$54K in Grants Awarded to Local Non-profits
The board of directors of the Wood County Electric Charitable Foundation recently reviewed grant requests and awarded $54K to 5 organizations that serve the citizens of Wood County Electric Cooperative’s 9-county service territory. That brings the cumulative 2020 grant total given to 19 organizations to $127,817. The total amount given to local groups since the first donation in 2017 has now reached $358,707.
The WCECF is funded by WCEC members through Operation Round Up, whereby members donate pennies each month. When added together, these donations from across the cooperative’s entire membership allow for a significant local impact.
The recipients of these most recent 5 checks, and the projects they will fund, are: The Wood County Child Protection Board ($12,500), to provide a $250 allowance for back-to-school clothing and supplies for each school-aged foster child in Wood County; The Myrtle Springs Alumni Association in Wills Point ($9,000), to contribute to the replacement of the historic 91-year old community center used by the citizens of Van Zandt County as a gathering place and historic landmark; The Pilot Club of Quitman ($10,000), to be used for their signature project of installing inclusive playground grade oversized musical instruments in the Governor Jim Hogg Public Park; and the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial ($2,500), to upgrade the electrical, lighting and irrigation systems for the well-visited public veterans memorial; and to Hooves and Halos ($20,000), which offers free equine and recreational activities and play days to special needs individuals.
About these donations, Trey Teaff, the Foundation’s Executive Director said, “Operation Round Up, and the organizations that it supports, are a shining example of the exceptional charitable works that bring such light to our East Texas Communities. This is a year we all hunger for good news, and I cannot think of any better news than that of celebrating our local charitable organizations by helping them do their good work to the benefit of our region. WCEC members are the ones that make this possible, and they are to be congratulated.”
VIRTUAL MEETING SETS STAGE FOR $73K IN ACTUAL GRANTS
In Japanese culture the word “crisis” also means “opportunity”. The board of directors of The Wood County Electric Charitable Foundation recently displayed that opportunistic attitude when doling out grants to worthy local charitable causes. The board members usually meet twice a year to review grant requests and make monetary awards. The first bi-annual meeting was scheduled for March, but as we all know, the pandemic got in the way of many scheduled events. To meet with the co-ops social distancing procedures, that March board meeting was delayed.
During that time, some of the grant requests became obsolete, as they were for non-profit events and needs that were also delayed or cancelled. While meetings and events were being waylaid, other needs rapidly emerged as the effects of the financial crisis attached to the pandemic hit. Food pantries across the nation began to see double the number of needy clients, as shelves were rapidly emptied. The board decided to do something about that.
Once able, they held an electronic meeting via teleconference, to discuss the grant requests that were still viable, and to consider directing help where it would most beneficial during this time of need.
At this meeting, after vetting 14 non-profit food pantries across WCEC’s service territory, they unanimously and proactively voted to grant $2,000.00 to each one. The recipients are: God’s Closet, Food Pantry of Franklin County, Rains County Good Samaritan, Titus County Cares Food Pantry, Upshur County Shares, Hawkins Helping Hands, Kindness Kottage, Bread of Life Ministries, CS Food Pantry, Van Community Ministries, Manna Inc., David Powell Food Pantry, Hopkins County Community Chest and the regional East Texas Food Bank.
Upon receipt of their check, Rita Johns, Director of the CS Food Pantry said, “Due to the Covid-19 crisis needs have greatly increased. We are so grateful for the people in our community who have stepped forward to help us supply food for those who need it. We’re funded strictly by donations, and we don’t receive anything from the local or federal governments. We are so humbled and thankful to receive the funds without even asking. What a blessing!
Along with the $28,000 worth of donations to the food pantries, the board did review and award $45,816 in other grants to fund projects and organizations whose requests were not on hold. Those recipients included: Mineola League of the Arts for $2,266 for a sound system; Children’s Miracle Network in the amount of $2,500 to help fund medical care for children; Texas Ramp Project in the amount of $2,500 to build wheel chair ramps for those in need; $5,550 to Fouke Community Center to assist with repairs; $12,000 to Winnsboro Community Resource Center and Pantry, to help with their mission of community assistance; $6,000 to Quitman Lake Charitable Foundation to help fund a basketball court at the public park; and $15,000 for Communities in Schools of North East Texas, which supports children in the foster care system.
