Kudos Corner

Many thanks to everyone who contributes to our center and makes our work possible!

  • Justice Is Served November 11, 2019

    By several measures, the 15th Annual “Justice Is Served” fundraiser was the best one ever. Very early estimates are that the event raised at least $67,000 for the Fannin County Children’s Center. This amount tops the previous best of $66,000 from last year. In addition, attendance was the largest ever, with more than 500 people in attendance at the dinner and auction at the Complex in Bonham.

    Many guests dressed in 1950’s style clothing to go along with this year’s theme. Congressman John Ratcliffe, State Representative Reggie Smith, 336th District Judge Lauri Blake, Fannin County Judge Randy Moore, Fannin County Criminal District Attorney Richard Glaser, Fannin County Sheriff Mark Johnson and several other local officials of the justice system served up dinner to the guests. DJ Tony Cruz played rock-n-roll hits from the 1950’s while guests bid on about 200 items in the silent auction. Guests also had fun taking turns at the SMP Party photo booth sponsored by Rebel Roots. Several more photos were also taken in front of the cars from the 50’s that were provided by Kenneth Taylor, Judge Lauri Blake, Robert Layman and Tony Rodriguez. Dairy Queen in Bonham served up coke floats and root beer floats to guests.

    Fannin County Game Warden Randolph McGee was the auctioneer for the evening. A custom-built entry way gate from Jason Garner Custom Welding brought in $3,100 and a 5-day getaway to Broken Bow donated by Sunshine Dental raised $2,200.

    US Rep. John Ratcliffe publicly recognized Fannin County Children’s Center Executive Director Sandy Barber as one of 3 Angels in Adoption honorees from Texas this year and one of only 124 from across the country.  This recognition is given to people who demonstrate extraordinary efforts to advocate for children in need of a family.

    US Rep. John Ratcliffe publicly recognized Fannin County Children’s Center Executive Director Sandy Barber as one of 3 Angels in Adoption honorees from Texas this year and one of only 124 from across the country. This recognition is given to people who demonstrate extraordinary efforts to advocate for children in need of a family.

    The highest winning bid of the night and in the fifteen-year history of this event was $5,000 for the Courage Item donated by the Board of Directors of the Children’s Center. Board President Steve Collida introduced the mystery item by describing the courage children have when they report abuse and neglect and encouraging the audience to have courage in bidding on the mystery item that would be worth at least $1,500 – $2,000. Beth Robertson of Cole Title Company and Gaylon Hammett of Hammett Excavation got into a lively bidding war over the Courage Item. Applause erupted from across the room when Robertson was declared the winner. Collida then revealed that what Robertson won: two round trip tickets to anywhere in the continental US that Southwest Airlines goes to, plus two nights of hotel as well as some meals and entertainment.

    Before the live auction, Congressman John Ratcliffe took the stage to announce that the Children’s Center Executive Director Sandy Barber was selected as an Angels in Adotion honoree. Each year, each of the 535 members of the US House and Senate get an opportunity to nominate someone who has demonstrated extraordinary efforts to advocate for children in need of a family. This year 124 of those nominees were selected to be honored in Washington DC, including Barber. The 124 honorees will come from all over the country, including only 3 from Texas.

    Barber expressed her deep appreciation for the award and looks forward to traveling with her husband to the nation’s Capital later this week. “This work we do is a team effort,” said Barber. “We have an amazing group of women on our staff, a dedicated and hard-working board, devoted volunteers and great professional partners with CPS, law enforcement and other fields. We also have so many generous donors who make our work possible.” Barber also talked about how amazing and encouraging it was to see so many people attend and give to this fundraiser event. Funds raised from the event will help the Children’s Center keep up with the growing demand for their services. Barber said there are still a few children without a CASA volunteer advocate and their Children’s Advocacy Center still has a waiting list for therapy.

    Honorable servers who served up dinner for guests at the Justice Is Served fundraiser for the Fannin County Children’s Center included (front row, from left)  Fannin County Judge Randy Moore, Fannin County Sheriff Mark Johnson, Fannin County Clerk Tammy Biggars, Justice of the Peace, Pct 2 Bob Clemons, US Representative John Ratcliffe, 336th District Judge Lauri Blake, State Representative Reggie Smith, Justice of the Peace, Pct 3 Kenneth Karl, Trenton Police Chief William Robertson, County Court at Law Judge Charles Butler (back row, from left) John Vick for State Senator Bob Hall, Fannin County Criminal District Attorney Richard Glaser, Fannin County District Clerk Nancy Young, Honey Grove Police Chief Leigh Dixon, Juvenile Probation Chief Brandon Caffee, Adult Probation Chief Debra Roberts, Savoy Police Chief Carl Harrell and Whitewright ISD Police Chief Judy Sims.

