The Texoma Health Foundation hosted it’s 10th annual Holiday Event Tuesday and welcomed non-profit organizations, donors and members of the public to learn about about the work of the region’s many service-oriented groups.

The networking event was held at Reba’s Ranch House in Denison and attended by more than 20 non-profits and service programs from North Texas and Southern Oklahoma. Groups shared information and participants were treated to a tour of THF’s 80-plus acre park at Gateway Village, which is slated to open in June 2018. An estimated 200 people attended the event Tuesday.

“For us, the overall goal of this event is to get the community to be able to connect with local non-profits and non-profits to connect to each other,” Texoma Health Foundation Chief Executive Officer Michelle Lemming said.

Lemming explained THF began to host its Holiday Event in 2007 when the foundation was first established and was inspired to do so by Giving Tuesday, which is celebrated by philanthropic groups nationwide on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The THF CEO said the Holiday Event has grown significantly in its decade-long run, but each year it still reveals the opportunity area groups have to work with one another.

“When I was walking in this morning, we had two dental organizations and one of them said that they had never known dental organizations to work collaboratively in this way before and how amazing it was to be able to do this,” Lemming said. “That’s what we were hoping for and work toward with this event every year.”

Amanda Stubbs, a structured learning teacher at B. McDaniel Intermediate School in Denison, attended the conference and used the opportunity to inform potential donors of the Denison Independent’s School District’s after-school, JET program.

“We have these students with autism, more than 100 in Denison ISD alone and they get taught these really great social skills in the classroom,” Stubbs said. “But the the problem is that they can’t always generalize the skills. So JET takes those skills and incorporates them into a more social, play-based setting.”

The program, launched in 2014, pairs autistic students with classmates who have been educated on the disorder and serve as mentors. Stubbs said the Holiday Event allowed her to connect with Behavioral Concepts, Inc. and the Boys and Girls Club and discuss the possibility of working together.

“I think it allows us to meet more needs,” Stubbs said. “If we can piggy back off each other and make use of what the others are doing, then that let’s us be more effective within the community. Also, if we don’t know what the other ones are doing, we can’t refer anybody to take advantage of their services or help. It’s great when you get to network like this.”