Sarah Morris and her team help families go from surviving to thriving
As a family ministry coordinator, Sarah Morris had witnessed many in crisis for years. She knew firsthand there was a need to support families in her church; but who was caring for those who didn’t have a church support system? She wanted to do something about it, but didn’t know what. At a family ministry conference in 2010, Sarah had her lightning-bolt moment: She would start her own organization to help those in need, right here in Plano.
A few months later, at the suggestion of a friend, she entered a Kellogg’s Pop-Tart contest that asked people how they would bring fun back into their family. Sarah’s family was one of the finalists flown to New York to present their idea in Times Square. When ultimately handed the $25,000 grand prize check, Sarah remembers, “That’s at the point where we went, ‘Okay, God, I get it, we’re doing this,’” and This Side Up! Family (TSUF) was born.
Single parents, blended families, families caring for aging relatives – Sarah knew all types of families need a boost both in good times and bad. Numerous meetings with city leaders, school administrators and counselors confirmed what she already thought: Yes, we do need help, and fast!
The doors to TSUF officially opened in early 2011. Sarah’s simple mission has stayed the same throughout the last six years, moving families from surviving to thriving. The non-profit organization provides services that meet needs of the whole familial unit, such as spouse date nights, parenting classes, single parent support groups, one-on-one coaching and free family connection nights.
From families struggling with drug abuse, domestic violence and poverty to those just trying to keep it all balanced, Sarah has seen all kinds of needs in Plano. She explains that the face of poverty has also changed; many may not realize the person standing next to them could be in financial straits. That adds strain to find affordable ways to have quality time together. Financial hardship also prevents practical spending, such as shopping for new clothing.
TSUF holds two clothing giveaways each year to benefit single parents and their children – one in the Spring (slated March 25) and another before school starts in August. More than 100 families are served per event, and individuals are given the chance to shop for what they need with no questions asked. Shoppers walk away feeling like they not only have the things they need, but someone in their corner.
This Side Up! Family has a small staff that Sarah leads as executive director. In addition to a board of directors, TSUF also has a special Grandparent Advisory Council comprised by citizens with a vested interested in seeing local families thrive. And none of the work TSUF does would be possible without a small army of volunteers that Sarah feels blessed to have.
TSUF is funded in part by the city of Plano; North Texas Giving Day is another helpful source of income. Sarah applies for grants and even contests, but TSUF also relies heavily on individual donations for funding and program resources.
It’s hard work, but Sarah’s reward is watching needy folks get back on their feet and then turn around to help others. One instance is Darsell, who tells of her own experience: “I was broken and trying to do something different with my life. This Side Up! Family has supported me and my children and never made me feel worthless or like a charity case. Because of the help we’ve received from TSUF, my girls and I now collect clothes and volunteer at the clothing giveaways. Some of the best times my children and I have had have been at TSUF’s Family Connection Nights.”
This Side Up! Family’s next Single Parent Clothing Giveaway is March 25. Anyone interested in volunteering or donating can email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.Attend Clothing Giveaway >
You can donate clothing for the Single Parent Clothing Giveaway at the “Fill the Trailer” at Mooyah event on March 19 or anytime before March 23 at participating drop off spots.Fill The Trailer at Mooyah > Clothing Donation Drop-Off Spots >
This Side Up! Family >