By Elizabeth Lenart
More than 70 Juliette Fowler Communities (JFC) board members, residents, volunteers and supporters gathered at the University Park home of Katie and Bret Pedigo to kick off the 130th Anniversary Celebration of JFC, an intergenerational community of residents at various life stages, located on 20 picturesque acres in East Dallas and the fourth oldest nonprofit in Dallas. The event was organized by JFC’s One Heart Society, a membership group that supports the nonprofit’s mission through volunteerism, community awareness and fundraising.
Nicole Gann, president and CEO of JFC, welcomed guests to this milestone birthday party for Fowler and thanked One Heart Society, whom she referred to as the “hands and feet” of Fowler for their ongoing support as volunteers and donors. Through philanthropic efforts, The One Heart Fund provides $1.1 million in benevolent care and services supporting both older adults and youth programs. Gann began by highlighting JFC’s plans for the anniversary year.
“Juliette Fowler Communities has an exciting fall planned in our 130 th year with a monumental grand opening happening on our campus in November,” said Nicole Gann, president and CEO, JFC. “The Peak, a $24 million, 144-unit, affordable housing development with supportive services for the ‘forgotten-middle’ seniors — those who are unable to pay market rate for apartments and do not qualify for low-income housing — will address a looming national crisis for this population, expected to double on a national level by 2029. In a city like Dallas, pricing for housing and rent have been escalating, and gentrification is forcing seniors who have lived in areas for 40 or 50 years to move. We know that seniors want to stay in their communities, and we have had 400 interested applicants for our 144 units and have already pre-leased two of the available income levels. This will be the largest building on our campus and the first of its kind living community in the Dallas area!”
JFC team members are planning an invitation-only grand opening event in November to thank friends and supporters of JFC and The Peak, including a picnic basket lunch and remarks from special guests as well as tours. In line with the nonprofit’s 130th anniversary, the picnic basket lunch represents a tradition of such gatherings and special occasions in the early days, including the opening of Fowler’s first building in 1892. Gann also highlighted the upcoming North Texas Giving Day and the tremendous need the nonprofit has for a new bus to provide critical transportation for its residents. For this reason, a “Get on the Bus and Give” campaign is in full swing with a $50,000 matching gift. “Our residents depend on us for transportation to doctors’ appointments as well as for grocery store runs and other occasions, so it is our hope to raise all monies needed to purchase a $100,000, 14-passenger bus,” added Gann.
“An additional focus during our 130th year is our continued work in the area of dementia care,” added Gann. “We know that approximately 5.5 million are living in the United States with cognitive impairment, and JFC is helping to foster Dementia Friendly Dallas, a movement for a more compassionate city. Within the vision of Dementia Friendly America, we are stepping into a more engaged community for individuals living with dementia and those who care for them.”
Gann continued with additional thanks to the One Heart Society by highlighting the group’s help with a variety of supportive services for residents. “We had some residents come to us with concerns about some other residents they noticed had been skipping meals or not utilizing the grocery runs,” said Gann. “Fowler has started a new benevolent fund called Friends Helping Friends, a true grassroots effort now subsidizing food needs at $70,000 a year! Additionally, One Heart Society’s volunteer and fundraising efforts also benefit the youth on our campus. For the young women who reside with us, life is not easy, and they need basic life skills and healing. Additionally, JFC supports youth who have been or could possibly become victims of sex trafficking. The One Heart Fund nourishes their souls and provides healing through supportive services, providing hope.”
“Without question, this is a historic year for Juliette Fowler Communities,” added Gann. “With the opening of The Peak, JFC continues the tradition of its founder, Juliette Peak Fowler — Dallas’s first philanthropist — by seeking innovative solutions for problems in the community. We have also upheld Juliette’s original mission of caring for widows and orphans 130 years ago by adapting it to a modern-day version of caring for seniors through all levels of care as well as children and youth. We care for children through foster and adoption services; youth working to escape or avoid human trafficking or exploitation; and young women at risk for homelessness due to neglect, abuse or aging out of the foster care system.”
Gann concluded: “We know that we would not be celebrating 130 years without so many people consistently coming together with servants’ hearts. We invite the community to learn more about our history, mission and programs as we strive to make an impact not only by helping all age groups thrive and age successfully, but also by bringing serious community issues to light.”