BEDFORD — Campus West hums with conversation as nearly 400 men and women sit down to lunch. The crowd is a mixture of City Officials, School District Representatives, Pastors, Small Business Owners, Nonprofit Employees, and Corporate Shot-Callers. CEOs rub elbows with volunteers who live below the federal poverty line. It’s an eclectic group; the kind that might catch a person off guard at first glance. These people have no business gathering together. Unless, of course, they all believe in City Transformation.
In the last eight years, 6 Stones has developed from a single project into a platform for transformative action. We exist to bring together those people who dream the same dreams, but wouldn’t know it if they weren’t introduced. That’s the point of the Catalyst of Hope Luncheon. For one afternoon, like-minded people can share good conversation and excellent barbecue. This meal is both a reward and a reminder. For a few hours, we can all stop to celebrate a community that has come together in unprecedented ways. Doing so propels us into another year of transformative service. We believe that what happens here is worth cheering about.
So do 400 of our closest friends.
The 2017 Catalyst of Hope Luncheon continued a trend that touched every part of 6 Stones last year. It was our biggest yet. In 2016, we repaired more homes and served more students than ever before. We set some scary goals, and we watched all kinds of people help us to reach them. So it was only fitting that our celebration be the biggest yet, with 400 guests dropping in for lunch and 140 sticking around for the Catalyst of Hope Forum.
The forum, which featured one of the pioneering voices in the City Transformation movement in Eric Swanson, was free to anyone interested in serving their community. Corporate and civic leaders who helped to shape 6 Stones shared their thoughts and experience in an open panel, which more than 320 people were able to watch via online streaming. One group came all the way from Atlanta, Georgia. All told, it was a fitting end to a spectacular year. All told, it was a fitting end to a spectacular year.
Sometimes looking toward the future requires us to look backward for inspiration. Our community has an almost daunting amount of need. But we can take heart in the fact that people all over North Texas are helping us to tackle that need. When 6 Stones presents our annual awards at the Catalyst of Hope luncheon, we’re commending those efforts in the hopes that they inspire more. From us. From our neighbors. For this community.
The Future is Bright
Each award winner took home a trophy emblematic of a phrase that we’ve come to hold dear here at 6 Stones: “The Light that shines the farthest shines the brightest at home.” The trophies, styled as glowing lanterns, went to men and women who were invaluable to our organization over the past year. Some mobilized entire companies to volunteer. Others are shaping the next generation of community leaders.
Many were people who came to us in need and learned to serve others. Lee Robinson and Marcus Brame — whose stories are featured on this site — received Game Changer awards for Community Powered Revitalization and the Community Garden, respectively. The Trinity High School staff were recognized for their incredible support of Operation Back 2 School. Every trophy came with a story, and each story was a reminder that things like the Catalyst of Hope Forum happen because there is something visibly different about the people we work with, through, and for. Every one of them is spectacular; a shining light in a world that desperately needs them. A full list of award winners can be found at the bottom of this page, but one prize stands out above the rest..
A Catalyst of Hope
The Gary McKamie Catalyst of Hope Award is the highest honor offered at 6 Stones. Every year, our staff selects one individual who exemplifies the values and character of the organization as a whole to receive the signature glass flame. Someone who inspires. Who creates change, but is themselves unchanged in the process. An individual who can bring people together.
This year, the board and staff voted unanimously — with one abstention — to name Betty Sheppard as the recipient of the award. Our Executive Director, Scott Sheppard, felt that the decision to honor his mother should be made without him. Betty didn’t just raise the man who helped to launch and maintain 6 Stones. She has overseen the New Hope Center for 25 years; more than three times the official lifespan of the nonprofit of which it is now a part. She has battled cancer and cramped working conditions, fed and clothed thousands of our neighbors, and led a staff made up entirely of volunteers along the way.
Betty Sheppard is, unequivocally, a Catalyst of Hope.
For the first time ever, the Catalyst of Hope Luncheon didn’t end with the presentation of awards. Instead, it transitioned into a Forum for like-minded people to come together and learn how to transform their own cities. Eric Swanson, author of To Transform a City, delivered the keynote address and offered a theoretical framework around which nonprofits could build programs that best serve their individual communities. Community leaders spoke and took questions from the audience during the space between his lectures.
6 Stones doesn’t take credit for the things that happen here in HEB. Certainly, we’re part of a winning formula, but the reason we’ve had success is that everyone in this community works together. Our governments, our businesses, our schools, and our public services all have the same desire. We all want a better, brighter community. Eric painted a picture of a Community Transformation that looked a lot like HEB: a place where everyone is concerned for their neighbor. A place that feels like home, no matter who you are. We’re in progress, but we’re on the right track.
Public, Private, Voluntary
Leaders from every sector took the stage to talk about their part in the process, and the ways they have seen it played out here. John Meador, the senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Euless, shared his desire to see churches mobilized to serve their communities. Atmos Energy’s Director of Energy Assistance, Dan Alderson, talked about the individual and corporate change that volunteering has brought for his employees and the company they represent. Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley told an audience of churchgoers, investors, government officials, and nonprofit employees that the Government alone cannot solve our problems. Collaboration, he said, is the best way to make a difference.
The things that happen here won’t change the world. Not unless they can be replicated elsewhere. That’s what the Catalyst of Hope Forum was about: starting something bigger than 6 Stones. Thanks to our leaders and Eric Swanson, some 400 people went home with the knowledge they need to transform their communities. They know it’s possible, and they know that they aren’t alone in their desire to see it happen. The light that is shining here has begun to reach others.
Let’s keep it burning bright.
A full list of award winners is available below. Video from the Catalyst of Hope Forum will be made available on a separate page of the 6 Stones site for those interested in sharing that resource. For more on City Transformation, check out the Leadership Network or our resources page.
Gary McKamie Catalyst of Hope Award
Partnering Non-Profit of 2016 – Tarrant County Housing Partnership
Civic Partner Award of 2016 – NE Tarrant Chamber of Commerce
School-Based Advocate of 2016 – Dalworth Restoration
Faith Based Organization of 2016 – Freedom Church
Corporate Volunteer of 2016 – Fidelity Investments
Corporate Sponsor of 2016 – Kelly-Moore Paints
Next Gen Award of 2016 – Next WorldWide
In-kind Sponsor of 2016 – World Vision
Community Powered Revitalization – Lee Robinson
Operation Back 2 School – Trinity High School Staff
Night of Hope – 121 Community Church
Run for Hope – Southgate Constructors
Community Ministries – Mark Massey
Community Garden – Marcus Brame
Board of Directors – Kim Campbell
New Hope Center – James Dooley