Network of Community Ministries helps families in Richardson ISD get over 'the bump in the road'

Volunteers help stock the shelves at Networku2019s grocery store, where guests can buy fresh produce and other goods.

Volunteers help stock the shelves at Networku2019s grocery store, where guests can buy fresh produce and other goods.

Image description
Ways to give

What began as a grassroots effort to fill a service gap in Richardson ISD has grown into a thriving philanthropic machine known as the Network of Community Ministries.

The organization was founded in the mid-1980s during a period of economic turmoil, CEO Cindy Shafer said. Churches were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people seeking help, so rather than go it alone, a small group of churches joined forces to establish a centralized point of care.

Forty years later, thousands of RISD residents benefit from Network services each year. Its primary focus is providing food, but clients also come to Network for medical and dental appointments, clothing, utility assistance, holiday gifts and school supplies.

According to the organization, over 20,000 Richardson ISD students meet the federal income threshold for free or reduced-cost lunch. Network strives to meet that need by focusing most of its resources on programs to help the hungry and homeless, Shafer said.

At the nonprofit’s on-site grocery store, clients can use an allocated currency to purchase food. That money can also be spent in the on-site clothing closet.

Network provided service over 40,000 times in fiscal year 2018-19, which represents a 35% increase from the year prior. An uptick in homeless and low-income residents regionally is one factor driving a surge, Shafer said.

To set clients up for long-term success, Network offers programs that promote self-sufficiency. The organization recently launched Pathways, a comprehensive case management program that helps individuals achieve specific goals.

“We help people get over the bump in the road,” Shafer said. “But I think as we’ve evolved, we realized that we need to come beside people and empower them so that they’re not circling back over that same road.”

North Central Texas Council of Governments project the number of seniors and low-income individuals will increase dramatically over the next decade. Shafer believes those changes will create a need for more mobile services.

The first step in that effort was recently launched in the form of a refrigerated box truck delivering meals to low-income students at four RISD campuses. Shafer said Network plans to eventually grow the mobile food pantry program to serve more students as well as other high-need populations.

By Olivia Lueckemeyer

Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.


Registered voters in Collin County can vote in the races for tax assessor-collector, Precinct 1 commissioner, and judges for the 380th and 401st districts, as well as federal and state level representatives and presidential candidates at the March 3 election. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Collin County sees increase in registration numbers ahead of March 3 presidential primary

The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming primary election is just days away, and already more Collin County residents are eligible to participate compared with 2016.

Richardson ISD is expected to grow by over 1,000 students over the next 5 years. (Courtesy Richardson ISD)
Richardson ISD enrollment expected to grow by nearly 4 percent over the next decade

The district is projected to see an increase of 1,475 students by school year 2029-30.

Virgin Hyperloop was founded in 2014 and opened a test track in Nevada in 2017. The company is now seeking a location for a Hyperloop Certification Facility. (Courtesy Virgin Hyperloop One)
Collin County commissioners discuss possible Virgin Hyperloop One safety facility

Collin County Commissioners Court discussed the possibility of being selected as a location for a Hyperloop Certification Facility at a meeting Jan. 27.

Business owners were encouraged to symbolically plant their flag on a map of The IQ. (Olivia Lueckemeyer/Community Impact Newspaper)
The IQ announced as new name for Richardson's innovation district

A new logo for the district was also unveiled.

Trustees approved an expenditure of $300,000 for a study to update the college's Master Plano for 2020-25 at a regular meeting Jan. 28. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Collin College takes action on preparations for Master Plan update

Collin College will begin the process of updating its Master Plan beginning with the completion of a study to better understand changes in regional demographics and workforce composition.

Richardson City Council approved the issuance of more than $76 million worth of debt at its Jan. 27 meeting. (Makenzie Plusnick/Community Impact Newspaper)
City of Richardson to issue more than $76 million worth of debt in 2020

Once this debt has been issued, the city will have $13.3 million left of the $115 million bond approved by voters in 2015.

Velvet Taco will open a Richardson location this summer. (Courtesy Velvet Taco)
Velvet Taco to open this summer in Richardson

The restaurant's request for a special permit was approved Jan. 27 by Richardson City Council.

Texas Ballet Theater is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating, presenting and touring world-class ballet. (Courtesy Texas Ballet Theater)
Texas Ballet Theater reopens in new Richardson studio

The new location includes more space, multiple restrooms, office and staff areas, and dressing facilities for students.

Palapas Seafood Bar serves Mexican-style seafood dishes, such as ceviche. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Palapas Seafood Bar celebrates one year in Richardson

The restaurant serves Mexican-style cocktails and seafood dishes.

Nora Rotem, elementary school art finalist in the Martin Luther King Jr. diversity competition, shows her mother, Ori Rotem, her piece. Finalist and semifinalist art pieces filled the common area of Williams High School. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gallery: Plano ISD holds 33rd diversity celebration performance and award presentation

The 2020 Plano ISD Diversity Celebration was the district's 33rd year of recognizing diversity in the district as a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

There are 1.3 million registered voters countywide as of Jan. 23, according to the Dallas County Elections Office. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Number of registered voters up in Dallas County ahead of March 3 presidential primary

Those who wish to vote in the primary must register by Feb. 3.

USA Vein Clinics is now open in Richardson. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
USA Vein Clinics now open in Richardson

The business specializes in quick, in-office treatments for a variety of vein conditions

Back to top