Eleven nonprofits in the county will divide $1.25 million in no-strings- attached grants under Galveston County’s plan to allocate $66 million in COVID relief money from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Leaders of the 11 grantees said they were pleasantly surprised by the grants, which were awarded with little forewarning. The groups, which are in line for grants ranging from $25,000 to $250,000, said the money would be used to advance and improve important programs.

“I’m sort of in shock right now,” said Angelica Hanley, executive director of M.I. Lewis Social Services in Dickinson, who called the grant from the county “groundbreaking.”

The social service center, which received a $100,000 grant, provides emergency financial assistance and runs a food pantry for people in and around the Dickinson Independent School District. The demand for help from local residents has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and before the news of the county-directed grant came, the organization had almost exhausted its funds, she said.

“This funding is going to help a lot of people in our community,” she said.

County commissioners approved the grants Monday in a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Ken Clark was absent from the meeting.

The county received $66 million through the American Rescue Plan Act, which Congress approved in March. But only this week did commissioners decide how to portion out the money.

Among other things, the county’s plan included $26 million for water infrastructure projects, $16 million put aside for continued response to COVID-19 and $1.8 million for the costs of sending sheriff and constable deputies to work on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I’m glad we were able to find a way to support these great community organizations that provide so much assistance and support to the residents of Galveston County,” Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said in a statement.

The nonprofits were chosen because they had existing relationships with the county, officials said.

There was no application process for nonprofits to seek out a portion of the funding, officials said.

The grant money is unrestricted, meaning the groups can use it as they see fit, said Tyler Drummond, the chief of staff for Galveston County Judge Mark Henry. There’s no strict reporting requirements either. But Drummond expected the groups would keep commissioners apprised of how they spend the money, he said.

The county plans to deliver checks to the groups by Oct. 18.

Leaders of the groups that will receive grants were still trying to process the news.

The Galveston County Food Bank received the single largest grant, for $250,000.

It will help the organization pay for maintenance and repair costs, particularly for its mobile distribution efforts, food bank president Donnie VanAckeren said.

“It’s an answered prayer,” VanAckeren said. “Prices are going up for truck costs and breakdowns. This is just truly a blessing.”

A whiteboard in VanAckeren’s office lists things the food bank hadn’t been able to afford, including new pallet jacks and repairing air conditioners, he said.

The grant allows the food bank to cover operating expenses without using money specifically donated for food costs, VanAckeren said.

Other groups also had spending opportunities on their minds.

“This is money that we can really use to do good in the community,” said Holly McDonald, the community relations and development manager for the Salvation Army of Galveston County.

The Salvation Army is raising money to help convert its building on 51st Street in Galveston, which once held a thrift store, into a new volunteer center, McDonald said. The center could allow more outreach work on the island, she said.

“It can help us do more service in the community,” McDonald said. “It would allow us to multiply our efforts in the community and do street outreach and all kinds of things we wanted to do but didn’t have the funding to cover it.

McDonald called grants and gifts of the size the county is giving very rare.

“It’s a miracle,” she said.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter


Nonprofits receiving American Rescue Plan funds

Eleven Galveston County nonprofit groups will receive a combined $1.25 million in unrestricted grants from Galveston County. The money comes from the county's portion of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Group Amount
Galveston County Food Bank $250,000
4B Disaster Response Network $200,000
Interfaith Ministries - Meals on Wheels $150,000
Salvation Army of Galveston County $100,000
M.I. Lewis Social Services $100,000
St. Vincent's House $100,000
Family Service Center of Galveston County $100,000
United Way Galveston County Mainland $75,000
Galveston County Long-Term Recovery Group $75,000
Mainland Community Partnership $75,000
United Way of Galveston $25,000


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(7) comments

Virginia Stone

In June 2021 Mark Henry declared an emergency on the southern border and sent county law enforcement deputies to help build the Trump wall with funds from the American rescue act, so I think it is great that part of the 66 million dollars allocated to Galveston county is being granted to these very important non-profits and 1.25 million dollars is a blessing to all they serve, but I'm curios about the 1.8 million used to send county sheriffs and constable deputies to build the Trump wall, that's a lot of money too, how many Galveston county law officers are building that wall anyways, and I wonder if Governor Abbott appreciates it, oh yeah isn't Abbott up for reelection soon.

Carlos Ponce

Galveston County law enforcement is not building the wall.

"Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said he is sending one deputy. This is in addition to the four jailers Trochesset already sent to Del Rio to help process immigrants arrested on state charges". "Fullen said the deputies will work 12-hour shifts on two-week rotations until help is no longer needed. Henry said reserve deputies fill the vacancies created by those volunteering on the border. "Click2 Houston

From the GCDN:

"A group of Galveston County law officers arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday to begin what officials said was a weeklong deployment to relieve border-county police officers stretched thin by people crossing the border illegally.

The group includes county Constables Jimmy Fullen and Justin West, a deputy constable from each of their offices and a deputy from the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said."

Richard Moore

I hope that County voters can see that the way these funds have been handled raises a lot of questions about fiscal accountability.

Carlos Ponce

Money well spent.

Ted Gillis

That is correct, Galveston County is not funding the wall. The super rich and racist Timothy Mellon is, to the tune of about $53.1 million. So the measly $1.25 million that Abbot has raised so far is now over $54 million. That should build a few miles worth of worthless wall.

Gary Scoggin

As someone deeply involved as a borad member on a couple of these organizations, I am thankful and can assure everyone the money will be put to good use.

Ted Gillis

We’re counting on people like you George. I know it’s a thankless job, but the reward of being a good steward and statesman makes it all worthwhile. I know you don’t do it for thanks, but you have my thanks anyway.

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