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At Brelsford Personnel, we’re thankful to live in a community filled with caring people who are passionate about helping others and who regularly work together to make East Texas a better place. One of our favorite charities, East Texas Communities Foundation, serves donors and nonprofits in Smith and 31 other East Texas counties. ETCF has been impacting local communities for more than three decades.

What Does East Texas Communities Foundation Do?

In a nutshell, East Texas Communities Foundation helps people with their philanthropy. Holly McFarlin, Director of Public Relations explains it like this. “There are lots of generous people in East Texas, and we help them fine-tune and focus on their generosity.” She says the way ETCF does that is by acting as a charitable fund administrator. “We’re not a front-line charity. We don’t feed the homeless or house individuals, we help people who have resources and want to do something beneficial.”

That’s not always as easy as it sounds. Anyone can give cash or stocks, but ETCF’s services come in when things aren’t always so straightforward. “When people have appreciated assets like real estate or business interests, we help them facilitate the disposal of that item and liquidate it into charitable cash they can give to their favorite organization, whatever their passions are,” McFarlin said.

“Or we help them figure out what their passions may be. We research nonprofits and vet organizations. We assist with people who want to give back and support their community. It’s simplified charitable giving.”

When asked what kinds of things people have wanted to turn into donations, the list was long. ETCF has helped people convert intellectual property, antique and exotic cars, bitcoin, stamp collections, airplanes and a long list of other assets into charitable dollars.

The Story of Faulkner Park

Some of the most unique gifts given to ETCF over the past quarter-century have been gifts of real estate. One such gift was from Robert Faulkner. When Mr. Faulkner had the opportunity to give a gift of land for others to enjoy, he looked for an efficient way to make this happen. Mr. Faulkner’s intent was to donate land to the City of Tyler and the City of Lindale to develop two public parks. In 1997, he chose to make the initial gift of two parcels of land to East Texas Communities Foundation (ETCF) to help him accomplish this objective.

Today, the spray ground at Faulkner Park in South Tyler is alive with the sights and sounds of splashing water and children’s laughter. The nearby tennis courts and baseball fields seem to always be in use by area families sharing in their love of the outdoors. Before his death in 2018, Mr. Faulkner made one last gift using his fund at ETCF to provide updated playground equipment, picnic tables and shade structures to his namesake park.

The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose High School Scholarship

Earl Campbell grew up in Tyler, Texas going on to receive the Heisman Trophy while at the University of Texas in Austin. Campbell’s career took him to the NFL where he played for the Houston Oilers and the New Orleans Saints. Campbell joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991. In 2014, The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose High School Scholarship was established by SPORTyler, Inc. in conjunction with the Campbell family. This scholarship is awarded to graduating seniors from Smith County high schools that participated in varsity athletics program. The intent of the Earl Campbell Scholarship is to encourage student-athletes to succeed both on and off the field.

The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose High School Scholarship is just one of over 68 scholarships offered to students each year at East Texas Communities Foundation. East Texas Communities Foundation administers a variety of scholarships that have been established by generous individuals to assist students with their educational pursuits. Whether honoring loved ones or providing for a specific field of study, each scholarship expresses a deep belief in the power of education to help young people achieve their dreams.

ETCF and Giving Day

Giving Day is a phenomenon that has taken off across the country, and East Texas it has been a staple in the nonprofit development program since 2016. “The best part about it…it’s not about the money raised, it’s the feel-good,” McFarlin said. “The media stories are really positive. It gives everyone a chance to cheer and support communities. And it’s accessible because you don’t have to be Melinda Gates giving a ton of money. A ten-dollar gift helps nonprofits.

“This year we raised almost $2.9 million, and there were a bunch of nonprofits this year that really made strides in their fundraising. We’re hitting all our goals – people engaged, donors giving, nonprofits getting better at what they’re doing and being stewards of what they get. There are only good places to go from here.”

More on East Texas Communities Foundation

Donations can be made in any amount, to the creation of a charitable fund or by donating to an existing fund. If you want to get involved or learn more about ETCF, visit https://etcf.org/.