The Storehouse of Collin County: “Giving neighbors a hand up, not just a handout”

Story by Whitney Carter. Photos and video provided by The Storehouse of Collin County.

What started as the Seven Loaves Food Pantry, which served just one family, has evolved into an organization with the mission to feed, clothe, and uplift neighbors as much as possible.

Now known as The Storehouse of Collin County, the partnership between St. Andrew Methodist Church and the North Texas Food Bank has become a pillar in the community. Founded in 2009, the effort to feed those who are food insecure has morphed into a labor of love to help people with their overall well-being, including help with employment.

“It was from these humble beginnings that our mission came to be,” CEO of The Storehouse of Collin County, Candace Winslow says. “Today, The Storehouse provides short-term assistance and long-term transformation to residents of Collin, Dallas, and Denton counties.”

Throughout the years, the nonprofit has continued to expand. They now serve more than 5,000 families every month with the help of 2,000 volunteers who support their programming and continued expansion.

“In February 2021, The Storehouse of Collin County Board of Directors adopted a five-year vision. The emphasis was to broaden our approach in addressing food insecurity by creating a neighbor pathway out of poverty and into living-wage employment, a critical step on each neighbor’s journey toward transformation,” Candace says.

Today, four primary programs operate out of The Storehouse. The Seven Loaves Food Pantry maintains a strong partnership with the North Texas Food Bank. Joseph’s Coat Clothing Closet provides clothes to families at no cost. The Project Hope Neighbor Care offers case management and resource referral, and The Academy Education Program provides free and reduced-cost classes to assist with language, job, or life skills development.

CEO Candace Winslow hugs and congratulates Moein Huneid at The Storehouse’s English as a Second Language (E.S.L.) graduation ceremony on August 18, 2022.

Candace explains that most of the neighbors they serve are introduced to The Storehouse through the food pantry.

“This is where the fulfillment of our mission begins. If a neighbor is in the food line, where we serve 650 to 700 families each distribution day, we know they have other needs. We work to serve them holistically through our integrated programs to help them achieve economic stability,” Candace says.

Their vision is to transform the direction of the lives of at least 20 percent of their neighbors, and Candace says their newest program will help with that. The Academy Education Program was launched in the summer of 2022, offering language, job, and life-skills classes.

“The creation of the job partnership program followed in 2023, enabling us to build upon our existing pathway of programs to facilitate connections between employers and the neighbors. Through our innovative and proprietary Work Well Methodology, we walk with our neighbors on their journeys into employment,” Candace says.

The program is designed to provide neighbors with a living wage, full benefits, and a path to transformation while providing the employer with vetted employees who are ready to work.

Their first partnership started with a simple conversation with a longtime Storehouse donor, Mark Rogers, who is also the managing partner of Lux Ice. Mark listened while Candace their vision for meeting the needs of the people in their community. She says they quickly realized this would be a great landing spot for some of the people they were helping. The objective remained the same: giving people a hand up, not just a handout.

CEO of The Storehouse of Collin County, Candace Winslow (center), stands next to Mark Rogers (left), managing partner of Lux Ice, and Shawn Kilcoyne (right), founder, Lux Ice. The Storehouse has teamed up with Lux Ice to launch a transformative job partnership program.

“The events of the last two years with the launch of The Academy and our job partnership with Lux Ice have proven that our holistic approach to neighbors – meeting the neighbor in the food pantry, assisting with clothing, providing referrals to other social services, increasing language and job skills, and ultimately walking with them on their journeys into employment– really works,” Candace says.

Candace and her team intentionally call the people they help “neighbors.” Their reasoning behind it has a purpose. According to her, The Storehouse is anchored to their Christian faith, but is non-sectarian and welcomes individuals of all backgrounds to volunteer and receive services.

“We intentionally use the word ‘neighbor’ because it carries a positive connotation regardless of a person’s religious beliefs. ‘Neighbor’ refers to those who live in proximity to us and alludes to Jesus’ command for us to ‘love our neighbor,’” Candace explains.

Candace says that her favorite word in their mission statement is the word “as.”

“It is tempting to see ourselves as ‘rescuers’ or ‘helpers’ when we engage in the work of supporting others. The phrase ‘as neighbors’ is a daily reminder that we are all creatures of our creator God, and we all have a responsibility to love and care for each other and treat each other with compassion and dignity,” Candace shares.

The Storehouse is now in year three of its five-year vision with plans to launch a social enterprise in 2025. She said their goal is not to retain neighbors long-term, but to provide them with the skills and tools they need to progress to the next phases of their professional journeys.

If you want to know how to volunteer, or have a business and want to know more about participation in our job partnership program, you can reach out through The Storehouse of Collin County’s website.