Lantana residents have access to an important resource about which many people are probably not aware.
Donitta Palmier, the Navarro neighborhood Crime Watch Captain, has established her home as an official McGruff safe house, where children can go when they feel threatened or unsafe.
“There was no safe house for children to go in Lantana if they need help or are in trouble,” Palmier said. “If a kid is feeling like they are being followed or someone is scaring them, the safe house is a place they can go and be safe.”
Palmier said she actually made her home a McGruff house back in October on National Night Out, and said, fortunately, she has not had any children need to use it to this point.
Because McGruff is a national organization, Palmier said that there are guidelines about what a McGruff safe house is and is not.
“A McGruff house is not a place to warm up if your cold; it’s not a place to get a drink, and it’s not a place to go the bathroom,” Palmier said. “It’s a place to go if your afraid, threatened or if you are having problems domestically. The national McGruff house describes it as a safe haven for children.”
If there is uncertainty about whether a problem can be addressed at a McGruff house, however, Palmier said she would give this advice.
“With McGruff houses, the whole reason we are here is for children,” Palmier said. “If you are unsure, you should come and find out, and there may be something we can do to help you. I have an arsenal of people that can offer services.”
The McGruff House works closely with the Denton County Sheriff’s Department and Lantana Crime Watch.
Palmier said the community has gotten behind the idea of the McGruff house, but said word has traveled a bit slow.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t even know what a McGruff house is, or that we have one here,” Palmier said.
The Lantana McGruff safe house is located in Navarro, at 8320 Elena Drive, which backs up to Lantana Trail.
Palmier said she opened the house for a couple of reasons, and said she would like to see more opened.
“I just think that children are our greatest treasure, and we need to help them in any way that we can,” Palmier said. “Helping them when they are little, leads to healthier, happier adults.”
Palmier said she would like to see every neighborhood in Lantana establish a McGruff house, and said if anyone wishes to contact her about starting one, they can email her at [email protected].