Meet Our New Food Truck Manager!

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Meet Scott, our new Food Truck Manager! Follow our truck on Facebook and Instagram @unionfoodtruck to see where he’ll be!

Scott has spent most of his life in the Dallas area, apart from the five years living in Lubbock where he attended Texas Tech University (Wreck 'Em!). Scott has been involved with the Union community for several years where he has served on the Kuneo planning team and in the band, The Misfit Whatevers. With his love for coffee, people and Dallas, Scott is ready to take Union's mission and core values on the road with the Union Food Truck! In his spare time he can found making music, attending concerts, and seeing as many movies as possible. He also has a black lab named Rookie who is the sweetest pup you will ever meet. 

Thank you! North Texas Giving Day Results

To all of you: our community, our supporters, our sponsors, coffee lovers and Divine spark cultivators, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping us make North Texas Giving Day a success! 

It was our most successful fundraising day in Union history.
176 Donors (about 40 more than last year which is 30% growth)
$97,393 which is more than double what we raised last year!

We were in the top 2% of ALL NTGD non profits and among Medium-sized non profits, we had the sixth highest giving level.

North Texas Giving Day rolled out a personal FUNdraiser page option where people could enlist their friends to give and track those donations. Katie Newsome raised over $10,000 putting her in the TOP FOUR personal fundraisers!

Thank you to our friends at Christ's Foundry, Wesley Rankin Community Center, Junior Players, Big Thought, Window to the Wild, and Bridge Lacrosse for being part of our challenges to raise awareness for North Texas Giving Day. (You can watch all the challenge videos again here!)

Please enjoy some pictures from the week!

Ramping up for the Live Union Awards Show!

We’ve got some crazy, exciting things on the horizon! In the next couple of months, we will roll out the Union Food & Coffee Truck to begin serving the best coffee and breakfast sandwiches in Dallas. We are also excited to be participating in the tenth anniversary of North Texas Giving Day on September 20th and have a fantastic lineup of fun events planned. What kind of fun, you ask?

<drum roll, please>

The first ever Live Union Awards Show! <insert audible gasp here> You are invited to purchase tickets and tables for our big event on September 13th at 7:00pm. The night will feature live music, stories, delicious Tex-mex, awards and red carpet pictures as well as an outdoor reception with hardhat tours of our new location and food truck. If you’d like to organize a table or purchase a ticket, click the big orange button below. Reserve your spot quickly because space is limited to 75 people. 

For the tenth anniversary of North Texas Giving Day, Communities Foundation of Texas is encouraging ten days of giving. We’re lining up fun events on at least five of them so that you can connect with the most generous coffee shop in Dallas- for more information, check out the lineup on our North Texas Giving Day Page. Our goal is to raise $100,000 in ten days and we are confident that we can do it with your help. 

We have set this goal so that Union can continue to raise leaders in the city of Dallas who go on to change the world. I recently received an email from one of our former board members. After moving to New York, she recently started attending one of the oldest United Methodist Churches in the world- only to find that roughly 15-20 people showed up in worship on any given week. Half of them each week are visitors. Few of the visitors return. After approaching the pastor about the church’s enormous potential, she is now leading conversations with church and community members. Their goal is to revitalize this church that once gave life to a movement for social justice and the gospel. The closing words of her email — “I’m doing this because Union showed me how.”

Because of your generosity and leadership, our former board member is able to step up confidently and breath new life and ideas into her church. You are playing a crucial role in shaping millennials who will shape our world. I hope to see you at one of our North Texas Giving Day events.  

Meet Our New Community Curator for Kuneo!

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Emily was born and raised around Corpus Christi but has called Dallas home for the past several years. She studied Historical Studies and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas where she helped start the first inclusive campus ministry. She describes herself as a starter, but whether or not she is starting something new, she has always had a passion for learning. You will often times find her learning about people’s stories, reading a book, or doing something that will help her see a new perspective of the world. She is a huge geek and loves a great adventure every now and then. 

Meet Our New Community Curator for Studio!

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Sinclair Freeman is a native Texan and current college student. Before joining Union staff, they served on the Studio Planning Team for three years and taught preschool for four. In addition to working for Union, Sinclair also serves as the Director of Community Outreach at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church.

In their free time, Sinclair loves to read thick books, play arcade games, and go to the gym.

Meet Our New Community Curator for The Spread!

Meet Baranda Fermin! 

