For a person with a giving heart, choosing which cause to support can be a daunting, even emotional process. How do you decide whether to give a donation to help hungry kids or elderly adults?

There are many deserving, compelling causes out there, and each one pulls on my heart for different reasons. I just wish I could help them all.

Sound familiar? Do you also suffer from this great condition known as a giving heart?

One of the things I love the most about being a member of the Women’s Fund of Smith County is that my annual gift becomes part of our collective “pot” which is distributed to multiple, vetted nonprofits through our annual grants process. I give once a year, and many deserving recipients benefit through our grants.

Aside from being able to impact different organizations through the Women’s Fund, I also know that because our grants committee thoroughly vets each project request, I can be assured that my gift will impact lasting change through the work of a reliable nonprofit.

Just this year, seven Smith County nonprofits are using grants from the Women’s Fund to create or expand projects that enrich the lives of women and children. Along with the more than 350 members of our giving circle, I had the chance to vote on the projects I wanted to see funded. And so now, I am excited to see these new initiatives going forward in our community.

Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County

Women’s Fund presented a grant award of $60,000 to Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County (CAC) for new furnishings that will allow CAC to launch additional groups, as well as expand those CAC currently offers. These include a new investigative/intervention group for those identified as at risk for trafficking; therapy support groups for parents, boys and girls; Trauma Informed Schools summer programs for educators; and multidisciplinary team case coordination.

East Texas Food Bank

Next, we awarded $60,000 to the East Texas Food Bank. This funding was given in support of the Food Bank’s Tyler Resource Center, a new multi-service food pantry that will be located at the organization’s distribution center in Tyler, in an area of high need, where ETFB will serve an estimated 500 Smith County households each week.

East Texas Symphony Orchestra

Our third grant of $35,000 was awarded to the East Texas Symphony Orchestra and will enable the organization to empower more than 3,500 Smith County students, including every 4th & 5th grader in Tyler Independent School District, by providing National and Texas standards-based instrumental music education.

East Texas Veteran’s Community Council

A grant of $54,320 will enable Camp V to begin construction on a new patio. This project is aimed at providing social, educational, and support gatherings to help Camp V better identify and assess the needs of and serve the rapidly growing number of women veterans and families in East Texas.

The Fostering Collective

Together, we awarded $50,000 to the Fostering Collective to be used for a Family Resource Center makeover. The project will mobilize The Fostering Collective to expand tangible and therapeutic support services for foster/adoptive families by developing a Sensory Room, Resource Room, and an upgraded Collective Closet with the essentials families need to care for foster children, and provide a staff member to manage the Closet.


We gave an award of $60,000 to PATH to support its Community Playground project. PATH Community Homes owns 52 properties that are the foundation for PATH’s Transitional Housing Program. PATH will use this grant to purchase new equipment and refresh the existing property in order to provide a warm, inviting, safe place for all families in the surrounding neighborhood to use and enjoy.

Starbrite Therapeutic Equestrian Center

Our final award of $50,000 was granted to Starbrite Therapeutic Equestrian Center. This funding will allow Starbrite to hire an additional full-time Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (CTRI) to serve the organization’s wait list of eligible participants. Starbrite is a service organization that utilizes equine assisted activities to spread the Love of Christ by empowering youth, adults, and veterans with a variety of needs and abilities.

It’s hard to believe my annual pledge could play a role in so many diverse and important projects here, but it did. And the same process is already underway, ensuring that our collective giving continues to transform our community once again in 2024. If you suffer from this compassion condition, you may want to become a member of the Women’s Fund – membership is open to any woman with a giving heart.

Zoe Lawhorn serves as president of the Women’s Fund of Smith County, a collective giving circle of more than 350 women with a mission of transforming our community by funding programs that enrich the lives of women and children. Learn more by visiting