DASH Network Overview

Table of Contents

As volunteers for DASH in any capacity, it’s important to understand our program, services, mission, philosophy, and vision. Most of this information can be found throughout our website, but we have condensed it to one page for easy access.

How We Started – 2 minute read

“After graduating from TCU, my first two jobs were at organizations that provided mental and social services to refugees and asylum seekers: The Center for Survivors of Torture and Refugee Services of Texas. Through this work, I heard heart-wrenching stories from refugees and asylum seekers that shook my soul. Both of these groups have fled their homes based on persecution due to race, religion, nationality, or membership of a particular social group or political opinion. They cannot return to their country for fear of their lives.

Eventually, I started to take notice of the gaping differences between services that asylum seekers and refugees are offered when they arrive in the US (please view the chart here). I was haunted by the knowledge that these educated, hard-working, courageous victims of injustice–who came here for safety–often end up on our streets. 

In the summer of 2009, when I was 22, I became friends with two Rwandan asylum seeker women who were the same age as me and on the brink of homelessness. The spare bedroom in my house seemed to be growing more and more vacant. As I spoke with my new husband (of only 6 weeks!) about the ache in my heart to provide these women a home, we decided why not us? Why not our home? We knew our families would think we were crazy, but we also knew this was what God had in store for us. These wonderfully resilient and compassionate women moved into our apartment, and our faith and hearts grew exponentially.

As we began to welcome more and more people into our home, word spread and the need quickly became greater than our spare bedroom. We were bursting at the seams with asylum seekers who needed help. 

After digging deeper, we realized that there were no organizations in the DFW area created to house asylum seekers as they await their work permits. Not one. I felt God stirring something inside of me to address this problem. I turned to my pastors for guidance on how to start a ministry housing people seeking asylum. The City Church graciously offered their support and oversight, and DASH was born!  In 2012, DASH Network was officially launched. 

Since then, over 20 people have lived with us, and a mother and daughter are currently on their way. 

What did we see or learn that made us want to keep opening our home? 

We saw humanity–strong, beautiful, and desperately broken. Their hopes and desires are not so different from ours: love, meaning, freedom, and security. 

It’s been an amazing journey full of God’s infinite wisdom, love, patience, and joy. We hope you will consider joining us as we continue to grow in this unique and essential ministry!”

 -Ashley Freeman

DASH Founder and Chairman of the Board

Our Approach – 1 minute read 

Our motivation: 

In Luke Chapter 4, Jesus reached the Synagogue in Nazareth to read the scroll of the prophet Isaiah that He has come to fulfill:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

We are motivated by Jesus’ example to love to serve the poor and persecuted. The Spirit of God has stirred something in us, calling us to serve asylum seekers in a way that both proclaims the good news of Christ and offers a glimpse of His servant-heart to the community. This is our motivation. 

Our mission:

“In response to the compassionate and welcoming love of Jesus, DASH Network exists to love asylum seekers by serving their physical and relational needs.”

Our method:

How do we show the love of Christ?

  • First, by serving our resident’s physical needs: housing, food, and basic toiletries.
  • Second, by creating spaces where volunteers and residents can address relational needs: relationship to others, to self, to the world, and to God. 

This love-focused, two-handed approach is our philosophy and methodology.

Note on reciprocity: 

In all that we do, DASH Network aims to foster reciprocal relationships. Even though our residents are unable to work and provide for their physical needs, they contribute to DASH in many valuable ways through their cultures, wisdom, and skills; our heart is to walk alongside our residents as partners and co-creators of DASH. Additionally, we have found that being in relationship with our residents also improves our staff and volunteers’ relationships to others, self, the world, and God. We consider ourselves highly blessed to get to work alongside such a beautiful and culturally diverse people. 

Our Services – 2 minute read 

Housing:

DASH Network houses residents in two ways: Apartment Homes and Host Homes.

The majority of our residents, single men, and families live in an apartment complex near downtown Fort Worth. The downtown location provides our residents with access to the bus route, hospital district, and some of Fort Worth’s best public schools. In addition to these apartment homes, we place single women and women with young children in host homes throughout DFW.

