Strengthening families in Southeast Texas

Families in Southeast Texas filled the Beaumont Civic Center for a "Celebrate Families Festival" recently. This local celebration of National Family Week was planned by LDS Church and community leaders to strengthen the families of Southeast Texas.

During the festival, attended by more than 2,700 people, children enjoyed clowns, balloons, music and activity booths. Parents viewed more than 85 displays providing them with information to cope with family challenges and encouraging them to spend quality time with their children.Beaumont and Orange Texas stake leaders, who served on the steering committee for the festival, sponsored three booths that were designed to strengthen homes, said Beaumont Texas Stake president Marshall Hayes.

The Church's public affairs display "Strong Families Can Hold the World Together," featured Home Front television spots and quotes from world and stake leaders on the importance of families.

The Church's second booth, "Strengthen Your Family by Knowing Your Roots and Family History," allowed children to participate by printing out their own family tree on a computer. Adults, using computers, learned to access "millions of names in minutes" on CD-ROMs. Maps to the family history centers in the stakes were also provided to interested participants.

The Family Home Evening display was awarded "Best Overall Booth" of the 100 entries. This booth bore the title, "Keep Love in Your Home with Weekly Family Home Evenings." The display, warmly decorated as a home during the Christmas season, taught families how to hold family home evenings. Participants were offered brochures and order forms for the free video "Family First."

Primary children also performed a selection of songs about Jesus Christ and the family during the celebration.

Plans for the family festival began more than a year ago as leaders from the Beaumont stake looked for better ways to serve the community. They joined forces with Family Services in Beaumont and proposed a city-wide celebration of the family. They found support from the mayor and city council.

"A steering committee was organized and the project picked up momentum," said Pres. Hayes. "Eventually, over 40 organizations agreed to share in the planning and execution of the festival events."

Beaumont mayor David Moore proclaimed the "Celebrate Families Festival" a great success and a tribute to the community. When asked during the event about putting the festival on next year, Mayor Moore responded, "It's already on the agenda."

Pres. Hayes added, "We hope that this will become a great tradition in this city and perhaps in others. There is so much that we have in common with others in our communities when it comes to family values and raising children. Celebrating National Family Week has been a marvelous way for us to serve in our city as we build better communities with our neighbors."

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