Funds from the city of George West’s utility bills will help support four local nonprofit groups after representatives of those organizations spoke to the George West City Council asking for those contributions.
The nonprofits include: The Sunshine Room, an outreach of the Live Oak County Child Welfare Board; Dobie West Performing Arts Theatre, the Boys and Girls Club; and Unify to Beautify.
“We’ve been very blessed to receive funds from the city of George West,” said Kathy Campbell, a representative of the LOC Child Welfare Board. “We assist children who have been affected by domestic violence and other hardships. Over 700 children in Live Oak County used the room (in the past year).
“We also help families that have fallen on hard times,” Campbell said, which includes some help with utility bills.”
The organization has served Live Oak County for more than 20 years and consists solely of volunteers, Campbell said. “No one (working for) the Sunshine Room is paid. We helped over 260 kids with school supplies.”
Although the Sunshine Room is located at 207 E. Leroy St. in Three Rivers, it serves people from throughout Live Oak County, as well as McMullen County.
In April, theLive Oak County Child Welfare Board had a luncheon to honor local first-responders and offered them a chance to tour the Sunshine Room.
Board member Mary Ann Meeks told The Progress: “We started in a closet of the courthouse and now with the help and support of the community we’ve been able to grow. As long as the families qualify, we can provide outfits, underwear, shoes, socks, diapers, toiletries, school supplies — whatever we have. We do this for the kids. They deserve it.”
Meeks and board President Jarratt explained the Sunshine Room provides supplies to newly fostered children, children on Medicaid, and children involved in emergency situations such as fires, or domestic violence.
Boys & Girls Club
John Corkill, director of the Live Oak County Boys & Girls Club, which has locations in George West and Three Rivers, said the emphasis is on providing local children with a fun, safe place where they can enjoy a variety of recreational and educational activities.
“There is a need for kids to have a quality place to go where they can learn and grow (outside the school environment),” Corkill said. “Even during COID, we were able to serve over 200 kids. It’s important for us to be there so they can have access to computers, and we have activities such as basketball and volleyball. In our volleyball program, we had over 80 girls participate just from George West.
“We are there for the kids who need us the most, including those who don’t have the best home environment. A lot of people think we don’t have problems in a small community, but we do. We don’t turn any children away who want to come to the Boys & Girls Club and who want to participate in our programs. The assistance you provide through the utility funds helps us offer programs for children and keeps our doors open and lights on.”
Unify to Beautify
Leslie Walker, treasurer of Unify to Beautify, talked about how the organization works to help improve the aesthetics of the community and is dedicated to improving the quality of life and environment throughout George West.
“We appreciate this donation,” she said. “We feed the soul and try to improve the community for people to come through and enjoy. We’re really excited about two of the projects we’re doing.
“One of those is at the post office, where we will put in landscaping, and it will look completely different. It’s a visible spot and will look very nice when we complete that.”
The organization will also decorate the community’s utility poles with different banners.
“Another project we are working on is creating a photo booth for visitors at the park,” Walker said. There will be a longhorn cutout and people will be able to put their face in the structure for a unique photo opportunity.
“We’ll pursue that in the coming months,” she said.
Unify to Beautify has been involved in numerous other projects throughout the community, including enhancing the landscaping at the George West library and at the Live Oak County Courthouse.
Unify to Beautify also has worked to help other area nonprofits, Walker said.
“We donated the $600 application fee so the Live Oak County Historical Foundation can receive their 501(c)3 nonprofit status,” she said.
The organization is working to do what it can to help in the efforts to restore the historic West Hotel on Houston Street not far from the courthouse.
“There was a meeting for the West Hotel a few nights ago and everything is moving along, but it’s going to take a while,” Walker said. “It’s something we can all get behind because it is beautifying the city. We are happy to improve George West and the way it looks.”
Dobie West theater
Glynis Strause with the Dobie West Performing Arts Theatre Board of Directors said the utility bill donations are a financial blessing to the organization.
“The theater is well known to you,” she said. “We’ve been through a hard 18 months. You can’t have events when you can’t have people (because of COVID-19 restrictions). The city utility fund donations help us pay the bills. I invite all of you to become supporters of the theater. We want you to be there and I want to see you there.”
She said the city of George West’s donations help with upkeep of the historic structure.
“The main thing this money is for is to maintain the building,” Strause said. The theater needs about $100,000 in addition to the money it already has set aside to pay for extensive roof repairs and to replace a glass door which was recently shattered in an act of criminal mischief.
“That broken door was a setback we did not intend or want,” she said. She added that it was estimated the theater board would have to pay about $1,000 to replace the broken glass, but that the estimate given is actually $1,300.
“We’ve had a run of bad weather that tore up the roof,” Strause said. “The Dobie West Theatre will survive but I’m not going to tell you it’s in a happy place (financially). But it’s become an attraction that brings people from Corpus Christi, the (Rio Grande) Valley and throughout the surrounding area.”
She said board members have often been involved in physical labor needed to keep the theater property in decent shape.
“It’s a working board and we appreciate every dollar you contribute,” Strause said.