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New Oprah Winfrey Network show demonstrates power of good neighbors

Trouble Next Door premieres on the Oprah Winfrey Network January 7 at 10 p.m. Eastern.

How well do you know the people who live next door?

The new Oprah Winfrey Network reality show “Trouble Next Door,” which premieres Monday at 10 p.m. Eastern time, takes getting to know your neighbor to a new level.

In each episode a family in distress is paired with neighbors who offer advice and resources to help them overcome their problems (Here’s a preview).

One of the families profiled on the show are the Mabrys of the Atlanta suburb of Conyers, Ga. Mother Annise Mabry suffers from the debilitating nerve disease Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIPD), which can sap her energy and make it hard for her to walk.

Mabry had to quit her job as dean of Devry University because of her condition. Her disease made it difficult for her to keep up with her elementary school-aged son Niles, who has Asperger syndrome and impaired speech.

And her teenage daughter Alicyn was bullied so badly in school she ate her lunch in the bathroom to escape  tormentors.

“My whole life was isolated and dysfunctional and I know the kids felt it too,” said Annise Mabry, who spoke with SocialWorkersSpeak.org by telephone. “We were like three little piglets in a house all by ourselves.”

The creators of “Trouble Next Door” found out about the Mabrys when Annise tried to raise awareness about bullying by appearing on a Georgia Public Television program.

SocialWorkersSpeak.org is interested in know what you think about “Trouble Next Door.” If you watch the show and wish to give us your opinion please email it to gwright@naswdc.org.

Appearing on the show turned out to be the best thing that happened to the Mabrys in a long time.

One of their neighbors put Annise in contact with a local liberal arts private school call Eastminster. Since she was not working Annise could not afford to send her daughter there but the school gave Alicyn a scholarship that allows her to attend.

Another neighbor agreed to take Niles to soccer practice and host play dates with Niles and her son, who is close in age. Yet another neighbor had a grandson who went to school with Niles. That neighbor connected the two children and now Niles has yet another friend.

Annise Mabry (right) and her daughter Alicyn. Photo courtesy of Georgia Public Television.

The Oprah Winfrey Network filmed the Mabry’s almost a year ago. Annise said Alicyn is now content and thriving in her new school and Niles is enjoying his friends and in speech therapy.

“Niles is learning how to play and is happier even though his speech and language is delayed,” he said.

Annise says American families are becoming more isolated, partly because there are more single parents and many parents are focused on maintaining careers.

She hopes “Trouble Next Door” will prompt more people to get involved with their neighbors and communities.

Social workers also helped Annise at different points in her life and she hopes the show will encourage more people to team up with social workers to provide services to families who may be struggling with a disability, bullying, mental illness or other issue.

Annise Mabry tells neighbors about her struggles and receives and impromptu hug. Photo courtesy of OWN.

“I love social workers,” Annise said. “They have helped me on many occasions. ‘Trouble Next Door’ will help social workers get some much needed volunteers. It ignites a fire inside of people and those fires will begin to reach social workers.”

 

Social Workers help child overcome life’s hurdles and offer mothers and fathers skills to help them become better parents. Social workers are also active in helping strengthen communities. To learn more visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Helps Starts Here” consumer website.

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