Bowling for Dollars


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
Send an email to Rob at 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


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 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.


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.


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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Success Story: Tia

Tia was a city girl, born and raised in New York City. She didn’t get along with mom and her situation basically was going to end up with either Tia running away or getting kicked out. So she took her own initiative when she legally became an adult at the age of 18.

IMG_9914“It just wasn’t working between me and my mom,” she said. “I made a decision to buy a ticket and come to Texas. I had never been here but I had heard that it was a good place to start a new life. So I decided to take a chance and check it out.”

Once in North Texas, Tia looked for places to help her while she worked towards getting on her feet. She talked with the Salvation Army, who suggested checking out Promise House or City House. After doing some research, Tia decided to try City House first.

“I liked what I saw from the first day I walked in,” she said. “I filled out an application and was placed in the girls’ home in Plano the next week.”

The first thing that stood out to Tia – freedom and independence to learn for yourself.

“It was very normal for me to be around new people because that’s how I grew up. The thing I liked about the program was the space I was given and the freedom to act like an adult. I felt independent yet there were people around me to give advice and encourage me. I learned how to be an adult and to work through things.

“Another big thing at City House was that people would listen to me. That’s a big deal. There are a special few who still work here that really did it for me. I still enjoy talking to them.”

Tia realizes that programs like City House aren’t for everyone, but she is grateful for what it did for her.

“There are pros and cons to every program out there, and all are trying to help. No matter what good and bad things have happened in my life, I honestly wouldn’t be where I am now without City House. It means a lot to me. Sometimes I wonder where I would be right now if I hadn’t found it.”

Now on her own from City House for about two years, Tia stays in touch with several members of the City House staff, coming by and visiting from time to time. She works as a data entry representative for TransGlobal in Grand Prairie.

“I enjoy it; it keeps me on my feet,” she said. “I have my own apartment and I just learned how to drive. Growing up in New York, you don’t really need a car. I still use the buses and trains here but I’ve enjoyed learning how to drive.

“I have friends who are still struggling and I tell them to go to City House because you have your own space there and they will help you figure it out.”

Tia says she talks with her mom every day. She calls it a “stay away and love me” relationship, meaning they simply get along better being far apart. Tia finds time to visit her family in New York about three times a year, but she’s excited about the life she is building for herself here in Texas.

“I want to be a cosmetologist,” she said. “I’m ok with where I am at right now. Next year I want to go to school for introduction into business and then go to school for cosmetology. I’m just happy for myself. I’ve accomplished a lot. I still think about what am I going to do and dream about the future. I’m young and I have a lot I want to explore and accomplish.

“I’m glad I came to City House. It helped me get to where I am at.”

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Tremendous Impact

Every time the calendar turns to the last few months of the year, all of us here at City House are blown away at the generosity of our corporate partners and friends in the community, volunteering of their time and resources to give our kids a memorable holiday season. Once again, the community has outdone themselves when looking back at the last few weeks of 2015.

The holiday season kicked off on Thanksgiving day where our Transitional Living Program (TLP) teens enjoyed the Dallas Cowboys game from a suite! The suite was graciously donated by Jon Frankel, who has been a City House supporter for several years.


Plano Bicycle Association

The Plano Bicycle Association donated 10 fantastic new bikes for the kids in the TLP program and at MFH to use!


Arjo receives a college scholarship from JP & Associates

On December 6th JP and Associates Realtors hosted a fabulous party for our residents from both My Friend’s House (MFH) and the TLP. The celebration event (an annual tradition for JP and Associates for local children’s nonprofits) was held at Main Event in Frisco and the entire place was reserved just for the party. The clients were able to bowl, play laser tag, play in an open arcade, play pool, and climb on the ropes course. They also provided dinner! On top of that, they gave presents to every one of our residents from their wish lists for the holidays. The bonus was a $5,000 scholarship presented to Arjo, one of our TLP clients who is headed to college.


Raising Cane’s

The folks from Raising Cane’s location at 15th and Alma in Plano came and set up and decorated the Christmas tree in the MFH lobby on December 9.

On December 13th the MFH clients enjoyed a party at Amazing Jake’s hosted by Birthday Party Project. They enjoyed the buffet and games/activities of all types.
Due to City House’s volunteer partnership, Director of Volunteer Resources Lisa Rodgers went to Blue Cross Blue Shield on December 16 to meet with their president and accept a $5,000 donation check!


Gifts for our kids from Starbucks

December 16 also featured Starbucks treating clients from MFH and TLP to the Ice Sculpture Exhibit and dinner at the Gaylord Texan Resort. When the kids got there they were given hats, scarves and gloves in preparation for the exhibit. Starbucks district managers hosted the event and walked through with the kids while other managers were working on the decoration and set up of the reserved room for dinner. Each child received a gift from their wish list and TLP clients were given gift cards.
December 17th saw KFC come out and set up “shopping day” for City House’s case managers to bundle gifts for the residents and dropped off their “At Hope Tree” donation of gift cards.


National Charity League of Frisco

December 21 and 22 were filled with volunteers who came in to wrap all the residents’ gifts. The groups included National Charity League of Frisco, Raising Cane’s, and several churches, as well as some of City House’s regular volunteers who do an amazing job all year with our kids.

Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were also graciously provided by a few different volunteers and donors. Thank you for your generosity!


Toyota of Plano GM Rusty Gentry and City House ED Sheri Messer

Toyota of Plano was proud to partner up with 2 anonymous donors who helped give a 2015 Sienna Van to City House just in time for Christmas! A very much needed mode of transportation for the residents!

