Harris Fund Awards Grants to Nonprofits in Center

August 30, 2019 - Grants from the John Harris Community Fund held at East Texas Communities Foundation (ETCF) in Tyler, Texas were awarded to the Fannie Brown Booth Memorial library, Grace Manor, Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center and the City of Center.

Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center received funds to purchase forensic interview equipment in order to better preserve evidence as part of an investigation for victims of suspected abuse. 

“New recording equipment is critical to our capturing quality audio during an interview with a victim,” said Denise Merriman, Executive Director of Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center. “In the past, using the old technology, we lost an interview and had to bring the victim back to be interviewed again. As you can imagine, this can be very traumatic. With the assistance of this grant, we can update our aging equipment and provide a better experience for our clients and assist local law enforcement get the information they need.”

Pictured are (from left): Anna Register, Deborah Kirkland, Lorei Choate, Marlene Hernandez, Denise Merriman, Sarah Shires, Holly McFarlin, Chad Brown and Mary Lynn Smith.

On average, Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center (SCCAC) serves 200 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.

The Fannie Brown Booth Memorial Library received a grant from the Harris Community Fund to purchase new graphic novels. “Graphic novels are one of the fastest growing categories in publishing,” said Cassaundra Neal, Grant Coordinator at the library. “Our Graphic Novel Program has been a great success in our library and attracts all age groups.”

Pictured are (from left): Sandra Davis, Cassey Neal, Mary Lynn Smith and Holly McFarlin.

Adding books like graphic novels will allow us to reach those in our community who have a hard time reading traditional materials, Neal added.  “These nontraditional materials attract new readers,” said Neal. “Reluctant readers or people with learning disabilities realize through our addition of graphic novels, that there is something for them at the library.”

The Fannie Brown Booth Memorial Library provides free services to all residents living in Shelby County and surrounding areas.  The library has been open to the public since the 1950's and in its current location since 1974.   In 2018, the library had 11,221 visitors, with an additional 12,667 computer and WIFI users. 

“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 East Texas Communities Foundation. “The John Harris Community Fund was established to support worthy civic, religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational projects which benefit the Center, Texas community.”

ETCF seeks strong projects based on good ideas and compelling needs which have the potential to improve the Center, Texas community and the lives of its people. Applicants are limited to non-profits with 501(c)(3) status Funding will be awarded to support current projects and programs or to establish new projects/programs. Requests for general operating support are discouraged. Applicants must be tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) status or a governmental unit. 

Pictured are (from left): Brenda Wright, Jordan Schmidt, Trish Dueboay, and Courtney Brittain.

Other non-profits serving Shelby County that received grants include Grace Manor for Foster Home Safety Kits and the City of Center to construct a stone monument park entrance at the soccer complex benefiting the Shelby County Youth Soccer program.  

Pictured are (from left): Jason Mitchell, Hector Pineda, Chad Nehring and Mary Lynn Smith.

About ETCF

East Texas Communities Foundation is a nonprofit corporation serving 32 counties in East Texas. The Foundation distributed $15.4  million in grants in 2018 and currently manages over $100 million in assets distributed over 361 unique charitable funds which support non-profit organizations and student scholarships. The Foundation, which was formed in 1989, has awarded $87.6 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. http://etcf.org/