My Toolbox

We all need tools to do our jobs. Whether it’s a hammer, computer, or other equipment- we all have those tools that make our jobs easier. My list of tools is probably a little different than yours…

People make it possible to do my job as ACO CEO. We have trained, professional staff to counsel and care for families in crisis. It’s not easy to sit down with someone who is scared and stressed, and who has no tools of their own to get through their crisis. Our staff and programs are their tools. With a helping hand to provide financial assistance and food, we can first ensure their safety from homelessness and hunger.

Next, we pull out our toolbox to get them working on their financial stability. It may be employment services like resume development and interview skills to help them find the right income support for their family. It might be our financial literacy and budgeting classes to get them on track and help make better spending decisions.

Stephanie needed some tools. It was Christmastime, and with her husband still out of work and the few gifts they could afford for the kids, they were out of money. Rent was due. Sitting at their kitchen table they looked over the pile of bills, questioning what must be paid and what could wait. The choices were few.

The utilities were already months behind. Medical bills for Stephanie’s cancer had wiped out their savings, and soon her annual insurance deductible would start over for the new year. That meant cash up front for her chemo treatments. Delaying her chemo looked like the only option.

In that stack of mail was a holiday letter from a local agency, All Community Outreach. Her husband picked up the envelope and read the message that explained ACO’s mission to help Collin County families.

Here was the tool they needed. The next day they made the call. Within a week, their rent payment was covered, as well as assistance with their gas bill. Stephanie’s husband made an appointment at ACO for employment counseling. Maybe 2022 would be a better year…all thanks to the ACO toolbox!

Another awesome tool at ACO is a volunteer. Volunteers get the job done effectively and efficiently! We couldn’t function without our many volunteers who give generously of their time and talents to help our community. I’ve had the honor of working with the most amazing volunteers. Without them, we’d have no tools in the food pantry to ensure that families receive vital groceries each week. Hundreds of volunteers spend thousands of hours each year inside our organization to sort donations for resale and the pantry, to fill backpacks with new school supplies, or fill gift bags with new toys for children during the holidays. I could go on and on about the many jobs that we can do because of these very special tools- our volunteers! This includes a very dedicated group of volunteer leaders who guide and direct the organization, our Board of Directors.


A critical tool in the box is YOU, our donors and supporters. None of our jobs could be completed without the funding to operate, to support programs, and run our services. Without donations and generous gifts, we couldn’t complete our mission- to change lives! I never want to miss an opportunity to say thank you and recognize those giving hearts who recognize how critical ACO is to our community.

As we enter 2022, I want to make sure that our toolbox is full! We want to be prepared. We are ready to tackle any crisis that comes our way. In spite of the COVID-19 impact, and the multitude of challenges we all face with employment, education, healthcare, housing, transportation, child care, and hunger, ACO has the tools for the job!

Please continue to invest in our toolbox! Give of your time and talents. Share our mission with friends, neighbors, co-workers. Change lives with your donations.

One more thing…

I have an extra set of tools on my desk. Tools that have been gifts, or little items that were promised to make my job easier.

First is my Magic Eight Ball for tough decisions. You remember those….with answers like “outlook good,” “doesn’t seem likely” or “ask again later.” I can’t say that it is my best tool but it can bring a laugh or smile when we need it most.

Then there’s my favorite, a magic wand. It’s pink and when you tap it, it lights up! Again, not super helpful in day-to-day operations; but a fun reminder that we all need a little magic in our day!

A wall hanging in my office also reminds me at the start of each day what is most important- “embrace kindness, practice compassion, offer hope and love, and to be the change you wish to see in the world!”

At ACO, we change lives!



President, Ross Mesquita, ZRG Partners
Vice-President, Keon Byrd, Church Eleven 32
Secretary, Darion Culbertson, Alliance Data
Treasurer, Robin Sedlacek, Community Volunteer
Immediate Past President, Brad Hempkins, Hempkins Insurance
Karen O’Connor, CECO Environmental
Matt Foster, AT&T
Mary Beth Hardesty-Crouch, First United Methodist Church Allen
Randy Sandifer, Sandifer Law Office, P.C.
Neera Yanus, Securus Technologies
Connie Cagle, BKD Cpa’s & Advisors
Marianna Sennour, Community Volunteer
Shubha Srivatsa, Concentra, Inc.
Dr. Robert Schwab, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen
Ex-officio, Amy Gnadt, The Hartford
Board Liaison, Deputy Chief Ken Myers, City of Allen Police Department
Board Liaison, Cheryl Loving, Allen ISD
CEO, Marjorie Burr, All Community Outreach
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