The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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SPARC assists local shelter

Family Gateway, a local transition shelter that helps families with children by providing them the basic necessities and tools needed to regain stability and become self-sufficient members of the community, has served approximately 3,400 families and nurtured over 6,600 children since 1986.

On Saturday, SPARC (Students Promoting Awareness, Responsibility, and Citizenship) volunteered two hours at the local shelter to help serve food to the families at Gateway and perform other small tasks in the kitchen area. Kaitlyn Noble, the basic needs coordinator for SPARC, organized the event which brought together 10 students eager to lend a hand to the local homeless shelter located on South St. Paul.

“This is the first time for a school to be here,” said weekend cook Cathy Kelly. Kelly, a regular at Family Gateway, worked for eight years before taking time off to tend to her three college-aged kids and recently returned and has been serving and cooking for the past five months.

The shelter serves two hot meals a day and allows the residents to prepare their own breakfast, which usually consists of oatmeal, bagels or cereal.

Of the 20 patrons who came for Saturday’s dinner more than half were children. They were served fried chicken, lasagna, fries, canned greens, cold pasta, a small portion of fudge pound cake and a choice of lemonade or ice tea. Most of the food comes from local food banks and is donated to the shelter.

“Weekends are usually slower,” said Kelly, “but during the week you can have as many as 100 people needing to be served.”

The Family Gateway shelter stands unique in that it not only offers food but also provides dormitory-like living conditions with about 31 rooms, areas for child care service and job employment training for parents. According to the Family Gateway Web site, a year after completion of the program, 65 percent of children remained in families that maintained continuous employment, and 96 percent maintained stable housing in the community.

With continuous community involvement of organizations like SPARC, those who do not have the tools necessary to create a comfortable lifestyle for their children are given the basic necessities that some take for granted. SPARC offers SMU students the opportunity to service the Dallas community in a flexible and accessible manner.

“It is our goal to make the initial connections between students and the community so that they will want to return on their own,” said Noble.

 

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