Grand Prairie—Grand Prairie United Charities (GPUC) hosted their 66th birthday party on Thursday, Aug. 12.
“We started in 1955 so this is our 66th anniversary, birthday party,” Pattie Brock, executive director of GPUC, said. “A lady named Pat Wright started in Grand Prairie. She felt there were people in need in Grand Prairie she wanted to help. She did it out of her home.
“We’ve grown since then. Obviously, we’ve stayed around. We only help Grand Prairie residents. We have a food pantry open four days a week, and we help with rent and/or utilities.”
Dr. Bill Skaar, a pastor at the First Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, serves as the president of the charity’s board.
“We like to think of [the charity] as giving people a hand up, not as much a hand out,” Skaar said. “They are people. They just need help and assistance to get through a difficult period. [For] some people, it’s a little longer than that, but this organization helps and comes alongside the city.
“The pandemic affected everything this past year as we all well know, from churches, to cities, to businesses.In 2019, this organization saved a little over 15,000 [people] that came through the door. This past year, we have a count of 34,000 people who reached out and asked for some assistance in some way. During the past year, the needs just exacerbated.”
“This is the first time we’ve had on open house type thing, where people actually come and see where we work,” Brock said. “We have a door prize we’re going to do every thirty minutes. We have a little tiny scavenger hunt for some of our [drink coasters.] Then we have snacks.”
Junior Ezeonu, a newly elected member of the city council,spoke about what he learned from visiting the charity.
“[GPUC] does a lot for residents in our community, whether it’s helping the lower socioeconomic side, those who are underserved individuals, getting food assistance, temporary assistance with many different things,” Ezeonu said. “I’m pleased to be here to celebrate their 66th anniversary and see how we can assist them in their work.I’m learning a good deal about what they do and how they help our city.
“I didn’t know they were so instrumental, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. They helped a lot of residents, because they have such a good infrastructure for assistance.The city used them to help carry out work to help our residents and assist them.”
Skaarspoke about how the community can help the charity.
“Any donation no matter how small, no matter how large is appreciated,” Skarr said. “This organization can work with the Dallas Food Bank and can leverage a gift of dollars to buy more food through the food bank than if somebody goes to the grocery store and uses that same amount of money and buys cans of food and brings them.
“We are looking for help and volunteers.They can call the office.”
“We get a lot of people from Grand Prairie who, when they go grocery shopping, they’ll buy six more things for us and drop it off,” Brock said. “We always take food. We prefer nonperishable. I always need beans and rice.Those are staples we give out to every family that comes in, and so they run out the fastest.”