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Project Hope Relational Program Maria visits with Project Hope Director Jackie Welchman.

Engagement, empathy, and encouragement, combined with holistic assessment, referrals, counseling, and goal setting, move families in crisis to freedom and independence

Maria, 39, and her two daughters, ages 1 and 3, first came to The Storehouse of Collin County during the 2020 Thanksgiving Distribution.  Seeking asylum from Venezuela, where she had a successful career as a journalist working at a local newspaper and producing her own radio show, Maria left her country and family in February 2019 in search of a better life. Her brother had already come to Texas due to the political unrest, and she was ready to do the same. Since her arrival, she learned a new language and has endured many challenges, including domestic violence, but has come out stronger on the other side with the help of The Storehouse’s Project Hope program. On September 20 she begins a new job and a new start for her family.

“I remember the first day I met Maria,” said Jackie Welchman, director of The Storehouse’s Project Hope Program. “She was the last person in line for food and had a 2-year-old clinging to her leg and 6-month-old in her arms. I knew she was facing challenges. I, too, am a mother of two young daughters and immediately put myself into her shoes. Maria needed help beyond food and clothing. Her situation was complex, and while she was living with her brother and his family, she had no money and no one to ‘show her the way’ and help her get on her feet.”

Through Project Hope, Maria was provided with referrals, including one to Dallas Catholic Charities who assisted her with obtaining social security cards for herself and her oldest daughter, born in Venezuela. In August she obtained a permit to work. Upon her initial arrival in the U.S., she had worked temporary jobs with a catering company, but after overcoming abuse and trauma, she had been searching for a more stable position. Maria meets twice a month with Welchman, whom she refers to as her “angel.” Welchman provides a listening ear helping her navigate the challenges of supporting her family in a new country while working on goal setting, planning, employment, and housing.

“That day I was waiting for food at The Storehouse and saw the flyer on Project Hope was a grace day in my life, and I know it was not a coincidence that it was on Thanksgiving,” added Maria, recounting her first visit with Welchman. “God has been with me. Through Project Hope I also had the opportunity to attend a special event called ‘Evening of Empowerment,’ where I met another angel who helped me find my new job.”

"It does not matter where you are in life, you need someone to walk with you and encourage you,” added Welchman. “You need someone to say, ‘I believe in you, and I see those abilities in you.’ For Maria, I know that she is a wonderful mother and caregiver. I’ve reminded her of the importance of self-care and allowing others to encourage and support her. The biggest change I have seen in her is her confidence and her perspective on her ‘story.’ Before she got involved with Project Hope, she saw herself as a victim, and today she sees herself as a survivor.” 

“As an immigrant with two little ones in a new country, I am so blessed to have found Project Hope and Jackie, who gives me the confidence and the courage I need to face the challenges ahead,” added Maria. “What Jackie is doing with me positively impacts my children and my family. Project Hope is a treasure. Project Hope is more than just a program of The Storehouse. For me, it is the center.”

“Our entire Storehouse team speaks often about the essence of Project Hope,” said Candace Winslow, executive director, The Storehouse of Collin County.  “Our mission is to feed, clothe and care as neighbors in one community, and Project Hope represents the ‘care’ component of what we do. It starts with how we greet our neighbors at the pantry and at our clothing closet, and it extends to how we actively listen for additional needs and take time to care holistically for our neighbors.”

In the last fiscal year (July 2020-June 2021), The Storehouse of Collin County served 1,534,048 meals through the Seven Loaves food pantry, distributed 33,802 articles of clothing through the Joseph’s Coat clothing closet, and gave support to 703 neighbors in one-on-one conversations through the empowerment-based, transformational program, Project Hope.

“Please remember when you give to The Storehouse on North Texas Giving Day, your donation allows us to serve each neighbor holistically, not only meeting their food and clothing needs, but also serving as a ‘conduit of care’ to help with the other aspects of their lives with the ultimate goal of long-term transformation,” added Winslow. “When you give, you are not giving to a program, you are giving to people – people just like Maria.  You are giving them a new start on life, and you are enabling them to care for themselves and their families.”

On September 23, visit https://www.northtexasgivingday.org/thestorehousecc and give to The Storehouse of Collin County. Help those in Collin County seeking short-term assistance and long-term transformation and be a part of the largest community-wide giving event in the nation.

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The Storehouse of Collin County provides short-term assistance and long-term transformation to residents of Collin County in need through the Seven Loaves Food Pantry, Joseph’s Coat Clothing Closet, and Project Hope. The nonprofit was founded in 2009 under the name of Seven Loaves Community which provided only food pantry staples and grew over the years to meet a variety of needs. Over 1,600 families on average access the Seven Loaves Food Pantry each month. The Storehouse also provides an opportunity to receive clothing at no cost through Joseph’s Coat as well as holistic assessment, counseling, goal setting, and referrals to community resources through the Project Hope relational program. Visit www.thestorehousecc.org. The Storehouse EIN: 27-1883333

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