Family, friends of murder victim fight domestic violence
By Michelle Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent February 17, 2013 11:08PM
Gena Chiodo. | File~Sun-Times Media
If You Go
“Benefitting the Fight Against Domestic Violence: A Benefit in Memory of Gena Chiodo” will be held from 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Lansing Knights of Columbus, 17800 Lorenz (178th Street and Burnham Avenue), Lansing, Ill. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door; all proceeds will benefit local domestic violence organizations. For more details or to purchase tickets, call (708) 895-7720.
Updated: March 19, 2013 6:22AM
In the four months since Gena Chiodo was killed, the aftermath has been an emotional nightmare for her family and friends.
But instead of succumbing to the grief, the group has come together to shine a light on domestic violence. And they’ll do it in the place they all considered their second home on what would’ve been Chiodo’s 43rd birthday.
The event, “Benefitting the Fight Against Domestic Violence: A Benefit in Memory of Gena Chiodo” at the Lansing Knights of Columbus Saturday night will be more than just friends getting together to hear Chiodo’s favorite band and bidding on silent auction items. It will also feature speakers from two domestic violence shelters, Haven House of Hammond and South Suburban Family Shelter of Homewood, Ill.
If one person is helped by their efforts, Patty Nasella will be satisfied. But as one of Chiodo’s best friends and a co-organizer of the event, she prays more domestic violence victims at least find comfort that people are out there for them.
“For whatever reason, (Chiodo) couldn’t reach out, so we don’t want anyone else to ever feel alone,” Nasella said. “I know (her death) has opened my eyes. If I suspect anything like that is ever happening to anyone, I know I’ll be a little more forceful (in helping them).”
The benefit has been nothing but a labor of love for all Chiodo’s friends and family. People who never knew her sunny personality or boisterous laugh have donated higher-end items for the auction, Nasella said, and the group’s favorite band, The Relics, have donated their time to the cause.
“They knew how much she loved them, and they came to us,” Nasella said. “I think that speaks for itself.”
The event will also have a special guest: Chiodo’s mother, Joyce Chiodo, of Cape Coral, Fla., said Chiodo’s father, Don Chiodo. The family was unable to travel until recently; Nasella and another friend brought Chiodo’s remains to their Florida home last month.
Don Chiodo said he and his family continue to be grateful to Nasella and everyone who loved her as much as they do.
“Gena was a wonderful person. You can see that by all the stand-up friends she has,” Don Chiodo said. “What a loss for everyone.”
Robin Huffman, of Highland, said she too wants to help others out there who don’t know what resources are available to them.
“We know we can’t bring Gena back, and I think that we all wish there was something we could have or should have done, but even then we don’t know if we could have prevented it, Huffman said. “For me, this benefit is something that will bring out awareness of domestic violence and raise funds to help other women like Gena.
“The sad thing is that there are a lot of “Genas” out there and if we can help even one escape the horrible fate of “our” Gena, it kind of helps us heal.”
John Greene, another friend of Chiodo’s last saw her the week before she disappeared. For him, being involved in putting together an event is simple.
“It helps us grieve,” he said.
Chiodo’s boyfriend, Donal E. Clark, 42, has been charged with first-degree murder and concealment of a homicide in connection with her disappearance and is being held without bail. Clark has previously been convicted of two armed robberies and residential burglary as well as a 2011 domestic battery conviction for punching a former girlfriend in the face.
The victim in that case, for which he’s still serving conditional discharge, said he threatened to kill her several times.