Bright Lights, Shining Stars Gala – Coming this Sept. 10!

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Collin Classic Bike Rally – June 11

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City House Success Story: Goddi

Goddi never knew his dad growing up. He and his mom lived in several different states before settling in North Texas.

“It was rough; I remember there was always a lot of stress in our house,” Goddi said. “My mom wanted me to be the man of the house since I was the oldest. But she was in and out of jail and I would spend a lot of time with relatives I didn’t really know.”

GoddiWhen Goddi was 17 and 18, he and his mother were living in Garland and they were doing the best they could. But Goddi had to drop out of high school to watch his little brothers. He had no high school degree and no plan. But he knew what he wanted.

“I didn’t know what to do or what steps to take. All I knew is that I wanted to get out,” he said. “So I just left one night. I packed a bag and left. I was homeless for about four months. I ended up living at The Bridge shelter in Dallas for a while.”

Goddi was doing whatever he could. He went to Promise House he tried the job corps. Nothing clicked. Then his CT manager told him about City House and he decided to check it out.

“I went to the Youth Resource Center and talked with some of the staff and ended up filling out an application. I moved into the boys house the next week. I liked it a lot and thought it was very helpful.”

Goddi appreciated being around other young men who had dealt with their own challenges in life. He listened and learned a lot from his peers.

“It was great having the counselors and staff to talk with,” he said. “But the other guys in the house were very positive and we bonded. They were inspirational to me because they each were so determined. We bonded and I’m still friends with most of the guys.”

Never a problem with work ethic, Goddi just needed some direction and guidance.

“When I didn’t have any place else to go, City House gave me a place. Growing up, I never really had much guidance and had to learn a lot for myself. When you turn 18 you unfortunately don’t automatically just know how the world works. City House helps you focus on what you want to do in life.”

Goddi started working at Samsung while at City House and has kept steady work as he’s moved on. He’s since gotten back together with his mom and they are working through things while trying to help each other. Currently he works at the Dallas Museum of Art.

“I’m saving up my money right now,” he said. “I want to get a car and I’m always trying to get more hours. My ultimate goal is to have my own business. I wouldn’t mind working in a place like City House and helping people. I have a lot of interests and I’m excited about what the future holds.”

That’s what it comes down to for Godi and so many other young people – focus.

“Distractions have always been a problem for me and City House helped me understand how to focus on what you want to do in life,” he said. “I feel like you can do anything in life you put your mind to; you just need to focus. City House gives you the tools to think for yourself and learn about life. It certainly was a positive experience for me.”

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Frisco Middle Schools Raise More Than $32k For City House

Impressive Effort by Hunt, Scoggins and Pioneer Heritage Middle Schools in Frisco ISD

By Mary Murphy & Rob Scichili

ThonThree years ago, Girl Scout Troop 8737 worked with Hunt Middle School in Frisco, TX to put on the first-ever City House Frisco Thon fundraiser. The next year, Scoggins Middle School joined the effort as a second school to participate. This year, for the spring of 2016, Thon expanded to three middle schools in Frisco ISD, held on April 8. Pioneer Heritage joined in as the third school in three years, and it was a night of success, all the way around.

CfjOYcQUAAAudSKFrisco Thon is a six-hour dance-a-thon (and all things fun) for middle school students that is modeled after the Penn State Thon that has been around for years in the name of cancer research. The event raises money and awareness for City House and their cause – helping at-risk youth for abuse, neglect and homelessness in Collin County.

All together, the three schools combined to raise more than $32,000 for City House as part of the 2016 Frisco Thon!

“I think that Frisco Thon was an amazing opportunity for our staff, students and community to come together for a great cause,” said Scoggins school counselor Christine Combest. “The students were excited to donate and support a cause that is very close to home. It is relatable for these students since it helps other youth in the Collin County area.  Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the opportunity to get up and move for six hours in the name of City House.”

