Women’s Fund of Smith County awards grants to local non-profits

Women’s Fund of Smith County awards grants to local non-profits

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - East Texas non-profits were awarded grants from the Women’s Fund of Smith County totaling $329,480.

Organizers and members attended the Willow Brook County Club in Tyler for their first ever in-person and virtual event. PATH in Tyler is one of the organizations receiving the grant. They received $60,000. The pandemic has caused an increased need of families needing assistance. They say this gift comes at a crucial time.

“It is a lifesaving dollar amount for women and children who lost their job to COVID or have had a dramatic income reduction as a result of COVID who walk through our door because they don’t have anywhere else to go and they need some help getting their rent paid, and that’s what we’re here to do,” Executive Director Andrea Wilson said.

Since 2009, the organization cumulatively has donated $2.3 million to non-profits.

Per the Women’s Fund of Smith County:

The Women’s Fund of Smith County (WFSC) awarded six grants totaling $329,480 to six local nonprofit agencies during its 2021 Grants Announcement Event on Tuesday, February 2 at 5:30 p.m. This brings the Women’s Fund’s cumulative giving to $2,305,635 in grant awards given since 2009. In a departure from the large, in-person events held in prior years, the event was produced and streamed live on Facebook to an audience that included the organization’s membership of over 300 women.

“This event reflects the heart of our mission, and we are especially honored to award more dollars to more agencies than ever before – despite the challenges presented throughout our 2020 grant cycle,” said Zoe Lawhorn, President of the Women’s Fund. WFSC was created in 2007 as a collective giving circle with a mission of transforming our community by funding programs that enrich the lives of women and children.

“Our leadership recognized the immediate and persistent need that our local nonprofits would experience as a result of Covid 19′s comprehensive impact on our community,” said Johnna Fullen, 2020 – 2021 Board Chair. “Early on, we decided to amend our normal grant strategy in such a way that would allow agencies to direct funding to their core programs. We knew that the pandemic would not only increase the demand for the services these incredible nonprofit agencies provide, it would also challenge traditional fundraising models like special events.”

Women’s Fund members benefit from education on community issues and best practices in philanthropy, as well as by participating in the annual grants process. “Each member has a voice in our grants process through her own giving and through her vote for the grants we award annually,” said Ms. Fullen.

All 2021 awards will be utilized by the recipient agency to address core programming needs. The following grant awards were announced during Tuesday’s broadcast. Bethesda Health Clinic is a Christ-centered ministry with a bold mission: to provide high-quality healthcare to hardworking low-income adults who are uninsured or underinsured. Dr. John English, CEO/Medical Director for Bethesda Health Clinic accepted a grant award totaling $68,980, which will be used to provide gynecological services, as well as to purchase related equipment.

Terri Smith, CEO of Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County accepted a grant of $62,000, which will help replace funding historically raised through events the organization was forced to cancel due to the pandemic. The Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County is dedicated to child victims of physical and sexual abuse and strives to reduce trauma through a unified effort that facilitates thorough investigations, effective prosecutions and the healing of the children and their families.

Sharlyn May, Executive Director of St. Paul Children’s Services accepted a grant of $45,000, a total which will support the organization’s core programs. The mission of St. Paul Children’s Foundation is to empower children and families to thrive by meeting their physical, mental and spiritual needs. Its services include a pediatric medical clinic, pediatric dental clinic, counseling, food pantry, benefits enrollment assistance, and family education classes.

A grant of $43,500 for Christian Women’s Job Corps of Tyler (CWJC) was accepted by Executive Director, Lesley Jones. The mission of CWJC is to equip women with life skills and job skills in a Christ-centered environment. The agency uses a holistic approach to prepare students to confidently transform their lives and achieve their career goals.

Whitney Patterson, Executive Director of Literacy Council of Tyler (LCOT), accepted a grant of $50,000 which will help cover additional costs over budget incurred as a result of the pandemic’s impact on LCOT’s ability to hold in-person classes. Technology costs, additional staffing required by the creation of virtual classrooms and ongoing training for teachers and staff will be funded as a result of this grant. Literacy Council of Tyler provides education for adults at any stage of life.

Finally, Andrea Wilson, Executive Director for PATH, accepted $60,000 in funding which will help the organization provide rent assistance to clients, a service which represents PATH’s number one requested need during the grant request period. PATH seeks to restore hope with a personalized approach to empower its East Texas neighbors to thrive in our community.

“After a year characterized by unknowns, it was with such joy that we joined together ‘virtually’ on Tuesday to celebrate not only the impact these grants will have on women and children in need in our community,” said Deborah Race, WFSC Vice Chair for Grants, “but also to celebrate the resilience of our own membership and mission. We innovated and adapted our practices – from meeting via Zoom, to reconsidering the focus of our grants strategy – and we are grateful to see that we were successful in carrying our mission forward to those who need us the most.”

The next Women’s Fund of Smith County grant cycle will begin in May, with a seminar for area nonprofits to learn more about the funding criteria and guidelines of the organization. Information about the grants program, as well as Women’s Fund membership and events, is available online, at www.womensfundsc.org.

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