Many thanks to everyone who contributes to our center and makes our work possible!
- Successful School Supply Drive! August 7, 2022
More than 600 students from all over Fannin County received free school supplies on August 6 to start the new school year, thanks to a generous community. This year marked the 26th year that the Fannin County Children’s Center has provided school supplies to local children and youth.
The exact number of students served on Saturday was 605. Organizers expect the final number to grow over the next few days as additional students will be served with the remaining supplies. Misti Tackett and Emily Littleton from Hair Central in Leonard also provided free haircuts to 19 students too.
“Once again, we are very grateful to our generous donors and hard-working volunteers and staff who make this happen every year,” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Children’s Center.
“We also appreciate Misti and Emily for generously using their talents to give 19 children free haircuts on Saturday. We also are grateful to Red River Gypsies for loaning us their space, so that the haircuts could be indoors and in a setting suitable for haircuts,” said Barber.
Numerous other organizations braved the heat and set up outside, in front of the center to offer resources to the children and families getting supplies. One City Church gave away 500 breakfast burritos as well as lots of toiletries, baby wipes and diapers. Other vendors included Bailey Inglish Early Childhood Center, Balloons & More, Bonham Public Library, Fannin County Prenancy Care Center, Fannin County Sherriff Office, Meade-Norman Bayless Insurance, Superior HealthPlan, Texas A&M ArgiLife Extension Service, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Star and Texas Health Steps (Maximus) and Workforce Solutions Texoma.
The mission of the Children’s Center is promoting safety and improving the lives of abused and neglected children. In addition to the annual school supply drive, the center operates CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center and child abuse prevention programs. The next CASA volunteer training class starts soon. The deadline to apply online to become a CASA is Aug 22. For more information, call (903) 583-4339 or go to www.fanninccc.org.
- Children’s Center Awards Banquet April 21, 2022
Around one hundred people were in attendance at the Complex in Bonham for a banquet honoring the volunteers and partners of the Fannin County Children’s Center. Attendees included CASA advocates, investigators, prosecutors, therapists, forensic interviewers, caseworkers, attorneys, district judge, board members and other volunteers and professionals involved in the child welfare and criminal justice systems in Fannin County.
Roxanne Wilson and Marta Schreiber received a standing ovation when it was announced that they are the CASA Advocates of the Year. Schreiber has been a CASA advocate for 22 years and Wilson for ten years. The first case they worked together lasted seven years. CASA Program Director Julie Luton described how the two have worked many cases together and experienced many joys, disappointments, successes and struggles along the way as they have advocated for many children in foster care.
Melanie Elliot with the Bonham Police Department was selected as the Multidisciplinary Team Member of the Year for the Children’s Advocacy Center. Members of the multidisciplinary team, which includes professionals from CPS, law enforcement, prosecution, medical and mental health, nominated and voted on the team member of the year. Assistant District Attorney Will Porter and CPS investigator Cody Trauer were recognized for being finalists for the team member of the year award too.
Colleen Ewing was named the Children’s Center Volunteer of the Year. Community Development Director Andrea Lappin described how Ewing volunteers with the annual School Supply and Christmas Drives and other ways around the office. Her cheerful smile and willingness to help get tasks completed in the Rainbow Rooms and around the center are greatly appreciated.
CAC Program Director Michelle Griffith was honored for 25 years of service to the Children’s Center. Griffith has filled many different roles at the center over the years, including being the first forensic interviewer, therapist, clinical director and program director. Executive Director Sandy Barber described Griffith as a leader with a big heart, playful spirit, and deep passion for serving victims of child abuse.
Stephanie Garcia was also recognized by Luton for her recent promotion to Program Director of CPS. Luton described how CASA has appreciated working with Garcia over the 14 years she has worked at the Department.
Numerous CASA Advocates were recognized and received pins for achieving three, five or ten years of service.
Timothy Rountree was the guest speaker for the evening. He is a senior child abuse detective, father, husband and survivor of child sexual abuse. He shared some of his personal story and thanked all who were in attendance for the role they play in helping victims of abuse. Rountree said the two best things to give survivors is courage and hope.
Children’s Center Board President Charlotte Garner welcomed everyone to the event. Children’s Center Board Member and Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church Stuart Courtney gave the blessing for the meal. 336th District Judge Lauri Blake also spoke of her appreciation for all in attendance, especially the CASA advocates that she appoints to cases involving children in foster care.
