Focus is on families during special week

Promoting the belief that families are vital to communities and take priority in life was the focus of events sponsored by units of the Church during National Family Week.

Stakes in Bakersfield, Calif., and in northern Utah, and a ward in Wichita Falls, Texas, were among LDS units that sponsored contests and awards in recognition of Family Week, held during the week of Thanskgiving.More than 500 school children in grades 1-8 from the Bakersfield, Calif., area participated in the Third Annual Family Week Essay Contest, sponsored by Bakersfield California East Stake, Bakersfield California South Stake and Bakersfield California Stake.

As a community service project to promote family unity in the Bakersfield region, the children were asked to submit essays based upon the theme, "What My Family Means to Me."

The two grand prize winners each received four tickets to Disneyland and a $50 savings bond from the California Republic Bank. Most of the contestants were not LDS.

The grand prize winners and 26 other first, second and third place winners were honored at an awards ceremony Nov. 10. U.S. Rep. William Thomas, State Assemblyman Phillip Wyman and Bakersfield Mayor Clarence Medders participated in the program.

Tracy Hendricks, a school teacher and a member of the Kern River Ward, Bakersfield California Stake, said, "Being able to participate in the essay contest provided my children the opportunity to sit down and discuss with their family just what it is that makes their family important."

On Nov. 16, the Wichita Falls 1st Ward, Lawton Oklahoma Stake, held the 10th Annual Wichita Falls Family of the Year award presentation. Based on the theme, "No Other Success can Compensate for Failure in the Home," 30 families, all non-LDS, were nominated.

The winning family, Ken and Diane Cluley, was chosen because they seemed to exemplify the theme of the award, said Kenneth Warnock, co-chairman of the Family of the Year committee and a member of the Wichita Falls 1st Ward.

A father of six sons, Mr. Cluley had dreamed all his life of playing major league baseball. When he was a young man with three small sons, his dream was finally realized when he was offered a major league contract. But looking at his three sons, he realized the sacrifice he would have to make in order to fulfill his dream.

"He realized that the needs of his family took priority over any professional achievement that he might make," said Brother Warnock.

Brother Warnock explained that Mr. Cluley turned the contract down. Years later, he coached a community team in Wichita Falls, with three of his sons as players, to a championship.

Mr. Cluley said this championship was more fulfilling to him personally than any major league career could have been, Brother Warnock added.

Wichita Falls Mayor Michael Lamb said that programs honoring families are "determining factors in a community's ability to deal with problems such as drug abuse."

In northern Utah, a coloring contest for elementary school students, to encourage local participation in the observance of National Family Week, was sponsored by about 58 stakes.

Laura Rentmeister, a member of the National Family Week committee in the Utah North Area, said $50 savings bonds were awarded in several categories on Nov. 17 during the fall concert of the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus at the Ogden, Utah, Tabernacle.