All posts by Thomas McDaniels

Opportunity and Faithfulness

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faithful

It is so true that life has it’s own way of rewarding us.  But most of us understand that life is about more than just luck.  God’s providence is certainly a big part of our East Texas Culture and even for many non-profits. The Dream Center Team has just completed our 19th month of service to our region.  And while this is certainly not a long tenure it certainly has been no bed of roses.

All great dreams are birthed in the soil of sowing and reaping. That includes lots hard work and the sacrifice of many people including staff and volunteers. One thing we have learned is that the longer we are here the more trust we earn.  This is true with our clients and our donors.

This week we are in the genesis of another great relationship with a large organization that will possibly be donating a generous supply of food items. This will be such a support to our clients and improve the variety of foods that we supply.  Once again we are indebted to the East Texas Food Bank who linked the connection and provided the supplies and materials for us.

It is so true that “teamwork makes the dream work.”  Without our partners and teammates we would be far less effective.  We owe much of our 2015 success to our partners and volunteers. Our team feels the best thing we have done is just be faithful.

We have been faithful to serve our community and to stand on our original vision plan. We have experienced ups and downs in 2015.  The economy has been one of our greatest challenges, but we have also experienced the faithfulness of a few partners.

We so appreciate every gift and every person who gave large or small gifts.

We are anticipating a great final quarter of this year with great opportunities.

  • Our computer classes have been a great success.
  • Our food program for Senior Citizens has grown over 25% this year
  • Our LifeSource Food Assistance program is now a Choice Pantry.
  • The Acts Project has completed several projects in 2015.

Once again faithfulness and vision are the foundation stones to our success and continued growth.  We are ready to launch into 2016 with inflated dreams and great determination.  We are expecting both quality and quantity to inculcate in the coming months.

 We are committed to make an impact and to make a difference in our city as we endeavor to inspire others to join us to make a better Longview and a better East Texas. 
What can you do?
  1. You can make a donation here on the home page.  Just click on the PayPal button.
  2. You can become a food assistance partner by giving a regular monthly donation.paypal
  3. You can report to us any child or family that is suffering from hunger.
  4. You can make a difference by joining a volunteer team.

If you would like to serve at the Dream Center just click the volunteer button at the top of  the home page.

We would love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

 

 

 

Risk versus Reward

By | Home page Blog | No Comments

risk

The Dream Center has been one of the central parts of our dreams for nearly 15 years.  Our founder dreamed of having a place that would serve the community and make a difference in the lives of those with legitimate needs. As many of you know great things occur where someone dreams and takes risks.

The Dream Center has been risky and miraculous from it’s beginning and the truth is we have never had the funds to do what we do.  

We began LifeSource (food assistance) out of the trunk of an automobile. We simply drove around and gave food to the needy and even delivered food to houses that looked as if there was a need.

From there, we began to use a closet located at the Ramada Inn on McCann Road.  We simply filled it with food every week and gave it to people who dropped by.  The word quickly spread and we rented some space in the same hotel and expanded again.

We shifted from a Food Closet to a Food Pantry.  The pantry was open on Thursday afternoons from 3-5.  By this time we were serving nearly 75 families per month.

The next expansion was to a church building.  We moved the Food Pantry into LifeBridge Christian Center on Alpine Road. At this time we had been serving food for nearly 3-4 years. We made another shift.  This shift was serving food on the 2nd and 4th Saturday mornings from10a-12noon.  Suddenly another increase in families served.  This shift created more opportunity for families in need.  We began serving 200 families a month.

And remember, while all this happening America has entered and gone through several recessions, lost jobs, and a difficulty economy.  There are legitimate reasons that people suffer from a shortage of food and even hunger.  Many of the middle-class cannot relate to this scenario. The reason we can’t, is due to a failure in understanding and having empathy for crisis, extreme poverty, and severe economic depression.

 Listening to stories is so paramount in finding compassion for those who are not like US!

As the Food Pantry continued to grow the church facility at LifeBridge was not able to facilitate the growing needs.  We were not able to serve produce there or grow the pantry to serve frozen foods. We desperately wanted to serve a better quality of food and therefore another shift was required.  The next step was risky but needed.dream center zoom header

Our founder decided to purchase a building. He had inquired about this particular building about 2 years prior only to find the purchase price was well over 1 million dollars. That was no doable.  But one morning he felt the need to check on this building again only to find out that the price had been reduced (24 hours before) to 500,000.00 dollars. It was the perfect location for the Dream Center.  It was risky but possible.

Our Founder devised a plan. He would meet with businessmen one and one and raise the 75,000.00 down payment.  Over the course of 45 – 60 days he scheduled meetings with 29 businessmen and ask each one to consider a minimum donation of 1,000.00 dollars.  Within 60 days the Dream Center had raised 90,000.00 and was able to close on the property at 803 Gilmer Road.  It was miraculous and exciting but not without challenge!