On December 29th the Junior League closed out our holiday season with a Deerfield Christmas light tour by carriage ride with all the trimmings; hot chocolate, cookies and Christmas carols!

We had numerous companies and donors that generously provided new toys and items for all the homes, on top of all the gifts for our clients, both residential and non-residential. Each child, teen and young adult received between 8 and 10 gifts; our houses received new small appliances, linens, toys, and other needed household items. Also our birthday gift coffers are full and ready for the birthdays we will celebrate in 2016. Special thanks go to the following groups:


Preferred Imaging


Blue Cross Blue Shield

JP & Associates Realtors
Preferred Imaging
Christ Church
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Frost Bank

Additionally due to the generosity of our regular volunteers the kids at MFH were able to enjoy a day at the Perot Museum and lunch at McDonalds; fun at Jump Mania; an outing to Kid Mania and lunch; and several movies during the holiday break.

A HUGE THANK YOU to all who gave generously of their time and resources to make the holidays so wonderful for our residents!

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Success Story: Lexii

Growing up in Murphy, Lexii didn’t have a good relationship going with her mom. Her parents were in a custody battle and constantly going at it. Lexii already had a falling out with her dad. So she decided to leave home at 17.

Lexii“It’s worse when you’re a kid because when family conflict happens, you have to live with it,” Lexii said. “That’s what makes it harder. When you’re a kid, you can’t leave, but I felt I had to. I completely dropped out of school, I just stopped as I was entering my senior year.”

Bad relationships with boyfriends didn’t help either. Lexii said that a bad breakup started the negative spiral of events, and then she got together with a guy who was very violent and abusive.

“It was a bad situation,” she said. “But he also had a younger sister and she was a junior and going to school. It made me say to myself, ‘What am I doing? If she’s doing it, why aren’t I?’ I had one year left; why did I stop?”

Lexii heard about City House and figured it was worth a try. She joined the Transitional Living Program and started working toward her GED.

“I got a job at BJ’s Pizza and I was working with a City House tutor for math, which has always given me trouble. I was in the program for about six or seven months, then decided to return to school and finish all my classes and get the real thing after I left.”

Now Lexii is married and her husband is going to school. She’s got a job and just bought a new car. Her husband is in the Navy and they will be moving to Florida in April, where he will be stationed. She’s doing well, and credits much of that to what she learned at City House.

“I learned to be responsible, for one,” she said. “City House helped me grow up a lot. One of my biggest issues was the bus and the train. Now I will jump on one with no problem now. I embraced the program – it taught me how to adapt to change and deal with situations. It was a good balance in the staff helping us while we had a lot of independence to learn to help ourselves too. I think it’s a really good to have someone to fall back on but it teaches us to help ourselves first.”

Lexii thinks City House is a good option for teens that need a place to turn.

“I would recommend City House to any teen that needed help,” she said. “I’d tell them to get in the right mindset and be prepared to help yourself. City House provides so much and the rules of the program are like any other home. It’s different when you get in it; you may have to adjust to following the rules but you learn from them. I told one of my friends they should come here. It did a lot for me.

“I can honestly say that I’m really happy. And City House is a big reason. I am very happy and proud of the progress I have made but I still have a ways to go.”

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Volunteer Profile: Judy VanderArk

Judy VanderArk was part of My Friend’s House when City House’s emergency shelter initially opened in 2009. She was there every Wednesday, working with the children as a “Rock n Roller” – rocking babies and spending time with the youngsters in City House’s care. These days she comes in every Friday as an administration assistant, fondly referred to as “Admin Aces.”

“When I first heard of City House I was working as a full-time emergency room nurse,” she said. “I frequently came in contact with kids that were going to be referred to City House and I learned more about the cause. I’ve always loved being around children of all ages. I have three daughters and nine grandkids. My initial thoughts were to have my grandkids give back but they were too young. So I started volunteering with City House and have thoroughly enjoyed it.”


Judy & Doug VanderArk

Judy and her husband Doug have been extremely active with the City House Gala each fall, especially around the silent auction in procuring items and keeping all of the data organized. Judy also is very active with the Collin Classic Bike Rally each June, one of City House’e primary fundraising events.

Former heads of the mission team at their church for over 10 years, Judy and Doug have also volunteered with Family Promise at the church, and have helped with the Austin Street Center, Samaritan Inn and Minnie’s Food Pantry.

“But the one I volunteer the most hours with has been City House,” Judy said. “I have a passion for children and I am especially sensitive to helping ones that have been abused or neglected.

“I’ve always felt like serving is engrained in me. It’s something I’ve always been taught; give back to your community. One of the things I love about City House is the staff – the case workers, the directors, the ones who are responsible for child care, they’ve had a direct impact on the great work the organization does. I feel an appreciation coming from them for all of the volunteers. It’s nice to be appreciated, especially when you do spend a lot of hours.”

This is a very busy time of year for everyone, and for the VanderArks, that is no exception. Judy and Doug are involved in “Plano Santas,” serving over 500 families at Christmas time. The families are identified by the Collin County Assistance Center. These families receive food for a month at this time of year as well as numerous Christmas gifts. So Judy & Doug and volunteers are busy at a warehouse collecting and sorting food from PISD school food drives and toys from various organizations.

“Doug and I volunteer with Plano Santas and have for over 20 years. It’s a busy three weeks prior to Christmas, but we love it.”

Judy and Doug VanderArk are two of the great volunteers at City House and in our community. City House salutes and thanks them for all they do for our kids and many other worthy organizations.

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