- Art Contest Winners March 3, 2022
Winners of the annual art contest sponsored by the Fannin County Children’s Center have been selected. Nora Obeid took home the top prize in this year’s art contest. She won $100 and a blue ribbon for her drawing of her hands holding a heart.
Her 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 Eynar Alfaro, who is a sixth grader at Sam Rayburn ISD. His artwork features hands holding a bright red heart and several children and will be featured on the inside of the cards. He won $50 cash and a red ribbon for his artwork.
“Once again, 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 2,600 people to help raise funds to sustain all 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. For more information, visit www.fanninccc.org or call (903) 583-4339.
- MW and Fair Miller Foundation December 20, 2021
Trustees with the M.W. and Fair Miller Foundation have once again been delivering lots of holiday cheer in December by presenting generous grants to several schools and other youth serving organizations in Fannin County. One generous gift was for $23,000 to the Fannin County Children’s Center.
“We are delighted and deeply honored to receive such a generous gift,” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Children’s Center. “This gift will provide many critical support services for kids from hard places.”
A portion of this gift will help stock the Rainbow Rooms with new clothing, shoes, diapers and other needed items by the children and youth served by CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center and Child Protective Services. Other funds will help provide training to the volunteers and professionals who work directly with children from hard places. The grant will also provide trauma focused professional counseling for children and youth as well as supplies needed in therapy sessions.
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 Dr. Jerry Hopson, Tyler Todd and Dr. Dana Sisk.
The Fannin County Children’s Center is a nonprofit agency that has been serving abused and neglected children since 1993. Programs include CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center and child abuse prevention. For more information about the Children’s Center, including volunteer opportunities, go to www.fanninccc.org.
- Christmas All Wrapped Up! December 20, 2021
In all, 293 children received Christmas gifts from the Fannin County Children’s Center, thanks to a generous community and many hard-working volunteers and staff.
For the second year in a row, the Children’s Center created a pop-up store to serve the children served by CASA and the Children’s Advocacy Center. Some CASA children were still served the traditional way. The pop-up store gave parents, caregivers or advocates an opportunity to select presents for their children. Each child got a book and either a coat, hoodie or pair of shoes. Each family got one family board game and plenty of wrapping paper. Caregivers were also able to select toys and other gifts using a point system.
“Over the years, our traditional way of doing Christmas had grown to be more than our staff could reasonably manage. We learned of this pop-up store idea from other Children’s Advocacy Centers,” said Sandy Barber of the Children’s Center. “This way of getting gifts to kids turned out to be much more empowering for our families and allowed for more volunteer involvement.”
“Over and over again, we heard parents and other caregivers express their gratitude for this help for Christmas,” said Barber. “There were even some happy tears and lots of hugs of appreciation too.”
“The generosity of our community was overwhelming once again. So many individuals, businesses, churches and other groups gave what they could and it all added up to make sure all of the children served by CASA and the Children’s Advocacy Center have something special for Christmas,” said Barber.
Eighteen local businesses set up teddy bear trees to help collect gifts for the children, including 9-1-1 Nutrition, Blessings & Butterflies, Bonham Chrysler, Brookshire’s Grocery, CapTex Bank (Bonham & Trenton), First United Bank (Bonham & Leonard), Fix and Feed, Gayle’s, Harper’s Creations Baker, Legend Bank, Rebel Roots Boutique, Red River Gypsies, Shockley State Farm, Stay Grounded Coffee Company, Tax-Assessor Collector’s Office (Tag Office), Texas Farm Bureau Insurance, WalMart and Warrior Tire.
“Many of these businesses have been doing this for many years. Others were new this year,” said Barber. “We are very grateful for their assistance and generous support of our Christmas Drive.”
Gifting The Cycle is a nonprofit that gives bicycles to children in the North Texas area. They gave 59 bicycles and helmets to the Children’s Center for Christmas presents.
For more information about the Children’s Center, call (903) 583-4339 or go to www.fanninccc.org.
- McCraw Oil and TXB Help Kids! November 29, 2021
The Fannin County Children’s Center was thrilled to accept a donation of $15,000 from TXB (formerly Kwik Chek) and McCraw Oil recently. This check was one of several being delivered around the state by Sherry Capehart, on behalf of the two companies.
