Supervised-visits facility in danger of shutting down

By Jena Johnson - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Xchange Place Director Dorethia Howell said she's here for one reason. For those children trapped in bitter divorces, forced by the court to come here to see their feuding parents.

"Most are not going to be able to see their children if we close our doors," Howell said.

Now, the non-profit organization is on the edge of shutting down. Some have argued there's no longer a need for this service, when public places have become popular spots for exchanging children.

"Some of them can do it in front of the sheriff's office or they can do it in the Jack-in-the-Box parking lot, but you still have mom and dad are going to fight, they're going to argue and the kids are still witnessing all that and here you're not witnessing that," Howell said.

District Judge Barry Bryan agrees.

"That is not the same because there is actually no security or anyone there to prevent the parents from yelling and screaming at each other while they're exchanging the children," Bryan said.

Bryan was instrumental in developing the Xchange place.

"I would hate to see them have to close their doors, knowing that there will be children that will either not be able to safely visit with their parent or will be visiting in a situation that's not safe for the child because there's no other alternative," Bryan said.

Howell believes in the purpose of the Xchange place and says closing down would be detrimental to children.

"I have put a lot of heart and passion into this place and I don't want to walk away from it," Howell said.

Without funding, she may have to.

To find out how to donate, contact Dorethia Howell at 936-639-1327. The XChange Place is located at 207 East Bremond Avenue in the downtown Lufkin area behind the First Baptist Church.

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