This brought the grand total to $73,000 for this round of giving. The Operation Round Up Program at WCEC has been in place since 2017. Since then, including this recent round of grants, the foundation has sent a total of $304,706.00 to community non-profits. These grants have funded life-saving equipment, community and senior centers, artistic and social programs, educational pursuits, and many other programs and projects that are the life blood, and that extra sparkle that make up our East Texas home.
Trey Teaff, CEO and GM of WCEC, encapsulates these gifts well by saying, “The members of Wood County Electric Cooperative voluntarily donate funds through Operation Round Up to support these community-centered grants. Every time funds go out, this program is a celebration of those members. The program allows each participant to give a very little. In turn, coupled with all donors, Operation Roundup becomes an extremely significant contributor to our region and the quality of life we have here. I’m proud of this program, every single member-contributor, and the recipient’s organizations that are doing such good work.”
230,890 Reasons To Be Thankful
WCEC Member Generosity Strikes Again!
In just two years, the total cumulative amount given to local charitable groups by WCEC members through donations via Operation Round Up is a respectable $230,890. Founded in 2017, the board has since handed out 62 checks to 56 LOCAL charitable organizations.
It’s amazing how much money can accumulate, and good can transpire, with the pennies donated. No member donates more than $11.88 a year, and on average; about .50 cents a month. The money goes directly to the Wood County Electric Charitable Foundation, where volunteer board members review grant applications and award the funds to deserving organizations.
During this last grant dispersal, the WCECF board of directors awarded $75,200 to 11 worthy organizations that applied. The recipients represent a broad cross-section of causes, interests and demographics to include, youth, veterans, special needs, rodeo, law enforcement, the economically challenged, and seniors. What each organization has in common is they each positively affect and serve our region and the citizens of Wood County Electric Cooperative. Let’s take a closer look at each of these to learn what their purpose is. After all, you may need their services one day, or better yet, you may want to serve our community as one of their volunteers!
The East Texas 100 Club was created in 2017 by the East Texas Police Chief’s Association. This non-profit is designed to stand in the financial gap for the families of officers killed or catastrophically injured while in the line of duty. The purpose is to offer financial aid to families of Police, Deputies and Constables in 20 East Texas Counties. Families of fallen officers can be challenged with loss of income, medical bills and/or burial expenses. The club immediately steps in with relief funds to ease those burdens. Additionally, it provides equipment and educational opportunities for those in law enforcement that can’t be secured through governmental funds. About the $5,000 WCECF donation, Mount Pleasant Chief of Police Wayne Isbell, founder and treasurer of the club said, “This donation will help support families that suffer tragedy and line-of-duty officer deaths. The East Texas 100 Club is extremely appreciative of the Wood County Electric Charitable Foundation.” www.Easttexas100club.org
Friends of the Arboretum is designed to continue to develop and maintain the Wood County Arboretum. The Arboretum comprises 23 acres of walking trails, woodlands, a historic bridge, and numerous exhibit gardens, as well as the historic James A. Stinson house. The Arboretum offers many community, educational, and social programs and is a great outlet for volunteerism. FOA received $5,000, which will be used to ensure upkeep and continued functionality of the historic house, which is the venue for civic and private events, as well as the headquarters for the all-volunteer FOA that maintains the gardens. Upon receipt of the check, presented by WCECF Board Member Jeannette Giles, Deanna Caldwell, FOA president, said, ” We are very grateful to the Wood County Electric Charitable Foundation for their support, and to WCEC’s members for donating so generously through Operation Round Up. The Stinson House is the heart of the Arboretum and a Wood County historic landmark. This award is a long-term investment that will help preserve it for future generations to enjoy.” www.Quitmanarboretum.com
