As a nonprofit, 6 Stones is young. We are in our eighth year now, eyeing a big anniversary in 2019. We spent a good portion of these early years learning how to do what we do today. Starting in 2015, we made all the things we learned along the way available to others who want to make their communities stronger. Now, we're a pioneering example in something called the “City Transformation Movement.”
So it only seemed right to spend this Thanksgiving explaining the real secret behind City Transformation, as we see it: you have to make everyone part of it. With that end in mind, we invited some of our favorite people to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with us. You can read more about each of them — and their place “at the table” below.
As Mayor of the City of Euless, Linda has helped us to maintain and expand the impact of the Community-Powered Revitalization (CPR) program. CPR began as a service project that served two homes in Euless. It has now served almost 600 homeowners in seven cities.
The video opens on Linda — and Ofa, who you'll read more about below — because our organizational history began in Euless. Gary Mckamie, the city's now-retired City Manager, helped to diagnose the problem that most needed to be solved from the city's perspective. “Euless Revitalization” was born as a result. The partnership between 6 Stones and the City of Euless established a formula that we still use to unite city governments and faith-based nonprofits today.
While elected officials represent a city, they're only part of the equation. Our partnership with government employees is essential for success in their communities. Ofa is representative of everything we love about those partnerships. She currently serves as the Special Projects Coordinator in Euless, as well as being an important member of the Euless Historical Preservation Committee.
As a graduate of Trinity High School, Ofa also represents the importance of connecting with individuals who are rooted in the communities we serve. She and her family moved into this area in the mid-80s; a period that saw a spike in immigration from Polynesia. The Tongan population has been an important part of Euless culture ever since, and Ofa is no exception.
Brian was one of the first corporate partners we interviewed when I (Steven) started at 6 Stones in 2015. His positions as Director of Global Public Affairs at Bell Helicopter ties him directly to our work. In addition to overseeing financial contributions to our initiatives, Brian has helped to shape 6 Stones culture from within as a member of our Board of Directors.
One of his first priorities when he took the job at Bell was to invest more of the company's benevolence funds into the community where they lived and worked. It only took one look at the Community Powered Revitalization program in action to convince Brian to jump on board. That made him the perfect person to represent the Private Sector at our metaphorical table. You can read his full story here.
Faye has been a fantastic partner for 6 Stones. As a Regional Director with United Way, she has access to a wealth of tools and information that help us do what we do. She also connects us with other nonprofits so that our programs and resources are as effective, sustainable, and far-reaching as possible. In turn, we help her to connect with families on the ground here in our community.
We interviewed Faye last year as part of a series exploring the importance of cooperation between city sectors. During that interview, she expressed an idea that we treasure here: a community is like a tapestry. It's incomplete if a single strand is missing. There was no better person to represent nonprofits at our Thanksgiving Table. If you'd like to watch her interview, you can find it in our archives.
Scott was the first employee 6 Stones ever had. In 2009, First Baptist Church of Euless assigned him the task of building a “coalition of churches, businesses, city governments, and other nonprofits to meet the needs of this community.” While his title has changed over the years, his commitment to the community — and to this organization — has never wavered.
We haven't told Scott's full story here on the site yet. But you can hear him talk about our vision and mission on the home page or at the top of the City Transformation Resource page. As the Chief Executive Officer here at 6 Stones, it only made sense for Scott to be one of the first to sit down at the table.
When 6 Stones launched in 2009, Dr. Gene Buinger sat at the helm of the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District. Steve took over as Superintendent several years later, and has led HEB ISD to incredible heights by maintaining the district's commitment to excellence.
More than half of our student population qualifies for free and reduced lunch. However, students here continue to exceed State expectations. HEB ISD is a #1 rated school for performance and financial responsibility in large part because of their open and inviting stance on community partnership. At an organizational level, no one represents our schools better than Steve.
As a licensed social worker, Ellen represents the people who do the hard work behind the scenes. These individuals absolutely have to be part of any healthy community. Leaving her seat empty would have been a grave mistake. Ellen currently serves HEB ISD as a Homeless Liaison, helping to give students with uncertain homes a reliable system of support within their schools.
Ellen flourished within the district during a trying period that saw students and their families re-settling in HEB on short notice after Hurricane Katrina. She helped the district adapt to an overnight rise in student population. In her 2016 interview, however, she was quick to point out the incredible support of the community during that time.
Kelly might work in the school district, but she sits at this table for a completely different reason. As a monthly donor, she is an indispensable part of the 6 Stones family. We interviewed Kelly in the Spring of 2017, and she revealed that she once found herself in the same position as the families she supports today in her role as the district's Coordinator of Family Engagement, Community Outreach, and Teacher Support.
With years of difficult life as a single mother behind her, Kelly speaks to the powerful role our experiences play in our decision-making. She sits at this table because of her direct financial support for our programs. More than that, though, she serves as a stand-in for the men and women who escape poverty and dedicate their lives to helping others do the same.
John served in the Army until 2006, when a Parkinson's Disease diagnosis and spinal surgery forced him to resign. His medical discharge from the service left him without direction; he intended to be a military man for life. Seeking an escape, John packed up and moved from Jacksonville, MS to the Mid-Cities area.
After spending a few months on the streets, John found an apartment and began volunteering with 6 Stones. He is now one of our most consistent volunteers, manning the grill at every block party and the front lines of every event. There was simply no way to have the 6 Stones family sit down together without including John. You can read more about him in our archives, as well.
At eight years of age, Mikayla is the youngest major donor in 6 Stones history. Last summer, she and her mother raised $1,073 with an old-fashioned lemonade stand on their front lawn. Mikayla donated every dollar to Operation Back 2 School, providing supplies and a backpack for 36 of her at-risk peers.
We knew Mikayla would be sitting at the table from the moment this project was proposed. She's a perfect representation of the overlooked assets in every community. Never count out the young and determined, especially if they've been raised with a good heart! You can see the whole story behind Mikayla's lemonade stand on our blog page.
When we interviewed Michelle in 2016, we knew we had something special. She epitomized the men and women we serve at 6 Stones: struggling, but brilliant and charismatic. We provided Christmas for her family in 2011. She never asked for our help again. She currently works in Human Resources at Time Warner Cable.
Michelle is an excellent picture of the people who need help in our communities; many of whom are ready and willing to contribute as soon as their circumstances improve. As a part-time Target employee in 2011, she helped to build our Christmas shopping system. Now, she serves as a volunteer and donor. We asked her to join us at the table to show just how much “needy people” have to give.