Featured Fund: Griffin Family Memorial Fund
The Griffin Family Memorial Fund began as a way for one family to cope with grief and is fast becoming a force for positive change in the community.
Nicole Mason (née Griffin) said, "My younger brother Billy died from longtime drug abuse in May 2012. He was only 31 years old." As she, her parents, Karen and William Griffin, Sr., and sister, Corey Evans, processed the emotions that come with a significant loss, they were overwhelmed by generous support from friends and family. However, the family was unsure of how to best use the money. "Joseph Pagliaro, Jr. from Riverview Funeral Home in Shelton, where we held my brother's services, suggested we reach out to the Valley Community Foundation."
That initial meeting presented a range of options for the family to consider. The Foundation team was patient as the Griffins considered what might be best for Billy's memory and the needs of the community, debating several of the ideas, which included a possible scholarship. The family established a designated fund at VCF with the goal of educating young people about the dangers of drug use. The Griffin family hopes to inform and ultimately spare youth and their families from the same challenges they faced as Billy struggled with his own addiction.
Since siblings, Nicole, Corey, and William (Billy) Griffin, Jr., grew up in Oxford it was both logical and meaningful that these new drug abuse and addiction programs were made available for students at Oxford High School, where Corey is a teacher. "We're happy knowing that we're doing something to help prevent other kids from following the same path Billy took. This is also a way for us to remember my brother, who was a wonderful person. Not a day goes by that I don't think about Billy and miss him."
According to Nicole, VCF has been very helpful in developing the details of the educational programming, such as speakers who talk with students at pivotal age when they are tempted to try drugs. "Oxford is a small town but one of the biggest messages we can share is that no family is immune to this problem. Addiction can happen to anyone in any city, big or small. By providing information early, we can help kids make good decisions that will impact the rest of their lives," Nicole said. "Perhaps one student will say no to an offer of drugs and that will make all the difference for him or her."
Nicole encourages others to learn more about the Foundation, "VCF was a natural fit for us. We weren't sure what to do with the donations we had received but Sharon Closius and her team have been very helpful. I'd recommend anyone talk to them to find a way to help others in the community. Everyone at VCF made it easy for us to do something meaningful during a time that was especially difficult for our family."