DSC_0232-2The students were certainly moving, kept busy by a full itinerary that included pie-eating contests, lip-synching contests, faculty-student basketball games, a dunk tank (at Pioneer Heritage), limbo contests, and of course, dancing.

“Frisco Thon brought our school and community together in so many ways,” said Keleigh Compton, teacher and sponsor at Pioneer Heritage. “We had students, teachers, parents, and other community members doing everything they could to make Frisco Thon fun and successful! I think that seeing everyone work together for such a great cause will have a lasting effect on these kids for years to come!”

IMG_1581Current City House clients Mario and Christina, who are residents in the organization’s Transitional Living Program, came to all three schools to talk with the students and thank them for their efforts.

“It’s your dedication to give back and participate in an evening like this that makes a huge difference,” Mario told the students at Hunt. “City House has done so much for me. I can focus on what is next for me instead of where I am going to sleep tonight. Thank you all so much for raising money for City House.”

DSC_0438Christina went on to explain how the program has helped her immensely and now she is pursuing her goal of studying to be a cosmetologist.

Pranav Chelat, a student at Pioneer Heritage said, “Frisco Thon really helped me realize that there are actually people struggling just to get a good home and to live a decent life. I now realize that Frisco also has homeless people. Frisco Thon helps those people in need with the money that we donate and also guarantees the fun all the kids had. The event is a combination of fun and charity helping.”

Sumedha Bhagavatula, also a student at Pioneer Heritage added, “Frisco Thon has brought the kindness out of me and allowed me to do a great service for the greater good of my city and school.”

IMG_1575The students and volunteers enjoyed Raising Cane’s chicken fingers for an early meal during the event, with pizza being served in the latter hours. There certainly wasn’t a shortage of food and drink!

Although City House has been around for 27 years, many teachers and students still aren’t aware that the local nonprofit organization is there to help.

Plano teachers Nancy Boyd and Kay Goodman founded City House in 1988 after they discovered several of their students living out of lockers. City House began as a six-bed teen shelter and has grown into a 48-bed multi-faceted organization. They now have an emergency care center, My Friends House, for ages 0-17, three Transitional Living Program (TLP) homes for ages 18-21 and outpatient counseling services. They also have a Youth Resource Center in Plano, where young adults can take life skills classes, get help finding jobs, and more.

CfkO_NAUsAAWp0_.jpg-largeMoney raised from previous Thons have helped City House finance the TLP program in Frisco and overall in Collin County.

“Frisco Thon has helped City House reach more people, both in awareness and impact,” said Rob Scichili, communications manager for City House. “Parents are also made aware of the issue of teen homelessness, and many become more involved once they learn of the issue. This great event helps unite the students on a very fun night that benefits a worthy cause.

“All of us at City House would like to thank the students and staff for all of their dedication and hard work. Raising over $32,000 is pretty darn impressive. We will put every penny towards helping the kids we serve. It was a very fun night and we appreciate these young people for stepping up for their community.”

CfkKlhnVIAATHvHCity House’s Frisco Thon fundraiser began in 2014 with the help of Girl Scout Troop 8737, whose members were 8th grade students at Hunt Middle School at the time. Troop members Madison Gray, Brianna Royer, and Samantha Buckalew learned about City House while donating boxes of Girl Scout Cookies to Samaritan Inn, a homeless shelter in McKinney, TX.

“We decided to work with City House because the young adult age group is often underserved, and we wanted to target real people that needed our service and that we could work with personally,” said Madison Gray, now a sophomore at Frisco High School. “It very easily could have been myself or one of my Girl Scout sisters in that same situation. Because of that, we knew we had to help.”

Troop 8737 worked with Hunt Middle School’s Student Council to plan and carry out the first-ever Frisco Thon. The fundraiser was a great success and nearly $12,000 was raised for City House.

Hunt, Scoggins and Pioneer Heritage simply went out and tripled that number in 2016.

