What a week! It seems like I’ve been saying that a lot lately, but with good reason. Today marks the end of my third full week serving as your Delaware County prosecutor, and it’s been an exciting whirlwind of transition.
Former Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien swore me in on April 12, which was, coincidentally, also my birthday (one I’ll never forget)! Since then, I’ve gotten to know the wonderful staff at the Prosecutor’s Office and dug in to the daily processes and procedures.
I’ve also gotten out of the office, visiting with community members at the Delaware YMCA Easter event, and speaking with township officials from all over the county.
Tonight will be another event I’m looking forward to. It’s the 11th annual Walk-A-Mile-In-Her-Shoes, a free community event coinciding with Delaware’s First Friday. The walk aims to raise awareness about sexualized violence toward women, but in Delaware, we go a step further and promote healthy relationships for all. I am so pleased to see the youth of our community taking part. Teen leaders from the Y will lead the walk, and others will join in to walk a mile as well.
Whether a child or adult, this event unites us all with the hope of ending sexualized violence for good. A standout feature is that men wear heels to literally Walk-A-Mile-In-Her-Shoes. It’s a fun way to spur discussion about a serious topic, but certainly the concept of walking in someone else’s shoes is not new. What could we accomplish in Delaware County if we took a minute to consider others in this way? Imagine it … Could you walk a mile in your neighbor’s shoes, those shoes of our first responders, or how about your child’s shoes?
As a former member of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, I was fortunate to step into the shoes of many different Ohio communities. I travelled from the northwest corner of the state in Williams County, down the Ohio River to Meigs County, and on. In each town I worked with local victims and agencies, those people and organizations who literally made up the footprint of their hometown.
Whether a bustling footprint, such as Franklin County, or a quieter, more rural footprint like that of Fairfield County, there is one common thread – that there is a lot of good in the world, and there are a lot of people who care.
Now, don’t get me wrong. As a career prosecutor, I’ve seen the worst of the worst. I’ve held the hands of victims of violent crimes. I’ve helped victims recount painful experiences in open court, but I’ve also seen the good. I’ve seen victims transform into survivors. I’ve seen families forgive, and I’ve seen people rehabilitated.
It’s the good that motivates me to be your prosecutor. The positive outcomes and experiences combined with my faith drive me to a life of service. If you were in my shoes, you would see a person who has always fought for what is right. As a child, I stood up for myself on the playground and defended classmates I thought were being treated unfairly. The idea of bringing justice is natural to me. Luckily, prosecution provided me a career to fight for fairness, and that is exactly what I will do for the citizens of Delaware County.
My husband, Nate, and I feel blessed to raise our daughter here. We care about this community, and believe that we (and all of us) can unite together for good. Let’s take the first step together, tonight, at the Walk-A-Mile-In-Her-Shoes event.
Walk registration begins at 6 p.m. The event starts at 6:30, right by Amato’s. Although men traditionally wear heels, they are not required. Event shoes, will however, be available for those interested. The best part is, the event is free, family-friendly, and fun!
I hope to see you tonight, but if you can’t make it, there are plenty of ways to make a difference. You might consider attending the Fallen Officer Memorial on May 12 at noon. It will be held at the Delaware City Police Department, and a memorial stone will be dedicated in honor of fallen Westerville Police Officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli. You might also look into Delaware County’s initiative to focus and strengthen families (www.delawarecountyfamilies.org), or become a Meals on Wheels volunteer through SourcePoint. Whichever “shoes” or cause fits you best, opportunities for good are abundant!
Before closing, I’d like to thank everyone for welcoming me as Delaware County’s prosecuting attorney. It’s been my dream to serve as prosecutor, and I am beyond excited and extremely proud to step into this role. Thank you to the Republican Central Committee for your confidence and trust in me. I look forward to the future, to the good in the world, and to all the people who care and work to make Delaware County the best place in Ohio to call home
Melissa Schiffel is Delaware County prosecutor.