Remarkable Women contest finalist lights up rooms, changes lives in Buffalo Gap

Local News

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) — For the past two months, KTAB has accepted submissions for our ‘Remarkable Women’ contest, and now we have four finalists all in the running for a trip to New York City.

Our second finalist is Buffalo Gap resident Tennie McCarty.

On any given day you can probably catch Tennie and Misty in these chairs doing what they like to call “prayer and share.”

It’s a 5-year tradition that all started shortly after Misty moved into town and found herself opening up about her husband.

“He had a lot of bottled up rage,” said Misty Calk. “There was so many things for 20 years that I just didn’t know what it was.”

It wasn’t until she met Tennie that the two found the answers to their questions.

“The first time she met him, she nailed it, she knew exactly what it was. She thought he had Asperger’s,” said Calk.

This wouldn’t be the first or last person to whom Tennie would lend a helping hand. In fact, that passion started years before Misty knocked on the door.

“I’ve always loved addicts,” said McCarty.

Her answer to this is not only because she lived with addicts but because she herself was one.

“I had a hole in my soul that I could not fill up and I began to use massive amounts of food,” said McCarty. “By the time I was in the first grade, I weighed 139 pounds.”

As Tennie got older, that need to eat turned into a need to find a way to flush it all out.

By September of 1985 I was up to taking 100 to 120 laxatives a day,” said McCarty.

It wasn’t until one day while she was working at Serenity House that she was faced with the truth.

“My face was about as brown as this table because of liver spots, my hair was falling out, my skin was parched,” said McCarty. “I was dying from the inside out.”

“I remember thinking, that’s really not my mother, my mother’s in there somewhere,” said Tennie’s daughter, Kim McCarty.

Tennie then headed off to a treatment center where she would not only find a way to rise above her bulimia, but in the process would find a dream.

“I wrote a letter to God on my way home and I promised God if it’s His way, I was going to come home and make my life’s work working with all addictions with a primary focus on eating disorders and childhood trauma,” said McCarty.

Soon enough, that letter manifested itself into Shades of Hope.

“I’ve always said, ‘If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,’ and I stand for all addictions,” said McCarty.

“She takes the time and energy to do the hard work to get in there and to work with the core issues because she really cares,” said Calk.

It’s the work she does with her clients that’s not only gained her recognition in Buffalo Gap, but on a national level with her own series on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

“I’ve seen hundreds of people come through here that were so broken and no hope. I mean, you could just see it in their faces and after she worked with them, you know, hope just came back into their life,” said Calk.

“I remember thinking, ‘From where you came from and now you own a business and you’re helping people, the thing you’ve always wanted to do,’ and admiring her,” said Kim McCarty.

While today, Tennie’s hours are spent mostly with her family, she always finds time to dedicate to those who resemble the person she once was.

“As long as I can get in that group room and as long as there is people showing up, I hope that I can keep doing the work,” said McCarty.

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