TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County is celebrating a $50,000 grant recently received from the East Texas Communities Foundation (ETCF).
“We’re very grateful for community members who step up and step out to reach out to children,” said Chief Development Officer of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County, Deanna Sims.
The money will be used to expand the facility. They will need a total of $4 million to completely fund this project. The advocacy center has seen an increase in people using the facility over the past few years.
“We are planning to renovate this facility. Currently, we’re in an 8,000 square foot building on the Frankston highway and we’re planning to expand our property on this current land that we own,” Sims said.
The grant was also a big deal for ETCF because it pushed them over the $100 million dollar mark in a span of 30 years.
“They’ve got a greater need than their facility has the capacity to handle so that was a grant to help them towards that effort to do some expansion of their program,” President/CEO of The East Community Foundation, Kyle Penney said.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County (CACSC) serves children who have been victims of physical and/or sexual abuse, witnessed a violent crime or been exposed to community violence. In 2019, the CACSC served its greatest number of clients to date, assisting 819 children.
“About five years ago, we had 350 children who came here to tell their story of abuse in a forensic interview setting. This last year we had 819 children come,” Sims said.
The grant to CACSC was initiated from the Jasper Family Fund held at East Texas Community Foundation. “As a board member for the Advocacy Center, I have seen the incredible work they provide first-hand and appreciate their amazing staff and leadership,” said Brent Jasper. “I can’t think of a more deserving organization to have received a gift from our family fund and then to know that it was this grant that pushed ETCF over $100,000,000 in giving is really icing on the cake.”
This center serves a crucial role in the community.
“Abuse is a bigger issue than our community knows its one of those causes that’s very quiet many times because…it is growing as you can see by the hands on this wall, they represent the children that are coming in every day to tell their stories,” Sims said.
ETCF is a nonprofit corporation serving 32 counties in East Texas. The Foundation distributed $12 million in grants in 2019 and currently manages over $110 million in assets distributed over 370 unique charitable funds which support non-profit organizations and student scholarships. The Foundation, which was formed in 1989, has awarded over $100 million in grants and scholarships since its inception.