Embracing, Equipping, and Empowering
It’s been two years since the launch of our Community Heroes grant program. And in that time, we’ve had the pleasure of supporting eight – and counting – local organizations in their quest to empower and uplift the communities where they live and work.
For a deeper look into who these organizations are, this blog series will focus on the inspirational stories behind some of the 2018 and 2019 Gexa Community Heroes grant winners and their invaluable contributions in and around the local community.
Food. Clothing. Housing. These are all basic necessities we require as human beings – necessities that some of us may even take for granted. But for the many struggling and homeless teenagers in and around Lewisville, Texas, these necessities aren’t a given. And when push comes to shove, they need a place to turn.
That’s where Journey to Dream comes in. Established in June 2004, Journey to Dream is a nonprofit organization that focuses on embracing, equipping, and empowering youth to overcome adversity and live purposeful lives. It does so with school programs, resources and provisions, and housing for transitional periods in teens’ lives.
“We support at-risk and homeless teens, both from a shelter and basic-needs perspective and in the schools,” Chief Development Officer Nesa Grider says. “In the schools, we provide intervention and preventative coping skills to help them with any issues that they’re having.”
The schools are where Journey to Dream got its start, with sessions focusing on very real issues that teens face. “We have programs about bullying, cutting, HIV, those sorts of things,” Nesa adds. “These programs give teens coping skills when it comes to navigating the world around them.” That’s in addition to the supplementary resources, such as food and clothing, that Journey to Dream provides. “Blessing bags, we call them,” Nesa says.
Perhaps the biggest boost to the organization, though, came about in 2014. Kyle’s Place is a transitional home that houses unaccompanied youth between the ages of 14 and 22 as they work toward independence. The home not only provides a safe environment and basic needs to its occupants, but it also supplies medical care, counseling, academic support, and life skills training. “The whole goal is to move them into the community as successful, well-rounded adults,” Nesa says.
Among Journey to Dream’s top priorities is its commitment to deliver as much normalcy as possible to its teens. That means outings, from movies to zoos to school dances. And that’s precisely how it used the Gexa Community Heroes grant this year. With the grant money, Journey to Dream was able to provide homecoming dresses and attire to teens who otherwise would not have been able to attend. “Many of them got to go to homecoming for the first time this year,” Nesa says.
By Nesa’s estimate, the organization currently reaches about 3,200 children per school. But as needs continues to rise, Journey to Dream keeps working to meet them. As it branches into the Frisco school system over the next year, it would like to garner even more support from the community. “We’re also trying to expand our facility, get additional rooms, to help meet that need,” Nesa shares. “We’d love to get a quiet or a counseling room for our residents.”
She also adds that Journey to Dream is always searching for new mentors or volunteers, and that there are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved. “We’re excited for the community to continue to support and embrace us,” she says.
To learn more about Journey to Dream, or to find out how you can get involved, visit: http://journeytodream.com