Women’s Fund of Smith County Announces 2017 Annual Grants Exceeds $1 Million in Cumulative Grants Awarded Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

The Women’s Fund of Smith County awarded four high-impact grants at its 2017 Grants Announcement Reception on Thursday, February 9 at 5:45 p.m. Approximately 150 Women’s Fund members and guests attended the event at Willow Brook Country Club, as grants totaling $185,128 were presented to programs that benefit women and children in Smith County.

City of Tyler Mayor, Martin Heines, issued an official Proclamation, declaring February 9, 2017 as “Women’s Fund of Smith County Day.” “I am honored to address this remarkable group of women, who have done so much good in our community,” said Mayor Heines, as he recognized the tenth anniversary of the philanthropic organization and lauded the local economic impact of over $1 million in total grant funding, since the group began giving grants in 2009.

The Women’s Fund of Smith County was created in 2007 as a collective giving circle with a mission of leveraging women’s philanthropy as a catalyst for positive change. As members of the organization, more than 200 women benefit from education on community needs and best practices in philanthropy, as well as by participating in the annual grants process.

“What better way to celebrate our tenth anniversary than by announcing today’s cumulative total of $1,143,263 in grant funding,” noted Kristen Seeber, President/CEO of the Women’s Fund. “These grants have already impacted 24 agencies in our community and countless lives.”

“At the heart of what we do is the annual awarding of community grants,” said Patty Steelman, 2017 Board Chair. “Every member of the Women’s Fund has a voice in the grants process, both through her annual giving and through her vote. But it’s the dedicated women of the Grants Committee, who each year give countless hours to the grants process – they make it happen for all of us.”

The awards began with a grant of $50,000 to Bethesda Health Clinic for its “Women’s Advocacy Initiative” which will expand Bethesda’s current social work department by adding a full-time patient advocate to help the clinic address the growing number of women who are suffering from more than just medical issues. Working to improve the overall health of these women will result in healthier, stronger and more productive families and a more robust workforce in Smith County. Dr. John English, CEO and Medical Director of Bethesda Health Clinic, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

The second grant was presented to the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County for the expansion of its S.A.N.E. (Sexual Assault Nurse Exam) program. The $66,000 grant will provide for a full-time, in-house Nurse Practitioner for non-emergency pediatric sexual assault medical evaluations. The expansion will serve 100-150 children and young sex traffic victims and also will include education to the public on sexual assault and human trafficking. Accepting the grant was Terri Smith, Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County.

Meals on Wheels Ministry was awarded the third grant of $34,128 to initiate and implement “Sunrise Senior Servings.” The goal, in the first year of the program, is to identify and serve 250 female clients of MOWM living in Smith County and supply 365 days of breakfasts to them. By providing nutritionally dense, shelf-stable breakfast items, as well as milk for the week, combined with their current home-delivered meal service, these seniors are assured the physical and emotional comfort of having enough food each day and remain living independently in their own homes. Mike Powell, President/CEO of Meals on Wheels Ministry, accepted the award.

The final grant of $35,000 was awarded to Young Audiences of Northeast Texas in support of its Arts in Education Program. For nearly 20 years, Young Audiences has partnered with Tyler ISD to increase arts access for its students. This funding will help expand that programming by partnering with Whitehouse ISD and Chapel Hill ISD to provide arts access to underserved students and teachers. An arts rich education has proven to give students energetic new ways of thinking and exploring – essential for future leaders. Accepting the grant for Young Audiences of Northeast Texas was Amy Baskin, Executive Director.

“We are so pleased to honor Bethesda Health Clinic, the Children’s Advocacy Center, Meals on Wheels Ministry and Young Audiences this year for their innovative programs,” said Vera Moore, Women’s Fund Vice Chair for Grants. “Each of their projects will offer hope for the future and a lasting impact.”

The next Women’s Fund grant process will begin with a seminar for Smith County nonprofits in May. Information on the grants program, as well as Women’s Fund membership and events, is posted on the website: www.womensfundsc.org

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