By CHERIL VERNON
The week of April 21-27 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week — a week when communities throughout the country hold annual observances to promote victims’ rights and honor crime victims, their families and those who advocate on their behalf.
Anderson County will hold its sixth annual victim/survivor tribute dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 26 at the Ben E. Keith Community Room, located at 2019 W. Oak St.
“This is our way of celebrating National Crime Victims Week. We honor the victims of violent crime by having them as our honored guests,” Anderson County Victim Services Coordinator Cheryl Williams said. “Last year we had 150 people attend.”
The keynote speaker will be Lamb County District Attorney Mark Yarbrough, author of “Suffer from Burnout? Give'em the F.I.N.G.E.R.!: A Guide for your Recovery.”
Yarbrough wrote the book from the prospective of someone who’s life went in a downward spiral after his teenage daughter died in an automobile accident, and how he overcame the loss and burnout to recover.
“He speaks all over the country and tells his story of how he dealt with his loss,” Williams said. “Like many of our crime victims and their survivors, he understand what it is like to lose a loved one.”
This year’s catered meal will be provided by the Palestine High School culinary art students, led by instructor Jan Roberson.
Frankston High School art students, led by teacher Barbara Bolestridge, will furnish the art project for the evening.
“We give them a theme and let them take off with it on what it means to them,” Williams said.
This year’s theme is “New Challenges, New Solutions.”
Any victim of a crime against a person in Anderson County is invited to the dinner. While the crime may have happened years ago, to the victim and the family members, it’s not something that goes away, Williams said.
“They never forget and they are happy that others don’t forget. We show a Power Point with pictures of everybody that we can get a picture of. The families really love seeing photos of their loved ones,” Williams said. “It can be family violence, assault, murder, intoxication manslaughter — any crime against a person.
“For some, this year may be their first time to attend. But if they come, I think they come back next year. You realize that you are not the only one, that there’s a whole room of people who have been through things like you.”
In a way, it’s like a reunion.
“We look forward to seeing everyone each year. We went through some tough times together so it’s like a reunion. We stay in touch no matter where they are, but sometimes we only see them once a year,” Williams said. “It doesn’t end when the case is over. This is our way of showing them that they are not forgotten, to honor them and their courage to get through what they had to get through and try to move forward.”
Representatives from the Anderson County DA’s office, Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Palestine Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies and organizations that work with victims of crime also are invited to the event.
Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe will serve as the event’s emcee.
The deadline for crime victims and their families to RSVP for the dinner is April 15. To RSVP or for more information, call Williams at 903-723-7400.