Dr. Annise Mabry and children, Allie and Niles, will be featured on the TV show, "Trouble Next Door," Sunday. The family was helped by a group of neighbors from the Old Salem Estates neighborhood, located off Salem Road. The premise for the show is what can be accomplished by neighbors helping neighbors. --Special photo
CONYERS — The days of neighbors casually dropping by for a chat and a cup of coffee have pretty much gone by the wayside, but in at least one Conyers neighborhood they’ve proven the concept of neighbor helping neighbor isn’t dead yet.
An episode of “Trouble Next Door” featuring a group of Conyers neighbors who banded together to come to the aid of a newcomer to the neighborhood is set to air Sunday at 3 p.m. on the Oprah Winfrey Network. It will give highlights of what the neighbors did to assist Annise Mabry and her two children, Allie and Niles.
Mabry and her children moved from Coweta County to Old Salem Estates off Salem Road two years ago, but the move didn’t prove to be a happy one.
According to Mabry, her daughter, who was 12 at the time, enrolled at Memorial Middle School, but became a victim of bullying.
“We tried to get administrators to help, we went to counselors … everybody was really powerless in handling this new form of bullying,” Mabry said, adding that the abuse was conducted primarily through Facebook, Twitter and text messages. “They’d say things like, ‘You’re so ugly. You should just die,’” Mabry said. “I ended up pulling her out of school.”
About this same time, Mabry’s son, now 8, was diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder and Mabry herself had to quit work after she was found to suffer from CIDP — chronic inflamatory demylinating polyneuropathy, which affects the peripheral nervous system.
As a result of her daughter’s experiences, Mabry said she participated in a documentary produced by Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and from there was contacted by a production company that was looking for victims of bullying who were willing to talk about their experience. When the producers of the show came to talk to Mabry, they realized that she was a potential candidate for a segment of “Trouble Next Door.”
“They asked me how I was doing everything all by myself, and I told them, ‘Honestly, it’s hard. I’m so sick and tired and I have to get up and go because I don’t have anybody else,’” Mabry recalled, adding that they asked her if she’d asked her neighbors for help. “I told them, ‘I don’t even know my neighbors.’”
That day the show’s producers went out into the neighborhood, asking Mabry’s neighbors if they’d be willing to help her out.
“I was out at my mailbox walking my dog,” said Evie Sweet-Hurd, one of the neighbors who will be featured on the show. “They started talking to me and asked, ‘If you knew a family around here somewhere that needed help, would you be interested in helping?’” Hurd said. She told them she probably would and asked what they had in mind.
“They were very vague and said they were with Studio Lambert, a production studio, but didn’t mention the Oprah Winfrey Network because they didn’t want people to help because of her name,” Hurd said.
They told her Anise could use some help with walking her dog because often she was unable to walk, the daughter had become pretty much a recluse after her bullying experience and the son was too young.
“So I said, sure, we could walk dogs together if that would be helpful … that’s how I got involved with the family originally,” Hurd said.
Hurd, along with her husband Phil and son Jeff and the families of Laura French, Cecile Saul-Moore and Diana Travis are among the neighbors who will be featured on the show as all have found something to do to offer solutions to some of Mabry’s problems.
Hurd, along with Laura French, was instrumental in obtaining a scholarship for Mabry’s daughter to attend Eastminster School and she is now a successful member of the student body. Travis has offered therapeutic massages to Mabry at La Vie Spa and Salon. Moore saw a need to help with household chores and went in and cleaned Mabry’s house.
“One of the things the producers told us was that they were especially pleased with this episode because of the successful outcome … and the outcome is sustained. It’s not just a TV show that ended … it created a whole different dynamic for a lot of people in our community. That was what they wanted the show to do and they’ve told us that this is their favorite and most successful episode,” Hurd said.