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Hometown Heroes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Linda Palacios   
Friday, 28 May 2010 08:30

053110FEATURE.jpg Hometown Heroes
Inspiring people around town

Superman can't really fly, and Spiderman can't spit webs out of his wrists. Shelve the comic books this week and read about two real-life heroes, who have super powers of courage, strength and compassion. Their stories are bound to inspire.


The Midwest is known for its friendly people, and Cincinnati teems with them. A few people stick out from the crowd, though, and give of themselves in ways that only can be described as heroic. These are two of their stories.

 

Raising a Roof

 

Former Ben-Gal Cheerleader Brooke Griffin always pictured homelessness as the panhandling men on the street until she learned about the Welcome House of Northern Kentucky. Once she saw that reality of homelessness, including women her age without a place to live, she knew she wanted to do something to help — but what? 0110Fence_INSTORY.gif

 

Looking for some help in answering that question, Griffin wrote into Redbook magazine, and they had some ideas. They sent Griffin If it Takes a Village, Build One, a book by Mallak Compton-Rock (Chris Rock's wife), and then they set her up with conference calls with Compton-Rock to help brainstorm ideas.

 

Griffin decided on a goal to raise $90,000 for the Welcome House, and she wanted to hold a charity gala to do it. Without any funds to start up, she hit the streets for willing donors.

 

In a matter of four weeks, Donna Salyers of the Madison stepped up to the plate to offer a venue and food. Kevin Ford, who had been Griffin's wedding florist, took care of the décor with flowers and linens. Ford put Griffin in touch with Brittany Ruby, Jeff Ruby's daughter, and she donated two food stations. One after another vendors jumped on board with the event until a full-fledged gala was ready to go with every detail donated.

 

Through all of the planning, the Welcome House Outreach, a.k.a. the WHO Women helped Griffin make everything happen. And each of the women brought in more volunteers to help with the cause.

 

"Yes, it was my idea, but it never would have happened without the help and the love of our community," Griffin says.

 

So with that community support, the gala sold out four days before the event, and Compton-Rock even came to the event. With Channel 12 Chief Meteorologist Steve Raleigh as emcee and auctioneer, both a live auction and a silent auction worked toward Griffin's goal. Even the 100 Mylar heart balloons that decorated the place were sold for the Welcome House.

 

At the end of the night, Griffin had helped raise almost $40,000. While Griffin didn't meet her original goal of $90,000, donations continue to come into the organization, especially after Griffin's efforts were spotlighted in Redbook itself. (Read the story here.)

 

To learn more about the Welcome House and how you can help, head to WelcomeHouseKy.org.

 

053110FEATURE2.jpgWorking for Support in Peace

 

Before she worked for the YWCA, local woman Casey Frazee joined the Peace Corps, hoping to serve somewhere in the Middle East. With her skills in nonprofit development, the Peace Corps placed Frazee in South Africa, and she began her mission February 2009.

 

As Frazee was an obvious outsider with her American accent and white skin, the Peace Corps placed her with a host family as a safety precaution. It was a member of that family, however, who came to threaten Frazee.

 

At first, her host mother's brother just harassed Frazee at her house for a couple months. Then, on June 19, he came to Frazee's work and sexually assaulted her.

 

She headed to the capital of South Africa, where she felt support and strength in the company of her fellow Americans. In the following weeks and months, however, Frazee began to experience post traumatic stress and looked to the Peace Corps for support through grief and legal counsel in addition to somebody who could let her know her options as a Peace Corps volunteer. Instead, Frazee found that there weren't really any protocols in place to help volunteers who had been sexually abused, assaulted or raped.

 

After her return to the United States, Frazee called various Peace Corps contacts to see what her rights were as a Peace Corps volunteer without any luck. Then, she began another type of Peace Corps mission — a mission to improve Peace Corps protocols.

 

"I'm still a strong advocate for Peace Corps. I think they are an incredible organization, and they do so many good things. But like any company or organization, there's always room for improvement," Frazee says.

 

So Frazee looks to help with that improvement through her blog First Response Action and a "7-Point Plan" that outlines specific changes that can improve the response to sexually abused volunteers. To develop this plan, she talked with several other volunteers who had similar experiences to gain their input on what should be covered in those seven points.

 

Frazee included the "7-Point Plan" with a letter to Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams. Williams responded to Frazee and set up a conference call with one of the higher security officials and a medical officer, who seemed very receptive to her concerns, she says.

 

While talking with Williams and the other Peace Corps officials, Frazee learned that Peace Corps itself is going through a reform. One of the changes will be in a new volunteer handbook, which is given to every volunteer. This will include a survivor "bill of rights" that is the first point in the "7-Point Plan."

 

"It looks like they actually are making some changes, which is really heartening. I guess the big question is to see when they have them and how they're followed up on," Frazee says. As these changes take place, Frazee continues her mission to make sure that anybody who goes through what she went through can find support and guidance in the Peace Corps.

 

If you would like to help Frazee in her cause, check out FirstResponseAction.blogspot.com or e-mail her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 


PHOTO CREDITS

Top Photo

Photographer: Neysa Ruhl

Model: Brooke Griffin

Location: Lofts@4120


Bottom Photo

Photographer: Linda Palacios

Model: Casey Frazee

Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 June 2010 05:55
 

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