When Dinner isn’t just Dinner

Austin Street is uniquely blessed in that the overwhelming majority of the meals we serve —more than 325,000 annually—are prepared, delivered, and served by volunteers. We simply could not fulfill our mission to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable homeless without the dedicated and generous volunteers who make sure that our clients are well fed.

More than 38 groups serve dinner annually—many for more than 30 years. These churches, temples, schools, corporations, and friends are essential partners in the fight to end homelessness.

Kymberlaine Banks, a 15-year veteran dinner service volunteer with Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church, said “Serving at Austin Street Center is something I can make time for. I love looking people in the eye and giving them hugs. That kind of connection is so priceless.”

Kellene said she serves for herself.“They give me so much more than I give them. It nurtures my soul.”

Betty Langfitt shared, “Serving at Austin Street gives me a chance to see the world through different eyes, while offering grace to people whose lives have seen so much difficulty. It puts things into perspective.”

Our volunteers understand that a meal is so much more than just food. The human contact and desire to express concern for each individual is what makes the experience so valuable.

At Austin Street, our mission is to serve the most vulnerable homeless men and women in Dallas. But we also exist to provide a place for the community to join us to serve their neighbors and change their lives in the process.

If you are interested in partnering with us, please contact Lacy Montgomery, our Partnerships and Community Engagement Manager, at lacy.montgomery@austinstreet.org.


Homelessness Has Many Faces

There are as many reasons for homelessness as there are people who experience it. No two people are the same. The men and women who come to Austin Street are often in the most difficult season they have ever experienced. Because of this, the Austin Street team is committed to working with each individual by addressing their unique needs.

Jane* stayed at Austin Street for several difficult months—she had a serious drinking problem and was hard to work with, experiencing frequent bouts of anger. Several months passed without a word until one day, the phone rang. Jane called with amazing news: She had just moved in to her own apartment, and was 5 months sober! She called to say thank you for pushing her in the direction she needed to go… the direction that led to her life being completely transformed.

Chuck* has multiple, complicated health issues, including a mental health diagnosis. He had been estranged from his family for years. Through creative problem solving, Chuck’s case manager located one of his brothers, and facilitated a reunion. Chuck is now living with family, in the environment he needs to restore his health.

Patrick* was eager to help however he could—a hard worker, he wanted to volunteer his skills in the shelter while he prepared for employment through Austin Street’s E2 (Education and Employment) program. With the resume, clothing, and preparation he needed, Patrick landed an interview and was offered a job in a hotel with G6 Hospitality, one of Austin Street’s employment partners. Within a month he was able to move into an apartment of his own.

This is just a sample of the many stories heard daily from the men and women we serve. Men and women who end their homeless experience with the support they receive during their time in the shelter.

Ready to learn more about how you can help? Join us at Austin Street 101 on September 8!

217 People Housed in 90 Days

Austin Street Center was excited to participate in Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance’s “90 in 90 Emergency Shelter Challenge,” alongside The Bridge and The Salvation Army. What began as an effort to find homes for 90 men and women experiencing homelessness turned into so much more.

In total, 217 men and women are no longer homeless! Of these 107 were helped by the team at Austin Street.

Through innovative approaches, Austin Street’s team of case managers led the charge by working individually with each person to determine what barriers were keeping them from finding a place to call home.

Here are just a few of the ways our team found innovative solutions:

A history of incarceration? By developing relationships with apartment managers, Austin Street was able to find homes for people who would otherwise have been rejected immediately.

Not enough income to afford rent? Through a series of Roommate Matching events, individuals were paired up to pool resources and find apartments they could afford together.

Missing critical documents? Along with our community partners, Austin Street’s case management staff works hard to help our guests get birth certificates, state IDs, and other important documentation.

Dustin Perkins, Austin Street’s Director of Programs said, “Our case management team worked their fingers to the bone and wholeheartedly embraced multiple innovative upgrades to our current services, doing things no other emergency shelter in Dallas has ever done before. We are thrilled with the result – 107 people who are no longer homeless, permanently! We learned some incredible lessons about what works to end our clients’ homelessness and what it takes to continuously improve. I’m thankful for this amazing case management team who applied their big hearts and big brains through big effort to achieve big results!  I’m humbled to work with these incredible people.”

The entire Austin Street staff feels passionate about helping our clients get home. Everyone participated in the challenge; from developing messages displayed throughout the shelter to making sure to ask guests what their housing plan was at every opportunity, each team member from security to operations and fundraising worked to make this possible.

As our team integrates the lessons learned from this challenge, we remain committed to ensuring that every person we serve is working toward ending their homeless experience as quickly as possible

To learn more: see MDHA’s blog post here and the Dallas Morning News’ editorial here.