Denton nonprofit center supports locals with a variety of needs

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Article Originally Published by Maria Lawson on North Texas Daily

Sitting on five acres of land, nonprofit center Serve Denton is home to 20 nonprofits that help Denton county residents with whatever their needs may be.

“We’re the second largest nonprofit center in Texas,” said Ian Harber,Serve Denton communication director and Denton resident. “Basically the concept of a nonprofit center is the center itself doesn’t provide direct services. They partner [with] and they help the organizations that do provide the direct services.”

The center helps the nonprofits it houses save money and unite with other locals. Out of the 20 nonprofits they partner with, 14 have their own offices at Serve Denton, so their location provides people with many services at once.

“It’s great because for the actual people in need, they get one location to actually get all of the services they need,” Harber said. “People who are in need or in poverty spend a lot of their time, more than you’d probably think, waiting in lines and filling out paperwork.”

Serve Denton was founded in 2012 and started out in portables at Denton Bible Church before moving into the church’s old sanctuary, where they paid one dollar per year for rent. After being there for a few years, Denton Calvary Academy purchased the space from Serve Denton for $1 million, which they used to buy the space they are in now.

“In eight years, we went from some portables behind a church with a couple partners, to a $2 million organization with 20 partners,” Harber said.

Serve Denton is able to support the nonprofits they house to help them keep costs down and share resources, as well as introduce them to a new client pool.

“All of our partners pay right about, if not lower than, 50 percent of market rate for rent here, so that includes the office space, the shared spaces, copier, printer, office supplies, wifi, kind of the whole deal — it’s all included in that,” Harber said. “They’re saving a whole bunch of money just by being here which allows them to grow, hire more staff, expand their services, which ultimately allows them to help more people.”

Harber said Serve Denton has a method of determining the types of nonprofits they work with, and that helps them cover all the bases of what people may need.

“We have something that we call ‘the ladder of self-sufficiency,’” Harber said. “It’s adapted from [the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development], their criteria of how someone can go from poverty to self-sufficient. We organize it in a ladder, and it’s based on that.”

Because the various nonprofits are housed in one building, they are able to form relationships that may not have been established otherwise.

“Being able to [have and] office in one location with different nonprofit agencies brings a ton of community to it,” Harber said. “A lot of this work can be really lonely when you’re spread across town, and we’re all trying to do the same thing, which is help people, just in our different ways.”

Health Services of North Texas is one nonprofit that has been able to widen their reach since joining Serve Denton, and their mission is to provide adequate and affordable medical care and support for all people in North Texas.

“The Serve Denton Center strategically places [Health Services of North Texas] in the heart of the Denton community, in an easily accessible location for Denton residents and surrounding communities such as Aubrey and Cross Roads,” said Doreen Rue, chief executive officer of Health Services of North Texas and licensed clinical social worker.

Due to its central location, Health Services of North Texas has been able to make a greater impact on the community than they were prior.

“The Serve Denton Center has afforded [Health Services of North Texas] the opportunity to expand our services and footprint, increasing capacity to meet the growing need through additional space and providers,” Rue said.

Grace Like Rain is another nonprofit that is housed in Serve Denton, and they provide case management services for struggling individuals in Denton county. Serve Denton has given them the opportunity to have more space to provide these services.

“[Grace Like Rain] hosts community groups and life skills classes on a monthly basis out of the conference room and classroom at Serve Denton,” said Michelle Conner, Grace Like Rain CEO and founder and Argyle resident. “The utilization of space at a fraction of the cost of most places has been a tremendous benefit to our families and organization.”

Employees of the nonprofits at Serve Denton appreciate the comradery that comes along with the concept of a nonprofit center.

“It is inspiring to see so many people in the same place working towards making this community a better place,” Conner said. “The opportunities to collaborate and provide a full spectrum of services for individuals in need has been extremely beneficial to our families.”

Serve Denton is planning further development to expand even more, Harber said. Within the next few weeks, the new food pantry will be opening. In the future, they plan on finishing the parts of the building that have not yet been developed to create more office space for current nonprofits and hopefully add more organizations to help serve the community.

“We all really can do more together than we can apart,” Harber said.

For more information on specific services and nonprofits go to www.servedenton.org 

Featured Image: Bulk food storage facility within the Denton Community Food Center located at the Serve Denton location on Jan. 22, 2020. Image by Alyssa Tranbarger

Source: North Texas Daily