Listen to Story
With the cost of living on the rise, more people in the Denton area are finding it hard to make ends meet. Pat Smith, chief executive officer of Serve Denton, says they’re seeing more people come in to seek assistance for affording what he calls the “big five” — rent, utilities, transportation, debt, and food.
“A lot of families live paycheck to paycheck,” he explains. “We’re seeing a lot of new families coming for food assistance that we’ve not seen in the past. (And) the demand for rental assistance has skyrocketed. We also know that the number of families who are now living in hotels or their cars has tripled in the last four or five months because rent is going from $1,200 to $1,500 or $1,600, and that’s not in a family’s budget.”
Through Serve Denton, people in the area can receive assistance for almost all aspects of their life, including food, housing, healthcare, mental health, and legal assistance, as well as resources for children and women’s support. All of this makes Serve Denton into what Smith calls a “one-stop shop for humanity.”
Who is Serve Denton?
So who is Serve Denton and what do they do?
According to Smith, Serve Denton is a nonprofit center providing high-quality business space at an affordable cost for local nonprofits. Additionally, Serve Denton offers shared spaces like conference rooms and classrooms nonprofits can rent on an as-needed basis, helping them keep their overhead down.
“What that allows organizations to do is to have good quality offices, but not have to take on the total cost of a meeting space that may sit half empty for a substantial amount of time during the day,” Smith explains. “Organizations can share those spaces and have access that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise.”
And Serve Denton also offers different services for nonprofits who may not have the manpower required for them, such as marketing, fundraising, and financial management.
Serve Denton currently has 20 different nonprofits under its umbrella. Twelve of those nonprofits occupy space at Serve Denton’s center located at 306 N Loop 288 in Denton. The other eight nonprofits are members of Serve Denton, allowing them to access their shared spaces and services.
Some of the nonprofits associated with Serve Denton include:
- Denton Community Food Center, which provides food to those struggling with hunger insecurity
- Grace Like Rain offering rent and utility assistance, as well as emergency shelter assistance
- Giving Hope, Inc. assisting those experiencing or at-risk for homelessness
- Hearts for Homes that helps improve the living conditions of low-income senior homeowners in Denton County
- Refuge for Women, which provides aftercare for the trafficked and sexually exploited
- Direction 61:3 Denton offering support services for young adults aged out of the foster care system
- Children’s Advocacy Center for North Texas, which works with child abuse victims and their families
- Recovery Resource Council for substance and mental health issues
- RISE, which provides legal education, information, and representation to those in need
Additionally, Serve Denton is the home of Health Services of North Texas, offering primary medical care, behavioral health services, prenatal and women’s care, and prescription assistance.
“If you have a medical emergency, that can throw your entire budget out the door and the fact that HSMT’s here and they provide prescriptions for a very nominal cost and great health care for minimal cost,” Smith explains. “It is really a game changer for a lot of families who it’s their last resort.”
Smith encourages anyone who needs assistance, or knows someone who is struggling and needs help, to come see or call Serve Denton. “There’s never a need for someone to be hurting whether it’s physically or mentally or medically and not be able to get assistance,” he explains. “We have trained staff that’s going to work hard to get them connected to the right resources, whether it’s in the building or in the region.”
“We just want to be that place for people to know that Denton cares about the people in the community, and we have a resource that makes it easy to find that help,” Smith adds.
How You Can Help
Although the mission of Serve Denton is to provide help to those in the community, all of its nonprofits would not be able to do their work without the help of volunteers and financial supporters.
Smith and his team send out a monthly email listing out volunteer opportunities available with Serve Denton’s various nonprofits.
“I strongly believe that service is our rent here on Earth and there’s lots of opportunities to serve in a variety of different ways,” he adds.
And for those who can provide financial assistance to nonprofits at Serve Denton, Smith urges them to do so.
“The most valuable thing I think a person could do is to commit to pick one nonprofit that meets a need or has a mission that they identify with, and commit to give $10 a month to that nonprofit,” Smith suggests. “That kind of sustainable funding means the world to organizations. And $10 might be tough for some, but it’s basically two trips to Starbucks a month at $120 a year.”
Smith says Serve Denton offers a program called Circle of Support. For those who donate $10 a month, they gain access to Serve Denton’s “Serve Perks,” including discounts to local businesses like Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream and West Oak Coffee Bar.
“Just find a nonprofit that you believe in or support or want to support, and commit to giving that $10 a month,” Smith says. “Generally you’ll forget about it and that nonprofit will be ever indebted to you. And you’re really truly making a difference.”
If you need assistance, visit Serve Denton at 306 N Loop 288 in Denton or call (940) 735-3234. And for more information on Service Denton, visit servedenton.org.