Of course a building has financial demands.  We have faced every challenge with faith and tenacity.  Many of our friends have stepped up to help and give.  Those stories require another post but the main story is the many rewards of having the Dream Center in Longview.

hopeWe have seen thousands of people who have been given hope.  Thousands have been served and  encouraged.  We can never compare the cost of a risk in comparison to the lives that are changed and the hope that is seen.

 

reward

Today, the risk continues.  We now serve 400 families every month.

Today we:

  • serve as a viable organization in fighting hunger
  • have united several organizations in our community
  • have hosted several community wide events
  • provide programs that make a difference in empowering others
  • provide free clothing (Mother’s on Missions)
  • provide free computer classes
  • have given away countless dollars of free items
  • have united hundreds of volunteers throughout East Texas

The rewards have certainly exceeded the risk!

Steady as she goes

By | Home page Blog, Uncategorized | No Comments
  • boat
    As an organization we continue to grow and strive to improve our programs.  We have also chosen to do a few things well rather than many things poorly. We have had many opportunities to grow programs or add activities to the center but we have rather chosen to get better with what we have. We are also totally focused on the vision of the Dream Center and who we are called to reach. We have learned that our vision makes our decisions.
    If we are outside of our vision plan then we are away from our original purpose. 
    We desire to stay in the center of our purpose and within the sphere of our original intention.As many of you know we recently added our new computer classes to the Dream Center schedule.  This has been so important to us because we desire to provide both needs and services.  We are focused on meeting needs and empowering people to new levels of self sufficiency.The class has been so inspiring and especially to our teacher Sabrina Freeman.  Sabrina teaches our classes and has been in awe of the results and the students.
    Here are Sabrina’s thoughts.

    We are going on our fourth week here at Longview Dream Center’s Computer 101 Class.  The class started off somewhat slow and has had some changes in the student roster.  However, the class is now completely filled with a diverse group of students.  

    Each student has their own story and their own personal need for taking this class, but it can definitely be said that each and every one of them is excited to learn these skills to improve their lives!

    The first unit that Computer 101 is currently learning is typing and Microsoft Word.  It was decided to teach these two skills in parallel to one another as learning Microsoft Word will reinforce the typing skills and vice versa.  

    The Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing software that was purchased for the computer lab has been a dream.  There are at least three students that have already shown typing speed increases of 10 words per minute! 

    That is huge when you consider that several of these students rarely, if ever, have an opportunity to work on a desktop computer and really have now only been on one for a few hours total working time.

    The smiles and expressions of delight that are seen and heard during a class when something new is learned has been a blessing to all involved.  Everyone is truly motivated to continue this class and each student’s level of confidence is steadily increasing as they become more proficient on the computer.  This class has gone from a vision to a reality in a community where the need is great and the benefits are life changing!

     As you read you can almost feel Sabrina’s excitement and our organization sees this as another step toward the dreams of the Longview Dream Center.

     We are committed to make an impact and to make a difference in our city as we endeavor to inspire others to join us to make a better Longview and East Texas. What can you do?
    1. You can make a donation at www.longviewdreamcenter.com
    2. You can become a food assistance partner by giving a regular monthly donation
    3. You can report to us any child or family that is suffering from hunger
    4. You can volunteer at the Dream Center almost any day of the week

    Contact Us

    If you would like to serve at the Dream Center just click here.

    If you would like to make a donation to one of our projects or programs simply click on thisthen click on the Paypal link.

    You can also visit our website and check out additional opportunities!

    We would love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

Fighting Hunger, Touching Hearts

By | Home page Blog | No Comments

Village

Things have changed since I was a child.  I remember leaving home early in the morning and returning to the house just before supper.  This was back in the days.  The days when a kid could roam the streets safely, ride their bikes in the neighborhoods for miles and miles, and anybody would feed us lunch because we were from the same community.

The famous African Proverb of “it takes a village to raise a child is still true.” 

The struggle today is our communities are no longer safe.  Kids have to be watched and protected from predators. Oftentimes the predators are of own household.  There is no doubt that children today are a major concern, even in most American cities. 

We have experienced the child molestation epidemic and now it has come to our attention that kids are being trafficked, sold, and used as sex toys. We used to think that this was done only in foreign countries and potentially in large cities like LA, Detroit,or Chicago.  

Most recently we have discovered that sex trafficking has been happening in many communities both large and small.  It has surfaced and been rumored to my desk that some parents are selling their kids bodies for the exchange of drugs.   

These scenarios are brutally true and most of us are unaware.  These disgusting selfish acts are often hidden in poverty stricken areas and done mostly in the shadows and under the cover of darkness.  If these hideous acts are not enough we have another hidden enemy in our community.  It is the enemy called hunger.  

