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SNAP Featured in Neighborsgo, a publication of The Dallas Morning News
Posted on Oct 17th, 2013

Part of the Dallas Morning News
 
July 12, 2013 neighborsgo.com
Photo Credit: Daniel Houston | Neighborsgo.com

 
When Casa View Haven resident Jeanette Prasifka heard one of her neighbors had suffered
a severe injury on the job, she jumped in to provide him with food during his recovery.
 
And the neighborhood quickly came on board. Prasifka, a food caterer, organized a simple calendar and was overwhelmed by the number of volunteers willing to help a neighbor in his time of need.
“Everybody just seemed to get such a sense of community and caring that we just said, ‘Let’s make this a permanent thing,’”said Prasifka, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 20 years.
The Casa View Haven food ministry team was born from that effort three years ago and is one of several organizations in East Dallas driven by a strong network of volunteers. Most of these groups exist to offer assistance to elderly or disabled neighbors.
 
Across Garland Road in nearby Lochwood, Scott Paradise created the volunteer-driven Service Neighborhood Assistance Patrol. He said he already has 27 volunteers from the neighborhood’s active Facebook page about a month after the program’s start. Paradise, who grew up in East Dallas, attributes this recruitment success in part to neighborhood demographics.
 
“With the amount of retired people — or stay-at-home moms, part time, work-from-home folks — there were a lot of people who had the ability to jump in and help out,” he said. Finding volunteers, he said, has been easier than identifying people who could use their help. A rash of crimes in the area this spring has made some residents wary of door-to-door campaigns, and his main target group for assistance — the elderly — is not as likely to follow his outreach through the neighborhood association’s Facebook group.
 
“I’ve gotten just as many calls as requests from elderly [neighbors] wanting more information about it,” Paradise said. “They want to meet with me just to answer their questions and put their fears to bed before they just call and ask for a ride from some stranger.” Three weeks in, SNAP had assisted eight people in various capacities, including driving one person to the dentist, helping another
who requested use of a chainsaw in their yard and sitting with a woman’s disabled husband while she went out for fresh air.
 
Back in Casa View Haven, residents weren’t satisfied with just offering food. The Haven Helping Hands Organizations, or H3O as residents refer to it, is another volunteer-driven effort. Started at about the same time as the food ministry, H3O operates to help with external home improvements. “It’s not only for us to provide to the elderly, but it’s also for anyone who has difficulty meeting [city] code requirements due to financial constraints,” said Amanda Buckley, who helps to organize H3O’s projects.
 
Devon Faldon’s Casa View Haven home houses her sister and brother-in-law. When she lived there a few years ago, she said she didn’t water the lawn consistently, so H3O representatives reached out and asked if they could help. “I think that they just noticed that I had killed the yard,” Faldon said. “I guess that I was having trouble keeping up with the lawn, so we came up with a plan to have more drought-resistant plants.” Now, Buckley, who lives a few doors down from Faldon, said the yard is the envy of the street with its well-kept rosemary bushes, ferns and other plants.
 
But like SNAP in Lochwood, Buckley said H3O sometimes has more difficulty finding homeowners willing to participate in the program than it does volunteers to help out. “I would say sometimes you just have to be very gentle in how you approach the subject,” Buckley said. “We have all these people that want to serve, but we have a lot of difficulty getting people to sign up to have their house be the next project.”
 
Paradise is hoping as word spreads and neighbors begin to trust his fledgling volunteer group, demand for volunteers will grow to match supply. “I’ve just been overwhelmed by the  outpouring of support that we’ve generated in a small time, and I can’t wait to see more,” he said.
 
Neighborsgo reporter Daniel Houston can be reached at 214-977-8024.
 
How do your neighbors help each other?
 
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