From the Executive Director’s Desk
Twenty years ago today, I started my job as the Executive Director of the Fannin County Children’s Center. What an amazing ride it has been – and continues to be! When I started, I was one of 4 staff. Now, we have 12 employees!
Back then, we did not have an agency website, company health insurance or a retirement plan. Social media did not even exist. Client files were kept in file folders and three ring notebooks. Grant applications were written up, printed, signed and mailed in, as was the monthly billing for them. I got my first cell phone, a Nokia, when I started this job.
The Children’s Center was located at 204 East Fifth Street, behind the Eye Center and across from Bonham State Bank. Our space was rent free, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Webb. Our Children’s Advocacy Center was still considered a “developing center” because it was only about 18 months old.
Over the years, we bought, renovated and moved into our current site. We added programs and expanded services to better serve kids from hard places. We started efforts to prevent child abuse.
I have worked with two different district judges, two district attorneys, four sheriffs and five county judges. I have served on the boards of Texas CASA and Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas. I have gone to the Capitol numerous times to advocate for kids with our state lawmakers and once even provided invited testimony to the Health and Human Services Committee of the Texas Senate.
My husband and I have raised my girls here. My youngest was born the year after I started and she is currently a freshman in college. My middle daughter started kindergarten soon after I started working here and now we are planning her wedding. My oldest is now a school teacher who, I am proud to say, is trauma informed. All three of them have many fond memories of helping wrap Christmas presents, organize school supplies and work our booth at the county fair. The last time we had Justice Is Served in-person, they were all able to attend. Their colorful handprints still decorate our Rainbow Room walls.
When I think back to all that has been accomplished over the past two decades, I am honored and amazed to have been a part of this team effort for so long. The work is both challenging and rewarding. I have been so blessed to work with so many amazing staff, board, volunteers, partners, media and donors.
Fannin County is a caring community. There is a real pride to take care of our own, especially children from hard places. It has been my privilege and honor to be here and be a part of what gets accomplished here at the Children’s Center.
As I look ahead to starting my third decade at the Children’s Center, I know there is still more work to do. We have already been hard at work, preparing ourselves to be ready for the growth and other challenges that lie ahead. We have about 8 acres of donated land, schematic drawings from our architect and a plan to raise a whole lot of money to build a new, larger facility that will help kids for years to come. We have been dreaming big and this project will be something that will help kids and families for years to come. What a blessing and honor to be a part of something so exciting and meaningful.
All are invited to a reception in celebration of Sandy Barber’s two decades of service. more