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Daily reminders of the flamingo

By Kelcey Blanks | Published Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pat Slayton keeps a flamingo on her desk in her office. The flamingo is there to remind her of where she is now in her life and her vision for the future.

Retirement in Florida is the plan.

TAKING DONATIONS – Slayton talks about donations received at the Hope Chest, the Wise Hope Shelter and Crisis Center’s resale shop that she helped create. All proceeds from the shop go back to the organization to help victims. Submitted photo

Given to her by her sister, the flamingo is a daily reminder for Pat to continue to look forward and be proud of all the things she’s accomplished and the struggles she has overcome throughout her life.

“Every time I see that flamingo, I can’t help but smile,” she said.

Patricia Evans Slayton was born on March 19, 1953, in Fort Worth, to Verl and Alma Evans. She has two sisters, Joann Perry and Claudia Evans.

Slayton recalled her simple childhood and, although she didn’t realize it at the time, said she lived a very fortunate life. Her dad worked for General Dynamics (now Lockheed-Martin) while her mother stayed at home with Slayton and her sisters.

Slayton graduated from Western Hills High School and went on to study accounting at the University of Texas at Arlington before earning her MBA in mortgage and banking at Northwestern University.

She worked for several mortgage and real estate companies before taking on the executive director position at Wise Hope Shelter and Crisis Center.

Slayton currently resides in Lake Bridgeport with her husband Monty, with whom she’ll celebrate her 20th anniversary in January. She has three children, Matt Griffin, Krista Jarrell and Hillary Slayton.

Slayton and her husband also have two “spoiled rotten” Shih Tzu’s, Rusty and Scooter.

Slayton has a special relationship with Rusty, who was rescued from the Montague County puppy mill bust on the same day as her husband’s birthday. They adopted the dog on the day they received news that her husband had prostate cancer. Rusty is their “guardian angel” because he went through the experience and watched over her husband, who is now cancer-free.

But before the stability that is her life now, Slayton was involved in an unhealthy relationship. There was no organization or place for a college student to seek help.

Slayton attempted many times to free herself from her ex-boyfriend-turned-stalker. One night he broke into her apartment and was waiting for her when she arrived home. She saw him and immediately ran into the kitchen, where he grabbed her and began choking her and hitting her head against a brick.

The man knocked her unconscious and left when he thought he had killed her.

Following the attack, Slayton moved and changed jobs, fearful of what he might do next. She pressed charges, seeking justice for what she had endured, but in the end all the man received was a short period of probation. Seven years later, when she married her first husband, the ex sent her roses to her workplace.

Slayton’s interest in preventing domestic violence and the abusive relationship with her ex played a part in her new career, which began in 2006.

Wise Hope is a nonprofit organization located in Decatur that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. The shelter is located in Bridgeport and houses victims who need a safe place to stay.

Slayton runs the business part of Wise Hope and doesn’t typically deal directly with victims, although she has.

“It’s too small of an organization not to have interaction with the victims at some point,” she said, “but it’s better to let people who know what they’re doing give direct victim service.”

She said at times it’s hard to not let emotions get in the way of what she does. It is important for her to set boundaries with clients and learn how to compartmentalize her feelings.

Slayton’s first major task as executive director for Wise Hope was the idea of a resale shop where all proceeds go back into the organization. That turned into the Hope Chest, located in Bridgeport.

“It’s kind of like my baby,” she said, “I’m really proud of it.”

The organization has faced financial obstacles and funding cuts over the years, but Slayton is pleased with the growth and the direction it has taken recently. The shelter has undergone a total renovation in the last three years, and funding for the organization has tripled.

Brittany Mott, shelter director, said no other boss is comparable to Slayton. She is understanding of personal situations and time needed away from the workplace.

“I wanted to be the boss I enjoyed having,” Slayton said. Her staff agrees that she is the cream of the crop.

Mott said Slayton will do anything for any of her staff and doesn’t ask them to do anything she wouldn’t do herself.

“If we ever need Pat, we just shoot her an email,” Mott said. “That’s her tagline around here.”

Slayton described her life as “organized chaos.” She said she is a visual person and likes to make lists to remind herself of things she needs to do.

A former employee once told Slayton her management style was “management by cattle prod.” If an employee was doing his or her job the right way Slayton would let them handle it – but if they got outside the lines she would not hesitate to prod them back in the right direction.

A self-described “control freak” in her personal and professional life, Slayton has trouble delegating tasks to her staff. But she trusts they will get the job done correctly, or ask questions if help is needed.

In her rare times away from work, Slayton likes to attend soccer games and dance recitals that her grandchildren participate in. They call her “Yaya.”

“We are human beings, not human doings,” she said. “Sometimes it is important for me to have time to do nothing.”

In the past, Slayton was involved in the Off 380 Players, a community theater group. Her dream growing up was to be a speech and drama teacher, so by doing this she was able to fulfill her adolescent aspirations. She loved performing on stage as well as directing and other aspects behind the scenes.

She was instrumental in getting the Main Street designation for the city of Bridgeport. Brenda Morgan, whom she met through the process, said she loved watching Slayton sell the city council on the program.

“She was so professional and persuasive,” said Morgan. “We immediately clicked after that.”

Morgan, who was on the Wise Hope Board, was a key part of getting Slayton the job of executive director.

Slayton is currently a member of the Rotary Club and Area Business Women’s Network.

Many people don’t know that Slayton is a certified life coach and was valedictorian of her high school class. And as her older sister always said about her, “She’s not as tough as she seems.”

Her words to live, for herself and others, are “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, but I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

The flamingo sitting on her desk reminds Pat Slayton that her life may not have been easy, but now she is exactly where she wants to be. The future is worth it.

Kelcey Blanks, a senior public relations student at the University of North Texas, wrote this profile for her public relations writing class.

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