On Jan. 7, OWN premiered a new show that proves the old adage, "It takes a village." On "Trouble Next Door," neighbors come to the rescue of neighbors in need. Whether it be problems with bullying, illness, drugs, or violence, "Trouble Next Door" displays the power of communities coming together to transform lives. On the upcoming Jan. 21 episode, "Overcoming Bullies," Annise Mabry's daughter Alicyn was being bullied so badly, she took her out of classes and began homeschooling her. In the meantime, her son Niles has Asperger's and was socially isolated, and she herself suffers from a debilitating auto-immune disease. The family was at its wits end, and Annise had no one to turn to for help.
Annise Mabry asked her neighbors for help
In a recent one-on-one interview, Annise recalled a morning she was so sick that she couldn't wake her kids up for school. Her son, Niles, found her in bed and didn't know what to do. Annise said, "That was so scary for them, and I never wanted them to be in that situation ever again in their life." They didn't know any of their neighbors in Conyers, Georgia, but Annise decided it was time to ask for help. At a local community center, neighbors came in droves to find out what they could do for Annise, a total stranger. She stated, "The parking lot was full. It blew me away."
Coming out on national TV was hard for Mabry
She stood nervously in front of the room and told them her story, and one by one they reached out to lend hand. Even after she revealed to them she was a lesbian and would understand if that changed their minds, they stayed.
She recalled, "Coming out, period, is hard. But coming out on national TV takes a whole lot of courage. Because that's a bell that once you ring, you can't un-ring it… I was so afraid my neighbors were going to say, 'Oh my gosh. We don't want to help her.' When Laura French, who's my neighbor, leaned over to me, and she said, 'Anise, we don't just want to bring you a dinner. We want to have you at our house so you can eat dinner with us.'" That was a defining moment for Annise.
The neighbors' 'secret huddle'
And so with the air cleared, and the neighbors willing to participate, they met with Annise to see her situation first hand and then got together to discuss the options. Annise stated, "I call it their 'secret huddle.' They went back into their 'secret huddle,' and they hatched a plan, and it was the most amazing transformation that my life had ever undergone."
The most disturbing fact to the neighbors was the situation with Alicyn. Mabry relayed French's thoughts: "This is unacceptable that we have a child, this is our neighbor, she's next door, she's being bullied. And the only reason she's homeschooled is because the kids won't accept her in school? There's a perfectly good school here." French, who sits on the board of a local private school got Alicyn a full academic scholarship. Annise added, "And Eastminster's not cheap."
Mabry's life had been transformed
Alicyn is now happy in school, and Niles has made a few friends, too. But most importantly, Annise has a support group she knows she can count on for anything. Peace of mind is the best medicine.
At the end of the episode, the community center is once again full with new friends who have all been transformed by the events. One neighbor stood up and thanked Annise for allowing her to help. Annise noted, "I was thinking that the show is bigger than me. But it never really crossed my mind that I might actually be helping somebody."
She hopes "Trouble Next Door" will inspire viewers to get involved. She said even the simple things make a difference. "We all wave at people as they're driving down the street. Stop the car and roll the window down."
In the end, it's just about connecting. "Find ways to connect with [your] neighbors, to connect with [your] community. There's so much going on right now, that if neighbors were a little more connected, it would make life a little easier."
Tune in to "Trouble Next Door" on Monday, 1/21 at 10 PM EST on OWN.