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County Couple Launches Sharon’s Place to Serve Adults with Special Needs

March 15, 2024 – A Van Zandt County couple has launched Sharon’s Place, a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding adults with special needs in the area, with a long-term goal of building a residential home for those individuals.

Kristine and Kevin Tanzillo of Myrtle Springs are the founders of Sharon’s Place, which is starting off by providing social activities for adults with special needs this year, with plans to develop a day program and employment training over the next year.

The Christ-centered organization – whose motto is “Where everyone has a purpose” – is named for Kristine’s sister, Sharon Haugen, who was an individual with special needs. She died in 2004, but her challenges in life inspired Kristine to establish Sharon’s Place to help make life better for other adults with special needs.

“Often when people with intellectual development disabilities reach adulthood they find themselves alone, longing for socializing and companionship,” Kristine Tanzillo said. “Our vision is a place where they can socialize, develop friendships, serve in the community, and participate in productive work.”

Sharon’s Place is focused on adults with special needs in adjacent counties as well as Van Zandt County.

This summer, Sharon’s Place will host a number of activities at Lakeside Baptist Church in Canton, such as painting and recreational games. During thVan Zandt County Fair’s No Limits Livestock Experience for individuals with special needs on March 28, Sharon’s Place will feature a special novelty photo booth.

“Our plan is to begin a day program in 2025 once we can secure a local facility,” Kristine Tanzillo said. “We welcome churches and others in the county to help us with that if they have the ability and the heart to accommodate us.”

She added that the next phase would add an Enterprise Training Academy, where adults with special needs can learn and enhance their life and job skills. After that, the goal is to build a residential home where these adults can live in a warm, welcoming Christian environment in a country setting.

The organization has a seven-member board of directors. Board members Dr. William Bone, Tammy Lenamond Tharp, and Annette Gaar are all Van Zandt County residents, and they are joined by Marsha Howard of Athens, Kathy Haugen of Dallas, and the Tanzillos. For more information, visit www.sharons-place.org, or contact kristine@sharons-place.org or call/text 214-676-0886.

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