Caritas Renovation Provides Office Space, Platform for Collaboration with Baylor's Texas Hunger Initiative-Waco Regional Team

Aug. 5, 2013

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Contacts: Charis Dietz, Texas Hunger Initiative, (254) 710-3781 or Lori Fogleman, (254) 710-6275

WACO, Texas (Aug. 5, 2013) - The Texas Hunger Initiative-Waco Regional Office is now housed within Caritas of Waco as the two organizations make plans to work in close collaboration in local anti-hunger efforts.

Floor plans for the recently completed renovation of the Caritas building at 300 S. 15th St. in Waco allowed for the addition of extra office space for just such strategic partnerships, according to Caritas executive director Buddy Edwards.

"The timing was right," Edwards said. "I've been familiar with work of the Texas Hunger Initiative ever since the project began. When I learned early this year that they were looking to establish a regional office in Waco, we were right in the middle of a pretty massive renovation of this facility, including building in some additional office space. So we invited them to come take a look."

Edwards said that a collaboration made sense, as both organizations, though differing in approaches, "are geared toward the same mission and purpose," combating hunger, and ultimately poverty.

Founded in 1967 as a nonprofit charity organization, Caritas functions as a direct service organization, providing food, assistance with utilities and other resources to those with urgent, immediate need in the Waco community. The Texas Hunger Initiative, developed within the Baylor University School of Social Work in 2009, is a capacity-building organization, developing and implementing strategies to end hunger through policy, education, research, and community organizing at the state and local level.

Now sharing physical space, the two organizations aim to engage more frequently in dialogue and discussion as they seek to increase efficiency in addressing hunger and poverty issues in Waco on both a micro- and macro-level.

"The fact that we can work together to address problems today while making strategic decisions to secure a hunger-free future for Waco is an incredible opportunity," said Jeremy Everett, executive director of the Texas Hunger Initiative. "We feel very fortunate to be partnering with Caritas through our Waco Regional Office. I know that the hope of both our organizations is that one day we would no longer need to exist in Waco because we have cared for our neighbors in such a way that the needs have been met at all levels."

Partnering with an organization like the Texas Hunger Initiative fits within the long-term goals of Caritas, expanding its efforts beyond direct service.

"We have a very strong interest in not only serving the clients here, but also to be involved in more community-wide endeavors to address these global issues of hunger and poverty," Edwards said.

Conversely, being located in the Caritas facility offers the Texas Hunger Initiative-Waco Regional Office the opportunity to be more directly involved with individuals and families in the community who are struggling to make ends meet.

"Since Caritas is a direct service site, we are now able to interact with a lot of the population that is food insecure," said Shamethia Webb, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative-Waco Regional Office. "This will help us elevate the voices of people who are experiencing poverty and hunger. We have a presence now within the community that we didn't have before."

Being aligned with a longstanding, well-established organization like Caritas also provides a strong platform for growth for the Texas Hunger Initiative's Waco office, Webb said.

"Caritas has done this work for years in Waco, and they are very well respected," Webb said. "Having the support of veterans in this field is really important. People in the community respond positively when you have a connection with Caritas. It is a trusted site."

As a Baylor University School of Social Work program, the Texas Hunger Initiative has the potential to provide a host of new resources to Caritas, from the University's extensive research and evaluation capabilities for the strengthening of programs to networking opportunities through the Texas Hunger Initiative's partnerships with state agencies.

"It's a great relationship, and we're extremely excited about partnering in this work together," Edwards said. "We look forward to a very positive relationship and positive results for years to come."

For more information, contact the Texas Hunger Initiative at 254-710-3781 or Charis_Dietz@baylor.edu or visit them online at www.baylor.edu/texashunger.

ABOUT CARITAS

Caritas of Waco is a nonprofit organization, located at 300 South 15th Street with the mission of providing urgent support to people in need in our community. While requiring little or no eligibility determination, Caritas offers emergency assistance in the form of food, clothing and household items as well as assistance with utilities, prescription medication, rent, emergency lodging, and travel. Caritas helps anyone who has urgent needs regardless of age, sex or ethnicity. Although the majority of those served live in McLennan County, Caritas helps people without regard to geographic boundaries.

ABOUT THE TEXAS HUNGER INITIATIVE

The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) is a capacity-building and collaborative project, developed in the Baylor University School of Social Work, which seeks to develop and implement strategies to end hunger through policy, education, research, community organizing and community development. THI seeks to make the state food secure by ensuring that every individual has access to three healthy meals a day, seven days a week. THI convenes federal, state and local government stakeholders with non-profits, faith communities and business leaders to create an efficient system of accountability that increases food security in Texas. Along with its Central Office located within the Baylor University School of Social Work, THI has 12 regional offices located in Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Angelo, San Antonio, Tyler and Waco.

ABOUT THE BAYLOR UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK

The Baylor University School of Social Work is home to one of the leading graduate social work programs in the nation with a research agenda focused on the integration of faith and practice. Upholding its mission of preparing social workers in a Christian context for worldwide service and leadership, the School offers a baccalaureate degree (BSW), a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, a PhD degree, and three joint-degree options (MSW/Master of Business Administration, MSW/Master of Divinity and MSW/Master of Theological Studies) through a partnership with Baylor's Hankamer School of Business and George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Visit www.baylor.edu/social_work to learn more.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

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