Urban League offers hope to the homeless

3/22/2013, 2:12 p.m.
Eric Gary and Castanita Fitzpatrick share similar stories. Both individuals overcame a life of drugs and homelessness and became productive ...
Dr. Beverly Mitchell-Brooks, president of the Urban League of Greater Dallas Urban League of Greater Dallas

Dr. Beverly Mitchell-Brooks, president of the Urban League of Dallas, said that the organization has experienced challenges as some of the funding to the group was cut due to the economy.

However, she said the league is determined to fight through the struggling economy to help its clients such as Gary and Fitzpatrick.

"Each year, we report to our funders, the community and friends on how your dollars have enabled our clients to move toward self-reliance," Mitchell-Brooks said. "In one program, the Urban League provided rent, mortgage assistance, temporary housing, food vouchers, utility payments and gasoline to nearly 9,000 clients. This included 92 veterans, 648 who were disabled, 111 who received emergency food support and 85 disaster relief clients from the Lancaster tornado."

Mitchell-brooks reminded the audience that accountability is required and the League's annual report outlines not only the outcomes of all the Urban League programs, but the impact their investments have in the community.

"We are the third leg of a three-legged stool that is the support system for those who need a helping hand," she said.

The highlight of the luncheon was the presentation of the Legacy awards to Dr. Charles Mitchell, retired Orthopedic Surgeon and John Beckwith Sr., founder of Golden Gate Funeral Home.

Mitchell is currently an orthopedic consultant. He is a former member of the Board of Regents at the University of North Texas, president of Southeast Methodist Medical staff and chairman of Department of Surgery at Mesquite Community Hospital.

Beckwith was known for his desire and dream of owning a funeral home and helping others.

At age 14, he said he would walk or hitchhike to local funeral homes in rural Louisiana to learn the business.

He also works closely with the clergy throughout the DFW Metroplex and donates his time and resources to the community.

Both honorees presented the Torch Award, symbolizing passing the torch to the next generation, to Dr. Winifred Parnell and John Beckwith Jr. and challenged them to continue to excel in their professions and give back to the community.

"We are pleased to recognize these community leaders for their outstanding achievements in their respective careers and for the many meaningful contributions they have made to our community," Mitchell-brooks said.

Candice Quarles, president of the ULGD Young Professionals and a new member of the ULGD Board of Trustees and B. J. Williams, Garland City Councilman - District 4, were sworn in.

"Last year proved to be one of the most challenging in recent times as finances decreased and demand for our services increased," Mitchell-brooks said. "Yet, while the headlines read problems, the Urban League of Greater Dallas continues to find solutions."

She said the organization would not give up despite the tough economy.

"As we endure a period in our history that is certain to test the fortitude of our organization, we must look to our mission for guidance," she said. "With resources in short supply, it is more critical than ever for us to deliver resources and help individuals and their families improve their education, employment and economic status. Even in this economic climate, we are determined to continue providing the services that empower our clients to fulfill their potential. We perform this work as a critical part of our mission and to favorably influence positive change in the community we have proudly served for over 43 years."