    Honorable servers who served up dinner for guests at the Justice Is Served fundraiser for the Fannin County Children’s Center included (front row, from left) Fannin County Judge Randy Moore, Fannin County Sheriff Mark Johnson, Fannin County Clerk Tammy Biggars, Justice of the Peace, Pct 2 Bob Clemons, US Representative John Ratcliffe, 336th District Judge Lauri Blake, State Representative Reggie Smith, Justice of the Peace, Pct 3 Kenneth Karl, Trenton Police Chief William Robertson, County Court at Law Judge Charles Butler (back row, from left) John Vick for State Senator Bob Hall, Fannin County Criminal District Attorney Richard Glaser, Fannin County District Clerk Nancy Young, Honey Grove Police Chief Leigh Dixon, Juvenile Probation Chief Brandon Caffee, Adult Probation Chief Debra Roberts, Savoy Police Chief Carl Harrell and Whitewright ISD Police Chief Judy Sims.

  • 3 New CASA Advocates! October 21, 2019

    Terisa HillThree local people recently completed training and were sworn-in to become volunteer CASA advocates for children in foster care. The Honorable Judge Lauri Blake of the 336th District Court administered the oath to the new volunteers. New child advocates include Laura Luke, Jana Garner and Terisa Hill.

    “We excited to welcome these people to our team,” said Sandy Barber with the Fannin County Children’s Center, which includes the local CASA program. “They each bring unique skills, experiences and knowledge to our team.”

    In the year ending August 31, 2019, CASA served 110 children, which was slightly less than the previous year, but still significantly more than what had been usual.
    Laura Luke
    All volunteers completed an intensive training class which prepares them to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse and neglect. The district judge appoints CASA volunteers to serve as the Guardian ad Litem for each child who has been placed in the state’s custody. In that role, CASA advocates investigate the child’s situation, prepare written reports to the court and advocate for the child’s best interest in court hearings and other settings. CASA also advocates and monitors to ensure that all of a child’s educational, medical, mental health and other needs are met.

    CASA is one program of several programs for abused and neglected children that are operated by the Fannin County Children’s Center. The next training class is set to start in February 2020.

    Jana Garner

  • Brookshire’s Gives October 11, 2019

    Brookshires 2019Brookshire’s recently donated $500 to the Fannin County Children’s Center to continue their long history of supporting the children of Fannin County. Store representatives Kenny Moore and Austen Bird recently presented the local nonprofit with a $500 check for sponsoring the fifteenth annual “Justice Is Served.”

    This event benefits the children of Fannin County by raising funds needed for the Children’s Center to offer forensic interviews, counseling, advocacy, court accompaniment and other support services including their facility dog Render free of charge to victims of child abuse.

    “We are grateful for Brookshire’s faithful and generous support for nearly two decades,” said Sandy Barber with the Children’s Center. “By our tally, we have received more than $27,000 in cash donations from Brookshire’s since 2001. That doesn’t include their in-kind gifts such as diapers, baby wipes for our kids and food for special events. We are blessed by their partnership with us.”

  • Rebel Runway October 11, 2019

    Rebel Runway 2019Rebel Roots Boutique sits on the east side of the square in Bonham. In August before school started, Rebel Roots owner Melody Hammett and her staff put together a two-day event at the Multi-Purpose complex in Bonham called the Rebel Runway Event and Fashion Show. It was the second year for this event.

    Vendors who sell clothing, jewelry, beauty products and more set up shop in the Complex. Friday night there was a concert featuring Sam Riggs. Zane Dockery was the opening band. On Saturday, activities included a fashion show and SCA steak cookoff. The fashion show featured clothing from the vendors at the event and models were local people. Proceeds from the event were donated to the Fannin Country Children’s Center.

    “We started this event to bring some social life to our community while raising money for a local charity,” said Hammett. “I feel Like God put me in this business to help others and this event was away I could reach a lot of people at one time.”

    Hammett recently presented the Children’s Center with a check for $7,000. “We are very grateful for this generous gift,” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Center. “Melody and her staff worked hard to put on a great event. This gift will help provide counseling, advocacy and other important services for children from hard places to help them heal from abuse.”

  • Why I Give! September 18, 2019

    We recently asked some of our biggest fans to share why they give of their time and resources to the Children’s Center.  Here are their stories!

    NTXGiveDay - Why I Give Garner

    Charlotte Garner
    I support the Fannin County Children’s Center because I believe there is no better cause to pour my resources into, than one that supports the youth in our own community. As a child, I watched my parents serve others and I strive to carry on that legacy. The Children’s Center is working hard to meet the growing demands of Fannin County. I would like to take this opportunity to challenge you to donate! Even $5 can go a long way in helping the Children’s Center meet the needs of the children they serve. When we work together as a community, we can accomplish great things!

    NTXGiveDay - Why I Give  MagnessBrenda Magness

    Why do I donate and volunteer at Fannin County Children’s Center?

