Lewisville officials are working on creating the city’s first one-stop building for nonprofit services after nearly five years of planning.

Serve Lewisville will be the city’s new nonprofit organization and facility. It is expected to open in spring 2023. Its mission will be to bring multiple nonprofit organizations together under one roof, making it easier for the community to access social services.

Lewisville’s Neighborhood Services Coordinator Ashleigh Feryan will be one of Serve Lewisville’s inaugural board members. In her first role with the city as a grants specialist, she said local nonprofits repeatedly expressed a desire for a building in Lewisville that could house multiple organizations.

“Not a lot of nonprofits actually are housed here in Lewisville; a lot are in Denton that serve Lewisville residents,” Feryan said. “So having a space here to provide services directly here in Lewisville kept coming up.”

The organization aims to attract nonprofits, churches and civic organizations to a proposed 23,983-square-foot facility on Edmonds Lane. With multiple organizations being in close proximity at the center, nonprofits can work together and easily refer clients to other agencies, Feryan said.

The need for a facility was determined by a feasibility study, which was conducted last year. The study identified five of Lewisville residents’ top needs: adult health care; mental health care; rent and utility assistance; affordable child care; and food assistance. The median household income in Lewisville is $67,026, and 10% of residents live in poverty, according to 2020 U.S. Census data.

“The pandemic may be slowing down, but now we’ve got inflation. Rental rates are skyrocketing,” Feryan said.

The new nonprofit’s board will consist of five members: Feryan, Lewisville Council Member William Meridith, Serve Denton CEO Pat Smith and two community members, who have yet to be named.

“I grew up in a household with a family of six,” Meridith said. “There probably were times that we probably could have used these services that probably didn’t exist back when I was a kid, so it’s just a way for me to kind of bring this full circle and give back.”

Seeing a need

Social services are spread across town, making it difficult for those in need who may not have adequate transportation to access the resources they need, Feryan said.

Serve Lewisville’s creation is coming at a time when those working in or alongside nonprofits say they are seeing an increased need in social services. There are about two dozen nonprofits located in Lewisville city limits.

There are four nonprofit centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to The Nonprofit Centers Network. The closest center for Lewisville residents is the Serve Denton facility, located roughly 30 minutes away.

By having multiple nonprofits under one roof, individuals and families will not have to travel long distances or take time off from work to get the assistance they need, Meridith said.

Serve Lewisville will be modeled after nearby Serve Denton, according to the feasibility study. Established in 2012, Serve Denton also has a one-stop shop model. Serve Denton is partnered with nearly two dozen organizations across several social services, including food; housing and rental assistance; health care; women and children’s needs; and mental health.

Smith, one of the organization’s founders, said Serve Lewisville will be different in terms of branding and addressing the unique needs of residents. Serve Denton’s success, however, will provide a blueprint.

“It’s very important to me and to the agencies that when people come in, they feel like they’re treated with dignity and respect,” Smith said. “We always want Serve Denton, and now Serve Lewisville, to be a place of hope.”

Smith knows the challenges of launching a nonprofit better than anyone. He said building trust with the community potentially will be Serve Lewisville’s biggest challenge, but the organization is already better positioned for success than Serve Denton was in its infant stages.

“I’m so impressed with the leadership. When city leaders are aligned on things like this, that makes everything run smoother,” he said. “I love Denton. That’s where I grew up, but I didn’t have the support of [the] City Council that I had in Denton that I’ve had in Lewisville. To me that’s huge.”

Smith said Serve Denton plans to remain involved and in close partnership long after its Lewisville counterpart gets off the ground.

Serving the community

The projected site for Serve Lewisville will be at 1001 S. Edmonds Lane, an old Denton Area Teachers Credit Union building in need of renovations.

Officials look to renovate the space through a number of funding revenues. The city will provide a $2.5 million forgivable loan that will cover the purchase of the building and renovations, Smith said. Serve Lewisville will raise the remaining $300,000 needed to buy, renovate and cover first-year operating costs. Smith said remaining costs will be funded through rent from nonprofits and fundraising events.

The proposed location was selected because of its ease of access and proximity to neighborhoods, churches and schools.

Serve Lewisville will be rolled out in two phases. Mental health, food, and rental and utilities agencies will move into the facility during the first phase, Feryan said. Child care and health care services will be targeted next once Serve Lewisville acquires more space. Smith said nonprofits that plan to have offices at the Serve Lewisville facility will also remain in their existing offices and buildings.

Plans for food assistance include pantries and a community garden, which would help support access to fresh produce.

Serve Lewisville will start with 7,983 square feet for Phase 1. Smith said Serve Lewisville plans to add 16,000 square feet for the second phase, which will occur about three years later.

Nonprofit benefits

Giving Grace CEO Leighanne Christon said the nonprofit’s interest in potentially partnering with Serve Lewisville was heavily influenced by its successful partnership with Serve Denton.

“All the shared services that we receive for free really impacts our bottom line and allows us to help more people,” she said. “It is such a benefit to small to mid-sized nonprofits—wanting to give us that financial break in partnership around that but then to have it and get such high-end quality care as a tenant, as a partner is very impressive. We’re really grateful for that.”

Giving Grace’s mission is to help individuals and families with children in Denton County who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless.

“Our intention and desire is to have significant sustainable change for not just the mom or the individual, but for generational changes,” Christon said.

Giving Grace has one office in Denton. Christon said if Giving Grace partners with Serve Lewisville, its street outreach team will be able to reach more people.

Feryan said Serve Lewisville will build a better sense of community within the city, and its success will provide opportunities for the organization to expand services.

“My hope and dream for this is to really bring our community together, not only our residents that live here, but our partners and our businesses—knowing a place like this is here to support our community,” she said. “It’s really going to build and enhance our community.”