This gift was part of the proceeds from the 25th annual Doyce Taylor Memorial Golf and Fishing Tournament held earlier this year. This year’s tournament raised a grand total of $60,000 for CASA programs, which brings the 13-year grand total for CASA to $682,000.
“We are so thankful for the continued support from our vendors and participants at our annual fishing and golf tournaments, so we can keep giving back to Texas CASA year after year,” said Capehart. “Plans are already underway for our 2022 tournaments.”
Children’s Center Executive Director Sandy Barber said “We simply cannot say ‘thank you’ enough to our friends at TXB and McCraw Oil. Their generosity year after year is amazing. Not only do they work hard to make the golf tournament happen to make these generous gifts to us and other CASA programs, they sponsor our events, their employees volunteer their time at the center and they always answer our calls for help.”
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.
The gift to the Children’s Center will support children in foster care by providing trained volunteer advocates. To learn more about the Children’s Center, go to www.FanninCCC.org.
- Record Setting Justice Is Served! November 15, 2021
New records were set at the 17th Annual “Justice Is Served” fundraiser last Saturday. Very early estimates are that the event raised at least $88,000 for the Fannin County Children’s Center. This amount was a huge increase over the previous best of $67,000 from two years ago. Nearly 500 people attended the event at the Complex.
This year’s event was a Masquerade Ball. Many guests dressed up in elegant outfits and wore masquerade style masks to fit the event theme. Tables at the Complex were decorated with rich colors, feathers, and masquerade masks.
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, several police chiefs and other local officials of the justice system served up dinner to the guests.
James Dering led a jazz combo that played upbeat jazz music while guests viewed and bid on about 200 items in the silent auction. Guests also had fun taking turns at the SMP Party photo booth sponsored by Red River Gypsies.
Fannin County Game Warden Randolph McGee was the auctioneer for the evening. The highest winning bid of the night and in the seventeen-year history of this event was $5,300 for the Courage Item donated by the Board of Directors of the Children’s Center. Board Vice-President Faith Rich 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. Bryant and Kimberly Smith won the Courage Item and later learned that they won a trip to Angel Fire, New Mexico.
“I love Justice is Served and have some very special memories over the years,” said Kenneth Karl, Justice of the Peace, Pct 2. “I cannot imagine missing it. Last night though, as the last item was auctioned, I had tears. It just came over me: this is why we, my family, cherish Fannin County and its people. With the value of the unknown Courage item at no more than $2000, the bids went all the way to $5300. The true reason for the event was on full display. We do what we can, we give what we can, we come together, in the hope for a better tomorrow for our children.”
Warrior Tire donated a trip for two to Nashville that sold for $3,600. A custom gate from Jason Garner Custom Welding also sold for $3,600 in the live auction. After the bidding ended, the crew from Jason Garner Custom Welding announced that two more gates would be made available to the next two highest bidders. The additional two gates brought in another $6,500 in all.
First United Bank was the first ever presenting Diamond Sponsor of the event. Platinum sponsors included Jason Garner Custom Welding, TXB, McCraw Oil and Propane, B&B Service Center/Driver’s Choice, Renlita Custom Opening Solutions, 4R Coatings, LLC and Bonham Chrysler.
Funds raised from the event will help the Children’s Center keep up with the growing demand for their services as well as cover for recent losses in some grant funds. Proceeds will provide counseling, advocacy, forensic interviews and more to help children from hard places heal, grow and thrive. To learn more about the Children’s Center, including volunteer opportunities, go to www.fanninccc.org.
- First United Supporting Kids! October 28, 2021
“It’s our pleasure to sponsor Fannin County Children’s Center’s Justice is Served,” said Alan McDonald with First United. “The volunteers, staff, and Board that serve children in need are unsung heroes. The Children’s Center’s mission aligns with First United Bank’s values of faith and family, as well as seeking to elevate the lives of others. In this case, there are many Fannin County children that can’t protect themselves or care for themselves and so need the center’s services to help them find a loving, safe and healthy place to live at a difficult time in their lives.”
Proceeds from the event will provide counseling, advocacy and other critical support services to children, youth and families recovering from the trauma of abuse and neglect.
