At the East Texas Crisis Center’s semiannual Hope Awards on Tuesday, keynote speaker Cindy Bell said the first time in her life where she felt safe was at the crisis center.
“For women who come from domestic violence, that’s a foreign feeling,” she said.
Ms. Bell is now a volunteer for the organization herself.
At the ceremony, Judge Joel Baker read a resolution declaring October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
In 2012 The Texas Council on Family Violence reported 102 women killed as a result of domestic violence, according to the written release. More than 11,800 women were housed in emergency shelters and more than 14, 500 children.
The Texas Department of Public Safety reported 177,983 documented cases of domestic violence for 2012. While investigating these incidents, 287 Texas law officers were assaulted.
The East Texas Crisis Center is a non-profit agency that provides assistance to victims of family violence and sexual assault. The center serves a five-county area including Smith, Wood, Rains, Henderson and Van Zandt Counties.
When the organization first started in the ’70s, it was meant to meet the needs of women who had been raped, said Lana Peacock, executive director. Organizers quickly realized that 75 percent of the calls coming in were women who were being physically abused by their husbands, she said.
The Hope Awards are held twice a year - once during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in April, and once during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.
The Hope Awards are presented to outstanding residents and businesses that have gone above and beyond as volunteers and professionals to help victims of domestic violence.
“This all began with a handful of volunteers who saw a need and met that need,” she said. “We couldn’t do this without all your assistance.”
The Hope Award recipients this year were Marilyn Pettigrew; Hilton Garden Inns’ Cheyenne and Crystal Whorton, and Bobbie Craig; Smith County Sheriff’s Department’s Deputy Tina Glover; and Tyler Police Department’s Sgt. Destry Walsworth.
Also: First Presbyterian Church of Tyler; The University of Texas at Tyler’s Chase Ragland and Alpha Chi Omega; Susan Hill; The Therapet Foundation; Lakewood Church in Flint; and Judge Cynthia Kent received an honorary Hope Award for her commitment to respond to domestic violence in the community.
“Everything we do may not change the world, but it changes the world of one person,” she said.