Emy Lou Baldridge has been an ardent volunteer throughout her adult life. Her contributions during the past year exemplify the distinct difference she has made within her community and entire state over many years of service. Throughout the past seven years alone, her passionate conviction that everyone can make a difference in the life of a child has led to over 50,000 abused or neglected children in Dallas being cared for in a more dignified manner.
To understand Baldridge’s efforts towards the past year, you must first understand her efforts this past decade. As an active volunteer with the Chance Center for Abused and Neglected Children from 1987 – 1995, Baldridge became acquainted first hand with the plights of many children in Dallas. In addition to this, she observed the great challenge Child Protective Service (CPS) caseworkers face in administering care to the children in need.
Because of her concern, Baldridge was one of the people CPS turned to for help to create a private/public partnership aimed at easing the caseworker’s caseload sot they could provide better care to the children. Baldridge, as part of a team of volunteers, established the Dallas Community Partners in 1989. The goal of this volunteer program, modeled after a Corpus Christi program, was to rally community support for CPS.
The first program established by the Community Partners was the Adopt-a-Caseworker program, which linked caseworkers with religious groups, local businesses, and civic organizations willing to provide financial and emotional support. As a chairperson and one of the most active volunteers with Dallas Community Partners, Baldridge adopted caseworkers, petitioned community members and organizations to adopt caseworkers, rode with caseworkers to assist in training parents, led the training committee, and contributed in countless other ways. Today, as a result of her efforts, 75 caseworkers have been adopted in Dallas.
With the Adopt-a-Caseworker program successfully underway, in 1992, Baldridge and the Dallas Community Partners sought to increase their support by asking caseworkers for their suggestions about what other items they could improve on. They requested a resource room be established to provide aid to families, and after much planning and petitioning for assistance from various groups, the Rainbow Room was opened in 1993 to meet the caseworker’s needs. In addition to that, needed supplies like cribs, diapers, shampoo, clothing and other miscellaneous items were provided. The original stock of 29 items has grown to 29,000.
Baldridge’s work has garnered the attention of Laura Bush who requested her to replicate the success of Dallas Community Partners statewide. Because of this, in 1996, the Greater Texas Community Partners was formed.
Though Baldridge is busy taking the program statewide, she remains very active in service to other organizations: The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, The Child Advocacy Center, The Junior League of Dallas, The Mental Health Association, Suicide Crisis Center, St. Michael & All Angels Volunteer Round Table, and the Bob Beavers Family Center Task Force.