What’s the difference?

There are over 3200 non-profit agencies in North Texas, and 410 are in Collin County. Where do you choose to volunteer your time? How do you decide who to support? What’s the difference?

First, let me say that many of the non-profits that I am familiar with have amazing missions, are incredibly dedicated to their causes and those that they serve, and need donor support. I admire and personally support some of these terrific organizations. But all are different in many ways.

Yesterday a young homeless man came to ACO on his motorcycle. He was hungry. While our Food Pantry Manager was gathering some groceries that he could take, he noticed burns on the man’s legs. He explained that his legs got hot when riding the cycle because of the hot pipes and without proper boots he was constantly getting burned. After loading his backpack with food, the manager asked to follow him to the ACO Cares Center to look for some boots to protect his legs immediately. That wasn’t one of our pantry manager’s job duties, but he made it a priority. That’s a difference.

Last week during an employment seminar for ACO clients, a woman mentioned an interview she had that afternoon. ACO had helped her with updating her resume and encouraged her to come to the workshop that focused on interview skills. The seminar was so helpful that she wanted to stay longer and commented that she would take the zoom interview from her car. An ACO Case Manager overheard and suggested that she might want to go home and change before the interview and advised against doing it from her car at the risk of not appearing professional. To allow her more time to stay at the seminar, the case manager went to the ACO Resale Shop and grabbed a nice jacket for the client to wear, and sat the woman in her own office for the interview zoom call. The client benefited from the additional information she had time to gain at the seminar by staying, and also looked and felt more professional for the interview. The case manager’s job wasn’t to provide office space or clothing for a client to hold an interview, but she made it a priority. That’s a difference.

Our Missions Officer takes time in her schedule to personally call clients whose cases are escalated and at risk of immediate eviction or utility disconnection. That is not in her job description, but she’s made it a priority. Our Volunteer Manager works double-duty some days at the ACO Cares Center to assist clients if there is an important staffing need, and she makes it a priority. I’ve seen our Finance Staff working the food distribution line, helping to load food into cars some mornings when we’ve been short on volunteers at the food pantry. That’s not their job, but they make it a priority. Another difference from other organizations.

The ACO Board saw the client list expanding with families coming from outside the greater Allen area that had nowhere to turn for assistance, and chose to expand our mission to serve all of Collin County. They made it a priority to serve all local families in need. So much so, they changed ACO’s name from ALLEN to ALL COMMUNITY OUTREACH. Today, more than 55% of ACO families requesting assistance are from zip codes in other cities such as McKinney and Plano. Our leaders chose to make serving our neighbors a priority. Serving all of Collin County is a huge difference.

ACO also collaborates with other organizations, businesses and entities to best serve our community needs. With more than 100 partners in Collin County, ACO doesn’t duplicate what others are doing well, but sees partnerships as a priority. We know that working together is the best way to serve all of the needs of our neighbors. That mindset makes us different!

A HUGE DIFFERENCE about ACO is the family culture within our staff. Our employees consider each other as a family, and work together as caring members of a large group all focused on helping other families. We work hard, sometimes laugh and play hard, cry together at times, love and care for each other, and join hands to support ACO’s mission each day. I am so proud to be a part of an amazing, dedicated family!

Ensuring that all aspects of our mission are a priority is what makes ACO different. Going that extra mile to help someone in need as quickly as possible, thinking out of the box to provide hope and help, and working as one huge team (Board leadership, Staff, Volunteers and Donors) are the difference. YOU ARE THE DIFFERENCE, by being a member of our team and joining hands with ACO to prevent hunger and homelessness.

One more thing…

Another huge difference and impact to our program budget are the increasing number of “recurring” donors. These are supporters that donate each month- may be a student who gives $10-$25 of their monthly allowance, a family who tithes $100-$500 each month, or an individual who wants to maintain year-round support at any level. 

I encourage you to change your donation level to “monthly” when you donate online. A one-time commitment made online with a credit card or e-check will create a monthly donation automatically charged to your account. Cancellation is possible anytime. You can ensure that our programs maintain throughout the year, that you are helping prevent hunger and homelessness each and every month, and that you are changing lives 365 days a year.

Please DONATE ONLINE and become a recurring donor today!



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