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Mental health center launches campaign

Luncheon draws crowd in support

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POSTED: April 24, 2009 9:43 a.m.
Photo by Alena Parker/

Several guests at Father Will Carter's table fill out pledge forms during Wednesday's Friends of Fraser luncheon. The free luncheon drew more than 200 residents and community leaders.

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The Fraser Counseling Center provides courage for those who are afraid and strength for the weak.
Just ask Melinda Anderson.
“How much longer could I walk out my front door … force a smile on my face and pretend to the world that everything was alright?
“It was as if the true essence of my very being had been slowly erased,” Anderson said.
The magistrate recounted her marriage to an alcoholic husband to a crowd of more than 200 during Wednesday’s Friends of Fraser fundraiser luncheon.
At one point, her voice broke as she described the chaotic darkness she felt as “true desperation set in.”
The mother of three was juggling a full-time job while dealing with her spouse’s DUIs, past due accounts, bad checks and calls from creditors and the IRS.
“So, I tried to fix the situation,” Anderson said. “But things got worse — not better — and to avoid embarrassment, I borrowed more money with the crazy notion that if I helped him enough, it would invoke change.
“And it did — he drank more.”
An appointment at the Fraser Center turned out to be Anderson’s saving grace after all the begging, threatening and pleading with her husband to change brought her to her wit’s end.
“I felt like what was part of me was falling down a deep, dark hole,” Anderson said. “But I also felt like I had been thrown a lifeline.”
She said there’s no way to put a value on the help she received at the Fraser Center, a place that center Executive Director Alan Baroody said provides “everything that makes for the healing of the soul.”
“However, we are not immune to the financial struggles that are impacting our country,” Baroody said. “We turned people away this last year, but because we ran out of therapists to meet the tremendously strong need.”
The counseling office has been a community fixture for a decade and the Friends of Fraser want to make sure it survives for years to come.
Larry Golden, treasurer of the Mary Lou Fraser foundation, urged the packed conference room to make annual contributions to help keep services available for those who need it. 
“Our support could help ensure that we can provide this counseling well into the future,” Golden said.
He also used to be the financial advisor for Dr. Whitman Fraser, the center’s namesake.
“I love this program because I’ve seen firsthand that it really has made a difference through its faith-based counseling,” Golden said.
Fundraising already has brought in $50,000, from the pledges from the foundation’s board and staff.
“He (Dr. Fraser) knew he could always rely on you to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done,” Baroody said.
William Smith, a Liberty County resident since 1961, knew Fraser and his wife, Mary Lou, and said he enjoys having the center.
“Oh, he was great,” Smith said. “Everybody loved him.”
“We just think this is a real good thing and we just wanted to come out to hear what they have to say,” Smith said of the lunch.
Anderson told the crowd she is still paying off the loans from her late ex-husband, but her appointment with the Fraser counselors more than 20 years ago was the “beginning of reclaiming my life and restoring my sanity.”
She found just having someone there to listen and care makes a difference and, as magistrate court judge, she tries to give back that “extra measure of attention” to those she sees.
“Without the help I got at the Fraser Center, I do not know how I would have ever gotten my life back together,” Anderson said. “I will never forget that experience and there will be no way I could ever put a value on it.”
 

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