LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email
LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - It's a forever home with a new name familiar to many.
"He had heard about them across the state and he wanted the best for Angelina County victims so he made it happen," said Amy Donahoe, the Angelina Alliance for Children program director.
Lt. Harold Cottle was a 21-year veteran of the Lufkin Police Department who helped establish the Angelina Alliance for Children, an advocacy center for victims of physical and sexual abuse.
"It really is amazing to see Harold in that way," said Assistant Police Chief Gerald Williamson. "We were used to Harold the police officer. You saw more of the by-the-book side of him on the street. When Harold became involved in the cause of children's issues advocacy, it really brought something out of him that we didn't know was there."
"He was so humble about it, it's like I really didn't realize what he was doing because he was always going to meetings and the next thing you know he was in the middle of it and it just evolved," said Cottle's wife, Ruby Cottle.
Her husband died in 2007, but not without leaving behind a legacy that now bears his name.
"I just wish he could be here because it would mean a lot and it's very emotional and part of it, I just still feel like I'm sort of in a dream," Cottle said. "This is like wow, I'm just overwhelmed."
"We had a little celebration for him about a week before he passed away and that was actually something we had promised him that one day we would name our home after him and now that we have this forever home, it was the perfect timing," Donahoe said.
The timing is also right for the 160 children they serve every year.
One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused by their 18th birthday.
"We know that this is happening," Donahoe said. "It's a problem. It's been around forever and that's why awareness is so important."
"These children need to feel loved that somebody cares about them, make a difference in their lives because they are our future and it's our responsibility to take care of the children and that just meant a lot to him," Cottle said.
Donahoe says community support will be vital for this organization to thrive.
Harold's House serves surrounding counties as a courtesy, but after the first of the year, they will officially service Nacogdoches County too.