Forever Young Activity Center provides a place for senior adult fellowship and enrichment activities. Senior activities occur on Wednesdays and Fridays to include educational programs, entertainment, health screenings, chair yoga, painting, crafts, games and volunteer opportunities. FYAC is completely sustained by fundraisers and donations. The center has become a major hub for active seniors, and with growth the group needs to expand paved parking. They received a $5,000 donation to help pay for that. With celebrating onlookers, Jeannette Giles, one of the 7 board members of the Wood County Electric Charitable Foundation, presented the check to John F. Johnson, President of the Board for Forever Young. Of the donation, FYAC Treasurer Daisy Bennett said, “We are really looking forward to the extra parking, as it will make the building much more accessible. We appreciate the support and vote of confidence the WCECF board has shown in us, which will allow us to continue to serve the community.” www.Quitmanseniors.org
The Texas Ramp Project’s mission is to establish and support regional wheelchair ramp-building programs across Texas to provide free ramps to elderly and disabled clients in need. Ramps are built exclusively with volunteer labor by individuals, local service clubs and churches. TRP relies on donated funds to purchase the lumber and other building materials. In 2018 the TRP received 343 referrals in WCEC service territory and built 175 ramps. Their goal is to bring independence and improve the quality of life to clients, as well as give relief to caregivers. Tom Lewis area coordinator for TRP in East Texas received the check on behalf of TRP, from WCECF Board Member Jeannette Giles, at the construction site of a ramp. The $2,500 check they were awarded will fund the materials for four ramps. Lewis said, “We would not be able to provide the joy and relief these ramps bring to our clients without the financial support. We are very grateful for this donation.” www.Texasramps.org.
CS Food Pantry provides emergency food for individuals and families in the Quitman area who are struggling financially. It serves Quitman, and other areas within Wood County that don’t have access to a food pantry. The pantry is funded by donations from churches, organizations and individuals. In 2018 they served over 1,438 people. About their work, Michelle Dobbs, President/Director of Quitman Christmas Sharing Inc. said,
“We allow people to come once a month. It’s truly an emergency shelter. Many clients are elderly and are taking care of their grandchildren, By the time they go to the doctor or pay for medicine, they are out of money.” WCECF Board Member Jeannette Giles presented the $15,000 donation, and Dobbs said, “Thank you for the generous gift to CS Food Pantry of Quitman. We are thrilled to have your support. Through your donation we will be able to accomplish our goal of heating/cooling the pantry area and continue working toward feeding those in need. This truly will make a difference for us.” Find Christmas Sharing Plus on Facebook
Hooves and Halos presents twice-yearly events called Playdays, for special needs individuals, the elderly, veterans and their children, families and caregivers. Guests ride horses, enjoy a petting zoo, face painting, live music, games and a number of other activities. It’s free to all and each guest, caregiver and volunteer, receive lunch and a commemorative T-shirt. Johnette Poole, Executive Director of Hooves and Halos accepted a $12,000 check from WCECF Board Member Jeannette Giles, and said, “The team from Hooves and Halos would like to thank all of the generous participants of the Operation Round Up program. Your donations have gone toward making hundreds of people smile and know that they are precious. Everything that we do for our guests is donated by someone, and in this case that is you! Every penny of our donations goes toward our Playdays and our guests. If you want to see those smiles for yourself, just take a look at our website!” http://Hoovesandhalos.org
The Winnsboro Rodeo Association provides for the upkeep of a local rodeo arena at Winnsboro City Park. It’s used by the chamber of commerce and other non-profits, free of charge, and is a vibrant center of activity in the region. It also plays home to the local United Professional Rodeo Association, and the Tri-county Barrel Racing Association. The Association was granted $10,000 from the WCEC foundation, which WCECF Board Member Jeannette Giles handed out. It will be used to maintain and upgrade the bleachers, bucking chutes, and stock pens. Amanda Crump, the WRA Secretary/ Treasurer said this about the donation, “It is a great honor for the Winnsboro Rodeo Association to receive this donation from the Wood County Electric Charitable Foundation. This donation will help us continue sharing the western heritage and great sport of rodeo for future generations. Winnsboro Rodeo Association has been keeping this tradition going on 60 years and with this donation we hope to keep the tradition moving forward.”
