Reading, Restaurants, and Refugee Resettlement

Let’s take a look at everything that happened during August and what’s to come in September!

Thanks to your ongoing support Reading Circles wrapped up and we all enjoyed a special visit from Chef Donny. Please enjoy all the photos of the kiddoes!

Reading Circles

This summer, volunteer and staff-led guided reading circles helped students increase their literacy skills. A pre and post Dynamic Indicators or Basic Early Literacy (DIBELS) assessment was administered to measure the growth for the students. Enjoy some of the highlights!

To promote active engagement and attendance, the students were incentivized by some of their favorite things including sequin journals, Bey Blades, and Pop-Its! Every day after guided reading, the students looked forward to putting their sticker up on the participation chart. It excited them so much that 67.8% of students in all sites engaged in at least 11 times out of the possible 14 times!

  • There was some impressive growth this summer!
  • 55% of students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade improved their literacy.
  • In the pretest, only 52% of 2nd graders could read at or above grade level, but in the end, 65% could.
  • Most importantly, 97% of students show improvement in at least one category of literacy!

Special thanks to all the volunteers who gave their time to help the students!

Zuhair Zaidi, Ronda Criss, Meghan Donelon, Sue Bohner,
Chiamaka Nwosu, Avner Lipszyc, Julie Innmon,
Jen Westover, and Nadine Bandek

It wouldn’t have happened without them!


Visit from Chef Donny

Heart House became its own restaurant with the help of Chef Donny!

For the last week of summer, Chef Donny visited each site to teach the students about healthy eating. Keep reading to see the Wildflower students make their own spring rolls! They loved the spring rolls, but they loved Chef Donny more! If you want to have some or meet the kitchen superstar, visit Khao Noodle Shop in Uptown Dallas!

Enjoy their reactions to healthy eating!

The summer program is over, but the students and staff can’t wait for the fall program to start. After enrolling in for Heart House in the fall, the students are ready to go back to school with their new backpacks and school supplies that were donated from Northwest Community Center and Texas Health Resources!


A Note on Afghan Refugee Resettlement

by the Senior Director of Program and Community Outreach, Liz Curfman

Part of my career was spent in refugee camps around the world – seeing firsthand the hardships that many of our Heart House families endure in order to finally find a new “home.” As we have watched the refugee situation unfold in Afghanistan, we thought it might be helpful to provide some context around refugee resettlement.

It’s important to note that the refugee resettlement process in the United States has existed since 1980, with bipartisan support. It is a lengthy vetting process which includes proof of refugee status, health screenings, background checks, personal interviews, and national security measures. This vetting process can take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years. The resettlement process has an arm called Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders. Those that hold the SIV distinction are those that have served the United States government and/or military. Those with SIV status are those that are referred to in the news as “Afghan Allies.” Most SIV holders that have been admitted to the United States have been families from Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the North Texas Office for Refugees (NTOR), of the SIV families that are resettled to the DFW metroplex, more than 60% of those found their new home in Dallas. While only estimates of numbers exist of how many Afghan families will call Dallas home, our community should expect that we will continue our long history of welcoming these families. Heart House stands ready to welcome these newly arrived Afghan families to the Heart House family.

For more information regarding the refugee resettlement process into the US, please visit this fact page, published by Refugee Council USA.


September 8th the new AmeriCorp members arrive and on September 13th the students return.  We can’t wait to get back into the classroom.  Next month you will meet the three new teachers and learn a little about their goals for this Fall.

Heart House is also launching a new program.
(Hint: the logo is above)
Watch social media for more details!




North Texas Giving Day is coming up!  Early bird giving is open.  This year thanks to an anonymous donor and the Board of Directors your donations will be matched up to $12,500!

NTXGD and Heart House!

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