DALLAS — Eddie Nelson has been described as something of a force of nature.
Those who work with her say she knows how to make things happen, whether it be organizing the Dallas Downtown Association’s popular murder mysteries, getting grants to restore or improve downtown buildings, or helping the Dallas Food Bank get the most out of it resources.
Nelson serves as treasurer for the DDA and Dallas Food Bank and has successfully taken on grant writing activities for both organizations.
“She just does everything and she’s happy to do it and she comes back for more,” said Mark Sturtevant, the DDA president. “Nobody, I mean nobody, can keep up with her energy and drive. She’s unparalleled.”
Nelson said her drive to volunteer is the product of retiring too early in life.
“I just had to find something to do,” she said, smiling. “I’m not one to sit back and do nothing. I like to make things happen.”
She’s good at that — and when she has an idea, she’ll do the research and coordination to make it a success.
Sturtevant said the Downtown Dallas Murder Mystery that takes place in the fall was her vision. He said she attended a three-day murder mystery in Washington and returned with a plan.
“She got so enthused and decided to bring it back to Dallas,” he said.
The first murder mystery was a one-evening event hosted at Latitude One. It’s expanded into a two-day event, with Friday’s pre-murder activities and Saturday’s all-day whodunit. This year, the mystery had its own newspaper, The Dallas Daily. Nelson drafted most of its content, from character bios to “news” related to the murder to personal ads calling for a wife for one of the characters.
Nelson coordinated with the Itemizer-Observer to design and publish the paper.
“That’s all Eddie,” Sturtevant said.
That kind of persistence and organization pays off in other ways, said Sturtevant and Mona Ordonez, a volunteer at the food bank.
“She really stepped in there and organized the way we take care of our business end and straightened everything up and has done a great job of stewardship with our money, so we can help more people,” Ordonez said.
Sturtevant said she’s the type of person who wouldn’t sleep well if she was off 10 cents in balancing her check book.
“She will find that 10 cents,” he said. “She’ll find it, you better believe.”
That attention to detail benefits both organizations, and the people they serve.
“Her heart is in making sure that hungry people in the community are fed. That’s really important to her,” Ordonez said. “She tries to do this in the most efficient way, structurally and fiscally. She has been an amazing force in bringing positive changes to the food bank.”
She pursues local and statewide grants with just as much passion, including a grant to remodel the food bank to allow clients to “shop” for what they need rather than have volunteer pack boxes for them.
“They are allowed to choose what they need for their families instead of us just giving them random food. That helps them as well as our volunteers,” Ordonez said. “As people shop, we get to chat and have a normal conversation and develop a rapport with our clients as we are shopping. That just makes everything more pleasant.”
She also was key in acquiring a Diamonds in the Rough grant from the State Historic Preservation Office for the Dallas Forty in downtown Dallas.
Owner Jason Wright said she’s been consistent — or perhaps persistent — in helping him send updates and information to the state.
“It definitely helps having the DDA help back you up on something like this,” Wright said. “Having (Nelson) deal with the paperwork is definitely what I need in my life.”
Nelson said she gives her time because she likes to see people succeed, and the downtown thrive.
“That’s just who I am, and I like to give people like Jason a lot of support,” Nelson said. “They are good people and good people deserve as much support as possible.”
Her background in nonprofits — she’s the former finance and organizational director for Habitat for Humanity — comes through in her volunteer work, said JD Shinn, the CEO of the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce. So does her heart for her community, he added.
“She’s just so active in looking for ways to help out and make Dallas the best she can,” he said. “Her well-intentioned spirit is made evidenced by how well she passionately serves this community. She just has a knack for bringing people together to get things accomplished.”
Ordonez said not only does Nelson help the food bank apply for grants, but she then makes sure the money is spent properly, even if that means doing some of the shopping herself.
Recently, the Dallas Rotary Club awarded the food bank a grant to purchase personal care items. She and Nelson bought necessary items.
“She’s there when you need her, for sure,” Ordonez said.