Many thanks to everyone who contributes to our center and makes our work possible!
- Nicole Brown CASA Advocate of the Quarter April 9, 2020
“I want to help break the cycle of child abuse and neglect,” said Brown. “Children in care need an individual to stand up for them and be their voice. Being a volunteer means I will make a positive impact on a child’s life whether it be to show them that there is good in this world or it may be that I am their positive role model.”
Brown has advocated for 7 children over the last two years. “There has not been a situation that Nicole has not tackled head on,” said Amanda McDonald, CASA Program Director. “She is creative in her advocacy, always keeping the kids’ best interest at heart. While maintaining professionalism, she is still able to form long lasting relationships with the children and families she serves.”
Brown is a first and second grade teacher at Dodd City Elementary. She has been teaching for 15 years.
“Teaching is a passion of mine,” said Brown. “Just like being a CASA volunteer, I strive every day at school to be a positive role model for my students because we do not know what children are going through at home.”
Brown has one son named Heath. He keeps her busy with all his sporting activities. Her boyfriend, Dale is a coach at Denison High School. “When I’m not at Heath’s games, you can find me supporting Dale and his son Trey!” said Brown. She also enjoys running and hanging out with friends.
CASA is one of several programs operated by the Fannin County Children’s Center. When home is no longer a safe place, a judge will order the removal of a child and appoint CASA to serve as the child’s Guardian ad Litem. CASA advocates visit the children regularly, talk to many of the people involved in the child’s life, prepare written reports for the court and testify in each hearing.
More CASA volunteers are needed. The next Volunteer Information session will be conducted via Zoom video conferencing on April 30 at 5:30 pm. Registration is required. The meeting link and directions will be provided after registering. To get more information and register, click here
- Matthews Children’s Foundation March 11, 2020
The Matthews Children’s Foundation recently donated $1,000 to the Fannin County Children’s Center for child abuse prevention efforts. Stephen Murden of Wise Funeral Home wrote the required letter of recommendation to go with the Children’s Center’s application and he was happy to be the one to present the donation check.
“We are grateful for the continued generosity of Matthews Children’s Foundation and for Stephen Murden’s help and support in making this possible,” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Children’s Center. “This gift will strengthen our ability to prevent child abuse in our community.”
This donation, combined with generous gifts from the Glaser Family Charitable Foundation and the MW and Fair Miller Foundation, has helped the center purchase a new curriculum and supplies for child abuse prevention efforts with children and youth. The curriculum developed by the Women’s Center of Tarrant County is called Play It Safe.
Play it Safe is a child abuse awareness and prevention program that incorporates age-appropriate scripts and movies to teach children how to reduce their risk of sexual and physical abuse. It teaches them to recognize potentially abusive behavior, provides the tools to respond to threatening situations, and encourages them to report abuse to a trusted adult. It is an evidence-informed, age-appropriate risk reduction program for Pre-K through high school age students. Each grade level’s interactive curriculum speaks to children in a way that they can best learn and respond.
A more detailed list of what each class covers is available on the center’s website at www.fanninccc.org. The Children’s Center’s staff are available to travel to local schools, churches and day cares to teach the classes. To schedule, contact Andrea Lappin at (903) 583-4339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil Helping Kids March 2, 2020
McCraw Oil and Kwik Chek have been hosting an annual charity golf tournament for 24 years. CASA has been the beneficiary of the event for the last 12 years. The most recent tournament raised a grand total of $62,000 for CASA programs, which brings the 12-year grand total to $622,000.
In recent weeks, the leaders of these companies have been presenting checks from the tournament proceeds to local CASA programs across the state in the communities where they do business. Recently, they presented a check for $15,000 to the Fannin County Children’s Center in Bonham, which operates several programs for kids who have been abused and neglected, including CASA.
Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil’s mission is “we strive every day to make our communities, our team members, and our customers better off for having known us, or as we say, we ‘leave ‘em better.’”
Children’s Center Executive Director Sandy Barber said “We really appreciate everything Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil does for our center and our community. Their gifts are making a difference for kids and fulfilling their mission of leaving our community and kids better. The golf tournament alone has generated $112,250 for the Children’s Center and that does not include all of the other sponsorships and donations they have made over the years.”
CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, recruits and trains volunteers to become advocates for children in foster care. When a judge determines that a child is no longer safe in their own home, CASA is assigned to gather information and make recommendations to the courts about what would be best for the child.
- Art Contest Winners February 24, 2020
A sixth grader from Honey Grove took home the top prize in this year’s art contest sponsored by the Fannin County Children’s Center. Evangeline Barbee earned $100 and a blue ribbon for her drawing of several children holding hands in a circle.
Barbee’s artwork will be featured on the front of cards that will be mailed to local supporters of the Children’s Center to raise funds to sustain the variety of services the center offers to children and families recovering from abuse and neglect.
Second place honors went to Reagan Sutton, who is an second grader in Howe. Her artwork features a bright red heart and will be featured on the inside of the cards. She won $50 cash and a red ribbon for her artwork.
“Our judges had a difficult job in deciding the winners,” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Children’s Center. “We are grateful for all of the children and youth who created and entered their artwork, as well as the parents, grandparents, teachers and other adults who helped them get it turned in.”
The artwork was scanned and sent to a local printer who printed up cards for the Children’s Center. These cards will be mailed to more than two thousand people to help raise funds to sustain all of the services offered by the center.
The Children’s Center’s mission is promoting safety and improving the lives of abused and neglected children. Programs include Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), the Children’s Advocacy Center and child abuse prevention programs.
- Joey Koo – Volunteer of the Quarter February 10, 2020
Joey Koo has been named the Volunteer of the Quarter for the Fannin County Children’s Center. Koo started volunteering at the center a little under a year ago. He is an eighteen-year-old home school student and will be attending Southwestern University in the fall to study Art History.
“Being homeschooled I have extra time during each week,” said Koo. “That gives me the opportunity to volunteer and give back, so during this last year I have really tried to use that time well and hopefully help out a little and make a difference.”
Koo has helped prepare newsletters and invitations for mailing. One day, he assembled about a dozen new chairs that the center purchased. Last fall, he and another volunteer helped put together many of the table decorations for the center’s big fundraising event “Justice Is Served.”
When he is not volunteering at the center or completing his studies, Koo enjoys painting and drawing, going to museums, and spending time with friends and family. He lives in Bonham with his grandmother, dog and two birds.
“Joey is a great volunteer because he very passionate about helping others,” said Andrea Lappin, Community Development Director for the Children’s Center. “He is always willing to jump in and help wherever needed and very dependable. His enthusiasm, commitment and compassion are contagious, and he is a joy to work with. We are very lucky to have him as one of our volunteers at the center.”
The Fannin County Children’s Center is a nonprofit agency that started serving children in 1993. The agency’s mission is promoting safety and improving the lives of abused and neglected children. The agency’s programs include CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center, child abuse prevention and Rainbow Rooms. For more information, go to www.fanninccc.org.
- Miller Foundation Gives to Kids January 17, 2020
For the last several weeks, the trustees with the M.W. and Fair Miller Foundation have been personally delivering generous grants to many local schools and non-profit organizations in Fannin County. One generous gift was for $22,000 to the Fannin County Children’s Center.
“We are thrilled and honored to accept such a generous gift,” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Children’s Center. “This gift will help provide many critical support services for kids from hard places. This gift will make sure advocacy, counseling, forensic interviews and many other services are available to help children be safe and begin healing from abuse and neglect.” The grant will also help provide child abuse prevention services for children, youth and adults.
The M.W. and Fair Miller Foundation was incorporated in 1988 and organized for the betterment and care of the children in Fannin County. Currently serving on the Board of Trustees are Tyler Todd, Dr. Dana Sisk and Dr. Jerry Hopson.
The Fannin County Children’s Center is a nonprofit agency that has been serving abused and neglected children for more than 26 years. Programs include CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center and child abuse prevention. The number of children the agency is being asked to serve has grown dramatically in recent years. Barber said this gift will help them keep up with the growing demand. For more information about the Children’s Center, including volunteer opportunities and free training classes, go to www.fanninccc.org.
- Christmas Drive 2019 December 20, 2019
In all, 291 children served by the Fannin County Children’s Center will have gifts of clothes, shoes, coats, toys and other items to open on Christmas morning, thanks to many generous donors.
That was 30 more kids than last year and the most ever served for Christmas by the Children’s Center. “Once again, our generous community rose to the challenge,” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Children’s Center. “All of our kids will have an extra special holiday thanks to so many generous supporters.”
Rebel Roots Boutique, WalMart, CapTex, Legend Bank, Tax Assessor Collector Office, Tractor Supply, Blessings and Butterflies, Warrior Tire, Red River Gypsies and Bamboo House put up teddy bear trees to help the center collect presents. “Many of these businesses have been doing this for as long as anyone can remember. A couple places were new this year too,” said Barber. “We are so grateful for their faithful and generous support of our Christmas Drive.”
Presents were given to the children and youth who are being served by the Children’s Center’s two primary programs: CASA and the Children’s Advocacy Center. Some of the children are living in foster homes, away from family and friends. Other children have gone to live with grandparents or other relatives as a result of abuse or neglect. Many of these families struggle financially when one or more children suddenly come to live with them. In other families, the discovery of sexual abuse in the home has meant the loss of family income when the offender leaves.
In January, there will be free classes for adults to learn how to prevent, recognize and respond to child abuse. The center’s staff is also excited to begin offering a new child abuse prevention curriculum for children and youth. In February, a new training class for individuals interested in becoming CASA volunteers will begin. Volunteers are also needed for tasks around the center, including sitting with families who are at the center for therapy and interviews.
- Roxanne Wilson – CASA Advocate of the Quarter December 2, 2019
Roxanne Wilson has been named CASA Volunteer of the Quarter by the Fannin County Children’s Center. She has been a CASA advocate for grand total of 9 years, including 2 years in Montgomery County and 7 years in Fannin County.
After years of being a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) and volunteering on the Rape Crisis Hotline, Wilson developed a passion to help children in need and make a difference in our community. After moving to north Texas, she immediately looked up the local CASA organization because of her previous experience as CASA Advocate in Montgomery County, which is north of Houston. “From the first day I walked into the Fannin County Children’s Center, I knew I had found a place to volunteer and become part of an important team,” said Wilson.
“I continue to be a CASA Advocate to provide stability and be the voice for CASA kids in court,” said Wilson. “I see first-hand the disruption and uncertainty in their lives. I am always available to my kids when they need to share a great story or had a difficult day. It is always rewarding and gratifying to see the transformation in a child and the difference CASA can make in their lives. The encouragement and support of the CASA supervisors and staff help me to grow and be a better CASA.”
Witnessing the progress of each of her CASA kids through their strength and resiliency during an extremely difficult time in their lives is something that keeps Wilson on her cases. Being a CASA advocate is not always easy. Wilson said “I have been challenged to be patient throughout each of my cases that have gone on for years with multiple placements. It is most difficult to see my kid’s lives put on hold while waiting to either be returned to their parent, go to a desirable placement or a forever home.”
Wilson’s supervisor Michele Kelso said “Roxanne was chosen as CASA Advocate of the Quarter because of her dedication to the children she is assigned to. She truly inspires other advocates in our program along with providing exceptional support to the children and their families.”
More volunteers are needed at the Fannin County Children’s Center to be CASA advocates and to help with the Children’s Advocacy Center. The next training class for CASA advocates will start in February 2020. Applications must be completed online and are accepted at any time. Volunteers are also needed immediately to provide supervision to children who are at the center for counseling and forensic interviews.
For more information about volunteering: click here
- 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.
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.
- 3 New CASA Advocates! October 21, 2019
Three 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.
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.