CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories

AUTHOR: EILEEN

HED:New director takes helm at Family Resource Center

By Eileen Bailey

Daily Journal

Anelese Holt is good at helping residents organize their lives.

For the past six years, Holt, in one of her many roles at the Family Resource Center, has helped residents stop the cycle of crisis that prevents them from being better parents.

"We give parents the tools to be self-sufficient," she said.

And that role will not change as the 35-year-old takes over as the new director of the Family Resource Center.

This week Holt has been moving into her new role, one left vacant when Cathy Grace, director of the program since it began six years ago, left at the end of August to continue her work with the Early Childhood Institute at Mississippi State University.

"I'm excited," Holt said of the new job. "My heart is with the community. I want to keep it growing. I want the center to be an extension of the community."

Holt was chosen recently from more than 50 applicants who applied for the director's job, said Camille Sloan, president of the Family Resource Center's Board of Directors.

Holt was one of four people the board interviewed for the position.

In addition to six years of experience with the center, Sloan said Holt has shown her commitment and dedication to the center.

"People are familiar with her. They know what she is capable of and her reputation out there," Sloan said.

Holt, who has a degree in psychology and journalism from the University of Mississippi, also has the ability to help the center meet the needs of families, she said.

"She can do it. Thus far everyone who works at the center does that beautifully," Sloan said.

Holt, who worked previously for a management consulting firm in Tupelo, said her first order of business is to "get organized."

In addition to working with programs offered by the center, such as parenting classes, Sex Respect Inc., Story Time Friends and teaching at the North Mississippi State Hospital, Holt will take on a new role that of a fund-raiser.

"We are going to do something we have not done before, which is fund raising," she said.

When the Family Resource Center began it was funded in part by CREATE Foundation. Now, the center and its programs will have to stand alone. Funding from CREATE is being reduced to encourage more community partners.

Holt said this is where she comes in. Contributions from the community, she said, will be used to help match grants that "will keep the place running."

It is funds from those efforts that will keep the programs that have provided support for hundreds going, she said. Additional funds will help provide for new programs, such as teaching parenting with Sav-A-Life.

The center,one of the oldest Family Resource Centers and one of 12 in the state, was funded through CREATE Foundation, Stubbs Family Trust, the Phil Hardin Foundation, BellSouth Foundation, Itawamba Community College, Lift/Head Start, Tupelo Public School District, Lee County School District and a one-time grant from United Way of Northeast Mississippi. Through the years, the organization also has partnered with the Department of Human Services, United Way, City of Tupelo, First United Methodist Church, CREATE Foundation, Tupelo Public Schools, East Heights Baptist Church, Tupelo Housing Authority, Salvation Army, civic organizations and Mississippi State Cooperative Extension Service.

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