It’s 3 o’clock in the morning and Tamira is in a panic. After years of living under the cloud of domestic violence with her two young children, she’s summoned the courage flee and begin a better life.
Tamira has called Mosaic Family Services, a safe haven for survivors of human rights abuses, human trafficking and domestic violence. They’re sending a team to rescue her using subterfuge methods straight out of a spy novel. Tamira and her kids will change cars a couple of times before reaching Mosaic’s shelter. Like many other refugees in Lake Highlands and throughout Dallas, Tamira and her kids will rely heavily on the nonprofit’s translators, counselors and attorneys speaking 28 different languages.
Last week, Lake Highlands Women’s League volunteers delivered a check to leaders at Mosaic – one of eighteen local nonprofits and twenty-five area schools receiving a total of $100,000 in proceeds from the league’s annual Holiday in the Highlands home tour. Later this year, the group will disburse a second $100,000 – this time to Lake Highlands High School seniors in the form of college scholarships.
Additional nonprofit recipients include Arms of Hope, Audelia Road Library, Dallas Police Youth Foundation, Feed Lake Highlands, Forerunner Mentoring, Forest Green Library, Gateway of Grace, HHM Health, Kids U, LH Chamber, LH Junior Women’s League, LH North Recreation Center, LH YMCA, Network of Community Ministries, Richardson Adult Literacy Center, The Warren Center and Youth Believing in Change.
Mentors at the boxing gym run by the Dallas Police Youth Foundation were grateful to receive the LHWL’s donation, too. Kids in the Forest Audelia neighborhood, where federal, state and local authorities are partnering to fight a high crime rate, escape into the gym after school and on weekends.
“We are teaching them how to box and workout, but the more important thing is that they are learning life skills,” says Rafael Arredondo, who did stints as a DPD gang interventionist before hiring on with the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department to work at the gym. “We also want to change how the community views the police department. Police are not the enemy. This gives us the time to be hands-on, face-to-face and eye-to-eye, to build a rapport with the kids and their families. This is a high crime area with shootings and battles for turf, but we can change the way the kids see us. We can have conversations, and that’s important.”
“I love boxing because it teaches me discipline and self-defense,” says Jesse Gonzalez, a teen who arrived for his workout session in a black Wildcat t-shirt. “I come to the gym every chance I get.”
Dallas Police Major Leroy Quigg says additional programs are in the works at Forest Audelia, including a new jiu jitsu program for kids and a self defense program for senior adults. Volunteers from the department know their time spent in the gym working with children is an investment in the community.
If you’d like to help, it’s not too late. You may donate to Lake Highlands Women’s League online here, and they’ll put the multiplier concept to work, adding volunteer hours from their 100 active members and hundreds of sustainers.