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CitySquare Paris Names New Council Chair

Beth Bray began her duties as the 2023 Chair of CitySquare Paris’ Advisory Council at the January 2023 meeting following a very successful year of now past chair Rochelle Hodge. In addition, Bray served as Vice President/Chair-Elect in 2022.

At last week’s meeting, Bray presented Hodge with special recognition for her energy and success under her leadership.

“We are so grateful to Rochelle for her dedication and selfless service while leading our Advisory Council and Staff during 2022,” Mrs. Bray stressed. Under her leadership, CitySquare has made exceptional advances in services to our neighbors and the CitySquare campus. For example, in the 12 preceding months, CitySquare was able to remodel the gymnasium through grants and generous donors and replace the outdated floor with a state-of-the-art court that can accommodate basketball, volleyball, and pickleball.

CitySquare Executive Director Derald Bulls added, “CitySquare and our Advisory Council are so fortunate to have tremendous leadership within the organization. Rochelle, along with past chair, Maggie Kerby, were such a driving force for our organization last year and for many years. They have helped build CSP from the ground up, wearing many hats and giving of their time, talent, and resources to make it go and grow! I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Rochelle and her ‘can do’ spirit. The results of the last 12 months are due, in great part to her talents.”

Additionally, since expanding services into the entire campus of the former Oak Park United Methodist Church, much of the maintenance had been postponed but received tremendous attention in 2022. This includes replacing the whole roof due to major leaks, all doors with solid-core doors with plexiglass windows in all public access rooms, installation of an ADA (Americans with Disability Act) Handicapped Accessible Shower and Bathroom, relocation and expansion of the laundry services from the fellowship hall into one of the classrooms, and installation of LED lights in the remainder of the church building. Through a grant from the Campbell Soup Foundation, we have remodeled and enhanced the kitchen services with a new commercial refrigerator, triple stainless steel sink, mop sink, upgraded stove and oven, and a double oven. In 2022, CitySquare provided 8,717 meals to those served which includes a hot breakfast and lunch five days a week. It is the only source for these two meals daily in our community.

Hodge has been a staple on the CitySquare Advisory Council since they first discussed the idea of fighting the causes and effects of poverty in 2016 under the guidance of the First United Methodist Church of Paris. By 2017, they took the step to affiliate with CitySquare, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Dallas, offering a comprehensive array of social services.

Bray joined the Advisory Council in 2020. In 2021, she was the chair and driving force behind CitySquare’s first fundraiser, Swing for Success, held at the ‘Range at the Ridge’ at Pine Ridge Golf Course. The event raised over $34,000 to support CitySquare’s mission, and the 2023 virtual golf tournament is for Saturday, June 3, 2023. Beth is passionate about making our neighbors and teens feel seen and valued, promoting unity and collaboration among area nonprofits and other ministries and community groups, bringing education/enrichment to our neighbors, and serving those who need a hand up. CitySquare Paris aims to be a community “HUB” where we share information and resources that already exist in our area in addition to being a gathering place for community groups, meals, Bible studies, city camps, and educational courses.

CitySquare Paris is at 2515 Bonham Street and offers free services to anyone in need of assistance with showering, access to laundry services, a clothing closet for men, women, and children of all ages, plus breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. They are working with our neighbors, CitySquare staff work to find the resources needed to improve the quality of life for those served here. In addition, an after-school program for 13-18 years olds is supported by the Paris ISD as students are brought by bus to the Center each school day. Here they can receive homework assistance, a snack, a place to ‘hang out’, play basketball, volleyball, or video games, and receive an evening meal, all under adult supervision until 6;00 pm nightly.

In addition, CitySquare is a satellite campus of Paris Junior College offering GED, ESL, and employability classes accessible to anyone interested in bettering their career. We welcome anyone who would like to share their time, talent, and resources to improve our community.