In an attempt to help one local nonprofit organization to do what it does best, a new organization is stepping up in The Colony.
Next Steps, an organization that helps local families in financial crisis, launched in August and looks to take over the family crisis efforts Metro Relief had previously handled.
Katie Besly, creative opportunities officer of Metro Relief, explained the need for the new organization to The Colony City Council last week. Metro Relief is seeking to transfer the $5,000 the city contributed to the organization in the 2019-20 budget for crisis intervention over to Next Steps.
Metro Relief has operated in The Colony for the last eight years. Besly said while the organization serves as a crisis drop-in center, that's not the main focus.
“The main emphasis is on homelessness, both here in the lakeside areas but also inner-city Dallas and inner-city Fort Worth,” Besly said. “But because we recognized there was a gap and a need for social services for families in crisis, it was one we sought to fulfill.”
Besly said Metro Relief has operated a clothing closet and food pantry, and she said it has had a case manager dedicated to local needs. That case manager, Pamela de Santiago, who has spent eight years working for Metro Relief, is leading the new organization.
de Santiago said she has lived in The Colony for 17 years and has worked at Metro Relief for eight years.
“This is my home town. It's with that passion that I just want to see this place get better,” de Santiago said. “Next Steps is centered on neighbors helping neighbors. I've seen over the last eight years that our town really wants to pour into each other.”
Besly said Next Steps will be focused on families and individuals who are in crisis in the local area.
Besly said the change was important to help Metro Relief continue its mission.
“As businesses often finds, and nonprofits are businesses, in order to grow and prosper sometimes you need to narrow your focus,” Besly said. “And since homelessness is the core of what Metro Relief is called toward, our board and staff have opted to narrow our focus away from food pantries and clothing closets and strictly focus on the homeless.”
Besly said it was a difficult to make the decision.
“It's challenging to let go of a single need,” Besly said, adding that the decision was made easier knowing others have and will step up to cover the need.
In addition to being the designated case manager for local needs de Santiago has been a certified recovery coach.
“So she can not only provide not just the case management but can also provide an expertise toward addiction and recovery,” Besly said.
de Santiago said in her time with Metro Relief she has often found that residents are quick to respond to a call for help posted on social media.
“I'm really looking forward to building bridges between people in need and people who want to help,” de Santiago said.
The council is expected to vote on a budget amendment at a future meeting.
“We feel like those funds would be put to better use if they were redirected from Metro Relief and into the budget of Next Steps,” Besly said.