When you grew up, did you hope to someday be hungry? To be homeless?

What did you want to be when you grew up? I recently asked the ACO Management Team that question. Their answers included a history teacher, an airline stewardess, an actor, interior designer, a dance teacher, and a chef.

None of their answers were to lead a non-profit agency or to make the world a better place by helping others. I honestly can’t say that I dreamed of being in non-profit management. I wanted to be an artist or a novelist. But 32 years and a few non-profit organizations later, here I am.

For years I have seen local families come to ACO for help, and they didn’t grow up hoping to need social services assistance. No one said they hoped someday to live in poverty or to struggle to feed their children. Yet there are families facing financial crisis and hunger all around us.

What a group of local community leaders dreamed years ago to bring neighbors together to help each other is now what we call ALL COMMUNITY OUTREACH. ACO brings neighbors together to share their resources, their financial gifts, and their time to help other neighbors find hope to build a better lives for their families.

Here’s an update on what your ACO staff is currently doing to serve our community:

The number of families who come to ACO for food has tripled since January of this year. But ACO has met that demand. Thanks to our community partners and donors, we continue to have enough food to share with those who are hungry. 3 days a week we give away fresh produce, canned goods, meats and household items in a safe, masked and sanitized drive-thru line where we load 100+ lbs of food per family into cars as they pull through. To maintain this demand, we count on YOU and your help with food and financial donations. We have been grateful to have the added support of Collin County Cares Act funds to help us keep up the pace for families impacted by COVID-19.

As we enter Fall and the Holiday Season, your support will be vital for us to continue to meet the need. Thanks to a partnership with the Dream Center Dallas, ACO will hold a huge food giveaway at Church 1132 on Greenville Ave. in Allen on September 19th. In October we will focus on a community food drive to stock up so that we may feed families at Thanksgiving and during the holidays.

ACO has been blessed recently with several grants to help us update our vehicles, so we’ve added a new refrigerated truck and replaced our aging van. We are now safer on the road and more productive. We have advertising opportunities for you on the back of our vehicles to show your support while helping us with ongoing operating costs of fuel and maintenance. Contact Rhonda Ptak for more info, rptak@acocares.org.

Many families are facing late notices, possible evictions of their homes, or cut-off notices on their utilities. This number has also increased tremendously as jobs have been compromised this year. Our Client Services team has focused 100% on emergency services to assist families in staying in their homes and feeding their children. We’ve worked with the county and cities to support families who have been impacted by COVID-19 this year. But there were so many families who were facing these struggles before COVID and they continue to come to ACO for help. We’ve stretched our budgeted funds to be able to assist these families as well with their rent and mortgage needs, and we are able to do so because of your donations and financial gifts.

This month we provided 486 students with new school supplies and backpacks to get their school year started. We delivered supplies to teachers in need. We are planning to partner with Toys For Tots of Collin County to provide gifts for children in December.

I want to tell you about one of your neighbors….

He is a dear, elderly man that has lived in Allen for most of his adult life, has a wife of 50+ years and has raised a family. He’s a proud man, father and entrepreneur, who served our country in the military. He is the sole caregiver to his ill wife. He struggles to pay his bills. He didn’t dream of eating crackers and cheese for dinner at his age because his social security wouldn’t be enough for groceries.

Thankfully, ACO has been able to offer him assistance, help him keep his electricity and water turned on, and offer him groceries. We’ve helped to pay his rent more than once. He is one of the kindest men I’ve ever met, and while he warms my heart to talk to him- his situation truly breaks my heart. I can’t imagine what would happen to him if ACO wasn’t here to help.

Our staff of wanna-be artists, dancers, actors, teachers and dreamers provide hope and help to our communities every day. And we will continue to do so because of YOU. Thank you for joining hands with ACO and for serving our neighbors in need!

32 years ago this may have not been my career goal. But in hindsight, now having the opportunity to help my neighbors, and to make my community a better place for you and I to live, and for my son and your children to grow up, it IS a dream job!

One more thing….this week is wraps up our summertime campaign, GIVE WHERE YOU LIVE. But that doesn’t mean the giving can stop. We need your support, so please continue with your gifts, your time and your heart.

Many thanks,

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