HOMEGOING CELEBRATION OF GWENDOLYN JUNE CAMPBELL ELLIOT
By Staff Writer Ashley G. Woodson
18, 2007 - The founder of Gwen's Girls and the first African
American Police Commander, Gwen Elliot, was laid to rest May 17,
2007. Funeral services were held at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church
with Reverend Joan Prentice as the officiant. Back in the late 80's
, I had the pleasure of meeting Gwen years ago and I will miss her
very much. My family owned a business called "Vera and Rick's
Lounge" in the Hill District and Gwen was their quite often
for lunch. She always kepted it real with me and I am glad that
I knew her personally. She paved the way for many woman to reach
goals that were not able to be met years ago. Along with being the
first African American Police Commander, her greatest achievements
involved her struggle to make crimes against women and children,
priorities in the police department. After retiring from the Pittsburgh
Bureau of Police, Elliot founded Gwen's Girls (www.gwensgirls.org)
--as she recognized there was a lack of understanding for the complexity
of the needs of at-risk, and that existing services fell short of
meeting these gender-specific needs. Family, friends, community
leaders, Pittsburgh police officers and other law enforcement officers
came out to pay their respect to Gwen.
had something powerful to say about "Gwendolyn June Campell
gave freely of herself and we thank God for the giver.
GERMAN - ACTOR, SPOKEN WORD ARTIST & ACTIVIST
was the person who told me most about how I should be as human being.
OFFICER MARITA BRYANT
inspired me to be where I am today. She taught me so many things.
She was the type that would have a conversation with you and when
the conversation was over, you were going to a meeting, going to
volunteer somewhere or you were going to sign up for something.
She persuaded you to do these things without you knowing you were
being persuaded. You did it because Gwen asked you to do it. I ended
up in many situations and wondered what I was doing there. I would
ask someone and they would say "GWEN". She would call
you up and say, "Hey, what are you doing tomorrow", and
I would say nothing. Gwen would say, "You know there is a luncheon
tomorrow?" I would show up and Gwen wouldn't even be there.
She had a plan for everything she did. She cherished women and children.
She changed the way we do business today because before she went
into family crisis, it was not a priority in the police department.
She was about women, family and children issues. She changed all
that. If you abused a child or a woman, Gwen made these issues a
priority. Even though it may have been on the books - it's how officers
looked at it. It just wasn't at the top of the charts and Gwen put
it at the top. She was dynamic and inspiring.
DREWERY - CENTER FOR VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE AND CRIME & ONE HOOD
thing that impacted me the most about Ms. Gwen was her easiness
to talk to. She was someone who was in her position and so important
to the community and to our city. She did not disconnect herself
from everyday people. The grassroots people are the ones she cared
about and that's what mattered most to her. She never forgot who
you were because when you seen her again, she didn't forget your
name or your face. She met of people and for her not to forget you
CORNELL JONES - ONE HOOD
was a world changer to me. I studied her alot. She didn't just talk
about stuff, she was about action. She saw things that were missing
and girls that were suffering. She came out and started her ministry,
which was "Gwen's Girls". She saw a piece and stepped
in and went into action and I give her much respect for that. I
didn't know her very well, but I knew about the things she did.
To me, she is one of my heroes.
PITTINGER - CITIZENS POLICE REVIEW BOARD EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Elliot was one awesome woman. They often say that brilliance is
shown when you've done something that has affected a civilization
and we've got to say that about Gwen.
OFFICER LETHA MARSHALL
was a good person and she will missed throughout the police force.
opened doors for women and for everyone in the police force and
she will be missed.
DEMARZO - HOUSE OF THE CROSSROADS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
was a wonderful woman. Someone who committed their life to the community
and to helping people to making it a better place for everyone.
She understood that if one suffers, all suffers and I think that
Gwen knew we all have a responsibility to make our community a better
"THE HOME LOAN SPECIALIST" SANDERS - URBAN FINANCIAL
Elliot was obviously someone we all looked up to as far as charity
and business people. Especially charity, because she called us several
times about Gwen's Girls and when she called you knew it was from
the heart. Her son, Bishop James, is someone that I really admire
and look up to because he turned his life around and he is always
out in the community. He obviously got that from his mother Gwen.
OFFICER BRENDA TATE
don't know what you could say about a friend and colleague that
has contributed much in many years. There will never be another
Gwen. I would hope that whatever she's left would continue through
many young women as possible.
ALL THE FRIENDS, FAMILY, COMMUNITY LEADERNS AND POLICE OFFICERS
AND OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS WHO CAME OUT TO PAY THEIR RESPECT
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