What is Good Samaritans of Garland, Inc.?

Good Samaritans of Garland, Inc. is known to most Garland locals as simply, “Good Sam“. This organization is located in the little house on the corner of Twelfth and State Street with a ramp out front. This sructure was at one time a two bedroom, one bath family home that has been retrofitted to accommodate the function of Good Sam. The staff of Good Sam try to project that family feeling to all those who enter. Most of those who enter are in need of food, and will leave carrying bags of groceries. The current euphemism used to describe these folks is, “food insecure”. 

Good Sam is primarily a food pantry, and distributes food to clients on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Monthly food supplies are of the non perishable variety, and weekly consists of breads, sweets, produce and fresh meats. The daily distribution is prepackaged in bags for the “unhoused”. There are packets of personal care items assembled also distributed to those clients. All this is organized and facilitated by Vicki Tumulty, Good Sam’s Director of Operations. She emphasizes that every person, and each family coming to Good Sam asking for help is greeted warmly and treated with respect. Recently interactions with clients have been limited due to Covid safety requirements.

Who are these folks who have found it necessary to appeal to Good Sam for help? They represent all of us, both in age range and skin color. They are “housed and “unhoused”, with many remaining in the “housed” category because of the moratorium on evictions. “Unhoused” is a mixed bag. It describes those folks we see loitering, with their backpacks and grocery carts, sleeping under the bridge, or on a park bench. It also describes that young mother who lost her job due to Covid shutdowns, and is now living in her car with her two children. There are others like her, with children who are GISD students. Good Sam is working with an organization that has succeeded in locating homes for 39 such families over the past few months. 

Perhaps our most troubling discovery was the number of senior citizens who have fallen into the “food insecure” category. During the first quarter of 2021 Ms. Tumulty and her crew of volunteers served over 1,600 senior citizens. Many of them arrive monthly and make appointments in advance to pick up their non perishable grocery items. A handful of those seniors have asked to be taken off the program for now, as their stimulus payments have helped bring them out of the financial shortfalls they had found themselves in. With the high cost of prescribed drugs and rent or other monthly expenses, there’s often little left for groceries. 

Ms. Tumulty told of a man who broke down in tears because he had been forced to ask for food to feed his family. She cares, is compassionate, and this touched her deeply. The course of a normal day, Good Sam will receive somewhere in the neighborhood of 100+ requests for assistance. 

According to Lori Dodson, Accounting Director, the numbers of clients being served seem to be on a par with last year. Good Samaritans of Garland, Inc. operates totally on donations and grants. They were able to utilize the Payroll protection program and received an EDL Loan in the first phase of the Covid Relief Program, and they did receive funds from Dallas County in the most recent phase. One gentleman did come in and write a check for his entire stimulus payment from the IRS, as he said he didn’t need it, and he knew they would put it to good use. So far they haven’t received any further funding as a part of the most recent multi-trillion dollar stimulus package, and their client numbers haven’t diminished substantially as a result of the individual payments distributed by the IRS. 

The day labor office that formerly operated at Saturn and Miller is closed, and some of those individuals have begun hanging out on the grounds of Good Sam. Good Sam, in collaboration with another organization, was able to find jobs for 5 of those individuals within the past couple of months. Pam Swendig, Executive Director of Good Sam, is genuinely committed to serving Good Sam’s clients needs when at all possible. Good Sam also works with the Garland Police and Fire Department in emergency situations.

There are a lot of “food insecure” and “unhoused” folks out there, human beings like you and me, in need of help. The pandemic and resulting shutdowns have led to enormous financial losses and subsequent suffering. Individuals and families in need of food should not hesitate to contact Good Sam. Their hours of operation are on weekdays from 8:30AM-4PM. For information, to volunteer, or to make an appointment please call: (972) 276-2263

Good Samaritans of Garland, Inc. – “Good Sam”