IMG_1596“Students loved the fact that they were raising money for teens and students that they may go to school with or see every day, which touched everyone on a personal level,” said Maria Lawson, sophomore at Frisco High School and former Hunt student council president who helped make Thon a reality in 2014. “It was eye opening for everyone to understand that there were people in their community the same age as them that were less privileged, so everyone wanted to help make a change.”

Thank you to all of the great sponsors that partnered with the three schools to raise money for a great cause!

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Bowling for Dollars

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Tori (center) and her student partners from PESH put together a very impressive fun night of bowling for City House

Tori is a senior at Plano East High School. Active in many outside causes and efforts, she has always wanted to put together an event to help City House. It’s a passion and desire shared by several of her friends. So they decided now was the time, putting together a night of bowling that would be a ton of fun and benefit City House at the same time.

“We wanted to do some kind of event to raise funds for City House, but nothing came clear to us at first,” Tori said. “One day I was driving by Plano Super Bowl and thought to myself, ‘I wonder if they do fundraisers there’ and a light bulb went off in my head and everything just came clear to me! We could do our own charity event there, and everything just fell in place after that.”

image_3Tori put together a fun evening around bowling on April 1 that was simply outstanding. She promoted it and asked friends and family to come support a great cause and enjoy themselves.

“We all went to school that Friday, and could not wait for the evening to come,” she said. “After school we picked up the balloons and headed that way. When we got there, we put our vision in place on everything from where the sign-up table would be to where we would set up the raffle.”

image_2About 45 people attended the evening of bowling, with several coming through with very generous donations.

“We had some with $20 donations, some with $40 donations, and even a $1,000 donation! Everyone had a blast bowling and raffling prizes for a good cause,” she said.

This was right up Tori’s alley. She has a giving heart and lives to spread her love for giving back. Obviously it is contagious. The event raised more than $2,000!

image“The evening was so much fun for me,” she said. “My group and I absolutely love doing things of this nature! Seeing all the people coming together for something that means so much to us meant the world! I would do it all over again! We even mentioned maybe making this an annual thing.”

Tori’s entire inspiration – to make people aware of the realization of children who find themselves homeless, including those in the foster care system.

“I think the people that attended our event left with touched hearts and imprinted souls,” she said. “I hope our event encouraged others to do things of this nature, and realize the reality of youth homelessness. I have no doubt that everyone left feeling great and knowing they had fun for a great cause!”

The event also featured a raffle that included a Starbucks gift basket, a $40 Red Lobster gift card, a beautiful cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes, a $50 PF Changs gift card, and Free Family Bowling passes from Plano Super Bowl.

image_4“What stood out to me the most was the diversity of the people there and all the smiles on everyone’s faces,” Tori said. “People were so excited about the raffle; it was great. We are so thankful for all the places that donated things so we were able to have a raffle. We are sending out thank you cards.”

Tori has bigger plans for herself and it gets going quickly.

“What’s next for me is just enjoying the great life God has given me and being thankful for everything I have and everything I have been able to do,” she said. “I will be attending college immediately after I get my high school diploma and will be attending medical school as well! And of course I will continue to do the things I love – as in giving back!”

Yes, that’s the part this impressive young woman has down to a science!

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Cinco de Mayo Golf Classic

Please join us on May 5 for the Cinco de Mayo Golf Classic, presented by Preferred Imaging. This fantastic event will take place at the Golf Club at Twin Creeks in Allen, Tex. Our celebrity host is former Dallas Stars defenseman and two-time Stanley Cup winner Craig Ludwig. Proceeds benefit City House, helping us serve at-risk youth in Collin County. Only a few golfing spots remain! Register now!

Two ways to register as a golfer, a foursome and/or a sponsor:
On-line by clicking here
or
Send an email to Rob at RobS@cityhouse.org and he will take care of you.
Or call 469-633-0063 for more information.

2016 Cinco de Mayo Golf Classic Flyer v2 low res

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Thank you for your support!

