The M.I. Lewis Social Service Center, a United Way Agency, is well-known in the community for providing assistance to meet the critical short-term financial and personal needs of people who reside within the boundaries of the Dickinson Independent School District.

In the past two months alone, the center has seen an increase of over 50 new clients needing services. In order to provide assistance to those in need, we’re excited to announce expansions of current outreach programs and the addition of a learning center to help clients become self-sufficient.

Because education is vital to breaking the cycle of poverty, the center will again distribute school supplies to students in need who attend Dickinson ISD schools. This year, thanks to a generous gift from Valero, over 950 students will receive the necessary supplies to be successful in school.

This is a 100 percent increase in the number of students receiving supplies over last year, in part because the application process is now online and families can apply from home rather than having to come to the agency.

In the Homebound Nutrition Outreach Program, volunteers deliver groceries, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items to residents who are at least 60 years of age and have no transportation. Volunteers check on clients’ well-being and make appropriate referrals to help meet the needs of our senior citizens.

This year, the center has almost doubled the number of seniors being served and is in need of additional volunteers for this important program.

The food pantry is expanding and moving to a client-choice model, so that those being served have the opportunity to select the foods that their family enjoys and will use. This gives dignity to patrons who are in need of assistance.

With new hours on Mondays, the pantry will now be open five days a week, so that more families have access.

A new program that has been added this year is the Self-Sufficient Learning Center, which will offer classes to clients to help them break the cycle of poverty. The learning center has already offered a class in personal budgeting and resume writing, so that patrons can move to self-sufficiency and independence. More classes are planned for the new school year.

All of these programs are funded by generous donations from individuals, organizations, churches and grants like the one from Valero to underwrite school supplies and from proceeds from our annual fundraising gala.

This year’s gala — “Red, White, and Do for M. I. Lewis” — was to be held Sept. 11. However, because we want to protect the health of our supporters, the board has made the decision to hold a virtual event this year. The virtual gala will be from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 online at milewisctr.org and will include a silent and live auction.

We invite everyone to join us Oct. 12 to learn more about M. I. Lewis and help support the positive impact the organization is making on those we serve.

Mitchell Dale is president of the board of directors at the M. I. Lewis Social Service Center.

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