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Mandy Main, co-chair, Family Gateway's DAY to PLAY "Not only is DAY to PLAY a wonderful opportunity for families to have fun together, it is a great way to learn about community volunteer opportunities and help those affected by homelessness." (photo credit: Marissa Mullens)


Mom of three invites families to come play together, learn about giving back in our community, and benefit those affected by homelessness

Mandy Main, a University Park mother of three boys, ages 10, 8, and 2.5, is co-chairing Family Gateway’s 2nd Annual DAY to PLAY on April 27, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., at AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Annette Strauss Artist Square.

“This event is such a fun family-oriented event, and my family was very excited to attend last year.  My husband Clayton and I were sponsors, and we all truly enjoyed the experience,” said Mandy Main. 

DAY to PLAY brings families together for a day filled with activities and discoveries geared to children. From lawn games and yoga to live music and crafts, entertainment will be 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. Proceeds from DAY toPLAY will support Family Gateway’s mission to provide stability and life-changing supportive services to children and families affected by homelessness in Dallas. During the event Family Gateway will present its inaugural Annette G. Strauss Community Service Award to the Miltenberger family for their tireless service to families affected by homelessness. The late Annette Strauss, former Dallas mayor, was the founder of Family Gateway. Joining Main as event co-chairs are Jen Fahrenbruch and Jennifer Hull. Honorary Chair is Stephen Hipp.

Event highlights include: Music by DJ Kaivan “KB” Bazleh and kids’ DJ lessons from OontzKids, a live performance by singer, dancer, and HeARTS of Maya founder Maya Delgado, group yoga by Hanuman Homies, bounce houses, inflatable slides, an obstacle course and climbing wall, life-size Hungry Hippos game, dunking booth with local celebrity guests, bungee run, gaming truck, Giant Chess, Jenga, and Connect Four, hamster ball races, kids’ disco, Lego building, robo-surfing, dual hoop basketball, superheroes and characters, photo booth, and more.

Interactive booths by nonprofit partners offering education, outreach and volunteer opportunities for children include Capes for Kindness, Dallas Zoo, Hanuman Homies, HeARTS of Maya, Kids Helping Kids, National Charity League, Promise of Peace Gardens, Wee Volunteer and more. Exhibitor booths by area businesses catering to kids include Explore Horizons, OontzKids and Raising Cane’s. Kid friendly concessions and beverages (including beer, wine, and champagne for adults) will be available for purchase through Wolfgang Puck Catering. 

“DAY to PLAY is unique in the way it gets the entire family involved,” added Main.  “It provides a wonderful opportunity for kids to be kids by simply playing while parents and children both learn how to give back to our community. Teaching kids to get involved at a very young age is so important to instill these monumental values and help mold our future leaders. Last year, our boys had such a fun afternoon, and we all learned more about Family Gateway’s mission and other nonprofits in our city.”

A DAY to PLAY Family Pass is $50 and covers admission for one family, regardless of size, in honor of Family Gateway’s work as the only shelter in Dallas that serves families of all kinds. Attendees can also sponsor a $50 Family Pass for a family affected by homelessness to attend. Family Gateway is also launching a Kicks for Kids Campaign and is collecting donations of new tennis shoes for children at Family Gateway at the event. Exhibitor space is $500 and includes a tent, table, signage and the opportunity to market to attendees while offering a child-friendly activity for event goers. Sponsorship opportunities start at $500. For more information, visit or email

The interventions Family Gateway provides give children the chance to build resiliency and competence to break the detrimental cycle of homelessness. Last year, the agency served an unprecedented 1,422 families. Family Gateway is unique in that many shelters have restrictions on what constitutes a family. At Family Gateway, single parents with children, families with older male children, multi-generational families, families with same gender parents – all are welcome. Family Gateway keeps families together and works with them as they are.

“Family Gateway is an amazing organization and inspires me daily to help others – even the smallest acts of kindness can go a long way,” added Main. “One of my favorite memories is volunteering at Family Gateway’s Holiday Store with my husband and boys. It was wonderful knowing the few hours that we gave helped families shop for their children, making their Christmas morning extra special.  I loved seeing my boys get involved by simply helping others. I think back on that day and still feel the true meaning of Christmas.”

Main and her family have lived in University Park for 20 years. She attended SMU, where she was a marketing major and received a Bachelor of Business Administration. She worked for Ben E. Keith Company for 14 years but considers her favorite job title is mom.

“Being a mom challenges and rewards me daily,” added Main. “Clayton and I really value the importance of experiences with our family so that we can hopefully all look back on them years later, remembering those special family memories. Time truly passes by way too quickly, and we are blessed to have a healthy, loving family.”

Passionate about helping children and families in our community, Main has also chaired Wish Night 2012 for Make-A-Wish. Additionally, she volunteers for Vacation Bible School at their church, St. Michael’s & All Angels, and at her boys’ school serving on the cafeteria line and assisting with school fundraisers.

“If you are a parent who wishes you had more time to have fun together as a family and you would like to learn more about how you all can help others and get involved in the community, DAY to PLAY is a great starting point,” added Main.  “I hope to see you on April 27!  Come play and spend a wonderful day with your family.”

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  



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