BEDFORD — On the third floor of a nondescript office building, in an ordinary corner office, Faye Beaulieu is changing the world. Or, at the very least, changing our little piece of it. Beaulieu is a Regional Director with United Way, a nonprofit organization that addresses issues of income, health, and education in Tarrant County. United Way shares a passion for collaboration with 6 Stones. In fact, Faye is a shining example of the strength that comes from partnering together.
Beaulieu is a trustee for the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District on top of her position with United Way. The work goes together, and it gives her a unique perspective on need here in Tarrant. If you want to know what families are struggling with in HEB, she’s the woman to ask. And if you want to know how to help them? She’s got a few ideas as to how…and some charts to back those ideas up.
So, it’s nice to know that she’s on board with the work we do here.
God Doesn’t Send Telegrams
Fourteen years ago, Beaulieu was a volunteer lead in her fifth year of service. She had been drafted into United Way by her friends and fallen in love with the work. She was so well-respected that she even got to help interview potential new staff members. But one position proved difficult to fill. None of the candidates seemed right, and her heart wouldn’t let her sign off on any of them.
It was then that her children delivered a wake-up call: “If you’re waiting on a Telegram from God, it’s not coming…this is intended for you.”
She applied for the entry-level position shortly after their unconventional pep-talk and has loved everything that followed. For her, problems aren’t obstacles. They’re exciting opportunities to make a change. To improve the world. To bring people together.
“I love to see solutions happen,” she said. “I love to see people with needs find their needs met. And I love to see partnerships come together. It’s one thing for one person to go and take care of a need, but when a host of volunteers take on a big piece — and it works — there is nothing more satisfying than knowing that you had a piece of making that arrangement happen.”
Stigma vs. Strength in Numbers
When she joined the staff at United Way more than a decade ago, the world looked and functioned differently. 6 Stones wouldn’t be founded for several more years. Facebook didn’t exist. And school districts were leery of church partnerships.
“For so many years, you had school districts who were off, over here and saying ‘Oh, that’s a church. They can come and they can read to our kids, but that’s about as far as that partnership can go.’” Beaulieu remembered.
When it came time to work together, the conversation itself felt like work. Talk of teamwork was clunky and uncertain. Nobody wanted to flirt with the razor-sharp line that separates Church from State. She and the district struggled with conflicting desires to work with others and avoid the mire of politics. Then, Scott Sheppard reached out to set up a meeting. Together with leaders from every sector, public and private, they asked tough questions and dreamed big dreams. Dreams that led to the coalition we work with today.
“It’s just been amazing. As you talk to one another, and you have ideas about what you can do and how we can recieve that, the opportunities just open up,” she said. “After a while, you stop worrying about what you can’t do, and you say ‘Well, let’s try it…’ As a result, some of us are going out and talking about Community Partnerships in a way we never have before.”
“What’s cool is that, while you’re doing all of that, you have a group of people who have never worked together before working together. A common mind. And out of that comes ‘What else can we do? If we did this, what else might we be able to partner on?’ That’s how these things grow and develop.”
There is No “Small Impact”
If we’ve learned anything in the years since those early meetings, it’s the power of collective action. Giving one student a backpack is nice, but it won’t impact the community. Even equipping 6,000 students isn’t going to change the world. But there’s something to be said for getting started there.
“These things look small when they start. You look like you’re doing something very, very isolated and alone. But when that’s being multiplied by a thousand? All of those things are really changing the face of your community. It is transformative,” Beaulieu said. “When you look at the difference and the spirit and the climate in HEB because of what’s been planted by our nonprofits, and the leading role that 6 Stones has in this, it’s an amazing adventure. We look forward to where this is going to be 5 years from now.”
For her part, the Regional Director hopes that the next five years will be full of powerful stories. Students who graduate prepared for success–not just for college or the workforce, but for life as citizens in their community. Our students will someday be our civil servants, our government staffers, our teachers and doctors, our nonprofit directors; our leaders.
Some of them will need help getting there. That’s just the nature of the world. But we owe them more than the raw material they need to succeed. We owe them an example. They deserve to see a community in action, to be part of the change.
Not Just Efficient; Better
There is a myriad of reasons why we ought to be working together rather than separately. Almost anyone — Beaulieu included — will tell you that their organization, company, office, or school simply doesn’t have the resources to do everything that needs to be done. That’s why we prioritize projects and draft budgets. Partners ease that strain. But they also do something more.
“I use the example of a tapestry,” Beaulieu said. “You may think that’s really tired, but to me, it’s just a powerful analogy. You need that business strand. Businesses can do things from a for-profit standpoint that nonprofits can’t do. They can reach resources that nonprofits can’t reach. But when you marry the two, you can do so much more…and then you get the cities involved, and they start sharing their resources, their organizational abilities, their understanding of how things work in each of the three areas, and before you know it, you’ve woven this whole, beautiful piece out of a bunch of different kinds of strands coming from different directions. It just works.
“When you are at something like 6 Stones Operation Back 2 School, and you look around the room and there are hundreds of families coming through, one after the other; they’re visiting social service agencies all the way around the room. They’re getting bags full of material about how to access the different opportunities and services that are provided. That’s really exciting!”
Collaboration breathes energy into a community. On the broad level and in every individual. It inspires us. Encourages us to dream. When we talk about “Transforming our Community,” we absolutely mean meeting the physical needs of its less fortunate members. But we also mean changing the way each of us sees the world and ourselves. A transformed community draws no lines, observes no boundaries, and fears no obstacles.
And we’re well on our way there, so long as we continue to work together.