Food:

Food is provided by local food banks, churches, and Vandervoort Dairy twice a month. Whenever possible, we supplement with additional fresh fruits and veggies with the help of grocery volunteers. When volunteers are available, we encourage them to take residents to the store or food banks with them to purchase their own fresh produce using a donated Kroger gift card. This provides social support for our residents, as they grow in friendship with volunteers, helps residents understand how American grocery stores function, and adds dignity to their experience of receiving food.

Friendship:

Relationships are at the heart of everything we do. We desire that every resident would find meaningful relationships and community while in DASH. To this end, each seeker is paired with 1-2 advocates, who meet together at least twice per month. 

The advocate-seeker relationship is a mutually beneficial relationship where volunteers and residents learn about one another’s cultures and support each other through genuine friendship.

Additionally, the DASH family gathers the fourth Sunday evening of each month (now via Zoom during COVID-19) to check-in with our residents, pray together, celebrate birthdays, and fellowship with one another. Select Sunday nights also include community building outings, such as soccer games or movie nights! 

Equipping: 

DASH Network seeks to provide a dignified and holistic solution for each of our residents. For this reason, we offer the Thrive Academy and social services to equip residents for life after DASH.

Our hope is to launch every seeker into a place of independence upon graduation from our program. To overcome two of the biggest barriers to this goal, English proficiency and job training, DASH offers the Thrive Academy. This educational program offers Job Corp and life training classes through a partnership with FBC Arlington. Thrive Academy topics include health, finance and personal development based on the stated interest of our residents. 

Alongside this, DASH employs a full-time caseworker–who is herself a former asylum seeker and DASH graduate–to assist our seekers with resource connections and community referrals. Her services include coordinating medical appointments, making referrals to community partners, and registering children for school.

Community Education: 

In an effort to educate the community about who asylum seekers are, what makes up the asylum process, and what our services include, we offer short, 45-minute presentations featuring testimonies and stories straight from our residents.This presentation can be offered via Zoom or in-person and is strictly informational– no contributions is asked or expected from participants. 

We strive to break down walls and barriers around this topic and unify people from all walks of life. As a bipartisan organization, we have supporters from the far left, far right, and everywhere in between join hands to support asylum seekers in our community.

We present to many different types of groups: small groups, offices, friend groups, families, and entire churches make up a few of the groups we have gathered with for DASH 101s. If you are interested in hosting or participating in a DASH 101, please fill out the form here

Our Vision – 1 minute read 

The vision of DASH Network is to have the capacity to welcome, house, equip and show the love of Christ to all asylum seekers in DFW who do not have support during their journey to Asylee status. Ultimately, DASH envisions that one day the local body of believers in DFW will join with those across the country to ensure those seeking asylum are met with hospitality, friendship, and support on their journey towards the healing and rebuilding of their lives so that no one has to wait out their days in detention centers, tent camps, or homeless shelters. 

How many people are we talking about? 

MPI estimates that there are ~400,000 people seeking asylum in the United States and  ~59,000+ of those seeking asylum are in Texas (2018 data). Some asylum seekers come here with the contact of a relative, and/or money to support themselves during the time they are without a work permit and/or are learning English. We want to ensure all people seeking asylum have support and feel the all encompassing love of Christ. 

In addition, DASH Network is working towards the purchase of a building for asylum seekers and DASH volunteers to live in community together. Stay tuned for updates on how we pray this will become a reality in the next 3-5 years.

Meet Our Leader Team – 1 minute read 

You can meet the full leadership team here

Asylum Seeker Eligibility Requirements – 1 minute read

DASH residents must meet the following requirements before getting accepted into the DASH program: 

  • Is currently an asylum seeker, rather than a refugee or asylee
  • Actively working on asylum case
  • Has or is currently searching for a lawyer, or has filed pro se
  • Has less than $1000 
  • Willing to move to Fort Worth 
  • Willing to be interviewed by a DASH lawyer to confirm asylum seeker status
  • Willing to follow all US laws including not working or driving until the appropriate documentation is in hand
  • In desperate need of housing with no other options

*Note: There is NO “rule of faith” for asylum seekers. We serve asylum seekers from any and all backgrounds.

The Importance of True Hospitality: A Video from Soma – 30 minute watch

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