For Galveston resident Sheila Morton, serving her community is as natural as breathing.
Along with her day job as a property manager, Morton serves as the president of the Galveston chapter of Texas United Charities (GTUC), a statewide organization with an impressive mission statement: “Texas United Charites is committed to raising funds that will support the initiatives within the gay and lesbian community, all with a spirit of passion and enjoyment that helps put the fun back in fundraising. Our areas of focus are raising money for the LGBTQ community, building awareness for our beneficiaries, and having fun while working together for our community.”
The Galveston chapter has a very special secret weapon to stay true to that mission—an emergency fund called the Jerry Eubank Angel Fund. “It’s named after a lovely lady in our community that has always supported our Galveston LGBTQ community,” Morton says. Eubank passed away several years ago, and when she did, the group wanted to honor her. The fund offers “urgent financial assistance to those in immediate need on an individual basis for those who qualify and can show a need for emergency funds.”
“We are here and ready to serve the needs of our LGBTQ Galveston community, Whether it is through a fundraiser or helping individuals facing an urgent financial crisis.”
Those wanting to apply can fill out the short form found on the GTUC website. Applications are reviewed immediately. Rent, utilities, medicine, groceries, and even burial expenses are all needs that this fund is available to help out with.
“This fund was needed more than ever when COVID-19 began and businesses started to close their doors. So many of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters found themselves without jobs, not able to pay basic living expenses,” Morton says.
Since the pandemic began, the fund has been able to assist 32 applicants with expenses exceeding $34,000. “When you tell someone you are able to help them, their reaction, their expressed relief, and sometimes their tears of joy are so humbling. We consider it an honor to serve our community,” Morton says. It’s just the kind of community care and service that our world could use a lot more of.
Morton, a 60-year-old Alvin native, received a bachelor of business administration degree from Sam Houston State University and worked in Houston for 32 years before moving to Galveston.
While in Houston, Morton joined Texas United Charities’ Houston chapter and fell in love with fundraising while serving as a volunteer.
Within the first couple of years, she was asked to work on that group’s board of directors as the director of gifts, and then as the treasurer. “When I moved to Galveston in 2015, I was encouraged by former chapter president Melissa Flories to start a new chapter in Galveston. She has been involved in fundraising for decades, and she was my mentor,” Morton says.
She took Flories’ advice and began a Galveston chapter without hesitation. Doing so was possible, Morton says, “with the help and involvement of some wonderful locals that were passionate in giving back to the LGBTQ community of Galveston. I do have to mention the dedicated Galveston board of directors. They are all so talented, and strive to make our chapter and our community better every day. Tim Dudley is our vice president, James Heyland is our treasurer, Travis Newman is our secretary, and Jim Greaser is our director of memberships.”
GTUC and organizations like it are crucial, especially for places like Galveston, Morton says. Too many people are suffering, and wind up feeling very alone. But with GTUC, they don’t have to. “Before we opened the Galveston chapter, we discovered there was no organization like it on the Island, [so GTUC was] much needed. We filled a need that was missing for the LGBTQ Galveston community,” she says.
The work Morton and the GTUC do is both affirming and life-changing, and it’s vital to her that people know that. “We are here and ready to serve the needs of our LGBTQ Galveston community. Whether it is through a fundraiser or helping individuals facing an urgent financial crisis.”
With the state of the world today, and with so many people suffering, Morton and GTUC are a light in what can seem to those in need like a world of darkness.
Anyone willing to help can join the GTUC, Morton adds. “All members pay membership dues, and we welcome individual donations as well. When we have a fundraiser, 100 percent of the monies raised are distributed to the beneficiary,” she notes.
A devoted membership and their financial support is what allows GTUC to really make a difference in the lives of people who need it the most—the kind of work that makes Morton’s heart sing.