Hunger is also a silent hidden enemy and we cannot compare the effects of it to the devastation of sex trafficking.  

But can we minimize the agony of a hungry child by facing this grave reality and taking a positive action against hunger.

It is hard to fathom that we have hungry kids in our neighborhoods right here in Gregg County. 

 

food bank

Here are the actual stats from our county records.

Income is 9.6% less than the national average.

19.3% of people live in food insecure homes.

24.2% of children live in these same homes.
That’s 7520 children at risk of hunger every day in Gregg County.
 
 The Dream Center is committed to fight hunger and to provide food assistance to families that qualify.  We are not just a food supplier, but we make sure the food is distributed to families with a legitimate need.  This is truly a collaborative program where we desire to serve and empower those we serve. 
 
Our record to distribute, serve and support our clients is a continued source of growth and opportunity to our city.  Our relationship with the East Texas Food Bank has proven to be significant in improving and expanding the quality of the food we serve. 
 
We recently added a large line of produce that provides delicious fruits and vegetables.  The quality of this type of food fuels the bodies, improves the health of all, and adds a sense of satisfaction to the hungered. 
 
We are anxious to continue serving quality food to our community and our city.  There is much more to do and even better ways to provide for these kids and their families.
 
 What can you do?
1. You can make a donation at www.longviewdreamcenter.com
2. You can become a food assistance partner by giving a regular monthly donation
3. You can report to us any child or family that is suffering from hunger
4. You can volunteer at the Dream Center almost any day of the week
 
Contact US

If you would like to serve at the Dream Center just click here.

If you would like to make a donation to one of our projects or programs simply click on this then click    paypal          on the Paypal link.

You can also visit our website and check out additional opportunities!

We would love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

 

The Real Need to Answer Why

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“What” we are doing is obvious.  It is seen by the activity we are involved with.  If we are changing a tire it is quite easy to see. But to know “why” is not always obvious. It may be that we had a flat or the tire was totally used up.  There are also lots of other why’s we could apply to the scenario.

“Why” is one of life’s most important questions. When we know “why” we know the inside story and the purpose behind the action. Knowing the “why” to something opens the door to discovery, passion, and purpose.

Why are we feeding 400 families a month? 

The Dream Center began due to the extreme poverty in our area and seeing the condition of impoverished families. This poverty is not only physical but generational and pervasive in our East Texas culture. We are working fluidly to create assistance for goods, programs and education for these families. This poverty cannot be broken by simply providing food and clothes but must be countered with programs and Life Skills that break the poverty cycle.

We must also break the cycles of low self worth and generational cycles that permeate the hearts of East Texas. Confidence can be imparted along with skills that prepare the learner for jobs and employment. At the Dream Center we have started our goals to break poverty by providing food and clothes that form a relational foundation of trust and care. Through providing needed resources we have found an entrance of trust that enables us to go deeper into our clients struggles.

Why are we so focused on helping others?

Our LifeSource Food Program serves a variety of families. One of our primary clients are grandmothers raising children. We estimate that a large portion of our food clients are in this category.   The struggle with this segment of society is they are locked into a desperate situation. The struggle includes age limitations and no possible means to enter back into the job market. Most of these grandmothers are past the age of employment and their retirement funds are either social security or low-income pensions. The need is obvious.

Why are we needed?

The things we have previously accomplished reveal the need.

  • Distributed over 37,560 pounds of food in 2014
  • Provided food for over 4,000 families in Gregg County.
  • Hosted 720 volunteers in the city of Longview
  • Logged a total of 17,000 volunteer hours.
  • Started the Senior Box Food Program for East Texas
  • Currently serving over 100 Senior’s a healthy box of food every month.

Why do want to do more?

We must also break the cycles of low self worth and generational cycles of poverty that permeate the hearts of East Texans. We believe we can give hope and instill confidence through life skills classes.  These classes will empower people to become gainfully employed and stand on their own in the future.

We are very close to finishing our Life Skills Classroom.  This has been an both an exciting and challenging project. It has taken us several months to make this a reality.  At times it has seemed like it would not happen. We have remodeled the room, purchased all new equipment and recruited our exceptional teachers.

We are seeking a 5 Star Partner to sponsor for our LifeSkills Classroom at the Dream Center. This partnership also includes endorsing our computer classroom after your company and hanging a beautiful large banner with your name or company name in our facility and in the classroom.  For information to sponsor this program please contact Shonna Barlow at 903.653.1740.

If you would like to serve at the Dream Center just click here. 

If you would like to make a donation to one of our projects or programs simply click on this then click on the Paypal link.paypal

We would love to have you become a volunteer with US!

You can also check out more opportunities by visiting our website.

We would love to hear from you.

Please leave a comment on how the Dream Center has blessed your life or family.