Baker City Herald

Two new faces are helping spread the word about services offered through MayDay to Baker County victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse.

Jean Dean, who joined the staff in April, is settling into her role as the coordinator of volunteers, fundraising and special events for the nonprofit advocacy center. And Tania Charbonneau started June 23 as the agency's new victim advocate and teen advocate.

Dean, 53, moved to Baker City a year ago from Buffalo, Wyo., where she operated an antique mall and catering business.

The South Carolina native brings enthusiasm for planning and organizing to her new job. She honed those skills while planning a children's festival in Augusta, Ga. The community event, which drew about 50 people in its first year, has grown to include more than 5,000 and is continuing today, she said.

It's that kind of involvement she hopes to generate in Baker County for MayDay events.

andquot;I've been in nonprofits a lot,andquot; Dean said. andquot;It's a job where we're working together for a good cause. I like knowing at the end of the day that I've done something to help somebody.andquot;

Dean's position is funded through a grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust, said Michele Woods, MayDay executive director.

Dean helped coordinate the agency's recent self-defense classes and next has her sights set on andquot;A Trip Down Memory Lane,andquot; featuring Elvis impersonator Justin Shandor. Shandor is making a return trip to Baker City this summer. He appeared with other performers in last year's andquot;Legendsandquot; benefit concert for MayDay.

The August presentation will feature Shandor only as he presents the Elvis of the 1950s, the 1970s and the andquot;Hawaiian Bluesandquot; era.

This year's fundraising concert will be scheduled in conjunction with the annual Memory Cruise classic car event. Dean urges business owners or individuals who would like to help sponsor the concert to call her at the MayDay office.

Other upcoming events for the summer include the annual Karen Bass Co-ed Softball Tournament, a fundraiser that honors the memory of Karen Bass, a domestic violence victim who was killed by her estranged husband in 1998.

andquot;We want to keep her memory alive and raise awareness about local domestic violence,andquot; Dean said.

Dean and her husband, Bob, who is retired, have four grown children. Their son, Chris, who is living at Jacksonville, Fla., recently was honored as the national Coast Guardsman of the Year, Jean said. The couple's other three children live across the country from Portland to Wyoming and Ohio.

andquot;I'm looking forward to the challenge of working together with the community and providing lots of public awareness and events for the community,andquot; Dean said.

Charbonneau, 32, moved to Baker City from Los Angles recently with her husband, Joe, who grew up here. She is stepmother to his 10-year-old son.

Charbonneau fills the position previously held by Angie McVay, who was hired in May as coordinator of the School Site One Stop (SOS) program for the Baker School District. Charbonneau brings six years of social work experience to the job, most recently serving at a teen center in Hollywood, Calif.

In her new role, she will be joining efforts with Darlene Scheler, Baker County drug and alcohol prevention and education coordinator, to work with students in the schools. Her emphasis will be on helping young people make healthy choices through positive activities, she said.

andquot;We want to provide outlets for them to voice their opinions and feel comfortable,andquot; she added.

The Mentors in Violence (MVP) program implemented at Baker High School under McVay's leadership will be continued by Charbonneau in conjunction with Scheler's Youth to Youth program at BHS.

andquot;I would like to get more kids involved,andquot; Charbonneau said. andquot;I'm looking for teens who want to participate and start planning for the new school year.

Charbonneau said her ideas for fun events for young people include outdoor activities, swimming and movie parties.

She encourages those interested in joining the effort to call her at the MayDay office.

Another MayDay project that began on Father's Day, June 15, and will continue through October, asks men in the community to andquot;take a stand against family violence,andquot; Woods says.

andquot;We want to focus on the positives of families who don't have family violence,andquot; she said. andquot;Our goal is to reach household of families with healthy relationships.andquot;

Men who would like to support the effort may call the MayDay office to have a pledge form delivered for signing. About 50 men, including those featured in a photo for a promotional poster that will be distributed throughout the community, already have signed up to show their support, Woods said.

The MayDay office is at 1933 Court Ave. The office number is 523-9472 and the crisis line number is 523-4134.