About two dozen children living in East Oak Cliff wrote their own narrative in a book, titled “Believe In Me.”
“Every day is different, but every day is full,” said Pat Ford. She runs the non-profit Dallas Community Fellowship Inc. in East Oak Cliff, the same neighborhood where she grew up.
“I go to church here in the community and I’ve been volunteering for more than 30 years,” said Ford.
After working as a medical assistant for Texas Oncology, Ford retired and went back to her neighborhood to start up her non-profit.
“I didn’t realize how bad the neighborhood got until I retired and came down here full time," said Ford. "There are a lot of good people in our community, but there are no resources to help our young people. The children hear a lot of gunfire. In our community we don’t have decent stores, we don’t have decent restaurants, and the apartments are not safe. If these young people are coming we have to find them something to do because I know that this is a safe place for them."
DCFI provides resources and support for families in the neighborhood. The average income for residents is $24,481, which is below the poverty level.
“If people are in need of food, we get them food. If they need clothes we get them clothes. We have programs for the children. We want them to know that they are valuable,” she said.
Ford believes that low incomes do not equal low outcomes. She is using the power of the pen to help kids in the neighborhood build a positive self-image.
“There is nothing positive for them to look at in the community, so we have to create positive images. I want them to see a positive reflection of themselves,” she said.
Each page of “Believe In Me” is filled with affirmations. 10-year-old Gabrielle who wants to be an engineer wrote, “believe in me because I am caring, funny, respectful, nice and generous.”
For years, Ford has asked the city of Dallas for resources.
“Work with us, and put up stores here. Put up some new infrastructure. Give hope back to the community,” said Ford. Her goal is to raise enough money to build a community center for the children who live in that area.