I had no idea of what to expect on Saturday February 27th for the Gena Chiodo fundraising event. And normally, when I have an extensive work run, I usually go to work, come straight home and go to bed. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it, but I did.
I was still wearing my nursing scrubs and uniform. People actually walked up to me and said, “Thank you for all you do.” I will admit I’ve never had that happen before and it was very nice.
Gena Chiodo was a 44 year old hair dresser. Her family had moved to Florida. She stayed behind in Illinois. She and her friends were a very close knit community. She met and lived with a man named Donald Clark. After they became involved, she became more increasingly isolated. Eventually, her friends were unable to reach her for nearly two weeks during October 2011. The police were notified. Her body was found in the woods in Indiana. One of Donald Clark’s friends agreed to wear a wire to help the police. Donald Clark confessed to the murder. He is now in Cook County Jail.
I met Gena Chiodo’s friends through my volunteer work at South Suburban Family Shelter. I was touched by their tireless commitment to raise awareness and funding for domestic violence, so I tried to make the time.
There were large posters with pictures of Gena Chiodo when she was alive near the entrance. Local businesses put together raffle baskets for auction. A photo booth was set up and the proceeds went to South Suburban Family Shelter. Both women and men wore purple t shirts that said “Stop Domestic Violence.” Those same t shirts were sold for charity.
The food was made with homemade love and delicious: fried chicken, pasta with marinara sauce, green beans, rolls, salad, chocolate chip cookies, brownies and cup cakes.
Some people were teary, which is to be expected, but for the most part, it was a very festive atmosphere. There was a 60’s cover band named The Relics playing “Hey Baby, Won’t You Be My Girl” by Bruce Channel. I adore 1960’s music. That song was one of my very favorite songs from that era.
There were women walking around in princess crowns and brightly colored feathered boas. It seemed like the message was, “It only matters what you think of yourself. Never mind people who may not recognize your brilliance. Know your own worth.”