Sherry Morris has served as the executive director of Fannin County Family Connection since May of 2014.
In an interview with the Georgia Family Connection Partnership, Sherry shared her ‘why.’ She stated that she went through a divorce, lost health insurance, and was putting her life back together when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is a eight-year survivor now! Unable to meet travel and work demands, Sherry lost her job of nearly 30 years. She found herself a single mom, without a support system, without income, and in the throes of situational poverty.
"When the position opened at FCFC, I knew this was for me. Knowing how difficult everyday life situations can be gives me the strength and desire to do my best to help my struggling neighbors. Thinking of ways our Collaborative can become even more useful keeps me up at night. I wake up each morning with a glad spirit that I have the opportunity to serve. Aside from being a mother to two incredible children, this is the best job ever," said Sherry.
We are so honored to have Sherry leading Fannin County Family Connection!
Amanda Hyde has served as the office manager of Fannin County Family Connection since 2012.
“Mandi is the greatest assistant in the world,” exclaimed FCFC Executive Director Sherry Morris when asked to describe her. “And she is dependable, trustworthy, and known as the ‘keeper of all things’ around here because of her organizational ability.”
Mandi handles accounts payable and payroll, along with donor databases and accounting at Fannin County Family Connection. She assists in all outreach and fundraising activities, as well as preparation for monthly Collaborative and Board Meetings. Mandi is also responsible for procurement of office and community center supplies.
“Helping people through my work at Fannin County Family Connection is incredibly rewarding,” says Mandi. “It really touches my heart when people are so grateful, they are moved to tears.”
Mandi grew up in Avondale Estates in DeKalb County, Georgia. She then moved to Conyers in Rockdale County where she worked as teacher’s assistant for 10 years. Mandi and her husband married in 2003 and moved to Blue Ridge in 2005. She served as an AmeriCorps member through Fannin County Family Connection from 2007-2010 prior to her current role as office manager.
“My most memorable experience is when a family came in that lost everything in a house fire,” said Mandi. “They had young children who needed beds. My son had outgrown his toddler bed, so I was able to give them the bed plus clothing. The family was so grateful, and I was happy I could help.”
Mandi and her husband are the proud parents of one teenage son. And did you know that Mandi is a certified scuba diver? She became certified in a freshwater sinkhole in Florida…one month before going on a scuba diving trip to Cozumel!
We are so grateful to have Mandi on the team at Fannin County Family Connection!
Kala Ballew joined the team as Food Pantry Manager on July 18, 2022.
From the Fannin County Family Connection "Connections" Newsletter
July 2021-July 2022, Volume 7, Issue 1
I have a ‘help bone’ in my body!
Spotlight: Kala Ballew, Fannin County Family Connection Food Pantry Manager
Kind, humble, and hardworking are just a few words that describe Fannin County Family Connection’s new Food Pantry Manager, Kala Ballew.
“I have a ‘help bone’ in my body,” Kala says. “I want to give, and Fannin County Family Connection is the perfect place to do that.”
Kala was a volunteer before she took over the reins of the Food Pantry operation in mid-July. And she brings a wealth of experience to the job, including work in shipping, packing and inventory plus team leadership.
Kala’s pantry day begins at 7 o’clock each morning. Her day consists of placing and organizing orders, leading volunteers, and serving clients in the pantry.
Kala describes herself as organized and willing. “And I would never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself,’’ said Kala. “And I love labor work. It makes me feel good. It gives me balance.”
She also describes herself as a strict person.
“I move in a straight line,” Kala said. “I go from one task - to the next one - to the next one. If I get outside of my plan, I get out of balance. This job has already taught me that I have to relax. I cannot be so stern with myself. I have to slow down and give myself grace and space to find a rhythm on the job.”
Kala’s humility makes her quick to point out areas where she is working hard on self-improvement, including learning the computer system, developing her own system for ordering and processing those orders, and understanding how Fannin County Family Connection interconnects with other community organizations.
Kala has an ‘ace in the hole’ when it comes to her job training mentors.
‘I won’t leave you, Kala’ – Those words were a promise former pantry manager Greg Gelp made to Kala when she accepted the position. His commitment to her success is what gives Kala confidence that she can do this.
“Greg and I have been friends for a long time,” said Kala. “He is the reason I originally began volunteering. And he believes in me. He has kept his promise to be available to me as I process this journey as pantry manager. Since taking this job, Greg has met with me at the pantry on weekends, and we text and talk often when I need help.”
“And he always reminds me: ‘Don’t beat yourself up. Follow your gut. Trust the process. And just do it,’” Kala recalls.
Kala says that FCFC Executive Director Sherry Morris has also been instrumental in her success.
“Sherry is one of the savviest businesswomen I’ve ever met. When she speaks, she is clear, to the point, confident, and kind. She also reminds me that everything is going to be okay, and that helps boost my confidence to keep moving forward,” Kala said.
When asked about her new role as a team leader, Kala says she is honored to work alongside incredible volunteers - and she encourages others to volunteer, too.
“Each volunteer is here to serve and give back,” said Kala. “Also, each volunteer is different and brings his or her own unique personality and skillset to the table. And if you have a hole in your life, that hole could be filled by giving back. Being here is a daily reminder to me to be grateful for the life that I have.”
And to any community member in need who may be hesitant about visiting the Food Pantry, Kala offers this warm and honest message.
“It’s okay. Come anyway. Don’t be embarrassed. You are not less than. We all need a little help. You will be greeted with kindness, grace, love and compassion,” said Kala.