Fei Shelton followed her calling as a person who loved helping people, including victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, through her work as a Smith County assistant district attorney.
On Monday morning, her husband Silas Shelton said his wife was always someone who stood up for what’s right, which was her passion both at home and work.
He accepted a Hope Award from the East Texas Crisis Center during the bi-annual ceremony at the Tyler Public Library on her behalf following her death on Feb. 18 of this year. Fei Shelton was one of two Hope Award recipients.
“It was a huge, huge honor to be able to have her be thought of and she definitely was an advocate. She loved what she did and she loved taking care of people and protecting people,” he said. “She loved helping people and it was her calling. She got to follow her calling, and very few of us get to do that, and what a great honor the East Texas Crisis Center has bestowed on us.”
Celeste Richmon, victim advocate at the East Texas Crisis Center, said Fei Shelton first joined the Smith County District Attorney’s Office in fall 2019, and she helped teach those at the crisis center about Zoom court hearings.
Fei Shelton advocated for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors through her representation in protective order cases, Richmon said.
“Fei said she came to the district attorney’s office because she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives,” Richmon said. “Her favorite part of the job, where she found the most joy and was able to accomplish that, was the support of victims of sexual violence whether in meeting with them, being a listening ear, working alongside the crisis center or finally providing some peace of mind for victims through obtaining a protective order.”
Kim Allen, sexual assault nurse examiner at Christus Trinity Mother Frances, also received a Hope Award for her work in helping sexual assault survivors heal.
She’s served as a SANE nurse, which is a registered nurse who provides forensic medical care to sexual assault or abuse victims, since February 2019.
Allen was introduced at the ceremony as someone who loves caring for survivors of sexual assault, giving them options and helping them begin their healing journey.
She called it an honor and a privilege to be a part of the team.
“We (SANE nurses) medically support survivors of sexual violence, make sure they’re medically OK, provide prophylactic treatment and support them through their journey at the portion we see them in the emergency room,” Allen said. “I’m part of a big team. There are advocates, nurses, law enforcement and the court system. I’m just one portion of the team and I’m grateful for an opportunity to serve this population.”
She added that she loves nursing and supporting people through difficult times.
The Hope Awards are held twice a year, including in April for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to the crisis center, two in five women and one in five men in Texas have been sexually assaulted at least once in their life.
ETCC is a nonprofit that provides help, hope and healing to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The center’s five-county area includes Smith, Wood, Rains, Henderson and Van Zandt counties.
Hannah Felts, forensic nurse coordinator at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County, served as guest speaker for the ceremony. She said she’s thankful for the work of ETCC, and that in her role at the advocacy center she hears hope out of stories of abuse.
“I felt so much courage and inspiration after seeing their bravery,” Felts said.
Felts recalled one survivor sharing a story of “devastating sexual abuse” over a long period of time, and she wanted to speak out to protect her siblings.
“She didn’t want that to happen to somebody else and she told me that she wanted to be able to share that if she could overcome and she could get through it that others could too,” Felts said. “She wanted to be able to one day if she was to have children that she’d be able to share with them and that they didn’t have to go through what she went through.”
She asked attendees to seek light, understanding and knowledge to help sexual abuse survivors.
“I hope her story will impact you like it did me — that no matter what how much darkness is out there it only takes a little bit of light in the darkest of rooms to brighten that room up,” Felts said.
During the ceremony, Tyler Mayor Don Warren also issued a proclamation declaring the month of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the city of Tyler.
He also encouraged people to join the East Texas Crisis Center’s efforts to spread awareness for “this rising issue, not for today but for every day.”
In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, ETCC will host a Day of Action from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Broadway Square Mall in Tyler. The staff is also asking people to wear teal on Friday to raise awareness. On April 22, the center will hold discussion panel for the movie, “Roll Red Roll,” from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Ornelas Activity Center in Tyler. On April 28, the crisis center will hold Denim Day from 5 to 7 p.m. on the downtown square in Tyler.