Dallas Family Night Out
This event is designed to allow the service providers in the community to connect with low-income families and offer services to anyone that is in need. This type of event is critical in allowing Dallas residents a chance to see what services are available in a non-threatening environment. Participants are Dallas area low-income children, youth, and their families. Some families that attend are at risk families that attend due to the free food and fun atmosphere. Our collaboration with community partners helps guide families through the bountiful resources available in our community. Sometimes, we are able to take a quick in-take and help families to secure resources. This is a collaborative effort of many community organizations providing an evening of safe, fun, and FREE activities, while connecting Dallas individuals and families to valuable community resources and information. Although the goal is to ensure community members are informed about resources and services, we are also providing free dinner, kids’ activities, entertainment, and educational demonstrations for all ages. We offer games at every booth, a dunk tank, a bounce house, a live band, give-away baskets, clothing give-away, Zumba dancing, characters in costumes interacting, magic, balloons, face painting, fire/ambulance/police interacting with families as well as a quick course of CPR being provided, and a free dinner for families.
Some history on Dallas Family Night Out
This all started with an idea to bring community resources to families in our area in a fun environment. Our Founding Committee consisted of West Valley Housing Authority, Polk Community Development Corporation, Dallas United Methodist Church, Polk County Service Integration, VORP, The Rodriguez Family, and Gnosis. In 2012, we had hoped that a 100 people would show up; we served close to 300 and ran out of food and give-away prizes. In 2013 we served 700 meals; had a count of 550 people in attendance receiving services and over 100 volunteers. In 2014 we served 1100 participants; had 100 volunteers because folks know what it is now and they are looking forward to it. We also gave away 471 backpacks with school supplies. In 2015 we plan on serving nearly 2000 participants. Last year the feedback of changing the theme to “back-to-school” was a huge success and we have people calling and asking if we are doing this again.
Some families come that are already connected with resources in our community. They may already be on housing, or receiving food stamps but they are able to come to this event and treat their children to a fun, family night out. Their children can bounce in a bounce house or get in line for the dunk tank as many times as they want to without parents having to worry how much this is going to cost. There is lots of music, give-away prizes, face painting, and good family fun. Some families can’t afford to go to the local fairs but they can come to this event for free. Another wonderful aspect of this event is that we have support from our local ambulance/fire/and police. The fire & rescue community comes and interacts with the kids and let them touch and feel the equipment that might be needed some day to save their life. This is so important for children to know that these are safe people in our community. As well, we have parole & probation and our County Commissioners and the Mayor attend our event every year.