First Annual Fishing Derby Held in Lufkin

Fishing and football, friends and family - just some of the things dozens of Angelina County residents enjoyed Friday at the Ellen Trout Zoo Park. They spent the whole day playing games, competing in sports, and interacting with each other outdoors - activities they don't get to do very often, because of the stigma associated with being mentally disabled.

Tammy Brown of Innovative Homes of Deep East Texas said activities for area mentally retarded residents are limited.

"We have a hard time trying to find things that our consumers can be involved in," Brown said. "A lot of them really do have behaviors that require them to be under one-on-one supervision. I'm just grateful that God has allowed me to be in their lives to be somewhat of an encourager [and] protector; just someone that can be there to help them."

Emmett Lewis caught two fish during the first annual Innovative Homes Fishing Derby. Now, he's looking forward to many other events that will give him a chance to be himself and have fun with his friends.

"We go with a lawn crew and mow lawns," Smith said. "We go to the library, we go to the park, we go everywhere. We haven't started volleyball yet, but we're fixing' too and I'm fixing' to beat them in that too."

Innovative Homes of Deep East Texas provides professional 'round the clock residential treatment and care for the mentally disabled. Adult day care services are also available for clients.

Innovative Homes of Deep East Texas serves about 31 clients at ten group homes in Angelina County.