Jacksonville native returns as new director of H.O.P.E.

H.O.P.E. board president Jackie Sessions (left) reads the contract as new director Sandra E. Fry and board member Charlie Harris look on. Fry took helm of the local non-profit organization on Monday.

Jacksonville native Sandra E. Fry, who spent years working with non-profit organizations in the Galveston-Houston area, begins the newest phase of her career as executive director of The H.O.P.E. Center.

“I’m really glad to be here,” said Fry, who assumed her new duties April 2. “It’s really exciting to know I am in the midst of individuals who are very committed to an organization that I believe is the cornerstone of Jacksonville’s non-profits, as well as Cherokee County’s.”

She is the third director of the Helping Others Pursue Enrichment program, which was launched in the 1990s after the local Ministerial Alliance decided to set up an umbrella program to address the needs of people who approached them.

Operating on an annual budget of approximately $225,000, H.O.P.E. offers a variety of food programs that focus on different segments of the community. They also offer referrals to other services in Cherokee County, assistance with acquiring needed medicines and transportation for medical services, a food pantry, a lunch kitchen and enrichment classes.

“We’re just very excited that she’s here,” said Jackie Sessions, president of the H.O.P.E. board of directors.

Fry’s experience with non-profit organizations stood out among the seven applications that came from throughout East Texas, Sessions said.

“In talking with her, she’s so personable, and she’s done worked with non-profits before,” she said. “And, she understands our community because she grew up here.”

Fry was introduced to the board of directors during a March 19 meeting, when she inked a contract with the organization.

“I hope that we, as a board of directors and myself and also staff, collaborate and do some very exciting things here, with the opportunity for enhancing programs, for raising additional funds to meet the needs of our clients in the community, as well as to grow the organization as seen fit by the board of directors,” Fry told the board.

“The thing I like about working for a non-profit is that you get an opportunity to diversify your skills. You learn a lot, because you have to. You do a lot, because you have to,” she said, adding, “It’s always exciting to come home.”

In her biography, the new director describes herself as “a seasoned non-profit executive with a ‘call to action platform,’” and most recently served as executive director at Resource and Crisis Center of Galveston County, where she gained recognition for establishing storefront social services in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.

Fry also served as executive director of Bordersville 3-H Center and as branch director of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Houston. Fry received recognition for Outstanding Community Leadership from the Drug Enforcement Administration, and is a graduate of Leadership North Houston.

She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology, from the University of Texas at Tyler, and is a graduate of the University of Phoenix with a master’s degree in organizational management.

At present, Fry is at the doctor of business administration-dissertation level at Walden University.

The Jacksonville native is the daughter of the late K.J. and Marceil Johnson Fry, and attends the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Her immediate goal is “to meet with as many members of the community stake holders as possible” to better assess the community’s needs, she said.

Fry also will be helping put together a budget for the upcoming fiscal year and preparing for H.O.PE.’s April 21 event, The Castle at the Lake fundraiser. Held every two years at a site on Lake Jacksonville, the event helps raise funds to support ongoing operation of H.O.P.E.

Beginning at 6 p.m., the evening features live and silent auctions, dinner, dancing and Gift Box sales.

Tickets are $50 per person. To learn more, contact the H.O.P.E. office at 903-586-7781.

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