One of the things we love is how everyone who is a part of Urban Acres combines their efforts to give a gift to the community. By purchasing produce cooperatively, we get to support local family farmers and help people in Dallas live healthier lives. What you might not know is that we are also able to donate extra produce every week to people in need. If you’ve ever missed a pickup or chosen to donate your produce one week, it has been given to one of the non-profits we work with here in Dallas.
Recently our Urban Acres Marketing Coordinator Amber Hansen spent a day with Kelly Wiley of 2000 Roses Foundation/The Rose Garden here in Oak Cliff who personally delivers the food to several of these non-profits and homes all over the city…on her day off!
Amber Hansen and Kelly Wiley
Here’s what a typical donation day looks like…
UA staffer Andy helping load produce into Kelly’s van
First stop: Hillcrest House, part of AIDS Services of Dallas (ASD), in Oak Cliff (see our previous post about Hillcrest House here). ASD provides men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS with a variety of services ranging from medical and legal to housing.
After seeing the facility and meeting the team at Hillcrest House, UA staffer Amber reflects, “MaryBeth O’Connor, the Director of Hillcrest House, was overwhelmed with gratefulness. She said that the house brings hope, and it means a lot that they have good quality fresh food, not just canned food.”
Unloading food at Hillcrest House
Amber adds, “The chef there, David McDade, really impressed me, too. He makes it his goal to use every single piece of produce that we bring. So if he doesn’t know how to cook kohlrabi, he’ll figure out how to use it for the people.”
Kelly talking with chef David about meals
Second stop: CitySquare, an organization that serves Dallas’ poor. CitySquare feeds 130 families a day, and about 5,000 people come through their doors a month. Amber says, “What we donate is the only fresh, organic food that they get, and it goes fast. So if you have plenty and are deciding to donate your share, know you’re blessing a family in Dallas who truly needs it.”
Kelly (right) with Theresa (left), director at CitySquare
Everyone helping unload the donations at CitySquare
Last stop: The Rose Garden, the upscale resale and gift shop that Kelly Wiley started right here on Davis St. in Oak Cliff. The Rose Garden is a training school of sorts to help women who are being rehabilitated and re-acclimated to society. Kelly uses the shop as a way to train these women, invest in them and build their confidence. The store has lots of beautiful clothing and decor for resale, and the women also make jewelry and candles.
What really made an impact on Amber though was the huge mosaic in the store that the women made. “Anything that breaks in the store, the women add to the mosaic wall,” Amber explains. “Kelly said a lot of the women feel they’re not artistic and can’t contribute. But Kelly encourages them to work on their section of the wall and add to the beauty. It’s made only with broken things, but it’s so beautiful.”
Mosaic wall at The Rose Garden
We are compelled to ask Kelly Wiley, “Don’t you ever get tired??” But the joy and energy she has is contagious. Deeply rooted in her belief that everyone, regardless of income, should have access to fresh, local, organic food, she works tirelessly to do her part. Instead of feeling frustrated about both the over-abundance and suffering here in Dallas, she bridges that gap by bringing the abundance to those who need it.
Now, Kelly is working on creating a community center in South Dallas, where she’s going to use the donated produce to make soup to feed even more people and help rebuild the community. Kelly says, “It’s a reality check of how blessed we are, and how we can make a difference. Doing this helps me be a better me.”
Future community center