Helping build a brighter future

Members of the MCCGD celebrate their new home by helping Habitat for Humanity build a new home for a member of the congregation

LisaMarie Martinez  |  Special Contributor lisamarie1207@yahoo.com

A NEW BEGINNING  |  The Rev. Colleen Darraugh, right, pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas, blesses the kitchen in the new house that MCCGD members helped build for one of their own as part of a Habitat for Humanity project. (LisaMarie Martinez/Dallas Voice)
A NEW BEGINNING | The Rev. Colleen Darraugh, right, pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas, blesses the kitchen in the new house that MCCGD members helped build for one of their own as part of a Habitat for Humanity project. (LisaMarie Martinez/Dallas Voice)

There’s a popular saying that goes: “We can take a minute to know someone, an hour to like them, a day to love them, but it would take our  whole lives to forget them.”

These words ring very true for the most recent recipient of a Habitat home, whose family is a member of the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas.

With their recent move to their new location in Carrollton, the members of MCCGD have already begun their mission to serve others within the surrounding communities by volunteering, this summer, to be a part of the North Collin County Habitat for Humanity project.

In the more than 20 years since it began, this branch of Habitat for Humanity has built 63 homes with a service area that includes Frisco, Celina, Melissa, Mckinney, Princeton and all the way to Farmersville.

A typical Habitat home is built within a 12-week span of time, depending on the amount of volunteer participation. The sponsors of this project were Stonebriar Community Church Frisco, led by Pastor Roy Williamson, and The Hartford. They funded the building of the house and supplied volunteers.

Additionally, groups, such as the information technology company IOLAP and churches, including MCCGD, got involved to provide the additional volunteers necessary to complete the project, which was ahead of schedule by four weeks. Key personnel, besides the volunteers, were house leader Russ Waite, volunteer coordinator Andrea Tabor and recipient mentor Dawn Serr.

Knowing the recipient personally and having her family as a member of their congregation, MCCGD Pastor Colleen Darraugh and her congregation said they were delighted to be a part of the project, even if in a small way.

“This project is about relationships; it’s about our mission, about serving, to move into the community and outside of our church walls,” Darraugh said. “It’s about meeting a need.”

There are many ways to support a Habitat build, the pastor stressed, regardless of one’s physical handicaps or scheduling conflicts.

“Collecting water or praying for the safety of the volunteers, the well being of the family or for a successful build, are just some of the ways anyone can support these kinds of projects,” Darraugh said.

Gene Goodwin, a friend of the recipient  and fellow MCCGD member, was part of the build since the beginning and helped to put up doors and paint baseboards.
Other MCCGD members who were unskilled in carpentry, like Milly Crawford and Mary Ann Miller, discovered that every job was important as they held the tall ladders when necessary or helped with clean up.

Darlene Hays of MCCGD worked on a Saturday when the frame was already standing, helping out by handing to those who needed them. By the end of her day on the project, the roof decking had been put in and the siding completed; save for the doors and windows.

Hayes said it was more than just her affiliation with MCCGD and the church’s involvement that made her want to participate in the Habitat for Humanity project.

“I’ve always been blessed with a safe home, and I will do anything I can for someone else to have that as well,” Hayes said.

The Habitat recipient said the experience was about more than just having a house built for her.

“Yes, this project will provide me with a home. But I’m getting more, because it’s about being with community and organizations, and being with other church members,” she said.

She thanked everyone who helped with the project, and said she would remember each one of them every time she walked into her new home.

While North Collin County Habitat for Humanity, as with other Habitat branches, relies on large donations from churches and organizations to fund the homes the agency builds, anyone can give donate to the organization and in any amount. Word of mouth and fundraisers are others ways by which NCC Habitat for Humanity has received support.

It takes about $60,000 to build a house and those dollars are harder and harder to come by in this economy. Habitat does not pay labor costs, which is why volunteers are vital to the organization.

For more information on North Collin County Habitat for Humanity, go online to NCC-Habitat.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Youth First Collin County needs a new home

Organization seeks new space for Plano youth center, or at least somewhere to temporarily store furniture and other items

John Wright | Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

PROM PREP | Volunteers and youth get ready for the Gayla Prom at Youth First Texas Collin County in June. YFT-CC will have to move from its current location by mid-July. (Courtesy of Jeanne Rubin)

PLANO — Collin County’s organization for LGBT youth is looking for a new home — or at least a place to store its stuff.

For the last 18 months, Youth First Texas-Collin County has been utilizing, free of charge, some vacant commercial space on Avenue K just south of East Park Boulevard in Plano.

But the landlord recently found a paying tenant, and YFT-CC will have to move by mid-July.

It marks the third time the six-year-old organization has had to move, according to lead volunteer Jeanne Rubin.

This time, YFT-CC has accumulated several large items, such as sofas, a pool table, a TV and computers — some of which were hand-me-downs from its parent organization in Dallas, Youth First Texas.

YFT-CC has found a location in Frisco where it can meet temporarily if necessary, but the organization would still need to store the items somewhere while it looks for a more permanent home.

“The real issue is that we need a space, and it would be nice if we could have a space that we would have forever, but I understand that because we want it for free, that’s not always going to be the case,” Rubin said. “We would like to take this opportunity to move a little further north. Collin County is a huge county, and we have kids from Denton and Flower Mound and Lewisville and other place besides Collin County.”

Rubin said anyone who knows of space available in Collin County is asked to contact her at CollinCounty@youthfirsttexas.org.

Donations will also be accepted to help pay for storage or to cover utilities if a space is found.

“Obviously our first choice would be to pick up our pool table and sofas and plop them in another place,” she said. “Donations are always helpful. If we end up at the Dairy Queen once or twice, we’ll have money to buy everybody ice cream.”

James Nunn, a board member at Youth First Texas in Dallas who lives and works in Frisco, said his employer, Big Brothers Big Sisters, has offered a space where YFT-CC can hold its big group meetings on Sundays.

Nunn serves as liaison between YFT-CC and the Dallas parent organization, which have been attempting to work together more closely of late.

While the parent organization is experiencing its own financial challenges, Nunn said the long-term goal is to lease a permanent satellite somewhere in the northern suburbs.

“We want to be in a position where we don’t have to rely always on somebody providing us a free space,” Nunn said. “There is a level of uncertainty when you rely on that.”

YFT-CC began as a partnership between YFT in Dallas and the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance, according to Rubin.

YFT-CC meets every Sunday, in addition to twice-monthly “hangout nights” and a monthly movie night.

Rubin said about 20-30 youth typically attend the Sunday meetings in the summertime.

Collin County, more conservative than Dallas, has only three high schools with Gay Straight Alliances, Rubin said. At one of those high schools, school officials won’t allow the group to call itself a GSA, and instead it’s known as the Tolerance Alliance.

“What a lot of them say is that while the high school they go to may be cool, in terms of people don’t care they’re gay, lots of times they’ll be like the only gay kid,” Rubin said. “Even though some people don’t have a problem with that, it’s nice to come to Youth First and be

John or Jeanne, not the gay kid. Here they can come and just sort of be themselves.”

For more info, go to http://youthfirsttexas.org/collincounty/ or look for the organization’s Facebook page.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas