Miller Foundation Gives to Kids

Miller Foundation Jan 2020For 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.

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Kids Art Contest

The Fannin County Children’s Center is seeking children’s artwork for their annual contest. Children and youth ages 18 and under are invited to enter their work of art for a chance to win prizes and help other children.

The contest judges will be looking for artwork that illustrates the theme “Open Your Heart.” They will be looking for something that is eye catching and heart-warming. Winning entries in the past have often included hearts, kids, families and bright, cheerful colors, as well as the words “Open Your Heart” and “Fannin County Children’s Center.”

Two winning entries will win special ribbons and cash prizes. The first place artist will receive a $100 cash, a blue ribbon and their artwork will be reproduced on the front of the campaign card. Second place will win a $50 cash, a red ribbon and have their artwork included inside of the card. The cards that feature the winning artwork will be used to help the local nonprofit raise funds to provide advocacy, counseling and other critical support services for the abused and neglected children of Fannin County.

Artwork must be turned in by 5 pm on Monday, February 10 at the Children’s Center at 112 West Fifth in Bonham. Entry forms, contest rules and more information can be found at the center at 112 W. 5th in Bonham or by calling (903) 583-4339 or by clicking here.

Entry forms are here: Art Contest flyer 2020

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Volunteer Info Session

8773_TxCASA_SM_Insta1080px_v01_Girl2At last check, 3 children from Fannin County who are in foster care do not have a CASA volunteer advocate.

The Fannin County Children’s Center is seeking volunteers for a variety of roles, including CASA advocates for children in foster care, CAC volunteers who supervise children at the center, Rainbow Room volunteers who organize clothing and other supplies, Honey Doers who help with minor repairs and maintenance and Hospitality Team who prepare food for various meetings and trainings.

CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, is one of several programs offered by the Fannin County Children’s Center for the benefit of abused and neglected children. CASA is seeking adult volunteers who can complete training and pass background checks to be appointed by the 336th District Court to serve as Guardian ad Litem for children in foster care.

In that role, CASA volunteers regularly visit their assigned child or sibling group and gather information from parents, other family, teachers, medical personnel, therapists and others in order to make recommendations to the court on what will be in the child’s best interest. They prepare court reports and testify at court hearings too. Many volunteers successfully manage to volunteer while also working full time and spending time with their families.

The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is another program of the Children’s Center. Compassionate CAC volunteers are needed to supervise children, youth and families who are at the center for interviews or counseling. Other volunteers are needed for tasks not directly working with children, such as organizing clothes in the Rainbow Room, helping with light repairs and maintenance of the building and preparing food for various meetings and trainings.

There will be an informational session on Tuesday, January 21 from 5:30 – 6:30 pm at the center at 112 West Fifth Street in Bonham. Community Development Director Andrea Lappin and CASA Program Director Amanda McDonald will present information about all the volunteer opportunities available at the center, as well as information about the application process and training requirements. Attendance at the information session is not a requirement to become a volunteer, however, it is a helpful step to learning more about what it takes to be a volunteer. Attending the info session will not obligate anyone to become a volunteer.

The next training sessions for CASA volunteers will start in February. Participants will gain knowledge and learn skills needed to become an advocate for abused children in foster care. Participants will also be reading and completing activities on their own time. At least 2 hours of court room observation will also be required. All who successfully complete the training will take the CASA oath in the Fannin County District Courtroom.

Applications are now being accepted for all types of volunteers at the Children’s Center. For more information, attend the volunteer information session on January 21,  call (903) 583-4339 and/or click here.

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Christmas Drive 2019

Third graders from Ector Elementary school collected 72 pairs of pajamas and several books for the Fannin County Children’s Center for Christmas.

Third graders from Ector Elementary school collected 72 pairs of pajamas and several books for the Fannin County Children’s Center for Christmas.

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.

More about volunteering

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Volunteers Needed

volunteer handsMore volunteers are needed at the Fannin County Children’s Center. The non-profit with a mission of promoting safety and improving the lives of abused and neglected children has several different roles that volunteers can fill.

The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is one program of the Children’s Center. Compassionate CAC volunteers are needed to help supervise the children, youth and families who are waiting in the reception area for therapy and forensic interviews. CAC Volunteers are needed primarily in the afternoons and early evening hours. Ideally, volunteers will work the same 2 or 3 hour shift each week.

The Rainbow Room is a resource room stocked with new clothes, shoes, diapers and other items needed by the children served by CASA, CAC and Child Protective Services. Rainbow Room volunteers help sort, organize and keep the room neat and tidy.

Volunteers are also needed for the Hospitality Team. These volunteers help periodically by making food for the various meetings and trainings held at the center.

Office volunteers are needed periodically to help answer phones, greet visitors to the center, get newsletters ready for mailing and other light office work.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, complete a volunteer application, have clear background checks and complete volunteer orientation. Contact Andrea Lappin at andrea@fanninccc.org or (903) 583-4339 for questions or to apply.

Volunteers are also needed to be CASA advocates for children in foster care. These volunteers visit children regularly, communicate with all the adults involved in the child’s life, prepare court reports and attend court hearings to advocate for the child’s best interest. The next training class for CASA advocates will start in February 2020. CASA volunteer applications must be completed online and are accepted at any time. For questions about becoming a CASA volunteer advocate, contact Amanda McDonald at amanda@fanninccc.org or (903) 583-4339.

For more information about all volunteer opportunities and the Children’s Center, click here 

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Roxanne Wilson – CASA Advocate of the Quarter

Bill and Roxanne WilsonRoxanne 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

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Christmas Drive

The annual Christmas drive at the Fannin County Children’s Center is already in full swing. Staff and volunteers have been gathering lists of wishes and needs of the children, youth and families served by both CASA and the Children’s Advocacy Center. Faithful donors and supporters have already started contacting the center too in order to find out how they can be a part of the effort. Teddy bear trees are already up at many locations in the community to make sure the Christmas wishes and needs get filled.

Last year, the Children’s Center gave presents of clothing, coats, shoes, toys and other gifts to 261 children and youth who were being served by the Children’s Center’s two primary programs: CASA and the Children’s Advocacy Center. Organizers expect to serve a similar number of children this year.

Some of the children helped by this project 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.

Center staff and volunteers take the time to find out about the individual situation, needs, preferences and wishes of each child. The agency also works closely with Child Protective Services and other community agencies to ensure that efforts are coordinated and not duplicated.

Donations of cash, toys, new clothes, coats, shoes and other items are now being accepted. Teddy bear trees, which contain the wish or need of a specific child, are up or will soon be up at the Tax-Assessor Collector’s Office, CapTex Bank, WalMart, Legend Bank, Blessings and Butterflies, Tractor Supply and Warrior Tire. For donors who are short on time, the center also accepts cash donations which will be used to purchase gifts for the children.

Donations can be brought or mailed to the center at 112 West Fifth Street, Bonham, Texas 75418. The center is open 8 am to 5 pm, Monday – Friday, but for the week of Dec 2-6 they will stay open until 6 pm so that donors can drop off gifts after work. Organizers ask that the donations arrive by Dec 6, or earlier if possible. This will allow time for gifts to be sorted and delivered in time for the holidays. Checks should be made out to FCCC and indicate they are for Christmas. Donations can also be made by credit or debit card on the center’s website. All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law. For more information, call 903-583-4339 or click here
Wish Lists
For Christmas gifts for kids

  • Toys for children under 3
  • Gift cards and other gifts for teenagers
  • Movies & music (rated G & PG only please)
  • Craft kits, markers, coloring books, etc.
  • Board games and books
  • Footballs, basketballs, soccer balls
  • Perfume, cologne, bath sets & make-up sets
  • Purses, wallets, make-up bags & backpacks
  • Gift cards for clothing and discount stores
  • New clothing, coats & shoes for children ages 0-17

For the Children’s Center

  • Individually wrapped snacks, bottled water & juice boxes
  • Clorox wipes and paper towels
  • Copy paper, legal pads, office supplies
  • Paper towels, plates, napkins, cups, plastic forks, etc
  • Journals, coloring books for teens, paints, markers, play-doh & other craft materials for therapy sessions
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Justice Is Served

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.

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3 New CASA Advocates!

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

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Brookshire’s Gives

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.”

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