Moving Forward Together: How a Bachman Lake Nonprofit Is Uniting a Neighborhood
It’s no surprise that Bachman Lake Together’s Facebook page is more active than ever. In a world that’s been dramatically altered by the global pandemic, having access to accurate information and links to resources has become critical. And whether families are looking to learn about remote education resources, mobile food pantry locations or safe, socially distanced events, Bachman Lake Together is happy to be a trusted, go-to source.
“We’re going to get the message out really quickly, but we’re also ensuring that all of the resources that we provide are culturally responsive,” said Olga Hickman, Bachman Lake Together’s executive director. “It’s not enough to translate — it’s is somebody who reads this or somebody who gets this message going to feel safe enough to say, ‘I’m going to that mobile food pantry’?”
Located in its namesake neighborhood in Northwest Dallas, the nonprofit, which is a Big Thought partner, doesn’t typically offer direct service programming. Instead, it seeks to unite partners and resources in order to help families ensure their children achieve kindergarten-readiness. And as the landscape has changed, Bachman Lake Together has been able to pivot while still remaining true to its mission to help prepare young children socially, academically and emotionally for school.
With its focus on collective impact and network of strategic partners, Bachman Lake Together has been in a unique position to understand the needs of the community, amplify what other organizations are doing and connect families to a range of resources.
Back in March, despite not being a direct service provider, Bachman Lake Together was quick to realize that food was a critical need. Coordinating with partners like the North Texas Food Bank, the organization was able to help set up mobile food pantries, first weekly and now monthly. (With youth always top of mind, Bachman Lake Together made sure to include plenty of snacks.)
And as schools went virtual, the nonprofit worked with Lumin Education, which is located onsite at the Bachman Lake Together Family Center, to prepare at-home learning kits. “The district might be handing out laptops or devices, but we want to remember to think about what’s happening in that 0 to 5 space,” Hickman said. “Is the thinking for a 3-year-old happening the same way it is for a third-grader?”
Most recently, Bachman Lake Together and Big Thought hosted a fall festival with a pumpkin-decorating contest, plenty of costumes — including a car decorated like Cat in the Hat — an appearance from recently elected Dallas ISD trustee Joe Carreón. “It was really neat to see we can continue,” Hickman said. “And it was just a gentle reminder that the family unit is so strong.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, partnerships have been more important than ever. It’s not that they’re new concepts or practices for the organization, but the sense of collaboration has reached a new level. “To really give voice to each other has been powerful, to be able to connect,” Hickman said. “This is a time to say, ‘We need to do works best for North Texas, and let’s just do it together.” Heading into the holidays, the approach will help Bachman Lake Together continue to be a resource for its community.
The organization has community learning sessions planned, where it will share insights from recent work with the Census and voting during the election. There’s also the recently launched parent advocacy training group in conjunction with Leadership ISD, as well as the hope that a yearly tradition of bringing out Santa can carry on safely. “We continue to meet the community where they’re at. And if there’s other organizations that want to partner with us,” Hickman said, “there’s always space.”