The Franklin County Community Food Bank, located in Mt. Vernon, has the simple mission of assisting hungry families in that county. In addition to dry and canned goods, they have a program called “eggs for everyone.” Their goal is to provide the 170 families they serve with eggs. Jim Stinson, the president of the board of the food bank said about their $4,550 donation, “Franklin County Food bank deeply appreciates the funds provided by the members of Wood County Electric Cooperative. These will provide “eggs for everybody for a whole year!”
Lake Country CASA CASA volunteers help provide a voice for the abused and neglected children in Texas. Their mission is to ensure the needs of children in the foster care system are met. In 2018 20,685 children in Texas were removed from their home and entered into the foster care system. A child with a court appointed advocate does not have to navigate the heartbreaking challenges alone. Upon receiving their $10,000 grant, Gina Law Executive Director said, “Lake Country CASA appreciates Wood County Electric Cooperative and their members for their commitment to serving the abused and neglected children in Hopkins, Franklin, and Rains Counties. This contribution ensures that the voices of all of our children in care are heard and their needs are met. Texascasa.org
The Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial is one of the premiere sites in East Texas for visitors to see retired military equipment and memorabilia and learn about inspiring Texas veterans. The grounds are home to a Phantom F-4D fighter plane, a UH-1E Helicopter, a 2 1/2 ton Army Transport Truck, a U.S. Coast Guard Boat, and a M1114 medium towed howitzer. The memorial was built with the primary purpose of honoring all U.S. military veterans, and especially those from Van Zandt County. All volunteer run, the site is beautifully landscaped and free to the public. Tours for schools and others can be arranged upon request. About the $2,500 WCECF check presented by Jeannette Giles, Cary Hilliard, Lt Col, USAF Ret., and Memorial board member said, “The entire Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial Board and the over 5,000 county veterans and their families greatly appreciate the generous donation from Wood County Electric Charitable Foundation. Your donation will be used to repaint our pavilion which is used by civic and private groups for meetings and special events. Making the pavilion more attractive will bring more visitors to the memorial to learn about the many sacrifices our military personnel have made and are still making for all of us. Educating the public, especially the younger people, is one of our core missions and your donation will help us achieve that goal.” Vzcm.org
The mission of the Wood County Fire Marshal’s Office and Office of Emergency Management is to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Wood County, while also giving support and training to all fire departments and emergency management services in the unincorporated areas. This office received $3,650 and Robin Johnson, WCECF Board Member, presented the check to Tully Davidson, Wood County Fire Marshal, at commissioners court. About the money, Davidson said, “The donation will be used to purchase a drone with a camera and heat detecting technology which will greatly aid in our Emergency Management efforts by allowing us to deploy modern technology in case of a missing person, checking for flooding and even help with firefighting efforts and investigations. Wood County is extremely appreciative of the donation and will use this equipment anywhere we are called. Thank you for your continued support, and we are always here ready to respond to our citizens at a moment’s notice.”
On hand for many of the check presentations, Jeannette Giles, talked about the joy she gets from participating in the program, and also as a WCECF Board Member. Too, she expressed, “Thank you to all the members of WCEC who support Operation Round-Up. What a fantastic way for our pennies to be put together to benefit all 9 counties served by WCEC. Those funds have been granted to such great local entities. I’d also like to say thank you to my fellow board members who serve with diligence, care and compassion to ensure the funds are used in the best manner. It’s a privilege to serve with them. Each application is reviewed and discussed in detail, before funding is granted. Lastly, I say thank you to WCEC for providing a vehicle for the volunteer and charitable organizations to have access to this type of funding. All WCEC members can take pride in the benefit they have been to our region.”