Family Services celebrates Southeast Texas families

Family Services celebrates Southeast Texas families

Family Services of Southeast Texas recognized families and organizations that have had an impact on the community at their 11th annual luncheon Thursday, Feb. 28.

“This event is to honor families,” said Janet Walker, executive director at Family Services of Southeast Texas. “Our mission is to strengthen families, so we want to recognize people in the community that do work to do that.”

Among those honored were Dr. Jimmy Simmons and his wife, Susan. The Simmonses were named Family of the Year.

“Not only have Dr. and Mrs. Simmons made a permanent impact on the lives of their three children, but they have also touched the lives of thousands of young adults through 14 years of outstanding leadership as the ‘first family’ of Lamar University,” Walker said in a press release.

Dr. Simmons thanked the audience and Family Services for the award and explained that he had a weekend of family togetherness to look forward to.

“Speaking of family, I’m looking forward to this weekend (March 2-3),” Dr. Simmons said. “I’ll have all of my nine grandchildren, our three children and their spouses and five dogs all at Lamar University to celebrate this award.”

The Texas Coffee Company was named Family Business of the Year. Started in 1921 by Charles J. Fertitta, Texas Coffee Company products such as TexJoy Seasoning and Seaport Coffee have been household staples for several decades. And while the company has experienced success, it is still proud of its rich heritage and deep roots, Walker said.

Joseph Fertitta Jr., vice president and secretary treasurer of the company, accepted the award.

“This is truly an honor,” Fertitta said. “I can’t tell you how much this means to our family.”

Beaumont PD’s Family Violence Unit was recognized as the Bill Leger Family Advocate of the Year.

“We coordinate and work closely with them to keep victims safe and hold batterers accountable,” Walker said.

The unit is comprised of one sergeant, five detectives, and one civilian administrative assistant. A press release by Beaumont Police Department expressed Chief James Singletary’s thoughts on the award.

“Chief James Singletary is proud of the professionalism and work ethic demonstrated by the men and women of this unit. He is also very appreciative that Family Services took the time to formally recognize this unit’s dedication to its vital mission and service to the citizens of Beaumont.”

The award was renamed this year in memory of past Family Services Board president and strong advocate for domestic violence victims, Bill Leger. Family Services presented Tecoo Leger, his widow, with a plaque honoring Bill’s commitment to the organization over the years.

The 2013 Family Services Volunteer of the Year has also played a powerful role in breaking the cycle of domestic violence, according to Walker. The Southeast Texas Foster Grandparent Program was named Family Services Volunteer of the Year. Foster grandparents Virginia Thomas and Lynn Julian accepted the award. These participants selflessly give of their time to operate a playroom at Family Services Women and Children’s Shelter where they carefully supervise and lovingly interact with children, Walker said.

“We have foster grandparents at the shelter who take care of children while their mothers work on their resumes or look for jobs,” she said. “They are a very important support service at the shelter.”

The Family Services resource development committee chose the award recipients.

All proceeds from the luncheon went to benefit the programs of Family Services of Southeast Texas Inc., a non-profit organization working to strengthen families, individuals and the community through services at Family Services Counseling Center and Family Services Women and Children’s Shelter. For more information about Family Services or its programs, visit