Desoto County News

Button of Bravery offers awareness and support to Healing Hearts

Photo: Author Ruth Ashcraft Munday and Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center executive director Misty Gray in the Button Room at the center, a room that inspired Munday to write the children’s book, “Button of Bravery.” Munday and Gray show the cover mockup for the book. (Bob Bakken/ 

The Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center has, for years, offered services to assist victims of child abuse in DeSoto and Tate counties.  It has offered about 50,000 services to children in the two-county area over the past 11 years, from forensic interviews to services for families and case reviews.  

The nonprofit program works together with different agencies to protect abused children as one of 11 child advocacy centers across Mississippi. 

In recent years, Healing Hearts has been charged with trying to do more with fewer dollars at their disposal, said executive director Misty Gray, and means the need for more funding sources.

“We have been going through a lot, you know,” Gray said. “We expanded our services, our numbers have continued to rise, but our funding does continue to get cut through the federal government, unfortunately. It is what it is.”

Ruth Ashcraft Munday is a local author who nearly two years ago worked as a volunteer for Healing Hearts. The story of what Healing Hearts does for children touched her to write a poem, and the poem is about to come out in book form, titled “Button of Bravery.” 

Munday said the inspiration for the poem and book comes from a particular room inside the center’s Southaven location.  

“When I toured the button room, it really made an impact on me,” Munday said. “In the button room, every child is given the opportunity to select a button that represents them. After they share their story, they put the button in the button machine, and it goes down to the bottom. When that machine is full, they transfer the buttons to heart images on the wall, so when you walk in the room, you can see a representation of every child that has been through the facility and that touched my heart.”

The 24-page book is about to be released with an official launch event on Friday, April 5, between 12 noon and 2 p.m. at the center’s conference room, at 5627 Getwell Road in Southaven.  “Button of Bravery” will be available for purchase at the launch event with all proceeds from the book sales going to Healing Hearts.  

“I wanted to keep the book really simple and not really get into a lot of details, so we just illustrated the poem and broke it out into one line phrases, like ‘I’m brave,’” Munday said, adding she hopes it create more awareness about what Healing Hearts does while also being a fundraising opportunity.  

A section in the back of the book will indicate how readers can support Healing Hearts and a phone number to call if someone does have a concern about abuse or neglect. 

You will also notice the color red used frequently inside the book, which was illustrated by Kelsey Windham, an artist and educator from middle Tennessee.  

“Red seems to be the color that the world often thinks represents bravery and courage,” Munday said. “The cover has a red button on it, and we use that as our primary image. And then throughout the book. I’ve got buttons throughout and just some positive words that I came up with.”

Red shoes representing children are also part of the illustrations in the book, which Gray describes as “awesome.”

“Our staff and I are very impressed with what she has done,” Gray said. “I think the main point to us is that it was dedicated to the children in DeSoto and Tate County. It’s an honor for them to see a book showing that they’ve come through here and now they have a book that kind of represents it and time also to give them encouragement and let them know that they’re not alone.”

Part of what Healing Hearts does is providing forensic interviews to DeSoto and Tate County victims of child abuse. A forensic interview is a fact-finding interview to ensure a child only tells their traumatic experience of abuse one time.

Healing Hearts also provides advocacy services to victims of child abuse and their non-offending caregivers, and will follow their case until it is either closed or prosecuted.

These services include preparing families for court, safety education, community awareness, counseling on site and referrals for counseling and medical exams.

As a result, more immediate follow-ups to reports of child abuse and neglect are made, more efficient medical and mental health services are made available to child abuse victims, stronger cases are built against perpetrators resulting in more children being protected and an increase in arrests and prosecutions.

Find out more by visiting the Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center website.