Catherine Ross, Collin County Reporter
Plano is coming together to keep the doors of The Assistance Center of Collin County open. The non-profit agency helps people make ends meet through unemployment, foreclosure, hunger and other crisis.
As the Assistance Center of Collin County celebrates its 35th year in Plano, the non-profit is dealing with tough times.
"We have lost half of our funding in the past year," said director of development Tanya Sastoque. "We have always been an organization that depended on grant funding. Those grants have been pulled out from underneath us, knocking out about half of our budget."
The center said it provides hands up – not handouts – when people are struggling to put food on the table, find jobs after being laid off or deal with a foreclosure.
However, Sastoque said since 2008, people of all walks of life in Collin County have shown an increasing need for resources, many for the first time.
"We don’t have any money to give them right now," she said.
The center has turned to community and private partnerships to make up for those gaps in funding.
Sastoque called it a turning from grant funding to community funding – and the students of a Plano Chamber of Commerce-sponsored program called Leadership Plano stepped up to help.
"As we are going through transition, they decided that this building would go along with it," Sastoque said.
The Leadership Plano class began a renovation project, something class members said was sorely needed.
"This is a building that has fallen under as far as care goes," said Lisa Smith, part of Leadership Plano’s 29th class.
Volunteers like Smith painted the center’s rooms, provided new furniture, and even created a special children’s room for families to use when parents have meetings with center support staff.
By adding a fresh coat of paint, Smith said she wants people looking for help to take comfort in the fact that their neighbors are supporting their efforts to get back on their feet.
"We don’t want to turn people away for help," Sastoque said. "We want to help them."