In 1978, a man named Mr. A. Smith Gill passed away, leaving his $1 million estate to the “needy children of Tarrant County.” The trustee, the First National Bank of Fort Worth, was left with the task of determining how to properly allocate the funds. They turned to two local philanthropists, Martine Ginsburg and Ginny Richards, to investigate how these funds could best be spent. Martine and Ginny surveyed the community for a year, consulting with local experts and leaders, learning along the way that hundreds of children were going without the basic services they needed. It was then that Martine and Ginny proposed the funds should not be given to an existing organization, but they should instead create an organization to be a safety net for Tarrant County children. Gill Children’s Services was established in 1979 and began serving children later that year.
For 36 years, Gill’s mission has remained the same: to be a funding source of last resort for Tarrant County Children in need. This includes providing assistance for medical, dental, physical, social, psychological, and educational needs that have not been met by other community resources. Its hope is to be a strong safety net, catching the children that would have otherwise fallen through the cracks. Last year alone, Gill provided nearly $440,000 in critical services to 1,673 Tarrant County children.
Tarrant County children turn to Gill with a variety of needs, from hearing aids and root canals, to summer school tuition and emergency childcare. Regardless of the need, each child has one thing in common: These issues cannot be resolved anywhere else.
Gill has three requirements before a child may apply:
- The child must be 0-18 years of age.
- The child must be a Tarrant County resident
- All other resources must be exhausted; this means that no other payment method, non-profit agency, or government assistance program can assist the child.
In order to apply, families can access the application at the Gill Children’s Services website, or request that an application be sent to them. Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine if Gill is, indeed, the family’s last resort.
Because Gill has limited volunteer opportunities, the best way to support its mission is with a monetary donation. Last year, on average, it cost $262 to provide a service to one child in need. Gill has recently experienced a 44 percent increase of applicants for dental assistance (root canals, exams, extractions, stainless steel crowns, etc.), and is in great need of funds for this specific area. You can easily donate by visiting its website, or by texting “Gill” to 50155. You may also designate your gift to “dental services,” allowing Gill to help more children in pain and poor health.