Looking in my rearview mirror

We are now past the first quarter of this year and as I am looking in my rearview mirror, I want to share with you what I see.

I see 429 families throughout Collin County who are sleeping soundly tonight in their homes because ACO recently helped with their overdue rent and utilities. More than $225,000 was paid to landlords and mortgage companies, and for water, electric and gas services in Q1 2021.

Those families and many more were given free groceries valued at $843,036 in the first three months of this year. Not just a box of canned goods, but they were also given fresh produce, milk and dairy products, eggs and meats.

I see the students who are accessing our GED program online even through COVID. And the graduates that we had who received their diploma and are ready to advance their education at Collin College so that they can work and become self-sufficient.

861 volunteers worked 4,013 hours in Q1 to support programs and services for these families in need. Volunteers bagged groceries and loaded food into cars of hungry families; they sorted donated household items and hung clothes for the ACO Cares Center and resale operations. They painted and cleaned and prepped, sorted and bagged, answered phones and assisted with data entry. I saw them all so committed to help others.

But I see in more detail as I look back…

I see the smile on the mom’s face as she left the ACO Cares Center, carrying bags filled with clothing and household products for her family. She now had diapers, which she had been critically low. Her kids had no summer clothes, and very little that even currently fit their growing little bodies. But now they would. She knew there would be a big smile on the face of her 5 year old when she showed her daughter the pink dress with the daisies and the matching pink sandals that she had in her bag.

There were the tears of relief on a grandmother’s face as she sat in her car and watched in her own rear view mirror as volunteers loaded groceries in the back of her vehicle. She spotted two gallons of milk, and smiled knowing that the three grandkids at home would be excited about having milk and cereal for breakfast.

I see what many of us take for granted. Who can imagine what it feels like to see your children in clothing two sizes too small and barefoot because their shoes don’t fit and are painful to wear? Who knows that stress of a grandparent responsible for raising another generation of kids she hadn’t planned on providing for at her age with little resources? How can we understand the despair knowing that your family is about to be evicted from your home or your electricity could be disconnected at any moment because you cannot pay the bill?

And here’s what else I see…

I see donors who call and ask if they can drop off a check, or donate online. I see our financial statements each month, and breathe my own sigh of relief knowing that we have enough donations to serve those hundreds of families applying for help this month. I smile at the emails that I read from supporters who want to give to our mission, and the notes of gratitude that we receive from those who we have helped.

Finally, I also see the number of applications that continue to come through our online portal, and the calls we get from frantic moms and dads who don’t know where to go for help. I know that we must depend on our community to help us serve these families in need.

In the coming weeks, homes all across Collin County will be receiving a letter from me. It includes a touching story of a mom named Brenda, and explains her struggles. Brenda represents all of those who come to ACO, desperate for help with nowhere to turn. This letter also includes an ask for your help. The letter is a part of ACO’s annual fundraising campaign that we call GIVE WHERE YOU LIVE. This summertime campaign is vital to our organization so that we can continue to provide our programs and services.

From here, I look ahead, not behind. My windshield is clear and my vision is sharp. I see what we need to do to continue our mission. I hope that you see it too.

Please share our story, and our view with your neighbors and friends. Tell them what we have seen behind us and what is ahead. Don’t wait- donate today to ACO online at www.acocares.org or return that letter you will be receiving with your gift. I encourage you to look ahead and GIVE WHERE YOU LIVE!


Busy summer at ACO. We kicked off our annual ACO KIDS SUMMER FOOD PROGRAM and are providing healthy breakfast and lunch food items for students to prepare at home while they are out of school.

We are also gearing up for the annual FILL THE BUS School Supplies Drive and Distribution. AND, we are already making plans for food, toys and gifts to provide for families during the holiday season. We can’t do it all without YOU! We have hundreds of volunteers who support our small staff, so get involved! We need you!

Remember while many of us are enjoying vacations, picnics around town with our kids, and relaxing summer days, there are many neighbors who can’t relax, can’t afford vacations or even pay their rent. They aren’t thinking about picnics, but only where will the food come for their next meal.

That’s why ACO is a critical component of our community and why we are grateful for YOU holding hands with ACO, just like our logo! Happy Summer!

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