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Gift Cards Needed!

Gift Cards Help Us in So Many Ways

charity-day-kids-giveCity House literally can not receive too many gift cards. We use them for so many things, year-round. And no amount is too small or too big. It all adds up and we put them all to good use.

We can use gift cards for any of the following:

Overall: Walmart and Target – our No. 1 preferred gift cards. We do a ton of our shopping at these spots – groceries, needs of the residents, including clothing, hygiene products, etc. And we have a Walmart SuperCenter and Target right around the corner from our homes and emergency shelter.

Grocery: Kroger and Tom Thumb gift cards also work well.

Clothing: Kohl’s, Payless Shoes, Burlington Coat Factory, Ross

Electronics: Best Buy (we have a constant need for new video games, DVDs and other fun stuff for the kids). We currently have several older residents attending school who could use laptops for school which can be purchased with the gift cards.

Transitional Living Program (TLP) Young Adults: QT gas gift cards are fantastic to help pay for gas, while Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s and Ross help us keep the houses stocked and the young people outfitted for school and work.

So if you are wanting to do something for the kids at City House, gift cards are simply awesome! You can drop them off at our administrative offices at 901 18th St., Plano, 75074 or at My Friend’s House. Please call Karen Voelker at 972-424-4626 or kvoelker@cityhouse.org on any questions.

Help out with Community Requested Gifts

Other than gift cards (which are preferred), other items that we need for our use during the year include: new hoodies and shoes (we cannot take used clothing), mp3 players with headphones, pre-paid cell phones with minutes, wallets, new release DVDs, laptops, tablets.

We thank you for your generosity! Our kids appreciate everything our community does to help make their lives a little more special!

A Monetary Gift

Our donors’ generosity is the life blood to being able to serve so many at-risk kids in Collin County and North Texas. A monetary gift helps us immensely, and we also have options for recurring gifts. Simply click here to go to our donation page and make a gift towards City House.

Again, thank you to all of you who generously give so that our kids can have a better life! Your donation of time, spirit and money go a long way in helping us do what we do!

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Volunteer Profile: Gail Hughes

Every Tuesday morning, the pre-school-aged kids at My Friend’s House get a welcome visitor who always beings a smile with her, creating more on the faces of these young children who are sponges in this world, ready to learn.

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Gail Hughes

Gail Hughes has seen these smiles for almost six years, ever since My Friend’s House opened. And it never gets old.

“I get a lot more out of it than (the kids) get from me,” said Ms. Gail, as she is warmly called by the kids and staff. “Just going into City House and seeing those kids that arrive in the middle of the night and sometimes I see them the next day, and the resiliency that they have. It’s amazing. There is no fear and they know they don’t have to take care of themselves here. You can see the love that is on their faces and the security that they see. It is very therapeutic.”

IMG_0788A retired pre-school teacher of 25 years and a grandmother, Ms. Gail comes to My Friend’s House every Tuesday morning, always with a theme for a lesson. Last week it was “transportation.” The kids learned about cars and boats and busses and planes.

“She comes prepared,” said City House Child Care Specialist Lead Tracey Sherman. “Ms. Gail always brings little props, figures and toys that go along with the lesson, such a mini cars, trains and boats. She brings her own supplies, and always has a book to read to the kids. And she even makes her own play-doh that is the best in the world; it stays soft and never dries out!

“She’s phenomenal. Ms. Gail can even get three-year-old boys to sit for 45 minutes and do crafts, which is a minor miracle of its own. She’s loving, yet firm, but she engages them in every lesson.”

And the kids look forward to seeing her

“After they see me one time, they react to me,” Gail said. “Everything about that place makes you want to go back. When I walk in there and they know why I’m there and that they are going to be busy for the next three hours, they come running to me and yell my name. It is a boost of energy to come in there and see them.”

IMG_0791Gail’s career in teaching developmental pre-school gave her a lot of advantages.