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Baranda is an accomplished nonprofit leader with experience in operations, training, community development, and research. She has a gift for seeing long range patterns and developing visions, yet her first love is writing. She has numerous published acticles including those in Social Forces, College & University, Better Homes & Gardens, and her book of prayers and prose published in 2017, For Our Boys: A Mother's Prayers. She makes a living doing strategic development and capacity building, but makes life beautiful by using words to share the stories our lives. She holds a PhD in Sociology from Michigan State University; a master’s in Human Development from Teachers College, Columbia University; and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from The University of Oklahoma. Her favorite things on earth are tacos and her son, Montgomery James.

Farewell, Matt Bell!

Farewell, Matt Bell!

This year feels like it had two different time periods.

A time when I was working a bar shift once a week and eating the three day old bagels for breakfast everyday at the shop on Dyer. I was taking a United Methodist history class, writing my commissioning paperwork, and going to Barley House after Studio and Kuneo.

Turning Readers Into Leaders

We have a new cause that we are supporting at Union and it is... READERS 2 LEADERS! Their mission is to develop and grow the reading skills of underserved Dallas children ages 3-12 so that they succeed in school and graduate prepared to live productive lives.

Readers 2 Leaders is a literacy program that serves West Dallas kindergarten and elementary students. We recognize that students who don't read on grade level by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school, and we work to help all our students beat the odds. Readers 2 Leaders operates Booktown, home of our After-School Program, our lending library, special events, and parent education programs. We also provide reading tutoring in two DISD schools and a second After-School Program at a West Dallas charter school. 

Readers 2 Leaders provides high-quality, high-dosage reading instruction to more than 400 West Dallas children per year. What does that mean, exactly?

  • Their staff includes 5 trained education professionals who provide the bulk of reading instruction to students, with the support of more than 200 volunteer reading buddies.
  • Their after-school students receive 8 hours of additional reading tutoring per week, and in-school students receive at least 2 hours of tutoring per week. This seriously improves both their reading and their overall success in school.
  • Their summer camp students benefit from six weeks of reading and enrichment. In 2016, 90 percent of R2L campers did not experience the summer slide, more than any other program studied by Dallas education partnership organization Commit!

From May - August of 2017, 10% of all coffee sales at Union will benefit this great organization and the work that they are doing in our community. Make sure you come by and have a cup of the most generous coffee in Dallas. 

Highlight Reels and Bloopers

Written By: Angela Uno, M.Ed

As I sat in my bed wide-awake at 3AM, pulse racing, palms sweaty, ready to beat the high score on a Facebook game, my identity as a person with a Bipolar II disorder became abundantly clear. My identities play a large role in my life, directing the type of movie that will play out that day –or night. Some days it is a love story about being an ‘exotic Asian woman’ in the bustling nightlife of Dallas, and other days it is a thriller about the cycles of hypomania and depression that creep up on me. Each story weaves together to tell a tale about the struggle for identity in the fast-paced life of a 23 year old. Every person has these movies play out in their life; each one unique to the categories society puts them in. The combination of these categories is called intersectionality.

I started discovering intersectionality in my junior year of high school after reading the controversial essay by Peggy McIntosh called “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack” . I clearly remember being the only woman of color in my class fighting against my white female teacher about making us read this preposterous essay. I look back at the passion I had to deny the concept of privilege, and I can’t help but to laugh. There is so much irony in the fact that I had the privilege to deny privilege exists.

Today, I work as an educator in Dallas ISD in which the students are vastly different from the high income, white students I grew up with in California. When describing how DISD students are treated and how they are seen, the word ‘prison’ immediately comes to mind. First, they are bussed to school from all over the city, then they walk through metal detectors. The students have to be in certain areas of the school and the first words they hear at school tend to be “Where’s your badge”. I do what I do because of this disparity. I went to high school believing that if I did not apply to an Ivy League, I was doomed. These students can barely name one.

While many are quick to point to SES as the root of the problem, they are failing to see race, gender, sexuality, disability, English language status, citizenship, and all of the other identities that one person may have on. These identities are not easily shed nor do the people who wear them want to get rid of them. Unlike the cheesy Facebook tearjerker videos in which a low-income, Latina woman graduates as a valedictorian and becomes the first blah blah blah, people are more than just their highlight reels. There are powerful institutions that want you to believe that this story is the only story, but the cycle of failure is real.

