SUDAN GRANT AWARDED—10 a.m. Wednesday, July 19, Clay Carr and Monty Edwards represented the Sudan Economical Development Council in awarding a $5,000 grant to Shelby’s Bridge, a 501 (c)(3) charity that provides employment skills for adults with disabilities. Shelby Lippold, CEO, and Donna Smith, Administrator, representatives of Shelby’s Bridge, received the check.
By JOE GONZALES
Right now, in downtown Sudan, located at 110 Main Street, sits an old building that's honestly seen its better days.
But listening to Donna Smith, Administrator of Shelby's Bridge, talk about their plans for the building, you quickly realize that much better days are in store for it.
Currently, work is being done with hopes to have the building completely rebuilt and ready to go by summer of 2018. It would serve as the location of Shelby's Bridge, Gift and Thrift Shop. But more importantly, the business would serve as a place where adults with disabilities have opportunities to develop, improve and utilize viable job skills.
“We are hoping to have the building ready by the summer of 2018,” said Smith. “That's what we are shooting for. It's going to be about $140,000 to get the building going.”
But this is just the first step in an even bigger goal for Shelby's Bridge.
“The over arching piece for Shelby's Bridge is, we are going to have residential places out in Bula, on the corner of Highway 54 and County Road 227,” said Smith. “We will be building about 20 tiny houses for adults with disabilities. We will have a conference center, an office, and several other buildings at that location.”
She added, “We are looking to open in August of 2024. So what we are doing here in Sudan is, all of this is helping and building towards that goal.”
Smith said adults with disabilities have very few options in both Lamb and Bailey Counties, and that's why she believes Shelby's Bridge would help meet that need. Shelby's Bridge is looking to train up to 20 adults with disabilities, 18 years of age and older, and work with them in developing job skills.
“This is not just to build a business, we want to meet a need, a need that many can and hopefully would take advantage of,” she said.
But for now, Shelby's Bridge, a 501 (c) (3) charity is hoping they can get help in repairing their building on Main Street.
“This building was built in the early 1920's and served as an auto parts store,” she said. “It was donated to us by the Doty family. And from what we've learned, the building hasn't been used since the 1980's.
The building needs significant repairs, but Smith said they were so thankful it was donated to them.
“This will be our gift and thrift shop, and it will be one of our three store fronts we want to have to support the community,” she said. “We are fund raising now and also working with several groups who have written several grants.
Back in July, the Sudan Economic Board awarded Shelby's Bridge a $5,000 Grant to help get the business going.
Monty Edwards, a member of Sudan's EDC said they were glad to help.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to have someone who has ties to this area come back and do something,” said Edwards. “We not only think this will be beneficial to folks in this area but a lot of other places as well.”
Edwards said if Shelby’s Bridge is taking a building in Sudan that needs repairs and turns it into something that will benefit others, Sudan's EDC is “all about that.”
“What she is doing will also give Sudan some exposure,” he said. “When people start to come, it will bring people to Sudan. And that will help our community. Voting to help her was probably one of the easiest and fastest votes we've ever had.”
Said Smith, “The grant from the Economic Development Board here in Sudan was a wonderful step towards our goal.”
She said, according to data they've been able to find, there are 45 families in the Lamb County area that have adult disabilities that are not getting any kind of employment training or opportunities that they know of.
“I don't want to step on anyone's toes, who might be doing this type of work with adults with disabilities, but I know it's limited in both Lamb and Bailey Counties,” she said. “We want to give these people an opportunity they might not receive anywhere else.”
She added, “It's not all about us, we are looking for this to be a win for everyone.
“We believe that we can affect the economic system here. Everything is wrapped in agricultural, and I love that, but we can do something else here as well. And right now, there is an opportunity here to do something. Plus, we are a 501 (c) (3) charity, and anyone that helps us, we are calling them “Bridge Builders”. We want everyone to be a bridge builder in helping us towards our vision.”
Plus, Smith believes they have the credentials for such an undertaking.
“I'm an ex-public and private school administrator, and I was in education for 42 years,” said Smith. “I was in the classroom for 17 years at the high school level. After that, I was in the administration part.”
She added, “My daughter, Shelby Lippold, CEO of Shelby's Bridge, graduated from Texas A&M with a Master's Degree in Psychology, will be the one who runs the day-to-day operations. “She will be assisted by her husband, a major in the United States Army, whose 20 years of service will conclude in Aug., of 2024. At that moment, they will be the ones who overtake and oversee the operations.”
Shelby's Bridge also has three Board of Directors. They are Georgann Storm, M. Ed., Craig Sims, MBA and Monte Pritchett, M. Ed.
“They are three of the finest educators in the State in regards to dealing with adults with disabilities,” said Smith. “They are not from here, but from the Dallas area. But they have committed to coming here and working to help us. Plus, they want to be a part of Shelby's Bridge. They are willing to give their time, talents and knowledge for this to be successful.”
She concluded, “We want the future generations to look at what we've done with praise and Thanksgiving. We took the time to do it, and it would be something they could carry on. This is more than a one generation thing.”
Shelby's Bridge first “Pop Up” sale benefit will be held Wednesday, September 27th at the Sudan Community Center. Hours for the event will be 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.
They will also be participating in the Hornet Harvest Festival that celebrates Sudan's Centennial.
On November 28th, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Shelby's Bridge will participate in 'Giving Tuesday' – a national day where charities enlist help from their communities.
Shelby's Bridge will be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Saturday, they will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Mondays and Tuesdays will be the days where they do background work with adults with disabilities while preparing them for the week.
For more information, you can contact Donna Smith at 214-399-6339 or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org