The final event of Child Abuse Prevention Month was the Hometown Heroes Walk for Children on Friday, April 21, 2017.
Child Advocacy Center director Sharon De Boer presented awards to our own Hometown Heroes at the Hometown Heroes Walk for Children. Each of these Hometown Heroes is a passionate advocate for children. They are servant leaders who have dedicated their careers to making our community a better place for children and families.
A biography could have been written about each one of these Hometown Heroes and their good works. Even with everything they do for our community, they still take the time to be wonderful to the children in their own lives--their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Most importantly all of these Hometown Heroes have worked tirelessly and never desired any recognition for their accomplishments because it has never been about them. It has always been about the children!
2017 Hometown Heroes:
Chief Kevin Arnold
This first Hometown Hero is a well-respected community leader. He started his law enforcement career working for MTSU and the Sheriff's Office. Since 1989, he has done every job in the Smyrna Police Department from patrol to detective to dispatch to building maintenance to all the management positions. He rose through the ranks and was promoted to Chief in March of 2007. What endears him to me is no job is beneath him - he will stick around after an event to sweep or mop the floor. This Hometown Hero serves on the Child Advocacy Center Board of Directors and the Child Protective Investigative Management Team, where he was instrumental in writing the interagency agreement and the Child Abuse Investigative Protocol. He has helped our team and our community understand how important it is for all of us to work together to protect children, arrest perpetrators for their crimes, and help children and their families heal.
This Hometown Hero started her career in mental health almost 30 years ago. She holds an M.Ed. in Counseling from UT Chattanooga and an Ed.S. in Administration and Supervision from Tennessee State University. She was employed at Volunteer Behavioral Health from 1992-1998. She worked for the Department of Mental Health for 9 years and then returned to Volunteer Behavioral Health as the Director of the Guidance Center. In July, she was promoted to Regional Vice President. She has helped the Child Protective Investigative Team understand mental health issues and how to best help children heal from the trauma. She has never turned away any child or family at the Guidance Center because of their lack of ability to pay. She was instrumental in developing the free child sexual abuse children's groups and the non-offending parents groups that the Guidance Center facilitates with the Child Advocacy Center. Child sexual abuse cases are difficult cases to work and she has taught all of us on the team about self-care.
When I met this Hometown Hero in 2003, I was immediately impressed with the strength of her convictions and how genuinely concerned she is about child abuse victims. Her passion about protecting children is contagious. Her leadership has made the Department of Children's Services, the Child Protective Investigative Team, and Management Team a huge success. She works tirelessly to protect our community's youngest and most vulnerable victims of crime. She hires, trains, and supervises the best Child Protective Services team in the state. She has excellent employees that effectively do their jobs and work well with the CPIT Team and the community. The most impressive thing about her is that she is a humble servant leader who does not need or desire recognition for her dedicated work. What she does is often behind the scenes in ways that she receives no public recognition--such as answering emergency calls from on-call staff 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. She is extremely knowledgeable about DCS policies. She has helped our CPIT Management Team and our community to understand how important it is for all of us to work together to protect children.
Elizabeth Renegar Parker
This Hometown Hero served as one of the Child Advocacy Center founding board members. My first day on the job she brought me a notebook full of valuable research on the Best Practices for Child Advocacy Centers. There were very few Child Advocacy Centers in the nation then, and she had researched all of them. She developed our tag line that we use today--Safety, Justice, and Healing for Child Abuse Victims. She worked tirelessly to find the Child Advocacy Center its first home in Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, second home in the Murfreesboro City Schools, and the current facility that is generously donated by the City of Murfreesboro. She served as the board secretary for 13 years, and the Chair of the Nominating Committee where she recruited dedicated new board members. She has served as the Fundraising Chair and brought new and innovative fundraising events to the community. This Hometown Hero faithfully attends every board meeting and fundraising event and she never loses focus that it is all about the children.
The final Hometown Hero started her career as a mental health therapist working with child abuse and child sexual abuse victims. She has been employed as a Forensic Investigator with the District Attorney's Office for the last 16 years. She works closely with the prosecutors in their office to successfully prosecute child abuse and child sexual abuse cases. She has worked her heart out to assist child victims and their families through the criminal prosecution of their cases. Child Abuse Prosecutor Hugh Ammerman from the District Attorney's Office accepted the award on behalf of Nelson.