Dutton wins Bank of America ‘local hero’ award

Samaritan House head honored for work in housing people with AIDS, other chronic illnesses

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Steven Dutton, president and CEO of Samaritan House in Fort Worth, has been named a Bank of America local hero. The award is given to five people in each of 45 cities across the country.

Winners were chosen by a committee made of local leadership from Bank of America, previous grant recipients and other civic leaders, according to Mike Pavell, Fort Worth market president of the bank.

Samaritan House provides affordable, quality housing to low-income individuals and families including those affected by HIV.

“We were impressed with Steve not only because of his tireless pursuit to develop housing for persons who are homeless, ex-offenders, and those with chronic illness and disabilities,” said Pavell, “but because he speaks with residents of his program all day, showing them respect and care and enables them to become the strongest voice in their own recovery.”

Since joining the agency in 1996, the focus has shifted from hospice care to long-term support and even transitional housing. Soon after joining Samaritan House, the agency moved from the Northside into a 32-bed former nursing home southeast of downtown.

Dutton oversaw the new facility grow to 60 beds.

When the Villages at Samaritan House opened in 2006 with 66 apartments, they began serving 375 people, many affected with HIV.

In addition to providing housing, they help with finding employment opportunities for residents. Through a partnership with Z’s Café inside the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, 15 residents are employed.

“Z Café is going great,” Dutton said.

He called that project one of Samaritan House’s greatest successes because it has led to other restaurants in the area who are looking for new employees to call.

“One of our ambitions is to multiply the number of job opportunities,” he said.

He said it was a joy to see people who haven’t had a job in years after their first day at work.

“But it’s not just restaurants,” he said. “Others are working in maintenance and construction.”

The Local Heroes award comes with a $5,000 grant that Dutton directed to Samaritan House. He earmarked the money to an HIV prevention campaign.

“Every week, the number of persons contacting us increases,” he said. “Most new residents are under the age of 24.”

As part of that campaign, he has scheduled a screening of the film, And the Band Played On Sunday, Nov. 7 with the Lone Star Film Society. Bob Ray Sanders will introduce the movie. He said that with the average age of his new residents so young, most had never seen the HBO film.

Dennis Bishop, Lone Star Film Society director, was vice president of production at HBO when they made the film. He will be on hand at the screening to answer questions and talk about how difficult it was to bring this controversial movie to TV.

Dutton noted that they will hold one of their biggest fundraisers next week. On Wednesday, Nov. 10, they will present their Out of the Box fundraiser.

The luncheon will be held at the Fort Worth Sheraton and there is no cost to attend.

While the luncheon is free, reservations are required so they can plan the number of lunches to provide.

Reservations can be made by phone.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens