IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WZMQ) – The CaringHouse Shelter hosted its annual “Break the Silence, Stop the Violence” event as part of its campaign for the month of October to raise awareness of Domestic Violence. The event also aimed at honoring outstanding advocates in the relentless battle against domestic violence. The community came together in support, donned in purple ribbons, to recognize the tireless efforts of those on the front lines.
A convoy of local police agencies, including the Michigan State Police, the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department, Iron Mountain PD, Kingsford Public Safety, Norway PD, and Niagara PD, alongside CaringHouse staff and the compassionate Longriders Motorcycle Club of Kingsford, made their presence felt as they arrived at the scene, enthusiastically honking their horns in solidarity with the cause.
The convoy routed from the Sheriff’s department, onto Stephenson Avenue past the Courthouse, briefly passing the Caringhouse shelter, before making its way to the First Covenant Church for an award ceremony.
Cheryl O’Neil presented awards, commending each agency for their critical assistance in making a difference in the lives of local children and families. She commended each of the officers in today’s ceremony for their efforts, stating, “I will tell you, as a former survivor myself, that this message is going to go a long way.” O’Neil emphasized the importance of the collaborative efforts of Dickinson and Iron County police, as well as Florence and Niagara, in assisting the Caringhouse with domestic violence support services.
Awards were presented to several deserving local police officers from various agencies. Iron Mountain’s School Resource Officer Sergeant Adam Ray, and Kingsford’s School Resource Officer Matt Brouilette were among the many police agencies being recognized for their outstanding service to the cause. The Longriders Motorcycle Club and the Kenneth James Salon were also acknowledged for their exceptional dedication to ensuring children’s safety. However, the highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of this year’s prestigious Children’s Hero Award to a county judge who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the cause.
The inscription on the award reads: “The Hero, Honorable Judge Thomas Slagle”
In his acceptance speech, the honored judge expressed his profound humility, acknowledging the significance of the day dedicated to the victims of domestic violence, particularly the children who have been affected. He mentioned, “I look how far this community’s come in the battle against domestic violence. I think it’s fair to say we’ve come a long way. It’s not to say that the problem doesn’t exist. Frankly, evil exists. It’s just last week that the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement won a significant victory against a really brutal offender. I didn’t know much about the case, I looked at the pictures after the trial. It’s hard not to get emotional. All of you work very hard against that. It speaks so well to this community that I’m so proud to be a part of. I feel a little awkward receiving recognition on a day like today, when we’re here to remember the victims of domestic violence. I ask you to just keep working. The fight is not over. I think we’re starting to win the battle, but the fight is not over, so keep fighting for those victims, and especially the children.”
In an interview with WZMQ, Judge Slagle emphasized his focus on remembering the victims, and child victims, of domestic violence, stating, “It is pretty humbling, and on a day when we should be thinking about the victims of domestic violence, which obviously include way too many children. It’s – it is humbling and almost awkward to receive recognition on a day like today.”
He also highlighted the significance of the community’s involvement in giving back to causes that benefit children’s welfare, adding, “The community has always been one that’s very giving to many causes, and there are a lot of folks within this community that work towards projects involving children’s welfare. You know, we’ve got one of the best children’s museums for any size town, but certainly a small town, or a smaller rural area like ours.”
He shared his thoughts on the matter of justice for children, stating, “I don’t know, is there something you can pinpoint? But, I think it’s important to keep people aware that there are children who are victims of violence. Children who are victims of chronic neglect. I think children, in my opinion, have a right to be nurtured. Unfortunately, in the State of Michigan, children don’t really have rights as such. We talk about the rights of the parents, but the children have no real defined rights as such. There are laws protecting children from abuse and neglect, but it would be my hope not just in this community but nationwide/statewide that we would begin to recognize that children do have a right to be nurtured. It makes it very difficult for them to go on to be effective, and good parents”
Judge Slagle recognizes the giving nature of the Dickinson County community as a crucial component in the fight to keep children safe and support victims of domestic violence, adding that even children who witness violence are victims.
“This community is very supportive of entities like the Caringhouse. You know, we have the Gus Macker tournament this summer that raised a lot. Maybe not for children’s justice, but the welfare of children with the Children’s Museum,” adding praise to the Longriders Motorcycle club for their charity to the Caringhouse.
The Longriders Motorcycle Club expressed their dedication by making a generous contribution of $2500 to the Caringhouse during the award ceremony. The contribution is intended to ensure that children currently in shelter have a joyous and memorable Christmas this year, serving as a beacon of hope and support during challenging times.
For more information about the Caringhouse shelter, which provides a range of services within the community to support children and families, especially those affected by Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, visit: