By BEN TRAN
The Dallas Examiner
“Our mission is to liberate our people from systemic oppression,” For Oak Cliff executive director Taylor Toynes explained.
For Oak Cliff is a nonprofit organization that endeavors to provide for communities in need, with its primary target being residents within the 75216 Super Block. Its focus is divided into four pillars: education, advocacy, community building and the arts. It offers support the entire family with its two-generation approach, extending services to children and adults. Anyone is eligible for services.
“We’ve done rental and bill assistance for people as old as 95 years old. We have children [learning] programming as old as one year old. We serve everyone,” Toynes stated.
As a nonprofit, it strives to give back to the community.
Located in the Glendale Shopping Center, located at 4478 S. Marsalis Ave., the nonprofit is looking to move to the larger, historic Moorland YMCA, at 907 E. Ledbetter Drive.
In years past, the Moorland Y had been a meeting place for the NAACP and former guests of this facility include Muhammad Ali and Justice Thurgood Marshall.
“We’re definitely honored to be a part of this legacy because there is definitely a lot of rich history,” Henderson stated.
“What will really set up our community neighborhood for success 50 years down the road? Something like increasing access to health care, education, food – all the resources we are trying to offer are all in alignment with [making] sure we can look back in a few years and say we [created] a space that is responsive to the needs of our neighborhood.”
The organization has worked hard to secure funding to provide services to the community, as well as to expand.
“We mostly get our funding through grants,” For Oak Cliff Director of Strategy Xavier Henderson said.
Contributions from the Hoblitzelle Foundation and McCune Charitable Foundation have made the expansion into the new facility possible. Major sponsors of For Oak Cliff include The Moody Foundation, The Simmons Foundation, The Rainwater Foundation and Echoing Green Fellowship.
As For Oak Cliff expands into the historic building, they have high expectations in regard to the direction the organization is headed.
Toynes said he believes in a true expansion. As his organization grows, he expected that the facility they operate in must grow, as well. He compared this expansion to a living body; its growth would strengthen the community, creating a healthier community.
“People should expect to be served. [People] should expect to receive quality service,” he expressed.
By acting as a pillar for the community, Toynes stated that his organization could be a peacemaker, bringing joy back to the community by providing vital resources like free education programs, financial assistance and food for families in need.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, For Oak Cliff has provided food for the community every Wednesday at 9 a.m. To date, they have provided over 1 million pounds of food to thousands of local families. With a larger facility, Henderson believed that the organization could become a food pantry.
The organization has also partnered with the Dallas County Community College District to enroll over 200 people in For Oak Cliff’s free GED courses. To keep up with the pandemic guidelines, it moved its the courses online.
Bill and rental assistance have also been provided to families adversely affected financially by the pandemic.
Previously, through a partnership with Baylor Scott & White Health, the organization provided medical services to families in need – families whose income was 200% below the poverty line or those that did not have health insurance. Henderson said aimed to continue medical services at the new facility, as well as sports to enhance physical fitness.
“Athletics is now an option,” Henderson stated.
Equipped with a baseball diamond, soccer field, football field, indoor and outdoor basketball courts, swimming pool and dance rooms; health and wellness programming can be explored now that For Oak Cliff has the space and facilities to do so.
Response from the community has been positive.
“Thankful, grateful,” Toynes stated, “[The community feels] heard, represented. I think everybody is excited. I think people are excited to see what’s going to happen.”
Once conditions due to the pandemic improve, For Oak Cliff plans on continuing their summer education courses, after-school programs and financial literacy programs.
“Keep us in your prayers,” Toynes said. “You can go to our website and donate to our capital campaign, as well.”
For donations, For Oak Cliff provided their website at https://foroakcliff.org.