Being a member of the GRACE family is to know the compassion we have for all those who come to us for help.  It is knowing we respect the courage it takes for someone to walk through our doors and admit they need help to make rent, or feed their family.

It’s knowing that we are committed to giving our very best to those in need regardless of the budget, shortages, economic downturns, or any of the hundreds of risks nonprofits like GRACE face every day.

We talk a lot about “the GRACE family” here.  Some of you, especially our long-time volunteers, have experienced the feeling of togetherness that comes with being a part of the GRACE mission.  Through the good times, and bad, through tragedy and joy, we rely on our small staff and large cadre of dedicated volunteers to keep us moving forward.

Today, GRACE is saying a goodbye to one of our family members, Bilingual Caseworker, Wyatt Ince.  He has been fortunate enough not only to be accepted to a Master of Arts program in Spanish, but has also been awarded the Graduate Merit Fellowship (a prestigious scholarship) within his future department!  Wyatt has been hired as an Instructional Assistant for this department, holding office hours, tutoring, and answering student questions while shadowing professors.

His journey coming to GRACE will forever remain an interesting one, as he himself describes it: “a series of unfortunate events – with a happy ending!”

Wyatt graduated with honors Summa Cum Laude from Texas State University in San Marcos with a dual degree in English and Spanish in December 2016.  As a student, he led a study abroad program in Valladolid, Spain, which translated into a daily use of Castilian Spanish.

After graduation, Wyatt began a Masters of Literature program at TXST, and then decided to take a year off to explore other opportunities.  Before he could take his gap year into stride, his car was stolen.  He found himself without a car and transitioning away from a university job, so he decided to move back to Grapevine where he had family that could help.  Eventually he found a job as a temp in GRACEful Buys Grapevine, and a month later was promoted to cashier.

Wyatt was happy in his new role as his heart has always been set on helping those around him.  As an instructional assistant and in various areas of his life, helping others had always been a cornerstone value.  So, when he found out that the perfect position had opened up in Client Services, he scheduled an interview.  Unfortunately, that night the Community Clinic and Food Pantry caught fire, so his interview was delayed.

Eventually, all things fell into place.  Wyatt became a GRACE caseworker, continually providing help to those around him.  When asked about his favorite thing of his new role at the time, Wyatt replied without hesitation, “in this position, I am able to be the person for others that I have needed in the past.”

“The thing I like most about GRACE is that we are representative of the community as a whole; without the community, we wouldn’t exist.  When we have individuals that perceive that they are facing situations without any outside assistance or support, we are advocates for them and for the community that rallies behind them.  We help the individual make a connection with the community again.  It is not just that we provide direct assistance, but we help foster a greater sense of belonging and connection within our clients.”

Wyatt Ince

In his own words, Wyatt recounts a memorable experience he had with some of his GRACE clients during his time as a caseworker.  We had two long-term residents of Grapevine who became ill and this required them to accept an early retirement.  As a result of their fixed income and the ups and downs of life, this family had considerable difficulty making ends meet.

They were forced to vacate their long-time home due to a clerical error by their benefits administration.  By the time their benefits were reinstated, the damage had been done.  Not knowing where else to turn, this family sought out a predatory loan through a credit broker (otherwise known as a payday loan company) to help them reverse their circumstances.  However well-intentioned, this loan only caused greater setbacks to their family.

When the family came to GRACE, they were consistently behind on bills and borrowing on future moneys they hoped to receive.  They were self-rationing medication – medication they needed, and their health was suffering for it – but they felt they had to cut expenses wherever possible.

GRACE was able to intervene, helping patch the persistent wound of payday loan debt from an otherwise stable family, who, were it not for a minor error, would not have found themselves in our path.  This family has now seen tremendous growth and recovery.

When last we spoke, they were still managing but no longer needed to seek out measures designed to take advantage of people who feel they have no other options.  They know that we are here for them and that GRACE will continue to be a beacon to safer waters.

To everyone who has been part of my journey with GRACE, I want to say thank you for your kindness and your belief in me.  I have been fortunate to know so many of you in one capacity or another.  It truly has been a wonderful experience and the chances Leadership have taken on me shows great faith in me.  I am humbled and grateful beyond words. So I leave you all today with this: I’d rather not say “goodbye,” but rather, “until next time.”

We will hold you to that, Wyatt – not goodbye but until we next meet.  Take our very best wishes, and our prayers for a wonderful, fulfilling journey ahead.  You made us better just by knowing you.  Know that you are a forever family member of GRACE!