Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County (UGM-TC) will celebrate the grand opening of its new Community Outreach Center (COC) with a dedication event on Thursday,
Oct. 12 at 9 a.m. Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker will serve as the keynote speaker for the event.
Expanding on its 135-year history of providing a new beginning for homeless men, women and families in Tarrant County, UGM-TC will offer additional programs and services at the COC, located at 2400 N Kentucky Avenue, just west of UGM-TC’s main campus on East Lancaster Ave. Through community partnerships, the COC will help elevate unemployed and underemployed residents from poverty to economic mobility by providing them with the job training and life skills necessary to attain livable-wage employment.
“The idea for the COC was born during the early days of the pandemic when we began asking ourselves what more we could do to help individuals and families transition out of poverty and create a pathway to long-term economic security,” said Don Shisler, President and CEO of UGM-TC. “We found that many individuals were working multiple jobs simply to make ends meet. Our goal is to address the gaps in vocational training and other important skills, so these individuals can qualify for better paying jobs that will sustain themselves and their families.”
The new 27,260-square-foot building includes a state-of-the-art training facility, fulfillment center warehouse, donation center to provide household items and clothing to those in need, and the Carl R. Brumley Community Room, which will serve as both a classroom for students in the job training programs and a venue available to the community to rent for corporate or special events.
UGM-TC plans to introduce its L.A.U.N.C.H. (Leading Advancement Uniting Neighborhoods & Communities Through Hope) program this winter at the COC. The program will be available first to UGM-TC residents, followed by clients of community partners then residents in the broader Fort Worth community. Initially, the L.A.U.N.C.H. program will provide vocational training for certifications in apartment complex maintenance and fulfillment center logistics.
These specific jobs were chosen due to their high demand in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Metroplex and a starting compensation that is greater than the minimum threshold for fair wage employment in North Texas, which is $17.78 per hour according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the past 10 years, the DFW market has added more apartments than any other region in the United States, and DFW ranks second in the nation (behind Phoenix) for the amount of industrial storage/warehouse fulfillment space available.
In addition to job training, L.A.U.N.C.H. participants will also receive trauma-informed case management to address any barriers to success as they navigate the learning experience with challenges that may occur outside the classroom.
The $13 million COC was funded primarily through private donations with significant contributors including the Amon G. Carter Foundation; Estate of Frances Hafer Chiles; GM Financial; J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation; Nicholas Martin Jr. Family Foundation; Paul E. Andrews, Jr. Foundation; Richard H. Moore, Jr.; Sid W. Richardson Foundation; and The Ryan Foundation.
“We are incredibly grateful to the generous donors who made our vision for the COC possible,” Shisler said. “This new facility is a community-wide effort, and our hope is that the COC will play a key role in creating a vibrant, thriving community by helping residents in need transition permanently out of poverty.”