    My daughter graduated college and accepted a position as a CPS investigator. Like most parents, we were excited! Little did we understand how challenging this job would be.

    I remember having generic conversations with Dana about what she saw in homes she visited. From time to time, she would say “I don’t know if I can do this.” Each time, I responded “Dana, I am not saying this is your responsibility in life, but I do know someone has got to do this job for these kids.”

    I never dreamed my daughter would be out on the road in a driving rainstorm trying to get three kids to a foster home in a town which she was not familiar. I never dreamed she would witness the aftermath of a child being severely beaten and hung in a closet. I never dreamed Dana would not see her own son for 48 hours because she had taken custody of a child fighting for her life in a Dallas hospital.

    Dana’s earthly life was cut short by pancreatic cancer in 2015. I then realized I had to deal with my words of wisdom to her. “I do know that someone has to do this job for these kids.” It was time for me to stand up and follow my own advice.

    For me, donating and volunteering at the Children’s Center is serving neglected and abused children. It is supporting CPS investigators, which is paramount to me. It is serving the staff at the Children’s Center, the judges, CASA’s and everyone involved in ensuring each child has a great chance in life.

    In their darkness, we can be their light.

    NTXGiveDay - Why I Give KeltonKaren Kelton

    I was recently asked why I donated to the Fannin County Children’s Center.  For me, it’s something I’ve not really thought about, I just did it. Knowing children had gifts at Christmas, school supplies for school, and other various necessities was my why. About two years ago, my why somewhat changed, as I became a foster parent and was on the receiving end of the Children’s Center. My first placement was from Fannin County. I was able to get just a peek of how the Children’s Center and the CASA advocates love and support these children! Thanks to amazing people who give to the Children’s Center, my start as new foster parent was made a little easier. To them, I say thank you! Thank you for serving, thank you for loving, and thank you for giving to these children and families.

    NTXGiveDay - Why I Give - WilsonsBill and Roxanne Wilson

    When we moved to the area 10 years ago, we immediately looked for our local CASA organization because of our long affiliation with other CASAs through Roxanne’s history as a CASA volunteer and a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. When we met the Fannin County Children’s Center team, we knew that we had a home for both our volunteer efforts and donations. The Children’s Center provides critical services to the most vulnerable children in Fannin County, and the team does it with a passion that is truly inspirational. Roxanne is still a CASA volunteer at the center, and Bill had the honor of serving on the board for many years. We give with the confidence of knowing that our donation helps to fill a critical need in the budget of one of our counties best and most important charities. We encourage others to learn more and to support this wonderful cause.

  • Cyndi Keeler: Volunteer of the Quarter September 9, 2019

    Cyndi Keeler (2)Cyndi Keeler has been named Volunteer of the Quarter for the Fannin County Children’s Center.  Keeler found out about the Children’s Center through her church.  She served on the board for a couple of years but has mostly been volunteering in other ways.

    “I volunteer because I believe each one of us has talents or gift that can help someone,” said Keeler.   “The Children’s Center reaches out in so many ways into the community.  By volunteering I can focus on the needs of the community through an organization that is addressing those community needs.”

    For many years, Keeler has helped with the center’s big fundraising event called Justice Is Served.  She recently retired from working and owning a HVAC Service Company with her husband.  This has freed up more of her time, so she has started volunteering regularly to organize the Rainbow Room.  This room contains donations of new clothing, shoes, diapers and more for the children served by the center.   Over the summer, Keeler logged in many hours going through the entire room and re-organizing it.

    Keeler has been married to her husband David for over 32 years. Together they have had a full life of working, ranching and taking care of a wide variety of animals. When she is not volunteering at the Children’s Center, Keeler enjoys taking on new challenges in life. She likes learning new things like baking breads and knitting.  “I also enjoy hanging out with my husband and animals,” said Keeler.

    “Cyndi has been a huge help to us,” said Andrea Lappin, the Children’s Center’s Community Development Director.  “The Rainbow Room has been transformed over the summer by Cyndi.  It is so much easier for everyone to find things that are needed for the kids we serve.”

  • Dani Gerhardt: CASA Volunteer of the Quarter July 22, 2019

    Dani July 2019Dani Gerhardt has been named the CASA Volunteer of the Quarter by the Fannin County Children’s Center. Gerhardt became a CASA advocate for children in foster care a little over two years ago. Ever since her son was born, she has always wanted to try to make the world different for him. She became a nurse because she enjoys caring for others in need. She was looking for a way to volunteer to give back to the community and set a good example for her son when she found CASA.

    “I didn’t fully understand until my second case why CASA was so important,” said Gerhardt. “To summarize a very complicated situation, my supervisor and I knew that something needed to change with my case. However, no one else in the court room agreed. We continued to advocate for what we felt was right. After some time and some patience, I feel we were able to change the course of the case for the better. It really showed me that being a CASA is important.”

