“It’s time to boldly step into the next season of Network’s history,” organization President and CEO Cindy Shafer said during a Sept. 7 ribbon cutting.
The facility, located at 1500 International Parkway, was paid for through a $6.3 million fundraising campaign and is four times larger than the organization’s previous location on Sherman Street. The additional space will allow Network to better meet the demands of the community, Shafer said.
“While we are celebrating today the completion of a building, I want you all to remember that it’s just a building,” Shafer said. “What we’re really here for today are the people that are going to walk through those doors ... so instead of imagining a place, imagine the people whose lives will be transformed.”
The facility not only includes a larger food pantry and clothing closet—both of which are modeled to mimic a real-life shopping experience for clients—it also includes space for community partners, including Richardson ISD and Methodist Richardson Medical Center.
During the Sept. 7 ribbon cutting, hospital president and City Council Member Ken Hutchenrider announced that Methodist Richardson plans to open an on-site health clinic that will serve Network’s low-income clients as well as an urgent care center for Richardson ISD staff.
“It’s been a dream to be able to do this,” Hutchenrider said.
Network serves the 14 ZIP codes encompassed by Richardson ISD, which includes most of Richardson, parts of Dallas and a small sliver of Garland. The district will open The Richardson ISD Family Services Center inside Network’s facility sometime this fall, Superintendent Jeannie Stone said.
“Having our Student Services Center and our counselors here will provide so many additional opportunities for when families do come. ... This wraparound service, all under one roof—there’s such strength in that,” she said.
The call for Network’s services skyrocketed beginning with the October 2019 tornado. Then, over the course of the pandemic, the average number of families seeking help increased from 170 per week to 170 per day. And while the nonprofit’s need for more space predates the coronavirus, the crisis hastened the search for a more adequate facility, Shafer said during a previous interview with Community Impact Newspaper.
“The relationship between Network and the city of Richardson goes way back, but the last two years have really put in cement how important this organization is to our daily lives,” Mayor Paul Voelker said. “I can’t think of a more important stakeholder, especially in times like this.”
Some of Network’s donation guidelines have been temporarily amended due to the move. For more information on these changes as well as a list of needed items, visit this link.