Tucked into Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood sits Promise House, a haven for the city’s homeless youth. Inside, you’ll typically find children laughing, joking and bantering with each other.
This scene may come as a surprise, but that’s exactly what ORIX USA’s Catherine Yates and Delyn Ramey found when they became involved with the organization a few months ago.
“You’d expect the kids to be down and distraught from some of the experiences they’re coming from,” says Catherine, a Business Analyst at ORIX. “But they’re happy—it’s touching they can be that resilient and bounce back.”
Started in 1984 as a 16-bed emergency shelter for youth, Promise House has grown over the years to offer a wide range of programs, such as transitional living, services for pregnant and parenting teenagers, and individual, group and family counseling—vital services when you consider homeless youth represent 22 percent of the overall homeless population in Dallas. Since its inception, Promise House has had an open door 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing support to more than 70,000 youth and families during that time.
Catherine and Delyn discovered Promise House through their time serving on the board of the ORIX Foundation, and the two of them became especially drawn to the organization since they’re both parents of young children. “This one specifically spoke to us because it catered to children who would really not have any good options or outlets for their current situations if it wasn’t for Promise House,” says Delyn, IT Director of the Business Solutions Group.
Also important to Catherine: finding a volunteer opportunity she could share with her children—8-year-old Alyssa and 4-year-old Megan—and Promise House provided just that. During spring break, Catherine and her husband, Danny, took their daughters to Promise House where they helped out in the store—a room filled with toiletries, snacks, clothes and other necessities provided free of charge to residents.
While there, Catherine remembers how staff members at Promise House took time to really make the volunteers think about what being homeless would look like to them—something many of us don’t think about. “If you can’t really put yourselves in somebody else’s shoes, you don’t really know how to help or that there’s a need to help,” Catherine says.
And when Catherine and Delyn recognize a need, they’re not ones to back down. Last Easter, the duo gathered some of their friends and put together Easter baskets filled with movie tickets, gift cards and other goodies suited for the nine kids at Promise House who were between the ages of 18 and 23—an often overlooked age group around Easter.
This giving spirit doesn’t stop there: Catherine and Delyn also organized a group activity for ORIX’s IT Department at Promise House on April 27. Thanks to the support of Chief Information Officer Brad DeLong, a group of 15 employees were able to leave work early to spend time with the children at Promise House. While Chick-fil-A, snow cones, popcorn and a movie all made the lineup, the children seemed to appreciate the intangibles even more. “You can just tell that the time you’re spending with them was worth so much more than anything else,” Delyn says.
The group’s heartfelt gestures didn’t go unnoticed. “Groups like this are so important for Promise House youth because they provide our clients with opportunities to relax and enjoy being kids,” says Zach Bartush, Charitable Partnerships Manager for Promise House. “Most importantly, our youth know that someone cares!”
Want to check it out? Promise House has countless ways to get involved—activities like hosting a drive, volunteering at the store, becoming an emergency youth mentor or helping out at special events are just a few ways you can give back to the organization.
While Catherine and Delyn plan on staying involved with Promise House, the two also find other ways to stay busy. Delyn is involved with the North Texas Food Bank and March of Dimes, and she enjoys cheering on her Aggies, running and spending time with her kids—17-year-old Alexandra, 5-year-old Gavin and 18-month-old Jaxon. Catherine might be found reading a good book or spending time at her daughter’s school as the PTO Vice President.
Something else Catherine and Delyn have in common? This year marks 10 years with ORIX for both of them. Undoubtedly, giving back to others will remain a focus for the next 10 years as well—just ask Catherine, who cherishes these words of wisdom she gained from a Promise House staff member: “People think that our greatest asset is money, but really it’s time. And the way we spend our time says a lot about who we are.”