Crime victims’ office hosting Tree of Angels ceremony, reception

Cove Leader-Press 

On Monday, local victims of violent crimes and family members who have lost loved ones to violent crimes will have a chance to remember what and who they’ve lost. 
The Coryell County Crime Victims’ Coordinator, Brandy Johnson, is holding a Tree of Angels decoration ceremony followed by a reception at the Coryell Museum Historical Center, located at 718 Main St. in Gatesville.
The event starts at 6 p.m. on the main floor of the museum, where both families of violent crime victims and survivors will decorate the Tree of Angels. 
In its third year, the act of decorating the Tree of Angels remembers those lost to violent crimes and in Coryell County, the tree is also decorated to recognize survivors of violent crimes, said Johnson. 
“When we started this three years ago, I extended the tree of angels to survivors of violent crimes as well as remembering victims who lost their lives.” 
But the main reason for the Tree of Angels is so that local victims of violent crime don’t feel as if they’re alone, especially during the holiday season. 
“If we have a sexual assault victim, I don’t want them to walk out of this office whenever the jury’s done and think that we don’t care about them anymore,” Johnson said. “So I took it one step further and have doves for the survivors to hang on the tree, and angels for the family members that have lost a loved one.”
Johnson recognizes that victims who don’t lose their lives due to a violent crime, still go through a loss. 
“A victim of domestic violence or sexual assault or whatever it may be, there’s a part of them that’s died through this process…Something’s been taken from them, especially the kids,” Johnson said.
Following the time of reflection while hanging a dove or an angel on the tree, a reception will follow in the Gilbreath room on the second floor of the museum. There, photos and stories, both funny and heartwarming, will be shared by families, with refreshments and appetizers served. Johnson said the entire district attorney’s office will attend as well. 
“This is a way for us to say, ‘We’re here for you, the community is still here for you,’” Johnson said. “It’s a hard part of the year for some in the Christmas season. But you’re not alone. A lot of people come through the office and they think they’re alone in this, and so I think it’s refreshing for them to see that there’s others out there that are on the same path. Not the same exact road, but the same path.”  
No RSVP is required for the event. For further information, contact Brandy Johnson 254-865-5911 ext. 2312.

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