If there’s one message I need people to understand, it is that recognizing intersectionality may be the best tool to break us out of this cycle. Denying intersectionality is an oversimplification of the problem. Talking about SES because talking about race is frightening is a problem. Talking about anything but privilege because ‘checking your privilege is so 2016’ IS A PROBLEM. Acknowledging that we all come from places of power and places of oppression is important. It means that we have common ground which allows to initiate change. It may be the spark that initiates conversation between a black woman from Oak Cliff and a white man from Highland Park because they both know what it’s like to be in a wheelchair. It may ignite people to desire progress and deny apathy. So, the first step is figuring out your own movie and then having the courage to go watch someone else’s.

Becoming My Best Self And Advocating For Her

Written By: Brittany Miller, LPC, LCDC

As a counselor, one of my favorite psycheducation groups to do with my patients is incorporating Brené Brown’s TED Talk videos on shame and vulnerability.  It tends to be an impactful and eye-opening group, as many individuals do not fully recognize the influence that their shame (and discomfort with vulnerability) has on their quality of life.  It’s also a topic that I am passionate about, primarily because I can speak from my own personal struggle.

As a teenager, I was deeply affected by my insecurities and relentless inner critic.  Most people weren’t aware of the extent of my internal battle, not even some of my closest friends and family.  It didn’t help that I was a walking contradiction with my public persona masking my inner demons.  I was the type of girl that sought the spotlight and attention: I was a varsity cheerleader, I loved performing on stage with my dance class, and I actively tried to be “the life of the party”.  However, the fragility of my mask of confidence showed when I perceived an eye of judgment.  For example, during a five minute speech for a class in high school, my teacher (who also happened to be my dance instructor and cheerleading coach – yay, small town living) tallied over 30 “umm”s.  I desperately sought external validation and words of affirmation from others to combat my insecurities.  However, it was useless, because my inner critic refused to accept their feedback.  “They’re lying.”  “They say that to everyone.”  “If they only knew…”  Plus, “words of affirmation” doesn’t even register on my Love Languages.

In the constant process and attempts of bettering myself to appease my inner critic, I consistently hit an invisible barrier.  I had to overcome “the paradox of change”.   I had to be truly honest with myself and fully accept who and where I was in order to identify a starting point for change to occur.  That’s right.  I had to embrace and sit with the person I was so desperately trying to avoid.

Out of that excruciating process, and also with my education and training as a counselor, here are some of the steps that I used to combat my inner critic and become my best self through advocating for her:

Avoid the perfectionism trap – I used to brag about being a perfectionist.  It was a natural development due to my fear of judgment, and my logic was that nobody could criticize someone who was perfect.  Well, perfection is subjective and a myth.  There will always be differing opinions or perspectives or measures of the ideal.  Seeking perfection is automatically setting me up for failure, which then only provides fuel for the inner critic and contributes to a vicious cycle.

Identify the narrative of the shame script – There are several different maladaptive thought processes, and it is important to identify the types and patterns of these thoughts in order for them to be disputed.  Here were two of my bigggies:

  • I stopped “should”-ing on myself – I started to sort through and challenge the “should” statements that I accepted without discernment from social norms and the unreasonable or unrealistic expectations that were placed upon me by myself or others.  I started to challenge these statements by asking “why”, then added more “whys”, and if they weren’t there for a good enough reason, I scratched them from my life.
  • I also accepted the fact that I am not a fortune teller – I recognized a pattern of “if..then” statements, which pigeon-holed me into living with expectations.  This, of course, led to a lot of disappointment and then a self-destructive cycle with pairing the “if…then” statements with a hindsight bias.  There are no guarantees or a magic equation for things to work out exactly as you had planned or hoped.  Accepting this also allowed for me to embrace and live life in the moment instead of being anchored in regret.

Self-empowerment – I believe the biggest part in challenging the inner critic was to overpower it by becoming a friend and cheerleader to myself.  I softened my internal dialogue by showing myself the same compassion and warmth as I would show a close friend.  I also made a conscious effort to build myself up with affirmations and accolades.  But most of all, I also learned how to forgive myself for being fallible.

This list is far from exhaustive.  I could go on and on at length regarding other important components, such as establishing healthy boundaries, effective communication, identifying fears, and mindfulness.  But alas, this is a blog and not supposed to be a novel.  I must also say that my betterment and self-advocating continues to be a work in process as I encounter various life challenges.  However, by truly being in touch with myself, I can be diligent in staying on the positive track.  I can also now look into my eyes in the mirror with kindness and not shame, which is a feat unto itself.  

If you are struggling with shame or a deafening inner critic, I hope that you can see that there are ways for it to get better.  It’s primarily an internal process, meaning that the key for change is within you.  Most importantly, advocate for yourself for the change to occur.  Reach out to get help as needed.  And always remember, via Brené Brown, “you are enough”.