    When going through the initial training, Gerhardt learned about many statistics of children in foster care, including how many children were in care, how long they often stay and how many would age out of care. “Those statistics do have a face,” said Gerhardt “and once I saw that those statistics were a real person, I knew that I wanted to continue. My first case was simple, completed in one year. My second case has been much more difficult, and it really showed me why CASA is so important to the youth in our community. Being a voice for the children’s needs is crucial.”

    Julie Luton has been Gerhardt’s supervisor from the start. “It has been a great joy to work with her,” said Luton. “She has been steadfast and positive through many difficult challenges. Children had to be removed several times from different placements. Hard decisions were made and no one agreed at first with Dani in court. Still, Dani stood in court and advocated for the kids on her case. She was never unsure or wavering to keep them safe.”

    Several children in foster care in Fannin County do not have a trained volunteer advocate on their case. The next training class for CASA volunteers is scheduled to start on September 10. Being a CASA advocate is just one way to volunteer at the Fannin County Children’s Center. To learn about all the ways to volunteer at the Children’s Center, make plans to attend the next volunteer information session on Tuesday, August 27 from 5:30 – 6:30 pm at 112 W. 5th Street in Bonham.

  • 4 New CASA Advocates July 15, 2019
    New CASA Advocates

    New CASA Advocates – Summer 2019

    Four local people recently completed training and were sworn-in to become volunteer CASA advocates for children in foster care.  The Honorable Judge Lauri Blake of the 336th District Court administered the oath to the new volunteers.  New child advocates include Wayne Adams, Michelle Case, Lauren Hilliard and Lori Parsons.

    “We thrilled to welcome these people to our team,” said Sandy Barber with the Fannin County Children’s Center, which includes the local CASA program. “This helps get us closer to having an advocate for every child in foster care from Fannin County.”

    In the year ending August 31, 2018, CASA served 131 children, which set a new record for the number of children served in a year.  In the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, 102 children have already been served.  More volunteers advocates are still needed in order for every child in foster care from Fannin County to have one.  Another training class is already being planned to start September 10.

    All volunteers completed an intensive training class which prepares them to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse and neglect.  The district judge appoints CASA volunteers to serve as the Guardian ad Litem for each child who has been placed in the state’s custody.  In that role, CASA advocates investigate the child’s situation, prepare written reports to the court and advocate for the child’s best interest in court hearings and other settings.

    CASA is one program of several programs for abused and neglected children that are operated by the Fannin County Children’s Center.  For more information call (903) 583-4339 or visit www.fanninccc.org.

  • 5 New CASA Advocates! April 4, 2019

    CASA Vol Spring 2019Five local people recently completed training and were sworn-in to become volunteer CASA advocates for children in foster care. The Honorable Judge Lauri Blake of the 336th District Court administered the oath to the new volunteers. New child advocates include Ashlyn Hoops, Jackie Schrodel, Rosemary Clemons, Susan Mattison and Richard Mattison.

    “We excited to welcome these people to our team,” said Sandy Barber with the Fannin County Children’s Center, which includes the local CASA program. “This helps get us closer to having an advocate for every child in foster care from Fannin County.”

    In the year ending August 31, 2018, CASA served 131 children, which set a new record for the number of children served in a year. More volunteers advocates are still needed in order for every child in foster care from Fannin County to have one. Another training class is already being planned for June.

    All volunteers completed an intensive training class which prepares them to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse and neglect. The district judge appoints CASA volunteers to serve as the Guardian ad Litem for each child who has been placed in the state’s custody. In that role, CASA advocates investigate the child’s situation, prepare written reports to the court and advocate for the child’s best interest in court hearings and other settings.

    CASA is one program of several programs for abused and neglected children that are operated by the Fannin County Children’s Center. More info

  • Art Contest Winners! March 4, 2019

    2019 First PlaceFourteen year old Jocelyn Garoutte of Leonard took home the top prize in the Open Your Heart Art Contest sponsored by the Fannin County Children’s Center. She won $100 for her artwork that will now be featured on the front of the Open Your Heart campaign cards. Eleven year old Kailynn Pearson of Bonham won second place and $50. Her artwork will be featured on the inside of the cards.

    The winning artwork will be featured in upcoming fundraising campaign for the Children’s Center. Funds raised will support all services provided by the center, including CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center and child abuse prevention efforts. As a non-profit, the center relies on grants and donations to be able to offer their services for no cost to victims of child abuse and neglect.

    CASA recruits, screens, trains and supervises volunteer advocates for children in foster care. Children’s Advocacy Center facilitates a multidisciplinary team of public and private agencies involved in the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse. Child abuse prevention efforts include classes are offered for children, youth and adults.

    2019 Second Place