“I have a bunch of different units of teaching from over the years,” she said. “I get an email over the weekend to let me know how many kids there are, and I do my prep. If it’s a bunch of girls I bring my glitter and jewels, and if it’s boys I bring dinosaurs and mini cars. It is pretty easy to figure out what I want to do. It is such a pleasure because seeing the interaction between the staff and the kids. It is awesome.”

Gail knows the reality. There is a need in Collin County for City House.

“I think it is amazing. When I talk to people about City House they have no clue that there is a homeless shelter for children in Collin County,” she said. “But (youth homelessness) happens to every socioeconomic group in our country. I am so thankful that we have it because the need is definitely there.”

Gail and her husband Doug also foster labs for DFW Lab Rescue, doing so for about three years.

“We just placed our 32nd lab yesterday,” she said. “It has been very rewarding as well.”

Tuesday is coming. And the kids will be ready. But so will Ms. Gail.

“This next lesson will be on transportation again,” she said. “I’m going to bring my paint and let the kids run the wheels of our vehicles though the paint to see the different marks they make on paper.”

And again there will be smiles. It’s simply what comes naturally every Tuesday.

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Outrun Homelessness 5K & Fun Run

City House is proud and excited to once again be a beneficiary of Lifepoint Church’s Outrun Homelessness 5K & Fun Run, held on Saturday, April 16 in Plano!

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Raising Awareness

Shelly is a 17-year-old student at Plano East Senior High (PESH), and a member of the school’s HOSA chapter – a powerful curricular program of student-led activities designed to develop future leaders for the health care system.

Right before the holiday break, Shelly’s HOSA group for future professionals was presented a competition in which self-made groups had to come up with some ideas to raise awareness for any issue they choose.

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Shelly’s group donation flyer

“We were struggling with something to raise awareness for,” she said. “But I had the idea of raising awareness for foster kids and what they go through. The emotional trauma is real and thousands go through it every day in this country.”

Foster children and what they experience is something dear to Shelly’s heart. She knew all about City House and what the organization does for homeless and runaways. Her HOSA group consisting of three classmates decided to put together a donation drive for items to be given to City House to help shelter and counsel local children who are in the foster care system, homeless or runaways.

IMG_0900Items accepted for donation through the drive include:

  • Deodorant
  • Shaving cream
  • Lotion (regular or small size)
  • Paper towels
  • Individual snacks (peanut-free only)

The drive runs through Feb. 5. Shelly not only got PESH involved in the drive; she also recruited Clark, McMillen and Williams High Schools to participate as well. A donation of five items is good for one service hour, for those who qualify. Donations for this drive can also be dropped off by individuals interested in helping Shelly’s cause at the City House administrative offices (901 18th St., Plano).

“This is all about awareness,” she said. “I just want people to know more about a subject that is real and affects thousands every day. There are kids in classrooms all over that are currently in foster care.

“People talk about cancer and other awful conditions and those are huge, but many do not realize how many foster kids there are and what they go through. First of all – the fact that many were removed from their home; the feeling of getting ripped away from all they know and then the feeling of getting placed in someplace they don’t. All they want is their mom or dad or family. On average they stay in foster care for 12-to-17 months, sometimes years. They are missing their families. I just think it is not fair to these kids. They didn’t do anything and had no choice.”

And what specifically does she hope to gain from the awareness?

“Maybe it will trigger someone to want to help; maybe say, ‘I want to adopt, I want to foster kids’, to get involved to make foster care better,” she said. “Maybe it will make a few people want to donate or volunteer at places like City House.”

At an early January HOSA meeting at PESH, a local doctor was present to speak to the group, read over the donation flyer and heard about the mission spearheaded by Shelly’s group. The message impacted him greatly, and he personally pledged an impressive $10,000 to City House.

Shelly just wants to give foster kids a bright future.

“I’m very excited about the donation drive and what we are doing,” she said.

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