Food Pantry Open Third Saturday of Month from 10-12 (Plus Reg Hours M-Th: 10-12, 1-3)
The FCFC Board of Directors held elections in June to fill the position of Chair, which was vacated with the retirement of Jim Yacavone. The Board elected Vice-Chair Sherry Echelberger as the new chair. Board Member Michael Kilpatrick was elected as the vice-chair.
Sherry is a managing partner and works full time in the family business, Echelberger Construction, Inc. The company specializes in the commercial construction market and is licensed in six states.
Prior to moving to Georgia from Florida in 2008, Sherry was Vice-President of Sales for the roof coating division of Sherwin-Williams for 31 years.
Sherry and her husband Bill reside in Blue Ridge and have three children, six grandchildren, and seven great grandsons. Bill is the current Lieutenant Governor of Division 10 of Kiwanis, an organization also serving children and families.
Sherry joined the board of Fannin County Family Connection in January 2019.
“I came on board just in time to be involved in the search for and celebration of our new facility that opened in November 2019,” said Sherry. “It was amazing to see so many people come together with generous hearts to bring the new facility to life. The new facility has helped Fannin County Family Connection continue to touch so many lives in a positive way.”
As a board member, Sherry’s goal is to be aware of what is happening in the community and the effect it is having on the wellness and growth of our community’s children and families.
“As board members, we also need to be actively engaged with one another and our community’s collaborative partners to provide the resources to continue to be successful in our mission and meet as many needs as possible,” said Sherry.
“There are tremendous opportunities within Fannin County Family Connection for all of us to make a positive impact on our community,” Sherry continued. “The realization that the smallest act can make a huge difference in a child’s life is the best feeling ever. Sherry Morris and her team make their jobs look easy with huge smiles! They are an inspiration to us all,” she said.
When asked about her favorite moment as a volunteer, Sherry said it was when she volunteered for the Coats for Kids coat drive, a partnership opportunity with The News Observer.
“Seeing the excitement of children choosing coats for themselves was so rewarding,” said Sherry. “Best feel-good moment ever. It just makes you want to do more.”
When asked to share something that most people do not know about her, Sherry shared this about her family.
“I grew up as an only child only to find at 40 years of age that I have two full sisters, 4 half-sisters and 3 half-brothers,” she said. “I learned firsthand many of the struggles that children and families are facing.”
If you are trying to decide if volunteering at Fannin County Family Connection is right for you, Sherry has this message: “Come in and give it a try! There are so many areas for volunteering at Fannin County Family Connection,” she said. “You’ll be greeted by smiling faces, kind hearts and work with people who want to make a difference in this community. It is contagious and you’ll be hooked!”
And if you need help: “That’s why we’re here,” said Sherry. “We work hard to determine what the needs of the community are and provide those services to those who need it. We want to help you so please reach out to us,” she concluded.
FCFC Welcomes New Board Members:
• Ryan Beadnell
• Bonnie Villeneuve
• with Sherry Morris, FCFC Executive Director
• Karen Walton
• Brian Higgins
• Not Pictured: A.D. Frazier
• Not Pictured: Mark Snoddy
It was an honor to serve as chair of the Fannin County Family Connection Board of Directors. When I retired, I realized two things—that I needed to stay mentally and physically active, and that I now had the opportunity to give back to the community after many years of focusing only on myself, my family, and my career. When Meredith and I moved to Fannin County, we learned that behind the façade of a successful, tourist- and retirement-oriented, small-town community, there was a lot of need. I am grateful that we had the opportunity to volunteer at Fannin County Family Connection.
I believe that FCFC is the premier organization for addressing issues affecting children and families. It has the demonstrated flexibility to identify issues and needs and craft workable and effective solutions. It has a proven track record of success. It is a motivated organization, and its motives are pure. It works collaboratively with other community organizations. It is a well-run and ably administered organization making efficient use of the community’s support. Leading FCFC was made easier by having FCFC board members and volunteers who are already motivated and driven to help.
I had many meaningful moments during my time at FCFC. I watched our former Food Pantry manager identify and assist a trafficked young woman, received heartfelt thanks from a needy family for distributing food from the pantry, and attended my first FCFC poverty simulation.
Another emotional moment occurred when a young mother of several children left a note that her husband had just died in a car accident, she had no income, and that her children faced the bleak prospect of not having a Christmas. I brought the note to Sherry Morris who coordinated efforts with Toys for Tots. Between them, they provided toys, food for Christmas dinner, and financial support.
I was also surprised to witness just how quickly this community steps up to support its neighbors in need. Within 24 hours of announcing that FCFC would become an emergency shelter due to a sudden freeze, donations of blankets, sleeping bags, food, and drinks came pouring in from individuals and organizations. Volunteers spontaneously showed up to assist, with many staying throughout the night while the community room shelter was open.
And finally, another meaningful revelation concerned the collaborative, the only activity the Georgia Family Connection Partnership demands of FCFC. It brings together state agencies, private organizations, and individuals that are concerned about the plight of children and families in our community to discuss the issues which local families face and, where possible, to collaborate with each other to address these issues. Participation in the collaborative is voluntary. For years, I did not see the point of it. Then, a couple of years ago, it dawned on me like a bolt out of the blue. Collaboration and the collaborative process are at the very heart of FCFC. We do not have to be the prime mover and operator of programs for them to be impactful. Focusing on the development of partnerships with other organizations, individuals, and the community can lead to the creation of meaningful and successful programs.
As we look to the future, FCFC has so much to be grateful for! Thanks to the Chambers family, FCFC has a spacious new building. It has a driven and experienced executive director, great staff, and its finances are in order. FCFC operates impactful programs and initiatives, and it has many caring and dedicated volunteers and supporters. And if you’re still on the fence about getting involved, I encourage you to learn more because I know your skills, talents, and experiences will be welcomed.
In closing, FCFC has taught me that I’m not the tough, emotionless guy I once thought I was. If you work with FCFC long enough, you will encounter situations that tug at your heartstrings, too. Until we see each other again, you will find me fishing the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
FCFC would like to recognize the work of retired Board Member Anna Speessen. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in social work.
Anna was instrumental in leading our mental health awareness initiative, “Your Mental Health Matters: It’s Okay to Not be Okay” for two years.
We appreciate Anna’s service to FCFC from January of 2019 through May of 2023.
Photo (L to R): Honoring retiring FCFC Board Member Anna Speessen at The General Ledger in Downtown Blue Ridge. Shown with FCFC Executive Director Sherry Morris and retired FCFC Board Chair Jim Yacavone.
Fannin County Family Connection is proud of its partnership with the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, where we source food for the Food Pantry.
We are excited to announce that we have been featured in their Partner Agency Spotlight! We will also be highlighted in their Fall 2023 newsletter. Check out this great story by clicking the button below!