Surprise Honoree at Legacy of Women Awards
By Office of Communication
Posted on October 15, 2012, October 15, 2012

More than 700 men and women packed into the Fort Worth Convention Center Thursday to honor women around the metroplex. SafeHaven of Tarrant County hosted the Legacy of Women Awards, and Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin was the keynote speaker. She captivated the crowd with her speech, done entirely in sign language with an interpreter. Matlin spoke of two separate instances of sexual abuse by two different perpetrators when she was a young teen. She then spoke in great detail of her abuse at the hands of Academy Award winner William Hurt. The two started dating on the set of Children of a Lesser God in 1986, for which Matlin won an Oscar. Matlin said she endured physical and verbal abuse, and understands the struggles of women who do not know how to remove themselves from an abusive relationship.

Country music singer Laura Dodd also serenaded the crowd with her song, I am Pretty, which was inspired by the physical abuse she endured while in a relationship at the age of 19. The annual Legacy of Women Awards Luncheon recognizes women across North Texas who excel in the Arts, Business, Education, Health & Human Services and Volunteerism. Five of the 15 honorees are from Arlington. SafeHaven CEO Mary Lee Hafley said, "Strong women are foundational to a city's growth and prosperity. It's clear these honorees from Arlington are reflective of the strides women are making in their community.'

After honoring each woman, organizers of the luncheon surprised the CEO of SafeHaven, Mary Lee Hafley, by honoring her with the 16th Legacy of Women award. Tearfully, she accepted the award for her decades of service to women in our community and said there is still so much work to be done.

Last Tuesday, Hafley also accepted a Proclamation from the Tarrant County Council on Family Violence. TCCFV proclaimed that October is designated "Domestic Violence Awareness Month' in Tarrant County. Hafley proudly accepted the Proclamation on behalf of Safe Haven.

Here are the Arlington honorees by category:

Arts: Patti Diou, Executive Director of the Friends of the Levitt Pavilion, Inc.

Business: Grace McDermott, US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Southwest

Education: Linda Denson, University of Texas at Arlington

Health & Human Services: April Harris, Executive Director of Dental Health Arlington

Volunteerism: Carol Zimmer

Surprise Honoree

Pictured from top left to right: Jean Roach, Cecilia Monacelli, Rita Goodner, April Harris, Lillie Biggins, Linda Denson, Dr. Laura Prestwood, Dr. Lynda Burr, Mary Lee Hafley.
Pictured from bottom left to right: Trish Biddle, Patti Diou, Suzy Williams, Grace McDermott, Nancy Jones, Lynn Stillman, Carol Zimmer.
Photo courtesy of Heather Lee, Southern Flair Photography

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