This year’s event is a hybrid event, with both in-person and online elements. The in-person event will be a Masquerade Ball at the MultiPurpose Complex in Bonham on Saturday, Nov. 13. Doors will open at 6 pm. Guests will enjoy dinner, drinks, desserts and an evening of fun, including a live auction. Dinner will be made by Feast on This and served up buffet style by local judges, police chiefs, sheriff, DA and others in the justice system. Guests are encouraged to dress up for an elegant evening out and wear masquerade masks.
The Baked Goods Auction and Silent Auction will be on-line and anyone with access to the internet can participate without purchasing a ticket.
The Baked Goods Auction will be on Wednesday, Nov. 10. Bidding will open at 9:00 am and end at 5:15 pm. Winners can pick up their items at the Children’s Center the same day until 7 pm or on Thursday or Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.
Bidding for the Silent Auction will start online at 7 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 10 and end at 9 pm on Saturday, Nov. 13. The silent auction items will be on display at the in-person event at the Complex on Saturday night. Winners who are present at the Complex can take their items home that Saturday evening as usual. Winners who do not attend the in-person event can pick up their items at the Children’s Center on Sunday between 2-4 pm or during normal business hours Monday – Friday 8 am to 5 pm. There will also be options to mail most items to the winners too.
Auction items will include many homemade baked goods, jewelry, home furnishings, hand crafted items, gift cards and gift baskets. Warrior Tire is donating a trip for two to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. David Keene donated several beautiful, hand-crafted pens made from Bois d’Arc wood from Fannin County. Senator Bob Hall has given a beautiful wood and leather chair with the State of Texas seal on it. Total Wine donated a private wine class for up to 20 people.
The auction website is up and running. Auction items can be previewed online now and more items are being added daily. Guests are encouraged to register to bid before coming to the Saturday night event, as it will make the check-in process go quicker.
Tickets and tables are on sale now. Early bird ticket prices are $50 each when purchase by Nov 8. Starting Nov 9, tickets, if available, will go up to $75 each. Go to www.fanninccc.org for more event info including the dinner menu, auction preview, ticket purchases and more!
- State Farm Helping Kids October 7, 2021
“Jake and his team from State Farm were a huge help with our 25th Annual School Supply Drive,” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Fannin County Children’s Center. “Not only did they donate boxes and boxes full of backpacks filled with supplies, they helped a lot on the day of the big drive thru giveaway. They braved the heat to help get paperwork completed, filled orders and carried backpacks full of supplies to the cars.”
“There are too many children in Fannin County that lack the basic necessities,” said Shockley. “Anything we can do to help those kids have the same opportunities that we were so blessed to have growing up is something we want to be a part of! If a new backpack and some new school supplies helps them feel proud and gets their year kicked off to a good start, maybe that will be a start to making a difference in their lives.”
In all, 617 kids got backpacks filled with school supplies thanks to Shockley and many other generous donors and dedicated volunteers.
“It was great event that the Children’s Center put on,” said Shockley. “We were proud to be a part of it.”
“We are grateful for the partnership we have formed with Jake and his team,” said Barber. “Looking ahead, they have also already pledged to be a sponsor for Justice Is Served and volunteer with our Christmas Drive. It’s folks like them who give and help how they can that make our work possible.”
The Children’s Center is currently seeking sponsors and auction items for their big fundraising event called Justice Is Served. The Center is also seeking volunteers to help in a variety of roles. To learn more about the Children’s Center, go to www.FanninCCC.org or call (903) 583-4339.
- 4 New CASA Advocates October 5, 2021
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 Carol Swanson, Steve Arthur, Erika Gonzalez and Kimberly Tillett-Poole.
“We are so excited to have these four join our CASA team,” said Amanda McDonald, CASA Program Director with the Fannin County Children’s Center, which includes the local CASA program. “Their dedication to the Advocate training will carry over to their work advocating for children in foster care. All four of them have been appointed to a case and have already started meeting with staff to begin the next steps in their journey as a CASA volunteer advocate.”
In the year ending August 31, 2021, CASA served 107 children. During the same year, CASA closed out cases on 55 children. Most notably, 45 of those 55 children (82%) either returned home or went to stay permanently with relatives.
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 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 new CASA volunteer training will likely be in January or February 2022. Other volunteer opportunities are available now at the Children’s Center. For more information call (903) 583-4339 or visit www.fanninccc.org.