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Country Music Singer Waco Foundation Awards Grant to Build New Kitchen for Homeless Youth

WACO, TX (KWTX) — The Bowen Family Foundation has provided a $25,000 grant to the Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network to fund an industrial kitchen for the DOBEY homeless relief center for homeless youth.

Drop-In Opportunities Supporting Engagement for Youth Adults, or DOBEY, Center is a program that provides a safe place for young adults experiencing difficulties in the Waco area.

“They come in and get help with things like doing business, peer support… We also have access to basic needs like showers, laundry, emergency food, emergency clothing, hygiene products.” – Nicole Wiscombe director of housing and homeless services. for the Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network. “They come in and work on getting their IDs, connecting to housing resources, connecting to mental health care, drug treatment, everything they need on their journey from homeless to residential.”

A study by the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program says that more than 100 young people aged 16 to 26 are struggling with homelessness.

DOBEY provides assistance, advice, hygiene needs, food and youth shelter Monday through Friday.

“Getting started at the DOBEY Drop-In Center was exciting because we were able to find and create a home environment that young people could come to during the day,” Wiscomb said. “They can come and take a shower, do the laundry.”

However, she said they want to try and create an even more at-home environment for the youth. Right now they can only provide small and simple meals or snacks due to their outdated small kitchen.

“Today we weren’t in a place where we could actually cook a meal or have a kitchen where we could really help people learn how to cook for themselves,” Ron Kimbell, director of child and adolescent mental health at the Claras Center for Families from Behavioral Heart Health Network of Texas, said.

So when Katherine Bennett, Program Director of the Claras Family Center of the Texas Behavioral Heart Network, learned that the Bowen Family Foundation grant deadline was approaching, she along with the other directors thought it was a great opportunity to get funding to improve the kitchen.

“In terms of grants and special projects, we often think about where there are gaps or needs in the local community, and we try to find resources that will fill this gap,” Tom Krista, Special Projects Director, Klaras Center for Families. , said. “Our team found that the Bowen Family Foundation is interested in supporting this population, this place, and they provided us with these funds. It’s a very exciting time.”

The Bowen Family Foundation has provided the Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network with a $25,000 grant that DOBEY Drop In Center will use to fund the purchase and installation of an industrial kitchen.

“The ability to create a fully functional kitchen so we can have classes where they can learn how to cook their own meals when they move into their own home, we can eat here at the Drop in…,” Wiscomb said.

She also said they hope to build trust through the program by cooking together and preparing family-style meals, as well as teaching youth how to budget and develop life skills they can use in the future.

“Ultimately, I want to have things like food processing courses and other life skills courses related to food preparation so they can learn employment skills,” Wiscomb said.

She said the grant will fund most of the project, but they hope more community members or organizations will join in and help with the rest.

“This grant will help with a lot of that, but if we have partners in the community who want to help us complete this project, please come join us at the Behavioral Health Network,” Wiscomb said.

They hope that DOBEY will continue to thrive by providing these new opportunities to the youth in the community.

The program began in 2019, making it one of four Behavioral Health Network projects.

Its reach extends beyond Waco, serving many communities in rural and urban areas.

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