Blue skies, bright sun, and big smiles blanketed the lawn of AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Annette Strauss Artist Square on Saturday, April 27, 2019, for Family Gateway’s 2nd Annual DAY to PLAY family fundraiser, supporting the agency’s work to provide stability and life-changing services to children and families affected by homelessness. More than 600 people attended the event, and 150 pairs of new kids’ tennis shoes were collected on site for Family Gateway’s Kicks for Kids Campaign – an effort led by the host committee and their children and supported by the community to provide shoes to children at Family Gateway.
Attendees enjoyed a wide variety of activities and discoveries – from lawn games and yoga to live music and crafts. The day’s entertainment was also paired with a focus on volunteerism and community service, including a basic overview of the scope of families who are experiencing or are near homelessness in Dallas.
Honorary Chair Stephen Hipp and Event Co-Chairs Jen Fahrenbruch, Jennifer Hull, and Mandy Main took the stage in the afternoon to welcome families and honor the Miltenberger Family with Family Gateway’s inaugural Annette G. Strauss Community Service Award for their tireless service to families affected by homelessness. The late Annette Strauss, former Dallas mayor, was the founder of Family Gateway. The Miltenberger Family first became involved with Family Gateway in 2009, when they prepared a shelter room at the Annette G. Strauss Family Gateway Center for a new family’s arrival. Since then they have helped with the holiday program, sent kids to camp, chaired events and served on the board. The entire family continues to work tirelessly to support Family Gateway, from serving meals and organizing donation drives to connecting their networks to the nonprofit’s mission.
Music by DJ Kaivan “KB” Bazleh from OontzKids, a performance by HeARTS of Maya founder/singer/dancer Maya Delgado, and a group yoga demo by Hanuman Homies’ founder Stefanie Tovar drew kids to the main stage throughout the day. Activities included bounce houses; inflatable slides; an obstacle course and climbing wall; a life-size Hungry Hungry Hippos game; dunking booth; bungee run; gaming truck; Giant Chess, Jenga, and Connect Four; hamster ball races; kids’ disco; LEGO building; robo-surfing; dual hoop basketball; putting green courtesy of The First Tee of Greater Dallas; selfies with superheroes and characters from Capes for Kindness; a photo booth, and more.
Children were excited to meet Dallas Stars mascot Victor E. Green, who entertained the kids and took his turn on the giant inflatable slide. They also enjoyed adding their own artwork and inspirational messages to a wall mural focusing on “how you help your neighbor” and “what community means to you.”
Interactive booths by nonprofit partners and exhibitors offering education, outreach and volunteer opportunities for children included Capes for Kindness, Dallas Stars Foundation, Dallas Zoo, DART, DFW Child, DISD, Explore Horizons, The First Tee of Greater Dallas, Hanuman Homies, HeARTS of Maya, Kids Helping Kids TX, National Charity League, Nasher Sculpture Center, Oontz Kids Academy, Pediatric Associates of Dallas, Raising Cane’s, and Wee Volunteer.
“DAY to PLAY was created not only to help families affected by homelessness, but also to bring families together for a fun day while presenting ideas for community service,” said Ellen Magnis, president and CEO, Family Gateway. “We are thrilled by the number of families who came out to Annette Strauss Square to take part in this special day, to learn how to give back to the community, and to spend time together. We’re looking forward to next year’s event and appreciate our sponsors and supporters for their help in making DAY to PLAY 2019 a success.”
About Family Gateway
As the county-wide point of entry (access point) for families with children experiencing or near homelessness, Family Gateway believes in providing housing first and then using trauma-informed services to help break the cycle of poverty. The mission of Family Gateway is to provide stability and life-changing supportive services to children and families affected by homelessness. For more information, visit www.familygateway.org