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Assignment: Help Secure the Home Of a Great-Grandmother

ASSIGNMENT: Help make repairs to the home of a great-grandmother in order to keep her safe and secure.

REFERRING OFFICERS: Columbus Division of Police Lieutenant/Starfish Committee Member Chris Lieb, Officer Amanda Hoover, Officer Michael Kowaleski, and "Detective J," an undercover CPD officer assigned to the CPD/ATF Task Force.

During the course of an investigation on the South Side, undercover Detective J met great-grandmother Mary* and asked if we could help secure her home and see if there was anything else that could be done to help her. We went to visit her, along with Lt Lieb, and Officers Hoover and Kowaleski. Miss Mary has lost two of her children to illness and has been victimized by members of her family, one of whom is wanted by authorities. She is an incredibly sweet person who worked hard her entire life and retired, thinking that she would be able to spend time with her husband of 53 years, her family, and her neighbors.

Unfortunately, things have not turned out that way for her. Since the deaths of her children, things have progressively gotten worse for her. Miss Mary is caring for members of her extended family, including her great-grandchildren. Some wayward people in her family break into her home and cause damage to it, so we definitely need to secure the windows that they climb through. Frankly, many of the windows are old and need to be replaced, but we have alternate ways of fixing them that will fit our budget. But as an example, one of the windows a relative put his fist through at one point so it's now held together with plastic and duct tape and cold air pours through. We're going to board up that one (painted and framed so it looks nice). It's an odd size and there's really no other affordable alternative.

The home has multiple exterior doors, and they're all in poor condition, including the screen/storm doors. One of the exterior doors is screwed shut, completely unable to be opened, because the door frame is in bad condition. Another, Miss Mary doesn't have keys for, so the door has to stay permanently locked. It's not a very good, lock either--easily broken by someone who wants to get in. We'll want to replace that, of course.

Miss Mary's beloved husband is in a nursing home due to health problems exacerbated by the stress of the family problems they have, and she says she is tired. "Not tired like when you work hard," she said, "that's a good tired. Tired in my head." She cried several times when we were there, and frankly, it was heartbreaking.

Another thing that she said would help tremendously is if she could obtain services for her 13-year-old great-grandson, who is a very sweet boy with a quick smile, but who has already had a serious brush with the law. Officer Hoover was with him the night he was arrested for that, two years ago, and she is going to work on getting him connected to services. Miss Mary was very relieved to hear that.

Lt Lieb took measurements of all the doors and windows that need fixed and made a list of everything that needs to be done to secure her home and is organizing a group of officers to make the necessary repairs. If you have the ability to help out with this Assignment (for example, construction expertise), please email us at so we can send your information to the officers.

We ask for your donations to buy the supplies to make repairs to Miss Mary's home and for other items she needs. As always, thank you for your support.

*Name has been changed


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