Meet Teddie Story, CEO of Irving Cares, an organization dedicated to helping residents of Irving get through the tough times in life. Nearly two decades ago, Story left a corporate job to begin work in the nonprofit sector and has never looked back. She finds the work rewarding, yet challenging and fullfilling. Irving Cares has received top nods from GreatNonprofits.org, most recently in 2013 for its outstanding work in the community. New development in the Dallas-Tarrant County corridor may spur new opportunites for Iriving Cares to contribute even more to the communities it serves.
We wanted to know more about Story and her plans for the future at Irving Cares and she was kind enough to answer a few questions:
Dawn Tongish: Begin by telling us about Irving Cares.
Teddie Story: Irving Cares
is a nonprofit human services agency providing emergency assistance – a food pantry, limited financial assistance, information & referrals and employment services to serve Irving residents in need. Irving Cares was organized in 1957 by a group of citizens in Irving who were interested in the welfare of the needy people in the community. The agency was operated with a staff of volunteers until 1973, when it reorganized and hired its first full-time paid staff. We now have 13 paid staff and over 300 volunteers who help in every part of the agency’s work. We strive to meet the needs of residents with caring volunteers and staff that guide our clients through their crises. We offer proven programs that are efficient, effective and measured for productivity. Since 2001, Irving Cares has consistently achieved United Way’s #1 top stewardship rating for fiduciary management and board oversight. In 2005, Irving Cares received the City of Irving’s Housing and Human Services Department’s Award for Outstanding Community Partner. In March 2008, TXU Energy Aid recognized Irving Cares as an original community partner, acknowledging 25 years of continuous partnership in commitment to serving Irving’s working poor.
DT: What are your duties at Irving Cares?
As the CEO, I am hired and fired by a volunteer Board of Directors. They entrust the management of the agency and its programs to me. I’m charged with making certain the agency has sufficient resources to run efficiently and effectively. I represent Irving Cares in the community as its advocate, letting people know of our successes and our current needs. I manage the performance of the staff and all the other duties of running a $2,000,000 small business with 44,000 customers. I am committed to making sure our donors can invest in Irving Cares with confidence.Irving Cares received a 2012 and 2013 Top-Rated nonprofit award from GreatNonprofits.org
, and most recently, in 2013, Irving Cares received a 7th
four-star rating for sound fiscal management from Charity Navigator, indicating that Irving Cares outperforms most other charities in America. The demand for Irving Cares’ programs continues to grow as evidenced by annual increases in the numbers of people served; currently equal to 20 percent of the city of Irving’s population. We exceed industry standards with more than eighty cents of every dollar raised going back into the community as a program related expense. Irving Cares is considered a model agency by the North Texas Food Bank and annually passes their very thorough inspection of our facilities, products and volunteer training.
DT: How did you become involved with Irving Cares, and why are you so passionate about the work being done at the agency?
TS: In 1991, I was working as a clerk in the loan department at Texas Commerce Bank, and a co-worker introduced me to Irving Cares. I volunteered as a board member for five years before joining the staff as the agency’s first paid Coordinator of Volunteers in 1996. I’ve lived in Irving all my life, and it’s important to me that people have a place to which to turn when they are struggling financially. In my family, we “waited for payday” for many things, so I truly understand the struggles of working-poor families. It’s also important to me that people can ask for help without feeling bad about asking.
DT: How is Irving Cares partnering with other communities in Dallas and Tarrant County to help the needy in North Texas?
TS: Although Irving Cares offers services specifically to Irving residents, we are engaged in a number of area groups that work together to help low-income families in need. Irving Cares works with the North Texas Food Bank to distribute food. We are of service provider of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and we participate in agency coalitions such as the Community Council of Greater Dallas, the Nonprofit CEO Council and the Anti-Poverty Coalition of Greater Dallas. Irving Cares is also part of the Irving Community Action Network, a group of local government, nonprofit service providers, businesses, individuals, and faith communities who work as partners to improve the lives of all Irving residents.
DT: It can be difficult for any non profit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat?
TS: Iving Cares has a broad base of support in the community. Our funds come from a variety of sources. The largest set of donors is individuals, but we also get support from corporations, the faith community, government grants, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and foundations. One major source of income for us is donated food that is distributed through the Irving Cares food pantry. In our last fiscal year, we received 214,000 pounds donated from our supporters.
DT: How can the people of North Texas and beyond help meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs?
TS: Our biggest need right now is cash. Several of our historically-stable fundraising appeals did not perform as well as they have before. Summer is always a time of higher requests for services through the Food Pantry, and it is also the slowest time for donations of food. Quite a few grant applications are in the pipeline, but cash flow is in a serious pinch right now.
DT: What is the biggest project on the horizon for the Irving area and how could that impact nearby cities?
TS: I’m stubbornly optimistic about the progress Irving is making in the Heritage District and the talk of new development which could bring new jobs and housing. The entertainment complex looks amazing, and I can’t wait to see an intimate concert there with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
DT: What is the first thing you do when you walk into work each day?
TS: I’m greeted by some of the most positive and dedicated co-workers at Irving Cares, both paid and unpaid. I’m thankful they are here to help Irving Cares help our neighbors. I’m so proud we are able to serve over 44,000 people who needed us last year, and I’m faithful we will pull out of this financial slump in which we find ourselves, as Irving is a very benevolent community. I’m honored to lead Irving Cares every day.