Harris Fund Awards Grants to Five Nonprofits Serving Shelby County

The John Harris Community Fund Grant awarded a grant to Boo's Battle Support Fund.  The Boo's Battle Support Fund is committed to helping families and individuals in our community battling cancer.  Dana Durman, East Texas Communities Foundation Program Officer, presented Boo's Battle Support Fund  members Judy Monroe, Celeste Lewis, and Amanda Kirby with the generous donation.

September 9, 2021 - Grants from the John Harris Community Fund held at East Texas Communities Foundation (ETCF) in Tyler, Texas, were awarded to Boo’s Battle Support Fund, Shelby County Outreach Ministries, Inc., Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center, CASA of Deep East Texas and East Texas Food Bank.

“Boo's Battle Support Fund provides financial assistance to local families or person battling cancer,” said Judy Monroe, volunteer with Boo’s Battle. “Whatever the family needs gas cards, groceries, rent we will provide financial support to ease their burden.”

Boo’s Battle Support Fund helps on average, 35 families a year with financial support. “In the past we have held fundraisers to raise money,” said Monroe. “With Covid, we have had little opportunity to raise funds but the need has not gone away. Receiving this grant from the Harris Fund will help families who are dealing with so much right now. It’s truly a blessing.”

Shelby County Outreach Ministries received funds to provide emergency food boxes, help with client utility bills, medications and emergency lodging. “Our emergency food boxes can feed a family of four for 3-5 days,” said Executive Director, Sherry Harding. “Households can apply for one food box a month which consists of peanut butter, six canned vegetables, bread, chili, rice, frozen meat and other basic items.”

Shelby County Outreach Ministries has four programs that help serve Shelby County residents. “Our focus is to feed those that battle food insecurity and assist those that are in emergency situations,” said Harding. “Since the pandemic began, we have seen a drastic increase in new clients. In 2020, we provided 2,386 emergency food boxes, feeding over 5,148 people.”

Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center received funds to expand their mental health staff. “We are one of only three agencies that provide mental health services in Shelby County, and the only one that provides services at no charge to the individuals we serve,” said Denise Merriman, Executive Director of Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center. “At any given time we have approximately 50 individuals in therapy and another 8-10 individuals on a waiting list. Adding another provider will reduce our waitlist times and increase the number of people we can serve.” 

On average, Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center (SCCAC) serves 150 unique child victims each year. The SCCAC provides a full spectrum of services to child victims and their non-offending caregivers. Services include training programs regarding child abuse prevention, detection, and reporting to law enforcement, personnel, teachers and local school personnel, and to parents and children directly.

CASA of Deep East Texas was awarded a grant to assist with general operations. “We have experienced a loss in funding due to recent legislation that cut CASA’s Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding,” said Tonya Herring, Executive Director of CASA of Deep East Texas. “Funding is a challenge for most nonprofit agencies at this time following the pandemic.  This change greatly impacts smaller programs such as ours that can see up to a 21% loss in funding for the year.”

East Texas Food Bank will use funds from the Harris grant to continue to improve upon core services for those experiencing food insecurity in Shelby County, Texas. “East Texas Food Bank remains committed to our work of hunger relief in Center, Texas, and the surrounding communities in Shelby County,” said Lauralynn Wagner, with East Texas Food Bank. “In September 2020, in collaboration with our partner agency Tri-County CAA Harvest For Homes, we launched a new direct produce distribution where fresh fruits and vegetables are distributed monthly.”

In addition to the availability of fresh produce, East Texas Food Bank plans to provide weekend meals to Center Independent School District children at risk of hunger through the BackPack Program, provide boxes of food to low-income seniors in both Center and Joaquin through the Senior Box Program and offer SNAP Benefits Assistance to eligible Shelby County residents.

“John Reagan Harris was a generous benefactor, giving both his time and his resources to many groups and worthy causes in and around Center,” said Kyle Penney, President of ETCF. “The John Harris Community Fund was established to support worthy civic, religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational projects which benefit the Center, Texas, community.”

About ETCF.org
East Texas East Texas Communities Foundation is a nonprofit corporation serving 32 counties in East Texas. The Foundation distributed $9.2 million in grants in 2020 and currently manages over $124 million in over 400 unique charitable funds which support non-profit organizations and student scholarships. The Foundatio­­n, which was formed in 1989, has awarded over $108 million in grants and scholarships since its inception. Philanthropy builds community and changes lives. East Texas Communities Foundation supports philanthropy by offering simple ways for donors to achieve their charitable goals.