commitment to responding to the needs of the community. He observed that “First Presbyterian Church was chartered 157 years ago, the day after Dallas was chartered as a city.   2013 marks the 100th anniversary of our present location.  Throughout our life as a congregation, we’ve been sowing seeds of compassion in this community.  Among those seeds was an orphanage that grew into Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services, a children’s clinic that would become one of three entities that merged to form Children’s Hospital, and of course, The Stewpot, which has faithfully served the least of these in our community for over 37 years, including serving over 5 million meals.  Encore Park is our generation’s contribution to that legacy of compassion.  It will no doubt have a profound impact on the next century of First Presbyterian’s ministry.  More importantly, we pray it will continue to yield an abundant harvest of blessing for our beloved city.”

Mayor Mike Rawlings, a member of First Presbyterian Church, endorsed the project: “This purchase is not only fulfilling FPC's mission but it's also great for the city.  We are trying to Grow South in Dallas and this project can become a symbolic gateway for the rest of Dallas' southern redevelopment.”

The Stewpot’s plans for redeveloping Park Avenue, and renovating 508 and 515 Park will be part of the presentation at the Dallas Public Library on Saturday June 29th, at 2 p.m. celebrating the opening of the library exhibit, “508 Park: The Past Meets the Future.”

Visit the Encore Park website: www.encoreparkdallas.org
For more information contact: The Rev. Bruce Buchanan: 214-746-2785 x 237