Non-Profit of the Year for 2017
This Westie will be awarded to a non-profit organization that has recognized a need within our community and who through community responsibility, innovation, growth, sound business practices and community partnerships has served our community with vision and integrity.
Common Threads addresses the obesity crisis and hunger paradox by delivering proven hands-on cooking and nutrition education to children, families, and teachers in partner schools and communities where at least 80% of the local school population is economically disadvantaged. All of our programs not only provide supplemental nutritious food but also incorporate culturally relevant, experiential education, empowering children, parents and teachers to choose and prepare healthy food long after our classes. Alongside its positive impact on physical health, good nutrition is correlated to higher academic achievement among children, with healthier students outperforming their peers on test scores, grades, cognitive functioning and educational attainment. Notably, evaluations consistently demonstrate our programs significantly improve student nutrition knowledge, consumption of and attitudes toward healthy food, communication to the family about healthy eating and cooking skills.
Common Threads launched their proven programming in Austin in 2016, and over the course of the first year, taught hands-on cooking skills and nutrition knowledge to 3,500 children, parents/caregivers and teachers; served 8,080 healthy meals and snacks; and collaborated with 29 schools and community organization sites. We expect to meet or exceed these outputs in school year 2017-18.
Foster Angels of Central Texas
Foster Angels of Central Texas works to meet the many unfulfilled needs of children in foster care, and provide normalcy so that children in foster care can feel like normal kids. We do this by filling daily requests from Child Protective Services, CASA and several foster care agencies in the community. Foster Angels is able to serve the most children receiving and filling the requests every day that provide basic needs, but also identifying what we can provide to make a child thrive. For example, activities like getting to go on a school field trip or being in a club or team sport that their caregiver would otherwise be unable to afford if not for Foster Angels to ensure children in foster care get these experiences.
Since 2010 we have provided assistance to over 18,000 children in foster care through six different programs including daily requests for immediate assistance, Bright Angel Scholars, Port Aransas Fishing Trips, Mentor Moms, Back to School supply program, and Toys for Teens.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes
The mission of Mobile Loaves & Fishes is to provide food and clothing, to cultivate community and to promote dignity to our homeless brothers and sisters in need. Our vision is to empower the community into a lifestyle of service with the homeless.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes was founded nearly 20 years ago at St. John Neumann Church in Westlake, and thousands of individuals, families, corporate groups, students, scout groups and faith communities have served the homeless through the Truck Program located there. Westlake High School stated more volunteer hours are logged by students serving at MLF than any other area nonprofit.
The Community First! Village opened in 2015 and was created through the collaborative efforts of thousands of loyal volunteers and donors throughout Central Texas. The breadth and depth of community involvement is beyond anything our city has seen and it is difficult to quantify the many ways the Westlake community has supported this effort. These include:
- Westlake area faith-communities sponsoring homes and hosting events
- 25 Custom and Commercial Builders
- 20 Corporations
- 17 Family foundations
- Civic and school groups
- 30+ ongoing Eagle Scout projects
- Over 14,000 individual donors
The Westlake Chamber of Commerce and Westlake Student Council celebrated a House Blessing this year for the home they sponsored together in the Village.
The students at Forest Trail Elementary led by longtime PE teacher Jane Lewis, also raised over $20,000 to sponsor a micro-home and help move a friend off the streets. Students, families and teachers all gathered in the community gardens to celebrate a House Blessing. The school focused on challenges faced by the homeless throughout the school year and further built awareness throughout the community.
On Saturday, November 12, Emily, a long-time fixture at the corner of Bee Caves and 360, packed up and moved out to Community First! Village. The Westlake community has supported Emily for many years through money, gifts and conversation. These friends supported her emotionally through the process of making a change and eventually moving. She just celebrated her first year in the village with many Westlake area friends attending her party!
We believe the fundamental cause of homelessness is a profound, catastrophic loss of family. The staff and those we serve at Mobile Loaves & Fishes is so grateful for all the ways the Westlake Community has supported our mission and contributed gifts, talents and love to the currently and formerly chronically homeless in Austin, TX.
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