One Person Can Make A Difference
(December 10, 2009)
|Harlingen, Texas, December 5, 2009 - Many of us
are reluctant to attempt solving complex matters because
we feel that the efforts of one person can't add up to
that been Dean Hall's attitude, Loaves and Fishes of the
Rio Grande Valley would still be an organization
struggling to feed a few hundred homeless people.
Instead, because of his vision and leadership this
feeding program established by the local Ministerial
Alliance is now an extremely effective nationally
recognized non-profit corporation. It is also a
state-of-the art social services organization that
provides one-stop services to those people who find
themselves in need of a helping hand.|
Hall, who took over the leadership of Loaves and Fishes
five years ago, is stepping down as the organization's
Executive Director this month. He will leave behind a
one square block structure that contains sleeping
accommodations for men, women and children. It provides
a feeding program seven days a week, job training, GED
study development, a Training Center that offers lesions
in Microsoft programs, family budgeting, and homebuyer
training. The L&F organization provides a job placement
service and a 12-step program for those in need of such
assistance. There is a food pantry that each month
gives food by the bag to families with empty
refrigerators and L&F has recently entered into a new
program to provide weatherization assistance to those
people who need their homes reinforced against winter
cold and rain. It is the headquarters for the
administrative offices of The Family Crisis Center,
which assures the safety and protection of abused
individuals. The heart of the operation is still to
provide food and shelter for those in need.
When Dean Hall assumed the position of Executive
Director in March of 2005 the kitchen was serving 69,160
meals a year to the homeless and poor. Under Hall's
direction that figure has reached six digits. Today an
estimated 112,000 meals are being offered annually. In
2005 just over 6200 bed nights of shelter were being
provided to the homeless. Today that number has grown
to 10, 600 bed nights being offered during the year to
those who have no other place to sleep.
Homeless prevention has become a very important program
at Loaves and Fishes. The Vera Naumann Family
Assistance organization is under the L&F umbrella and it
has grown from providing rent assistance to 15 families
in 2005 to assisting 100 families today. Utility
assistance has grown slightly over the past five years.
153 families were helped in 2005 and this year 170
families received assistance.
There has been an explosion of need seen at the food
pantry. Five years ago 63 bags of food were given to
those needing additional help with their groceries. This
year 4,075 food bags have been given out to those
seeking a helping hand.
In recent months homeless prevention services have
emerged as a very important service. For the first
time, Loaves and Fishes has weatherized the houses of
160 homeowners and repaired another 60 homes to make all
of them more habitable throughout the winter.
Dean Hall came to Loaves and Fishes with no experience
in operating a non-profit organization. He was familiar
with its work, having served on the Board of Directors
for three years, but all of his experience had been in
the business community. He relocated to Harlingen,
Texas in 1998 to assume the position of General Manager
to a plastics plant. Upon his retirement from that
office he was asked to become the Loaves and Fishes
One of his first acts was to start providing meals to
the residents of the Family Crisis Center. Next he
moved the Board into taking over a homeless shelter
operation of a faltering ministry. In 2006 Hall led the
L&F non-profit into accepting the management of the Vera
Naumann Family Emergency Assistance service and he
started raising money to move all the services to a
In 2007 he had everything in place. Renovation and
construction was stated on a block square facility in
Harlingen. By year's end that construction had been
completed. The next year Hall arranged to provide meals
to the La Posada Providencia Shelter in the neighboring
city of San Benito. Loaves and Fishes took over the
operation of the First Baptist Church Food Pantry and
incorporated it into the services of the organization.
The non-profit also started working with Rio Grande
Valley church groups and the Meadows Foundation to
repair homes damaged by Hurricane Dolly.
In his final year as Executive Director, Hall arranged
to partner with American Electric Power (AEP) to start a
home weatherization program in the Rio Grande Valley.
This area of South Texas, in addition to being seriously
damaged by Hurricane Dolly, is one of the most
economically depressed regions of the country.
Hall also launched a homeless prevention and rapid
re-housing program to try slowing the rate of
homelessness in the area with temporary assistance in
utility payments and rents.
It should also be noted that Loaves and Fishes operated
on an annual budget of $334,479 when Hall became its
CEO. Funding for the various programs comes from
individual gifts, church donations and grants. Today
that budget is $1,482,039 and L&F will end the year
with a surplus.
The one theme Dean Hall has tried to imprint into all of
the Loaves and Fishes services is to offer a hand up and
not a handout. Wherever possible he has built work and
self-advancement into everything offered by this Faith
Many are asking what Dean Hall will do with himself now
that he is facing retirement for the second time. They
seem to forget he is always a busy man. Hewill take
over the reins as President of the more than 100 member
Harlingen Rotary Club next year...and he is already
serving as the Mayor of the town of Palm Valley.
Thomas D. Segel
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