Story and photos by Jan Osborn.
We believe DIGNITY is a human right.
We believe FREEDOM is a human right.
We believe JUSTICE is a human right.
Mosaic Family Services (Mosaic) is dedicated to serving survivors of human rights abuses from around the world and within our community. Mosaic creates access to opportunities for their clients, empowering them toward independence, and work to equip future leaders with the skills to impact their own diverse communities for a stronger, more vibrant North Texas.
After nearly thirty years Mosaic founder and executive director Dr. Walter Nguyen retired and Tori Hobbs stepped into the executive director role on August 22nd, 2022. Dr. Walter Nguyen founded Mosaic in 1993. During Mosaics’ inception, it acted as a counseling center for the East Dallas community. It did not take long for Mosaic to grow and expand its services to help refugees and foreign-born victims of family violence. Now, after nearly thirty years, Mosaic is a pillar for the immigrant and refugee communities of North Texas.
We recently had the opportunity to visit with Tori and learn more about her work at Mosaic.
You have spent your professional career in service to others. What was the catalyst to your nonprofit involvement?
While in college as an adult learner, I served on one of the panels for the United Way allocation process in my local community. We visited a homeless shelter. Part of the tour was a storage room with shelves filled with banana boxes. Initially I thought the boxes were to store donated clothing and/or blankets. The staff person explained that each box belonged to an individual to keep safe any important papers or other items they held most dear. In that moment, I had a picture of all the boxes in my house packed with stuff I didn’t even know I had compared to someone having only one box – I could not stop crying the rest of the tour. It was then that I decided to dedicate my career to working for the unseen, marginalized, and underdogs of our communities.
You are stepping into a role at Mosaic Family Services that helps set the vision for the organization. As you look back over your past experiences in Dallas, what are you bringing with you to this new position?
Working at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas I became familiar with the diverse nonprofit landscape and supportive corporations here in the area. For being such a big city, it really is a small town as everyone knows everyone. I was privileged to be part of the leadership at Prism Health North Texas (FNA AIDS Arms) for over 8 years and helped transform a small grass roots AIDS organization, into a major healthcare organization caring for underserved populations. I bring over 25 years of professional fundraising, marketing, and leadership experience. Most recently I ensured Heart House – a specialized afterschool program serving refugee students – remained open through the pandemic, overcame significant debt, and became financially stable.
All these experiences helped prepare me to take up the work started 30 years ago by Dr. Walter Nguyen when he founded Mosaic Family Services – and move forward to the next phase of the organization.
Mosaic’s impact has grown the past 30 years from serving survivors in East Dallas to serving DFW. How is your team setting the tone for how Dallas gives?
The team is focused on educating the DFW community on labor and sex trafficking – as believe it or not – Texas is the #2 state for human trafficking in the nation. This is not a list you want to be on, much less in the top position. There are so many amazing things about living here, it is easy to forget there are some major problems that we as a community can help to resolve.
In addition, Dallas has always been a multicultural city, but the demographic has changed significantly in the last 30 years. Almost 25% of Dallasites are now foreign-born, and over 40% of Dallasites speak English as a second language. This diversity shows us Dallas is an ever-expanding melting pot. This is why Mosaic employs 80 staff members fluent in over 25 languages. We are the only agency in North Texas with a specialized range of wrap-around services and multilingual staff to meet the needs of our population. The diversity of Mosaic staff provides a rare opportunity to tailor services that reflect a client’s cultural background, language, ethnicity, social norms, and life experience.
Mosaic focuses on trafficking survivors, family violence survivors, refugees and unaccompanied minors. Which partners have proven critical for success in these areas?
Mosaic has been very fortunate to develop relationships with some very generous and caring partners over 30 years. Advocating and serving survivors is complex and emotional work. These are just a few of the partners:
Hagar’s Heart: Provides monthly “I See You” boxes for women to focus on self-care and mental health.
NCJW (National Council of Jewish Women) : The Suitcase Project provides basics for survivors of domestic violence who are now ready to be on their own.
The Birthday Party Project: Giving a birthday party to a child who has had to leave their home due to domestic violence is such a gift.
Trusted World: Clothing and basic household items for those in transitional housing
City of Dallas Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs – Mosaic staff members sit on multiple committees within this task force, and we help provide guidance and input on issues impacting the city. Mosaic’s refugee case managers even helped create the city’s racial equity plan!
Can you describe how Mosaic’s programs have grown in recent years and what that means for Mosaic’s overall mission?
Mosaic strives to provide many of the services someone needs to escape their abusive situation. A new service funded by Crystal Charities, provides childcare for the moms at the shelter so they can find a job, work, and receive some respite. Statistics show, on average, victims return seven times to their abuser before they can leave permanently, or in too many instances, return the eighth time to be murdered by the abuser. Mosaic strives to disrupt this cycle, helping a woman to become self-sufficient. They cannot do this without trauma-informed childcare, as the children are victims too.
This service adds to the Mosaic of services and programs that move someone from being a victim, to a survivor, to a self-sufficient individual. Mosaic also recently received dedicated government grant funding to support the hundreds of Afghan refugees who have settled in north Texas.
Within the last five years, Mosaic added our Transitional Housing Program to provide a next step for survivors leaving the shelter so they can work towards becoming self-sufficient.
As an organization, Mosaic has always listened to the needs of clients, and adjusted current programs or added new programs to meet these needs. This means that we are better able to fulfill the mission by meeting survivors where they are and helping them rebuild their lives by providing them services they need. We believe that providing high-quality and comprehensive services leads to survivor empowerment.
How can Dallas residents support both the overall mission of Mosaic Family Services, and also get directly involved with the causes it supports?
We invite anyone who resonates with supporting the struggle of refugees, immigrants, and survivors of abuse to join the monthly “You Belong Here” giving program. $25 a month can feed a family of 2 at our emergency shelter for a week. Volunteers are also needed – family, church, corporate and community groups are welcome to contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Parker Johnson at email@example.com. Volunteers help serve a critical need by sharing their talents with our survivors. Volunteers lead classes in our economic empowerment program, do basic maintenance at Mosaic House, and serve as pro bono attorneys.
What does it look like for someone to be fully engaged in the work of community growth?
In my experience between working in several different communities in the West and Southwest, Dallasites are particularly passionate about their causes, and they embrace a diversity of causes. The citizens of Dallas engage at deep levels, and give generously with their time, talent, and treasure. And they stay engaged with a cause or organization over many, many years!
Whatever situation I have been faced with, especially as a NPO leader, there was an individual, company, foundation, or group in Dallas willing to step up and help – they just needed to be asked! I believe this comes from knowing we are pretty fortunate here in Dallas and we want to make it a great place to live for everyone who is here – no matter how they arrived. I also appreciate how Dallas can set aside personal politics to make a difference in the nonprofit community.
And of course, read Dallas Doing Good to get the latest on what’s happening in Dallas and how you can get involved!
For more information about Mosaic Family Services, go to www.mosaicservices.org.