Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : April 14, 2017

By Erik Walsh
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK–Friends, family and community members rallied around disabled athletes April 7-8 for the 17th annual Mabank Special Olympics.
The event grows every year. Teams from eight cities made their way to Mabank to compete. Participating areas include Mabank (28 participants), Tyler (68), Panola (5), Mexia (10), Kemp (23), Eustace (9), Canton (20) and Athens (20).
Event organizer Merritt Harpole manned the microphone and kept all the spectators informed. Harpole says the event is very important for both the competitors and spectators.
“The Special Olympics gives the special athletes an opportunity to compete with their peers,” Harpole said. “The comradery of the event is important to friends and family as well, because we all come together and see our loved ones succeeding and thriving.”
Harpole has been involved since the inception of the Mabank Special Olympics 17 years ago. He saw a need when Mabank teams traveled to other cities to compete.
“After that we created a Special Olympic track and field event here in Mabank and began inviting other cities to come here,” he said.
He also had a much more personal reason. Her name is Stephanie and she has Down’s Syndrome. Stephanie Harney is Harpole’s granddaughter. Stephanie first started competing in the 90s at the age of 8.
“Being involved in Special Olympics has been a very rewarding experience for her – and us,” he said.
Harpole said parent involvement is among the most important aspects of the Mabank Special Olympics success.
“I saw the need to get more parents involved and after they did, the team began growing,” he said. “When I started, we had eight athletes and today we have many more. What’s kept this going and growing is parent communication and involvement. My granddaughter is still competing today at 30 years old. It’s been rewarding for the athletes and all the adults involved, as well.
The past two years we have tried getting the high school students involved for an enrichment experience for them.” Unlike past years, the event was held on Friday (instead of Saturday) and Mabank students helped with concessions and were stationed around the track to cheer on the athletes as they circled the track.
Track and field events on Friday included javelin, high-jump, shot put, relays, soft ball throw and various dashes. Athletes returned on Saturday for the cycling events.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : April 12, 2017

Like so much dirty laundry hung for all to see, survivors of sexual assault and abuse tell their stories through short messages. So many more T-shirts were not hung up Tuesday due to the threat of rain, East Texas Crisis Center Director Della Cooper said.

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–East Texas Crisis Center staffer Gwen Cox read some astounding statistics on sexual assault and abuse during a Sexual Assault Awareness Proclamation ceremony on the courthouse steps in Athens Tuesday.
She said 6.3 million Texans have experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse. The Athens Office of the East Texas Crisis Center have served more than 200 such clients last year and is working 26 active cases.
County Judge Richard Sanders thanked all the volunteers that work each day to try to prevent this terrible crime “Without dedicated people who work each day, this problem could be a whole lot worse. To think almost a quarter of our population here in Texas has had some sort of sexual abuse happen to them or a family member is really mind-boggling to me.”
He read the proclamation making April a month to educate and raise awareness around the issues of sexual assault and abuse, which affects people of all ages, races and economic circumstances.
“The consequences of sexual abuse are often severe and long lasting. The risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder increases dramatically for victims of sexual assault. Therefore, let us extend our education campaign and build on the network of support to address this issue, including outreach to schools on topic issues of sexual assault.
“United in this effort we can continue to make a difference,” he read.
After thanking the many volunteers who work in this area, Sanders said he looks forward to the day when we can celebrate that sexual assault is no longer a factor in this county.
Rev. Ed Schauer of The Church of The Nazarene in Gun Barrel City closed the proceding in prayer asking God to “touch each of us to stand in the gap for these victims. Cure this disease by your touch, we pray.”



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : April 7, 2017

Family Peace Project Director Mary Farmer tells why it’s so hard for victims of family violence to leave.

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–Members of the Henderson County Republicans learned pet adoption rate at the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake is up 80 percent in March. “We have a new batch of puppies and kittens,” shelter manager Theressa Henderson said. The shelter received donations from its wish list from the club during its March 23 meeting at Vetoni’s Italian Restaurant.
The meeting featured Mary Farmer, director of the Family Peace Project in Athens.
The reason for the uptick in pet adoptions is due to the number of events being run each month, Henderson said. “We’ve gone from two or three a month to 22 a month or more,” she said.
The shelter is hosting an adoption event in Edom Saturday-Sunday, April 8-9, with a pet parade and non-motorized float contest. “There will be lots of prizes. It should be very adorable,” she said. The shelter board, in conjunction with Friends of the Animals, is planning the Whiskers and Wags Gala, at 6 p.m., Saturday, April 29 at the Athens Country Club, she announced.
In club news, members:
• learned meeting dates are set for April 27, May 25 and June 22 with a 21-year-old speaker who graduated from the Patriot Academy, founded by former state representative Rick Green, The intensive leadership boot camp helps students develop leadership strategies, life purpose plans, media relation skills, public speaking, campaign techniques and a founding fathers’ philosophy of government. The Patriot Academy is the premier political leadership training in the nation, guiding young men and women to effectively lead the change in America! “It’s a call to action, a call to greatness, a call to keep the torch of freedom burning bright.”
Anyone interested in the electoral process is invited to attend.
Family Peace Project director Mary Farmer told her story of living under very strict rules laid down by an abusive husband from a religious family, whose legacy also included domestic violence.
“One in three families are affected by domestic violence,” she said.
Her life looked normal from the outside. She was a worship leader in her church, a bank teller in her profession, the mother of a 15-year-old daughter, but the façade fell away, once Sunday night when she opted for the drive through lane for an ice cream cone for her daughter, which put her 20 minutes late getting home.
He was waiting for her and the beating lasted all night. With a broken back, she and her daughter left that night (April 19, 2002) for a shelter, much like the one the Family Peace Project offers to women in her situation.
She and others like her are often asked: Why don’t you just leave? The answer is complicated, she said.
First you want to believe everything is going to be OK.
Second, how do you leave everything you know and go into hiding to stay safe. She and her daughter were hidden away for 30 days. No going back to school. No going back to retrieve precious mementos, photographs, crucial records and documents, clothes, jewelry, electronics.
She also had just 30 days to find employment doing something entirely different in a whole different town, where you know no one and no one knows you.
She was homeless even though her house was deeded to her and her husband from her relatives. She would no longer get to live there.
Thus far, she and the Family Peace Project have assisted 3,000 victims of domestic violence. Nationally three million to 10 million children will witness domestic violence and will become victims and abusers, unless something is done to break the cycle of abuse through education and help to start over.
“We help them start over,” she said. Most clients don’t need shelter; they need legal advocacy, protective orders, job skills, counseling, life skills, healing from rape, help with getting a divorce, Farmer said. She and her children need children’s programs, mentoring, parenting lessons, someone to walk with on the journey. “Volunteers with a heart are desperately needed,” she said.
“We need men who will model what it’s like to treat women with respect. I had never seen that in my entire life,” she said. “This doesn’t require money, it requires a heart.”
The Family Peace Project Office is located at 720 E. Corsicana in Athens and can be reached by calling (903) 677-9177. It also has an office in Terrell and has a satellite location in the Hillcrest Baptist church in Kemp by appointment. It is supported by private donations and the United Way.
Domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Victims can be of any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status. Anyone can be a victim; though most are women.
If you are being abused, remember: You are not alone. It is not your fault. And help is available.