by Ashley Sharp

2020 was a year like no other, for a lot of reasons we’d all like to soon forget. Still, the team at Dwell with Dignity, along with our volunteers and supporters, and especially the families and communities we serve, gave this year great meaning.

Despite all the challenges unique to a pandemic environment, we all forged ahead together.

We like to think that the families we serve meet us at a crossroads. From one path, they’ve been traveling for months and years, often leaving abusive and threatening situations, finding care and solace, and then rebuilding their lives, one step at a time. Knowing their courage and determination, the people who support our mission knew we had to meet them at their destiny for a better life, pandemic or not.

And so it is that we enter year 12 of our mission, laid out so beautifully by our founder, Lisa Robison, all those seasons ago. We find ourselves successful and sustainable, yet still not satisfied with our impact. Our thriving luxury thrift store, Thrift Studio, has created a foundation for financial stability through a sustainable revenue stream, and our infrastructure investments in warehouse space and vans for moving furniture and décor have more than met our current level of service to Dallas families.

But even though what we currently achieve is beyond the wildest dreams of our early beginnings, we know it’s time to dream again. Our metro Dallas-area partners tell us that we could easily serve two to three times as many families moving forward. Our most recent innovation, spurred by the pandemic, points another path for our future impact. By applying our collective makeover skills to nearly two dozen community projects in 2020 alone, we are able to touch over 1,000 unique individuals.

But the innovation doesn’t start there. Our design for 2021 will see another fresh idea come to reality, as we see another opportunity to increase our community impact. The Co-Op, a marketplace for social impact is a space with intention. Leave it to the team at Dwell with Dignity and its collaborators to reimagine the concept of shared commercial space in a way that benefits individuals and society.

The Co-Op is a unique place where social entrepreneurs can meet, collaborate, and build community. Imagine walking into our Thrift Studio and purchasing a coffee from Bonton Farms as you enter. You can shop décor, pick up a piece of jewelry from Akola, then settle down on an oversized couch to work for a bit and chat with a new friend, sharing ideas for serving others.

In another piece coming soon, I’ll share some exciting developments from our participation in a special program at the United Way of Metro Dallas. The Social Innovation Accelerator of UWMD is tasked with equipping innovative nonprofits and socially-purposed for-profits for greater growth and sustainability. We are already seeing the influence of the accelerator and our mentors on our current work and vision for the future at Dwell with Dignity.

I firmly believe that we can be the change-makers that this city needs. The new year brings us great hope, after a year marked by great loss for many. As always, we will keep creating spaces where families eat, sleep, play, and study, with an abiding peace that we know they will never take for granted.