This week Navarro County will welcome the 4th Annual Heart Gallery in conjunction with Child Abuse Awareness month, the Child Advocates of Navarro County and the Navarro Council of the Arts. For the last four years the Child Advocates and the Navarro Council of the Arts have teamed up to present the Heart Gallery to the people of Navarro County as a way making the community aware of the many children currently in foster care and that are available for adoption in our county.

The beautiful exhibit features portraits of these children who are looking for forever homes. The Warehouse Gallery space will be filled with these stunning photos this week only.

This year in addition to the opening reception at the Warehouse, the Arts Council and Child Advocates have teamed up with Collins Middle School Theatre department to present their newest One-Act play that features the foster care system. The Opening Reception will begin at 5:00 p.m. today with a reception and a chance to view the exhibit. The full production of The Pinballs, will begin at 6:15 p.m. in the Warehouse Theatre.

The play, The Pinballs is a dramatic adaptation by Aurand Harris of the award-winning novel by Betsy Byars. Written in a theatrical and imaginative style, utilizing exciting musical, sound, and lighting effects, this play is both touching and funny. It treats a modern social problem with arresting insight, humor, and emotional theatrical impact.

The story concerns three children who are bounced like pinballs from one foster home to another. Carlie, fifteen and street-wise and a natural leader, is a victim of child abuse. Thirteen-year old Harvey is wheelchair-bound after his drunken father ran over both of his legs with his new car. Thomas J., eight, was abandoned on a doorstep as a baby. Each longs for the comfort of a real home. Now, in the play, they come together for the first time at Mrs. Mason's, an understanding foster mother who encourages them to follow Carlie's urging "to do something for ourselves." By the end of summer, will the "pinballs" have finally become a "family?"

The pivotal role of Carlie is played by UIL award-winning actress Mason Montfort while the challenging characters of Harvey and Thomas J. are portrayed by Dean Fletes and Savannah Ybarra respectively. Tamera White plays the supportive role of Mrs. Mason whereas Joshua O’Pry tackles the difficult and drunken father of Harvey. Rounding out the cast is Veronica Reyes as the TV Announcer, Laura Star as the Doctor and the Photographer, Matt Melette as the Judge, and Isaiah Flores as the Court Clerk.

Performing the duties of stage manager, Joy Presson keeps everything backstage organized while Dave Clemons handles the lights, Bryonna Smith runs sound, and Annie Ivy controls the spotlight. The production team consisted of assistant student directors Ashley Orozco and Caraline Means, costume and props assistance by Krystal Cofer, Karla Perez, Kelsie Harrison, Cadedra Craig, Tabitha Bonner, Elizabeth Bailey, Jasmine Ibanez and Lacy Humphus, and understudies Lauren Tesmer and Trevor Steele.

All members of the cast and crew are CISD students at Collins Middle School. The production was directed by Frances Dodds and Lorie Stovall, both teachers at Collins Middle School. In helping to make this production possible, special thanks go to Jones Medical Equipment, Victorian Sample Florist, Sandy Mahood and the Warehouse Living Arts Center, LouAnn Star, Jerry Clemons, Tracy McCarter, and Joe Ybarra.

Child Advocates of Navarro County Programs provide services and resources that reduces trauma and aids in the healing of child victims of crime. With April being National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month, Child Advocates is working to spread the word of the long-term negative effects of child abuse, and the importance of our community to work together to help stop the victimization of our children. 

In joining forces with Navarro Council of the Arts and students from Collins Middle School, Child Advocates hopes to bring awareness to the community about the need for good, forever homes to many children.

Don’t miss your chance to see this stunning exhibit along with the production of The Pinballs, tonight. The opening reception and exhibit viewing begin at 5 p.m. in the Warehouse Gallery located at 119 West 6th Avenue. The play begins at 6:15 p.m.

For more information on the Child Advocates of Navarro County and all the wonderful programs they have along with ways to volunteer, please call (903) 872-3772. For more information on the Heart Gallery exhibit or the Opening Reception featuring Collins Middle School’s Award-winning production of The Pinballs, please call the Navarro Council of the Arts at (903) 872-5411.

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